One significant form of the religious revival in the post-Soviet space is the revival of sacred sites, a revival that takes many forms. The forum aims to ask what does this revival mean and how can it be approached? Against the background of attempts at desecration or at ‘muting’ the sacred during the Soviet period, should the revival of sacred sites be understood as a process of de-secularisation and re-enchantment? How is this process connected to identity claims? This forum explores these questions by examining the process of reviving sacred sites in various post-Soviet countries, specifically Russia (the Urals, Dagestan and North Ossetia), Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The contributions to the forum show diverse ways in which processes of reviving or preserving these sites are connected with forms of identification (religious, secular, ethnic, national and transnational), as revealed through the prism of practice, narrative and materiality. The multiple identities that have emerged during the revival of sacred space can blend, coexist or compete.
The Islamic revival in the Ural region does not only translate into an increase in mosques and institutions of religious education (madrasas), such as the newly built Rasulev madrasa, named after the well-known Sufi sheikh or ishan Zaynulla Rasulev (1833–1917), in the city of Troitsk. Sacred sites are also places where one can witness a renewed religious activity. The observation of sacred sites in the Ural region helps approach the question of how a local Islam, inscribed into a particular territorial sacred geography, shows a capacity to create multiple connections, sometimes with far-away places in the Muslim world. The interconnection between the ‘local’ and the ‘transnational’ in these places helps problematise the conventional dichotomy, which one often encounters in the post-Soviet space between a local, ‘ethnic’, Islam and a universalist, ‘foreign’, Islam.