THE ISLAMIC REVIVAL IN DAGHESTAN TWENTY YEARS LATER

Vladimir BOBROVNIKOV


Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Ph.D. (Hist.), senior researcher at the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies (Moscow, the Russian Federation)


The Caucasian Muslims witnessed a tempestuous Islamic upswing during the last decade of the 20th century and at the beginning of the new millennium. As though by the wave of a magic wand, the region was transformed from Soviet into Islamic. The outer appearance of towns and villages drastically changed, along with the very tempo of private and public life. Islam became the basis on which children and adolescents socialized. Islamic schools and higher education institutions opened. Islamic parties and movements of different trends, Islamic periodicals, and even a Russian-language Islamic Internet appeared. Sufi sheikhs emerged from the underground. In the Eastern Caucasus, the Naqshbandi, Shazili, and Qadiri orders are functioning openly again. Islam has become a marketable political trump card, and every politician is rushing to assure the Muslim how much he loves and wants to protect him. The statements of Daghestan President Mukhu Aliev are typical in this respect: We have no history without religion, and we will help our traditional religious trends and strengthen the position of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims with this goal in mind Daghestan found itself in the epicenter of the movement. Reislamization has assumed more vehement and at times grotesque forms here.

It will soon be twenty years since the Islamic upswing or revival, as the people in Daghestan like to call it, began. Perestroika set it in motion. It is worth doing some tallying up on the eve of this glorious anniversary. Particularly since, after all the upheavals of the


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