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From Shamanism to Sufism Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia

by Razia Sultanova

From Shamanism to Sufism Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia Synopsis

Women have traditionally played a vital part in Islam throughout Central Asia - the vast area from the Caspian Sea to Siberia. With this ground-breaking and original study, Razia Sultanova examines the experiences of Muslim women in the region and the ways in which religion has shaped their daily lives and continues to do so today. 'From Shamanism to Sufism' explores the fundamental interplay between religious belief and the cultural heritage of music and dance and is the first book to focus particularly on the role of women. Based on evidence derived from over fifteen years of field work, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' shows how women kept alive traditional Islamic religious culture in Central Asia, especially through Shamanism and Sufism, even under Soviet rule when all religion was banned. Nowhere was the role of women more important than in the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan, the cradle of female Islamic culture and a centre for women's poetry and music. This area is home to the 'Otin-Oy', a sisterhood of religiously educated women and members of Sufi orders, who take a leading part in rituals, marking the pivotal moments in the Islamic calendar and maintaining religious practices through music and ritual dances. Sultanova shows how the practice of Islam in Uzbekistan has evolved over time: long underground, there was a religious resurgence at independence in 1991, boosting national Uzbek identity and nationalism - 500 new mosques were built - only to be followed by a return to persecution by a repressive state under the banner of the 'war against terror'. Now events have come full circle, and once again covert worship by women remains crucial to the survival of traditional Muslim culture. Ritual and music are at the heart of Central Asian and Islamic culture, not only at weddings and funerals but in all aspects of everyday life. Through her in-depth analysis of these facets of cultural life within Central Asian society, 'From Shamanism to Sufism' offers important insights into the lives of the societies in the region. The role of women has often been neglected in studies of religious culture and this book fills an enormous gap, restoring women to their rightful historical and cultural context. It will be essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in the History or Religion of Central Asia or in Global Islam.

From Shamanism to Sufism Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia Press Reviews

'Sultanova has written a magnificent portrait of the social life and mores of the mysterious and little known but largest land mass in the world. Her remarkable book portrays past and present Central Asia through its music and lifestyle that includes Shamanism and popular Sufism. A wonderful read.' Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban 'This book shows the role played by Central Asian women in the harmonisation of non-Muslim and Muslim spiritual and ethical trends and arts in Shamanism and popular Sufism. It gives insight into the interconnection between music and mysticism and the mentality of Sufi female musicians and singers.' Thierry Zarcone, Senior Researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 'An insightful work that scholars from many disciplines will enjoy.' Earle Waugh, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Alberta

Book Information

ISBN: 9781780766874
Publication date: 2nd December 2019
Author: Razia Sultanova
Publisher: I.B. Tauris an imprint of I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 256 pages
Categories: Sufism & Islamic mysticism, Anthropology,

About Razia Sultanova

Razia Sultanova is Fellow at Cambridge Central Asia Forum, University of Cambridge and Director of the Centre for Central Asian music. She graduated from Uzbek State Conservatory and was awarded her PhD by Moscow State Conservatory, where she is Visiting Professor. She has also worked as a Research Fellow at Goldsmith's College and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her interests extend from Russian and Central Asian to Middle Eastern culture and music. Razia Sultanova was the editor of a special issue of the Journal Ethnomusicology Forum, entitled Music and Identity in Central Asia (2005); a ...

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