Islam is the religion of the majority in Tajikistan. It is an integral part of the region's culture. However, Tajikistan is a secular country with the Constitution of the country providing the right to freedom of religion to the country’s residents. The country is unique for its law which prohibits anyone under 18 to publicly practice religion.
Islam: The Most Widely Practiced Religion In Tajikistan
Sunni Islam is the religion of the majority in Tajikistan. It is the religion of nearly 95.7% of the population of the country. Only 3% of the population practice Shia Islam, another major branch of Islam. Other denominations of Islam with adherents in Tajikistan include Ismailism and some Sufi orders. Ismailism has managed to survive in small pockets in the Pamir mountain’s remote areas where the followers have managed to escape persecution.
Islam In Tajikistan During Soviet Rule
During the Soviet era, several attempts were made to reduce the popularity and practice of Islam in Tajikistan. The Soviet government’s general drive against the practice of religion had its effects on the religious scene of Tajikistan for some decades. Persecution in the name of religion, demolition of mosques, killings of influential religious leaders, and a general wave of government action against the observance of religion in the country happened during the Soviet rule. However, despite the measures adopted by the Soviet regime, Islam in Tajikistan did not suffer any major blows and the popularity of the religion continued unabated.
Islam In Tajikistan Post-Independence
Following the end of Soviet rule, the newly formed Tajik government implemented measures that closed down a large number of unregistered mosques in the country leading to the general belief that the government action was actually against Islam. However, measures to encourage the religion have also been taken like the arrangement of an international symposium to commemorate Abu Hanifa, a Sunni Muslim jurist and the planning of the construction of an impressive mosque in the country.
Minority Religions Of Tajikistan
The second most practiced religion in Tajikistan is Russian Orthodox. The St. Nicholas Cathedral in Dushanbe serves the followers of this religion, most of whom are migrants from Russia and Ukraine. Small populations in the country also follow some other Christian denominations.
The religion is followed by a very small population of Tajikistan. Around 326 Catholics reside in the country who are served by three parishes present in the country.
Hinduism is followed by a minority community in Tajikistan. The religion was introduced and spread here primarily by the ISKCON missionaries. An ISKCON Centre exists in Dushanbe.
Other Minority Religions Of Tajikistan
Zoroastrians, Jews, and Baha’is are some of the other minority religious groups of Tajikistan. However, the number of followers of these groups sharply declined in the early independence period due to a wave of emigration.