Until We All Rise: Aspects of Traditional Muslim Burial Practices and Ceremonies in Tajikistan

  • Barakatullo Ashurov Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Harvard, Boston, USA
Keywords:
Tajikistan, funerary customs, death, ethnography, traditions, Islam, eschatology, re-interpretation, religious

Abstract

Islam, which spread out to Central Asia after its conquest by the Arab armies in early 8th century, has expanded and taken roots in the spiritual and everyday life of each ethnic group of the region in its own way. In its Central Asian geo-cultural contexts, similar to other regions where it came to be the faith of majority, it is more prone to integrated characteristics, including traditional ethnic beliefs and ritualistic elements. The study of Islam among other things in the context of local traditional rituals, particularly the funerary traditions and observances, which has also kept many cultural elements pre-existing the arrival of Islam, has profound meaning in many aspects; such as re-interpretation of the afterlife views and development of cycle of observances and ceremonies that are performed in the hope of earning merit on behalf of deceased and a hope for the day when all who died rise again. The focus of this paper is to present the funerary ritual cycle of Tajik Muslims. The limits of the contribution are set to Tajikistan; but also refer to corresponding and parallel ceremonies observed among the Tajiks living in other neighbouring countries. The impact of this contribution is both in its inventory of the literature on the topic but also on discussion of the importance of these rituals and how the communities feel about the reasons and performance of these ceremonies. The ceremonies that provide merit for both deceased and their kin award them with a sustaining hope that they all will rise and unite in the Last Day. The material for this contribution was collected through group and individual interviews of people from various regions of Tajikistan (April-September, 2014), personal observations and from previous studies on the topic. In what follows I will provide a short literature review on existing studies on funerary traditions of Tajik Muslims and also a descriptive compendium of all currently practiced cycles of funerary ceremonies.

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Published
2019-06-27
How to Cite
Ashurov, Barakatullo. 2019. “Until We All Rise: Aspects of Traditional Muslim Burial Practices and Ceremonies in Tajikistan”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 14 (2), 557–589. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v14i2.7.