SECULARISM AND THE INTER-CONFESSIONAL RIFT
(Central Asia’s experience)
Bakhtiar Babajanov, D.Sc. (Religious Studies), researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Ideas about civil society, democratic principles, the constitutional system, and the separation between the state and religion are the product of secular, primarily European, cultural values which have been adopted to one extent or another as reference points in most post-Soviet states. However, the revival of religion and religious values is adding a special flavor to this situation. And to be more precise, this revival is giving rise to certain problems, in particular, open and latent conflicts between religious fundamentalists and the supporters of secular development who represent the political establishment of the Central Asian countries, as well as the often veiled appeal of politicians to Islamic values.
To a certain extent, mini conflicts of this kind are inevitable and arise from the differences in liberalism and religious culture. One of these differences is the spiritual sphere, to which theologians are claiming a monopoly. And here they are at an advantage, since religion is the bearer of sacral precepts. In this sense, the revival of Islamic values and their use as a tribute to the religious situation in the region, so to speak, is also giving rise to several unsolvable contradictions. For example, propaganda by states of religious spiritual values and their perception in the Muslim sphere are turning religion into an ideology which, in turn, is influencing the formation of vital reference points, including the political preferences of a significant number of citizens. This is where the latent conflict between values and reference points begins. And any state that chooses the path of secular development, given the large number of believers in the country, always finds itself balanced on this barely perceptible edge.
These problems are also pertinent for the Central Asian countries, and the designated contradictions are currently a reality for all of the region’s states. These conflicts can be settled by turning to our national experience and…………….