PSIA Seminar: External Religious Influences in Azerbaijan – Reshaping National Islam

YEREVAN, Armenia – On March 23, the Political Science and International Affairs program (PSIA) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) organized a seminar led by Dr. Arax Pashinan. The seminar discussed the impact of Iranian, Turkish, Arabic variations of Islam on reshaping the “national Islam” in Azerbaijan. The speaker also explored the activities of moderate, conservative, and radical Islamist movements in Azerbaijan, as well as the formation of new religious groups of Turkish, Iranian, and Arabic backgrounds.

Dr. Pashian argued that despite the fact that Azerbaijani authorities succeeded in containing the activities of foreign missionaries by closing their madrasas, banning foreign religious institutions, prohibiting participation of non-Azerbaijani preachers in religious services, ceremonies and rituals, they still failed to remove the deep-seated religious and ideological influences, which foreign Islamic movements managed to instill.

Dr. Pashayan is Associate Professor at Yerevan State University. She teaches courses on modern Islamic movements and ideologies in Arab countries. She is also a Senior research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Armenia. Dr. Pashayan’s research interests include Political Islam and modern history of the Middle East. She has published two monographs and a number of articles. Her recent book Islam in Azerbaijan. The past and the present was published in 2014.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.