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Objective Sides Of Religiosity Of Kyrgyzstan's Population

Friday, December 30, 2016 - 21:20

The information obtained through a poll on the objective sides of the population's religiosity demonstrates the multi-directional flow of religious processes, as well as the fact that such a difference in their vectors is largely due not to the internal logic of development of religious relations, but to the influence of foreign religious organizations, as well as the corrupt interference into the activities of religious associations on the part of the public authorities that are in charge of the religious sphere. The fact that the religious activity and involvement of the population in the religious life, which is manifested in the religious rites performed by believers, in the participation in the activities of religious organizations and in the promotion of religious doctrines (which are objective evidences of religiosity of the population) do not reflect the depth and degree of religiosity of the people or the degree of their performance of the religious and moral precepts of their religion. Ironically, the ever-increasing religious activity of the people that has been observed in the past twenty years is not accompanied by an equal increase in their religiosity and God-fearing righteous life, as required by any religions.


This is primarily due to the fact that the religious organizations present in Kyrgyzstan place the emphasis in their activities on attracting people to their religion by active dissemination of a particular religious outlook, and not on calling the citizens to lead righteous life, to have humane and compassionate attitude towards other people. However, the entire plan of God is such behavior of the people, for it allows the person to save their soul and to be a social being. In its activities, the traditional Muslim religious organization does not fully adhere to this main postulate of religion due to having fallen under the strong influence of radical Islam, which is actually not a religion, but an ideological tool used by the world geopolitical forces to establish their influence in Kyrgyzstan. No less harmful to the traditional religious organization is the corrupt government interference in its internal life, since this is contrary to the general principle of all religions; this prevents the religion from performing its functions effectively.


The impact of this shift of the emphasis in the activities of religious organizations is clearly in the way the citizens perform major religious ceremonies; it is especially true for the representatives of new unconventional, destructive and extremist religious organizations. Thus, the results of the survey indicate that this figure is highest among representatives of destructive religious organizations (45.6%), Catholics (32.3%), Protestants (29.1%), and Buddhists (27.8%). The share of Muslims and Orthodox who perform all the main religious ceremonies is somewhat lower: 19.1% and 20.5%, respectively. So, the share of those performing the major religious rituals is higher than the share of daily-praying Muslims by 8.8%, Orthodox – by 5.3%, representatives of other religions and religious movements – by 22.3%. Apparently, traditional Islam and Orthodox give less attention to the performance of religious rites by the faithful people than other religions do. However, the main task of performing the ceremonies in any belief is to strengthen the believer's connection with God.


In modern conditions, institutions such as education and science, being specialized in the study of world order and the spread of scientific knowledge thereof, have a very heavily influence on the decline of religiosity of the population. Over time, it becomes difficult for the religion to compete with these institutions. Therefore, in such a situation, in order to maintain the population's religiosity, religious organizations should not limit their activities to dissemination of religious understanding of the world and encouraging people to adopt their religion. The emphasis should be placed on the spread of socially significant norms of behavior that are indicated in the main religious postulates. After all, society needs religion in the first place not because of its special explanation of the world order, but because of its designation of a righteous life, manifestations of people's mercy and love to each other, which are the only correct norms of human behavior. A confirmation of this statement are the people's responses to the question “Do you celebrate religious holidays (Orozo Ait, Easter, etc.)?.” According to respondents, 89.2% of Muslims, 86.3% of Orthodox, 83,5% of Catholics, 85.6% of Protestants, and 87.2% of people of other religions and religious movements do regularly celebrate religious holidays. Undoubtedly, there would not be such an almost universal celebration of these religious holidays, if they dis not glorify the victory of man over his vices, his ability and willingness to make his behavior comply with the requirements of the religions listed above.


The survey results also confirm the fact that the current state of religiosity of the population, which, despite the rapid increase in the number of believers during the past 20 years, is characterized by a relatively low level of religiosity of the people, is due to the imbalance in the work of religious organizations. Thus, the question “Do you directly participate in the activities of religious organizations?” was answered positively only by 3.4% of Muslims, 4.5% of Orthodox, and 8.7% of representatives of other religions and religious movements. This figure is relatively high among Catholics (7.6%) and Protestants (9.4%). However, among those directly involved in the activities of religious organizations, young people between 16 and 30 years constitute 11.8%, which is a much higher figure in comparison with other age categories; this is especially true for Kyrgyz and Uzbek people. Perhaps, this is due not only to a large number of unemployed among the young people, its mobility and the fact that the youth becomes interested in new ideas quickly; this is also due to the efforts of religious organizations – especially extremist and destructive – aimed at turning young people into an instrument for achieving their goals.


The same picture is observed in relation to the two other objective facets of the population's religiosity, which are: the people's participation in the propaganda of the religious doctrine and the people's performance of the religious and moral principles of their religion. For example, the question “Do you tell those you communicate with about the benefits of your religion?” was replied affirmatively by 1.3% of Muslim, 0.6% of Orthodox, and 5.8% of representatives of other religions. Almost all the Muslims who answered this question affirmatively were practicing believers, and 24.2% of them were people who had participated in outreach davaatah (calling people to Islam). Such a low percentage of the Orthodox believers' participation in the promotion of their faith is due to the lack of advanced practices of missionary work in their religion and the imposition of the religion on the people. However, as shown by personal interviews the author of the article conducted with the citizens who profess Islam, it is due to completely banal reasons in the case with the Muslims. They boil down mainly to the lack of time and the impossibility to convince the interlocutor by means of religious explanations. Ironically, in their opinion, a modern person is too informed and educated – despite the fact that the quality of teaching in educational institutions of our country is still very low.


The discrepancy between the increase in the number of believers and the growth of religiosity is very convincingly confirmed by the respondents' answers to open questions, such as: “Please list the 10 Christian Commandments,” “Please list 5 requirements (pillars) and 15 basic moral precepts of Islam” and “Please list 5 noble (moral) precepts of Buddhism.” All the 10 commandments of Christianity were named only by 0.7% of Orthodox, 6.3% of Catholic and 8.1% of Protestant. Basically, the respondents named such commandments as “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” There were even fewer Muslims who knew all the 5 requirements (pillars) and 15 moral precepts of Islam – only 0.4%. Knowledge of the basic requirements (pillars) of Islam was shown mostly by the practicing Muslims, who constituted up to 10.2% of Muslim respondents. A total of 1.9% of Buddhists demonstrated knowledge of the basic 5 noble (moral) precepts of Buddha. However, it should be said that the ignorance of the specific moral precepts of religion speaks only about the level of religiosity of the people, and not about their immorality. The moral principles established in the religions are the experience of the society, and they control the relationship between people.


As we can see, the results of the poll conducted within the framework of investigation of the security issues in the country under the conditions of enhanced international terrorism and religious extremism confirm the previous assumption that the increase in the number of believers does not lead to an automatic increase in religiosity. Most believers rarely perform religious rites, do not know the nature of their religions or their basic moral precepts – not to mention the fact that they do not follow these moral precepts in their daily lives to the full extent. The unprecedented competition among the many religions and religious movements – even within the traditional Muslim religious organization – is introducing ideological uncertainty into people's consciousness. In addition, the traditional Muslim religious organization is lacking their own well-defined religious (ideological) positions that would be not imposed by radical Islam or clearly defined principles relations with the authorities and the society, and this fact prevents the traditional Muslim religious organization from conducting work that would be really aimed at increasing religiosity of the population.


The faith in God is not a property given to us from above; it is a derivative or a part of a person's ability to generally believe in something. And people developed this ability with the advent of society, as believing the others was the only way to co-exist with their own kind. In other words, a person's ability to believe is their social quality, a product of social relations. Accordingly, it is an essential factor in the existence of society itself. Therefore, religion must be treated as a public institution, which ensures that people remain social beings while performing the functions inherent only to this institution. This means, all the public policies in the field of religious relations should be based on such an understanding of religion.

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