Rashad Huseynov, Ph.D. (Political Science), Associate Professor at the International Relations and Political Science Department of Khazar University (Baku, Azerbaijan).
HISTORY OF ISLAMIC INSTITUTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN
Azerbaijan went through different political systems and historical developments in the 19th-21st centuries, which had a serious impact on the role and evolution of its government and religious institutions. During this period, Azerbaijan was under the rule of the Russian Empire, established a Democratic Republic (ADR) that lasted only 23 months, was a part of the Soviet Union for 71 years, and eventually proclaimed its independence in 1991. This research paper studies the formation and evolution of Islamic institutions in Azerbaijan over the last three centuries and conducts a comparative analysis of their roles and functions under different rules. The author also identifies the contemporary challenges faced by the major spiritual body in Azerbaijan, especially in terms of status and scope of activities, and explores the possible responses to them.
Keywords: Azerbaijan, religious institutions, formation, evolution, Sheikh-ul-Islam, Mufti, Caucasus Muslim Board.
The origin of the main spiritual body of Muslims in Azerbaijan—the Caucasus Muslim Board (CMB)—goes back to the 19th century. As part of the religious tolerance policy, on 5 April, 1872, Czar Alexander II approved the Provision on Establishment of Two Administrations—Shi‘ite and Sunni—of the Transcaucasian Clergy. They were first established in Tiflis (Tbilisi), Georgia, as it was the administrative center of the Russian Governor-General of the Caucasus. The headquarters moved to Baku following the…………….