Where did the Mullahs Go? Oral Histories from Rural Uzbekistan
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2010, 00:00 by Marianne Kamp
Oral histories with elderly collective farmers in Uzbekistan, who recalled the establishment of their collective farms in the 1930s, depict the closing of village mosques and the disappearance of many rural mullahs. Anti-religious policies focused on Islamic institutions and paid functionaries; however, mullahs were left in many villages, and they continued to lead Islamic practices clandestinely. Religious leaders who had never been closely tied to Islamic institutions, such as otins (women religious leaders) were not targeted for arrest and removal. Our respondents remembered times when it was difficult to engage in any practice of Islam publicly, but they emphasized that nonetheless, community members fulfilled the ritual that they deemed most essential: the funeral prayer.