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Article

Migration and Contemporary Muslim Space in Moscow. North Caucasian Loud Zikr and the Religious Practices of Central Asian “Folk Mullahs”

Contemporary Islam. 2017. Vol. 11. No. 1. P. 61-80.

Over the last fifteen years, the ethnic make-up of Moscow’s mosques has undergone significant change, while the number of practising Muslims has grown several tens of times.  These quantitative changes are connected with both the internal migration of people from the North Caucasian republics (a migration that had already begun in the early 1990s) and the external migration of natives of Central Asian states, primarily Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirgizia (a mass migration dating from the 2000s). This paper is dedicated to two phenomena of contemporary Moscow Muslim life – the loud zikr (dhikr) of the Kunta Haji wird of the Qadiri tariqah, practised by Chechens and Ingush; and the religious practices of the Central Asian “uninstitutionalised” mullahs. Both spiritual practices are popular and have great significance for a considerable proportion of Moscow Muslims, including for those who do not directly participate in them. What both practices have in common is also found in their marginal nature with regard both to institutionalised Moscow Islam and to the Wahhabist trend which is now gathering steam here. This is an attempt to identify some specific features of contemporary Moscow Islam through the analysis of certain practices.