The Bulghar Region as a “Land of Ignorance”: Anti-Colonial Discourse in Khvārazmian Connectivity

in Journal of Persianate Studies
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Hagiographic sources from nineteenth-century Inner Russia and Khvārazm indicate the existence of a cluster of Muslims opposed to the state-supported Islamic institutions of the Russian Empire. Many Muslim scholars of the period did not accord the Volga-Ural region the status of an ‘abode of Islam,’ as they considered it to be a ‘land of ignorance.’ This paper examines the significance attached by Muslims of Inner Russia to the pious rhetoric of resettlement from a ‘land of ignorance’ to the ‘abode of Islam’. I argue that the opposition to the already well-established imperial structures in the Volga-Urals resulted in the formation of a powerful migrant community near Urgench, Khvārazm, that used the Naqshbandiya-Mojaddediya Sufi networks as a stable bridge to home.

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