Amsterdam Centre for Middle Eastern Studies

Muridism and Jihad in Russia’s Caucasus: Continuities and Misconceptions

ACMES Lecture

23Nov2017 17:00 - 19:00


When it comes to Islam, Russia is experimenting. Russia's official Muftiates are all trying to project an Islam that is "traditional to Russia", in order to be accepted by the state, the public, and the Orthodox Church.

The historical projects that they offer are in conflict, and colored by the regional differences; thus while the major Muftiates in Kazan and Ufa base themselves on the Tatar tradition of Hanafi traditionalism, the major Muftiate in Moscow promotes Islamic reformism, and draws on the heritage of the Tatar Jadid reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century that opposed the blind following of the Hanafi school. In Russia's North Caucasus, by contrast, the major Muftiates describe their regional Islam as being identical with the history of Sufi brotherhoods, which is the Naqshbandiyya khalidiyya (in Daghestan) and the Kunta Hajji branches of the Qadiriyya (in Ramzan Kadyrov's Chechnya). In all cases, the Muftiates emphasize that their Islams are peaceful, tolerant, and loyal to the Kremlin; and Moscow finances all of these projects because it sees them as an Islamic bulwark against radicalism and terror.

Michael Kemper's presentation will zoom in on the historiography and hagiography of Sufism in Chechnya and Daghestan. It will discuss the long anti-colonial jihad of the North Caucasus Muslims under Imam Shamil (1834-1859), his relations to Sufi masters, and the changing images of this "Muridism" in the late Soviet and the post-Soviet eras. How useful is Islam, and Islamic history, when the secular state embraces it as a political resource? Michael Kemper is professor of Eastern European studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Admission free, drinks after.

PLEASE NOTE: The location has changed, from PCH 1.05 to PCH 1.04 (across the hall).

Location: PC Hoofthuis, room 1.04

Published by  ACMES