In short, Sufism is a way of understanding reality, a teaching not only about who a person is, but about how he should ideally be. Sufism has become popular primarily due to the preaching of abstinence and asceticism. Sufi ideas of renouncing wordly pleasures and the sinful essence of wealth attracted a lot of followers. In other words, Tasawwuf (Sufism) is the science of morality. This, if you will, is the spiritual and intellectual school of Islam.
The mausoleum of Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, located in the city of Turkestan in southern Kazakhstan, is one of the most famous Islamic centers, a pilgrimage site for Muslim Turks.
The pinnacle of Sufi art is considered to be the work of the recognized head of the Turkic branch of Sufism, the founder of the Dervish order, thinker and poet Khoja Ahmad Yasawi - “Divan-i-hikmet” (“Book of Wisdom”), often abbreviated as “Hikmet”.
Due to their loyalty, Sufi ideas did not reject the customs of the tribes living in the territory of modern Kazakhstan, and supported ancient public institutions.
The traditions and customs of the Kazakhs are closely related to Sufism: “salem beru” - a bow from a newly-married daughter-in-law to my husband’s parents as a sign of respect, “bata” - a blessing from the elderly on a long journey, trials, gratitude for treats, hospitality, kindness, “qyrqy” - a funeral rite 40 days after death, " korysu "- an event in mid-March, when people visit each other, shake hands and say: “Happy last year!","dem salu"- the expulsion of unclean forces from the body," sundet-toy"- the rite of circumcision, and other rituals .
Sufism in Kazakhstan today
Theologians say that Sufism in Kazakhstan is still not properly studied, not to mention scientific or intellectual Sufism. This plays into the hands of the organizers of the pseudo-Sufi movements, discrediting Sufism and causing people to dislike it.
Returning to the kinship of representations between traditionally Kazakh and Sufi, it is important to note that Sufism is passionate about genealogy. Like Kazakhs, Sufis honor their ancestry, as opposed to the Salafis, who call for the abolition of nations, dividing people only into Muslims and non-Muslims. Sufism advocates the preservation of the traditions of peoples that have been developed for centuries. That is why such shrines as the mausoleums of Khoja Ahmad Yasawi and Arystan-baba, Beket-ata and Shopan-ata, Karaman-ata, Ukash-ata and many others are objects of the crowded Kazakh pilgrimage. Both famous shrines and forgotten graves of ancestral ancestors (Bayanbai-ata, Yrgyzbay-aulie, etc.) are being restored.
Despite the educational activities of the official mosque, the family cycle rites associated with pre-Islamic beliefs are practically ubiquitous in Kazakhstan. Moreover, many of them, not only not supplanted by Islam, but, like Muslim rites, are undergoing a period of “rebirth”, for example, the ritual of maintaining well-being in the family (ritual eating of the baursaqs), the ban on cooking in the deceased’s house for three days, kindling luminaries, feeding the spirits of ancestors and saints, the rite of "pouring oil into the fire" ("otqa may kyyu"), as well as the rites of the children's cycle and sorcery, many of whose elements go back to ancient magical-animistic representations. Ancient customs associated with economic activity play a significant role in the life of Kazakhs. Almost forgotten in Soviet times, Nauryz today is a public holiday. The ritual of preparing a ritual dish of nauryz-kozhe contains the idea of “gathering”, which helped to preserve family well-being and abundance. In some regions of Kazakhstan, the tradition of caroling has been preserved – “Zharapazan”. The ritual of inducing rain - tasattiq is no longer used. The author’s unique ethnographic materials demonstrate that the nomads used a horse’s skull in a ceremony to induce rain. Islamized healers have become widespread these days. Relic religious forms such as Islamized shamanism have become very rare among the Kazakhs.
It is believed that Sufism in the form of three tariffs is formally widespread in Kazakhstan. Tariqas of Yasawi and Naqshbandi are professed by Kazakhs, Uyghurs, Uzbeks. The Caucasian peoples follow the Tarikat of Qadiryya. However, in Kazakhstan there are no official Sufi organizations following true Sufism. Currently, there are no significant religious and philosophical works on Sufism in Kazakhstan. Sufi ideas continue to remain at the level of social ideology or, rather, as a form of understanding of ritual Islam along with pre-Islamic local beliefs that find their application in the activities of numerous traditional healers and doctors using Islamic attributes.