Mystics and Commissars - Sufism in the Soviet Union

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Even though the new rulers needed friendly relations with the local Muslim clergy, they did not want the local elite getting too high. Russian officials were especially suspicious of the Ishans and the Sufi brotherhoods. They say prayers, tell stories that ignite the Muslims, pronounce all sorts of incantations. They are cursing and criticizing the instructions issued by the infidel bosses and instigate the aborigines against everything Russian. The Russians partly preserved and systematized the system of the wakufs, property of the Muslim organizations that normally belonged to the ok-suiak.

The incomes grew and the group strengthened its positions, improved its material conditions and boosted social influence. Soviet power, too, was suspicious of the Ishans. To become better entrenched in the area, the communists at first tried to attract the local Muslim elite to their side by inviting it to administration. Strictly speaking, at that time nearly all higher officials in the Central Asian republics were ok-suiak.

For example, Usmon Khojaev, who in headed the first government of the Bukhara Republic, came from the city of Osh in Ferghana Region. His brother Ota Khojaev also filled high posts. There were other people with tale-telling names in the government: Sultonkhoja Kasimkhojaev, Nizomiddin Khojaev, the Musakhonov brothers. In the second half of the s Islam was no longer accepted; it was at that time that the old elite which served communist power was repressed and replaced with new people who made their career under Soviet power.

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The communists aimed their repressions not at the ok-suiak as a whole but its noblest and richest members alone. The social and political changes of the twentieth century were aimed at the idea of the sacral nature of the group and the very heart of it: Sufism and the Sufi brotherhoods. They were banned. Lately, an opinion that the Sufi brotherhoods were acting clandestinely in Central Asia has gained popularity especially among Sovietologists abroad.

Thus, A. Benningsen and S. Drozdov and A. It is a fact that in rural Central Asia the pirs are remembered, sometimes people even ask them for advice, yet one should not overestimate the true significance of these rare contacts.

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They are limited by ritual and everyday matters and it will be a gross exaggeration to describe the pirs as a powerful clandestine force. Sufism was pushed to the periphery of social life in Central Asia. Anti-Ishanic measures were neither the whole story nor the central issue. Violence was an outward feature. The deep-cutting processes were radically altering the social structure: numerous isolated local communities were gradually developing into a unified social whole living by common and unified standards.

In , there were 28 academicians and 46 corresponding members in the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, among them at least 10 academicians and 4 corresponding members about 20 percent of the academic elite belonged to the ok-suiak.

Alexandre Bennigsen

Sadriddin Aini, one of the most prominent cultural figures, came from the clan of Saifiddin Bakharzi a famous Sufi from the Kubrawia brotherhood, the thirteenth century. Akhramkhojaev who won a U. State Prize in science and technology. Some of the ok-suiak remained in politics, the most prominent of them being Buzrukkhoja Usmankhojaev called Ishan-buwa.

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Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union

Communist Party of Uzbekistan. In , he was arrested on corruption charges. There were less prominent figures such as Mirzamakhmud Musakhonov who in was Deputy Chairman of the Uzbek S.

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His father Mirzarakhmat Musakhonov from Ferghana had been one of the first revolutionaries. This gave them headway in the race for prestigious posts and perks. There is another tradition that gives the Ishans a very special place in society: it has been banned to use their proper names, and they were called by the titles based on Arabic, Iranian or Turkic terms: hojja, seiid, tura, ishan, shaikh, mir, mirza, makhsum, ata, as well as halfa, sharif or ashraf, maulana, khazrat, etc.

Later, when passports were issued, some of the titles became names and surnames. This was how clans began which closed ranks in power struggle and consolidated the power of those who won. At all times this group regarded quest for truth and education of the common people as its mission in life. They are mobile and ready to move to new places at any time; they find it easy to adapt themselves to mass migrations, to changed political and economic contexts in the time of turbulent transformations.

It should be added that they never paid much attention to state or ethnic and linguistic borders; they moved from country to country with ease being sure of a ready welcome. Convinced of their Arabic origin, they nevertheless accepted the local languages and traditions—there are still close relatives which, according to their passports, belong to different ethnic groups. At the turn of the nineties the authorities began to display an interest in Islam as a source of a new ideology, they started building mosques and embrace the Muslim traditions.

The press abounded in stories of prominent Central Asian Muslim scholars and Sufis. The local TV even showed the presidents of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan praying in the city of Turkestan southern Kazakhstan on the burial place of Akhmad Iasawi, a Sufi sheik who had founded the Iasawi brotherhood. This was a significant public act. Yet by the middle of the nineties the power had opted for a national ideology while Islam was pushed to the ethnic-cultural area.

Afraid of radical Islamists, the former communist party functionaries turned presidents of independent states, limited religious activity, closed down mosques and madrasahs, repressed and arrested believers. Still, Islam returned from a periphery of social life to its center which also affected the descendants of the Muslim saints. Many of them returned to politics while preserving their religious status.

They were members of unofficial clergy marching under the slogans of anticommunist revanche or former officials of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia striving for greater political roles under Islamic slogans.

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Many of them had been deprived by the fact of their social origin of a full-blooded political career. Today, the limitations have been lifted. The same is true of the local structures. In Khujand, the local party structure was headed by Ubaidullo Faizullaev, in Matcha the local party organization was functioning under brothers Abdurashid Fozil and Khaji Mirza Iusuf, in Khujand the city organization was headed by Abdulwahad Kadyrov. There is an opinion that all of them are Ishans. In he headed the Qadiat in Tajikistan, there is information that his grandfather Ishan Abdulkarim was born in Samarkand and belonged to the Sufi brotherhood of Kadiria.

Hojji Fatkhullokhon Sharifzoda replaced Turajonzoda as a more loyal figure. In he was murdered under mysterious circumstances, his place as the official Muslim leader being taken by Amonullokhon Negmatzoda. Reconciliation between official Dushanbe and the opposition brought Turajonzoda the post of the first vice premier.

His grandfather, a Muslim theologian Abdurakhmon, was born into the family of Sheik Muhammed Sultan Maasumi and belonged either to the Hojji 25 or even the Seiides. At least his father was a qadi in Ura-Tiube. His unit had sided with the opposition, then moved to the side of the government and finally escaped control of both.

There are some close relatives there: Seiidamir Zukhurov, former Chairman of the National Security Committee and later Vice-Premier responsible for the power ministries; Seiidanwar Komilov, Chairman of the State Borderguard Committee; Seiidobid who used to be chief of the guard of an aluminum plant in Tursun-zadeh and collected official and unofficial taxes there.

He descended from the family of Hojja Iskhok Khuttalani, who was son-in-law and disciple of Seiid Ali Khamadani the fourteenth century buried in Kulob, a famous teacher from the Sufi brotherhood of Kubrawia. According to certain sources, Emomali Rakhmonov is also a Seiid: his father is said to have come from the village of Hojja-yi-Nur populated by the descendants of Hojja Iskhok Khuttalani. You can view this on the NLA website. Login Register. Advanced search Search history. Browse titles authors subjects uniform titles series callnumbers dewey numbers starting from optional.

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Sufism and the Yogic Bodies

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