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Religions of Kazakhstan



According to the 2009 Census, 70.2% of the population is Muslim, 26.6% Christian, 0.1% Buddhists, 0.2% others (mostly Jews), and 2.8% non-believers, while 0.5% chose not to answer. According to its Constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular state.

Religious freedoms were guaranteed by Article 39 of Kazakhstan’s Constitution. Article 39 clearly states: “Human rights and freedoms shall not be restricted in any way.” Article 14 prohibits “discrimination on religious basis” and Article 19 insures that everyone has the “right to determine and indicate or not to indicate his/her ethnic, party and religious affiliation.” The Constitutional Council recently affirmed these rights by ruling that a proposed law limiting the rights of certain individuals to practice their religion was declared unconstitutional.

Islam is the largest religion in Kazakhstan followed by Russian Orthodox Christianity. After decades of religious suppression by the Soviet Union, the coming of independence witnessed a surge in expression of ethnic identity, partly through religion. The free practice of religious beliefs and the establishment of full freedom of religion led to an increase of religious activity. Hundreds of mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious structures were built in the span of a few years, with the number of religious associations rising from 670 in 1990 to 4,170 today.

The majority of Muslims are Sunni following the Hanafi school, including ethnic Kazakhs, who constitute about 60% the population, as well as by ethnic Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Tatars. Less than 1% are part of the Sunni Shafi`i school (primarily Chechens). There are a total of 2,300 mosques; all of them are affiliated with the "Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan", headed by a supreme mufti. The Eid al-Adha is recognized as a national holiday.

One fourth of the population is Russian Orthodox, including ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. Other Christian
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