CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS throughout their history have been known in the region for their Islamic scholars and missions, whose religious propagation and practices turned Islam into the fabric of Central Asian society. As elsewhere in the Muslim World, Islam was expressed and practiced in the daily life of the people. Their medieval amirs (rulers), in times of trouble, appealed to their religious sensibilities. Political changes at the palace as well as revolts in the streets were justified on religious basis. Islam was the underlying spirit of life. Good and bad were determined according to the social and public morality of Islam. From about 9th to the 19th century, Islam in Central Asia remained free from foreign domination. But at the end of the 18th century, the expansionist European colonial powers dominated the entire Muslim World. Central Asian Republics could not save themselves from expansionist domination once Russia entered the European race for colonies. By the time British reached South Asia by sea, Russia had already started her race in Central Asia by road, and within a century the two European powers faced each other on the borders of Afghanistan.
By about the 1850s Russian had brought Central Asia under her military domination. The Russian barbaric rule shook the Central Asian political and religious leadership to the total loss in almost every aspect of life. As the loss was enormous, so was their response which awakened several forces against the Russian rule. This response was fundamentally religious because it was the religious classes that mobilized the masses against foreign domination. During this struggle, Islam became the unifying force of the resistance movement which consisted of different ethnic and linguistic groups of Central Asia. As the Russian rule was inherently bruteit depended on crude force. However, once that force was needed outside of Central Asia during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the First World War, the struggle for freedom intensified in Central Asia. But the War had not yet ended, when the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 poked not only Central Asia but other parts of Tsarist Russia into the Communists' inheritance, and obliged the Central Asian peoples to restart the struggle all over again. The Communists utilized the same old Russian institutions of repression in Central Asia, and consolidated their rule within two decades (1917-1937, by yet more brutal force. During the Communist period, other forces, such as secularist intellectuals, modernist economists, and religious liberalists, also joined the dominant religious classes already fighting in the resistance movement. It should also be noted that during the Communist period the masses, now politically awakened by a century rule of Russia, responded to the Soviets in a far more sophisticated manner, and obliged the Soviets to compromise with, and yield to, the aspirations of the masses for more religious freedom and better political and economic opportunities if they
were to rule in Central Asia.
As the First World War caused the collapse of the Tsarist regime in Russia, the Soviets' war against Afghanistan, 1979-1989, is believed to have brought down the Soviet Empire in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The Afghan War and the Iranian Revolution led to the resurgence of Islam amongst Central Asian peoples who, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, got freedom almost hands down. As Islam proved to be the underlying factor of resistance against state repression, will it also prove to shape the political and social destinies of a people that it brought to freedom? 1 believe there is brighter future for the role of Islam to play in Central Asia. In spite of the Islamophobic policies of Islam Karimov, Islam is going to flourish in Uzbekistan. My research will reveal that historical trends are set in that direction i.e., Islamic renaissance.