As we go about our daily routine and listen to the chatter of our internal monologue, we rarely find time to pause to consider why we behave in particular ways. What motivates our thoughts or actions, the way we respond to certain situations or our attitudes to people? Is our way of life and our thoughts shaped by ethnicity or religion? Or perhaps age or education determines our habits and views? As we ponder such notions, we ask ourselves how 130 nationalities traditionally living together in the same territory, which is today’s Kazakhstan, can have an identical way of life and thinking? Kazakhstan is perhaps a forgotten part of the Muslim world. Like Turkey or Malaysia it is not on the Muslim tourist maps. Yet, Kazakhstan has an immensely rich Islamic history, while also being a multicultural wonder.
The multicultural processes of our time are formed by different configurations, which are often unpredictable, and culture along with its traditions is in constant flux. The fragility of national cultures, paradoxically, is also a mode of survival. Traditional cultures that preserve the origins of being and ethnic identity transcend dialogue with the Other. They do this by communicating and engaging via different mediums. To understand the Other, one needs to appreciate the history, values and the culture that shaped them. To understand the phenomenon of ‘Kazakhstani culture’, we need to appreciate the different religious and ethnic strands that have, over centuries, come together, intertwined, and created a mosaic for which there is no unambiguous explanation.
The interweaving of Turkic, nomadic and Islamic traditions in the Kazakh culture has created a unique model, an organic combination of ancient and modern traditions. The inclusion of spiritual and religious traditions of the past, create a uniqueness that gives Kazakh culture its exceptional identity.