Transimperial Muslims, the modernizing state, and local politics in the late imperial volga-ural region.
Agnes Nilufer Kefeli, Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy. 312 pp. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014. ISBN-13 978-0801452314. $52.50.
James Meyer, Turks across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856-1914. 211 pp. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN-13 978-0198725145. $99.00.
Mustafa Tuna, Imperial Russia's Muslims: Islam, Empire, and European Modernity. 292 pp. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN-13 978-1107032491. $103.00.
The Volga-Ural region has been a focal point of the historiography on Russian imperial policies toward the multiconfessional borderlands. With its diverse Slavic, Turkic, and Finno-Ugric populations made up of Orthodox, Muslims, and animists, the region emerged as a critical battleground of sorts during the second half of the 19th century, when imperial traditions of tolerance seemed to jostle and compete with modernizing trends that were moving the country toward ever greater homogeneity and administrative rationalization. (1) The result was a complicated ambiguity. On the one hand, the region came to be seen as a would-be crucible of Russianness, a place where the Russian nation (supposedly) had to stand tall and defend itself against a raft of competing nation-building projects. Yet on the other, it was also very much a site of revealing cross-cultural, even cosmopolitan observation. Despite the increasing hostility of Orthodox missionary scholarship to Islam, the region remained one of the empire's most important provincial workshops for Oriental studies, a place where the country's scholars looked outward and produced "scholarship that implicitly valued the East as a source of wisdom and learning." (2)
Indeed, the Volga-Ural region constituted the northernmost edge of a vast expanse of Islamic civilization, interacting with the Ottoman Empire, South Asia, the North Caucasus, the Kazakh steppe, and Central Asia. Volga-Ural Muslim scholars ('ulama') composed exegeses of classical literature related to law, theology, Sufism, and history, working through a range of educational centers with links to still other centers well beyond the region. (3) Interplay with the Orthodox state invariably led Volga-Ural Muslims to modify their religious and communal practices over time as well as their view of "infidel" rule, which ultimately helped mold a distinct Muslim national identity by the beginning of the 20th century. (4) Furthermore, the Volga-Ural region served as a significant point of reference during the late imperial era for Russian bureaucrats and Muslim intellectuals from other regions, and it plays a similar role today for scholars interested in questions about the comparative history of Muslim societies under Russian power and the rule of other European empires. (5)
At this point a division of labor of sorts has evolved in the historiography, with historians falling into two rough groups. One set of scholars has emphasized work in Russian sources, including documents from central and regional archives, to elucidate the relationship between Muslim subjects and the imperial state. In the process, they have revealed a rich landscape of close Muslim engagement with and incorporation within imperial institutions. The scholarship of Robert Crews, with his effective use of Turkic sources, has been especially important and influential in this regard. Another scholarly cohort, meanwhile, has focused primarily on Turkic and Arabic materials and has suggested a different if not expressly opposite picture of substantial Muslim autonomy vis-a-vis the imperial order, in particular in the areas of intellectual and religious life. We have thus ended up with a somewhat indeterminate picture of the state's role in shaping Muslim life and Islamic orthodoxy during the imperial era. Is it possible to reach a more holistic picture of Muslim-state interactions (and generate new research questions as well) if we reassess what we know so far? Could these seemingly opposite methodologies be usefully combined or somehow wound together?
Marvelously supplementing one another, the four impressive books under review here indeed manage to do this. By integrating Russian archival documents and Tatar published and manuscript sources, they significantly expand our understanding of the place of the Volga-Ural region in the Romanov empire as well as in international Muslim society and the globalizing world of the long 19th century. Mustafa Tuna introduces a conceptual apparatus of four "domains"--the transregional Muslim domain, the Volga-Ural Muslim domain, the Russian imperial domain, and the pan-European domain--to detect an "intricate interplay of local, imperial, and transregional influences that shaped the experiences of Volga-Ural Muslims" (2). James Meyer's book is a collective biography of the most prominent pan-Turkists--Yusuf Akcura (1876-1935), Ahmet Agaoglu (1869-1939), and Ismail Gasprinskii (1851-1914)--by means of which the author reveals the patterns of migration from the Middle Volga, Southeast Caucasus, and Crimea to the Ottoman lands and back, as well as local politics in each protagonists original region. As an offshoot of the explorations of late imperial Russia's dilemmas between differentiation and standardization, Elena Campbell's focus is on how Russian debates on the "Muslim Question" revolving around the Volga-Ural region and Turkestan inversely molded the Russian quest for national and Orthodox identities. Agnes Kefeli reconstructs these multilayered interactions from the seemingly marginalized angle of the baptized Tatars by scrupulously probing into ambiguous communal boundaries among Islam, Christianity, and animism that gradually diverged and hardened by the end of the tsarist regime. Here I address the four authors' contributions and limits along the threads of transnational exchange, challenges of imperial integration, and local Muslim politics, then show what remains to be done after these thought-provoking works.
A Transnational History of the Volga-Ural Muslims
One of the most distinct contributions that the four authors have made to the study of Volga-Ural Muslims is the expansion of transnational horizons. Among them James Meyer most emphatically illuminates Muslim mobility across the Russian and Ottoman empires. Accordingly he himself has extensively traveled to work at archives in Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Ufa, Simferopol', Baku, Tbilisi, and even Kutaisi and Batumi. The fruit of this admirable exercise is most visible when Meyer demonstrates the simultaneous formation of population policy on both the Russian and Ottoman shores of the Black Sea. Triggered by the massive and sudden waves of immigration during and after the Crimean War, the Ottomans created the Refugee Commission in 1860 to distribute Muslim immigrants to regions for industrial and agricultural development; tsarist local officials, meanwhile, wanted to retain human resources selectively: accommodate returning Crimean Tatars and Abkhaz but apprehend returning Chechens and banish them to Siberia (34). To tie Muslim subjects' loyalty to Russia, the officials relied on the muftis, heads of the Muslim administration, in the South Caucasus and Middle Volga and on Gasprinskii as editor of the newspaper Terciiman (Interpreter) in Crimea. Meyer underlines that Muslim emigration from Russia to the Ottoman lands was not one-way but a back-and-forth movement. Muslim emigrants from Russia exploited dual subjecthood for their own interests, as the Ottoman government granted subjecthood to incoming Muslims quickly and the Russian government made the renunciation of subjecthood difficult. When in trouble with Ottoman authorities, the immigrants could invoke their Russian subjecthood to obtain protection from the Russian diplomats; the latter also tenaciously interceded with the Ottoman authorities for those proved to be Russian subjects.
Both Mustafa Tuna and Agnes Kefeli address a linkage between a wider geography of Islamic scholars' intellectual pursuits and local transmission of knowledge. Volga-Ural scholars were travelers par excellence, whose destinations included Daghestan, Transoxiana (Bukhara, in particular), Afghanistan, and Mughal India, particularly from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries, and the Ottoman territories, such as Hijaz and Egypt, increasingly in the late 19th century. They created networks through Sufi chains of masters and disciples and pilgrimage (the hajj and other visits to locally venerated sites) and strengthened connections with kinship ties, letters, and debates over controversial issues of religion. The most vibrant vehicles of extensive mobility were the Mujaddidiyya branch of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, emanating from northern India via Transoxiana, and the Khalidiyya, an offshoot of the Mujaddidis extending from Daghestan and the Ottoman lands; both of the Naqshbandi branches densely wove scholarly bonds within the Volga-Ural region. Dubbing this whole space "the transregional Muslim domain," Tuna shows the ulama's centrality in "an exchange of ideas and influence among Volga-Ural Muslims as well as between the Volga-Ural Muslims and the larger world" (35), based on a well-known biographical dictionary written by the prominent Islamic scholar Rida' al-Din b. Fakhr al-Din (1859-1936).
Agnes Kefeli, meanwhile, argues that the apostasies were the product of "a global Sufi reform movement" driven by the Mujaddidiyya and Khalidiyya (132-35). She also meticulously describes the way in which popular knowledge of Islam took form through the circulation of Sufi literature, such as Akhir Zaman Kitabi (The Book of the End of Time) by Yasawi Sufi Sulayman Baqirghani (d. 1186) and Transoxanian Qisas al-Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets) by the 14th-century judge Nasir ad-Din ar-Rabghuzi. It was the spread of literacy and religious printing by Naqshbandi Sufis as well as the agency of women as conveyors of mystical tales and their special symbolism in Sufi tradition that contributed to the expansion and consolidation of Islam among the baptized Tatars (49, 51, 58-59; on women, see esp. 86-97, 139-58). Furthermore, Kefeli's wide comparative scope--which brings in references to Anatolia, the Balkans, French Algeria, and even 16th-century Spain--further confirms how deeply the Volga-Ural region was enmeshed in the broader cultural and social patterns of Muslim-Christian interaction.
Tuna also foregrounds a "sea-change" that commenced in Russia's social and material conditions in the 1860s, as Russia was involved in the fast-globalizing world markets, with Western Europe admired as the ultimate model of progress. He examines alterations that took place in the "Volga-Ural Muslim domain" because of its encounter with the "pan-European domain." Steam power in transportation and telegraphy in communications further integrated the Volga-Ural region into European Russia and paved the way for local Muslims to look and move westward. Regional Muslims now traveled for the hajj and study by rail, then steamships departing from Black Sea ports. (6) They saw in Turkic newspapers advertisements for unfamiliar services, household goods, and clothes coming from various parts of Russia and Europe. (7) Wealthy Muslims entered into contact not only with the growing imperial domain but even with European markets (Ahmed Huseyinov from Orenburg opened his shop in Berlin in 1893 ). Along with the phonetic method for literacy circulated globally in the mid-19th century, "the cult of progress" emerged among the Volga-Ural Muslims; either through the mediation of Russian and Ottoman intellectuals or through direct contacts, people felt pressured to emulate Europe for survival in the fast-changing world, which led some younger reformists to relegate Islam to a secondary position.
In the age of steam and print, the European quest for information on Muslims to facilitate governance and competition among empires, as well as Muslims' resistance and their appropriation of communication technologies and European academic discourse, produced an acute sense of an "Islamic world" among both Europeans and Muslims. This is epitomized by the almost simultaneous emergence of publications named, for example, Revue du monde musulman, The Muslim World, Die Welt des Islams, Jahan-i Islam (Istanbul, 1914), and Islami Dunya (Cairo, 1929). (8) Campbell argues that Russia was also part of this global constellation, with the journal Mir islama launched in 1912 by Vasilii Vladimirovich Bartol'd (1869-1930), and the weekly newspaper Vmire musul'manstva published by a Circassian informer for the Interior Ministry (MVD), M. Bek Hajetlashe (171-74, 183). In comparison to the European enterprise, she sees a more tenuous balance between the scholarly goals espoused by a cohort of distinguished Orientalists and the practical tasks pursued by MVD officials struggling against seemingly subversive Muslims. The "specter of pan-Islamism" exacerbated the tension in favor of such opportunists as Hajetlashe selling the idea of it as a threat. Whereas Meyer and Tuna do not go into the years of World War I, Campbell examines the way the presumptive Muslim unity was played out between belligerent Russia and Germany. German propaganda about jihad was targeted to prisoners of war in close collaboration with Meyers protagonists--Yusut Akcura, Ahmet Agaoglu, and Abdurrecid Ibrahim (1857-1944). While listening to Hajetlashe and reinforcing surveillance as a countermeasure to German disinformation, the MVD officials in fact recognized Muslim subjects' loyalty; the Orenburg Mufti Safa Bayazitov (in office 1915-17) explained to the British Muslim Society in Cairo that "Muslims are thriving and live in peace with Russians" (198-201, 205).
Transnational exchange shaped both Russia's modernization and the Volga-Ural Muslims' understanding of religion and subjecthood. Muslim migrants and travelers between the Russian and Ottoman empires contributed to molding and reinforcing interventionist state behavior in the form of population policy, passport control, and surveillance. While cosmopolitan Islamic scholars elaborated and circulated their expertise across vast distances, local agents, with women and Krashen tailors playing a central role, adapted the knowledge for an environment of rivalry with Christianity and animism. Facilitated by novel transportation and communications technologies, both Europeans and Muslims created and appropriated the monolithic image of the Islamic world for their respective purposes. Finally, the Great War revealed in the direst manner the difficulty of choosing between accommodation and alienation in reference to the Russian government and between obedience and resistance to Muslim subjects. What kind of interactions, then, had the Russian state and the Volga-Ural Muslim community, both of them in transformation, gone through in the preceding half-century?
Imperial Modernization between Accommodation and Resistance
Triggered by Alexander IPs series of reforms, the extension of the tsarist state's reach led to Muslim resistance and adaptation to alien laws and institutions, Muslim modernists' creation of a new language through a reinterpretation of indigenous Islam suitable for the age, and the state's and Orthodox missionaries' ambivalent reaction to these moves. The imperial model that took form in the reign of Catherine II distributed rights and duties to each societal category and accordingly entrusted the ulama with a mediating role in the Muslim population. In contrast, Tuna argues, the Great Reforms aimed at "unmediated governance," with the substantial growth of the state in general and its aspiration to create ideal subjects in particular. Popular education became instrumental in this transformation, although accompanied by a variety of contradictions in the form of "alien questions" (inorodcheskie voprosy). In fact, conservative statesmen like Dmitrii Andreevich Tolstoi planned and implemented educational policies that could counter the potentially equalizing consequences of the Great Reforms and could preserve the primacy of a core Russian nation (Tuna, 61-62). Campbell aptly recapitulates a series of predicaments that the modernizing tsarist state faced in the Volga-Ural region. Was the secular integration of Muslims through state schooling compatible with a confessional system in which the state ascribed to subjects an official religious affiliation? Did special schools to protect baptized non-Russians from Muslim influence not lead to their divergence from the dominant Russian Orthodoxy? Were "Russified" Muslims to be granted the same legal standing as Orthodox Russians? Which solution would work best for Russians themselves, European forms of enlightenment or Slavophile prescriptions (Campbell, 81-82)?
The Middle Volga region in the three decades before the 1905 revolution witnessed a vigorous protest movement and petition campaign among the Muslim population against what the Muslims perceived as the states intrusion on their religious autonomy. Alongside collective apostasies among the baptized Tatars from Orthodoxy to Islam (every decade from 1802 to 1905 [Kefeli, 26]), Muslims massively opposed a series of laws (most notably in 1870, 1874, 1888, and 1892) imposing the Russian language and meddling with Islamic education, zemstvo regulations on fire insurance in 1877-78, and the all-Russian census in 1897. (9) Meyer takes heed of the parlance of Sharia between state officials and Muslims, along with the role of rumors about forced conversion. Just as state officials communicated with Muslims through the ulama based on the belief that the entirety of their life was regulated and directed by Sharia, or "Muhammadan law," so Muslims either seeking state intervention or keeping the state at bay invoked Sharia so that the state would readily understand. This decision left state officials all the more convinced of Islamic fanaticism, however. Meyer contends that "Sharia and Islam were not only expressions of faith, but also of law, administration, and state power" (64). Contrasting with treacherous images of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly and its subordinate mullahs that took form in the turbulent years, Meyer argues that wealthy business families such as the Iunusovs, Apanaevs, and Akchurins became more outspoken than ever as intermediaries between Muslim protesters and tsarist officials (74). Kefeli, meanwhile, underlines the Naqshbandi shaykhs' mobilizing power among both the Muslim Tatar and the baptized communities by means of two Islamic concepts, jihad (a continuous struggle on the path of God) and Mahdism (an apocalyptic myth) (30-31). She strikingly shows that Tatar protesters against Russian education used the same strategies as the apostates, with petitions gathered and written at market places or in rich merchants' hostels (209-10). Now we have a clear picture of logistics in the petition campaign encompassing knowledge of the Russian legal system; the employment of those literate in Russian; propagation through trade, sacred, and festival networks; and the Tatars' and Krashens' practice of exogamy, which made the wife a transmitter of information and rumors (44-48, 159).
How did the secular and Orthodox authorities attempt to tackle the challenge from Muslim and baptized Tatars? Campbell's central argument can be seen as a modified enlargement of what Robert Geraci once argued about post-1905 politics with the metaphor of wall and mirror: while the central government attempted to build a wall impeding rapprochement with the Volga Muslims, some Kazan Orthodox missionaries saw Muslim Tatars as a mirror for Russians' shortcomings and a model for the revival of Orthodox parish life. (10) Campbell contends that with alien questions inextricably intertwined with an even more fundamental Russian Question, it was with reference to the Volga-Ural region as a "transitional area between the core and the borderlands" that the Muslim Question was first raised and clearly articulated (7). Regarding the Polish rebellion of 1863 as a prism of tsarist perception of non-Russian borderlands, she not only compares the Volga-Ural region and the western provinces but also discerns real personal connections between the two regions: Archbishop Antonii moved to Kazan in 1866 after his posts in Kiev and Smolensk and found Islam as threatening as Catholicism (44); B. M. luzefovich, the son of the influential Little Russian activist M. V. luzefovich (1802-89), was the author of an article in Russkii vestnik in 1883 calling for the government and missionaries to lessen Muslim isolation from Russians while establishing boundaries around Islam (AG-A7). (11) Meanwhile, the famous Kazan missionary Nikolai Ivanovich Il'minskii (1821-91) developed his own school system catering to Christian Tatars and baptized non-Russians, referring to positive aspects of Muslim schools, such as their private character, closeness to the peoples' needs, and absence of bureaucracy (51, 59). Campbell repeatedly reminds us that Il'minskiis project and its inheritors must be understood in the context of broader discussions of the need to educate the ethnically Russian Orthodox community and reform the Orthodox Church. Although Il'minskii and Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod Konstantin Petrovich Pobednostsev (1880-1905) agreed on making sincerely pious Orthodox folk, the latter's goal was to revitalize authority, not social institutions, thus leaving him hostile to parish reform (63). Furthermore, Campbell argues that Il'minskiis followers met two nationalist challenges: one from burgeoning "pan-Turkists" inspired by. Gasprinskii, aspiring to assimilate different Turkic dialects into literary Ottoman Turkish, and the other from Russian nationalists who criticized Il'minskiis use of non-Russian languages and advocated Russian as the means of integration (79). As Russia's Muslims began to "act out their answers to the Muslim Question" after 1905, dilemmas increasingly arose between enlightenment and security, between the satisfaction of non-Orthodox subjects' religious needs and the prevention of their politicization of faiths, and between religious tolerance and the dominance of the Orthodox Church (142, 165).
Compared with Campbell's rather binary analysis of the Muslim and Russian Questions, Kefeli emphasizes a more collusive relationship between the missionaries of the Kazan Spiritual Academy and modernist Muslim intellectuals. Both of them clearly distinguished between folk oral Tatar traditions and elitist bookish literature. Missionary teachers and students relied on the Qur'an and borrowed from the 9th-century Mutazilites and the 18th-century Wahhabis to attack miraculous and intercessory elements in popular Sufi literature (174). Modernist Tatars in their turn also challenged popular Islam with direct reference to the Qur'an and hadith. At the same time, both of the supposedly conflicting parties recognized and purposefully utilized the power of such central elements in popular religion as thaumaturgy, martyrology, and eschatology. The famous reformist scholar Rida' al-Din b. Fakhr al-Din even called for a systematization of Islamic missions among nonbelievers according to the model created by Christian missionaries (232). As a result, previously blurred contours of Islam became delimited. Kefeli's arguments confirm that both Il'minskiis project and so-called Jadidism shared a contemporaneous global spirit, which enabled laypeople to participate in religious innovation through active learning of scriptural texts in native languages and missionaries' effort to establish and lecture on "orthodox" tenets at their remodeled schools. (12) Moreover, Kefeli's fieldwork in contemporary Tatarstan suggests long-term waves of "orthodox" intervention in folk spirituality: while the ebb of religious officialdom under the Soviet regime allowed a certain leeway for popular religious practices to survive and even flourish, the reinvigorated Orthodox Church and transnational Islamic activism in the post-Soviet space, as in the late imperial period, have intensified their disciplinary interference in the native understanding of religion.
While Meyer, in contrast to Crews, insists that the state and the local Muslim community did not negotiate to define proper religion and thereby tends to underscore the vehement discord between them, Tuna attempts to make a balanced argument, calling for "a recognition of the complexity of imperial situations that simultaneously hosted possibilities of accommodation and confrontation" (243). On the one hand, focusing on Muslim peasants' reaction to Russian-language education, Tuna does address their resistance, petitions, and avoidance in their struggle to preserve a mediated distance from the state. On the other hand, he examines the flexibility of what he calls the imperial domain. Analyzing discussions led by the Kazan county zemstvo over the opening of Russo-Muslim schools, he argues that institutions of local governance, where Muslims could promote their interests, moderated tension between the Muslim community and the "state-missionary alliance." He also adds that, facilitated by the spread of European modernity, mundane encounters with Russians pushed local Muslims beyond the confines of their confessional domain. Still, Tuna contends, this expansion of the Muslims' comfort zone happened only to limited groups, as "the average Volga-Ural Muslim confined his or her personal attachments to a world of Muslims." "A barrier of unfamiliarity marked the limits of the Volga-Ural Muslims' integration into the increasingly more cosmopolitan Russian society" (232).
One might wonder, however, if we should not also look for evidence of flexibility within Muslim social life. Although Tuna himself admits the lack of a documentary trail, he corroborates his arguments by too few examples to capture "mundane encounters." What other material is promising? Tuna is skeptical of the relevance of archival materials as records of limited interaction between the state and local Muslims that do not necessarily reflect Muslim daily experiences (54). But how should one define this quotidian sphere? Does the abundance of documents concerning, for instance, the construction and repair of mosques, appointment and dismissal of mullahs, and operation of metrical records not demonstrate the mundane relations with the state that were underpinned by Muslims' familiarity with the tsarist administration? (13) Who was the average Muslim? To what extent was the Volga-Ural Muslim domain Muslim?
Communal Actors and Identities
While Meyer and Tuna seem to take for granted the Muslims as a category of analysis, Kefeli delves into the boundaries of Muslim communities themselves, powerfully arguing that Tatar identity was not essentially Muslim but an evolving phenomenon. Paul Werth has addressed questions associated with baptized Tatars as negotiations and tensions revolving around tsarist legal categories of confessions. (14) More recently scholars have seen the interface between Muslim society and the Russian state as a type of legal pluralism by examining Islamic juridical science (fiqh) and practice (shari'a) concerning family affairs in local settings. (15) In marked contrast, Kefeli meticulously describes complexity in the choice of faiths, where not only Tatars but also Chuvashis, Udmurts, Maris, and sometimes even Russians shared common sacred sites, saints, holy spirits, and mystical stories that shaped each understanding of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous cult of kiramat. Avoiding an easy distinction between popular and modernist Islam, Kefeli also argues that reformist pedagogues and theologians redefined prophets as messengers of God, nation builders, liberators, and indefatigable teachers of human nature without directly questioning prophets' miracles essential to traditional Sufi literature (222). Rida al-Din b. Fakhr al-Din selectively used Sufi metaphors to correct popular understandings of Islam and to reprove Muslim youth for their radical critique of Islam. But even 'Ayaz Iskhaqi (1878-1954), a leader of the Tatar Socialist Revolutionary movement, offered a new reading of past Sufi stories by writing Zoldykha, a drama named after the heroine in the Tale of Joseph, which conclusively integrated the Krashens into the Islamic community and thereby demarcated and stiffened the boundary between Tatar and Russian identities.
Meyer and Tuna attempt to lay out new explanations of political cleavages within the Volga-Ural Muslim community in lieu of a platitudinous paradigm of reformist-traditionalist collision. Meyer introduces the concept of "Muslim community leadership politics," by which he means politics of who should have the right to speak in the name of Muslim communities (82-83). Although he notes that the literature on Muslim politics in late imperial Russia tends to pay little attention to the political role of the ulama after 1905 (93 n. 62), he himself does not let religious scholars speak out to the extent where he could have elucidated their polyphonic interactions with his protagonist Turkist intellectuals. Apparently Meyer regards Muhammadyar Sultanov, mufti of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly, as the central figure of the ulama who tried to adapt to mass politics amid revolutionary turmoil. Otherwise, the ulama are only depicted either as mobilized by the assembly or as an anonymous throng of protesters. In fact, Sultanov was not even a religious scholar but a former civil official who had worked for rural institutions born of the Great Reforms before his appointment as mufti in 1886. Moreover, using a new source base of private correspondence and archival documents, Meyer contends that controversies surrounding Jadidism took place far beyond the margins of the periodical press but stemmed largely from economic and political factors (108-9). But he curiously omits mention of Stephane Dudoignons ground-breaking arguments, based on extensive analysis of the Tatar press, that encourage the study of both ideological and economic cleavages among Muslim clerics against a backdrop of the rapid monetarization of the economy, the appearance of Muslim commercial and industrial capitalism, and the accumulation of private fortunes within Muslim communities. (16)
Tuna, for his part, detects the extension of what he calls a pan-European domain into the Volga-Ural region as a common ground of politics and proposes studying a variety of local responses to this challenge. He addresses the role of printing and schools, both of which some local Muslims deployed in popularizing knowledge as an instrument to achieve progress. The commercial use of print media created new and increasingly more egalitarian venues for the exchange of ideas and, therefore, influence. The 1905 revolution opened up a way for periodicals to connect members of the progressive reformist cohort to one another by building a shared idiom and conception of progress (104, 154-56). Educational reformists of the earlier generation, meanwhile, sought progress through the reconciliation of what the broader world had to offer with the norms and values they cherished in the Islamic tradition. Unlike the Ottoman modernizers, who created new, secular schools in parallel with traditional maktabs and madrasas, Russian Muslim reformists undertook secularization within the local Islamic educational system. Moreover, government schools as well as reformed madrasas paved the way for a variety of more lucrative career opportunities to youth who otherwise would have become mullahs. As a result, progressive youth established a new balance between the authorities of religion, on one side, and of science and civilization, on the other (165-66, 169). Tuna concludes that all these changes led to the alienation of the secularized intelligentsia from the pious majority.
To be sure, Tuna does try to consciously and carefully distinguish intellectuals' writings "from the actual processes of transformation that shaped the everyday lives of Volga-Ural Muslims in late imperial Russia" (7). But the tilt in his analytical focus toward earlier reformists and their younger followers and the confinement in his choice of sources to a typical youth journal from Kazan, Mekteb, make one wonder if the author is in fact representing the ideas and efforts of progressive intellectuals as the experience of Volga-Ural Muslims. At least he could have read more varied Tatar journals and newspapers to clarify different ways of engagement by youth and other actors with specific socioeconomic questions in Muslim society. Otherwise, are there any sources and ways of reading them that would give voice to a wide spectrum ranging from "alienated youth" to the broader population who, Tuna believes, stuck to long-established Islamic norms and values?
Russian archival documents, too, reveal complex local cleavages that grew out of state intervention in Muslim society. All four authors to varied degrees pay heed to police surveillance and persecution during the Stolypin era of those categorized as Jadids--who were condemned simultaneously as revolutionaries, pan-Islamists colluding with the Young Turks, and promoters of apostasy among baptized non-Russians. Campbell and Tuna do not so much go into the countryside as analyze the way the language of police intervention was shaped in close collaboration between MVD officials and Kazan missionaries. Both reach the same observation regarding tsarist officials' thinking: pan-Islamism has not been visible, but the danger is always there (Campbell, 188; Tuna, 206). Meyer describes an anti-Jadid denunciation campaign among Muslims, where people sought to exploit government fears of pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism by using precisely these phrases as a means of attracting official attention (145-47). But it seems that he takes the label "Jadids" at face value, in contrast to his nuanced treatment of the language of Sharia in the last decades of the 19th century. If material interests were more at stake, as Meyer contends, did the conflict over the distribution of limited capital not happen between Jadids in the same village, with one defending himself against the other by posing as conservative and loyal before the authorities? How can one explain the denunciations of certain mullahs for involvement in the baptized community, as Kefeli shows (241, 248 n. 98)? In addition, given that information crucial to decision making in St. Petersburg emanated from Bishop Andrei of Mamadysh District in Kazan Province--the main stage of Kefeli's story--could one say that it was the inflated image of this small, particular district that forced central officials to elaborate countermeasures against Tatar-Muslim influence throughout the Volga-Ural region? One might more closely examine not only the conveyance of information from the imperial capital to the lowest police ranks and back, where only that which was convenient for superiors was relayed and reproduced, but also the way in which villagers translated a variety of their own concerns into a language of political disloyalty forged in that conveyance and thereby inverted village hierarchies. (17)
Ways Forward and Open Questions
What do the four books considered here suggest as useful avenues for future research? While the attention to transimperial dimensions is clearly a welcome and promising development for the field of Russian Muslim studies, the transnational turn should be accompanied by a close engagement with local settings. Meyer, for example, undertakes an ambitious comparative study of multiple regions--the Volga-Urals, Crimea, and the South Caucasus, all of which have their own extensive historiographies--as part of his effort to contextualize Muslim mobility between the Russian and Ottoman empires. Of these regions, the Volga-Urals appear in the greatest detail but, in part because the book's emphasis is on the transnational and transregional rather than the local, one finds a number of errors. To name just a few, Musa Carullah Bigi was not from Penza (81) but from Rostov-on-Don; Huseyinov Madrasa was not in the village of Kargali (113, 116) but in the city of Orenburg; and Bubi Madrasa was not located in the village of Hunter, Malmyzh District, Viatka Province (146) but in the village of Izh-Bubyi in Sarapul District of the same province. These mistakes do not invalidate the transnational approach, of course, but they are a reminder of the fact that historians should ideally devote careful attention to all levels of their work--the local as well as the broad and sweeping. As for Crimea, one might wonder what happened to Muslim property, including lands and religious institutions, that was relinquished after the mass emigration to Ottoman territory. One could also observe regional mobility dynamics beyond the Turkist framing. Meyer himself mentions Ahmet Agaoglu's behavior as a representative of Persian culture (46-47, 142) and Mehmet Emin Resulzade's work as a journalist in both Tehran and Baku (156). What made them decide to become Turkists shifting their association from Iran to the Ottoman Empire? What place did migrant laborers from Iranian Azerbaijan occupy in these intellectuals' imagination? (18)
Furthermore, what other transimperial movements did the Volga-Ural Muslims experience along with travel to Ottoman lands? China was not only a destination for such an eccentric pan-Islamist traveler as Abdurresid Ibrahim. The Russo-Japanese War enabled 'Isa Fath Allah ugali Rasulef--who was the akhund (chief cleric) of Troitsk District, Orenburg Province, and the chaplain of the Third Manchurian Army--and his fellow Muslim soldiers to encounter a Muslim Chinese community in Mukden. (19) China was even home to Tatar communities in Tarbaghatay, Ghulja, and Urumchi; one of the Bubi brothers from Izh-Bubyi found refuge in Ghulja from 1913 to 1917 after the closure of their madrasa due to anti-Jadid persecution.20 As a correspondent of his own newspaper Waqt staying in Istanbul during the Balkan War in 1912 (Meyer, 168-70), Fatih Kerimi reverently wrote about Indian Muslims sending donations and Red Crescent missions. (21) What then did Muslim travelers back home have to say by printing accounts of their experiences? Whereas Kerimi, in narrating his journey through Europe, expressed his ardent fascination with European modernity in 1901 (Tuna, 123-24), he showed a grave disillusionment with "humanitarian" (insaniyatll) Europe when he witnessed European powers' indifference to the fate of Muslim victims and refugees from the Balkans. What did this change mean in local Muslim society? (22) Much remains to be done in studying the circulation and consumption of transnational ideas as well as goods within specific regions. (23) Just as the transimperial exchange molded Volga-Ural Muslims' thoughts and lives, so did their interactions with the state. The essence of the Muslim Question, as well as Campbell's treatment of it, is succinctly encapsulated in All Merdan Topcibasev's words: "They [government officials] talk about us, judge us, want to organize our lives, but all without listening to us, or our opinions and our wishes about our matters" (192). To be sure, Campbell constantly reminds us that the Muslim and Russian Questions were two sides of the same coin in the modernizing empire. In so doing, she elucidates various predicaments tackled by local Russian middlemen between the Russian authorities and Muslim communities: the epitome of such figures was Nikolai Petrovich Ostroumov (1844-1930), who operated in Tashkent with his expertise brought from the Orthodox-Muslim confrontation in the Middle Volga. But one could take more substantial heed of Tatar and Bashkir intermediaries as well. When both Russian core building and Tatar Muslim identity were works in progress, as Campbell and Kefeli show in combination, what choices did these Muslim agents face?
While Kefeli, Meyer, and Tuna aptly examine the role of Tatar merchants, what about Muslim bureaucrats? (24) Shagimardan Miriasovich Ibragimov (1841-91), from the Bashkir nobility of Orenburg Province, for instance, served in the Turkestan governor-generals office before he was posted as the first Russian consul to Jidda in 1891. He was the editor of the native-language newspaper Turkistan Wilayatining Gazeti before Ostroumov; he also competed with Muhammadyar Sultanov for the position of mufti. (25) Changes in political tactics by Sultanov, a Bashkir noble from Ufa Province, before and after 1905 deserve more attention; one inspector of the Spiritual Assembly from the MVD stated in 1910 that Mufti Sultanov remained loyal to the regime until 1904, but after that he noticeably fell under the influence of "Tatar narodniks." (26) Campbell notes the important role that 'Abd al-Aziz Daulatshin (1861-1920) played in reassessing the Muslim threat in Turkestan after the Andijan uprising in 1898 (98-99). As military officer, Daulatshln was once stationed in Kara Kala District of Trans-Caspian Province to guard the Russo-Iranian border; in 1898, he was dispatched to conduct reconnaissance of the Hijaz to monitor the hajj traffic. After 1906, he chaired the Committee for the Construction of the St. Petersburg Friday Mosque and, during the Great War, the Provisional Muslim Committee for Assistance to Soldiers and Their Families. (27) Daulatshlns metamorphosis from a military officer undertaking imperial tasks to a mobilizer of civil society clearly tells of a cosmopolitan member of the elites deliberate move toward his fellow believers with the advent of mass politics. Thus collective biographies of Muslim chinovniki could serve as a useful device to reveal tensions in the modernizing empire.
In studying internal Muslim politics, too, prosopographical approaches to the ulama and their sons and daughters based on both Tatar materials and archival documents are badly needed, for they can help distinguish the actors, their generational shifts, and their personal connections across the Volga-Ural region and beyond. (28) iMeyer characterizes Fatih Kerimi as one of the "cultural powerbrokers" and "a true man of the  revolution," who was otherwise "not the sort of person who would have normally been particularly influential within Muslim communities" (122). In fact, his lather, Ghilman b. Ibrahim (1841-1902), was not a humble village mullah (119) but an akhund supervising 136 villages in Bugulma District, Samara Province; during his hajj in 1881, Ghilman strengthened his tie to the Khalidiyya-Naqshbandiyya with initiation by one Daghestani in Mecca; and already in 1900, he and his son Fatih established a printing house in Orenburg with the Huseyinov family's funds. Moreover, Fatih's uncle was Rida' al-Din b. Fakhr al-Din, the former executive member of the Spiritual Assembly. All these links shaped Fatih Kerimi's influence in the region. (29)
Fault lines in local politics did not run merely between reformists and traditionalists, between secular and religious people, or even between identities. Although talking about imperial authorities and experts who tracked the pan-Islamic threat after 1905, Tuna seems to have in mind also a critical reminder to scholars using the Muslim press when he says, "given the progressive Muslim intellectuals' disproportionately large presence in the Muslim press along with their alienation from the broader Muslim population, relying on the press to follow Muslim affairs reified the role of progressive intellectuals in representing or shaping the views and inclinations of Russia's Muslims" (206-7). A closer examination of Tatar print culture, however, makes it possible to hear a variety of competing voices within each of the seemingly well-demarcated camps of progressives and conservatives. In combination with a prosopography of these orators, we could seek fresh conceptualizations of politics that included more contingencies depending on concrete questions at stake. (30) We should also do more to incorporate Bashkir particularities into the Volga-Ural Muslim narrative--a topic that all four authors leave out of their work. (31) It is through specific individuals and particular localities that one could appraise the depth and limits of the modernizing potency of the tsarist state as well as the transimperial exchange.
The four books reviewed here make rich contributions to our understanding of the Muslim world of the Russian Empire, in particular in the Volga-Urals region, though there is much left to do. It is clear that both the Russian Muslim experience in general and the complicated cross-cultural crossroads of the Volga-Urals in particular are likely to remain fertile topics of study for many years to come.
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I would like to thank Stefan Kirmse, Ekaterina Pravilova, and Willard Sunderland for comments on an earlier draft of this review.
(1) Paul W. Werth, At the Margins of Orthodoxy: Mission, Governance, and Confessional Politics in Russia's Volga-Kama Region, 1827-1905 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002); Charles Steinwedel, Threads of Empire: Loyalty and Tsarist Authority in Bashkiria, 1552-1917 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).
(2) Robert P. Geraci, Window on the East: National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). The citation is from David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Russian Orientalism: Asia in the Russian Mind from Peter the Great to the Emigration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 121.
(3) Michael Kemper, Sups und Gelehrte in Tatarien undBaschkirien, 1789-1889: Der islamische Diskurs unter russischer Herrschaft (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 1998); Allen J. Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige (Leiden: Brill, 2012).
(4) Allen J. Frank, Islamic Historiography and "Bulghar" Identity among the Tatars and Bashkirs of Russia (Leiden: Brill, 1998); Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions in Imper ial Russia: The Islamic World of Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780-1910 (Leiden: Brill, 2001); Christian Noack, Muslimischer Nationalismus im russischen Reich: Nationsbildung und Nationalbewegung bei Tataren und Baschkiren, 1861-1917 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2000).
(5) Robert D. Crews, For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia afid Central Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); Crews, "The Russian Worlds of Islam," in Islam and the European Empires, ed. David Motadel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 35-52; Dmitrii Iur'evich Arapov, Sistema gosudarstvennogo regulirovaniia islama v Rossiiskoi imperii (posledniaia tret' XVIII-nachalo XX vv.) (Moscow: Moskovskii gosudarstvennyi universitet, 2004); Vladimir Bobrovnikov, "Islam in the Russian Empire," in The Cambridge History of Russia, 2: Imperial Russia, 1689-1917, ed. Dominic Lieven (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 202-23.
(6) Eileen Kane also uses several Tatar accounts to track the hajj itineraries in her Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015).
(7) On the spread of European material culture and life style among urban Tatars, see also Liliia Ramilevna Gabdrafikova, Povsednevnaia zhizn' gorodskikh tatar v usloviiakh burzhuaznykh preohrazovanii vtoroi poloviny XIX-nachala XX veka (Kazan: Institut istorii Akademii nauk Respubliki Tatarstan, 2013).
(8) James L. Gelvin and Nile Green, eds., Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), 4; Umar Ryad, "Anti-Imperialism and the Pan-Islamic Movement," in Islam and the European Empires, 131-49. See also Masashi Haneda, Creating the Notion of the Islamic World (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 2005, in Japanese), part 2, chaps. 2, 3.
(9) Despite the misleading title, see also Il'dus Kotdusovich Zagidullin, Tatarskoe natsional'noe dvizhenie v 1860-1905 gg. (Kazan: Tatarskoe knizhnoe izdatel'stvo, 2014).
(10) Geraci, Window on the East, 285-301.
(11) On B. M. Iuzefovich, see also Faith Hillis, Children of Rus': Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013), 108-9.
(12) On other confessions in the Russian Empire, see Paul W. Werth, The Tsar's Foreign Faiths: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 180-87. On the global dimension, see Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), esp. 333-43, 357-59.
(13) His excessive optimism notwithstanding, Il'dus Zagidullin observes the increase of "legal literacy" (pravovaia gramotnost') among Muslim subjects by the early 20th century (Islamskie instituty v Rossiiskoi imperii: Mecheti v evropeiskoi chasti Rossii i Sibiri [Kazan: Tatarskoe knizhnoe izdatel'stvo, 2007], 346, 368).
(14) Paul W. Werth, "The Limits of Religious Ascription: Baptized Tatars and the Revision of 'Apostasy,' 1840s-1905," Russian Review 59, 4 (2000): 493-511.
(15) Rozaliya Garipova, "The Transformation of the Ulama and the Shari'a in the Volga-Ural Muslim Community under Russian Imperial Rule" (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2013); Il'shat Amirovich Mukhametzaripov, "Osobennosti funktsionirovaniia musul'manskogo prava v Rossii v kontse XVIII-nachale XX vv." (Candidate of Historical Sciences diss., Kazan State University, 2010). On the Muslims' use of circuit courts born of the Great Reforms, see Stefan B. Kirmse, "Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia: Muslim Tatars Go to Court," Slavic Review 72, 4 (2013): 778-801.
(16) Dudoignons articles are included in Meyer's bibliography, though. See Stephane A. Dudoignon, "Status, Strategies, and Discourses of a Muslim 'Clergy' under a Christian Law: Polemics about the Collection of the Zakat in Late Imperial Russia," in Islam in Politics in Russia and Central Asia (Early Eighteenth to Late Twentieth Centuries), ed. Dudoignon and Hisao Komatsu (London: Kegan Paul, 2001), 43-73; Dudoignon, "Qu'est-ce que la 'Qadimiya'? Elements pour une sociologie du traditionalisme musulman, en Islam de Russie et en Transoxiane (au tournant des XIXe et XXe siecles)," in L'Islam de Russie: Conscience communautaire et autonomie politique chez les Tatars de la Volga et de l'Oural depuis le XVIIIe siecle, ed. Dudoignon, Damir Is'haqov, and Rafyq Mohammatshin (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 1997), 207-25.
(17) This Muslim case should he contextualized in the broader rural world. See Jeffrey Burds, "A Culture of Denunciation: Peasant Labor Migration and Religious Anathematization in Rural Russia, 1860-1905," Journal of Modern History 68, 4 (1996): 786-818.
(18) Touraj Atabaki, "Disgruntled Guests: Iranian Subalterns on the Margins of the Tsarist Empire," in The State and the Subaltern: Modernization, Society, and the State in Turkey and Iran, ed. Atabaki (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), 31-52.
(19) On Abdiirrefid Ibrahim, see Noriko Yamazaki, "Abdiirrejid Ibrahim's Journey to China: Muslim Communities in the Late Qing as Seen by a Russian-Tatar Intellectual," Central Asian Survey 33, 3 (2014): 405-20. On the Muslim Chinese community in Mukden, see the St. Petersburg newspaper Nur, 3 November 1905, 2-3; 6 November 1905, 2-3; 6 December 1905, 4.
(20) On the role of the Tatar diaspora as a window into schooling reforms and Turkic print in Xinjiang, see David J. Brophy, "Tending to Unite? The Origins of Uyghur Nationalism" (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2011), esp. 178-220; and Al'ta Khazeevna Makhmutova, Lish'tebe, narod, sluzhen'e! Istoriia tatarskogo prosvetitel'stva v sud'bakh dinastii Nigmatullinykh-Bubi (Kazan: Magarif, 2003), 369-95.
(21) Fatih Kerimi, Istanbul Maktublari (Orenburg: Waqt Matba'asI, 1913), 113, 122, 183, 185. On Indian Muslim activism during the Balkan Wars, see Azmi Ozcan, Pan-Islamism: Indian Muslims, the Ottomans, and Britain (1877-1924) (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 147-55.
(22) Kerimi, Istanbul Maktublari, esp. 210-11. On a resonance of Kerimi's Istanbul Letters, see Jamal al-Din Walidof, Millat tva Milliyat (Orenburg: Waqt Matba'asI, 1914), 31-33; and Dzhamaliutdin Validov, Ocherk istorii obrazovannosti i literatury tatar (Kazan: Iman, 1998; orig. Moscow, 1923), 117.
(23) For an excellent model, see Adeeb Khalid, "Central Asia between the Ottoman and the Soviet Worlds," Kritika 12, 2 (2011): 451-76. I myself have attempted to detect local impacts of the hajj. See my "The Hajj Making Geopolitics, Empire, and Local Politics: A View from the Volga-Ural Region at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," in Central Asian Pilgrims: Hajj Routes and Pious Visits between Central Asia and the Hijaz, ed. Alexandre Papas, Thomas Welsford, and Thierry Zarcone (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 2012), esp. 184-89.
(24) For a good example, see Charles Steinwedel, "Kutlu-Mukhammad Batyr-Gireevich Tevkelev (1850--?) and Family," in Russia's People of Empire: Life Stories from Eurasia, 1500 to the Present, ed. Stephen M. Norris and Willard Sunderland (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 189-97. In his Threads of Empire Steinwedel also pays attention to other families, such as the Akhtiamovs, Sultanovs, Syrtlanovs, and Umetbaevs.
(25) In the Kazakh historiography he is well known as an ethnographer of Kazakh customs (Sh. M. Ibragimov, Ocherki byta kazakhov [Astana: Alt'in kitap, 2007]).
(26) Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv f. 821, op. 133, d. 625, 11. 14-14 ob. Of course, the authoritative voice of the Spiritual Assembly was not safe in the growing .Muslim public sphere. See my "Holidays in Kazan: The Public Sphere and the Politics of Religious Authority among Tatars in 1914," Slavic Review 71, 1 (2012): 40-46.
(27) D. Iu. Arapov, ed., Imperatorskaia Rossiia i musul'manskii mir (konets XVllI--nachalo XX v.): Sbornik materials (Moscow: Natalis, 2006), 229-31. On Daulatshins philanthropic enterprise, see my "A Civil Society in a Confessional State? Muslim Philanthropy in the Volga-Urals Region," in Russia's Home Front, 1914-1922, 2: The Experience of War and Revolution, ed. Adele Lindenmeyr, Christopher Read, and Peter Waldron (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2016), 67-70.
(28) For an excellent example of this exercise, see Danielle M. Ross, "From the Minbar to the Barricades: The Transformation of the Volga-Ural 'Ulama into a Revolutionary Intelligentsia, 1860-1918" (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2011).
(29) It is not surprising that Fatih published his father's biography (Fatih Kerimi, Marhum Ghilman Akhund [Orenburg: M-.F. G. Karimov, 1904]).
(30) Here I would argue with Allen J. Frank, too, who with a vague definition of "Jadid sources" and with an emphasis on manuscripts as historical sources seems to unwittingly reinforce the established dichotomy of the Jadids and traditionalists that he forcefully criticizes. See his "Muslim Cultural Decline in Imperial Russia: A Manufactured Crisis," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59 (2016): 166-92. At least the four books reviewed here do not support what he calls a "decline" paradigm. I simply suggest that we seek multiplicity of Muslim voices and behaviors, not prioritizing one or another type of sources.
(31) While Steinwedel in his Threads of Empire has efficiently elucidated juridical changes in Bashkir land ownership, the working of the property rights and Bashkir custom within Muslim legal practice, for instance, remains to be studied.
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|Date:||Mar 22, 2017|
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