Rock Art and Folk Islamic Practices in Central Asia

  • Kenneth Lymer
Living reference work entry

Many of the Muslim peoples living within the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan carry out indigenous expressions of religion generally referred to as folk Islam. Some practices derive from pre-Islamic times, while others represent new forms of spirituality developed in response to their historical circumstances. Nevertheless, the most prominent feature of Central Asian folk Islam involves visiting a mazar, a holy place. Throughout the Muslim world, the common alternative to the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, involves the practice of ziyarat (Arabic), continual visitations to the tombs of saints. Additionally, among the peoples of Central Asia, journeys to major holy shrines or mausolea located in or nearby urban areas can be an acceptable equivalent to the hajj as well as that of visiting special mazars in the countryside.

The Arabic word for saint is wali, god’s representative, and it has been adapted into Kazakh as auliye, Kyrgyz oliya, and Turkmen öwlüyä...


Sacred Tree Central Asian Republic Small Cave Spirit Guardian Spiritual Illness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wessex ArchaeologySalisburyUK