ISLAM BACK IN TAJIKISTAN

After decades of suppression under the Soviet rule, Muslims are proudly showing off their faith in Tajikistan, a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. “We’re Muslims,” proud Marhabo, a 25-year-old mother of three, told The New York Times on Sunday, January 4. 

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After decades of suppression under the Soviet rule, Muslims are proudly showing off their faith in Tajikistan, a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. “We’re Muslims,” proud Marhabo, a 25-year-old mother of three, told The New York Times on Sunday, January 4.  “Now there’s no limiting. Before, there were no mosques. Now there are many.”  Akbar, a young man in his 30s, recalls being chased by Soviet police after they caught him praying. The incident was ridiculed by his teacher. “Everyone was looking at me,” said Akbar, adding this left him with a distinct dislike for school. A revival of Islam began almost immediately after independence. The number of people who performed hajj this year hit a new record of 5200, 10 times the number in 2000. They were welcomed at the airport with candies thrown by jubilant families and friends. Mosques and religious schools have become part of the new reality in Muslim-majority Tajikistan. Bearded men in robes and women in colourful scarves are a common sight across the country.