Ulama and OGPU Eastern Department confessional policy in Tashkent (1917–1927)

Daniil Melentev

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This article is devoted to the confessional situation in Tashkent and history of the political police (OGPU Eastern Department) formation in the first decade after the October Revolution. The paper deals with the problems of constructing different ideological groups known in the scientific literature as «Jadids» and «Kadimists». These conditional categories were substantial for establishing the loyalty boundaries to the Soviet regime among the ulama. In the analysis, paid special attention to the reforms that were associated with the ulama participation. During the study, it was determine that the political police took control over the Mahkama-yi shar‘iyya organization created by the ulama, and then changed its status to the temporary Muslims central spiritual administration of Turkestan. Besides that, the ulama began to act alike official intermediaries responsible for the sovietization and modernization of the region. The alliance of the OGPU Eastern Department with the ulama was the key to the rooting of the Soviet political system. However, the close monitoring of the political police over the ulama did not mean that they were completely subordinate to the Soviet regime and shared the program of Bolshevik modernization. The ulama tried to promote themselves as independent actors and personal comprehending of cultural and political transformations.


Institutional history; confessional policy; ulama; OGPU; Soviet Turkestan


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