The Mosaic of Muslim Religiosity and Social-Political Attitudes in Kyrgyzstan: A Gender-Based Exploration
(National Coalition of Independent Scholars)
This research empirically explores the diversity of Islam in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan and the implications of that diversity for social-political attitudes. Our guiding hypotheses are 1) Kyrgyzstani Muslims can be categorized into gender-based religious groupings defined by different levels of adherence to the five Pillars of Islam as well as frequency of mosque visits and the personal importance of religion and 2) membership in these religious groupings influences social-political attitudes. Using a 2011 nationwide survey based on face-to-face interviews of an adult sample of Muslims (N=1,040 respondents) drawn through a probability design in Kyrgyzstan and applying a statistical modeling technique called latent class analysis, we empirically identify three relatively homogeneous groups of religiosity within each gender and note that, with the exception of the indicator of mosque attendance, these groupings exhibit a high degree of measurement invariance between the genders. Looking at four issues covering preferences for religious law versus civil law, religious education in state and religious schools, girls' right to wear the headscarf in school, and Islam in politics, we find significant differences among the religious groupings even when the influences of region, urbanity, and ethnic background are statistically controlled through a series of multinomial regression analyses converted to readily comprehensible tabular analyses. The patterns for most of our primary results tend to be similar for females and males. Our findings strongly suggest that the basic narratives which treat Muslims as a single, unified community or which simply contrast Muslims and non-Muslims need to be expanded to capture meaningful variations in social-political attitudes. Our findings are consistent with the theoretical notion that Kyrgyzstani Muslims form religiously based subcultures in which the highly active (more devout) Muslims (approximately 45% of all Muslim females and 39% of all Muslim males in this national sample) form a subculture which seeks to extend Islamic values into various secular realms.
Religion and Identity