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Kyrgyzstan: How Religious Communities Make Use of Modern Technologies?

Representatives of various religions are actively trying to use modern technologies. Progress of the means of communications provide a good opportunity to find new followers, to communicate with each other, to learn about other faiths and religions. 

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The holiday Sunday service at a small Christian Protestant church in Bishkek usually starts with the musical celebration. Since recently, they have started using new technologies here. They have bought a smartphone with internet connection and now they go on air via one of the popular social media.  Now every man in any part of the world can literally attend the service and listen to the sermon.

Initially, they intended to go on air for those who couldn’t attend them personally for some reasons.

“Online service is fantastic. I can sit at home with my phone, do something, listen and attend the service at the same time. I am so pleased with this opportunity as I do not always have a chance to attend the service. So, this is a good innovation,” one of the parishioners Ekaterina Borets said.

Arkady Kim. Photo: CABAR.asia

They do not advertise their live broadcasts. Only their parishioners and those who left abroad but do not want to leave the community know their online address.

“In fact, our aim is not to increase our audience. We want to provide valuable and helpful information to a person,” pastor Arkady Kim said.

According to him, it is very convenient and he would want young people to use social media as intended because anything can be found on the internet. However, only useful things should be used.

“Father Love”

Modern communication tools have come to the Russian Orthodox church in Bishkek. All necessary information, news, Orthodox Calendar are being published for the religious people on website.

Viktor Shtyrkin. Photo: CABAR.asia

One of the churchmen – deacon Viktor Shtyrkin – runs a video blog. His project is called “Father Love”. Religious people from Kyrgyzstan and other countries can ask him questions via social media and get answers directly from him. A lecture lasts for 40 minutes, a question and answer session lasts for 20 minutes.

The blogger’s audience is diverse, according to Viktor. The churchman has to provide information in a modern language. The audience on Instagram is mainly young people at the age of 12 to 25-30 years old.

“The project is really progressing. We started with 20-30 followers, now we have more than 8-9 thousand followers, which is a good coverage,” Viktor Shtyrkin added. 

Photo: CABAR.asia

The Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Kyrgyzstan (DUMK) is planning to do something of a kind. They also use internet actively. At this stage, the question and answer session is in high demand. Religious people send their questions to the website, and attendants give detailed answers.

According to the specialist of the fatwa department of DUMK, Baktiyar Toktogazy uulu, the website is pending. In the muftiat they said that a person can get answers online and watch a sermon on the internet, but it does not mean that they should not attend the mosque personally.

Photo: CABAR.asia

Professor, theologian Kadyr Malikov often takes part in videos, small lectures and discussions devoted to the Islam. His works are posted on the channel Islam House.

“Our main goal is to make young people understand Islam via internet. We educate via internet. So, we are trying to make short videos with a message, a spiritual and moral message. This is a kind of guidance and education,” the theologian said.

According to Kadyr Malikov, some groups of young people are being radicalised in the world because of low level of education, including the shortage of correct information about Islam.

“Today there’s a struggle for the minds of young people. In this struggle, war for the minds, we are losing. It’s high time now that a modern imam should provide information in a plain language understandable by young people via internet, social media. This should be done in addition to our sermons in mosques,” he said.

This publication was produced under IWPR project «Forging links and raising voices to combat radicalization in Central Asia»

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