Islam in Post-Soviet Russia: Public and Private Faces

Islam in Post-Soviet Russia: Public and Private Faces

Islam in Post-Soviet Russia: Public and Private Faces

Islam in Post-Soviet Russia: Public and Private Faces


This book, based on extensive original research in the field, analyzes the political, social and cultural implications of the rise of Islam in post-Soviet Russia. Examining in particular the situation in Tartarstan and Dagestan, where there are large Muslim populations, the authors chart the long history of Muslim and orthodox Christian co-existence in Russia, discuss recent moves towards greater autonomy and the assertion of ethnic-religious identities which underlie such moves, and consider the actual practice of Islam at the local level, showing the differences between "official" and "unofficial" Islam, how ceremonies and rituals are actually observed (or not), how Islam is transmitted from one generation to the next, the role of Islamic thought, including that of radical sects, and Islamic views of men and women's different roles.


Official and unofficial Islam

Dmitrii Makarov and Rafik Mukhametshin

In this chapter, the relationship between Islam and power in post-Soviet Tatarstan and Dagestan is approached from the perspective of the Muslim spiritual elite. the chapter considers the response of Muslim leaders to the religious liberalization and ideological uncertainty of the early post-Soviet period. It outlines the organizational structure of the regional and local Islamic spiritual bodies - in particular, the Islamic Spiritual Boards of Tatarstan and Dagestan - and describes how they interacted both with the Islam recognized by the local population and that found in the world centres of Islamic spiritual authority and learning. the degree of Islamization proposed for Tatarstan and Dagestan by their respective spiritual authorities is compared and contrasted, as are official views on what the role of the state in this process should be. the political and spiritual influence of prominent Muftiis and Imams is discussed and the social and political implications of the extensive construction of mosques, Islamic schools and cultural centres, the development of a broad network of Arabic study groups and the mushrooming of Islamic mass media are assessed.

The chapter also discusses the challenges presented to 'official' Islam by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and 'unofficial Islams' in general. We explore the relationship between the state, Islamic officialdom and the Islamic opposition and then look more specifically at the activities, and propaganda, of various Islamic and national-Islamic parties and organizations representing both traditional and non-traditional Islam. Islamic fundamentalism and other forms of non-traditional Islam are examined also, paying particular attention to their social and ethnic face, their dogmatic and political characteristics and their relations with traditional Islam. the role of Sufi tariqas (orders) and individual Sufi sheikhs in the social and political life of the republic of Dagestan are also considered.

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