Bahai News - Uzbek muslim board chairman praises government policy on religion

Uzbek muslim board chairman praises government policy on religion

Source: BBC Monitoring Central Asia
Publication date: 2001-08-23


Excerpt from report by the Uzbek newspaper Hurriyat

[Newspaper headline] Gratefulness

Many sectors are analysing and summing up their performance on the threshold of a sacred day [Independence Day marked on 1 September]. Like in other spheres, we can discuss the work done in the sector of religion with a clear conscience. What is the situation like regarding such issues as freedom of worship and religious affairs? How is the religion of Islam professed by the majority developing? What conditions have been created in our country for the representatives of Islam and other religions to observe their religious traditions? What are today's religious problems and how they are being sorted out?

We had a conversation with the chairman of the Muslim Spiritual Board of Uzbekistan, Abdurashid qori [qori is a person who knows the Holy Koran by heart] Bahromov, and a deputy chairman of the government's committee for religious affairs, Shoazim Munavvarov, on these issues.

[Correspondent] Your Grace, could you tell us about the religion of Islam which is passing from generation to generation and its fate during the years of independence.

[Abdurashid qori Bahromov] [Passage omitted: praise of independence]

For the purpose of meeting believers' requirements in our republic, in particular for praying purposes, there are more than 1,900 mosques operating under the Muslim Spiritual Board of Uzbekistan. Over 5,000 imams [the person who leads the prayers in a mosque], deputy imams and muezzins [an official who does the call to prayer] are serving believers in mosques. Tashkent Islamic University, Tashkent Institute of Islam in the name of Imam Bukhoriy and another 10 specialized secondary Islamic educational establishments are teaching 2,800 children our religious and scientific heritage, the Koran, the Hadith [a record of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad], interpretation, theology, Arabic and other sciences as well.

[Passage omitted: thousands of people are visiting Mecca]

[Correspondent] What is the attitude to other religions and their representatives in our country? Generally speaking, the committee for religious affairs was set up after independence, was it not?

[Munavvarov] [Passage omitted: general remarks saying that all people enjoy equal rights]

Along with Islamic religious organizations, there are 178 religious organizations belonging to 14 religious confessions in Uzbekistan. They are the Russian Orthodox Church, Lutheran, Catholic, Evangelist, Protestant, Baptist, Hare Krishna and Bahai religious organizations.

[Passage omitted: there are colleges in Tashkent and Samarkand which train qualified specialists; representatives of over 50 countries attended the UNESCO conference on religion which took place in September 2000 in Tashkent; the committee for religious affairs works closely with relevant ministries and organizations; since independence about 32,000 people have visited the Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage]

[Correspondent] Esteemed mufti, certain foreign mass media sources have been disseminating reports which say that mosques in certain regions of Uzbekistan are allegedly being shut, religious organizations are being taxed, people are being persecuted for their beliefs, men for growing a beard and women for wearing headscarves. What is the real situation?

[Bahromov] Since the new version of the law "On freedom of worship and religious organizations" was brought in, 1,950 mosques have been registered in the republic. There has been no case of closing any mosques, on the contrary new ones are being built and old mosques are being repaired. Our legislation has taken into account the fact that mosques operate thanks to money received from charities and they have been exempted from paying taxes.

As regards growing a beard, that is what we have traditionally inherited from our Prophet (peace be upon him). There are many Hadiths which tell us that our esteemed Prophet grew a beautiful, smart beard. Moreover, it every Muslim's personal business to grow a beard or not.

There are no restrictions on wearing headscarves either. It is an ancient tradition for our mothers and sisters to wear headscarves. Of course, we should not forget that the Creator ordered us to observe the average in everything. Taking this opportunity, I would like to recommend that our journalist brothers and sisters who hunt for "hot news" refrain from repeatedly distributing groundless, lying and false reports.

[Passage to end omitted: general remarks saying that Islam is a religion of peace and accord] [p3]


©Copyright 2001, BBC Monitoring Central Asia

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