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Central Asian Survey

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Pursuing 'Muslimness': shrines as sites for moralities in the making in postSoviet Bukhara
Maria Louwa a Department of Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University, Denmark

To cite this Article Louw, Maria(2006) 'Pursuing 'Muslimness': shrines as sites for moralities in the making in post-Soviet

Bukhara', Central Asian Survey, 25: 3, 319 339 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/02634930601022583 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02634930601022583

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Central Asian Survey (September 2006) 25(3), 319 339

Pursuing Muslimness: shrines as sites for moralities in the making in post-Soviet Bukhara
MARIA LOUW

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Bahodir was a man in his late thirties who served as domlo, shrine guardian, at the shrine of Imom Xoja Baror in Bukhara and had done so for about a year when I met him in 1998. The time immediately after Uzbekistans independence had been hard for Bahodir. He was a bricklayer, but after a period of illness he had not been able to nd any work and instead sat at home, as the situation of being unemployed is commonly termed. He turned to drinking and became notorious in his neighbourhood for being able to drink one-and-a-half bottles of vodka a day. Then, one day in 1997, something happened that was to change his life completely. Burdened with illness and debt and shunned by his neighbours, he had started paying frequent visits to several of Bukharas shrines. One night he decided to sleep at the shrine of Imom Xoja Baror, a place where his father used to take him at night when he was a child. He hoped that the saint would show up in his dreams and give him counsel and strength that could help him out of his troubles. I fell asleep, Bahodir told me:
. . . and suddenly I saw a gure in a ray of light. That was Imom Xoja Baror. Imom Xoja Baror said that just as he himself had been one of those men . . . one of those links who for the rst time connected Bukhara with the Islamic world, I should take part in bringing Islam back to Bukhara again. Listen to Bahouddin Naqshbands motto, Bahodir, he said, the heart with God, the hand at work! Tomorrow you must start rebuilding this place in order that it may again be visible to all the world . . . and you must serve the people who come here! Then he disappeared.

In an imitation of acts of a distant past in which the sacred had regularly erupted into history, Bahodir then broke down the wall that had blocked access to the mausoleum for a long time, put in the door from his own house and started restoring the decayed place. After that, he told me, he recovered his health, stopped drinking, paid off his debt, and had since been able to maintain his family, a wife and four children, by building tombs at the burial place which surrounds the shrine and by praying for the visitors to the shrine.
Correspondance should be addressed to Maria Elisabeth Louw, Department of Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University, Moesgaard8270 Hoejbjerg, Denmark. (Tel: 45 89 42 46 76; Email: etnolouw@hum.au.dk) 0263-4937 print=1465-3354 online=06=03=0319-21 # 2006 Central Asian Survey DOI: 10.1080=02634930601022583

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Pursuing Muslimness Much of what has been said and written about life in post-Soviet Uzbekistan in Western media and scholarly discourse has focused on radical Islamist movements such as Ozbekiston Islom Harakati and Hizb ut-Tahrir and their utopian visions about the reestablishment of the Caliphate. They have been occupied with the question of whether there is a risk that militant or radical Islam may gain a foothold among a population haunted by economic despair and suffering from its governments repression of the freedom of faith in the name of the war against terror. This is of course an important discussion. But it is equally important to point out, a fact perhaps lost in the discussions of radical Islam in the region, that even though they perceive post-independence society as a mixed blessing, the majority of Muslims in the country do not see the diverse Islamist movements as a serious alternative. In any case, that was the general impression I gained from my eldwork in Bukhara.1 The people I worked among tried to accommodate to the changing realities and were suspicious of the utopias preached by the radical Islamists. What they articulated in their search for the Divine was not an interest in an abstract orthodox worldview or a utopian world order. Rather, they adopted down-to-earth strategies for regaining agency and a sense of social belonging and attempted to rebuild the shattered moral foundations of their lives. As they put it, they attempted to restore the proper Muslimness of society as well as of their own lives. The term musulmonchilik, Muslimness, is widely used both in the ofcial discourses of the post-Soviet Uzbek government and in the everyday discourses of ordinary Muslim believers to denote a local way of being Muslim. It refers to an inner essence, which was repressed during the 70 years of Soviet rule and is therefore partly forgotten, but which is just waiting to be revived in order to restore an imagined normality in society. A desire for normality may seem a humble aspiration, but this is not so in a situation characterised by existential insecurity. I conducted eldwork at a time when rapid social change had made the ground shake beneath the feet of many people, challenging their accustomed ways of acting in their lifeworlds. Many felt alienated from the social communities and moral orders they used to identify with. Talking about their lives, they disclosed a profound social malaise, characterised not so much by material poverty as by the fact that they felt bereft of any means of adapting to the changing conditions of their lives and thereby achieving a satisfying social existence. Trying to create a normal existence on this shaky ground, pursuing their partly forgotten Muslimness, people were struggling along.2 They were tentatively establishing relations with various parts of reality which they hoped would provide them with a foothold, however limited and temporary, in a rapidly changing social world. Experiencing their lifeworlds as fragmented and insecure, Bukhara Muslims often pursued what they were missing at sacred places, which they saw as manifestations of the Divine in the world which had somehow escaped the corrosion of time. In their efforts to rescue local Muslimness from oblivion, and seeking it at 320

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sacred places, people created new understandings of Islam and of what it means to be Muslim. These new understandings highlight the inadequacies of the somewhat reied concept of Islam that constructs a dichotomy between essentialised conceptions of tradition and religion on the one hand, and modernity on the other, which have informed many studies of Central Asias Muslims. I do not nd it illuminating to view Central Asian Islam as a remnant of earlier forms of social consciousness, as Soviet studies usually did.2 Nor do I agree with the analysis of many Western scholars who viewed Islam in the Soviet Union as a quasi-primordial defence against modernisation.4 Similarly, I do not subscribe to the argument commonly found in post-Soviet studies which compares how Islam is understood and practised in the region to some kind of orthodox, pure Islam, concluding that an eradication of knowledge about Islam took place during the Soviet years.5 While a Muslim believer or Islamic theologian might argue in these terms, I nd it much more interesting to bracket questions concerning the status of peoples ideas and beliefs relative to some idealised Islamic canon, and instead focus on the ways in which Islam is lived and experienced in practice. I proceed from a view of Islam as a morality in the making, the contours of which are continually negotiated at various levels of society. I shall argue that although the post-Soviet Uzbek government has sought to co-opt the countrys many shrines within a nationalist narrative, their meanings are in no way xed. Rather, they should be considered as focal points for such moralities in the making, for peoples efforts at recreating agency and its moral grounding in the economically harsh, socially insecure and politically tense atmosphere of post-Soviet Uzbekistan. Sacred places Belief in, and veneration of, Gods avliyo (saints) as the Prophet Muhammads spiritual successors, persons who, by the grace of God and because of their exemplary lives, hold a special relationship with God and possess baraka, blessing power, has often been identied as the most important aspect of popular Islam in Central Asia.6 As the historian Robert McChesney has noted,7 other religious sites, mosques for example, do not seem to have the same hold on the imagination as have the shrines of avliyo, the importance of which lies in their being thresholds or doorways to the spiritual world and what lies beyond human experience. Places gather, as the philosopher Edward S. Casey has observed in a phenomenological account of place.8 Places gather not only things, understood as various animate and inanimate entities, but also experiences and histories, language, thoughts and memories. When visiting particular places, people experience these places as holding memories for them, releasing or evoking these memories in their presence.9 Thus, people often experience places as inherently meaningful. Places, however, only express what their animators enable them to say. As anthropologist Keith Basso has noted, places are natural reectors that return awareness to the source from which it springs.10 Space acquires meaning 321

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through the multiple lived relationships that people maintain with places, through their dwelling. 11 Relationships with places are lived whenever a place becomes the object of awareness, and notably when individuals step back from the ow of everyday experience and attend self-consciously to places. Doing so, they may also dwell on aspects of themselveswho they presently are, who they used to be, and who they might become. The physical landscape becomes actively wedded to the landscape of the mind. Relationships to places, however, are not solely lived in contemplative moments of social isolation. A relatively xed, though never completely stable, array of collective representations develops around some places which become the loci of social memory. This is the case, for example, for many shrines in Bukhara, whose very placeness is indicated, and partially constituted, by the hagiographic complexes, nationalist discourses and miracle narratives connected with them, the ritual practices carried out there, and the subtle changes in the comportment of people who visit them. These hagiographic complexes, nationalist discourses, miracle narratives, ritual practices and special ways of comportment direct peoples awareness toward these places. They encourage people to dwell there, to reect on themselves by way of the things, histories and memories gathered there. In Bukhara shrines are everywhere, if sometimes hidden behind the signs of an emergent global capitalism or obscured by reminders of Soviet modernism; the brand new bank buildings and the ashy advertising billboards, or the endless rows of grey and decaying apartment blocks decorated with faded wall paintings commemorating events such as the 1980 Moscow Olympics. These shrines are traces of a golden past that made Bukhara known as Bukhoroi Sharif, Noble Bukhara, and gave it a reputation as one of the most important or holy places in the Muslim world, apart from Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. A reputation that would make people say that it is not heavens light that lights up Bukhara, it is the light from Bukhara that lights up heaven. A domlo, shrine guardian, at the Bahouddin Naqshband shrine told me that when the prophet Muhammad reached the sky on his Mirajascension to heaven12he saw the light falling from heaven and down unto the earth. Only at one place did he see a light which emanated from the earth, and that place turned out to be Bukhara. Seeing that, the prophet said that many saints would be born in Bukhara. I heard versions of this story which had a modernist twist. Here it was not the prophet, but rather some cosmonauts ying around in outer space whose privileged viewpoint made it possible for them to perceive the light emanating from Bukhara. Numerous saints are associated with the city and its surroundings.13 Most shrines in Bukhara are gravesites, the burial places of saints. Others are places with another connection with a saint, such as a place with which he or she has been in contact, has rested or performed a miracle. Terms such as mazar, graveyard, or ziyoratgoh, place of visit are used about them, but they are most frequently referred to as avliyo 14 or pir. No verbal distinction is made between the avliyo or pir as a living or dead person or as a sacred place, which points to the fact that their tombs, and more generally the physical materials associated with 322

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them, are commonly regarded as extensions of them, as somehow embodying their powers. Some of Bukharas avliyo are associated with the Su orders, notably the yetti pir, seven pirs, all of whom are important links in the Naqshbandiyya silsila, spiritual chain.15 One of these links, Bahouddin Naqshband (d. 1389), lent his name to the Naqshbandiyya Su tariqat (order). Today he is by far Bukharas most popular saint and an unofcial patron saint of the city. A very popular shrine also exists for Abdulqodir Giloni (1088 1166), founder of the Qadiriyya Su tariqat. Some avliyo are associated with the conversion of the people in the region to Islam, such as Imom Xoja Baror, the saint who appeared in Bahodirs dream. Imom Xoja Baror is said to have played an important role in making Bukharas inhabitants convert to Islam. He accomplished this by curing the citys disabled, the blind, the deaf, and the mentally ill in the name of Allah right after the region was conquered by the Arab Umayyad dynasty in the beginning of the eighth century. Around his tomb grew what is now Bukharas central cemetery. Another popular shrine is Chashma Ayub, spring of Ayub, associated with Ayub (Job) the biblical prophet, who is mentioned in the Quran as one of the prophets to whom God gave special guidance and inspiration, and who is a model of patience in Islam as in both Judaism and Christianity. The story goes that Ayub was an exceptionally pious, God-fearing man whom God had blessed with all kinds of wealth, a large family and good health. One day, Satan expressed doubt about the sincerity of Ayubs faith, claiming that if God withdrew his blessing, Ayub would no longer worship God. To prove Ayubs sincerity, God allowed Satan to put him to the test. Satan then destroyed Ayubs possessions, killed his children and lled his body with diseases and pain. Through all his suffering, which lasted for 40 years, Ayubs faith remained intact. When he asked God for mercy God told him that he should strike the ground. When Ayub did so, a fountain appeared, and when Ayub washed himself in the water and drank it, his good health was immediately restored and everything became as it had been 40 years before. According to the legend, Chashma Ayub is this spring. Often hagiographic narratives deal with oppositions between secular and divine power. Some secular rulers, however, are also conceived of as avliyo. In Bukhara the most notable example is Ismail Samani, whose conquests of Khorasan and later the whole of Persia laid the foundations of the Persian Samanid dynasty that ruled from 874 to 999 from their capital in Bukhara. Today the Samanid mausoleum, situated in the Samani Park in the centre of the city, is a very popular place of ziyorat. Some avliyo are regarded as the patron saints of various occupations, notably handicrafts.16 And then there are all the more anonymous avliyo, less visible to the untrained eye and typically known only to a few people in the immediate vicinity of their shrines or to family members. For example, I only learned about the shrine of Chuja Choz Buxoriy, which is situated in the basement of a private home in Bukharas old town, because I accidentally fell into conversation with some people from that area. Whereas a relatively formalised hagiographic complex is typically related to larger and better-known avliyo, no hagiographic 323

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reasons are usually given for why the less well-known avliyo should be venerated as such. Their reputation, the placeness, which encourages people to dwell there, is rather constituted by the special practices taking place around them as well as by what is typically an array of local miracle stories that demonstrate their powers. Salima, the guardian of the shrine of Chuja Choz Buxoriy, did not know much about him. She had married into the family that lived there and one night the saint had revealed himself to her in a dream and said that she had to work there as a tabib, a traditional healer. If she did that, she would be cured (she was an epileptic), but if not, she would become seriously disabled. She did what the saint asked and the shrine gained a reputation in the neighbourhood as a place where various headaches in particular could be cured. But who Chuja Choz Buxoriy had been, apart from being an avliyo that had called on Salima to work as a healer, and whose force helped her healing, was apparently unknown. Certain shrines are considered to have specialties in miraculous action. Such specialities typically relate to the particular life stories of the saints. Because the saints have experienced difculties similar to those that lead pilgrims to their shrines, they are considered particularly sympathetic and helpful towards these pilgrims. Hagiographies of saints, in other words, inspire biographies of ordinary people, and often people have relations with specic avliyo whom they consider to be particularly inuential in their lives. Craftsmen, for example, visit the patron saints of their respective handicrafts. People typically visit the shrine of Ayub to ask for patience if they are undergoing great difculties that they nd hard to endure, with the hope that their problems might be solved as miraculously as Ayubs troubles were. They visit the shrine of Said Ahmad Pobandi Kushod in the old city who, according to legend, was thrown in jail and put in chains but broke the chains each time it was time for performing the namoz, the Muslim daily prayer. They visit this saint when they experience their hearts being in chains, that is, when they experience being inhibited in their agency in whatever they are concerned with. Also the shrine of Bahouddin Naqshband, though usually considered an all-round shrine, is considered by some to be particularly suitable for those who seek help in business matters, as Bahouddin is known to have worked himself and been successful at combining devotion to God with worldly engagement.17 The politics of sacred space Every landscape tells, or rather is, a story, as Tim Ingold has noted. It enfolds the lives and times of predecessors who, over the generations, have moved around in it and played their part in its formation.18 People, as Ingold points out, learn to read the story of the landscape through an education of attention as they travel through it with their mentors, who point specic features out to them. Other things they discover for themselves, by watching, listening and feeling.19 The ways people have been instructed in reading the story of the sacred landscape of Bukhoroi Sharif have, among other things, been inuenced by the shifting signicance successive rulers and governments have accorded the 324

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shrines. After the Bolshevik revolution, and particularly since the late 1950s, shrines and shrine pilgrimage became major targets for Soviet anti-Islamic measures and propaganda.20 The ofcial Soviet Muslim Board of Central Asia and Kazakhstan sharply dissociated itself from saint worship and shrine pilgrimage. Beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the 1980s, the board issued several fatwas against such practices, condemning them as bidat, heretical innovations in belief and practice.21 Most shrines were destroyed or left to decay, like other buildings with religious associations. In the case of others, notably the main shrine centres, a much subtler strategy was adopted. Some of these were actually preserved as monuments, museums or tourist attractions. Shrines in Soviet Central Asia which were classied as representing signicant medieval architectural structures were redened as monuments of Central Asian architecture expressing an earlier stage in the development of the culture of the proletariat.22 They were subjected to what Benedict Anderson in a discussion of nineteenth-century colonial South Asia has aptly termed a museumising imagination, an imagination which turns ancient shrines into important institutions of modern state power.23 The museumising imagination in Soviet Central Asia desacralised the sacred sites. They were as far as possible emptied of pilgrims and lled with tourists instead. The social dramas that used to unfold at these places, where human suffering and hope met the power of the Divine to change the course of lives, were bracketed and relegated to a place far back in history before Soviet modernising forces had eliminated religion as a form of social consciousness and made way for a rationalist, secular outlook. This place far back in history was made a foreign country,24 the relics of which were irrelevant to modern concerns. Ziyorat in secular space In spite of the fact that shrines and shrine pilgrimage were for a long period primary targets for Soviet anti-Islamic measures and propaganda, they remained focal points for popular Islam in Central Asia during the whole Soviet era. Although a foreign country in ofcial ideology, many people apparently found the past embodied in the shrines very relevant to modern concerns. Almost all practitioners of ziyorat that I talked with during my eldwork had paid ziyorat in Soviet times too, usually having been brought to the shrines by parents, grandparents or other relatives in the rst place, and then later imitating their practice: Qosh uyasida korganini qiladi (The bird does what it has seen in the nest), as one of them said. They performed ziyorat despite the stories about relatives, neighbours, colleagues, friends and other people who had been kicked out of the party, who had been red from their jobs or expelled from school or university, or who had been forced to renounce their religious beliefs at local Party meetings. However, they explained their courage by asserting that when people had faith, faith and the benets of visitation would overshadow any fear of potential sanctions. If they wanted to do ziyorat they would nd a way. They would go to the shrines and couch their activities in such accepted secular terms as tourism or studies in ancient architecture, contesting the authorities monopoly of truth 325

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by investing conventional categories with alternative meanings. They would go in disguise, or they would go at night, under the cover of darkness, hidden from the eyes and ears of people they feared and people they did not know. They would go in their dreams, and they would go to places that experience had taught them were relatively safe, where they knew that local ofcials turned a blind eye to such practices, or where local ofcials themselves secretly engaged in them. The enforcement of anti-religious policy was not uniform because it hinged on a number of local factors, including the ofcials on the ground responsible of implementing policies. Such low-level ofcials were not just mouthpieces of the regime. They had usually been born and raised in the community which they served, and many sought to make compromises between Soviet policy, their own responsibility for implementing it, and local sensibilities.25 With their silent collusion, the practice of ziyorat became a public secret in Michael Taussigs sense; something which is generally known, but cannot be articulated.26 That is, it was predicated on a kind of mutual deception or dissimulation which was intended to keep the peace and maintain a sense of community. People would also pay ziyorat to shrines that were ofcially zakret, closed,27or converted to secular use. In short, if one is to believe these accounts of the past, things were difcult, but people had a sense of the game; where and with whom it was safe to play it, and which codes to use when doing so. Monuments that obtained their originality The late Gorbachev years and the years after independence gave new signicance to Bukharas shrines, which became primary sites for a state-sponsored effort to recast earlier representations of collective experience in order to support and validate present patterns of authority. Numerous central Muslim avliyo connected with the area that is now Uzbekistan have been rehabilitated and celebrated after independence, their shrines restored and inaugurated anew with state funding. On the homepage of the information agency Jahon under the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs28 a list can be found of shrines, mosques and madrasas which were restored during the period from 1991 to 2001. Monuments that obtained their originality, is how they are presented here. These immediately visible material improvements to some of the larger and better-known shrines in the country, and the nation-wide celebrations of the Muslim saints and scholars connected with them, have constituted one of the most common reference points through which President Islam Karimov argues that his government has worked for the rehabilitation of the nations Islamic tradition. However, these efforts are not fundamentally different from the efforts of the Soviet era to museumise Islam. The shrines are still called obidalar, monuments. Rather than being icons of the sacred in its universal, transcendental sense, they are now chronotropes, that is, tropes which fuse space and time.29 More specically, they are chronotropes of national monumental time.30 There is no ofcial canonisation process in Islam, but one could argue that what has been going on in Uzbekistan since independence is a kind of canonisation of 326

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the saints of the nation. There has been an attempt to appropriate the avliyo, embodiments of ideal Muslimness, and make them national heroes, connecting them with the governments ideology of national independence. Ziyorat in national space No wonder, then, that the practice of ziyorat remains very popular in post-Soviet Uzbekistan, or rather has become popular in a different way. If ziyorat was a public secret in Soviet days, it has now become conspicuously public. From being associated with the most backward aspects of local culture and a cause of embarrassment, ziyorat has become something that leading government ofcials willingly engage in, in particular on the occasion of national celebrations of saints and scholars, and preferably in front of running cameras. The political elite has turned ziyorat into a national commemorative ceremony, a ritual which not only implies continuity with the past by virtue of a high degree of formality and xity (a characteristic of ritual in general) but which also explicitly claims to commemorate such continuity.31 The veneration of saints, in other words, has also become a sign of loyalty to the regime and commitment to its version of national tradition. Even declared atheists may engage in the practice of ziyorat on these terms. Many shrines are accessible at any time. People embark on ziyorat in groups of families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, or alone. If there is a domlo present, visitors will usually have him or her read the Fatiha, the rst sura of the Quran, followed by a dua, a free prayer in plain words in the local language. The saint is asked to intercede with God on behalf of visitors. In return, visitors will usually give the domlo some money or some sweets, cakes, or bread. Sometimes they will circle the tomb, touching it with their hands or other parts of their bodies and placing small votive offerings such as grain or coins on it. At larger shrines there might be a place with facilities for slaughtering and preparing animals for xudoiy, sacrice. A xudoiy is sometimes made after the favourable outcome of an event (for example, recovery from illness, graduation, or release from prison) especially if one has requested this successful outcome from the saint. The slaughtered and prepared animal should then be offered to other visitors too. There might also be a spring or a well, the water of which is considered to have healing qualities. Pilgrims might drink from it, clean themselves, or ll up bottles of its water to take home with them. At some shrines it is relatively common for people, in particular those with serious problems, to sleep overnight in order to subject themselves to the force of the place more intensely and in order to dream. Dreaming is considered to be a state in which the ruh, spirit, is able to leave the body and move freely, meeting and communicating with other spirits, and where a human being with a clean heart may receive messages from God and his avliyo. People who come to sleep at shrines hope that the saints associated with the places will appear in their dreams and give them a sign or advice. In fact, people can also pay ziyorat in their dreams, or experience avliyo appearing in their dreams, sometimes giving them more or less clear directions 327

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and advice about how to lead their lives. Such dream-encounters with saints become particularly important in situations where ones physical movement is inhibited. In Soviet times this was important for those who were afraid to perform a physical ziyorat, and in post-Soviet society for people who are impaired in some way, because of illness for example. Dreams about avliyo also frequently lead to more or less dramatic changes is peoples lives. In these dreams, the saint usually warns the dreamer that harm may befall him or her if proper action is not taken, but also promises that if such action is taken, the dreamer will be freed from pain or illness, granted a child or a job, or whatever haunts his or her heart and mind. Such proper action may consist in starting to perform the namoz, visiting the saints tomb regularly, stopping drinking alcohol, or more radically, devoting ones life to religious healing or service at a shrine. Living saints are not common in present-day Uzbekistan, in contrast to other places such as South Asia where saints have continued to emerge.32 A shrine guardian told me that a couple of years ago there was a man in Bukhara who claimed to be avliyo, and who roamed about the streets telling people that they should not eat pork or margarine. He was arrested, and nobody had heard from him since. Whether this story is true or not, a person claiming to be avliyo and operating outside the ofcial Islamic establishment would probably have serious trouble with the authorities in present-day Uzbekistan. Living saints, as embodiments of the sacred, can be threatening Others in relation to centralised, bureaucratic religious institutions. Being outside the control of these institutions they may provide the sacred with faces other than those they promote. Living saints might challenge the nationalist plot into which avliyo have been woven in postSoviet Uzbekistan. Although ideological colonisation seems like an easier project when the saint is transformed into a shrine, the meaning of the shrines is still not so easy to control. If ofcial nationalist ideology has colonised sacred space, it has hardly colonised the lifeworlds of the visitors to it, changing the associations triggered by the shrines. As a commemorative ceremony celebrating the Muslimness of the nation the practice of ziyorat may play a signicant role in the shaping of communal memory, but the precise content of that commemoration is subject to continuous redenition in the practice of everyday life. People are able to creatively relate the shrines to their own experiences, projects, and hopes, thus investing them with new meaning and redening what it means to be a good Muslim in present-day society. Recreating illusio Sacred places are focal points for reection on and practical experiments with different ways of remaking lifeworlds. More specically, I suggest that sacred places are focal points for recreating what Pierre Bourdieu in his late writings termed illusio: that is, what gives meaning and direction to existence and what makes certain parts of reality worth engaging in.33 To care about a reality, writes Ghassan Hage in a reading of Bourdieu which relates the concept of 328

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illusio to his own concept of intensity, is to share in the illusio that it is worth being part of it or being implicated in it, and the more one becomes implicated in a reality the more one feels it intensely.34 Taking my point of departure too in Michael Jacksons suggestion that being at home in the world is a matter of working out some kind of balance between active and passive modes of being,35 I argue that in order to commit themselves to a certain part of reality, to share its illusio, individuals need to experience a sense of agency in relation to this part of reality as well as a sense of belonging to it, a sense that it has been active in shaping what they are. The concern to create a balance between a sense of agency and a sense of belonging to a larger moral order is a fundamental dynamic force in human practice and one which informs Bukhara Muslims engagement with sacred places. People most often seek out these places when this balance is disturbed. In order to make this argument clearer, let me return to Bahodir and his dream-encounter with the spirit of Imom Xoja Baror. Dreaming a charismatic self For a long time Bahodir had experienced marginality in relation to the social world that surrounded him, and he was now in search of a way out of this marginality. He was striving to disengage from the social games in which he had no success in any case, in order to be subjected only to God and to saints of past times, manifesting past powers and past morality in the present. He seemed to be striving to become recognised as charismatic, as a person standing beyond the social context in which he lived, having knowledge of the social games that people around him were immersed in but being emotionally detached from them, not sharing their illusio. The dream he had at the shrine of Imom Xoja Baror established the contours of such a new charismatic self, providing him with a way to turn his position as an outcast into an advantage. As already mentioned, Bahodir restored the shrine of Imom Xoja Baror. He also started praying for people who visited the shrine. Receiving visitors he would often moralise, talking about good and evil, complaining that people nowadays had forgotten their Muslimness and were too concerned with this-worldly pursuits of money, power, and material things. People, he pointed out, were increasingly seeking Imom Xoja Barors help in nancial matters, forgetting that nancial matters are meaningless in the light of the eternal, and forgetting that Imom Xoja Baror himself had never been concerned about them. Complaining about peoples misguided priorities, he often pointed at the tug, the pole which usually marks the tombs of saints. Placed on the top of the pole is an image of a hand. In the opinion of many, the hand symbolises the denunciation of materialism.36 This symbolism is linked to Alexander the Great, who is a great legendary gure in Central Asia,37 as in other parts of the world. The story goes that Alexander, when he sensed that his death was near, told people around him to bury him with an empty hand on his grave as a symbol that although he had conquered the world, he left it empty-handed, carrying nothing with him to the next life. Bahodir 329

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also complained that when people touched the shrine in the hope of a miracle they were forgetting that shrines do not have any magical powers. He pointed out that shrines are only special places in the sense of being triggers for reection, reminding people to view their lives in the light of death and the afterlife and inspiring them to imitate the ideal Muslimness of the saints. In spite of all his efforts Bahodir was not particularly convincing in his claim to charisma. In other words, his charisma rested on a very fragile foundation. There were a few people who seemed to recognise his diagnosis of social reality in their own lifeworlds, regularly visiting Imom Xoja Barors shrine when they knew Bahodir was there, letting him pray for them and listening to his advice. Others continued treating him as an outcast. Some believed that he was deranged and suffered from the delusion that he was a saint (which, they pointed out, he obviously was notwho had ever heard about a saint who had spent several years of his life as an alcoholic?). Furthermore, Bahodir was perhaps also cautious not to draw too much attention to himself as a charismatic religious authority outside the religious establishment. In the eld of religion in post-Soviet Uzbekistan too much success can amount to failure. Setting oneself too much above the surrounding society can be interpreted as a sign of anti-state extremist or Wahhabi sentiments. Time is money Perhaps because he was only partially successful, the claim to charisma was not the only strategy Bahodir pursued in order to create a satisfying social existence. There were times when he showed a more accommodating attitude. At these times he seemed to approach the social games of the world on their own terms and did his best to help the visitors to the shrine to do so as well, thus conrming that these games were worth engaging in. Sometimes when he received visitors at the shrine he would start telling stories about people who had miraculously had their wishes fullled and their hopes realised after visiting the shrine, who had achieved success in their business transactions or who had won the lottery. These were stories that reected priorities which he had previously denounced, and ideas about the magical power of sacred places which he had earlier dismissed as irrational. Another favourite saint of Bahodirs was Bahouddin Naqshband, Bukharas unofcial patron saint who is known for his appreciation of honest work, for the fact that he did not turn his back on the world, but worked in order to support himself and his family. Bahodir had not unambiguously turned his back on the world either. Since Imom Xoja Baror visited him in his dream, he said, he had miraculously, in a way he could not explain, been able to maintain his family by building tombs at the burial place which surrounded the shrine and by praying for the visitors to the shrine. However, this periodic engagement with the surrounding society on its own terms also raised suspicion at times. It made some people doubt the sincerity of his motives for serving as a shrine-guardian. Maybe he just did it for the sake 330

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of the money he received from the visitors for whom he prayed? In reply Bahodir would insist that all his worldly pursuits were connected with God. He had got into the habit of performing some sort of improvised inner zikr, recollection of God, when he built tombs. His heart would praise God, Allah, Allah, in time with his bricklaying, assimilating the eternal moral order of the universe to the tempo of social life. And if what he did was wrong, why would God help him? Bahodir struggled along, hedging his bets, accentuating different aspects of the phenomenon of saints and of sacred space as he tentatively participated in different games, having little success in any of them. He wavered between standing above the worldly pursuits of society and actively engaging in them, using his mystic knowledge of the past to both condemn these pursuits and succeed in them. He considered all his small victories to be signs of Gods blessing.
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Imaginative potentials of sacred places For Bukharas Muslims sacred places are focal points for creative experimentation with different ways of remaking lifeworlds at a time when rapid social change has disrupted the habitual, hampering previous ways of acting and bringing forth a new repertoire of possibilities. In his book Post-Soviet Chaos: Violence and Dispossession in Kazakhstan,38 which is based on a eldwork in Almaty, Joma Nazpary argues that post-Soviet reforms have dispossessed the majority of the population in Kazakhstan, made them lose economical, social and existential security. For the dispossessed in Kazakhstan, life is characterised by bardak; a Russian word literally meaning brothel, but used as a metaphor for complete chaos. Experiences of loss and feelings of navigating in chaos were not unknown to the people I worked among in Bukhara. The society that has emerged in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union is one that many people experience as a mixed blessing, being increasingly disillusioned with the unfullled promises of the postSoviet Uzbek government, which has left them struggling in their daily lives with economic despair. After independence, most Uzbeks have experienced a steady fall in the level of real wages due to high rates of ination, the liberalisation of prices and the reduction of subsidies. Unemployment is high and seems to be increasing, and average salaries are hardly sufcient to meet bare subsistence. Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, many people experience society as amoral and corrupt, characterised by gross social injustice. They nd themselves having to pay considerable amounts of money under the table if they want to get a job, pass an exam, or achieve proper medical treatment, and they see money open every door for those people who possess it. On the other hand, many people are also fascinated by the seemingly unlimited array of opportunities to improve life which have been introduced after independence. One often hears the view expressed that the virtues of entrepreneurship and industriousness, which are necessary if one wants to make a good living in post-Soviet society, are indeed virtues which are fundamental to local Muslimness, and that post-Soviet society is therefore conducive to proper Muslimness (in contrast, it is sometimes 331

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added, to Soviet society where people were able to succeed in society without making an effort). Frequently, during my eldwork I witnessed people making references to Bahouddin Naqshbands saying The heart with God, the hand at work, to make an argument that engaging in worldly matters is not contradictory to the message of Islam, and that honest work may in fact be the best way of serving God. Moral and existential dilemmas Life in Uzbekistan is thus characterised by chaos and existential insecurity, but also by hope and fascination with the new opportunities independence has brought about for those who understand how to navigate in the post-Soviet chaos. It has confronted people with a range of new existential and moral dilemmas. Sacred places are focal points for their efforts to tackle these new existential and moral dilemmas. They are focal points for reection on, negotiation of and practical experimentation with the question of which parts of reality are worth engaging in, which illusios are worth sharing, and what it takes to be a good Muslim in this changing society. Should one turn ones back on society, rejecting its amoral nature, or should one do ones best to play the games of this society, focusing instead on the virtues of entrepreneurship and industriousness? Most people are ambiguous about how they tackle such moral and existential dilemmas. Like Bahodir they struggle along, constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, however small, for creating a more satisfying existence, and continually revising their ideas about the constitution of proper Uzbek Muslimness. They hope for future divine interventions, but also frequently justify morally ambiguous actions, decisions and achievements in retrospect by reference to divine interventions. When a person, say, passes an exam, gets a job or performs a successful business transaction, social recognition is not unambiguous as, in the opinion of many, such achievements are hardly possible without paying bribes or having connections. Just as the post-Soviet regime has made use of avliyo and their shrines as part of its self-legitimating agenda, people often, in their everyday lives, seek to lend legitimacy to morally ambiguous actions, decisions and achievements by connecting them with divine agency. This is perhaps most notable in the sphere of business, or biznes as it is termed in the local language. The sphere of biznes is the object of great fascination, as it offers a seemingly unlimited array of opportunities to improve life, a means for the acquisition of goods one could not even begin to imagine during Soviet times, and an arena for the display of the highly valued virtues of industriousness and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the emerging and rather disparate sphere of biznes is also looked upon with considerable suspicion, being considered potentially subversive and threatening in relation to the social and moral order. This suspicion does not only stem from the fact that private trading activities were branded as amoral during Soviet times. It also stems from the experiential realities of postSoviet life. Biznes is associated with somewhat shady dealings and most people have felt morally offended by encounters with fellow citizens who have made a 332

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biznes of charging for services that ought to be provided for free. Among people I knew in Uzbekistan there was intense discussion and speculation about whether success in business, with its ambiguous connotations, should be regarded as a result of divine blessing, or on the contrary, as a result of immoral acts that would have repercussions in the afterlife. I met several businessmen and women who connected their business enterprises with esoteric experiences: dreams about saints, miracles, or divine inspiration. Take for example Gulnora, a middle-aged woman who was educated as a teacher, but who had been unable to live on her teachers salary and therefore had changed track to the potentially much more protable path of doing biznes in the new jungle of the post-Soviet market, buying furs and selling them in Russia. Here she had to struggle, not only with the tough competition and the opaqueness of economic structures, but also with harassment from customs ofcers and other ofcials trying to supplement their own meagre incomes with bribes (also a kind of biznes), with dealers whom she was never sure that she could trust but had to engage with, and with maa-like groups trying to control the trade. They are like mad dogs, Gulnora once said about the businessmen she worked among. She, however, did pretty well among these mad dogs. This fact she largely attributed to the help of God who, she said, provided her with a sense of which people were trustworthy and who were to be avoided, and whose avliyo had several times appeared in her dreams, giving her warnings and advice. I rst met Gulnora in 1998, on the occasion of an Osh Bibiyo, a womens ritual held in honour of the female avliyo Bibi-Seshanba, who is considered the protector of home and family life, and of women in particular.39 Gulnora had arranged the ceremony. She told me that many years ago when she had had problems getting pregnant, she had promised that if she had a child, she would arrange an Osh Bibiyo. She actually did become pregnant and later gave birth to a girl who was now 15 years old. She had been too busy to arrange an Osh Bibiyo, but now she wanted to do it; better late than never. And besides, she had recently experienced a karama, a miracle worked by a saint. Last time she was in Russia, in August 1998, she had a strange dream. A gure came to her and said the seventeenth. When she woke up, she wondered what that meant, and decided to buy a ticket home to Bukhara for 17 August. And indeed, on 17 August, 1998, Russia experienced a major economic collapse, and the rouble was devalued dramatically. If she had stayed, or rather, if she had not changed her roubles in time, she would have been ruined. She was not sure about who the gure in the dream was, but she thought that it was some avliyo, and possibly Bibi-Seshanba, and she wanted to express her gratitude at the Osh Bibiyo. Considering that Bibi-Seshanba is primarily seen as the protector of home and family life, I found it interesting that Gulnora connected her with the relative success of her business. When I confronted her with my doubts, Gulnora told me that formerly it might have been the case that women only worked at home, taking care of the children and of the house, but nowadays things were different. Now people needed more money, and many women had to work in order for their families to live a decent life. Fortunately, Bibi-Seshanba also helped her with that. 333

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Like many Uzbek women, Gulnora was trying to attain some balance between a perceived traditional gender ideology dening the ideal role of a woman as wife and mother occupied with domestic obligations, and a perceived modern (or in the critics words Soviet, Western or just foreign) gender ideology that allows women greater personal independence and freedom of choice outside the home.40 Added to this, they must deal with an economic situation that makes it necessary for many women to work outside the home in order for a family to maintain what is considered a decent living standard. Gulnoras way of relating her business to Bibi-Seshanba may be seen as a way of countering the risk of losing her valued status and identity as centre of the family and keeper of good morality while engaging in an activity, biznes, that is generally considered morally suspect, and even more suspect for a woman to engage in. This is not to say that Gulnoras and other peoples ways of connecting their lives with the secret purposes of the Divine amount to some kind of bad faith intended to convince others to approve of their actions, decisions and achievements. I see no reason to doubt that people really experience divine agency as playing an important role in their lives. However, it seems plausible to suggest that the reason people accentuate these experiences so much has to do with their potentially positive social effects. That is, people who had recourse to the notion of divine interventions were employing a strategy aimed at redening morally ambiguous situations to their advantage.41 People, in other words, not only invest institutionalised shrines with new meaning as they relate them to their own concerns, they also make their own maps of sacred landscapes, plugging in their own landmarks. These might be a dream-encounter with a saint, a miracle happening upon a visit to a shrine, or merely a sudden brainwave or impulse perceived to be divinely inspired. However, just as the state has not succeeded in colonising sacred space, people can never be sure that other people will acknowledge the validity of these landmarks. These are often contested and dismissed by others as merely reecting the personal, self-serving concerns of the experiencing subject, as being merely subjective utopias, nonplaces, not worth dwelling on. Not everyone acknowledged that the Divine had intervened in Bahodirs and Gulnoras lifeworlds.

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A phenomenology of avliyo in post-Soviet Bukhara It might be the relative indeterminacy in the conception of avliyo that give them their strong imaginative potential and such a strong hold on peoples imagination. Far from being the captives by nationalist discourse, far from being frozen as symbols of the nations great past, in semiological terms they could rather be characterised as signs with a surplus of the signier. Neither embodied in living (all too human) human beings, nor dened unambiguously in (all too human) human language, they are capable of playing virtually unlimited roles in the most diverse stories characterised by the most diverse concerns, while at the same time representing an essential, unchanging moral order. 334

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The tales of the saints of Bukhara often recount their supreme powers as compared with the power of secular rulers. Equally often, they tell of their selfsacrice and devotion to the communities they lived in. In the most general sense they can be perceived as embodiments, or allegories, of everything perceived to be missing in the intersubjective encounters of current society. Avliyo, to those Bukhara Muslims who seek them out, embody the fullment of both the desire for agency and the desire for existence within a larger sphere of Being which has been active in shaping them. On the one hand they embody absolute power and knowledge, absolute autonomy and agency. They possess the power to intervene radically in the lives of others, imposing their will on these lives. On the other hand, they embody what might be termed an absolute passivity or sociality, that is, a sacricing of the self for the sake of society. To be more precise, when people feel the social to be suffocating, leaving no room for agency, what they seek in the phenomenon of avliyo is power to act on the world or knowledge to imagine the social in a different way. This is a way that symbolically switches the locus of action from a context in which it does not seem to make a difference to a context in which it does.42 This was what Bahodir did. On the one hand he sought magical powers to improve his chances in a worldly game where money, social status and masculine identity were at stake. At the same time he disengaged from this game by way of moral narratives that put them into perspective and helped him imagine an alternative sphere of Being to which he could belong and within which he could experience agency. This was the ultimate game set up by God, in which the stakes are ones fate in the afterlife. When people experience agency and autonomy but nd themselves on the margins of their social world, they seek to imagine subjectivity differently. The phenomenon of avliyo provides a moral foundation for this agency and knowledge. They seek to symbolically transfer the constitution of their subjectivity from a sphere of Being within which they feel alienated to a sphere of Being within which they can be integrated. This is what Bahodir did when he justied his engagement in the social games of the world. If what he did was wrong, why would God, then, help him? Similarly, Gulnora justied the fact that she succeeded among the mad dogs of the market by reference to the help of God and Bibi-Seshanba. People often waver between the idea that sacred places embody the Divine concretely, endowed with a kind of contagious blessedness which cannot be perceived by ordinary human reason, and the idea that sacred places are merely symbols or traces of a divine presence in the world and the ideals attained by the saint. This wavering or ambiguity should not be seen as an indicator of a lack of knowledge of Islam among Central Asias Muslims, as it has sometimes been presented, but rather as evidence of the general point that knowledge is related to doing, to practice. People who, when asked directly, deem the belief in the magical or miraculous power of sacred places irrational indeed sometimes experience such magical or miraculous powers and draw attention to these experiences, because they lend transcendent authority and moral righteousness to acts that might otherwise be found morally suspect. 335

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Moralities in-the-making: negotiating Muslimness Social change in post-Soviet Central Asia has confronted people with a range of new existential and moral dilemmas. Sacred places are focal points for their efforts to tackle these dilemmas; for reecting on and negotiating what it means to be a good Muslim in post-Soviet society. Political elites in Uzbekistan have attempted to co-opt the concept of Muslimness and the sacred places which embody Muslimness within the ideology of national independence. Its meaning, however, is by no means xed. On the contrary, the meaning of Muslimness is continually redened in the course of everyday life, as people relate their own concerns to the concept. They constantly redene Muslimness as everything they miss or wish to conjure up in the intersubjective encounters of their lifeworlds, as everything that prevents them from reaching fullment in life. Muslimness sometimes consists in the moral righteousness they nd lacking in the actions of people around them. Sometimes it is their grip on the world they feel they had lost. Sometimes it is the moral foundation they seek for their struggles to get by in life, while others around them seem not to require any moral grounding for their actions. Although they may nd themselves in situations characterised by extreme existential insecurity, they do not resort to extreme ways of being in the world. They do not nd the moral utopias of the radical Islamists particularly convincing or attractive. They do not unreectively embrace post-Soviet nationalist discourses or blindly follow the dominant moral orders of their local communities. Neither do they resort to some kind of ultra-liberal morality, cynically engaging in whatever illusions might serve their personal interests at particular moments. Blind belief and cynical pragmatic faith are rather the rare extremes of their constantly shifting, and sometimes ambiguous, engagement with reality in their efforts to create a balance between a sense of agency and a sense of belonging to a larger moral order. And precisely because Muslimness, rather than a xed answer to the predicaments of everyday life, is a morality in the making animated by the shifting concerns of this everyday life, it is able to give people meaningful answers as they struggle along, trying to cope with a changing social world. Acknowledgements For very constructive and encouraging comments to this article I owe my thanks to Lotte Isager and Johan Rasanayagam. I am also grateful to the participants in the Post-Soviet Islam: An Anthropological Perspective workshop at the Max Planck Institute in Halle, 29 June to 1 July 2005, who contributed with their comments to the paper on which this article is based. Notes and references
1. My eldwork was conducted from June 1998 through February 1999, and from June through September 2000. Cf also M. Louw, The Heart with God. The Hand at Work. Being Muslim in post-Soviet Bukhara (PhD thesis, Department of Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University, 2004 and M. Louw, Everday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia (Routledge 2007)).

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2. Robert Desjarlais uses the phrase struggling along to denote a distinct way of being in the world in which future, present, and past have little to do with one another, and in which recollections depend on momentary preoccupations more than any deftly woven remembrances of time past. R. Desjarlais, Struggling Along, Things as They Are. New Directions in Phenomenological Anthropology, M. Jackson (ed) (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996). 3. Most Soviet scholars tried to explain the perseverance of Islam in the Soviet Union by reference to the thesis that social consciousness is more conservative than social being. Although the evolution of consciousness, according to Marxist historical materialism, is determined by changes in social life, there is not necessarily complete harmony between different stages of the development of society and consciousness, and remnants or survivals of earlier forms of consciousness can be found in more developed societies, including the Soviet Union. 4. Western scholars of Islam in the Soviet Union, with Alexandre Bennigsen as the leading gure, often assumed that the Muslim societies in the Soviet Union had not been modernised in a cultural or psychological sense, as they were protecting themselves and their tradition against Soviet attempts at modernisation. Retrospectively, these studies appear to have been informed by some rather stereotypical categories which were substitutes for the ethnographic richness that was lacking due to the impossibility of doing rst-hand research in the Soviet Union. These categories were rooted in a modernist theoretical framework similar to the one informing Soviet analyses, a framework which maintained a dichotomy between essentialised conceptions of tradition and religion on the one hand, and modernity on the other, and which treated these concepts as mutually exclusive. 5. See for example Shirin Akiner, Social and political reorganisation in Central Asia: transition from precolonial to post-colonial society, Post-Soviet Central Asia, T. Atabaki and J. OKane (eds) (London: I. B. Tauris, 1998); Y. Roi, The secularisation of Islam and the USSRs muslim areas, Muslim Eurasia: Conicting Legacies, Y. Roi (ed) (London: Frank Cass, 1995); M. Atkin, Islam as faith, politics and bogeyman in Tajikistan, The Politics of Religion in Russia and the new States of Eurasia, M. Bordeaux (ed) (Armonk and London: M. E. Sharpe 1995); D. Ibrahim, The Islamisation of Central Asia. A Case Study of Uzbekistan (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation 1992) and N. Shahrani, Islam and the Political Culture of Scientic Atheism in Post-Soviet Central Asia, The Politics of Religion in Russia and the new States of Eurasia, M. Bordeaux (ed) (Armonk and London: M. E. Sharpe 1995). 6. See for example A. Bennigsen and S. E. Wimbush, Mystics and commissars. Susm in the Soviet Union (London: Hurst, 1985); H. Fathi, Otines: the unknown women clerics of Central Asian Islam, Central Asian Survey, Vol 16, No 1, 1997; I. Lipovsky, The awakening of Central Asian Islam, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 32, No 3, 1996; S. Poliakov, Everyday Islam. Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia (Armonk and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1992); B. Privratsky, Muslim Turkistan: Kazak Religion and Collective Memory (Richmond: Curzon Press, 2001) and V. Schubel, Post-Soviet Hagiography and the Reconstruction of the Naqshbandi Tradition in Contemporary Uzbekistan, Naqshbandis in Western and Central Asia. zdalga (ed) (Swedish Research Centre in Istanbul, 1999). Change and Continuity, E. O 7. R. D. McChesney, Central Asia: Foundations of Change (Princeton: The Darwin Press, 1996), p 19. 8. E. S. Casey, How to get from space to place in a fairly short stretch of time: phenomenological prolegomena, Senses of Place, S. Feld and K. H. Basso (eds) (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1996). 9. Ibid, pp 2425. 10. K. H. Basso, Wisdom sits in places. Notes on a western apache landscape, Senses of Place, S. Feld and K. H. Basso (eds) (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1996), p 56. 11. Basso adopts Martin Heideggers concept of dwelling to denote the multiple lived relationships that people maintain with places. 12. According to Islamic tradition, the prophet Muhammad, in 622, ascended to heaven, where he met with the prophets of the past, was given visions of heaven and hell, gazed upon God and was given the command of ve prayers a day for all Muslims. 13. The local historian Narzulla Yoldoshev has written about the most well-known of them in his book Buxoro avliyolarining tarixi, The history of Bukharas avliya. N. Yoldoshev, Buxoro avliyolarning tarixi (Bukhara: Buxoro, 1997). 14. Derived from the Arabic awliya , plural of wali. The term wali is seldom used. The plural form avliyo is commonly used as a singular. The Uzbek plural form, then, is avliyolar. Avliyo, however, is also commonly used as a plural form. 15. Abdulkholiq Gijduvoniy (d. 1220), Xoja Orif ar-Revgariy (d. 1259), Xoja Mahmud Anjir Faghnaviy (d. 1245 or 1272), Xoja ali Rometaniy (d. 1306 or 1321), Muhammad Boboiy Samosiy (d. 1340 or 1354), and Sayyid Mir Kulol (d. 1371) and Bahouddin Naqshband (d. 1389) (names according to contemporary rgen Paul the concept of the seven pirs is a modern invention. They are Uzbek spelling). According to Ju nowhere grouped together in this fashion in medieval sources. J. Paul, Contemporary Uzbek Hagiography

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and its Sources, Sprachen, Mythen, Mythizismen: Festschrift Walter Beltz zum 65. Geburtstag, Hallsche ge zur Orientwissenschaft, Vol 32, No 1, 2002, p 631. Beitra For example Boboyi Poradoz, who is patron saint of shoemakers, Usta Ruhiy, patron saint of metalworkers, Jonmardi Qassob, patron saint of butchers, Imom Muhammad Gazzoliy, patron saint of tailorsand numerous others: See Yoldoshev, op cit, Ref xiii, p 123. rgen Paul this interpretation of the gure of Bahouddin Naqshband constitutes an anachroAccording to Ju nistic projection of a Soviet/post-Soviet ethics into the past and should be regarded as an instance of how classical texts are adapted, and past principles and gures reinterpreted, to suit present concerns and accommodate present-day political circumstances. See Paul, op cit, Ref xv, pp 62938. T. Ingold, The temporality of the landscape, World Archaeology. Vol 25, No 2, 1993, p 152. Ibid, p 153. Cf A. Bennigsen and S. E Wimbush, op cit, Ref vi, p 42. Cf A. Bennigsen and S. E. Wimbush, op cit, Ref vi, p 42 and M. Saroyan, Minorities, Mullahs and Modernity: Reshaping Community in the Former Soviet Union (IAS: Berkeley, 1997), pp 48 50, 6668. For a sketch of Soviet interpretation and preservation of Bukharas ancient heritage, see M. Azzout, The Soviet interpretation and preservation of the ancient heritage of Uzbekistan: the example of Bukhara, Bukhara. The Myth and the Architecture, A. Petruccioli (ed) (Cambridge MA: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999). B. Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991), p 183. Cf David Lowenthal who has demonstrated how in the twentieth century the past has been treated as a foreign country radically different from modern time, its relics being largely irrelevant to modern concerns. D. Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). Cf also O. Roy, The New Central Asia. The Creation of Nations (London and New York: I. P. Tauris), p 152. M. Taussig, Defacement. Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative (Stanford: Stanford University Press), p 5. People often used the Russian term zakret when talking about the fact that ziyorat was forbidden during Soviet times. Using the Russian term in discourses otherwise held in Uzbek or Tajik, it seems, they dissociate themselves from the practice of closing off and indicate that it is to be conceived as a foreign imposition. http://jahon.mfa.uz/english.htm Mikhail Bakhtin used the concept of chronotrope (literally time space) to denote the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships; the inseparability of space and time. He, more specically, discusses literary chronotopes, which fuse spatial and temporal indicators into wholes, but the concept, I believe, is also revealing outside the literary realm. M. M. Bakhtin, Forms of time and chronotypes in the novel, The Dialogic Imagination. Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin, M. Holquist (ed) (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991). Cf M. Herzfeld, A Place in History: Social and Monumental Time in a Cretan Town (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). Cf P. Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p 48. Cf P. Werbner and H. Basu, The embodiment of charisma, Embodying Charisma. Modernity, Locality and the Performance of Emotion in Su Cults (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), p 3. P. Bourdieu, The Economy of Symbolic Goods, Practical Reason. On the Theory of Action (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998), pp 76 77 and P. Bourdieu, Social Being, Time and the Sense of Existence, Pascalian Meditations (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). G. Hage, The differential intensities of social reality: migration, participation and guilt, Arab Australians Today (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002), p 201. M. Jackson, At Home in the World (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995), p 123 and M. Jackson, The Politics of Storytelling. Violence, Transgression and Intersubjectivity (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press), p 13. The hand is also interpreted as a symbol of the ve pillars of Islam. I did not encounter the common interpretation in the Arab world which identies the hand as Fatimas hand, a widely used protection against the evil eye and djinns, demons. Alexander the Great invaded Central Asia in 329 BC, defeating the Persians, the Scythians who lived north of the Syrdaryo River and nally the Sogdians (the Persians had created the province of Sogdiana and Bactria covering much of present-day Uzbekistan). In Samarkand, Alexander killed his best friend Clitus and later married Roxana, daughter of the Sogdian chief Oxyartes. Alexander died in 323 BC. A. Rashid, The Resurgence of Central Asia. Islam or Nationalism? (London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1994), pp 84, 165. J. Nazpary, Post-Soviet Chaos. Violence and Dispossession in Kazakhstan (London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press 2002).

16. 17.

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mer, Geistliche Autorita t und islamische Gesellschaft in Wandel. Studien u ber Frauena lteste 39. Cf also A. Kra ngigen Usbekistan (Berlin: Klaus Schwartz Verlag 2002). (otin und xalfa) im unabha 40. Cf S. Akiner, Between tradition and modernity: the dilemma facing contemporary Central Asian women, Post-Soviet Women: from the Baltic to Central Asia, M. Buckley (ed) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 41. Cf V. Argyrou, Under a spell: the strategic use of magic in Greek Cypriot Society, American Ethnologist, Vol 20, No 2, pp 256271. 42. M. Jackson, The Politics of Storytelling. Violence, Transgression and Intersubjectivity (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press), pp 16 18.

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