I visited Kazakhstan in connection with 28th annual
General Meeting of Islamic Development Bank which was held in Almaty, the
largest city of the country.
Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world and is a part of
Central Asia. Kazakhstan was colonized by Russia between 1822-1848 A.D.
there was huge Russian settlements in Kazakhstan. At one time Russian
population went up to sixty percent. But after the collapse of Soviet
Union, a lot of Russian have emigrated and their current percentage is
about 30 percent. Kazakh’s constitute sixty percent and others (Uzbeks
etc.) constitute ten percent. Muslims are about seventy percent. There are
some Muslims among Russians also.
After the communist took over in 1921, there was defacto Atheists rule,
religion was forbidden (this is the language of 2 persons I met there) and
there was almost total de-Islamisation.
From the information I gathered, I came to know that there are 15 mosques
in Almaty and 1500 mosques in the whole of Kazakhstan. About 20 percent
people pray. Kazakhs confirmed that they have deep love of Islam. Some
Kazakhs said that Islam would revive slowly. Their love of Islam is a
basis of some hope for future. There is a kind of functioning democracy.
There are 9 parties. There is apparently press freedom in Kazakhstan, as
told to me by a Kazakh lady Ph. D serving in an international
I don’t think that Kazakhstan will play a major role in Islamic
renaissance in the short term. In the long term, picture may change. There
is some Dawah work there. I could not understand the depth of it. There
are some Muslims organizations, including some women Muslim organizations.
Muslims world wide should increase their contact in Kazakhstan. This will
facilitate Islamisation of the society. IDB has done good work that it has
opened regional Office there (for information see :www.isdb.org).
Kazakhstan is an oil exporting country. It also exports wheat. It requires
all sorts of imports as it has little industrial capacity. Muslim
industrialists/businessmen should visit Kazakhstan to increase their
exports and investment.