Sufism and politics in the North Caucasus

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Connecticut]On: 11 October 2014, At: 01:57Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T3JH, UK</p><p>Nationalities Papers: TheJournal of Nationalism andEthnicityPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:</p><p>Sufism and politics in theNorth CaucasusGalina M. YemelianovaPublished online: 19 Aug 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Galina M. Yemelianova (2001) Sufism and politics in the NorthCaucasus, Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 29:4,661-688, DOI: 10.1080/00905990120102138</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p></p></li><li><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>1:57</p><p> 11 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p></p></li><li><p>Nationalities Papers, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2001</p><p>ISSN 0090-5992 print; ISSN 1465-3923 online/01/040661-28 2001 Association for the Study of NationalitiesDOI: 10.1080/0090599012010213 8</p><p>After the collapse of communism in Russia, which is the home of more than 14million Muslims, there has been an Islamic revival that has been part of the processof political and intellectual liberalization of society.1 The major Islamic enclaves ofthe Russian Federation are located in the Volga-Urals, the North Caucasus, andcentral Russia. Russian Muslims are concentrated in the eight autonomous republicsof Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Adyghea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia,Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Chechnya. Most Muslims belong to the Hanafi madhhab(the juridical school) of Sunni Islam, although Dagestani and Chechen Muslimsadhere to the Shafii madhhab of Sunni Islam. There is also a small Shia communityin southern Dagestan. A large number of Dagestanis, as well as Chechens andIngushes, profess Sufisma mystical form of Islam, which is also known as parallelIslam.2</p><p>The specific geographical and ethnocultural characteristics of the North Caucasuspredetermined a primary role for Sufism in its societal and political evolution.3</p><p>Despite a century-long suppression, by the Tsarist and then Soviet regimes, SufiIslam has survived and continued to influence the everyday life and politics of theregion.4 However, Sufism as a religious and sociopolitical phenomenon has beenlargely overlooked by researchers due to Soviet-era political and ideologicalconstraints and to inertia following the demise of the communist system. This articleexamines the historical continuity of the Sufi tradition in the eastern part of the NorthCaucasus, which roughly corresponds to present-day Dagestan, Chechnya, andIngushetia. 5 The focus of the study is the political and ethnic dimensions of Sufism.The first part of the article studies the importance of the historic legacy linked to theSufis participation in the gazawat (the Islamic liberation war) against the Russianconquest of the North Caucasus in the nineteenth century and its impact on theevolution of North Caucasian Sufism. The second part examines the present-daydoctrinal and sociopolitical characteristics of North Caucasian Sufism. It alsoconsiders the relations of Sufism with the political authorities, the Islamic establish-ment, nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists,6 or Wahhabis,7 as well as its positionwithin the global Sufi context. The secretive nature of Sufi tariqas (orders) and the</p><p>SUFISM AND POLITICS IN THENORTH CAUCASUS</p><p>Galina M. Yemelianova</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>1:57</p><p> 11 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>G. M. YEMELIANOVA</p><p>inaccessibility of the mystical essence of Sufism to all but the Sufis themselves havelimited this research.8</p><p>The Historical Evolution of Sufism in the North Caucasus </p><p>Historically, Dagestan9 was the first enclave of Dar-ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) onthe territory of the former U.S.S.R. The Arabs brought Islam to Derbend in southernDagestan in the seventh century. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, themajority of Dagestanis had adopted the Shafii madhhab of Sunni Islam, although theNogays of northern Dagestan opted for the Hanafi madhhab. Since the sixteenthcentury there has been a Shia community in southern Dagestan which emerged underthe influence of Safawid Iran. During the Middle Ages Dagestan was one of theworld centers of Islamic learning and scholarship. During its golden age, whichlasted from the late sixteenth until the middle of the seventeenth century, Dagestanhad a reputation as the bahr al-ulum (the sea of sciences) and the country of ulema(Islamic scholars). The Dagestani cities of Derbend, Tarki, Kazikumukh, and Kunzahwere recognized places of spiritual enlightenment for the Muslims of Eurasia. TheDagestani ulema Ali-khadzhi al-Kumukhi, Muhammad al-Kudutlya, Abu Bakr al-Aymaki, Tayid al-Kurakhi, and Muhammad al-Akusha were highly respected outsideDagestan.10</p><p>The first Sufis appeared in Dagestan as early as the eleventh century. Amongnotable Sufi thinkers was Muhammad Abu Bakr ad-Derbendi, who lived in Dagestanduring the eleventh century.11 The ideas of the luminary of Islamic mysticism, AbuKhamid al-Ghazali (10591111), had a particular influence on the further develop-ment of Sufi theosophy in Dagestan. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Sufikhanaqas (lodges) in Tsakhur in southern Dagestan were the centers of Sufilearning.12 The Naqshbandi tariqa took particularly deep root in the region.13 TheNaqshbandiyya first reached the North Caucasus from the Black Sea region ofeastern Anatolia and later from Central Asia. In Dagestan the Mujaddidi branch ofthe Naqshbandiyya was particularly influential.14 The majority of Dagestani Naqsh-bandiis were Avars, Dargins, and Kumyks, although there were also Naqshbandiis ofother ethnic origins. Among the other influential Dagestani Sufi tariqas were theKadiriyya15 and to a lesser extent the Yasawiyya. The latter had particularly strongpositions among the Nogays of northern Dagestan. Compared with Dagestan, inChechnya and Ingushetia, the proliferation of Sufism, and Islam in general, beganmuch later, in the eighteenth century, and has not yet ended. The first propagators ofIslam there were Azeri (Shia) and Kumyk (Sunni) missionaries. Most Chechens andIngushes, like Dagestanis, opted for the Shafii madhhab of Sunni Islam. Similarly,they chose the Naqshbandiiya tariqa although the positions of the Kadiriyya werestronger there than in Dagestan. On the whole, from the eighteenth century themajority of Muslims in the eastern North Caucasus were Sufis.16</p><p>The spread of Sufism was enhanced by the physical and social characteristics of</p><p>662</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>1:57</p><p> 11 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>SUFISM AND POLITICS IN NORTH CAUCASUS</p><p>the eastern part of the North Caucasus, such as its mountainous landscape and theextreme multi-ethnicity and societal fragmentation of Dagestanis and Vaynakh. Themajor viable social unit was a clan, also known as a sihil, qaam, jins, gar, or neqiamong the Vaynakh peoples. Several clans formed a tribe, known as a tukhum,haldan, hamadan, tabun , or taip among Chechens and Ingushes. During thethirteenth and fourteenth centuries a wider sociopolitical formation emerged: therural commune a jamaat among the Dagestanis and a tukhum among the Vaynakh.This was a sociopolitical and territorial entity that united several tribes. Councils ofelders who represented the constituent clans headed the rural communes. Inter-clanand inter-commune relations were regulated by the adat (customary law), whichstructured the economic, political, and sociocultural norms that distinguished localcommunities as coherent sociocultural entities. Members of a commune spoke thesame language, which was recognized as a local lingua franca. Jamaats and tukhumswere self-sufficient formations that enjoyed a large degree of independence.17 Adatand other pre-Islamic local norms and traditions regulated inter-clan, inter-tribe, andinter-commune relations. The power balance between various clans and communesdetermined the stability of local societies. Sufism, which historically was an alterna-tive and anti-establishment form of Islam, thus fitted well the clan-based socialorganization of Dagestanis and Vaynakh. It became deeply integrated into the systemof traditional community, providing its spiritual substance. As a result, a specificregional form of Sufism, known as tariqatism, emerged.18 By the eighteenth century,the majority of Muslims of the eastern North Caucasus were Sufis.19</p><p>The Russian invasion of the North Caucasus in the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies stimulated political and military functions of tariqatism which were notcharacteristic of mainstream Sufism. The Naqshbandi tariqa provided a mobilizingframework for resistance to Russian expansion in the region. The Naqshbandishaykhs and their disciples led the military resistance to the Russians. Ever since, theNaqshbandiis have maintained their active involvement in politics. Under theconditions of extreme polyethnicity and persistent external threat, tariqatism servedas a viable basis for the political unification of the North Caucasus. From 1785 to1791, the Chechen Naqshbandi shaykh Mansur Ushurma united the Chechens andvarious peoples of Dagestan into an anti-Russian political-military union. Between1824 and 1859, Imam Shamyl, also a Naqshbandii, formed an Islamic state, anImamat, on the territory of present-day Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, basedon the shariat.20 The century-long armed conflict produced muridism,21 a specificpoliticized and militarized version of tariqatism. At the core of muridism was aconcept of gazawat against the Russian invaders, who were regarded as kafirs (non-believers). 22 Among the main participants in the gazawat were the Chechens, Avars,Dargins, and other mountain peoples of Dagestan, as well as the Adyghs.23</p><p>In the case of the Chechens and Ingushes, the Caucasian war was also a strongcatalyst in the process of their Islamization. Many of them eagerly embraced theteaching and practice of muridism although some preferred the more contemplative</p><p>663</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>1:57</p><p> 11 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>G. M. YEMELIANOVA</p><p>Kadiri tariqa. During the 1860s and 1870s, despite the continuous quantitative andpolitical domination of the Naqshbandiyya the positions of the Kadiriyya, especiallyof the wird of Kunta-khadzhi grew steadily. This wird was founded by ShaykhKunta-khadzhi Kishiev, a Kumyk who came to Chechnya from Dagestan. ShaykhKunta-khadzhi received an iznu (permission) on the Kadiri tariqa from Shaykh Jamalad-Din Kazikumukhskii, who also gave an iznu to Umar-khadzhi.24 In contrast totariqatists , Kunta-khadzhi rejected Sufis participation in the gazawat and advocatedsocial passivity and spiritual self-perfection. There were also some elements ofShiism in the teaching of Kunta-khadzhi, which mainly concerned the frequency ofrecollection of Ali. Kunta-khadzhis imprisonment by the Tsarist authorities and hissubsequent death in exile in 1867 gave a new momentum to the proliferation of theKadiriyya among Chechens and Ingushes. The Russian defeat of the gazawat in18771878 and the subsequent establishment of Russian domination in the regionalso affected the later development of Sufism there.25</p><p>The Russian victory had a devastating impact on the muridism that was linked tothe Naqshbandiyya. Thousands of Naqshbandi participants in the gazawat weredeported to Siberia and hundreds of thousands more were forced to flee to theOttoman Empire. The remaining Naqshbandiis were seriously weakened by the witchhunt that was unleashed against them by the Tsarist secret police. The Naqshbandishaykhs and ustazes (teachers) and many of their murids were physically eliminated.Those Naqshbandiis who survived were forced either to move to other tariqas thatwere not associated with the recent gazawat or to hide in the mountains. In Chechnyamany former Naqshbandiis joined the Kadiri wird of Kunta-khadzhi, which becamethe largest tariqa. Because of Kadiriis loud and ecstatic dhikr they became known asdhikrists. They believed that through their expressive dhikr they physically cleansedthemselves of their unclean social environment. Apart from the wird of Kunta-khadzhi, some Chechen and Ingush Kadiriis also followed the wirds of Batal-khadzhi, Bammat Girey-khadzhi, and Chimmirza. On the whole, in the aftermath ofthe Caucasian war the Kadiriis prevailed in the plains, and the Naqshbandiis main-tained their dominance in the mountains. In contrast to the Naqshbandiis, whorefused to submit to Russian rule, the Kadiriis were prepared to formally accept itdespite their internal opposition to it. This enabled them to work as qadis (Muslimjudges), mullahs, and other Muslim clerics under the Tsarist administration.26 TheDagestani Naqshbandiis went underground. It is unclear whether any Naqshbandishaykhs survived the severe persecutions by the Tsarist and later the Sovietauthorities. The descendants of Dagestani and Chechen Naqshbandiis who fled theNorth Caucasus in the 1870s believe that after the Caucasian war no Sufi shaykhswere left in the region and the Naqshbandi silsila (Sufi transmission chain) there wasinterrupted. Therefore they regard the Dagestani Naqshbandi shaykhs of the laterperiod as false shaykhs.27 The living Dagestani Naqshbandi shaykhs oppose this pointof view, insisting on the continuity of the Naqshbandi silsila and claiming theirauthenticity as Sufi shaykhs...</p></li></ul>