Little is known about the earliest indigenous religion of the Turkmen tribes. But as Persians expanded into the region, they brought another religion, Zoroastrianism, which became the official religion of the Sassanian Empire, including Turkmenistan. This religious influence waned as Arabs and Turkic tribes encroached, around the seventh century C.E. The Turkic tribes were worshipping multiple deities when the Arabs introduced the monotheistic religion of Islam.
Much of early Islam was spread by traveling Sufi mystics, and their practices relied more on an internal understanding of God and less on dogmatic interpretation of scripture. Sufism was more accommodating to local beliefs, and incorporating those into Islam’s religious practices allowed the tribes to more readily adopt it. Therefore, Turkmenistan’s Islam today has influences of Sufi mysticism not seen among more traditional followers.