The Role of the Waqf Supreme Office in the Sovietization of Muslim Education and the Establishment of the Soviet School Network in Turkestan

Daniil Melentev


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The paper sheds light on a still poorly studied problem of how traditional Islamic education was initially modernized in the context of building of the Soviet school in Turkestan in the 1920s. The focus is made on a short history of the so-called Waqf Supreme Office that was charged with administration and management of state secular and religious schools (elementary maktabs and advanced college madrasahs) in 1923-1926. The author argues that this institution contributed to the creation of a "Soviet Islam" loyal to the communist state in Central Asia. In addition, the paper investigates the role of Jadid reformists in the early Soviet cultural reforms, their relationship with the Turkestan's Bolsheviks, and the latter's attitude to Islamic endowments and other cultural and charitable practices. A special attention is paid to continuities and ruptures between the late imperial and the early Soviet politics to Russia's own Islam in its (ex-)colonial Oriental borderlands.


Waqf Supreme Office, Jadids, Modernization, Sovietization, State reforms, state regulation, education, enlightenment, Turkestan, Central Asia.


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