Sharīʿa Debates and Fatwas among Nomads in Northern Kazakhstan, 1850–1931

in Islamic Law and Society
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Legal debates among Kazakh nomads and on the Kazakh steppe more broadly have, for the most part, addressed the effects of Russian colonial policy on the administration of law among these nomads. The official and scholarly Russian fixation on Kazakh customary law, based largely on a tendentious categorization of Kazakh Muslims as quasi-shamanists, resulted in policies designed to separate Islamic law (sharīʿa) from customary law (ʿādat), and to suppress the role of sharīʿa in the areas of criminal and civil law. As Muslims, however, Kazakh nomads were directly affected by sharīʿa debates taking place both among Tatar scholars in their midst as well as among Kazakh scholars. These discussions, which occurred largely outside the field of vision of Russian officials or officially-mandated customary law courts, have so far eluded scrutiny. Recorded primarily in recently-published biographical dictionaries of Muslim scholars on the steppe, these discussions addressed a range of issues, including questions of ritual, but also, more significantly, the application of Islamic legal norms to commercial matters.

Sharīʿa Debates and Fatwas among Nomads in Northern Kazakhstan, 1850–1931

in Islamic Law and Society




 Mikhail ViatkinBatyr Srym (Almaty: Sanat1998) 236–7. “Bukharan mullahs” may have included Kazakh and Tatar scholars.


 Tangat SügirbayevQïzïlzhar öngirining ziyalï qawïmï (Petropavl: Poligrafiya2010) 322.


 Sotsial ZhŭmabayevŬlïlar tughan ölke (Petropavl: n.p.2006) 368–78; Sügirbayev Qïzïlzhar öngirining ziyalï qawïmï 106.


 Zhanuzak KasymbaevStarshii sultan Kunanbai Oskenbaev i ego okruzhenie (Almaty: Kitap2004) 26–30.


 See Allen J. Frank“Sufis, Scholars and Divanas of the Qazaq Middle Horde in the Works of Mäshhür-Zhüsip Köpeyulï,” Islam Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe ed. ­Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences 2013) 213–32.


 GhïlmaniZamanïmïzda bolghan ghŭlamalardïng ghŭmïr tarikhtarï 1: 32.


 GhïlmaniZamanïmïzda bolghan ghŭlamalardïng ghŭmïr tarikhtarï 1: 477–9.


 GhïlmaniZamanïmïzda bolghan ghulamalardïng ghumïr tarikhtarï1: 421–2.


 F.S. BayazitovaUrta Ural (Sverdlovsk ölkäse) tatarlarï (Kazan: Fiker2002) 260; a Tatar monolingual dictionary provides one of the most detailed definitions of the däwer ritual emphasizing that the deceased must be more than twelve years old. It also includes the derivational form däwerche meaning the person who conducts the däwer ceremony; see Tatar teleneng anglatmalï süzlege 3 vols. (Kazan: Tatar kitap näshriyatï 1977) 1: 318.


 T.D. BaialievaDoislamskie verovaniia i ikh perezhitki u kirgizov (Frunze: Ilim1972) 85.


 GhïlmaniZamanïmïzda bolghan ghŭlamalardïng ghŭmïr tarikhtarï1: 421–2 440.


 On Rasulev see Hamid Algar“Shaykh Zaynullah Rasulev: the Last Great Naqshbandi Shaykh of the Volga-Urals Region,” in Muslims in Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Changeed. Jo-Ann Gross (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press1992) 112–33.


 GhïlmaniZamanïmïzda bolghan ghŭlamalardïng ghŭmïr tarikhtarï1: 530.


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