|Islam in Kazakhstan|
Prominent role in popularization of Islam amongst the nomads of Central Asia and Kazakhstan belongs to Hodja Akhmed Yassaui (Hazret-Sultan-al-Arifin, 1103-1166/67), who, amongst Turk Moslems, is considered to be the second saint after Mohammed, and the city of Turkestan (earlier - Yassy) where he sermonized as the second Mecca. He wrote famous composition "Hikmet" ("Wisdom") in the Turk (Chagatai) language.
In Kazakhstan sophism, as a mystical direction of Islam, is represented by orders Nakshbandia and Yassaui. Slogan of Sophist Orders on parity and brotherhood of all Moslems was practically ideally coinciding with the scheme of nomad democracy, organization of the whole society.
Currently the leading direction of Islam in Kazakhstan is Sunnism of Khanafit Mazhab characterized with tolerance to dissenters, exercising of a common local right, application of free individual interpretation in legal issues based on analogies (kiyas). It is confessed by Kazakhs, Tatars, Bashkirs, Uigurs, Uzbeks, Karakalpaks, Kyrgyz, Dungans and believers of other nationalities living in the country.
Sunnism of Shafiit Mazhab is spread amongst Chechen and Ingush population, where application of kiyas and paradise is limited. Sunnism of Shafiit Mazhab is not organizationally formalized in the country, though there are some mosques, in particular, in 1998 a mosque in Almaty was opened. In Pavlodar there is officially registered in February 2001 mosque "House of Kazakhstan" or so called Vainakh mosque.
With consolidation of relations of the believers with the Islamic world, Sunnism of Khanbalit Mazhab started to enter Kazakhstan; and it denies the freedom of opinions in religion, it is characteristic with fanatical strictness in the observance of traditional and legal norms of shariah, limited application of kiyas. This mazhab can serve as the basis for spreading ideas of Islamic fundamentalism in the country.
According to data provided by Spiritual Division of Moslems of Kazakhstan (SDMK), there are around 9 million Moslems in Kazakhstan and this is 67% of the population. Out of 2337 Moslem unions active in Kazakhstan 2334 are Sunnites and 3 unions are Shiites.
At the third kurultai of Moslems of Kazakhstan on 24 June 2000 in Almaty there was re-election, and the new leader of Moslems (Supreme Mufti and Chairman of SDMK) became A.B.Derbisali, born in 1947 in South-Kazakhstan Oblast, member of the Science Academy of Kazakhstan, PhD, professor, prominent scientist (oriental studies) and diplomat. He was one of the first to introduce teaching of Arabic language and literature in Kazakhstan, he organized the department of oriental languages at Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi. He is the author of numerous theoretical and practical books on history of Islam, Koran and hadithes of Prophet Mohammed.
SDMK controls the issues of construction of mosques, and for this purpose a special committee has been established. During last 15 years more than a thousand mosques were built, the majority of which are registered as SDMK branches. In particular, new large mosques were opened in the cities of Almaty, Aktau, Aktobe, Karaganda, Pavlodar, Satpayev and other regions of the country. Construction of many mosques was carried out thanks to the financial support of the state and Islamic funds of foreign countries (UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey). At the left riverbank in Astana, in March 2005 new mosque "Nur-Astana" opened and it was constructed as a gift in accordance with the agreement of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Qatar.
To increase the international respect of religious unions of Kazakhstan Moslems, to strengthen the SDMK position in the country, as well as to improve managing methods, the management of SDMK sets up the fruitful relations with the Moslem centres of a few foreign countries and conducts educational activity.
"Iman" and "Shapagat-Nur" magazines, spiritual educational and calendars are published in the national language. In 2000 SDMK started the issue of the monthly newspaper "Islam Zhane Orkeniyet", the circulation of which reached 44 thousand. In many mosques there are permanent courses for those who want to receive elementary spiritual education and to master Arabic where Kazakh imams teach, as well as Arab and Turkish imams.
In June 2001 the Agreement between the governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Arabic Republic of Egypt was signed, based on which one of the largest spiritual academic institutions was opened in Almaty - the Egyptian University of Islamic Culture "Nur-Mubarak", which is a gift of the Egyptian Government. In 2004 the "Islamic Studies" Faculty had its first graduate students and in solemn atmosphere the rector of the university, Professor Mahmud Fahmi Hijazi and the Supreme Mufti Derbisali Absattar Hajji handed the diplomas and promotions at the positions of imams in the mosques of the country to 24 graduates.
The cooperation agreement was also signed with Cairo Islamic "Al-Azhar" University, which provided the most prepared Kazakh students with the possibility to study in this university and to train there Masters and Doctors of Islamic Sciences for Kazakhstan. Selection and admission of students is made by the attestation commission of SDMK.
In August 2002 in Almaty the Institute for professional development of imams opened at the Spiritual Division. In SDMK there is also the commission on attestation of imams of oblast, municipal and raion mosques of the country.
In recent years more and more Kazakh Moslems make pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2001 hajj was made by 228 people, in 2002 - 177, in 2003 - 360, in 2004 - 1214, in 2005 - above 900, in 2006 - 2740 and in 2007 - 4030 Moslems.
To provide assistance to the Spiritual Division of Moslems of Kazakhstan and to control arrangement of Hajj in 2006, according to Order No. 13 of the Chairman of the Committee as of 7 September 2006, Commission on arrangement of pilgrimage for Kazakh citizens was established.
It was very important for the increase of the respect of the Spiritual Division of Moslems of Kazakhstan to establish the Counsel of Muftis of Central Asia and Kazakhstan in 2007 with the participation of the Supreme Muftis of Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tatarstan and Turkey.
At the first meeting of the Counsel held on 29-31 October in Almaty, the Supreme Mufti Sheikh Absattar Hajji Derbisali was elected as the Chairman of the Counsel.
In 2007 the Spiritual Divisions of Moslems of Kazakhstan and Turkey signed the Agreement on training of theology scientists in Turkey for SDMK, on publishing methodical literature for Kazakhstan.
On 14 December the President of Turkey Mr. Abdullah Gul visited the central mosque of Astana "Nur-Astana" where he made namaz and presented the holy book of Koran to the Supreme Mufti A.B. Derbisali.
Positive reaction and interest for the Moslems was the visit into Kazakhstan in November of the Minister of religion, vakufs and Islamic appeal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Salekh ben Muhammad ben Ibrahim Al Ash-Sheikh who visited the mosques of Astana and gave the lecture at the Palace of Peace and Harmony.
In August Imam Valeria Prohorova (the President of the International Fund of Confessional Stability) visited some regions of the country and she gave lectures, in which she touched upon spirituality, condition and development perspectives of Islam in Kazakhstan.
In 2007-2008 the logistical base of religious unions continued to be strengthened, and more than 200 mosques were constructed, rehabilitated and taken into control.
The akims of oblasts, representatives of state agencies and public figures, the Supreme Mufti A.B. Derbisali took part in the ceremonial opening of several mosques and during the laying of the first stone at the location of future mosques in Almaty, Akmola, Karaganda, North-Kazakhstan and other oblasts. The Supreme Mufti handed SDMK certificates of gratitude to the citizens who had made the greatest contribution into construction.
On 28 June in Almaty there was the ceremony of laying the symbolic stone at the place of the future construction of the new mosque at the foot of the Alatau Mountains; and the President of the country N.Nazarbayev took part in it.
Sixteen hectares of land were allocated for the construction of the new mosque. It will be a four-storey mosque. Besides the main rooms there will be a madrasah with a library, and the residence of the Spiritual Division of the Moslems of Kazakhstan.
Out of 4001 registered religious unions in the country, there are 2337 Moslem communities, to which 2195 mosques belong.