seysearles wrote:The Islam that is practiced in Central Asia is a genuinely moderate one akin to Indonesia or Malaysia by my estimation. It was actually very eye opening for me to see such a passive form of the religion being applied. All the more reason to experience it.
Although most forms of Islam in the region are pretty moderate, there is really wide variation both in how strictly they adhere to Islam, and how strict their form of Islam is.
My impression is that traditionally nomadic peoples (Kyrgyz and Kazakhs) don't follow Islam too strictly, and infuse their beliefs with animistic traditions. Sedentary peoples (Uzbeks and Tajiks) follow Islam more strictly, and can be quite conservative (ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan and rural Tajikis can be very conservative).
Unlike the Sunnis in other parts of Central Asia, the Ismailis in the western Pamirs are extremely progressive. This is largely de to their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, who is a very modern guy who was born in Switzerland, educated at Harvard, and whose father was married to Rita Hayworth at one point. He's very involved with his people and extremely beloved, and the Aga Khan foundation does a tremendous amount of development work in the region (and is a major reason why Pamiris tend to be relatively well educated, many speak English, and why women have a strong role in society there).