In this paper, we examine in detail certain patterns formed in the structure of knowledge about Islam in modern Russia, analyze statements made by a number of representatives of various professional and social groups, and pinpoint certain linguistic and discursive strategies using Laсlau and Mouffe’s (2001) concept of “hegemonic discourse” and a theory of authoritative discourse set forth by Yurchak (2014). The intertextuality of expert, political, and Muslim discourses suggests the emergence of an authoritative Islamic discourse, which, however, can exist only situationally. The central element of this discourse is a concept of “traditional Islam,” which is one of the most important aspects of our analysis.
Visual propaganda played an enormous role in the history of the twentieth century. Unlike the propaganda of nineteenth century, it was aimed not only at educated classes in the imperial centers, but also at subaltern masses living in the colonies of great powers, including the vast territories in the east and south of the former Russian Empire. Posters created for (and with the assistance of) Muslims between the two world wars in the Soviet Orient (i.e., in the Volga region, Crimea, Urals, and Siberia, on the Caucasus and in the Central Asia) represent an enormous and still poorly studied layer in the history of Soviet propaganda. So far, the posters have been studied primarily in the context of art history. But the creation of visual propaganda is critical for historical reconstructions as well. It is more important to understand posters’ language, historical context, attitude to public policy, cultural background, in other words - the discourse of propaganda. This is a part of life, even if semiofficial, the loss of which would simplify and impoverish the picture of the past. Discursive analysis of poster art allows one to understand the relationship between knowledge and power in society, the role of different social strata in its reproduction, and the aspects of perception and rejection of official propaganda.
This article studies the approach of Islamic legal thought to the idea of Caliphate. The author explains the fundamental principles of the Islamic concept of the state as an instrument for defending and maintaining religion and dealing with worldly affairs. Modern Islamic thought, taking into consideration the historical evolution of Islamic statehood under the influence of objective political circumstances, came to the key conclusion that an Islamic state is not restricted to a unified Caliphate (the Caliphate on the way of the prophecy). Other models of power are quite admissible if they are meeting the aims of the Caliphate.
The main question of this event may seem extremely general, but, in our opinion, it is no less relevant and important: how best to study Islam and Muslims in Russia? One often gets the impression that we can hardly speak of a community of researchers on Islam as such. For example, anthropologists of religion may not intersect with specialists in medieval Muslim literature in the research space, and both of them study di!erent aspects of the Islamic tradition. However, the increasing complexity of communication processes and the emergence of new contexts are transforming not only religious reality and Muslim identity, but also approaches to its study. Classical approaches from within the discipline of Oriental Studies are clearly not enough: researchers increasingly turn to the tools of sociology, political science, mass-media studies, and so on. The main purpose of this event was to initiate an interdisciplinary discussion of the current experiences and prospects of modern scholarship on Islam.
The agitation posters on Muslim women’s emancipation and Bolsheviks’ gender policy open up a di!erent perspective on the soft sociocultural reforms in Soviet Turkestan. Visual agitation was a means of cultural transfer of Europeanized and secular norms into the patriarchal public and private space and a tool for recoding the indigenous peoples’ worldview. The paper investigates visual agitation and analyzes the principles of functioning of emancipation posters of Muslim women in a culturally sophisticated society. Agitation posters are examined as instruments of modernizing women’s living environment in cities, villages as well as in the steppe (of a nomadic lifestyle). The paper partly raises the question of the potential limits of the perception of indigenous women’s image. The theoretical researches of Soviet art critics are used for this analysis. There is an attempt made to analyze the visual propaganda in the cultural and psychological contexts as well as in terms of the artistic features of the images. The visual agitation is studied as an essential component of emancipation, which played a significant role in promoting the values of Soviet feminists in the first half of the 1920s.
The pivotal goal of the study is to reveal the role of the Islamist parties and movements in politics in Egypt and Tunisia before and after the protests of the ‘Arab spring’. In addition, it seeks to explain how various Islamist groups interacted with each other and which factors determined the nature of their interaction. According to preliminary observations, there were several common features in the character of Islamists’ participation in politics in Egypt and Tunisia after the dissolution of Mubarak and Ben Ali. This led to utilizing of comparative analyzes in this research and promoted the understanding of why Tunisian Islamists appeared to be more successful in politics than their Egyptian counterparts. The method of case-study was employed to investigate the relations between Islamist groups in 20 and 21 centuries. Eventually, the following conclusion was reached: these relations were highly determined not by common goals and ideological closeness of the Islamists, but rather by historical hostility towards each other and pragmatic interests.
More than twenty five years passed from the beginning of the Islamic growth in Dagestan. It is the time to evaluate this phenomenon. As specialist in history and social anthropology of Muslim societies I am going to do it on the basis of archival and field research materials gathered in the republic from the autumn 1992 till the summer of 2016. I happened to witness the very beginning of the Islamic growth as well as fall of enthusiasm related to Islam. This paper aims to clarify the nature and results of the Islamic growth. What was the reason of the so-called Islamic revival? How does it correlate to the imperial Soviet past in Russian Caucasus? What did the Islamic growth result in? What was eventually revived if any? And last but not least — how was the return of Islam to public sphere related to the growth of conflicts and social instability in the region? The fall of the one-party Soviet system was accompanied with the appearance of numerous Islamic parties and movements. All of them appealed to the restoration of religious freedom for Muslims, the return from the official state atheism to Islam, consolidation of Russia’s Muslims on the basis of Shari‘a and to the revival of high pre-Soviet Islamic culture in perspective. Post-Soviet Islamic parties appeared to be strikingly short-lived: all of them disappeared already in the 1990s. Hopes on Islam as the means of political liberation and national self-determination of Soviet Muslims in Dagestan proved to be wrong. Politics seems not to be a stable factor of the Islamic growth. Religious statistics defines it better. One should note unprecedented growth of religious Islamic institutions in Dagestan. However the quantity does not mean quality. Islamic cultural revival did not yet happen in the republic. It seems that the Soviet past still affects Dagestani Muslims stronger that it seems at first sight. Following Soviet reforms and forced secularization pre-revolutionary Muslim society exists no more. The general course of the Islamic growth was much affected by transformation of post-Soviet Russian polity in the region, economic devastation, growing unemployment and aftermath of two bloody Russian-Chechen wars. In addition, the so-called Wahhabi religious opposition appeared to be a serious challenge to the post-Soviet Russian rule in the Caucasus. Nowadays it disappears but other radical Muslim movements such as Hizb al-Takhrir were introduced in the region.
The article analyses the interaction of Islamic and progressist (modern European) discourses – the so called cultural bilingualism – in A. Baiazitov’s vision of history. This is compared with Sh. Mardzhani’s approaches to Islamic history, described by other scholars (A. Frank, M. Kemper, et al.). The question of Baiazitov’s authorship is also discussed. A representative of the official Russian metropolis Muslim clergy (the akhun of a Tatar Muslim “parish” in St. Petersburg), Baiazitov was active in publishing books and articles in Russian in the central Russian press to contest the topoi common in the public, scholarly, and missionary visions of Islam and mixed up in the imperial frame of mass Orientalism. In particular, E. Renan’s and his partisans’ notorious ideas of the Islamic alienness to science and progress were debated (Baiazitov’s “Objection” to Renan, 1883, was especially famous). The article shows that just to notice such views of Islam and consider them necessary to be retorted to, demanded that the author should share the progressist presumptions of history, which underlay those views. Hence the progressist discourse was indeed interiorized and present in Baiazitov’s works (as well as in the essays of his alter ego, Murza Alim, and contrary to Mardzhani who ignored those debates). Yet along with the appropriated progressist ideas, in particular the imagined backwardness of the ‘Muslim world’, Baiazitov also reproduced the structuring of history characteristic of the Islamic discourse proper, namely, the generalized Islamic reformist scheme that explained the decline of Islam by distortions introduced to the initial Islam by its later alien inheritors (Mongols and Turks); abandoning the errors, Islam would get back to the way of progress. The Islamic discourse also determined Baiazitov’s understanding of science and knowledge and the very methods of argumentation (referring to hadiths, etc.). Revealing Baiazitov’s sources and analyzing his ways of working on them – the works of both European Orientalists and modern Islamic reformists (particularly, the Indian Aligarh movement) and Islamic “classics” – the article exposes Baiazitov’s universalist strive to unite different traditions in the “multilingual” cultural situation to whose challenge he responded. The necessity to “explain” Islam in the space of mass Orientalism, where he addressed and belonged to, demanded a kind of “translatory effort”, yet the “translation” was not all-inclusive. Together with the very force of the discursive practices he used, all that engendered the cultural bilingualism in his historical narrative. The accent on the origins of Islam (comparable with Mardzani’s historical vision), i.e. the representation of the history of the ‘Islamic world’ as a whole, reflected Baiazitov’s own forming identity of a representative of the Islamic community in general. There’s hardly a direct Mardzhani’s influence on Baiazitov’s views, yet in some respects they gave analogous responses to the challenge of the imperial modernity, though from quite different discursive spaces.
The article sheds light on a still poorly studied problem of how traditional Islamic education was initially modernized in the context of buildingof the Soviet school in Turkestan in the 1920s. The focus is made on ashort history of the so-called Waqf Supreme Office that was charged with administration and management of state secular and religious schools (elementary maktabs and advanced college madrasahs) in 1923-1926.The author argues that this institution contributed to the creation of a “Soviet Islam” loyal to the communist state in Central Asia. In addition, the article investigates the role of Jadid reformists in the early Soviet cultural reforms, their relationship with the Turkestan’s Bolsheviks, and thelatter’s attitude to Islamic endowments and other cultural and charitable practices. A special attention is paid to continuities and ruptures between the late imperial and the early Soviet politics to Russia’s own Islam in its (ex-)colonial Oriental borderlands.
The paper discusses three cases of the Russian Empire Muslims (Tatars) using the Russian language to speak about themselves and Islam. The cultural processes underlying ‘Muslim Russian’ turning into a discoursal practice, its aims and expanding functions are analyzed, as well as its links to ‘mass Orientalism’ in the Russian imperial space and the speakers’ quest of the ways to speak about Islam in Russian. The role of choosing Russian in forming the actors’ identity as expert representatives of the imagined Russian Muslim community, while they acted as colonial intermediaries and/or political oppositionists, is shown. One case is A. Baiazitov and his contemporaries’ polemics with E. Renan and the counter-Muslim (missionary, in particular) journalism in the 1890-s, which, being a response to the unifying (state-nationalist) trends in the imperial context, also shows the emergence of the space of Muslim voices in the Russian public discourse. The second case, i.e. Russian used by Muslim political activists in the times of mass politics, especially, in their private correspondence in the 1910- s, reveals its lingua franca functions in their aspirations to create a super-ethnic all-Russian Muslim community. Differently, the 3d case, which frames the paper, the handwritten notes made for himself by the Muslim reformist (jadid), journalist and oppositionist F. Karimov (Karimi) in the margins of the governmental “Journal of the Special Meeting for Elaboration of Measures to Counteract the Tatar-Muslim Influence in the Volga Region” (1910) presents the interiorization of Russian beyond its pragmatic and public functions, a situation of ‘straight’ individual multilingualism. As Russian, the language of the Russian power, served also to convey the modernist, mainly progressist discourse, the key question raised in the paper is the interaction of Islamic and modernist discourses in the Muslim Russian texts under discussion. In the polemics both with the trends of absolutizing and idealizing the modernity and of marginalizing the modernity questionnaire in the studies of Russian Islam, the notion of ‘cultural bilingualism’ is suggested, which allows depicting a coexistence of the two discourses even in the utterances that may seem purely modernist and lacking any Islamic subtext (e.g. Karimov’s marginalia). The difference in the character of cultural bilingualism between Baiazitov’s and Karimov’s texts is shown, as well as their common connection with the Islamic vision of history, which prevents their definition in pure terms of modernism vs. traditionalism. The paper is partly based on archival sources. The supplement provides fragments of Karimov’s notes, previously unpublished.
The critical task of textualization of Sufi practices in the 10-13 centuries was legitimization and establishing Sufism within the framework of “orthodox” Islam. That is why the authors of this period strive to present Sufism as an authoritative “science”, which uses other Muslim sciences’ methods and techniques. Another important aspect of legitimizing the Sufi movement was creating its pious history, which traces the roots of Sufi teachings back to the Prophet Muhammad’s time. The authors of Sufi bio- and hagiographic works of this period constructed the history of Sufism that involved the early Islamic renunciants and representatives of the local mystic-ascetical movements that Sufism encountered after spreading its influence outside Baghdad. One of those movements was the “Path of Blame” (malāmatiyya) representatives, which was initially one of Sufism’s regional competitors. However, as the 10-13 century sources demonstrated, its representatives, ideas, and practices were actively incorporated into the “Sufi science.” They became part of the history of Islamic piety constructed by the Sufi authors.