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Religion et politique dans le Caucase post-soviétique

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Bayram Balcı
, 
Raoul Motika

10. The “Islamic Revival” in a Dagestani kolkhoz: Between Local Traditions and External Influences

Vladimir Bobrovnikov

Note de l’auteur

This paper summarises a number of my previous anthropological case studies conducted in Dagestan between 1992 and 2004 with the financial support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Research Support Scheme of the Open Society Institute, the Moscow Social Scientific Foundation (with funds from the Ford Foundation) and the Volkswagen Stiftung. These organisations might well disagree with my views.

Texte intégral

I would like to thank Stéphane Dudoignon and Michael Kemper for their comments on issues raised in this article.

  • 1 Cf. R.G.LANDA, Islam v Rossii, (Moscow, Vostochnaia literatura, 1995); G. YEMELIANOVA, Russia and I (...)
  • 2 See O. ROY, The New Central Asia. The Creation of Nations, (New York, New York University Press, 20 (...)

1The last twenty-five years have witnessed a growing influence of Islam on Muslim and non-Muslim societies whether with a communist past or not. The collapse of the Soviet regime triggered a stormy movement for Islamic revival in the North Caucasus, Central Asia, the Volga-Ural and other ex-Soviet Muslim areas. This process has been going on for almost fifteen years, but the vision of post-Soviet forms of Islam remains very confused. Re-Islamisation is regarded either as the “revival of local pre-modern traditions” in the form of underground “parallel Islam” or as the expansion of an “Islamist globalisation” from abroad due to the fall of the “iron curtain”1. There are also serious gaps in the academic understanding of Islam in the post-Soviet societies. Most works focus exclusively on Muslim communities2 at the regional level ignoring the local level.

  • 3 T. F. SIVERTSEVA, M. Iu. ROSHCHIN, V. O. BOBROVNIKOV (eds.), Dagestan: selenie Khushtada, (Moscow, (...)

2My fieldwork in the North Caucasus began in the very beginning of Islamic boom, when in 1992 I first visited a mountain village of Khushtada in Tsumada district of North Dagestan which was known as a local Islamic centre. This trip was followed by an intensive fieldwork in the village kolkhoz named after the Soviet hero of Civil war and of numerous anti-Soviet anecdotes Chapaev. This anthropological case study was completed in 1997. In addition, I was collecting Arabic inscriptions and manuscripts in Khushtada, reading archive files kept in the state, mosque and private collections in Dagestan. From time to time I returned to field and archival materials from Khushtada during regular trips to the North Caucasus, the last of which happened in the late autumn of 2004. I was thus aware of the Islamic growth as it occurred in a specific rural congregation. This work resulted in the ex-Soviet ethnography of Muslim mountaineers in Dagestan. The Khushtada’s history forms the core of two books and a number of articles that I published in 1993-20043.

3The purpose of the present paper is to criticize and review some of my previous works. Fifteen years of fieldwork in the North Caucasus have essentially changed my vision of local Muslim societies. Meanwhile, I passed through the influence of different research schools from the Soviet traditionalist ethnography through peasant and subordinate studies to the works of Bourdieu and Foucault. Field experience and reading pointed in the direction of new research problems to investigate. In this paper, I concentrate on the local level of Islamic rise, examining its meaning, reasons, actors and networks. A special attention is paid to Muslims’ perceptions of the movement. Based on materials collected in the Chapaev kolkhoz and neighbouring Tsumada villages, I will describe the emergence of new competing Muslim identities, the transformation of small village factions into powerful political groups disputing over power and law at the republican and regional level.

A Return to “Local Islamic Traditions”?

  • 4 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Sovetskie natsional’nye reformy i smena identichnosti narodov Severo-Zapadnogo (...)
  • 5 The Manuscipt Collection of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Dagestan’s Sci (...)

4First of all, rehabilitation of Islam in post-Soviet Dagestan – mainly centred on the Avar, Darghin and Kumyk lands in North Dagestan – means for mountain dwellers the return to the traditions of their “pious ancestors”. This meant that Khushtada was an ideal site for my study. The village is situated in the Avar-speaking territories near the Northern border of Dagestan with Chechnya and Georgia. This is one of the six settlements of Bagulal, a small mountain people associated with Avars after the Soviet national reforms4. For at least the last two centuries the village has been known as a local Islamic centre. In 1991 it had the only functioning mosque of the Tsumada district built in 1600-01, a popular holy shrine of three Naqshbandiyya sheikhs, eight holy places (ziyarat) of other saint characters5, five private libraries of Arabic manuscripts and old-printed books. In the wave of Islamic enthusiasm, Muslim scholars (‘ulema’) from Khushtada became imams (dibirs) of 7 newly reopened mosques in mountain villages of Agvali, Tissi and Tlibisho. These are the resettlers’villages of New Khushtada and Novocherkeisk in the plain, as well in towns of Kizlyar and Khasavyurt. In Khasavyurt the dibir Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov opened a madrasa, which was later turned into the Imam al-Ash’ari Islamic University.

  • 6 This evaluation was made in 1992 by my respondents in Agvali, namely the ex-teacher of Russian lang (...)

5Khushtada’s people are proud of their Muslim scholars and monuments that demonstrate their glorious Islamic present and past. School teachers and state officials whom I interviewed in the Agvali district centre also distinguished themselves for a “religious fanatism”6, though did not show their enthusiasm for local Islamic traditions. At first glance, in the late Soviet period the local traditions clearly split up in two. On the one hand, Islam was officially recognized through the village Friday mosque or juma, administered by officially recognized dibir and assistant (mu’adhdhin or budun). For almost half a century, from 1946 to 1991, Khushtada – with a population of more than 19,000 people –had had the only legally functioning juma mosque in the whole district. On the other hand, in the lands of the Chapaev kolkhoz, unofficial holy places were still visited, private Islamic libraries were functioning and unlicensed Qur’anic classes were organised. Local ‘ulema’ and teachers, belonging to this underground “parallel Islam” were not only teaching Khushtada’s youth but also pupils from the whole district attending a boarding school in Agvali and coming at night to Khushtada for these Qur’anic classes.

  • 7 Alexandre BENNIGSEN, S. ENDERS WIMBUSH, Mystics and Commissars. Sufism in the Soviet Union, (London (...)
  • 8 The Central State Archive of the Republic of Dagestan (Makhachkala, hereafter: TsGA RD), f., r-1234 (...)

6The distinction between “official Islam” and the so-called “parallel Islam” was first traced in Soviet anti-religious literature of the “cold war” period and then used by Alexandre Bennigsen in his well-known and still wide spread concept7. However, its relevance was questioned when materials were collected at the village level. Why doesn’t this pattern work in Khushtada? First, because most official Islamic institutions were constructed in 1943-1944 at the regional level and for the whole Soviet Union. Four Muslim Spiritual Boards were established as well as the all-Union Council for Religious Affairs. Secondly, most Dagestani villages and towns lacked official Islamic institutions from the end of the 1920s to the mid-1940s and then again during the “stagnation” period. Thirdly, a number of mosques was reopened and then closed again passing therefore from the category of “official Islam” to that of “parallel Islam” and vice versa. Khushtada also experienced such oscillations of the State religious policy. The two functioning mosques of the village were closed in 1930, but the juma mosque was reopened in August 19468.

  • 9 Lutsian KLIMOVICH, Islam: Ocherki, 1962, Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR.
  • 10 Robert CONQUEST, The Harvest of Sorrow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, (London, Pim (...)

7Following Soviet anti-religious scholars like Lutsian Klimovich9, Bennigsen linked “parallel Islam” to an everlasting anti-Soviet Muslim resistance led by the Sufis, but his assumption has proved to be wrong. As Robert Conquest pointed out, the last armed uprisings against the Soviet power took an end with collectivisation10. Khushtada’s case indicates that after the last armed uprisings in North Dagestan were defeated in 1934–1936 and 1941–1942, there were no further attempts to overthrow the Soviet power in Dagestan. In the second half of the 20th century, Muslim resistance passed from real history to historical narratives. The martyrdom of the Muslim leaders under collectivisation is the favourite theme of local cultural memory. The villagers like to commemorate how their imam sheikh Husayn, the son of the sheikh Pir-Muhammad, was captured and shot in Makhachkala in 1930. The mosque was closed after the incident. Then Soviet activists burnt the rich collections of the sheikh’s Islamic library in the central place of Agvali for many hours. Villagers succeeded in getting Husayn’s body back and he was eventually buried in Khushtada. Husayn’s elder son, known as ‘Abdullah-dibir, was sentenced to exile, but he returned from the Kazakh steppe to Khushtada in the mid 1930s. He spent the rest of his life in the village, hidden in an underground cell (hujra) supported and fed by kolkhoz farmers until his death in December 1941.

  • 11 TsGA RD, f.. r-127, op. 21, d. 198, p. 10, 19, 36; cf. Dagestanskaia ASSR. Administrativno-territor (...)

8This story is confirmed by two Arabic epitaphs of 1934 and 1941, which are carved out on the mausoleum in the Qharmala cemetery where all three sheikhs were buried. These inscriptions recall the martyrdom of the sheikh Husayn who “died as a shahid in prison” and the lamentable fate of his son ‘Abdullah who “perished [...] from unbelievers and hypocrites (kuffar wa munafiqun) killing scholars and saints (awliya’) and plundering their estates”. Nevertheless, one should not overestimate the anti-Soviet feelings of the local Muslim elites, who composed those inscriptions. If the first generation to endeavour collectivisation suffered, later generations adapted to the work conditions and lifestyle in the Molotov kolkhoz of Khushtada in 1936 (later renamed after Chapaev in 1955)11. From their part, village Communists and Soviet officials never denounced unauthorised Muslim practices. They even knew about the presence of exiled Islamic leaders near the village, as the story of ‘Abdullah-dibir shows. All three imams of the reopened juma mosque maintained good relations with the kolkhoz management and the village Soviets. These were Sayfullah (d. 1972) who administered the mosque in 1946-1972, his former budun and successor Sharaf al-din (d. 1995) who worked as a mullah till the early 1980s, and Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov (d. 2004) who held this office in the 1980s.

  • 12 The Resolution of the Dagestan Party Committee “On serious shortcomings committed in the activities (...)
  • 13 Ibidem, pp. 195. Cf. similar complaints appeared in the personal cases of Party members and Soviet (...)

9The attitude of Soviet authorities from Agvali and Makhachkala towards the so called official and underground forms of Islam was not so favourable. In the 1960s until the 1980s, they took part in a series of all-union campaigns against “religious survivals”. The district police conducted raids to alpine villages closing mosques, preventing youths from participating in the Friday prayer and religious festivals during the Qurban-bayram and Urazabayram. People caught when performing public prayer, dhikr (the remembrance of God) or mawlid (songs celebrating the Prophet’s birthday) were sentenced to high penalties. Children of school age were forced to interrupt fasting in the month of Ramadan. It is noteworthy that repression also struck a blow on kolkhoz officials involved in the rituals of “parallel” Islam and “sharing [...] harmful survivals of the past”, as a Tsumada Party report pointed out in 196212. Besides praying, almsgiving, visiting ziyarats, even village communists and Soviet activists contracted marriages and divorces according to the Shari’a, performed the circumcision (sunnet) of all male newborns and sent teenagers to illegal Qur’anic classes13.

  • 14 “Chislennost’ naseleniia po naselennym punktam v predelah Tsumadinskogo raiona na 01. 01. 1997”, in (...)

10What was the reason of such an inclination of the local Soviet officials towards Islam? The answer does not lie in the ignorance or the devotion of Dagestani communists. I suggest that both villagers and kolkhoz officials used Islamic practices like circumcision, prayer, almsgiving (both zakyat and sadaqa), fasting, madrasa schooling – which had been rooted in the village customs – as a means of socialisation in the Muslim countryside. All these local Islamic customs are still used with this very aim. In this respect, local Islamic and Soviet practices are more complementary than opposed to each other. That’s why most Soviet officials in Khushtada and Tsumada kolkhozs hid the existence of local mosques and holy places from the district authorities. Otherwise, they would have controlled and quickly destroyed them all in small mountain villages like Khushtada, whose population in 1997 included 267 households with 822 inhabitants14. The village Soviet administration was located close to the monuments of “parallel Islam”. In Khushtada it was housed initially near the ancient round watch-tower and the Friday mosque. In 1973, the kolkhoz office moved to the village outskirts in front of the mausoleum dedicated to the village’s three sheikhs.

  • 15 V. F. GRYZLOV, Dagestan: etnopoliticheskii portret, (Moscow, 1994, vol. 1), pp. 138-139.
  • 16 Novoe delo, (Makhachkala), 01. 04. 2004.

11Close personal connections between Muslim and Soviet elites that existed in the kolkhoz help us to solve the riddle of the mountaineers’ attachment to both their Islamic traditions and communist past. In Khushtada people are nostalgic about the relative wealth and stability of the Soviet era: “We lived better under the Soviet regime. There was a strong discipline in the kolkhoz, prices were lower and harvests higher”. Villagers, the dibir and even Muslim ‘ulama’ who suffered from the Soviet anti-religious repression share this nostalgia. “Why should we abolish our kolkhoz? Who will look after the lands we inherited from our fathers? The Kumyks will seize our kutany (settlements) in the plain. Getting rid of the kolkhoz will bring disorder and confusion (bardak i besporiadok) in the Mountains,” Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov stated in 1992. It is significant that in the first all-Dagestan referendum held on June 28th, 1992 83,7% Dagestanis voted for the preservation of kolkhozs15: 580 out of 634 Dagestan’s kolkhozs and sovkhozs decided to retain their former status having passed the registration in 1992-199416.

  • 17 “Razvernutaia eksplikatsiia zemel’ hoziaistv Tsumadinskogo raiona po sostoianiiu na 01. 01. 1997”, (...)
  • 18 “Chislennost’ naseleniia po naselennym punktam v predelah Tsumadinskogo raiona na 01.01.1997”.

12Mountaineers are eager to keep their kolkhoz because it provides their Muslim congregation with a stable framework. The Chapaev kolkhoz manages 1384 ha in the Khasavyurt district and 553 ha in the Babayurt district. These lands were attributed by the State in 1936 and 1944. Once people knew of this transfer – as an old shepherd (chaban) told me in 1995 – the villagers began dancing to the wild zurna music around the kolkhoz chairman who held the transaction deed in his hand. Pasture lands and settlements in the plains have kept their importance for mountaineers suffering from a shortage of land and labour. The newly attributed lowland estates surpassed in space and fertility the mountain properties of Khushtada, which consist of only 1212 ha.17 The prosperity of most households depends on the lowland pastures where the majority of private and collective cattle is bred. In the 1960s, after the abolition of the Stalinist passport system forbidding peasants to leave their farms and the eradication of malaria seats in the plains, Khushtada’s volunteers began resettling to the lowlands. In the 1970s two lowland settlements were created in Telav (or Novaia Khushtada) and in Shava, in the plains of the Khasavyurt and Babayurt discticts. Today two thirds of “mountain dwellers” live there18.

  • 19 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Evolutsiia sotsial’nyh i pozemel’nyh traditsii khushtadinskogo jamaata v XIX-XX (...)
  • 20 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Islam i sovetskoe nasledie v kolkhozah Severo-Zapadnogo Dagestana”, pp. 137-138

13A fusion of Soviet and local Muslim “traditions” occurred in the Chapaev kolkhoz. Communal landownership has much grown at the expense of private properties, which in turn strengthened the village community. Before collectivisation, Khushtada’s lands and livestock was distinguished as followed: pasture lands and groves constituted indivisible communal property known as harim; houses, terraced fields and gardens belonged to separate families as mulks; a part of mulks was transferred to two mosques and madrasa as charitable property or waqf. Harim and waqf became the core of the kolkhoz economics in 1934–1936. Private mulks became collective property only in 1939–1941, though a part of them was retained by former holders as personal plots19. Thus a strong village community has been gradually formed, on which the current Islamic growth is based. In 1991–1993, the kolkhoz cattle and mountain fields were again divided between villagers but the lands in the plain are still used as village harim. The bulk of zakyat taxes come from them. In addition, in 1993 more than 100 waqf mountain plots were restored to the mosque. Their income provides Friday mosque with light and covers religious expenses of the jama’at20.

  • 21 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV “Arheologiia stroitel’stva islamskih traditsii v dagestanskom kolkhoze”, pp. 584- (...)

14The history of Khushtada’s transformation from kolkhoz into a Muslim congregation sheds light on the hybrid nature of its Islamic “traditions”. These emerged from the Soviet “traditions” which had themselves been constructed in the framework of an egalitarian peasant community that had been invented in the era of the Great reforms21. The community building started in Khushtada following the end of the Russian conquest in 1859. The Islamic boom emerged in the context of, though in reaction to, the Soviet legacy which cannot be ignored. Soviet persecutions and secularisation caused a deep decline of Islamic learning. Today, it is impossible to restore all Muslim practices in their pre-Soviet form. Khushtada, which was previously a Sufi centre, has had no more Sufi masters since the death of sheikh Husayn in 1930. Some Sufi practices like the silent Naqshbandiyya dhikr became a common Muslim practice in mosques of the Tsumada district. They are performed on public festivals, funerals and house-warming. As such the Khushtada’s case indicates that the “Islamic revival” appears not to be a revival at all but a continuation of changes dating back to the mid-nineteenth century at least.

Local Traditions versus Islamic Globalisation?

  • 22 V. BOBROVNIKOV, “Post-Soviet Forms of Islam: North Caucasian Wahhabis”, p. 29.

15Paradoxically, constant appeals to local traditions in the post-Soviet Islamic movement go together with the opening of borders, a growing exchange of people, goods and knowledge between former Soviet Muslims and their coreligionists from abroad. The trend towards a social mobility marked local Muslim societies already in the late-Soviet period. As mentioned above, the 1960s-1970s witnessed a massive resettlement of volunteers from the Chapaev kolkhoz to Khasavyurt and Babayurt districts, where mountain dwellers established two new villages. If Novaya Khushtada belongs to the Chapaev kolkhoz itself, the village of Shava is a shared property of Khushtada and neighbouring Tsumada’s villages of Tlondoda, Kvanada, Tindi, Agvali. There are other mountaineers’ settlements in their proximity. In the late 1970s some resettled villages like Pervomayskoe, Nechaevka, Yasnaya Poliana became local Islamic centres with their own Qur’anic schools, Muslim scholars and ziyarats. In the last wave of anti-Islamic repression connected to the Afghan war, these institutions were abolished22 but reappeared in the late 1980s.

  • 23 The archives of the Committee on the Religious Affairs at the Government of the Republic of Dagesta (...)

16After the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the advent of religious freedom the division of “official” and “parallel” Islam lost its meaning. From 1991, the number of mosques in Dagestan grew rapidly and together with them new jama’ ats: from 27 in 1988 they had risen to 1557 by January 1998, and then to 1679 (including 1091 juma mosques) by April 2003. Furthermore, 324 primary mosque schools (maktabs), 141 madrasas and 16 Islamic higher schools were opened23. According to these figures, Dagestan with its incredibly high number of Islamic institutions is one of the most Islamized regions of ex-Soviet Russia. Most of them are not registered by the State. The boom in Islamic building reached Khushtada in 1991, when the second mosque of the village, turned into a warehouse under the Soviet regime, was reopened. Women held dhikrs nearby. In 1993, a new Friday mosque was built in Novaya Khushtada. Last but not least, in the new part of Khushtada in front of the sheikhs’ mausoleum and shrine a new three-storeyed juma mosque and its attached madrasa were erected with stones from the watch-tower destroyed on purpose. The building itself is the largest Friday mosque built in North Dagestan recently.

  • 24 A list of the major prayer-houses (qurma) functioning on the lands of the Chapaev kolkhoz was publi (...)

17The architecture of post-Soviet mosques shows the influence of “Soviet traditions”. Almost all new buildings are styled after the Russian-type private houses of villages and towns in the plains. The reason for such a similarity is simple: in the late Soviet period religious gatherings used to take place in private houses to escape the State persecutions. Unlike old mosques the new ones are mostly built of adobe bricks. Instead of traditional blind walls and flat roofs they have large windows and are covered with gable tin roofs. Large rectangular prayer halls resemble much a central room in the neighbouring houses of mountain businessmen. New mosques have false tin minarets with loud-speakers through which calls to the prayer are diffused. In 1991, such a minaret was attached to the former Friday mosque in Khushtada. In North Dagestan numerous traditional private prayer houses called qurma (or qulla after the Arabic word of qul’a meaning an “ablution room”) and consisting of a small prayer hall with a room for ablutions appeared. Between 40 and 60 of them were built in seasonal cattle hamlets in the Chapaev kolkhoz24.

18The building of new mosques and prayer houses became the most common act of piety in post-Soviet Dagestan. It is financed mainly through private donations (sadaqa) given by wealthy businessmen and old devout people. For post-Soviet Muslims of different social strata, it has become a rule of accepted behaviour to take part in the building of a mosque. In the early 1990s, with the financial support of wealthy relatives, the ex-dibir of Khushtada, Sharaf al-din, constructed 4 qurmas in the village. Though the number of mosques exceeds the real need for it, mountaineers consider them a symbol of devotion, distinguishing them from other Muslims. The meaning of qurma found a good illustration in a story reported in 1995 by the local expert in Khushtada’s history Abdula Zakaryaev: “Once a man from Akhvakh [a neighbouring mountain village] came to Khushtada and was surprised to find so many qurma there. Well, our lands in spring are covered with cattle excrements, but you turned it into a place of prayer!”

19With their growing number throughout North Dagestan, mosques retrieved their rank, replacing holy places like sheikhs’ shrines and ziyarats as the centre of religious activities. If in the 1950-1980s the three sheikhs’ shrine attracted to Khushtada mountaineers from the whole Tsumada district, now its popularity declined and it is mostly visited by villagers from Khushtada. Its importance in the Soviet period was linked to the fact that most Dagestani Muslims considered pilgrimages to ziyarats equivalent to the real hajj to Mecca and Medina, which was only made possible for a few high ranking officials only between 1944 and 1990. Among the pilgrims visiting ziyarats, women with children and teenagers prevailed. Most of them were seeking healing for themselves and their cattle. Before leaving Khushtada military conscripts were performing a prayer in the Qharmala cemetery asking sheikhs for blessings and a safe journey. Today, Muslims appeal to the sheikhs for healing of various illnesses and mental diseases or clemency in cases of natural disaster such as severe droughts. To provoke rain for example, all adult men of the congregation gather in front of the shrine or in the Friday mosque and perform a collective prayer, which is sometimes followed by a silent dhikrand in the end of the ritual alms (sadaqa) are given.

  • 25 Dagestanskaia pravda, (Makhachkala, 16.08.1991), republished in: V. F. GRYZLOV, Dagestan: etnopolit (...)
  • 26 The roads used by pilgrims can be established from advertisements of travel agencies regularly appe (...)

20Apart from regular visits to holy places in their own and neighbouring villages, more and more Khushtada’s villagers perform the real pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina as prescribed to all Muslims as a duty. Traditional cultural links of the North Caucasus with the Arab Middle East were interrupted in the mid-1920s. For two or three generations Dagestan’s congregations lived in a complete isolation from non-Soviet Muslim areas. Political and ideological barriers were erected under the Soviet rule and influenced their religious conscience. Qu’ranic schools being forbidden, Islamic knowledge declined among the population and especially among the young generations. A massive pilgrimage was renewed in 1991, when 345 Dagestanis performed the hajj. The number of pilgrims from Dagestan grew extraordinarily fast: from 889 in 1991 to 12700 in 199625. In the post-Soviet period two thirds of Russian hajjis as a rule of thumb come from Dagestan. New non-expensive means of connection between the North Caucasus and Saudi Arabia were found. In the 1990s most Dagestani hajjis reached Mecca by inter-city buses through Iran, Iraq, Syria and Jordan26.

  • 27 R. K. MAGOMACHIEV, Chto dala Oktiabr'skaia revolutsiia narodam Severnogo Kavkaza (Makhachkala, 1987 (...)

21Indeed, by the mid-1990s, about 200 villagers from Khushtada had performed the pilgrimage. Some achieved it in the month of Dhu-l-Hajj and deserve than the title of hajji, while others completed the ‘umra, the little pilgrimage outside the holy month of Dhu-l-Hajj at another period of the year. As far as the late Soviet period is concerned, the first hajji of Khushtada was its ex-dibir Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov who visited Mecca in 1986 as a member of the delegation sent by the Spiritual Board of Muslims for the North Caucasus27. Today, more than half of the whole population of the Chapaev kolkhoz have performed the hajj, and some of them went there two or three times. In 1990-1991, the Saudi King covered all the travel expenses of pilgrims from ex-Soviet Russia that he had invited as his own guests. Later pilgrims have had to pay for themselves. Some use the hajj to get additional money by trading local produce or craft works, others by starting business activities in the Arab states. Women work in the lowland sovkhozs while men first in Russia and since 1991 outside Russia, do business or work abroad to repatriate income. This forms the major income of the mountainous Chapaev kolkhoz from the 1970s to date.

  • 28 The notion of “the conspiracy of Jews and imperialists against Islam and Muslims” is commonly share (...)
  • 29 A. A. IGNATENKO, Islam i politika, (Moscow: Institute of religion and policy, 2004), pp. 45-48.

22The pilgrimage became an important channel of knowledge transmission about Islam and about the Middle East in post-Soviet Dagestan and Russia. It helped to overcome the negative legacy of the “cold war”, breaking the propaganda image of “the foreign enemy” still widespread in the North Caucasus. At the same time, political troubles and social instability in these post-Soviet societies nourished the fear of imported “foreign Islam”28. In the 1990s, Muslim organisations and individuals from Turkey, from the Arab Middle East or South Asia came to Makhachkala and Moscow. For five or six years a network of charitable foundations, Islamic banks, business organisations, educational facilities and media established offices and branches in Dagestan and Russia. The effects of this interaction between post-Soviet and foreign Muslim societies are still unclear. In the literature, the trend focuses on the global political consequences of this process ignoring the local Muslim context. The Russian side often presents it a one-way expansion of radical international Islamism in post-Soviet space, as the Russian expert Alexander Ignatenko puts it29.

  • 30 Among the main Islamic media that appeared in post-Soviet Dagestan one should mention first Islamsk (...)

23The example of Khushtada indicates that pilgrimages and travels abroad have undermined the monopoly of the local Muslim elites in the production and transmission of Islamic knowledge. Modern channels of information and educational facilities have appeared. Numerous printed copies of the Qur’an, missionary (da’wa) leaflets, textbooks printed in Egypt, Kuwait, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are imported by pilgrims and spread by emissaries of international Islamic organisations. Today they are almost in every private library even in remote alpine villages of the Chapaev kolkhoz. Arabic manuscripts and lithographs of the nineteenth and early twentieth century were replaced by printed books on Islam, which had so far remained unknown to Dagestani Muslims. Students of mosque schools ceased copying manuscripts. By the mid-1990s a dozen Islamic newspapers of different orientations appeared in Russian and Avar languages in Makhachkala, Kizilyurt, Khasavyurt and Agvali30. But the principal channel of Islamic information became video materials available through the mass media (TV) in villages and Internet in towns.

  • 31 “Posemeinyi spisok zhitelei Pkaratinskogo naibstva Andiiskogo okruga za 1886 god”, in f. 21, op. 5, (...)

24The system of Islamic education has undergone serious changes. Traditionally, it consisted of two levels: the primary mosque schools or maktabs and the advanced madrasas. In addition, there were preparatory Qur’anic classes. This network had been incorporated into the Soviet school system in Dagestan, and had disappeared within it as soon as 1928. Most learned Muslims were repressed during collectivisation and Stalinist purges. In the post World War II period unlicensed Qur’anic classes were organized in Khushtada and in a number of mountain and lowland villages, providing Muslim youths with basic Islamic education. Most of them missed the secondary level (madrasa), though some individual scholars like Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov succeeded in attending advanced courses in Muslim law (usul al-fiqh) and Sufism (tasawwuf). The Avar and Russian languages taught in primary State schools, practised in the Soviet army and in the kolkhoz have replaced literary Arabic as the languages of education, law and power. If in 1886 out of 739 inhabitants of Khushtada only one of them was reported to understand Russian, today all villagers speak it fluently31.

  • 32 K. M. KHANMAGOMEDOV e.a. (eds.), Religii i religioznye organizatsii v Dagestane, (Makhachkala, 2001 (...)

25A renowned Soviet network of private Muslim schools has failed to be restored, as the Khushtada’s case indicates. Curricula and facilities of reestablished schools are a mixture of religious and secular, ex-Soviet and foreign educational canons. Short-term Qur’anic classes and maktabs introduce beginners into the Arabic language and the fundamentals of the faith (usul aldin. In 1992, there were two such courses held in Khushtada and about 80 in the town of Khasavyurt. By the 2000s most of them had disappeared. The madrasa level is still missing in Khushtada. The huge building by the new juma mosque is not yet operational due to the lack of students and teachers. Mullahs, their assistants and independent Islamic scholars graduated from Islamic higher schools like the Imam al-Ash’ari Islamic University directed by the late dibir Abakarov. In 2004, there were 8 teachers and 190 male students working there. The University had six branches in the towns and villages of Khasavyurt, Kizilyurt and Gumbet districts where 145 young men studied32. In the mid-2000s about a dozen people from Khushtada were studying abroad, in the Islamic schools and universities of Egypt and Syria.

The “Sufi-Wahhabi” Controversy over Law and Power

26The control over the production of Islamic knowledge and the leadership over cultural and economic exchanges in the countryside and abroad have divided post-Soviet Muslim elites into competing factions. In 1991-1993, informal Muslim leaders of Khushtada seized the power and property of the Chapaev kolkhoz. All the pasture-lands were transferred to the village administration. Nevertheless, the position of the mullah in the community is not firm and depends very much on the struggle between local factions. It is the reason why since 1991 Khushtada’s mullah changed 5 times, whereas the village had only three successive dibirs from 1946 to 1990. After Abakarov moved to Khasavyurt, his nephew Gaziev (b. 1955) known as the “Small” Muhammad-Seyyid became a dibir. But within a year he was replaced by Ahmad Shahrutdinov (b. 1962), substituted in 1993 by a grand-nephew of the sheikh Husayn Seyyid-Husayn Pirmagomedov. In 1994, Small Muhammad-Seyyid regained the position of dibir, but some years later he was displaced once again. In 2005, the jama’at was ruled by the dibir Makka-Sharif from the neighbouring village of Khvarshi.

  • 33 See, e.g., Muhammad-Sayyid ABAKAROV’s manuscript “On the Wahhabis’ Delusions” translated from Avar (...)

27By mid-1995 a serious schism among the Muslims in the Chapaev kolkhozand in a dozen resettled mountain villages in North Dagestan occurred. It is interesting to note that, the beginning of this antagonism, which since turned into a regional political conflict, was connected to the activities of some living ‘ulama’ from Khushtada and other Tsumada’s villages like Muhammad-Seyyid Abakarov, Bagautdin Magomedov (Baha’ al-din Muhammad) and ‘Abbas Kebedov from Santada, Anguta (Ayyub) Omarov from Kvanada. At the initial village level, two factions opposed: Muhammad-Seyyid on the one side, Baha’ al-din and Ayyub on the other. They were later labelled subsequently the “Sufi” and the “Wahhabis”. To date, their struggle generated a number of polemic writings in Arabic, Avar and Russian, including manuscript fatwas, printed leaflets, video records of sermons33. Both sides used theological as well as political arguments to demonstrate their opponents had abandoned the “true religion”. As it often happens, the mutual accusations were unsubstantiated and the names or rather labels attached to each other not accurate.

28The very term of “Wahhabis” was invented by their opponents after the name of Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a famous reformer of Islam in the Saudi kingdom of Arabia in the eighteenth century. In Dagestan as well as in the whole North Caucasus it has a derogatory connotation of sectarians. The disputes of Wahhabis with their opponents mainly concern the modem meaning and application of Shari’a in the post-Soviet Muslim context. Bagautdin from Santlada and other Wahhabis leaders call for “cleansing” Caucasian Islam from the recent harmful influence of the “Soviet and Russian customs (‘adat)”. Considering the opponent faction as ‘polytheists’ (mushrikun) they appeal to the “purification of Islam from non-permitted innovations” (bida’), including dhikr, pilgrimages to saint shrines (ziyarat), mawlid celebrations, recitations of the Qur’an in cemeteries (talqin), and the use of protective charms (sabab). The Qur’an and the Sunna (the traditions inherited from the Prophet) are believed to be the only sources of faith (din). Wahhabis disregard the four traditional religious legal schools of Sunni Islam (madhhab) including the Shafi`i one dominating in Dagestan.

  • 34 Muhammad-Sayyid ABAKAROV, “Zabluzhdeniia vahhabitov”, in Alimy i uchenye protiv vahhabizma, p. 56.

29Wahhabis’ assaults particularly target the adherents of Sufism (tasawwuf), giving to the notion nothing but a pejorative nickname to Caucasian traditional Muslims, as the religious ideology of Abdul Wahhab and his followers does only appreciate the original and most strict rules of primitive Islam. Most of the so-called “Sufi” do not belong to any Sufi brotherhoods, two dozens of which spread again throughout post-Soviet Dagestan. From the 1950s until the mid-1990s, there were no Sufi sheikh in Khushtada, until some people joined the wird of the late Naqshbandi sheikh Taj al-din Ramazanov from Ashali (d. 2001), whose spiritual genealogy (silsila) was linked to the Shadhiliyya. As a Naqshbandi sheikh he came from another lineage of the Khalidiyya subordinate brotherhood than Khushtada’s former sheikh Husayn and Pir-Muhammad. In the early 2000s Muhammad-Sayyid Abakarov was initiated into the Rifa ‘iyya by an Arab sheikh during the hajj, but he hardly practised it. To date, Khushtada’s Muslims do not retain a particular Sufi identity, taking the Naqshbandiyya silent dhikr and some other Sufi practices for a common Muslim ritual. Leaders of the “Sufi” faction fought against the Wahhabis trying to preserve not Sufism as such, but rather their local Islamic traditions according to the Shafi’i madhhab34.

  • 35 A. A. IGNATENKO, Islam i politika, p. 42.

30The vision of Wahhabism, as it was practised in villages and towns in post-Soviet Dagestan, is still very obscure and confused. The origins of the movement date back to the expansion of radical Islamist organisations introduced in the North Caucasus after the fall of the Soviet rule. Among other explanations of the Wahhabi phenomenon, the Russian Orientalist Alexander Ignatenko claims that Wahhabis emerged as a marginalized group of “anti-modernist Islamist clergy”. Their previously high social status and prosperity had been undermined by modem reforms. As Ignatenko puts it, the secularisation of Muslim societies in the twentieth century under economic and cultural pressures from the West turned local clergy into supporters of a new Islamist political order35. This argument is not acceptable in our views, as the post-Soviet Muslim “clergy” including both Wahhabis and their opponents equally suffered from the consequence of the Soviet reforms.

  • 36 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, A. A. YARLYKAPOV, “Vahhabity Severnogo Kavkaza”, in S. M. PROZOROV (ed.), Islam (...)
  • 37 This peculiarity was first seriously examined by contemporary Moscow anthropologist Ahmed Yarlykapo (...)

31Wahhabi groups first emerged in the post-Soviet resettled villages in the lowland Khasavyurt and Babayurt districts. These were large rural settlements that belonged to the mountain kolkhozs of Tsumada district. For instance, the most prominent Wahhabi leader Bagautdin Kebedov came from a mountain dwellers’ family resettled from the alpine village of Santlada to Vedeno in Chechnya following the deportation of the Chechens in 1944. He had later moved to the village of Pervomayskoe in 195736. Numerous Muslim congregations had been formed within kolkhozs and sovkhozs in the plain, which became the cradle of the post-Soviet “Islamic revival” in the area. The different congregations co-existed within one settlement though in different neighbourhoods. As a rule, these jama’ats belonged to different kolkhozs and had separate administrations. In the 1990s each built its own Friday mosque that worsened the schism between Wahhabi and anti-Wahhabi factions37. In some district centres like Agvali these congregations have now 5 mosques and all tend to become a juma mosque.

  • 38 D. V. MAKAROV, Oftsial’nyi i neofitsial’nyi islam v Dagestane, p. 39.

32The organisation of a Wahhabi congregation (jama’at) is very simple and similar to one another. Their members gather in a prayer-house or mosque administered by their elected chief known as amir as opposed to mullahs of the “Sufi” factions, who are traditionally called dibir. The Wahhabi amir leads the religious and social life of the congregation and as the chairman of unofficial Shari`a court (ra’is) he settles lawsuits of its members. Sometimes the amir might also be a teacher (mudarris) instructing children and teenagers in the Arabic language and the foundations of religious duties (usul al-din). But most Wahhabi congregations lack learned Muslim elites, unlike their opponents from the “Sufi” faction. The first independent Wahhabi jama’at appeared in 1989 in the resettled town of Kizilyurt near the Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, where Bagautdin Magomedov had moved from Pervomayskoe. Until 1998, the ideological centre of the movement was located there, where the largest Wahhabi madrasa, al-Hikma (Arab., “Wisdom”), with its 750 students, had been set up by Bagautdin Kebedov in December 199138.

  • 39 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, A. A. YARLYKAPOV, “Vahhabity Severnogo Kavkaza”, pp. 20-21.
  • 40 M. BAGAUDDIN, Nachinaiushchim arabskogo iazyka, (Moscow, Santlada, 1993, 2nd. ed. 1995): idem, Nama (...)

33The movement was never homogeneous in its positions. It includes a number of small separate groups. If Bagautdin is against “Sufis”, the wing headed by Ahmad-qadi Akhtaev (1940-1998) from the village of Kudali sought for a compromise with them. The former disciple of Bagautdin, Anguta Omarov from Kvanada (renamed Ayyub in Arabic) regarded Dagestan as a “war territory” (dar al-harb) appealing to a struggle (jihad) against “infidels” and “polytheists”39. Initially, all the Wahhabi currents focused on missionary work (da’wa). Having established contacts with Islamist foundations from abroad like Taybat al-Hayriyya, al-Haramayn, and al-Ighasa al-Islamiyya, they issued in Makhachkala Russian-speaking newspapers under Arabic titles like “al-Raya al-Islamiyya” and “Khalifa”, printed Bagautdin Kebedov’s textbook of the Arabic language and Namaz leaflets (Prayer, Moscow, 1993, 1994, 1999), Russian translations of Sayyid Qutb, Muhammad Zinu and other modern Islamist authors40. The Wahhabis organized at first the Moscow-based publishing house “Santlada”, abolished by the federal authorities in the late 1990s but soon re-emerged under the name of “Badr”, which evokes the famous battle won by the companions of the Prophet Muhammad in their war against Meccan polytheists in 624.

34From the plain, the Wahhabis spread their influence to mountain areas. By the mid-1990s, their groups, though small in size, appeared in the Tsumada’s villages of Kvanada, Tlondoda, Santlada, Sildi and Sasitli. Ayyub, Bagautdin Anguta Omarov’s disciple from Kvanada, headed a wealthy merchant community of Dagestanis in Astrakhan. In the Tsumada district, however, the Wahhabis have failed to institutionalize their groups as independent congregations with the exception of the villages of Santlada and Kvanada. The later split of the jama’ at into two factions, with a diminished Wahhabi congregation under the leadership of amir Yusup Gaziev, centred around one of the three reopened mosques. Khushtada’s youths sympathizing with Wahhabis were expelled to Novaya Khushtada where they formed a group headed by ex-dibir Ahmad Shahrutdinov. Relations between factions are still very tense. Both sides, including close relatives, refuse to communicate with each other. Wahhabis have been subjected to systematic repression by the ruling Muslim elite.

  • 41 M. Iu. ROSHCHIN, “Dagestan and the War Next Door”, Perspective, (Washington, September-October 2000 (...)
  • 42 The Law “On the Ban of the Wahhabi and All Other Extremist Activities on the Territory of the Repub (...)

35Between 1994 and 1996, tensions between factions deteriorated into actions. Wahhabis attempted to destroy ziyarats, which resulted in encounters that happened in Khasavyurt, Makhachkala and some villages of North Dagestan. In March 1996, Wahhabis of Kvanada were severely beaten and their mosque demolished. Outbreaks of fighting within village communities were reproduced at the republican level and subsequently spread at the regional level. In December 1997, Bagautdin Kebedov had to leave Kizilyurt for Urus-Martan in Chechnya. This retreat and the ensuing death of Ahmad-qadi in March 1998, resulted in a rapid radicalisation of the movement41. By 1998, the initiative in the struggle was captured by “Sufis”. The Dagestan’s Muslims Spiritual Board lobbied for a new religion bill at the federal level. Instead the bill was passed at the republican level in Makhachkala in September-December 1997. After the defeat of the Wahhabi-armed invasion to the Botlikh and Tsumada districts from Chechnya in June-August 1996, all their congregations were crushed and foreign religious and educational organisations closed. A special law against Wahhabism was then passed in Dagestan42.

36Despite their victory over Wahhabis, the “Sufis” appeared to be losing their former influence at the local level. The death of Muhammad-Seyyid Abakarov in May 2004 weakened the “Sufi” faction. It is noteworthy that the dibir office is held today by a moderate and young Muslim scholar from the village of Khvarshi close to Wahhabi Santlada. Nevertheless, this recent election did not mean the return of the Wahhabis. Their movement had been deeply defeated and had to keep underground. Most former Wahhabi activists left Khushtada and other villages of the Tsumada district. At the same time, the third village faction headed by secularly-minded village resettlers from Makhachkala and Khasavyurt centred on the Cultural Association of Khushtada established in Makhachkala on 4 June 1995. It organizes its gatherings in Khushtada every August. Among its activists one should mention the head of the Chair of Arabic language at the Oriental Department of Dagestan’s State University Dr. Karimula Khalikov and the Dean of the Faculty of History at the Dagestan’s Pedagogic University Muhammad Aliev who heads the Association.

Conclusion

37In conclusion, the origins of post-Soviet Muslim identities are neither in unchangeable local traditions retained by Soviet Muslims in the form of underground “parallel Islam” nor in external influences fraught with an “Islamic threat” opposing all non-Muslim cultures. Both approaches are divorced from reality.

38The mountain dwellers’ local traditions, to which the actors of the “Islamic revival” like to appeal, represent a kind of hybrid social networks that gradually emerged over the century and State reforms. The very form of a Wahhabi traditionalist Muslim congregation (jama’ at) was inherited from the kolkhoz structure on the basis of an invented village community in the nineteenth-century “Great reforms”.

39Post-Soviet village communities have proved to constitute the crucial level of the Islamic growth that have arisen in North Dagestan from the 1990s onwards. Though in reaction to the Soviet legacy, re-Islamisation happened here in a context of embodied kolkhoz institutions, fusing with local mosque congregation.

40The main actors of the Islamic revival, mostly male Muslims between 35 and 60 years old, were born under the Soviet rule. Most of them locally received an Islamic education in the late communist and post-Soviet periods but had been educated in a rather secular-minded society that had experienced a forced communist and atheist secularisation.

41In the post-Soviet period, kolkhozs was transformed into Muslim congregation (jama’at) split into rival Muslim factions of a local Sufi tradition opposing dissident Wahhabis claiming to “purify Islam” from “non-permitted innovations” (bida’) inherited from the Soviet times. Changes in the organisation and power structure of Muslim villages are still in process.

42Village factionalism seems to be rooted in the struggle over power and resources within the kolkhoz as well as in the contradictory legacy of the Soviet past. Later the controversy between village factions was reproduced at the level of the republic and subsequently expanded to the regional level in newly emerged networks of Muslim congregations.

43Last but not least, one particular historical case study of the Khushtada’s kolkhoz should not be taken for an ideal or “typical” example of the transformation of the Muslim society from communist to post-Soviet Dagestan. The situation in the countryside varying very much in space from one place to another and in time from one moment to another, there are no needs or reasons to construct new global concepts of Islam in the post-Soviet context.

Notes

1 Cf. R.G.LANDA, Islam v Rossii, (Moscow, Vostochnaia literatura, 1995); G. YEMELIANOVA, Russia and Islam. An historical survey, (Houndmills, Basingstoke and New York, 2002). The last monograph is a good example of a new wave of politicized studies on Islam caused by fears arisen after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It is interesting as a “historiographical fact” falling into the line with Soviet studies of the ‘cold war’ period, as it concerns approaches, visions and the lack of primary sources on Islam in Russia.

2 See O. ROY, The New Central Asia. The Creation of Nations, (New York, New York University Press, 2000); A. V. MALASHENKO, Islamskoe vozrozhdenie v sovremennoi Rossii, (Moscow, Carnegie, 1998); idem, Islamskie orientiry Severnogo Kavkaza, (Moscow, Carnegie, 2001).

3 T. F. SIVERTSEVA, M. Iu. ROSHCHIN, V. O. BOBROVNIKOV (eds.), Dagestan: selenie Khushtada, (Moscow, Institut vostokovedeniia, 1995); V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, Musul’mane Severnogo Kavkaza: obychay, pravo, nasilie. Ocherki po istorii i etnografii prava Nagornogo Dagestana, (Moscow, Vostochnaia literature, 2002); idem. “Islam i sovetskoe nasledie v kolkhozah Severo-Zapadnogo Dagestana”, Etnograficheskoe obozrenie, (Moscow, 1997, no. 5), pp. 132-142; idem, “Common Law Transformation in Collective Farms of the Caucasus”, RSS Network Chronice, (Prague, 1999, no. 7), pp. 25-26; idem, “Collective Farm as a Form of Islamic Order in the North Caucasian Highlands”, Notions of Law and Order in Muslim Societies. The Summer School Papers, (Casablanca, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, 1999), p. 25-40; idem, “Post-Socialist Forms of Islam: North Caucasian Wahhabis”, ISIM Newsletter, (Leiden, ISIM, March 2001, no. 7), p. 29; idem “Ierarhiia i vlast’ v gornoi dagestanskoi bshchine”, Rasy i naroy, (Moscow, Nauka, 2001, vol. 26), pp. 96-107; idem, “Sovremennoe dagestanskoe selo”, in S. A. ARUTIUNOV, A. I. OSMANOV, G. A. SERGEEVA (eds.), Narody Dagestana, (Moscow, Nauka, 2002), pp. 90-105; idem, “Kolkhozy i islam v sovremennom Dagestane”, Kavkazskii sbornik, (Moscow, 2004, vol. 1), pp. 169-185; idem, “Arheologiia stroitel’stva islamskih traditsii v dagestanskom kolkhoze”, Ab imperio, (Kazan, 2004, no. 3), pp. 563-593.

4 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Sovetskie natsional’nye reformy i smena identichnosti narodov Severo-Zapadnogo Dagestana”, Rasy i naroy, (Moscow, Nauka, 2001, vol. 26), pp. 68-95; idem, “Rural Muslim Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus: the Case of Dagestan”, in M. GAMMER (ed.), The Caspian Region. The Caucasus, (London and New York, Routledge, 2004, vol. II), p. 181-186.

5 The Manuscipt Collection of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Dagestan’s Scientific Centre (RF IIAE, Makhachkala), collection (fond, hereafter: f.) 5, inventory (opis’, hereafter: op.) 1, document (hereafter: d.) 408, pp. 54–55.

6 This evaluation was made in 1992 by my respondents in Agvali, namely the ex-teacher of Russian language and literature in the boarding school Mariia Mikhailovna Evsiukova and the chairman of the Agvali village Soviet Muhammad-Rasul Gagiev (Agvali, September 1992).

7 Alexandre BENNIGSEN, S. ENDERS WIMBUSH, Mystics and Commissars. Sufism in the Soviet Union, (London, Hurst, 1985), pp. 1-2, 84-86. O. ROY, The New Central Asia, pp. 151-153. The influence of Bennigsen’s pattern is remarkable in a new distinction between official and unofficial Islam traced in a number of recent post-Soviet works, for instance, in a deep field study of Muslim political factionalism in post-Soviet Dagestan published by Moscow Orientalist Dmitri Makarov. See: D. V. MAKAROV, Ofitsial’nyi i neofitsial’nyi islam v Dagestane, (Moscow, Centre of Strategic and Political Studies, 2000).

8 The Central State Archive of the Republic of Dagestan (Makhachkala, hereafter: TsGA RD), f., r-1234, op. 4, d. 6, pp. 2–6.

9 Lutsian KLIMOVICH, Islam: Ocherki, 1962, Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR.

10 Robert CONQUEST, The Harvest of Sorrow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, (London, Pimlico, 2002), p. 209.

11 TsGA RD, f.. r-127, op. 21, d. 198, p. 10, 19, 36; cf. Dagestanskaia ASSR. Administrativno-territorial’noe delenie, (Makhachkala, 1980), p. 22.

12 The Resolution of the Dagestan Party Committee “On serious shortcomings committed in the activities of the Tsumada district Party Committee”, September 1969, TsGA RD, f. r-1, op. 2, d. 2054, p. 196.

13 Ibidem, pp. 195. Cf. similar complaints appeared in the personal cases of Party members and Soviet activists who were caught to perform Islamic rituals in other districts of Mountainous Dagestan in 1944-1962, on pp. 14, 187 of the same file as well as in: f. r-1, op. 2, d. 1148, p. 78, 80, 276, ff. passim.

14 “Chislennost’ naseleniia po naselennym punktam v predelah Tsumadinskogo raiona na 01. 01. 1997”, in the Current archive of the District Statistical Committee, (Agvali). Once compared with each other, figures of the districts statistics relating to the 1990s and the 1926 State census indicate rather stable numbers of populations in Khushtada and neighbouring mountain villages for the last 70 years. According to the 1926 All-Union Cenus, there were 382 male and 431 female villagers in Khushtada (Raionirvannyi Dagestan. Administrativno-hoziaistvennoe delenie DASSR po novomu raionirovaniiu 1929 goda, (Makhachkala, 1930, p. 89). In 1940, there were 1200 members in the collective farm living in Khushtada and two hamlets (TsGA RD, f. r-127, op. 21, d. 198, p. 11, d. 226, p, 86). In 1988, Khushtada’s population consisted of 605 kolkhoz farmers (The Tsumada district Archive, Agvali, f.. 42, op. 3, d. 7, p. 116). Besides losses of people during collectivisation and World War II, the reason of such a demographic stability was, of course, massive resettlement of volunteers from the mountains to the lowland that happened in the 1960s and 1970s. For more details on the influence of movements of population on current religious situation, see below.

15 V. F. GRYZLOV, Dagestan: etnopoliticheskii portret, (Moscow, 1994, vol. 1), pp. 138-139.

16 Novoe delo, (Makhachkala), 01. 04. 2004.

17 “Razvernutaia eksplikatsiia zemel’ hoziaistv Tsumadinskogo raiona po sostoianiiu na 01. 01. 1997”, in Zemel’nyi balans Zumadinskogo raiona Respubliki Dagestan po sostoisniiu na 01.01.1997, (Agvali, Current archive of the District Land Committee).

18 “Chislennost’ naseleniia po naselennym punktam v predelah Tsumadinskogo raiona na 01.01.1997”.

19 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Evolutsiia sotsial’nyh i pozemel’nyh traditsii khushtadinskogo jamaata v XIX-XX vekah”, in V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, T. F. SIVERTSEVA, M. Iu. ROSHCHIN, V.O. Bobrovnikov (eds.), Dagestan: selenie Khushtada, pp. 52-58; idem, “Arheologiia stroitel’stva islamskih traditsii v dagestanskom kolkhoze”, pp. 586-587.

20 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, “Islam i sovetskoe nasledie v kolkhozah Severo-Zapadnogo Dagestana”, pp. 137-138.

21 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV “Arheologiia stroitel’stva islamskih traditsii v dagestanskom kolkhoze”, pp. 584-586.

22 V. BOBROVNIKOV, “Post-Soviet Forms of Islam: North Caucasian Wahhabis”, p. 29.

23 The archives of the Committee on the Religious Affairs at the Government of the Republic of Dagestan, Makhachkala. These figures were provided by Dagestani town and district administrations in March and April 2004.

24 A list of the major prayer-houses (qurma) functioning on the lands of the Chapaev kolkhoz was published in the attachment to my article “The Ethnic History of the Bagulal Reconstructed After their Microtoponimy”. See: Dagestanskii lingvisticheskii sbornik, (Moscow, fasc. 3), pp. 8-14.

25 Dagestanskaia pravda, (Makhachkala, 16.08.1991), republished in: V. F. GRYZLOV, Dagestan: etnopoliticheskiiportret, p. 255; Dagestan na rubezhe vekov: prioritety ustoichivogo i bezopasnogo razvitiia, (Moscow, 1998), p. 247.

26 The roads used by pilgrims can be established from advertisements of travel agencies regularly appearing in the official newspaper of the Dagestan Muslims’ Spiritual Board As-Salam. For instance, there were two main itineraries from Dagestan to Saudi Arabia by intercity buses in 1998. The first one passed through Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq. The second itinerary was traced through Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. The travel expenses in both cases were not as expensive by plane. They cost between USD 225 and 243. See: As-Salam, (Makhachkala, in Avar, Shawwal 1418 / February 1998, no. 3), p. 4.

27 R. K. MAGOMACHIEV, Chto dala Oktiabr'skaia revolutsiia narodam Severnogo Kavkaza (Makhachkala, 1987, manuscript in the private collection of V.Bobrovnikov), p. 3.

28 The notion of “the conspiracy of Jews and imperialists against Islam and Muslims” is commonly shared among Muslims in Khushtada and in the surrounding villages. In the field, in Khushtada and among the resettlers in Khasavyurt in 1992-1996, I was often told that even the schism between Sufis and Wahhabis, which will be discussed in the next section of this paper, was due to the malicious activities of Jews who had first introduced Wahhabism to Dagestan.

29 A. A. IGNATENKO, Islam i politika, (Moscow: Institute of religion and policy, 2004), pp. 45-48.

30 Among the main Islamic media that appeared in post-Soviet Dagestan one should mention first Islamskie novosti, at-Tariqa al-Islamiyya, al-Rayat al-Islamiyya newspapers issued in Russian in Makhachkala from 1991 to 1998. Today there are only two regular Islamic newspapers: the official newspaper of the Dagestan Muslims’ Spiritual Board As-Salam and Nurul-Islam of the same political and religious orientation. Both are issued in Russian, Avar, Kumyk and Darghin languages. Apart from these periodicals there is a journal Islam. In the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, Dagestani migrants were reading another Russian-speaking magazine Musulmane (“Muslims”) issued in Moscow by the deputy in the Russian State Duma Murad Zargishiev. Muslim leaders from Khushtada edit regular Islamic pages introduced in the 1990s in the Khasavyurt town newspaper Druzhba (“Friendship”) and the Tsumada district organ Ts’umadiezul Haraq (“The Voice of Tsumada”, in Avar). Representatives of the Muslim elite from the Tsumada district took part in the work of Islamic cultural Centre “Caucasus” functioning in Makhachkala and Kizilyurt in 1996-1999.

31 “Posemeinyi spisok zhitelei Pkaratinskogo naibstva Andiiskogo okruga za 1886 god”, in f. 21, op. 5, d. 115, II. 87-90. Cf. materials of the last two census of 1989 and 2003.

32 K. M. KHANMAGOMEDOV e.a. (eds.), Religii i religioznye organizatsii v Dagestane, (Makhachkala, 2001), p. 102. These data were revised and updated during my fieldwork in 2002-2004.

33 See, e.g., Muhammad-Sayyid ABAKAROV’s manuscript “On the Wahhabis’ Delusions” translated from Avar into Russian and published together with a polemical work composed by the present Khalidi sheikh Muhammad-Mukhtar Babatov and other materials in the book Alimy i uchenyeprotiv vahhabizma, (Makhachkala, 2001); Sheikh Sa‘id-afandi al-Chirkawi, Majmu at-ul-fawa'id, (in Avar, Makhachkala, 1997, republished in Russian as Sokrovishchnitsa blagodatnyh znanii in Moscow, 2001); Musul'mane (Moscow, 2000, no. 1); M. BAGAUDDIN, Namaz, (Moscow, Santlada, 1993, 2nd. ed. of 1994 republished by the publishing house “Badr” in 1999); video records of the Bagautdin’s polemical sermons pronounced in the Friday mosque of the village Kara-Makhi in 1995-1997.

34 Muhammad-Sayyid ABAKAROV, “Zabluzhdeniia vahhabitov”, in Alimy i uchenye protiv vahhabizma, p. 56.

35 A. A. IGNATENKO, Islam i politika, p. 42.

36 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, A. A. YARLYKAPOV, “Vahhabity Severnogo Kavkaza”, in S. M. PROZOROV (ed.), Islam na territorii byvshei Rossiiskoi imperii. Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’, (Moscow, Vostochnaia literature, 1999, fasc. 2, p. 20.

37 This peculiarity was first seriously examined by contemporary Moscow anthropologist Ahmed Yarlykapov. See: I. L. BABICH, A. A. YARLYKAPOV, Islamskoe vozrozhdenie v Kabardino-Balkarii, (Moscow, 2004, ch. 3).

38 D. V. MAKAROV, Oftsial’nyi i neofitsial’nyi islam v Dagestane, p. 39.

39 V. O. BOBROVNIKOV, A. A. YARLYKAPOV, “Vahhabity Severnogo Kavkaza”, pp. 20-21.

40 M. BAGAUDDIN, Nachinaiushchim arabskogo iazyka, (Moscow, Santlada, 1993, 2nd. ed. 1995): idem, Namaz, (Moscow, Santlada, 1993, 2nd. ed. of 1994 republished by the publishing house “Badr” in 1999); M. D. ZINU, Islamskaia akida, (Moscow, Badr, 1998); idem, Dostoinstva proroka, (Moscow, Badr, 1999); S. QUTB, V teni Korana (selection, Moscow, Badr, 2001) etc.

41 M. Iu. ROSHCHIN, “Dagestan and the War Next Door”, Perspective, (Washington, September-October 2000, vol. XI, no. 1), p. 5.

42 The Law “On the Ban of the Wahhabi and All Other Extremist Activities on the Territory of the Republic of Dagestan” (in Russian), Dagestanskaia pravda, (Makhachkala, 16 September 1999) republished in K. M. KHANMAGOMEDOV et al. (eds.), Religii i religioznye organizatsii v Dagestane, pp. 87-89. Similar draft bills against dissident Islamist groups called ‘Wahhabis’ were elaborated in 1999 in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Tatarstan.

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Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

© Institut français d’études anatoliennes, 2007

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