Kazakhstan is a Eurasian state. It is located in the central part of Eurasia, with the major part of the territory in Asia, and the minor part in Europe. It is surrounded by Caspian Sea, lower Volga, Ural, Siberia, China and the Central Asia.
Kazakhstan is a country with rich historical and cultural past. It is located on the crossroads of most ancient civilizations of the world, on the point of intersection of transport roads, and is amidst social, economic, cultural and ideological connections between the East and the West, Europe and Asia, between the largest states in Eurasia.
The capital city is Astana. Population is 17.330.494.
According to its Constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular country.
The prevalent religions in Kazakhstan are Islam and Christianity.
Islam is the dominant religion in Kazakhstan. Muslims make 70% of the population. Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims. Before adopting Islam, Kazakhs were pagans, followers of a religion named Tengrianism. The followers of Tengrianism deified the nature, worshipped the eternal sky and the spirits of their ancestors.
As ethnic customs and traditions of Kazakhs were connected to their pagan beliefs, after adoption of Islam they preserved their national peculiarities, which influenced their Muslim life. This tendency is well noticeable in the lifestyle of nomadic peoples, in contrast to the lifestyle of settled Muslim nations.
Expansion of Islam in the territory of today’s Kazakhstan lasted for several centuries. Islam was established in this territory from the 10thcentury. Currently majority of Kazakhs consider themselves Muslims and adhere to Muslim customs in a various degree, although it can be noted that only a little part of them prays Mohammedan prayer regularly and keeps other religious requirements of Islam. Currently there are 2.700 mosques in Kazakhstan, while during the Soviet times there were 63 of them. Today the number of believers in Kazakhstan has grown, including Muslims.
It is noteworthy that even in 1762, Kyrgyzs and Kazakhs addressed a request to Ekaterina II, the Queen of Russia, to protect them from propagation of Islam and to convert them to Orthodoxy. Such requests were sent repeatedly during the next century as well. The subject of necessity and possibility of converting Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs were raised in different times by Ch. Ch. Valikhanov, N. A. Krasnovski, V. A. Lipski, T. Tikhonov, and others.
“Kyrgyzs and Kazakhs are talented nations, and Muslim indifference and stillness is strange to them; they are capable to embrace (European) culture…”, said V. A. Lipski, confirming and proving the necessity of Christianizing this nation. However, both the tsarist government and the Russian Orthodox Church took an unequivocal and clear stand that ‘Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs must remain Muslim’. The only exception were individual missionaries who worked alone and in fear, endangering their lives, with no support from the government or the Church.
In Kazakhstan, Metropolitan District of the Russian Orthodox Church is formed. In the territory of Kazakhstan, there are 9 eparchies, 230 parishes, where 300 priests serve; the parishes are also attended by other nationalities.
Today Kazakhstan’s Constitution limits religious freedom. In general, the authorities of Kazakhstan are respectful toward the majority of the registered religious organizations; however, they started to strictly limit unregistered religious groups, which are not numerous. They make them pay fines, search their properties, with confiscation of religious literature and arrests of the members.
In 1900, there were no Kazakh Christians, but today there are more than 15.000 of them. Because of the strict laws, it is very difficult for Christian organizations to obtain registration. According to the current laws, persons under 18 are not allowed to attend Churches, and so there are no youth services and the young people are not taught on faith in Churches.
In 2014, Kazakh Christians underwent massive persecutions. They do not remember such kind of persecutions from the times of collapse of the Soviet Union. Only in 2 months, there were 49 trials for participation of believers in Christian services; moreover, 8 Christians had short-term sentences (1 to 8 days), 29 people are forbidden to go leave the country, and 2 automobiles are confiscated. And this has happened only in 2 months! During the year, there were also instances of murders of Christians.