Gender and Religion

Regular participation in prayers at the mosque became rare during the Soviet period because of the state's hostility to religious practice. Since independence, many mosques have opened, making spaces for public prayer easily accessible. While men of all ages attend occasionally, retired men are the most likely to participate in all five daily prayers. Men and women usually retire in their fifties or sixties, and then they are expected to have time to undertake the daily prayers and other forms of religious devotion. Some mosques have separate women's rooms, but women's attendance at the mosque, even for Friday prayer, is unusual.

Owing to the attrition of religious knowledge in the Soviet period, children are initially taught prayers and bits of the Qur'an by the family member who has the most knowledge, usually a grandparent. If parents decide to provide formal religious training for their children, boys are sent to a mullah, a male religious leader associated with the neighborhood mosque, while girls are sent to an otin, a female religious teacher. Higher religious education in a madrassa, or college of Islamic learning, is available to men, and only men assume leadership in mosques. The mullah and the otin both play significant roles in community religious life, reciting the Qur'an, prayers, and religious texts at single-sex gatherings for life cycle events.

Strong commitment to religious observance continued in Afghanistan throughout the twentieth century. Uzbek men participated in Islamist and traditional opposition groups involved in the conflict against the Afghanistan government and its Soviet supporters. Generally, women became part of the refugee population while their menfolk participated in the Afghanistan war.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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