The felicitous conversion of Emomali Rahmon
Alhamdolellah! On 5 March 2009 the lower house of the Tajik parliament endorsed a bill which recognizes the Hanafi school as an official religion of Tajikistan.
Apart from puzzling terminology (how can a mere madhhab become an official religion?), the rationale behind this development remains obscure. One likely explanation seems to be an uncompromising struggle against religious extremism. The bill was adopted shortly after the government’s ban on Salafis. The Tajik Ministry of the Interior, for one, is convinced that destructive forces inspired by foreign-based Wahhabis and Hizb ut-Tahrir are best constrained by this intrinsically Tajik and delightfully moderate way of interpreting the scripture.
Promoting Sunnism as the official creed may be another blow to the Ismaili trouble-makers in the east, and a not-so-subtle message to His Highness Aga Khan IV to tone down activities in Tajikistan.
The country is entering a fresh electoral cycle, so building bridges with the Sunni Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) could work in favour of the incumbent government.
IRPT leader, Muhiddin Kabiri, is said to have contributed to the text of the new bill.
It is also quite plausible that President Emomali Rahmon has seen the light and become a Muslim sans peur et sans reproche. His heart-felt speech on 26 February 2009 bears witness to this:
“The cultural history of the Tajiks, who are one of the most ancient nations of Central Asia and successors of the ancient and rich civilization of Eastern Iran, has its roots in the two greatest civilizations of the world, Aryan and Islamic. From the very outset, the land of our ancestors has been a center of spirituality, a real core of advanced culture and life-asserting values. At the same time, in the process of perceiving the best values of other civilizations, including that of Islam, it has been subject to various transformations.
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The realistic look at the essence of Abu Hanifa’s madhhab shows that it contains all treasures of sciences and thought and has a comprehensive approach to the world and humankind, which is why it is able to give answers to all needs of its followers today and in the future. Its main values are based on human rights, social justice, appeal for conciliation, refraining from violence and tolerance. We think that the secret of the Great Imam’s madhhab’s becoming the most influential madhhab in the sacred religion of Islam lies in the following postulates of this outstanding person’s teaching:
First, he managed to accommodate the prescriptions of Koran and hadiths to historical circumstances of his time and common interests; Second, he recognized reason and wisdom as a ground for the solution of newly-emerging social problems; Third, he paid attention to popular traditions and customs, so that they should not contradict to the prescriptions of Islam and sources of Islamic jurisprudence; Fourth, he left the doors of his madhhab open for new achievements and values of humankind.”
Rahmon’s earlier attacks on the folbin and other vestiges of pre-Islamic beliefs and practices in Tajikistan also testify to his new-found zeal. What happened to the former Soviet manager and the secular head of state? Our theory is that he encountered the dreaded albasty during one of his many travels across the country. He managed to avoid unpleasantness only by saying Bism-Illoh-ir-Rahmon-ur-Rahim in a nick of time. One hopes that he’ll continue fighting his demons using the teachings of Abu Hanifa for years to come.
Albasty, as found on http://meta-religion.com/Paranormale/Cryptozoology/hominids/alma.htm