This article examines how possibilities for Muslim expression are shaped by the political imaginaries in Soviet era and independent Uzbekistan. It develops the concept of social imaginary in Charles Taylor’s critique of western secular modernity. Political imaginaries are the assumptions about the nature of being, the essential categories through which the world is understood and acted upon, that are produced within dominant state discourses and that shape the space for the political. The article compares the Soviet vision of socialist modernity and the logic of the current state ideology in independent Uzbekistan, and discusses how these have framed the possibilities for being Muslim. It argues that the category of culture is produced in distinct and contrasting ways in these imaginaries, and plays a central role in delineating the public space for Islam.