Central Asia Program Series Publications Uzbekistan Briefs

Private Initiative, Religious Education, and Family Values: A Case Study of a Brides’ School in Tashkent

Uzbekistan Initiative Papers No. 7, February 2014

By Rano Turaeva

Some aspects of Islam, namely those linked to ‘national traditions,’ have been rehabilitated by the Uzbek government, which sees in Islam an element of its narrative about the Uzbek a historical national identity.

However, in practice, the state authoritarian rule persecutes extremist religious activities and raises suspicion against anything considered ‘too’ Islamic, both in terms of ideology and faith practices.

Religious education is very strictly controlled and limited. Small scale religious education at home is tolerated to a certain degree, when taught by women.

The contemporary Uzbek Muslim identity is not based on a literal reading of the Quran, but rather on the everyday practice of religious rituals, knowledge from local mullahs, and social practices.

The issue of transmitting religion as a faith and knowledge, and as a practice, is at the core of current debates about interpretative and subjective experiences of Islam.

The brides’ school thus serves as a space not only for basic moral and religious education of the youth, but also for other useful things such as matchmaking, networking, and starting up business initiatives.

A kelin (bride) has a very low, if not the lowest status, in the family and kinship networks as well as in her neighborhood of residence.

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