ISLAM AND MODERNITY IN CONTEMPORARY CENTRAL ASIA – RELIGIOUS FAITH VERSUS WAY OF LIFE: A STORY OF FOUR RADICAL DISRUPTIONS

What Makes Central Asian Islam Central Asian?
In March 2005, an Afghan deputy minister of the interior (who out of mercy will remain unnamed) was touring Europe. At one stop, he suddenly found himself faced with a question that obviously took him by surprise. How long, an innocent but assuredly well-meaning European asked, had Afghanistan been an Islamic country? The minister, flustered, only managed to reply that as far as he knew, Afghanistan had been an Islamic country ever since the seventh century.
The minister’s reply revealed that to him, Islam and accordingly the history of Afghanistan as well began with the prophet Muhammad (c. 570-632), who founded the new religion in the Arabian peninsula.
In actual fact, the Arab conquest armies reached the core territory of present Afghanistan as late as in 795 and gained a firm hold of the region only in 870 – about a century after they had managed to establish Islam as the main religion of the territories of present Uzbekistan and Tajikistan…

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