21 June 2011

Missed the Missionaries

The neighborhood missionaries came by yesterday.  "Missionary" isn't the best word for them; the Uzbek word means "people who invite" and that's a lot closer to what they do.  They're from the nearest mosque and knock on doors inviting people to come pray. 

Our neighbor saw them before we did though and told them to move on.  Made sense, since the inviters aren't looking for converts, but to get Muslims to come to the mosque.  But we were still disappointed because we wanted to talk to them.  One was Kyrgyz and the other two were Chechen.  There are a handful of Chechens in Tokmok and you certainly can tell when you see one.  They are the only men in town who look stereotypically Muslim (at least according to American stereotypes.)

There are a reasonable number of Christian missionaries in Tokmok, but the foreign missionaries are usually doing humanitarian work.  Locals are the ones going door-to-door.  I don't know that I've ever seen a foreign Christian missionary actively proselytizing.

Certainly Christian missionary work isn't popular with a lot of people in Tokmok, whether they're Russian Orthodox or Muslim, but the Muslim missionary work isn't always popular either, especially if the inviters are foreign.  It's not uncommon for Kyrgyz or other locals to be angry with Muslims who want them to be Muslim like Arabs are Muslim, instead of letting them be Muslim in the way Kyrgyz are Muslim.


  1. How interesting. Could you post sometime about some of the differences between Arab Muslims and Kyrgyz Muslims?

  2. I'm sure I wrote about that when we lived in Bishkek. I'll have to do that again; it's been a long time.