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IslamisationComparative Perspectives from History$
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A. C. S. Peacock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417129

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417129.001.0001

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Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi as an Islamising Saint: Rethinking the Role of Sufis in the Islamisation of the Turks of Central Asia

Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi as an Islamising Saint: Rethinking the Role of Sufis in the Islamisation of the Turks of Central Asia

Chapter:
(p.336) 17 Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi as an Islamising Saint: Rethinking the Role of Sufis in the Islamisation of the Turks of Central Asia
Source:
Islamisation
Author(s):

Devin DeWeese

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417129.003.0017

The figure of Ahmad Yasavi has taken on iconic status as a saint particularly associated with the Turks, and with their Islamisation; the notion that he was somehow instrumental in the spread of Islam among the nomadic Turks of Central Asia is one of the standard assumptions about his historical and religious role to be found in most of the longer or shorter accounts of him in the secondary literature. The notion of Yasavi as an Islamising saint rests on several foundations. In the first place, that reputation is now entrenched ‘on-site’, so to speak, namely at his shrine in southern Kazakhstan. To some extent this reflects a standard ‘latter-day’ motif in hagiological traditions, particularly in the post-Soviet world, where virtually any and every shrine may be linked with a saint who tends to be identifi ed as a bringer of Islam, in part as a result of the loss of any awareness of the historical role or legacy of the saint in question. ‘Who was such-and-such a saint, buried here?’ ‘He brought Islam here’ is now the default answer.

Keywords:   Ahmad Yasavi, Islam, Sufis, Turkish, Mongol

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