Introduction The Soviet rule in central Asia was without a doubt transformative. Just like in other colonial systems, change was bound to occur to the colonized society. Scholars argue that the Soviet Union rule in central Asia was quite unique. According to Cooley, (2012) the subject of understanding the Soviet rule is emotionally fraught and sensitive in the region, essentially when Western scholars compare Soviet Central Asia to other colonial systems such as that of Europe. In practice, a distinct mix of both state building practices and imperialism characterized the Soviet rule in the region.
As a result, central Asia was greatly altered by this system. It can be stated Central Asia derived positive benefits from the Soviet rule. However, it is important to note that Soviet rule also led to several negative impacts in Central Asia that are ultimately felt even today. This paper explores the negative and positive impacts of Soviet rule in Central Asia. The scope of the analysis will also be grounded on examining the cultural, social and economic. Culturally, the Soviet rule had a negative impact on the Islamic culture in central Asia.
The Russian empire tolerated Islamic culture during their tenet in Central Asia between 1860s and1917. Nevertheless, the start of Soviet rule following the subsequent civil wars and the Russian revolution of 1917 brought with it opposition to Islamic religion. During their rule in Central Asia, in early 1920s, the officials prioritized their goals and objectives by attempting to modernize culture, improving gender equality and building schools to solidify their rule over Central Asia. The Soviets cooperated with the Jadids who Muslims worked with in order to initiate various cultural and social reforms in the region (Exnerova, 2006).
The key intention was to eliminate the Islamic religion. A case is in point is in 1926, the Soviet Union felt that it had taken over central Asia and shifted their policy from tolerating the Islamic religion to condemnation. As a result, the soviet government closed various religious schools and instituted state run schools. Later in 1928, the Soviet government started a campaign to close down all mosques in Central Asia. The process was poorly and violently conducted by various self-appointed officials.
The officials destroyed buildings and arrested imams, denouncing Islamic culture as an enemy of communism. The Soviet Union officials also confiscated various church properties, harassed believers, ridiculed Islamic religion and propagated atheism in the schools. Despite the attempt by the Soviet Union to suppress the Islamic religion in the region, Islam still survived the oppression (Gorder, 2008). Dave (2007) suggests that the soviet policy regarding the Iranian and the Turkic languages in Central Asia shows clearly how the Soviet rule impacted the Central Asian culture.
The government distracted local languages by altering their word meanings and scripts. Soviet Union proposed that all languages in Central Asia were to abandon Arabic script by the start of 1922 (Gleason, 1997). Arabic was used as the main language of communication and learning. The Arabic scripts were used in writing even though few individuals were able to write and read. Besides the use of Arabic scripts in the academic circles, classical Persian was also used. Most individuals used Iranian and Turkic languages before the advent of Soviet rule in the region.
The proposal to abandon the central Asian languages was a way of isolating the Muslim in the Soviet region from writing in Turkey. In addition it was a way to stop the proliferation of the Islamic culture (Rorlich, 1991).