Muslim's Quarrel: Complaints and Denouncements of Soviet Muslims

Alfrid Bustanov


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This article introduces a series of semi-offcial correspondence between ‘Abd al-Bari Isaev, an imam in Leningrad, and Shakir Khialetdinov, then mufti of the European part of the USSR. To contextualize these precious sources stemming from several private archives, which have only recently been opened for research, I bring more examples on the ways how did religious authorities of the Soviet times quarrel on the issues of power. In fact, as I argue, these multiple quarrels in prose and poetry represent an intriguing case of appropriating both Soviet administrative and Muslim ethical styles of argumentation. The state was always there and Muslim authorities tried hard to use this factor in their inner quarrels by speaking the language of dominant discourse, thus directly borrowing terminology and word constructions from the secular denouncements and linking arguments with the Soviet civil code. At the same time, even in the late Socialist era engagement with the main sources of Islam, i.e. the Qur’an and the Sunna, was another prominent tool in fighting political enemies. This is why we often see quotations from the holy books, referring to the ethical models of Islam. The latter tactics was nothing new to Islamic tradition, especially when the authors tried their pen in poetical fence. What is striking though is that this literary activity and fight over resources was going on in late Socialist Russia, in Arabic-script, long before banned from the public usage by the government.


denouncements; Soviet Islam; fatwa; Islamic poetry; late Socialism


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