|More than 36 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Saudi Arabia||300,000 (2010)|
|United States||50,795 (2014)|
|Predominantly Uzbek, also Tajik, Dari and Russian and other languages.|
|Predominantly Hanafi Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Uyghurs, Turkmens and other Turkic peoples|
The Uzbeks (Uzbek: O?zbek, , , plural: O?zbeklar, , ?) are a Turkic ethnic group native to Uzbekistan and wider Central Asia, being the largest Turkic ethnic group in the area. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan but are also found as a minority group in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia and China. Uzbek diaspora communities also exist in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
The origin of the word Uzbek remains disputed. One view holds that it is eponymously named after Oghuz Khagan, also known as Oghuz Beg, became the word Uzbek. Another theory states that the name means independent or the lord itself, from O?z (self) and the Turkic title Bek/Bey/Beg. A third theory holds that the pronunciation of Uz comes from one of the Oghuz Turks variously known as Uz or Uguz united with the word Bey or Bek to form uguz-bey, meaning "leader of an oguz".
Before, 5th century, what is today's Uzbekistan was part of Sogdia, mainly inhabited by Sogdians, an Indo-Iranian people. It was part of the Achaemenid Empire and later part of Sasanian Empire. From 5th to 6th century, what is today's Uzbekistan was part of the Hephthalite Empire. From 6th to 8th century, what is today's Uzbekistan was under the rule of Göktürk Khanate. Turkic and Chinese migration into central Asia occurred during the Chinese Tang Dynasty, and Chinese armies commanded by Turkic generals stationed in large parts of central Asia. But Chinese influence ended with the An Lushan rebellion. From the 9th century on, Transoxania was under the rule of Turkic Kara-Khanid Khanate, their arrival in Transoxania signalled a definitive shift from Iranian to Turkic predominance in Central Asia. Kara-Khanid ruler Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan was the first Turkic ruler to convert to Islam, most people of Central Asia soon followed. In the 12th century, Transoxania was conquered by Qara Khitai (Western Liao), a sinicized Khitan dynasty, they brought to Central Asia the Chinese system of government. In the 13th century, Kara-Khanid Khanate was destroyed by the Turkic Khwarazmian dynasty, a former vassal of the Qara Khitai.
Although Turko-Mongol infiltration into Central Asia had started early, as late as the 13th century when Turkic and Mongol armies finally conquered the entire region, the majority of Central Asia's peoples were Iranian peoples such as Sogdians, Bactrians and, more ancient, the Saka-Massagetae tribes. It is generally believed that these ancient Indo-European-speaking peoples were linguistically assimilated by smaller but dominant Turkic-speaking groups while the sedentary population finally adopted the Persian language, the traditional lingua franca of the eastern Islamic lands. The language-shift from Middle Iranian to Turkic and New Persian was predominantly the result of an elite dominance process. This process was dramatically boosted during the Mongol conquest when millions were either killed or pushed further south to the Pamir region.
The modern Uzbek language is largely derived from the Chagatai language which gained prominence in the Timurid Empire. The position of Chagatai (and later Uzbek) was further strengthened after the fall of the Timurids and the rise of the Shaybanid Uzbek Khaqanate that finally shaped the Turkic language and identity of modern Uzbeks, while the unique grammatical and phonetical features of the Uzbek language as well as the modern Uzbek culture reflect the more ancient Iranian roots of the Uzbek people.
The modern Uzbek population represents varying degrees of diversity derived from the high traffic invasion routes through Central Asia. Once populated by Iranian tribes and other Indo-European people, Central Asia experienced numerous invasions emanating out of Mongolia that would drastically affect the region. According to recent genetic genealogy testing from a University of Oxford study, the genetic admixture of the Uzbeks clusters somewhere between the Iranian peoples and the Mongols.
According to a recent study, the Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and Turkmens share more of their gene pool with various East Asian and Siberian populations than with West Asian or European populations. The study further suggests that both migration and linguistic assimilation helped to spread the Turkic languages in Eurasia.
Uzbeks are said to have included 92 tribes in their orbit: Manghit, Qiyat, Qipchaq, Khitai, Qanghli, Keneges, Durman, Targhut, Shoran, Shirin, Tama, Bahrin, Girai, Aghrikur, Anghit, Barkut, Tubin, Tam, Ramdan, Matin, Busa, Yajqar, Qilwai, Dojar, Jaurat, Qurlaut, Mehdi, Kilaji, Sakhtiiyan, Qirq, Ming, Yuz, Saroi, Loqai, Qushchi, Kerait, Chaqmaq, Utarchi, Turcoman, Arlat, Kait, Qirghiz, Qalan, Uishun, Ormaq, Chubi, Lechi, Qari, Moghul, Hafiz dad Kaln, Belad Bustan, Quchi Qataghan, Barlas, Yabu, Jalair, Misit, Naiman, Samrjiq, Qarluq, Arghun, Oklan, Qalmaq, Fuladchi, Jaljat Uljin or Olchin, Chimbai, Tilabi, Machar or Majar, Ojinbai, Badai As, Kilchi, Ilaji, Jebergen, Botiyai, Timan, Yankuz, Tatar, Uighur, Baghlan or Baghan, Tanghut, Shagird, Pesha, Tushlub, Onk, Biyat, Ozjolaji, Josolaji, Tuwadiq, Ghariband Jit.
The heart of Central Asian history goes back to the earliest Bronze Age colonists of the Tarim Basin were people of Caucasoid physical type who entered probably from the north and west, who may have spoken languages ancestral to the Indo-European Tocharian languages documented later in the Tarim Basin. These early settlers occupied the northern and eastern parts of the Tarim Basin, where their graves have yielded mummies dated about 1800 BC. They participated in a cultural world centered on the eastern steppes of central Eurasia, including modern northeastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The first people known to have inhabited Central Asia were Iranian nomads who arrived from the northern grasslands of what is now Uzbekistan sometime in the first millennium BC. These nomads, who spoke Iranian dialects, settled in Central Asia and began to build an extensive irrigation system along the rivers of the region. At this time, cities such as Bukhoro (Bukhara) and Samarqand (Samarkand) began to appear as centers of government and culture. By the 5th century BC, the Bactrian, Soghdian, and Tokharian states dominated the region.
As China began to develop its silk trade with the West, Iranian cities took advantage of this commerce by becoming centers of trade. Using an extensive network of cities and settlements in the province of Mawarannahr (a name given the region after the Arab conquest) in Uzbekistan and farther east in what is today China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Soghdian intermediaries became the wealthiest of these Iranian merchants. Because of this trade on what became known as the Silk Route, Bukhoro and Samarqand eventually became extremely wealthy cities, and at times Mawarannahr (Transoxiana) was one of the most influential and powerful Persian provinces of antiquity.[full ]
Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain. The conquest was supposedly of little help to Alexander as popular resistance was fierce, causing Alexander's army to be bogged down in the region that became the northern part of Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled by Persian empires, including the Parthian and Sassanid Empires.
The conquest of Central Asia by Muslim Arabs, which was completed in the 8th century AD, brought to the region a new religion that continues to be dominant. The Arabs first invaded Mawarannahr in the middle of the 7th century through sporadic raids during their conquest of Persia. Available sources on the Arab conquest suggest that the Soghdians and other Iranian peoples of Central Asia were unable to defend their land against the Arabs because of internal divisions and the lack of strong indigenous leadership. The Arabs, on the other hand, were led by a brilliant general, Qutaybah ibn Muslim, and were also highly motivated by the desire to spread their new faith (the official beginning of which was in AD 622). Because of these factors, the population of Mawarannahr was easily subdued. The new religion brought by the Arabs spread gradually into the region. The native religious identities, which in some respects were already being displaced by Persian influences before the Arabs arrived, were further displaced in the ensuing centuries. Nevertheless, the destiny of Central Asia as an Islamic region was firmly established by the Arab victory over the Chinese armies in 750 in a battle at the Talas River.[full ]
Despite brief Arab rule, Central Asia successfully retained much of its Iranian characteristic, remaining an important center of culture and trade for centuries after the adoption of the new religion. Mawarannahr continued to be an important political player in regional affairs, as it had been under various Persian dynasties. In fact, the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Arab world for five centuries beginning in 750, was established thanks in great part to assistance from Central Asian supporters in their struggle against the then-ruling Umayyad Caliphate.
During the height of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th and 9th centuries, Central Asia and Mawarannahr experienced a truly golden age. Bukhoro became one of the leading centers of learning, culture, and art in the Muslim world, its magnificence rivaling contemporaneous cultural centers such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. Some of the greatest historians, scientists, and geographers in the history of Islamic culture were natives of the region.
As the Abbasid Caliphate began to weaken and local Islamic Iranian states emerged as the rulers of Iran and Central Asia, the Persian language continued its preeminent role in the region as the language of literature and government. The rulers of the eastern section of Iran and of Mawarannahr were Persians. Under the Samanids and the Buyids, the rich Perso-Islamic culture of Mawarannahr continued to flourish.
The Samanids were a Persian state that reigned for 180 years, encompassing a vast territoriy stretching from Central Asia to West Asia. The Samanids were descendants of Bahram Chobin, and thus descended from the House of Mihr?n, one of the Seven Great Houses of Iran. In governing their territory, the Samanids modeled their state organization after the Abbasids, mirroring the caliph's court and organization. They were rewarded for supporting the Abbasids in Transoxania and Khorasan, and with their established capitals located in Bukhara, Balkh, Samarkand, and Herat, they carved their kingdom after defeating the Saffarids.
The Samanid Empire was the first native Persian dynasty to arise after the Muslim Arab conquest. The four grandsons of the dynasty's founder, Saman Khuda, had been rewarded with provinces for their faithful service to the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun: Nuh obtained Samarkand; Ahmad, Fergana; Yahya, Shash; and Elyas, Herat. Ahmad's son Nasr became governor of Transoxania in 875, but it was his brother and successor, Ismail Samani who overthrew the Saffarids and the Zaydites of Tabaristan, thus establishing a semiautonomous rule over Transoxania and Khorasan, with Bukhara as his capital.
Samanid rule in Bukhara was not formally recognized by the caliph until the early 10th century when the Saffarid ruler 'Amr-i Laith had asked the caliph for the investiture of Transoxiana. The caliph, Al-Mu'tadid however sent the Samanid amir, Ismail Samani, a letter urging him to fight Amr-i Laith and the Saffarids whom the caliph considered usurpers. According to the letter, the caliph stated that he prayed for Ismail who the caliph considered as the rightful ruler of Khorasan. The letter had a profound effect on Ismail, as he was determined to oppose the Saffarids.
The two sides fought in Balkh, northern Afghanistan during the spring of 900. During battle, Ismail was significantly outnumbered as he came out with 20,000 horsemen against Amr's 70,000 strong cavalry. Ismail's horsemen were ill-equipped with most having wooden stirrups while some had no shields or lances. Amr-i Laith's cavalry on the other hand, were fully equipped with weapons and armor. Despite fierce fighting, Amr was captured as some of his troops switched sides and joined Ismail.
Isma'il thereafter sent an army to Tabaristan in accordance with the caliph's directive. The area at that time was then controlled by the Zaydids. The Samanid army defeated the Zaydid ruler and the Samanids gained control of the region.
In the 9th century, the continued influx of nomads from the northern steppes brought a new group of people into Central Asia. These people were the Turks who lived in the great grasslands stretching from Mongolia to the Caspian Sea. Introduced mainly as slave soldiers to the Samanid Dynasty, these Turks served in the armies of all the states of the region, including the Abbasid army. In the late 10th century, as the Samanids began to lose control of Transoxiana (Mawarannahr) and northeastern Iran, some of these soldiers came to positions of power in the government of the region, and eventually established their own states, albeit highly Persianized. With the emergence of a Turkic ruling group in the region, other Turkic tribes began to migrate to Transoxiana.
The first of the Turkic states in the region was the Persianate Ghaznavid Empire, established in the last years of the 10th century. The Ghaznavid state, which captured Samanid domains south of the Amu Darya, was able to conquer large areas of Iran, Afghanistan, and northern India apart from Central Asia, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud. The Ghaznavids were closely followed by the Turkic Qarakhanids, who took the Samanid capital Bukhara in 999 AD, and ruled Transoxiana for the next two centuries. Samarkand was made the capital of the Western Qarakhanid state.
The dominance of Ghazna was curtailed, however, when the Seljuks led themselves into the western part of the region, conquering the Ghaznavid territory of Khorazm (also spelled Khorezm and Khwarazm). The Seljuks also defeated the Qarakhanids, but did not annex their territories outright. Instead they made the Qarakhanids a vassal state. The Seljuks dominated a wide area from Asia Minor to the western sections of Transoxiana in the 11th century. The Seljuk Empire then split into states ruled by various local Turkic and Iranian rulers. The culture and intellectual life of the region continued unaffected by such political changes, however. Turkic tribes from the north continued to migrate into the region during this period. The power of the Seljuks however became diminished when the Seljuk Sultan Ahmed Sanjar was defeated by the Kara-Khitans at the Battle of Qatwan in 1141.
In the late 12th century, a Turkic leader of Khorazm, which is the region south of the Aral Sea, united Khorazm, Transoxiana, and Iran under his rule. Under the rule of the Khorazm shah Kutbeddin Muhammad and his son, Muhammad II, Transoxiana continued to be prosperous and rich while maintaining the region's Perso-Islamic identity. However, a new incursion of nomads from the north soon changed this situation. This time the invader was Genghis Khan with his Mongol armies.
The Mongol invasion of Central Asia is one of the turning points in the history of the region. The Mongols had such a lasting impact because they established the tradition that the legitimate ruler of any Central Asian state could only be a blood descendant of Genghis Khan.
The Mongol conquest of Central Asia, which took place from 1219 to 1225, led to a wholesale change in the population of Mawarannahr. The conquest quickened the process of Turkification in some parts of the region because, although the armies of Genghis Khan were led by Mongols, they were made up mostly of Turkic tribes that had been incorporated into the Mongol armies as the tribes were encountered in the Mongols' southward sweep. As these armies settled in Mawarannahr, they intermixed with the local populations which did not flee. Another effect of the Mongol conquest was the large-scale damage the soldiers inflicted on cities such as Bukhoro and on regions such as Khorazm. As the leading province of a wealthy state, Khorazm was treated especially severely. The irrigation networks in the region suffered extensive damage that was not repaired for several generations. Many Iranian-speaking populations were forced to flee southwards in order to avoid persecution.
Following the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, his empire was divided among his four sons and his family members. Despite the potential for serious fragmentation, Mongol law of the Mongol Empire maintained orderly succession for several more generations, and control of most of Mawarannahr stayed in the hands of direct descendants of Chaghatai, the second son of Genghis. Orderly succession, prosperity, and internal peace prevailed in the Chaghatai lands, and the Mongol Empire as a whole remained strong and united.[full ]
In the early 14th century, however, as the empire began to break up into its constituent parts, the Chaghatai territory also was disrupted as the princes of various tribal groups competed for influence. One tribal chieftain, Timur (Tamerlane), emerged from these struggles in the 1380s as the dominant force in Mawarannahr. Although he was not a descendant of Genghis, Timur became the de facto ruler of Mawarannahr and proceeded to conquer all of western Central Asia, Iran, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, and the southern steppe region north of the Aral Sea. He also invaded Russia before dying during an invasion of China in 1405.
Timur initiated the last flowering of Mawarannahr by gathering in his capital, Samarqand, numerous artisans and scholars from the lands he had conquered. By supporting such people, Timur imbued his empire with a very rich Perso-Islamic culture. During Timur's reign and the reigns of his immediate descendants, a wide range of religious and palatial construction projects were undertaken in Samarqand and other population centers. Timur also patronized scientists and artists; his grandson Ulugh Beg was one of the world's first great astronomers. It was during the Timurid dynasty that Turkic, in the form of the Chaghatai dialect, became a literary language in its own right in Mawarannahr, although the Timurids were Persianate in nature. The greatest Chaghataid writer, Ali Shir Nava'i, was active in the city of Herat, now in northwestern Afghanistan, in the second half of the 15th century.
The Timurid state quickly broke into two halves after the death of Timur. The chronic internal fighting of the Timurids attracted the attention of the Uzbek nomadic tribes living to the north of the Aral Sea. In 1501 the Uzbeks began a wholesale invasion of Mawarannahr. Under the leadership of Muhammad Shaybani, the Uzbeks conquered the key cities of Samarkand and Herat in 1505 and 1507, respectively, and founded the Khanate of Bukhara.
By 1510 the Uzbeks had completed their conquest of Central Asia, including the territory of the present-day Uzbekistan. Of the states they established, the most powerful, the Khanate of Bukhoro, centered on the city of Bukhoro. The khanate controlled Mawarannahr, especially the region of Tashkent, the Fergana Valley in the east, and northern Afghanistan. A second Uzbek state, the Khanate of Khiva was established in the oasis of Khorazm at the mouth of the Amu Darya. The Khanate of Bukhoro was initially led by the energetic Shaybanid Dynasty, the successors of Muhammad Shaybani. The Shaybanids initially competed against Iran for a few years, which was led by the Safavid Dynasty, for the rich far-eastern territory of present-day Iran. The struggle with the Safavids also had a religious aspect because the Uzbeks were Sunni Muslims, and Iran was Shia.[full ]
Near the end of the 16th century, the Uzbek states of Bukhoro and Khorazm began to weaken because of their endless wars against each other and the Persians and because of strong competition for the throne among the khans in power and their heirs. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Shaybanid Dynasty was replaced by the Janid Dynasty.
Another factor contributing to the weakness of the Uzbek khanates in this period was the general decline of trade moving through the region. This change had begun in the previous century when ocean trade routes were established from Europe to India and China, circumventing the Silk Route. As European-dominated ocean transport expanded and some trading centers were destroyed, cities such as Bukhoro, Merv, and Samarqand in the Khanate of Bukhoro and Khiva and Urganch (Urgench) in Khorazm began to steadily decline.
The Uzbeks' struggle with Iran also led to the cultural isolation of Central Asia from the rest of the Islamic world. In addition to these problems, the struggle with the nomads from the northern steppe continued. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Kazakh nomads and Mongols continually raided the Uzbek khanates, causing widespread damage and disruption. In the beginning of the 18th century, the Khanate of Bukhoro lost the fertile Fergana region, and a new Uzbek khanate was formed in Quqon.
An Uzbek Khanate existed in Maimana. The Pashtuns battled and conquered the Uzbeks and forced them into the status of ruled people who were discriminated against.[when?] Out of anti-Russian strategic interests, the British assisted the Afghan conquest of the Uzbek Khanates, giving weapons to the Afghans and backed the Afghan colonization of northern Afghanistan which involved sending massive amounts of Pashtun colonists onto Uzbek land and British literature from the period demonized the Uzbeks.[when?] Soviet era arrivals in Afghanistan from Uzbekistan are referred to as Jogi.
In the 19th century, Russian interest in the area increased greatly, sparked by nominal concern over British designs on Central Asia; by anger over the situation of Russian citizens held as slaves; and by the desire to control the trade in the region and to establish a secure source of cotton for Russia. When the United States Civil War prevented cotton delivery from Russia's primary supplier, the southern United States, Central Asian cotton assumed much greater importance for Russia.[full ]
As soon as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was completed in the late 1850s, the Russian Ministry of War began to send military forces against the Central Asian khanates. Three major population centers of the khanates--Tashkent, Bukhoro, and Samarqand--were captured in 1865, 1867, and 1868, respectively. In 1868 the Khanate of Bukhoro signed a treaty with Russia making Bukhoro a Russian protectorate. Khiva became a Russian protectorate in 1873, and the Quqon Khanate finally was incorporated into the Russian Empire, also as a protectorate, in 1876.
By 1876, Russia had incorporated all three khanates (hence all of present-day Uzbekistan) into its empire, granting the khanates limited autonomy. In the second half of the 19th century, the Russian population of Uzbekistan grew and some industrialization occurred. The Jadidists engaged in educational reform among Muslims of Central Asia. To escape Russians slaughtering them in 1916, Uzbeks escaped to China.
In the 1940s, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In response, many Central Asians, including Uzbeks or Samarqandites, were sent to fight the Germans in the area of Smolensk. However, a number of them, including Hatam Kadirov and Zair Muratov, were captured, transported to the Netherlands, abused and killed. Their bodies were buried in Rusthof cemetery near Amersfoort. For some time, these 101 victims were not identified, apart from the fact that they were Soviets, until an investigation by journalist Remco Reiding. Their plight was also studied by Uzbek historian Bahodir Uzakov of Gouda, South Holland. Witness Henk Broekhuizen said that, despite having seeing them once as a teenager, he would recall the soldiers' faces, whenever he closed his eyes.
Moscow's control over Uzbekistan weakened in the 1970s as Uzbek party leader Sharaf Rashidov brought many cronies and relatives into positions of power. In the mid-1980s, Moscow attempted to regain control by again purging the entire Uzbek party leadership. However, this move increased Uzbek nationalism, which had long resented Soviet policies such as the imposition of cotton monoculture and the suppression of Islamic traditions. In the late 1980s, the liberalized atmosphere of the Soviet Union under Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in power 1985-91) fostered political opposition groups and open (albeit limited) opposition to Soviet policy in Uzbekistan. In 1989, a series of violent ethnic clashes, involving Uzbeks, brought the appointment of ethnic Uzbek outsider Islam Karimov as Communist Party chief.
When the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan reluctantly approved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Karimov became president of the Republic of Uzbekistan. On August 31, 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence, marking September 1 as a national holiday.
Dissident Islamist and anti-Soviet Central Asians fled to Afghanistan, British India, and to the Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. The last Emir of Bukhara Mohammed Alim Khan fled to Afghanistan. The Islamist Uzbek As-Sayyid Q?sim bin Abd al-Jabbaar Al-Andijaani( ? ?) was born in Fergana valley's Andijan city in Turkestan (Central Asia). He went to British India was educated at Darul Uloom Deoband, and then returned to Turkestan where he preached against Communist Russian rule. He then fled to Afghanistan, then to British India and then to Hijaz where he continued his education in Mecca and Medina and wrote several works on Islam and engaged in anti-Soviet activities.
Uzbek exiles in Saudi Arabia from Soviet ruled Central Asia also adopted the identity "Turkistani". A lot of them are also called "Bukhari". A number of Saudi "Uzbeks" do not consider themselves as Uzbek and instead consider themselves as Muslim Turkestanis. Many Uzbeks in Saudi Arabia adopted the Arabic nisba of their home city in Uzbekistan, such as Al Bukhari from Bukhara, Al Samarqandi from Samarqand, Al Tashkandi from Tashkent, Al Andijani from Andijan, Al Kokandi from Kokand, Al Turkistani from Turkistan.
Bukhari and Turkistani were labels for all the Uzbeks in general while specific names for Uzbeks from different places were Farghani, Marghilani, Namangani, and Kokandi. Kokandi was used to refer to Uzbeks from Ferghana.
Mosques in Uzbekistan are funded by Saudi-based Uzbeks.
Saudi Arabia's "Bukharian brethren" were led by Nuriddin al-Bukhari as of 1990.
Uzbeks moved there due to the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Due to aid requirements for refugees repatriation of camp dweller took place. In the 1800s Konya's north Bogrudelik was settled by tatar Bukharlyks. In 1981 Afghan Turkestan refugees in Pakistan moved to Turkey to join the existing Kayseri, Izmir, Ankara, and Zeytinburnu based communities.
Uzbek clothing includes the Chapan, Kaftan, the headgear Tubeteika for men and the Paranja veil for women. Uzbek men traditionally carry hand crafted knives around called pichoq, Chust made knives are famous in particular
The Uzbek language is a Turkic language of the Karluk group. Modern Uzbek is written in wide variety of scripts including Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic. After the independence of Uzbekistan from the former Soviet Union, the government decided to replace the Cyrillic script with a modified Latin alphabet, specifically for Turkic languages.
Uzbeks come from a predominantly Sunni Muslim background, usually of the Hanafi school, but variations exist between northern and southern Uzbeks. According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, Uzbekistan's population is 96.3% Muslim. The majority of Uzbeks from the former USSR came to practice religion with a more liberal interpretation due to the movement of Jadidism which arose as an indigenous reform movement during the time of Russian imperial rule, while Uzbeks in Afghanistan and other countries to the south have remained more conservative adherents of Islam. However, with Uzbek independence in 1991 came an Islamic revival amongst segments of the population. People living in the area of modern Uzbekistan were first converted to Islam as early as the 8th century, as Arabs conquered the area, displacing the earlier faith of Manichaeism.