Tajikistan - Religion

Religion in Tajikistan

The official religion in Tajikistan is Islam. However, the Muslems there are divided into various religious branches. Basically, they are Sunnism and Shiism. Here is the historical background …

Prior to Arabian conquests in the beginning of the 7th century the basic religious cults of people living on the territory of Tajikistan were Zoroastrism, Manichaeanism, Buddhism and Hinduism as well as Nestorian Christianity and Judaism.

Arabian invasion brought complete "islamization" of the territory which was finished by the middle of the 11th century. However, earlier, in the 7th century, after the death of Prophet Muhammad Islam had been divided into several branches with Sunnism and Shiism being the most important.

The followers of Shiism - Shiits recognize only the fourth caliph Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, as the lawful heir of Prophet Muhammad, as well as his descendants.

In their turn Shiits are subdivided into several branches. For example, Ismailits, who live mainly on the territory of Gorno-Badakshan. The name originated from Ismail, the son of Jafar as-Sadik, the sixth imam, and the head of Shiit community. The present head of Ismailit community is Prince Karim Aga-khan IV (born in 1936 in Geneva; permanent residence - France).

Unlike Shiits, Sunnits do not recognize the opportunity of intermediation between the God and people after the death of Prophet Mohammed and deny the idea of special origin of Ali and his and his descendants' rights to imamate.

Sufism is another branch of Islam. Some regard it as mystic-ascetic. In the 11th - 12th centuries the first Sufi brotherhoods or orders headed by pirs and ishans were established. Some of these orders still exist. The most known Sufi orders are Nakshbandia, Kubravia, Kadiria, Yasaviya.