Ruhnama is the title of a book written by Turkmenistan’s former president, Saparmurat Niyazov. The book is a spiritual guide on how to live and act like a good Turk as described by anecdotes, quotes and philosophical insights from Niyazov’s life. The text also includes poems by the Sufi poet Magtymguly Pyragy.
Ruhnama is a book that every single turkmen has read. It was first implemented in all schools’ libraries, after which it also became part of the mandatory teaching in all universities as well as required for government workers and even for passing a driving test! Niyazov was reported to have assured that any student who read his book three times would enter heaven, however after his death, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow removed the curriculum requirements and tests for the book.
In addition, there is also a copy of the book next to the Koran in every mosque in the country. The fact that Ruhnama is an important book for the Turkmen is literally carved in stone, as one can see in the capital, Ashgabat, an absolutely stunning monument of the book. The monument is made to be opened just like a real book. In the past, it would be opened up every night and be read aloud in common.
The mausoleum houses the former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006. The president himself was instrumental in the construction before his death, and the building is located in his birthplace, Gypjak, 7 km west of Ashkhabat. Next to the tomb are symbolic headstones for some of his family members. The mausoleum itself, like so much else in Ashgabat, is built in white marble and a large amount of gold. It is located next to Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, which you can read more about here.