Reviews

This inquiry relies on an opinion poll realised in June 2005 on the issue of religious leaders in Central Asia by the Sharq Research Centre in a number of cities of the region, essentially in and around the Fergana Valley (in Tajikistan: in Dushanbe, Khujand, and Isfara).  The overall picture of the situation remains rather classical, the author insisting of the weight of poverty and unemployment on the evolution of mentalities.  (As suggested by recent studies on several Central Asian Islamic religious movements and communities—for instance the Akramiyya in the Uzbekistani part of the Fergana Valley—, this approach may show biased by ideological postulates, well-to-do businessmen and businesswomen showing often more active agents of re-Islamicisation than economically marginalised youth: see in supra 464 my review of the respective papers by B. Babadjanov & A. Il’khamov.)  Among the most interesting results of the 2005 opinion poll, the author sheds light on the high level of collective religious practice among the young men between eighteen and twenty-nine years of age.  A regular mosque attendance would have driven the author to enlarge this age category upstream, observers being often surprised by the place devoted to male children and teenagers in mosques during Friday prayers.  As to the data suggesting the key significance of a ‘Muslim’ family background in the youngsters’ religious orientation, they should have been qualified by possible contradictory observations in non-religious or atheist families, especially in recently urbanised milieus.  Besides, the poll’s results also reveal the importance of ethical considerations in the renewal of adhesion to Islam among the Tajikistani youth, as well as the growing identification as a key element of national culture—a probable result of school education as it has been developing since independence.  Assertions of informants on the personal, individual character of their relation to Islam—a commonplace of current sociology of religion—should have been qualified by an observation of ritual and other confessional practice, revealing the determining role of personal ties and group affiliations in the choice of such or such attitude towards Islam.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.E-652