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Tajik Scholar Criticized For Suggesting Muslim Prayers In Tajik Language

Controversial Tajik scholar Zafari Mirzoyon
Controversial Tajik scholar Zafari Mirzoyon
DUSHANBE -- A prominent scholar in Tajikistan is being criticized after calling for Muslim prayers in the country to be performed in the Tajik language rather than Arabic.

Zafar Mirzoyon, who is known for his articles on Tajik history and national-identity issues, made the remark last week during a meeting with students at Tajik National University in Dushanbe.

Mirzoyon said reading Koranic verses in a language that a person understands brings them "closer to God."

Critics say the suggestion defies the Islamic teaching that the Koran should not be translated from Arabic.

Islamic experts in Tajikistan have said Mirzoyon's suggestion is an "insult" to Islam.

But the country's Islamic leaders, including the Council of Ulema, have not publicly commented on Mirzoyon's suggestion or the public debate it has sparked.

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