If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

M. Kozybayev about the attitude towards national and religious traditions in the conditions of independence


18 years since the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. For history it is very short, but for the people it was very saturated, and moreover — convincing.
It is convincing due to the direction, reference points and driving factors, chosen for definition of prospects of national education and progress were right. Economic reforms, which implemented without «shock» therapy, political stability, the social world and international consent allowed our state to avoid many collisions by which public transformations in the former Soviet Union were followed.

The leading role in it belongs to rationally chosen and fundamentally developed strong social policy pursued by the country leaders. It covers all aspects of people’s activity, considers the requirements of designation both in material and in spiritual spheres. Thus, in the sphere of spirituality it goes not only on the way of dismantle of former ideological structures, but also on the way of rebirth of that cultural wealth which were always expensive to the people. In the first months and years of formation of our state Manash Kozybayev, being the director of institute of history and ethnology named after Ch. Valikhanov of National Academy of Science (NAS) of Kazakhstan, created the comprehensive program of conceptual studying of the historical past of Kazakhstan.

Among them the special place is taken by national traditions and the relation to religion. The appeal to spiritual heritage as to one of sources of ideology of national independence certainly touches on issues of the attitude towards traditions, national customs and national ceremonialism. In effect in the conditions of the crisis which arose at refusal of the old cultural and spiritual stereotypes which were based on dogmatized Marxism and party monopoly for truth, traditions appeared as only the strong base of preservation of moral and spirituality. Therefore, interest in continuity problems, protection of national values during transition from an era by an era, from one public way to another became topical.

For the state creating own model of progress it is a question not only theoretical, but also practical. In Kazakhstan from the beginning there was the principle to use all that the best and useful that passed positive approbation in the history of other people, the nations and the states initially triumphed, remained in world experience. And at the same time, as it was essentially allocated at once by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. A. Nazarbayev, in spiritual moral principles priority positions are taken with that proceeds from national and historical tenor of life of the population, a mentality, national traditions and customs. The appeal to traditions is natural as they functionally provide registration, preservation and transfer of positive spiritual accumulation. Even involved in politics social science of «the developed socialism» could not stop on clarification of their role in construction of communistic society.

For example, it was expressed in concealment or conscious distortion, unilateral reflection of cultural history of these or those people, especially if it had solid position of religion and if national traditional character closely intertwined with the religion. Islam, for instance, mostly was considered as alien among other cultures of Kazakhshtan. It was treated as reactionary ideology, the method of spiritual enslavement of masses and ideological weapon of exploiters.

Many figures of progressive Islam, such as Arystan Bab, Ahmed Yassawi, Mahmoud Kashgari and Yusuf Balasaguni were considered as reactionary mystics, and their moral and evangelical activity, humanistic motives were forged. Even names of these devotees were etched from national memory. Such situation took place not only in Kazakhstan, across all territory of the former Union. And after all Islam developing in the territory of Kazakhstan found special unique lines. In them — roots of primordial tolerance of the Kazakh people.

As many traditions and customs were connected with religious departures, they appeared remnants and against them there was a never-ending fight, not only ideological and theoretical, but also practical. Those who participated in their departure were exposed to prosecutions up to the criminal.

Meanwhile traditions as the experience which is saved up and checked past act as a peculiar springboard, a support in advance in the future, these are the peculiar roots of national spirituality feeding its development. And if roots are cut, consequences are clear. The mankurtizm (Ch. Aitmatov) which represent the person for whom anything in the past neither native places, nor ancestors, neither native language, nor customs of fathers does not matter.

As in the Kazakh society «the interpersonal relations is honoring of seniors, care of a family and children, openness, the benevolent attitude towards people of different nationality, feelings of compassion to foreign trouble and mutual aid» has been a long tradition.

Participation of Kazakhs in destiny of the repressed people banished to Kazakhstan in the 40’s of the 20th century can be a striking example.

There is fundamental issue in carrying out policy in relation to religion. Everybody concerned about it. Nowadays changes in the public life of Kazakhstan are interfaced with growth of national consciousness, interest actually national development, search of means of its acceleration and expansion.
It also induces to look at traditions, religion, national, cultural and moral wealth in a new way.

Islam in our country considered is very tolerant and even allows mentioning of other named of God. So along with the word «Kudai» (means «God» in Kazakh language) the word «Tanir» («Tengri») can be used. The important place in national Islam is kept by ancient ceremonies and customs.

Kazakh girls and women up till now are proud of that never wore a veil or a burqa, but all principles ordered by Sharia have been kept.

Pre-Islamic holidays and ceremonies remained only in the look adapted for religion. Nauryz holiday, which was accompanied with performance of zharapazan (zharamazan), a peculiar analog of Christmas carols, had never been forgotten. Even at the peak of atheism the custom of sacrifice on coast of the rivers and lakes on the occasion of a drought «tasattyk» remained. Both for farmers and cattle-farmers the rain was more important than party or confessional accessory.

The first steps of the child — «tusau kesu» or cutting of symbolical fetters of standing baby — a relic of ancient beliefs, also there are some components of a wedding or a funeral. Folklore and archaic demonological representations: albasty, zhestyrnak, zhalmauyz, a feather which coexist in fairy tales with the shaitan (the devil, a Satan) remained already Islamic period.

In March 2007, the message of the President of Kazakhstan addressed to the people of Kazakhstan: «we guarantee and we appreciate full equality of all religions and an interfaith consent in Kazakhstan. We respect and we develop the best traditions of Islam, other world traditional religions and at the same time we build the modern secular state».

The number of religious associations repeatedly increased in Kazakhstan for the last 18 years and reached about 3, 5 thousand presented by 46 religious faiths today. The role and a place of religion in modern Kazakh society have been essentially changed. Through religion people seek to revive traditional values and moral arrange. Knowledge of historical last development of Islam in the territory of our area undoubtedly will help to understand the spiritual and moral relations which started developing in the 18th century.

As it is known according to archival documents official permission of the imperial government to construction of mosques near Pyotr and Pavel’s fortress followed in 1782.

The famous researcher I.I Zavalishin in 1862 in his book «Description of Western Siberia» wrote: «that the city had 1148 houses, 3 churches and 1 mosque. 6781 inhabitants, among them 672 petty bourgeois (including 1 Jew and 84 Mohammedans), handicraftsmen 628…» [1]

By 1872 in the city there were 7 schools — madrasah and 7 mosques. By 1917 number of schools — the madrasah increased to 12, among them there was the school with 8 grades which was constructed around one of city mosques.

In the second half of the 19th century in Petropavlovsk statistical data according to which follows were entered that in the city there were three stone orthodox churches and four Mohammedan mosques, from them two stone and two wooden [2] …

Already by the end of January, 1921 in Petropavlovsk 9 mosques were registered, however there was one more the 10th mosque. It was on market.

However, there is no exact data about this mosque, but there is information that it really existed and worked. It was witnessed by the document where at the meeting of the road and transport commission with letter No.5 and on the basis of Presidium Akmogubispolkom of 1924 on April 28 No.20 mosque was closed. The building of a mosque is transferred to library. It is known that all Petropavlovsk mosques worked until establishment of the Soviet power. However materials about their activity remained very little. The exception is made by materials on the following mosques.

Mosque No. 1 was built in 1870, on crossing of streets: Pochtamsky (Pervomaiyskaya) — Dumskaiya (Ulyanova), S. Mukanova and the World. The mosque is made of stone, had 2 schools — madrasah: the first — on Rovnaya St. (house with one storey), the second — on Pochtamskaya St., (the house from 4 rooms). This mosque called «Ylkan mosque». The number of parishioners made to 200 people.
Nowadays the mosque is one of shops of Petropavlovsk bakery combine.

Mosque No. 2 was built in 1831 by Akhun Yaushev and Kasymov from Orenburg.
According to contemporary records under the resolution of the empress Catherine II, Kyrgyz Kasimov in the lower part of the city erected the first in the Kyrgyz steppe stone mosque.
Among the people this mosque used to be called «Akhun mosque».

The building was used in the different production purposes, and in the 90th years belonged to fish plant, at present is in an accident condition. The building was also used as a public bath. Now it is in private possession.

Mosque No. 3 was built in 1868. Valit (Uahit) from Ulyanovsk region of Simbirsk city built it. The mosque «Yangurazi» located on crossing Nikolskaya — Dumskaya — Khlebnikova — Karavannaya (nowadays. Zhabayev St. Zh — Ulyanov — M. Gorky — K. Sutyusheva). To Soviet period a mosque it is transferred to club No. 347. In the people called «The house of the bride».
In Soviet period «Yanguzarov’s House» was transferred to administrative use. Since 1920 there was here a building «Department of special function» where the great writer Sabit Mukanov worked. In 1996 the building was transferred to a mosque where opened madrasah.

Mosque No. 4 was built in 1868, on Stepnoy St. (nowadays Popov St.) by the merchants Kuanyshev, Zhaltyreev and Muratov financial support. In the period of the Soviet power the mosque settled down in the territory of plant of Kirov. In the people it was called «Sart mosque».

Mosque No. 5 was built in 1852 on funds of rich merchant from Tyumen Din Muhammad Birchurin and his children Sabyr and Fazyl. The number of visitors was 150 people.

In days of Stalin repressions from an ancient mosque the minaret was demolished. The building was reconstructed under the hostel. During war it served as barracks for soldiers, then there was a gym, and before transfer devout was used as a pleasure institution. And only on March 31, 1996 according to the decision of akimat (local government body) the building was transferred to the Tatar-Bashkir religious community. Now the mosque is repaired and is in great demand among the Muslims believers.

Mosque No. 6 was constructed in 1882. The mosque was built by rich Kazakh Mukhametzhan Khoja Dauletkeldiyev and his children Mirkhaydar Khoja, Galym, Gumar, Moustapha, etc. This mosque was the biggest in the city, from a brick, about a Muslim cemetery. Unfortunately this mosque was destroyed in the years of Stalin repressions. The mosque was on crossing of streets of the Constitution — Zh. Zhambyla — E.Buketova — Y. Altynsarina, on Regional Maslikhat’s place, about a Muslim cemetery (the territory of «Voskhod» hotel and kindergarten «Saltanat»).

Mosque No. 7 was on crossing of streets Hospital — Starokladbishchnaya (nowadays Parkovaya St.), according to the old address: K. Marx 83 (nowadays Abay St.). It was called «Kok meshit», i.e. «A blue mosque», because of blue color of a minaret, it consisted of 3 rooms.
Nowadays on this place stand multi-storey buildings. At the request of believers all property of a mosque and also Management transport to the adapted building around Benzastroy, among the people it is known as «the Kasymov mosque».

Mosque No. 8 was built in 1893, a school — madrasah was around mosque. Number of visitors is 100 people. At present the building is dilapidated and is in the territory of meat-processing plant.

Mosque No. 9 located on Lagernaya St. (nowadays Riga) and was two-storeyed. At present the building of this mosque is located in the territory of a psychoclinic.

We all know that since 1929 and during the 30s in North Kazakhstan, as well as all over the country were the mass repressions against cult believers. During this period many cult buildings were closed. By the 1929, 7 mosques were already in Petropavlovsk. And in March 2, 1930, 3 mosques were closed.

By 1929 in Petropavlovsk there were already 7 mosques, on March 2, 1930 okrispolok adopted the resolution on closing of three more mosques. The building of a mosque was provided according to the petition of Regional committee and the City town committee of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League under pioneer club». At present these buildings are again transferred to Muslims believers.

In 1997, according to the decision of the government contemporary records on the repressed religious figures, called «Enemies of the people» and shot in 1930–1937 were declassified.

All of them were condemned under article 58.10 of People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs on North Kazakhstan region and sentenced to execution. From 22 people the eldest was 82 years old, younger 39 years, among them: Kazakhs — 17, Tatar — 5. Among the 25 condemned people the eldest were in 64 years, younger — 43 years, among them 23 Kazakhs and 2 Tatars.

Unique experience of peaceful co-existence of different religions has been developed in our country. We can be proud that in the history of our country there were no and never had been the serious problems in the interreligious relations.

Analyzing the present and looking in the future, we inevitably have to raise the questions of stability and safety as bases of further successful advance of Kazakhstan on the way of progress, realization of strategy of entrance to the 50 most competitive countries in the world. It is necessary to mentioned about problems which can be barrier in implementation of these purposes.

The president of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. A. Nazarbayev wrote: «We build the secular, democratic, legal and opened to the world state. These principles are recorded in our Constitution. Separating the state from religion, we are not going to restrict freedom of faiths and religions. The powerful spiritual beginning, the inherent moral values inherent in the majority of religions deserves support, as well as the mutually respectful interfaith relations».

N. A. Nazarbayev speaking at the 15th session of assembly of the people of Kazakhstan said: «In the modern world the national unity is defined by such conditions as joint creation of the general state, tolerance, nationality and mandatory knowledge of a state language of this country.
During the independence period we had remarkable traditions. All of us together annually celebrate the Day of a spiritual consent, Eid, Easter and Christmas. These holidays of all Kazakhstan citizens, all people of good will and light thoughts.

S. Ibrayev

(NKSU named after M. Kozybayev)


1. I. I. Zavalishin «Description of Western Siberia», 1862.

2. North Kazakhstan, Encyclopedia «Arys», Almaty, 2004.

3. N. Nazarbayev, About situation in the country and the main directions of domestic and foreign policy in 1997. Message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the people of Kazakhstan//Mysl. 1996.

4. N. A. Nazarbayev «National unity — our strategic choice» — October, 2009, Astana.

5. Notes: materials on stories of mosques of Petropavlovsk are prepared on contemporary records of North Kazakhstan.