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Ulama and the State in Uzbekistan

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image of Asian Journal of Social Science

The fundamental fact about the religious landscape in post-Soviet Uzbekistan (and in post-Soviet Muslim societies in general) is the lasting impact of the Soviet legacy. The anti-religious campaigns of 1927–1941 in the USSR caused massive destruction to the infrastructure of Islamic learning and marginalized the authority of the ulama, subordinating them to those of both the state and the nation to an extent arguably not seen anywhere else in the Muslim world. For the ulama after 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the task has been to re-establish their authority within a political field still dominated by Soviet-era institutional structures of state control of religious activity and Soviet-era discursive modes that lead to a deep suspicion towards religion. This article focuses on the “de-Islamization” of the 1930s and then considers its implications for the ulama of today.

Affiliations: 1: Carleton College, US


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