Religion in Kazakhstan

Religion in Kazakhstan

By tradition the Kazaks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school, and the Russians are Russian Orthodox. In 1994, some 47 percent of the population was Muslim, 44 percent was Russian Orthodox, and 2 percent was Protestant, mainly Baptist. Some Jews, Catholics, and Pentecostals also live in Kazakstan; a Roman Catholic diocese was established in 1991. As elsewhere in the newly independent Central Asian states, the subject of Islam's role in everyday life, and especially in politics, is a delicate one in Kazakstan. [ [] Library of Congress Country Studies] Based on a 2007 data, Islam was practiced by 57% of the population, Christianity 40% and other religions 3%.citeweb|url=|title=Country Profile 2007 (p.4)|accessdate=2007-06-21]

The religious breakdown of the country as of 2003 (Daik-Press) is: [cite book
last = Dzhalilov
first = Z.
title = Islam and Society in Modern Kazakhstan
publisher = Daik-Press
date = 2006
location = Almaty
pages = pp.185

Religious history

The country has historically hosted a wide variety of ethnic groups with varying religions. Tolerance to other societies has become a part of the Kazakh culture. The foundation of an independent republic, following the disintegration of the USSR, has launched a great deal of changes in every aspect of people’s lives. Religiosity of the population, as an essential part of any cultural identity, has undergone dynamic transformations as well.

After decades of suppressed culture, the people were feeling a great need for exhibiting their ethnic identity – in part through religion. Quantitative research shows that for the first years after the establishment of the new laws, waiving any restrictions on religious beliefs and proclaiming full freedom of confessions, the country experienced a huge spike in religious activity of its citizens. Hundreds of mosques, synagogues, churches, and other religious structures were built in a matter of years. All represented religions benefited from increased number of members and facilities. Many confessions that were absent before independence made their way into the country, appealing to hundreds of people. The government supported this activity, and has done its best to provide equality among all religious organizations and their followers. In late 1990’s, however, a slight decline in religiosity occurred.Fact|date=December 2007The draft religion law being considered in June 2008 has raised international concern over whether there is an intention to meet general standards of freedom of religion and human rights.



Islam in Kazakhstan the most commonly practiced religion. Ethnic Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims who mainly follow the Hanafi school. [ International Religious Freedom Report 2006] U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan] In 1994 over 47% of the population identified themselves as Muslims, a slight majority over the 46% that considered themselves to be Christians with many new movements. [ [ CIA - The World Factbook - Kazakhstan ] ] [ [ Kazakhstan (02/07) ] ] Islam came to the region during the 9th century by the Arabs. [ [] The Beliefs of the Kazakhstan people]


Christianity in Kazakhstan is the second most practiced religion after Islam, with 46% of the population Christian and 47% Muslim. Most Christian citizens are Russians, and to a lesser extent Ukrainians and Belarusians, who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. About one-third of the population of Kazakhstan identifies as Christian. 1.5 percent of the population is German, most of whom follow Roman Catholicism or Lutheranism. There are also many Presbyterians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and Pentecostals. [ International Religious Freedom Report 2006] U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan] [ Kazakhstan] CIA The World Factbook] Methodists, Mennonites, and Mormons have also registered churches with the government.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith in Kazakhstan began during the policy of oppression of religion in the former Soviet Union. Before that time, Kazakhstan, as part of the Russian Empire, would have had indirect contact with the Bahá'í Faith as far back as 1847.cite web | last = Momen | first = Moojan | title = Russia | work = Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith" | publisher = Bahá'í Academics Resource Library | date = | url = | accessdate = 2008-04-14] Following the entrance of pioneers the community grew to be the largest religious community after Islam and Christianity, though only a few percent of the nation.cite web
coauthors = Government of Kazakhstan
title = Religious Groups in Kazakhstan
work = 2001 Census
publisher = Embassy of Kazakhstan to the USA & Canada
year = 2001
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-21
] By 1994 the National Spiritual Assembly of Kazakhstan was elected [ The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963] , Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.] and the community has begun to multiply it's efforts across various interests.


Kazakh Jews have a long history. There are approximately 12,000 to 30,000 Jews in Kazakhstan, less than 1% of the population. Most Kazakh Jews are Ashkenazi and speak Russian. [ International Religious Freedom Report 2006] U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan] [ The virtual Jewish history tour, Kazakhstan] Jewish Virtual Library]


Hindus in Kazakhstan are mainly of the ISKCON sect and by Diaspora Hindus from India. The Indian community in Central Asia, which comprises Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, numbers only 2732 out of a total population of 55.5 million. It consists mainly of NRIs.

Freedom of religion and religious tolerance

Kazakhstan has a very diverse and stable religious background. However, some reported occurrences of persecution against Hare Krishnas and Jehovah's Witnesses for proselytizing has raised concern in the international community. [ [ WorldWide Religious News-KAZAKHSTAN: Officially-inspired intolerance of religious freedom steps up ] ] [ [ Forum 18 Search/Archive ] ] [ [ Palace of the Soul: Project Updates ] ]


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