In March 2006 Niyazov was recorded as saying that he had interceded with God to ensure that any student who read the book three times would automatically get into paradise.
Public criticism of or even insufficient reverence to the text was seen as the equivalent to showing disrespect to the former president himself, and harshly punished by dispossession, imprisonment or torture of the offender or the offender's whole family if the violation were grave enough. Since the passing of Niyazov, punishment for disrespect of the book is in a questionable status.
There is an enormous mechanical replica of the book in Ashgabat, the country's capital. Each evening at 8:00 pm, it opens and recorded passages from the book are played with accompanying video.
Months after president-for-life Niyazov's death (in December 2006), the Ruhnama’s grip on the Turkmen public seemed unweakened, the AP’s Benjamin Harvey reported in May 2007. Television stations featured solemn readings from the book. "The Ruhnama is a holy book" was carved into one side of the entrance arches at Central Asia’s largest mosque in Niyazov's hometown — and "The Koran is Allah's book" was carved into the other, wrote Harvey,adding: ‘Posters of the Ruhnama flank the roads of the capital city, Ashgabat, alongside likenesses of Niyazov. Quotations from it are inscribed on the desert city's fantastic array of fountains, monuments and official buildings.’
Michael Denison, of the United Kingdom’s University of Leeds, told the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ IRIN News: “I don’t think [the Ruhnama] will be disavowed ... It might just [become] rather perfunctory.” Others hope for restoration of full secondary and tertiary education and changes to the curriculum, which were cut back and reformed under Niyazov to be based primarily on the Ruhnama.
Questions remain about whether Niyazov actually wrote the Ruhnama himself. It has been translated into 41 languages.