“And I Believe in Signs”

25 March 2024

Soviet Secularity and Islamic Tradition in Kyrgyzstan

In his new article „And I Believe in Signs: Soviet Secularity and Islamic Tradition in Kyrgyzstan“ Bucerius Fellow Usmon Boron analyzed the conceptual and affective aspects of Soviet forced secularization in Central Asia.The present essay is about non-observant Muslims in (post-)Soviet Kyrgyzstan, and it aims to think about both secularism and tradition from the perspective of
Soviet history.

Unlike Western European states and most of their postcolonies, the USSR espoused atheism as part of its state ideology and aspired to suppress the religious traditions of its people. In Central Asia, the Soviet state had destroyed most Islamic institutions by the late 1930s, thereby profoundly transforming local forms of life. Although more than thirty years have passed since the fall of the USSR, non-observant forms of Islam remain widespread in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. Boron asks: what remains of a tradition of virtue ethics when its modes of abstract reasoning and virtue cultivation have all but vanished?