Imam-khatibs in Tajikistan can work only with permission of the National Security Service

Imam-khatibs in Tajikistan can work only with permission of the National Security Service

Usually, Imam-khatibs were selected among important and respected clergymen of the Ummah. Their candidatures were nominated by Imams, mahalla (district) activists, and mosque servants. Today, there are about 3850 mosques in Tajikistan; and every mosque has its own khatibs, Imam-khatibs, and senior khatibs. According to the new resolution, all Imams have to be attested by the Committee for Religious Affairs and Ulema Council. The main purpose of the resolution is explained as preventing irresponsible and uneducated mullahs from minbar. In addition to knowledge of religious laws (Shariah), Imams should also answer questions related to Tajikistan’s legislation, particularly, to the concept of religious policy of the state. It is strange that majority of Imams have no objection to such rules, on the contrary, they even support them. “According to state rules, there is nothing bad in attestation. By the way, only those people who love their nation, deeply care about the fate of their motherland are worthy of minbar”, said Usmonali Nazaraliev, Senior Imam-khatib of Khatlon region. According to famous Tajik scholar and philosopher Khafiz Boboyorov, this process enables to test loyalty of Imams to the current government. Boboyorov said, “This way, religious mood of citizens can be always controlled. Rules of obedience to the ruling elite are introduced using Imams”. The process of controlling Imams started about ten years ago in Tajikistan. These measures are allegedly taken to prevent terrorism threat. Imams, in every their khutbah, repeat, “Thank God that our country is peaceful and our life is happy. We have rightful Leader of Nation. We need to appreciate his works and his policy…”. It can be clearly seen from appeals of Imams and clergymen to citizens via social networks and media that this propaganda is ordered by the government. According to international organizations, these efforts of the Tajikistan government are aimed at advancing “moderate Islam” throughout the country. In addition, this attestation enables to identify Imams with anti-government moods. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sharply criticized this resolution of the Tajik government and evaluated it as “excessive control over Muslims and their beliefs”. Recently, Imam of one of mosques was fired for not knowing national anthem. Today, Imam-khatibs pass exams under strict control of a department of internal affairs. Tomorrow, each of them will get a text of khutbah adjusted to the state policy, and they will deliver sermons to mosque people not according to their knowledge and beliefs, but according to unified state program. All mosques of the country will tell the same praises to the government, as it happened in Karimov’s Uzbekistan. Muslims of Uighurstan, for which the whole Islam world beats the alarm about their oppression, initially also peacefully did their namaz, not interfering into the government’s policy. However, the atheistic government of China gradually toughened their oppression – religious confession was restricted; alcohol was sold at markets…; and in the end they got all other laws of Islam banned. Moreover, they are forced to memorize the Chinese state anthem and its legislation in Chinese using earphones. Uighur Imams could not even imagine that they would dance at a square. However, such time came and during holidays, Uighur mothers sing the Chinese anthem instead of songs, and Imams dance… So, who guarantees that if our Imams agree all terms of the secularist government and start acting in favor of the authorities, but not for sake of Allah, then this government will not bring them to a square and will not force them to dance to the state anthem?!…

Munavvara

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