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«Reestablishing roots and learning to fly: Kazakh church planting between contextualization and globalization. by Dean Frederick Sieberhagen submitted ...»

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His description shows how the Quran has some sort of talismanic quality so that there is something special about its presence.

2.7.8 Purity Kenzheaxmetuli (2004:94-95) explains the extensive use of the term Ak (white) in Kazakh. It refers to a pure way of living and the ancestors are seen as having lived on the pure path. This relates to a theme common in many forms of Islam, namely that of needing to make oneself pure. Pollution avoidance is characteristic of many rituals in the Muslim’s life and helps in understanding why Kazakhs like other Muslims allocate a bipolar value to actions and objects (Frederick Denny 2001:70). For example, ‘left’ is seen as polluted and ‘right’ as pure. There are cases in Kazakhstan where children born left-handed have been trained to switch to a right-handed orientation. The left hand then is used for the more humble and impure tasks whereas the right hand for more noble actions such as eating food and greeting others.

With the strong globalization/ urbanization taking place, are concerns with practicing purity fading? An example is the idea of ablution activities. These are traditionally seen to make a person unclean and so the ablution facility should be located at the farthermost point away from the house. In all the new houses being built in the cities, there are very few outside ablution facilities and indoor plumbing is now the standard. Urbanization also meant that apartment living became very common and this does not allow for outside ablutions.

2.7.9 Celebration Days Gabdina, Emelina, and Galikov (2002:140) explain how special celebration days take place throughout the year in Kazakh life and some of these have particular significance related to how Kazakhs practice their form of Islam. Korban Ait is a celebration that is celebrated across the Muslim world and is a time to remember when Ibrahim (Abraham) willingly offered his son Ishmael as a sacrifice to God (Zein Kahn 2006:1). Each family should sacrifice their best sheep or other animal and then give away the majority of the meat to the needy. Inherent in this sacrifice is the concept of sins being forgiven so that each person in the family gets a clean start to life. Korban Ait is one of the times in the year when Kazakhs feel most religious and that they are truly practicing Islam. They are honoring God, being with family and helping the poor. This celebration appears to be the one that is increasing the most in practice and popularity.

Kenzheaxmetuli (2004:224-235) explains in detail the various aspects of Nawrus and this seems to be the holiday/ celebration where Kazakhs are happiest and most optimistic. It comes at the end of the winter season at the time when day and night are equal in length.

Although it is not supposed to be spiritual in nature, there are strong animistic overtones that suggest new beginnings seen in the new life that spring brings. There is the idea that the winter hibernation is over and everyone is thankful for the new opportunity to get out and live again.

2.8 Globalization and the Kazakhs Globalization has been, is, and will continue reshaping our world at an unprecedented speed. There is no denying the changes that we witness on our streets, through our computer networks, and in our pockets, as we carry around the paraphernalia of globalization – credit cards, mobile phones, plane tickets. (Davey 2002:28) Continuous reshaping is an accurate phrase to describe all that is taking place in Kazakhstan and the paraphernalia of globalization are more and more evident as the reshaping process develops. Nazarbaev (2010:3) suggests that Kazakhstan needs to take its place as a global partner and make all the necessary adjustments.

Surucu (2002:391) points out that geographically, Kazakhstan sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia; and this has given rise to the concept of Eurasianism.23 This becomes very strategic for the advance of the globalization cause and a direct challenge to orthodox Islam, as President Nazarbaev in his pursuit of Eurasianism describes “At the heart of the world religions are the moral norms of tolerance and mutual understanding, the strength of family ties, the seal of non-violence and openness to other faiths” (2010:17). The daunting challenge

facing Islam in a modern, global world is well described as follows by Abusulayman:

Internally weak, relatively backward, frustrated, conflict ridden, suffering from internal tensions, and often controlled and abused by foreign powers, the Muslim world is in a state of crisis. For Muslims, all of modern history is a tragedy. At an earlier time, during the sweeping revolution of Islam, Muslims were the custodians of civilization and both the center and master of the civilized world. But at present, the Muslim polity is neither master nor partner, and both Muslims and Islam are often regarded in world politics as little more than problematic. How did such a state of affairs come about and in what ways can the Muslim people alter this condition? (Ahsan 2002:196) The term Eurasianism seems to take on a definition dependant on who is using it. Cummings (2005:83) defines its use in Kazakhstan as follows “…incorporate a Muslim heritage into a secular, Europeanized state”.

It is a term used regularly by president Nazarbaev and carries geographic significance in terms of Kazakhstan sitting physically between Asia and Europe, political significance in terms of bridging European democracy with Asian political systems, and philosophical significance in terms of combining a European way of life with that of Asia (2010:5).





Globalization, modernization, westernization; these are terms that cause unease and create skepticism amongst most traditional Muslims. For many these terms are interchangeable and to speak of one is to imply the others. In the context of this dissertation we will focus on the term globalization and where relevant make reference to the other two.

2.8.1 The Rise of Globalization Thomas Friedman (2006:9) points out how globalization is not a recent phenomenon but rather can be described as arising within three distinct eras. The first era was driven by countries and kingdoms with new means of travel and a desire to discover new lands and opportunities and it spanned roughly the years from 1500 to 1800 AD. The second era was spurred on by the industrial revolution and the opportunities for new multi-national companies to find global markets for their products and services. It spanned the years from 1800 to 2000 AD. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century a third era has begun that is empowering the individual to participate on a global scale. The first two eras were largely dominated by countries and companies from the West, but Friedman argues that in the third era there will be no domination by any one part of the world, but rather the potential for mass participation by anyone, anywhere. Two key catalysts for the development of the third era are the fall of the Berlin wall and the availability of the personal computer. Friedman shows how the ending of the cold war, marked by the fall of the Berlin wall, removed the political barriers that isolated many individuals from each other. This is certainly true for the Kazakhs who are now interacting with other individuals from all over the world on an unprecedented scale. The availability of the personal computer and the internet for the individual has meant that they are able to communicate with other individuals regardless of where they live on the globe. Whilst it lagged behind in the early years, nevertheless Kazakh society is catching up fast when it comes to the proliferation and use of the internet.

Underlying the progress of this new third era of globalization are values such as individual freedom and choice, democracy, willingness to change, and a positive attitude towards new technologies. Where does this leave the Kazakh and other Islamic cultures that often place a greater value on community than the individual? Whilst the third era is about empowering individuals worldwide, nevertheless it remains driven by Western ideals. Joseph Kitagawa (1990:210) points out that Western led globalization has led to a conflict in leadership in many non-western countries. New leaders are often western educated and so try to bring in the modernizing influences of globalization. The older leadership mostly opposes this and longs for the good times of the past that were not subject to western influence. In Kazakhstan’s case, the failure of communism has made the political leadership more predisposed towards globalization and its modernizing influence (Nazarbaev 2010:16). But, for the religious leaders and traditional Kazakhs, the issue seems grounded in the cultural concerns, and beyond this they are open to the benefits that globalization has to offer.

2.8.2 Defining Globalization Friedman (2006:510) speaks of the iron law of globalization being that it is neither all good nor all bad. It had tendencies for both and so can cause empowering and disempowering, generalizing or particularizing, a basis for democracy or authoritarianism. Depending on whether globalization is seen as positive or negative usually determines how it is defined and in the case of the Kazakhs we need to seek a definition that sees things as they do. For many people globalization is thought of in the narrow, economic sense of the word. Thus Friedman

defines it as follows:

–  –  –

Whilst free-market capitalism may be the driving force behind globalization, nevertheless there are effects that reach beyond economics. Johannes Nissen (2002:32) argues for the cultural component in describing how the various cultures of the world are opening up to each other and resulting in the birth of a global culture. It is the cultural component that seems to cause Muslims the most concern. For Westerners the cultural effects are deemphasized, ignored or not even noticed, but for the Muslim it is often a package deal. 24 In our Kazakh context then we must go with a definition that takes into account the cultural

element and so Michael Pocock’s definition seems more relevant:

Taken as a whole, globalization is a trend of accelerating, compressed interaction between peoples, cultures, governments and transnational companies. It is a heightened multi-directional flow of ideas, material goods, symbols and power facilitated by the Internet and other communication, technologies, and travel.

(Pocock, van Rheenen and McConnell 2005:23) Friedrich Graf (2002:66) points out that we need to be careful to avoid a narrow Western understanding of globalization and the capitalism behind it. A broader understanding is

arrived at if we describe three types of capitalism:

a. Anglo-American capitalism that emphasizes the individual and plays down the role of

–  –  –

b. Rhineland capitalism that emphasizes a social market economy and public welfare.

Miasami (2003:1) tries to give a definition that de-westernizes globalization and so describes it as follows: “ It is the tendency with which God has created man to live on exchanging his sources and experiences with others around him, in order to achieve and realize the best chances of life”.

c. Network capitalism that emphasizes family and relationship structures and transparency and accountability within those.

Having looked at the significance of family and clan ties as well as the push towards Eurasianism that emphasizes partnership, Kazakhstan would fall into the third category and the effects of globalization are best understood with this in mind.

Kofi Annan (2004:241) believes that a person’s response to globalization depends on their life situation. For those who are citizens of a country that is well-organized and follows the rule of law, they are able to freely travel the world with the knowledge that if things get rough they can return to a situation of stability. For most Kazakhs this is still developing and until recently travel outside of the country was a way to find a new place of stability.

Samuel Huntington (2004:37) argues that the major effect of globalization lies in the area of culture and that clashes between cultures are unavoidable. He explains how the worldviews that different cultures possess are not mere temporary, fleeting ideas; but rather the product of centuries. Globalization over time will cause change, but it will not be smooth and without conflict. The non-Western world then sees globalization as a process where “ The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values” (:41). Arjun Appadurai (2004:102) believes that the biggest issue globalization faces is that it ushers in the offer of a global community that is at odds with the unique cultures of the world that provide it with its setting.25 At the level of culture, many Kazakhs in common with other Muslims would fall

into Peter Mandaville’s description as follows:

Muslims are having difficulty deciding whether globalizing processes are culturally neutral – that is, something to which they can subscribe (and perhaps even something they can reproduce Peter Lodberg (2002:60) would agree with Appadurai as he sees globalization as giving rise to intensified worldwide social relationships that link distant locations without giving high regard to place. So, the local context is less important in favor of a global perspective.



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