Focus on Tajik Islamic Heritage

Shahodat Saibnazarova reports from the Islamic Institute in Dushanbe, which recently acquired the title Imam Azzam in honour of the “Great Imam”, Abu Hanifa.

Focus on Tajik Islamic Heritage

Shahodat Saibnazarova reports from the Islamic Institute in Dushanbe, which recently acquired the title Imam Azzam in honour of the “Great Imam”, Abu Hanifa.

Friday, 29 May, 2009
The Tajik government has declared 2009 a commemorative year for the 8th century Iraqi scholar Numan ibn Thabit.



Better known as Abu Hanifa, he laid the foundations for one of the four main “madhhabs” or schools of legal thought that exist to this day within Sunni Islam. Apart from the Ismaili minority, most Tajik Muslims, like other Central Asians, belong to the Hanafi school.



Apart from theology, about 30 per cent of the Islamic Institute’s curriculum is devoted to subjects ranging from Russian and English to IT and politics. Just over 100 of the 80 students are female. Graduates go on to varying careers, often teaching in Tajikistan’s strictly secular state education system.



The focus on Abu Hanifa and his legacy reflects a desire by the Tajik authorities to bolster mainstream Sunni Islam and thereby stave off incursions by more radical and fundamentalist trends, which they regard as alien imports.



The Hanafi strand was endorsed as Tajikistan's “official religion” in legislation passed in March.
Tajikistan
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