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/72b/ And now I, humble (ben fäqir) and sound of mind, have composed the following from what I experienced and witnessed in my life and education, to describe my genealogy (nasl wa ansab) to the best of my ability, with the aim of leaving a memoir (khatira) for my descendants. My father Shaykh al-Islam b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Biktimir was born in Tatar Qaramalï village of the former Aleksandr Qaramalï volost of the Mänzälä district of Ufa governorate, i.e. the present-day Qaramalï village of Sarman district of the Republic of Tatarstan, in 1843.

The Qadïrov family starts with our grandfather ‘Abd al-Qadir. After he died, my father at his young age was taken into the care (tärbiya) of his older brother ‘Abd al-‘Alim. The latter lived in Qaramalï village and served as a mu’adhdhin. I believe he died in 1896; [he] was buried in Qaramalï cemetery. There was a gravestone with an inscription. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer then overlook his wrongdoings.261 May God’s mercy be upon him. I remember seeing ‘Abd al-‘Alim agha: he visited us in Istärlibash, when my father was still alive. He was prosperous, owned a house covered with tiles (taqta) and with a proper garden in front of it, full of beehives. /73а/ He lived off agriculture and kept [just] enough horses, cows and sheep. Behind the house he had an abundant garden. Besides that, on the outskirts of the village, he also kept beehives. I remember very well that when I was twelve and I went there with my late father to get honey, he gave me a piece of millet bread with honey spread on it.

I must produce a family tree (shäjärä) for future generations, if God wills. My father Shaykh al-Islam studied for several years in his twenties at the madrasa of ‘Abdullah Gafurov in Olugh Chaqmaq on the banks of the Ïq River, then he moved to Istärlibash madrasa. He studied for several years at the madrasa of Khalilullah b. Rahmatullah b. Hasan, who came from Bayraka village of Bugulma district, and decided to stay there. The father of my late mother, Waliullah b. Rahmatullah b. Hasan, was a brother of this Khalilullah. Because of harsh poverty, in spring and summer after school he would participate in grain collection, and in winter he would study and live on his provision. Since Waliullah b. Rahmatullah died in Bayraka, Khalilullah brought the family of his brother to Istärlibash and adopted them. After that, around 1875, ‘Alimä, the daughter of Waliullah b. Rahmatullah, married my father Shaykh al-Islam b. ‘Abd al-Qadir. Later, around 1877, my parents went to a settlement (qïshlaq) called Isenbay near Sarï Üzän (in Russian: Talovka) near Astrakhan, in the Bukay region of the country (mämläkät) of Kazakhstan, and stayed there. Our father taught boys, while my mother taught girls, until 1882 when they returned to Istärlibash. I was born there (in Kazakhstan) in March 1881 and at the age of two we returned to Istärlibash together. My father taught children from humble backgrounds and peasants of Istärlibash for more than forty years, until the end of his life. At two o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday May 2, 1336 of Hijri and 1918 of Miladi, he entrusted his soul to God. In accordance with the Qur’anic verse “Return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing!”262 may he join the ranks of the forgiven. Amen. /73b/

He was buried next to my mother near the graves of the famous Ni‘matullah, Harith, Harrath and Zayn al-Din in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. “Our Lord, forgive Thou me and my parents, and the believers, upon the day when the reckoning shall come to pass.”263

The funeral ceremony was led by the great imam of our community ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad Harith b. Ni‘matullah. At six o’clock in the evening of Friday 6 Sha‘ban, or May 4, he was buried. His gravestone264 at the cemetery bears the following text: “This is the grave of an excellent and exalted scholar, a teacher of children for forty years, Shaykh al-Islam b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Biktimir al-Qaramalï al-Mänzäläwi. He followed the command “Return [unto thy Lord]!” on 4 Sha‘ban 1336 of Hijri and May 2, 1918. May God rest him in peace and make paradise his abode.”265

Although my father cultivated land, he did not own it, because according the ancient law (borïngï qanun) foreign incomers were not given land as the local people were. Still, he either rented one or two desiatina266 of land or sowed crops jointly with the locals. He had only one cow, a goat and sometimes kept a horse for summer work. He would usually buy a horse in spring to prepare wood and hay for winter and then sell it in fall. The buildings of the household were all made of wood. There was a cowshed for cattle. The house where we lived was located near the great mosque on the hill with a view of its back. The madrasa was located between the mosque and our house. My father would split firewood and cut the hay himself. One time he went on horseback to a place where he taught children, in the aforementioned Isenbay village of the Bukay region of Kazakhstan. It is ca. 700 km from Istärlibash. /74b/ In 1889 he also took me there across such a great distance. We traveled via the Tuq river from Sarupinski station to Uralsk and then journeyed 300 km over the Kazakh Steppe. On the way we spent the nights in the open, because it would not be possible to sleep near the houses of Kazakhs watching their cattle, since there would not be grass in that area to feed the horse. We drank qatïq and qumïz267 and took water in the houses of stockbreeders, after which we would go 4 to 5 km away to sleep. At this time I was only eight years old. Upon arrival, I would put a copper kettle on the fire to prepare tea. Until the tea was ready, my father would read a newspaper. In the quiet steppe, where only the voices of Kazakh horses were heard, we drank tea joyfully. My father would then put me to sleep and himself stay awake to watch over the horse. At sunrise we would get the horse ready and continue our journey. Since it was very hot in that place, we preferred to move on in the coolness of the early morning and to rest in the afternoon. Creating shade using a map, my father would rest a while, leaving me alone to watch the horse.

Yalpaqtal (Salatin) was the capital of the Kazakhs in the Uralsk region. Here we arrived at the house of ‘Ubaydullah b. Zaynullah ‘Alikaev, who was born and raised in Istärlibash. He was the son of Zaynullah Ishan from Istärlibash, known as Amir Ishan. This ‘Ubaydullah hazrat first studied in Istärlibash madrasa and then went to Bukhara, where he studied sciences (khatm-i kutub) and reached the level of Ishan and then returned home. After he came back, the Yalpaqtal people made him an imam. He established a madrasa, educated plenty of Kazakh students and spread the Sufi teaching. He was a hospitable person and kind to other people. May God cover him with His mercy.

We stayed there for a couple of days /74b/ and then continued our journey to Talovka, i.e. Isenbay village. It was 60 km away from that place. On the way we spent a night in the house of my father’s students called ‘Uthman and Nu‘man, in the Kazakh village of Subirgen. The next day we reached Isenbay. This time, in accordance with the local Kazakh traditions, we stayed in a felt house near the lake called Likräm, moved around that lake, drank qumïz from the summer camp, ate sheep, shot at ducks on the lake and enjoyed our time.

Upon arrival there we came to the house of Muhammad ‘Ali Isenbaev. His Kazakh nickname is Kalosh. At a distance of ten meters (tayaq) from their house there was a small guesthouse made of felt, where we stayed till our departure. When the old Kazakh women saw me, they cried: “Oh! That is the child born in our hands who came back missing his birthplace!” They hugged and kissed me. One of them said: “They say that a man ate his fill of meat at his birthplace.”268 They stroked my back, asking: “How are you?” I responded to all of their questions. We stayed there for a while and then in September returned safely to Istärlibash.

How I started my studies: first, at the age of five I studied the alphabet (alifba) at home with my father. Then, he started to teach me a book called Iman shartï. After that we proceeded to some books in Turki. At the age of six I moved on to [reading] Shurut Kalam sharif. Ahmad Shah hazrat from Sarlï village on the banks of Qarashlï Ïq in Belebey district was a follower (murid) of the famous Amir hazrat. This distinguished person began teaching me the Holy Qur’an. [From him] I memorized (khäteremdä) only half of the book. “You’ll give it as alms,” said my late father, passing twenty kopeks to me. May God cover them both with His mercy.

/75a/ After that [period], my father brought me to his madrasa. There I started [reading] Arabic books Shurut al-salat wa ta‘lim al-salat and a book on dogmatics called Asl al-tawhid. After studying these books for a while they decided that I was now capable of reading Arabic, and I joined a class on Arabic grammar with khalfa ‘Abd al-Kabir b. Din Muhammad, who came from Täter Arslan village, 20 km away from Istärlibash, together with his son ‘Abdullah Shadmanov and ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Amirhan Ibragimov. We studied together until 1906. In August of that year (1317 of Hijri) our teacher ‘Abd al-Kabir khalfa died of a stomach disease. May God bless and forgive him.269

After that, Fathullah khalfa b. Fattah al-Din came from Usaq Kichü village, located on the banks of the Dim River. All of us continued our studies with this teacher. Between 1902 and 1904 I attended the Russian-Tatar school in Istärlibash and received a diploma. Mir Sayyid Baishev from Matar village was our teacher (uchitel’).270 At ten, I started reading books on Arabic grammar and morphology as well as Islamic law – on grammar, Sharh mullah (or mullah Jami); on law, books like Mukhtasar al-wiqaya and ‘Ayn al-‘ilm.

I also followed the classes of Habibullah b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev, who was counted as one of the most outstanding teachers in Istärlibash. Here I studied such books as Sharh mullah, Tariqa Muhammadiyya and ‘Ayn al-‘ilm.

At that time, I would study with bearded students much older than me. Khalfa would inspire and praise me in front of many people, by saying: “You are the best student. You are now more knowledgeable than your father.” He would always invite me as a good student to iftar gatherings and festivals (bäyräm ashlarï). I would go there together with older students and then come back to show off at the madrasa. Our teacher Habibullah hazrat went to Istärlitamaq sometime in December and became ill with a fever (tir awïrï). After several days, in accordance with the Qur’anic verse “Return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing!”271 /75b/ he went to the house of eternity. “Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return.” Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer then overlook his wrongdoings.272

It can be said that our teacher was very sincere and modest, a true scholar of the highest caliber; he was a specialist in every science. He received his education at the madrasa of the late ‘Abdullah hazrat Gabdulgafurov in Olugh Chaqmaq village on the banks of the Ïq River in Belebey district. Then he went to study in Bukhara for several years and returned after getting a license (ijazat) in Sufism (‘ilm-i tariqat) from Niyaz Quli al-Turkmani hazrat. Upon his return to Istärlibash, he first decorated the madrasas and mosques, planted trees between the madrasas, and made it all pleasant. After that, he started to teach the great khalfas at the madrasa, concentrating exclusively on exoteric (zahir) studies, without pursuing esoteric studies (‘ilm-i batin). He said that first it is imperative to master the exoteric, and only then is the study of the esoteric allowed, because the exoteric is similar to a bowl: one has to properly clean it before putting the esoteric knowledge inside. For this reason he did not practice Sufism (ishanlïq) and focused on exoteric studies only. He used to tell his students that he always read the books of our great scholars, especially Shihab al-Din al-Mardjani’s Wafiyyat al-aslaf273 and Nazurat al-haqq. He even respected Pushkin as a great poet.

Now let us come back to my situation. Because my father was poor, sometimes it was difficult for me to get paper, pen, and a proper book for study at the madrasa. Among my fellow students I behaved modestly. In accordance with the old ways, my father used to give alms to the khalfa every week on a Thursday. It would be one or two kopeks, or half a kopek. In total I had up to sixty to seventy kopeks per week on which to live. Therefore, I could not ask for any more. When he sometimes brought one or two dishes from the market, my happiness would reach the sky. I had clothes to stop me from freezing: felt boots on the feet … I was grateful for this. Being in such conditions, they still strived to educate me. May God cover them with His mercy. Amen. [My father] never allowed me work at home. He watched over the cowshed and cattle himself. I only had to study. /76a/ Since [the madrasa] was close to our house, I would go home to eat and drink tea.

Then I decided to look for a job to buy paper and continue my studies. My aforementioned fellow student ‘Abd al-Rahman and I bought paper and pens for eighty kopeks and started to sell them to the students at the madrasa. Since the market was open only once a week, these popular items were not available on other days. We bought eighty kopeks’ worth of paper, pens and ink and sold them all week long to amazed students, making ten to fifteen kopeks’ profit a week. This is how we covered our needs. One day our khalfa realized this and warned us: “As educated people, you should not do such things in a madrasa.” Therefore, we agreed with our khalfa and had to close down our ‘market’ (magazin). One or two [days] later we split the items that were left; each of us got his eighty kopeks back. And that was it.

Still, how to get enough money? Now I was able to write in a good manner, produce book bindings, glasses and pen cases. This way, by copying books and binding old Qur’ans that had seen battlefields, I earned five to ten kopeks. From then on I stopped asking for money from my father to buy paper and pens. This is how I found work (hünär) for myself and continued my studies.

When I turned fifteen or sixteen, I slowly started to enter society. Now I wanted to dress like others did, according to the fashion. Of course, my father ordered clothing for me, but that was very old-fashioned, while I wanted to wear something more fancy (zamanacharaq) like my fellow students. They wore boots with leather on the bottom. My socks were knitted, which was then a problem as I needed to perform ablutions before the obligatory prayers, and it is cold outside in winter. /76b/ When I came home, I begged my father, crying, to buy me leather socks. He listened to his poor boy and ordered them for me. May God cover him with His mercy. I was extremely happy, only God knows how happy I was. From then on I did not wash my legs every time and only performed wiping (mash) when going to the mosque, as other students did.

In spring, I wanted to work to make enough to support myself at the madrasa in winter. These were my thoughts because I did not like playing too much, as other children did. I decided to take a basket in my hands and go to the neighboring Bashkir villages to buy eggs and then sell them to wholesalers. This would bring me from fifteen to twenty kopeks from each hundred eggs. I collected two [baskets] a day and made some thirty or forty kopeks. My fellow students made some eight to ten kopeks by joining the hay collecting. Obviously I made more profit than they did. In the villages, Bashkir women ordered me to find lemon to drink tea, and promised to collect eggs for me. This is how I opened up a new trade scheme. On Fridays, sellers of lemons and oranges were coming from Ufa and Shafran. I asked them: “Could you please sell me lemons for a price lower than at the market?” They said: “Yes, sure, we will sell it. We can even give you more, if you bring money on the next market day.” I bought some forty to fifty lemons, and the next day went to the Bashkir village to exchange lemons for eggs. While I got one or two kopeks for ten eggs, I got one or two kopeks for a single lemon. Now my travel became double. In the morning I set out on foot and came back in the evening, to make a profit of more than one ruble.

My ego (nafs) pressed me to make more. I got another idea: /77a/ to rent a horse for a day to travel to distant Russian villages. It is possible to get a horse for fifty kopeks a day. In Russian villages I collected eggs and went back to bring the horse to its owners. “Good fellow, collect more,” they said. I replied: “I would collect more, but I do not have enough money.” They answered: “If needed, we can give you some money.” The next day, I went again on horseback and brought two or three hundred [eggs]. That summer I saved up about ten to fifteen rubles for the madrasa. I became rich. At that time I could buy a cow for this money. Still, my father would send me to help others with agriculture. He said: “Learn to do hired work. I do not need your money.” There I made ten to twelve kopeks a day.

Now it was time to study again. Fellow students arrived from other villages and we started our studies. I thought that if I spent this fifteen to twenty rubles during the winter, then in spring I would need money again. I had to do something. I decided to go to a trade fair in Istärlitamaq on October 20. I went there and for my fellow students I bought as much good paper, various inks, nice soap and perfumed handkerchiefs as I could. This way I saved my money till spring. In spring I turned sixteen or seventeen. Studies stopped, and all the foreign students went to their home villages. Now I needed some work (kasab). I wanted to sell lemons at distant markets. I asked a lemon seller from Ufa: “Could you please bring me two or three boxes of lemons to sell?” He agreed and brought three boxes of lemons. I started to sell them, but needed a horse and cart to go to the market. Promising to pay it off by the fall, I bought a horse with a cart. Hence I started to go to the market. I would spend the whole week at markets in the neighboring Russian villages of Artikov, Qaragush and Qachaqan selling lemons. I paid off my debts when the lemon owners (khajain274 ) came back. /77b/

Now I had a horse and cart. I wanted to sell more lemons and asked the owners: “Can you introduce me to the big merchants in Ufa? Maybe we can make them sell more lemons?” They agreed. When they came to Istärlibash, they stayed at my place. They promised that we would go to Ufa together and I went with them. They introduced me to that rich merchant Fattah al-Din Akhtamov. He said: “Alright. You can take it on a promissory note (veksel) and cover it later,” then signed the note for ten boxes of lemons for 100 rubles. I took a train to Shafran station and then rented a horse to go another 60 km to Istärlibash. Thus I became acquainted with rich people. I paid the money on time and went to Ufa frequently. After a while they entrusted me with twenty to twenty-five boxes of lemons. I organized what seemed to be a good trade. When study time approached, I sold the horse to pay the rent. I attended the madrasa until 1904. For one or two years I sold fruits in Ufa markets: apples, grapes, watermelons, and melons. The aforementioned Akhtamov invited me to work as an estate manager (prikazchik) and I started to work there. Making twelve rubles a month, I stayed at his house. At that time, for twelve rubles one could buy eighty meters of cotton.

After the trade was over, I took my money and went back to the village madrasa, in full dress. This is how I studied. Then from this work I got another idea: to travel abroad to study either in Istanbul, or in Medina. I had to work, since I did not have enough resources to go there. Besides that, the house where we lived became old, we had to renovate it that year, one way or another. My parents, my sister Farhi Sorur – I was the only son in the family. Someone talked to my father and mother saying that reconstruction (remont) would be possible by replacing the old beams with new ones. /78a/ I listened to this and said: “What’s old is old, we have to put completely new pine beams there.” They cried: “Hey boy, how much money would that require? Where will we get it from?” I replied: “I do not want to use old beams. God (Allahdjan) will help us anyway. We will do it anew.” They said: “Alright, let us do it as you say.” I said: “Let us do it this way. We will collect money and then ask some acquaintance to help us out [with construction].” They agreed. Then I went to the famous ‘Abd al-Qadir makhdum Tuqaev of our village, and explained the situation to him. He liked me and told me the following: “I will act as your trustee (wäkil) for a constructor from Ufa to build a house of pine beams with a condition to pay in fall.” When someone agreed to be a trustee, people were ready to trust even for one thousand. Then I came home inspired and told my father: “Luckily, ‘Abd al-Qadir makhdum has agreed to act as a trustee to order the house construction for us.” They agreed: “Alright, let it be so.”

In February 1904, ‘Abd al-Qadir makhdum and I went to Istärlitamaq. There he saw a person named Najm al-Din who was a beam seller and told him: “Prepare us pine beams according to these dimensions, but we will pay only in the fall. I will give you a paper stating that I am a trustee. You provide the door, floor, roof, and windows; we will find glass and iron sheets ourselves. All the rest you will do on your own. How much will you ask?” He answered: “125 rubles. Twenty-five rubles you pay in advance (zadatka) and the rest will be promised (wägdä).” We agreed to work with this person. He said: “I will finish in March and will let you know so that you can get the house.”

Then I came home and told everything to my father. He cried: “How will we finish this enterprise?” I said: “Once started, it will be done.” He answered: “But we need to find iron, glass and paint!” I replied: “If God helps, everything will be done. A project, once begun, will not remain unfinished.”

March approached, and on March 15 we received the news that the house was ready and we had to collect it. To bring the house we needed horses. /78b/ It was the time when people were not busy. This way thirty-six horses went to pick up the house and in one day it was already here. Now we needed to put the house on the foundations. We hired ‘Abd al-Rahman agha, a master of woodwork, to put in the door, two levels of windows and the rest for thirty-six rubles, on condition that we provide him with tea and provisions. In May the house was ready, but we still needed to buy the iron sheets for the roof. We put the old beams on the front of the new house in six sides.275 At that time an office called zemstvo would help villagers to cover their roof with iron by means of a three-year loan. One had to appeal to the volost [administration]. I did that in early July and bought on loan enough iron with a price of two rubles seventy kopeks per pood. Salah from Aytugan village helped us to cover the house. Then we constructed two heaters and the house was ready. Only the roof remained unpainted.

We lost this house, built with much care, in 1929, with the advent of revolution (inqilab). My father was accused of being a kulak. Along with my student (I was not there at that time), six children, two orphan brothers, and my wife were all forced to leave my house, to be taken by another student. In snowy February, all of my family found themselves on the street. The student’s name was ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Rafiq Iskandarov, he worked at the volost [administration]. He would have lived there peacefully, but God decided differently. The Arabs say: الانسان يدبر واللّٰه يقدر “All people have their plans, but God acts according to His will.” After a short while, this poor man was accused of being a public enemy (khalïq doshmanï), was imprisoned and then disappeared. Our house remained standing. Now it is inhabited by our brother-in-law, Lutf al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Rahman Galeev, /79a/ veteran of the Patriotic war. Our house is still safe there on the mountain, as we built it. I saw it on my visit in 1954.

Sometime around 1898 it occurred to me that I wanted to travel the world. I had never traveled by train before. I told my parents that I wanted to visit my birthplace in Kazakhstan: Isenbay village, or Talovka. They allowed me to go, and after collecting some money I went on my way. On June 1, I went to Ufa via Shafran station. I saw Ufa and the next day took a steamboat on Aq Idel to Kazan. I stayed for ten days in the historical centers of our ancestors, visited the Süyübikä tower built by the ancient Tatar khans, as well as museums, and took a trip on the Qaban lake. After that I decided to go to Samara (Kuybïshev276 ). In Kazan I stayed at the madrasa of ‘Allam hazrat277 near the Qaban lake. It was a two-floor madrasa. There were only ten students who studied in summer. At the great cemetery in Kazan I paid a visit (ziyarat) to the respected Shihab al-Din b. Baha’ al-Din.278 There was an inscribed gravestone. On the top had been inscribed: “Speak well of the deceased.”279 He passed away in the year 1306 of Hijri. After that I took a Volga (vulga280 ) steamboat to Samara. On the way I stopped at the Ispasski zaton station around 150 km from Kazan. Fifteen kilometers from there I saw the ruins of the ancient city of Bulghar. There appeared to be a Russian village in its place. Of the monuments (athar-i ‘atiqa) there remained only a tower and a big dome (qubba). Inside it were gathered human bones from the old cemetery as well as plenty of ruined inscribed gravestones. They bore Arabic inscriptions. I could just about read one of them. On the street Russian children were crying: “We sell old coins. Do you want to buy them?” Some Russians were also crying: “I sell sheep.” Some people went to the old Muslim cemetery and offered sacrifices there (qorban chala torgan bulgannar). /79b/ This runs counter to Islamic religion, because these ignorant people offered sacrifices to ask the holy spirits (arwakhlar) for help. Even today, much like in Uzbekistan, people go there saying that such-and-such place is the grave of Hazrat-i ‘Ali. People ask for help from the grave, offering sacrifices. There are many Ishans who reassured the poor ignorant people and women this way.

When I went to the ruins of Bulghar, Shakir hazrat, an imam of the Burnaev mosque in Kazan and other people also made a visit (ziyarat) there. We went on a steamboat together and I accompanied them at the ruins. Afterwards they took a steamboat from the station to Kazan, but since there was no steamboat to Samara, I had to spend a night at the station. In the morning I took a steamboat to Samara, spent one or two days there and then went to Saratov on a steamboat. From there I bought a ticket at Azinka station to travel to Pokrovskaya Sloboda across the Volga river on the train going to Uralsk – just a few stations before Uralsk. I heard from my late mother that her brother was living there. Without an exact address I still went there. There were Bashkir villages 15-20 km away. I took a horse and went there.

By the evening I reached a Bashkir village and asked there: “Do you know a person called ‘Izzatullah Valiullin?” They answered: “Yes, he lives in our village.” I asked them: “I cannot go there at night. May I stay at your house tonight and go there in the morning?” They agreed. I paid the money to the coachman (izvozchik) and let him go. When I went in the morning, they said that he [my uncle] was not at home, he had gone to a market 50 km away to help the rich people with the harvest. He would stay there for ten days at least. I felt bad and asked them: “Would it not be possible to let him know?” A good fellow called Yunus told me: “Yes, but you have to wait a bit.” He offered for me to stay in a Bashkir felt house. /80a/

I spent some ten days there and on the eleventh day they told me: “Look, your uncle is coming!” This poor guy was making a muslin tent on the outskirts of the village. He does not have a felt house and does not live in qïshlaq in summer, like Bashkirs do, and moves around on a horse-drawn vehicle (qataran). I watched him from my room; this poor man approached me very slowly. He greeted me, but he did not know me well. I told him: “I visit you as my uncle. I am the son of your sister ‘Alimä from Istärlibash, ‘Abd al-Majid.” Once I said this he cried again and again, saying: “I have someone in this world to visit me as a relative!” and praying. He took my luggage and brought it to the tent. Our uncle had two sons: one called ‘Abd al-Majid and another called ‘Ibadatullah. The next day, he slaughtered a sheep, invited friends, then entertained me as well as other people. Several days later he prepared his horse, brought me to the station, gave me three rubles (sum) for my trip and saw me off. May God cover him with His mercy. He was a very quiet (yuash) and good person (adäm).

From there I bought a ticket to Aleksandrov Gay via Orenburg station. On the way I stopped at the city of Novouzensk. The reason was that in early July the St. Peter’s trade fair (Pitrau iarminkäse) took place there. I thought that maybe people from Isenbay village where I was going might also be present, because according to my father the people of Isenbay would come there to sell their cattle. In Kazakh they call [the market] Churtan. At the cattle market I saw my father’s student from our village, Sibgatullah b. ‘Ataullah Isenbaev. I greeted him; he stood looking [at me] for a while, and then said: “Oh wow (oy-boy)! Are you Majid?” I said: “Yes.” Since I was alone, I asked him to take me with him: “Shall we return [to the village] together?” He answered: “Sure, we will spend the night here and tomorrow morning travel until night.” It was ninety chaqrïm281 to Isenbay village from there. They had not yet finished selling the cattle.

At night we went to sleep in the open (yalan), because the cattle needed food. That is the usual reason to sleep in the open. We slept there in the evening. There were many other Kazakhs. When I woke up in the morning, Sibgatullah told me: “In the morning I found official documents (menovoi kägazläre) in the field.” When I looked at them, it turned out to be my passport from my chest pocket. There were other papers, /80b/ and some money. I checked my pocket and realized that it had been split by knife. In another pocket I had fifteen rubles of gold (15 sumlïq ber altïnïm). I was happy that these and the passport had remained. The next day we went again to the market, they sold the cattle and in the evening, once the vehicles came back, we departed. We spent another night on the way and then arrived at my home village of Isenbay. Everybody came to me and cried: “Oh wow (oy-boy), how did you travel?” They asked me: “Is the mullah alright? Is abïstay282 alright?” People who did not know me asked the others: “Who is this nughay283 kid?” They replied: “He is the son of our Sarï mullah.” The Kazakhs called my father Sarï mullah, after the yellow color of his hair. This was my second visit to the village. I spent one or two months there and then for a week visited the famous (ma‘lum) ‘Ubaydullah hazrat [residing] on the mountain in Yalpaqtal, located 60 km away. In early September I returned to Istärlibash. [The Kazakhs] gave me some money for the trip as well as a bit for my father. This way I returned with fifty to sixty rubles in my pocket.

Upon arrival I entered the madrasa, because my fellow students had already started. This is how I studied that winter. Every spring I would continue my old habit of selling lemons with the horse until fall, and collecting eggs from villages. This is how I would do things. In summer 1901 I went again to Kazakhstan, to Isenbay village and Yalpaqtal. In July 1903 I went to Isenbay again. My idea was to go to Istanbul, Mecca and Medina. I wanted to find a way to accomplish this and went to Yalpaqtal again. After spending several days with ‘Ubaydullah hazrat I shared my idea with him. I said: “If you help me, I will go to study in Medina. If there are Kazakhs going to hajj and you tell them, I would serve them just to be able to go.” Hazrat did not object and only said: “Alright, let us see.” For a while I had to stay there. When late September approached, hazrat’s son Hidayatullah and several Kazakh students had to go to Qarghalï to study. /81a/

I decided to return with them as far as Samara (Samar) and then go to Ufa, while they would go to Orenburg. One day hazrat said: “Alright, ask permission from your parents, get an international passport (zagranichni pashpurt) and come here by the end of Ramadan (rüzä).” After the holiday, the hajjis had to set off [for pilgrimage]. Hence, together with these companions (iptäshlärem), I bought tickets from Aleksandrov Gay to Saratov. From Saratov we bought the second class steamboat tickets to Samara for four rubles and five kopeks. In Samara I told my companions: “Let us go to Kazan together! I will also go to Istanbul, seeing Kazan would be a memorable thing (ber tarikhi esh).” They agreed, left the excess luggage in the steamboat offices and the same day went to Kazan on a steamboat. Once in Kazan, over several days we visited the sights, then I saw them off to Samara and took the Kalinski steamboat to Ufa. At Chalmalï station (pristin) on the Idel River I disembarked to visit Qaramalï, the village of my father, 70 km away. The reason was that I had to get my international passport from this Qaramalï district (volos). I felt at home there. From the district and stanovoi nachal’nik police (militsia) I took a letter (spravka) to obtain an international passport from the governor (gubernator) to study abroad. Then I went on to Mänzälä town, because I belonged to that district. The next day, after getting a letter from the official (ispravnik) in Mänzälä, I headed back to Ufa. There I submitted my appeal (‘ariza) to the governor and had to pay fifteen rubles. The next day I got a passport valid for six months. It was November 4, 1904.

Then I returned to Istärlibash. There I approached my parents: “With your permission, I would go to study in Medina the Radiant.” They replied in one voice: “We agree that you may go to study. May God help us! How will you go there?” I said: “Here, I got an international passport for six months. ‘Ubaydullah hazrat from Yalpaqtal told me to get permission from my parents, obtain a passport and then accompany the Kazakh pilgrims, serving them on the way and acting as translator, since they do not know Russian. My intention is to follow this plan.” /81b/

I had some money in my pocket. My brothers also helped me by selling a horse for forty-five rubles. This way I began my trip in early December, during the month of Ramadan. My father and his brother-in-law (zhiznämez) Niyaz ‘Ali arranged for two horses to escort me to Shafran station. We spent a night with Sulayman agha Kireev in Mindän village and in the morning headed to Shafran. From that village it was 6 km away. After getting a ticket to Aleksandrov Gay station I took the train (poezd) on the same day. Once the train started to move, my father rushed to me and prayed for me, crying. My God cover him with mercy. Amen. I had fifty-five rubles with me and went with full reliance on God.

Via Penza and Saratov I arrived at Aleksandrov Gay. That year was during the Russo-Japanese war and hence there were many soldiers on the way, it was very crowded. From Aleksandrov Gay I traveled 90 km to Yalpaqtal. It was around 20 Ramadan when I arrived at hazrat’s home and explained my situation to him (häl-ähwal). He said: “Right. Some time ago, one elderly Kazakh gave us 300 rubles with a request that someone perform a hajj on his behalf, but no one agreed, because of the small sum. Since you are going to study, I decided to give you this money despite the amount. If we return from hajj safely, you will give these Kazakh children the hajj diploma (shahadat nama). This year I will give you 125 rubles, it will be enough for everything. Since you will spend several years there, I will give you the same amount next year. You may lose it on the way, therefore I give you less.”

I became acquainted with the pilgrims I intended to join. They confirmed: “Yes, we will go together. We will set off after the holiday prayer (rüzä gaet).” At that time, ‘Abd al-Majid qari284 b. Habibullah mullah Iskhaqov from Qaramalï village on the Örshäqbash [River] performed the recitation of the Qur’an. During the last ten days of Ramadan, mullahs and elderly people would stay in the mosque. Without going home, they would eat, drink and sleep at the mosque. In religious fashion (din räseme buencha) this would be considered to be the prophetic tradition called i‘tikaf.


Since we were hazrat’s guests, together with this namesake qari we were invited to break our fast with the wealthy of the city, because hazrat could not leave the mosque. The namesake qari was very dignified (abruylï): he wore an otter fur coat, a downy wrap about his neck, and an extremely white turban (chalma); meanwhile I looked like a village fellow: I had bad shoes on and an old hat. We would go together in a good car belonging to one of the wealthy. This qari efendi would breathe hard as we went (posh-posh kilep) and I would sit next to him. Then the Night of Power (qadar kichäse) came on 27 Ramadan, and on that day, qari finished reciting the Qur’an. On that night a lot of people would attend the tarawih prayer, because of the Qur’an recitation (khatm) and the Night of Power. After the prayer, people would give alms to the qari, the mullah, the mu’adhdhin, and the invalid elderly. [Hazrat advised me], hoping that I would get some support: “Come to tarawih earlier and try to sit closer. I will encourage people to give a bit of help to a student going abroad, that would help you a little.” I got some money.

The next morning, the namesake qari was overcome with horror: “What a shameless guy! He does not shy away from sitting together with hazrats!” I had collected some twenty rubles, but when my namesake asked people how much I earned, I spread a rumor to scare him that I got fifty rubles. He became extremely terrified after hearing this.

Ramadan had ended and the holiday had passed, and my Kazakh fellow travelers came to celebrate too. We had to go after the holiday. I still had to see hazrat. When I was waiting for money, a small boy approached hazrat with a note (zapiska). He read it and his mood became bad. He kept standing up and sitting down again saying angrily [addressing my namesake]: “What is your business, if you do not know who raised you!” Of course, he did not pay attention to [qari’s] words, saying: “Do I ask him? Don’t I know who he is?” Then he gave me 125 rubles and we left the house. I also got offended by this jealousy (hosudlek) and then prayed, crying: “Oh God, may I safely go to Medina the Radiant, memorize the entire Qur’an and return to perform recitation at this mosque.” /82b/

And it turned out as I envisaged. People say rightly that if you cry, tears drop even from a blind eye. As God says in the Book: “And when My servants question thee concerning Me – I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me; haply so they will go aright.”285

This way my fellow pilgrims took me with them to the village.

A Trip to Medina the Radiant

One of the pilgrims’ villages was located on Aq Qul, 8 km from Yalpaqtal. That pilgrim’s name was Timerali. We spent that night there. In the evening he slaughtered a sheep and invited the neighboring relatives to join for a party. He made his farewells to them and saw them off. Each of these visitors helped Timerali agha. Next morning we departed from there and went to the village of the second companion. There we spent another night. In the same manner we said goodbye to the relatives and recited Qur’an to the dead at the cemetery, and then departed. This [fellow] was named Kilesh. On the third day, another companion named Batïr mullah joined us and we spent a night at my home village of Isenbay. The next day, together with five or six Kazakh pilgrims, we set off for Almalï station or Aleksandrov Gay, which is 45 km from there. Here, some other Kazakh pilgrims joined us. Together we bought third class tickets and went to Sevastopol (Chivastapul). Saying “May we have a safe trip,” we arrived in Sevastopol via Saratov and Kharkov. In the carriage (vagon), I served these Kazakhs with drinks and qurut on a plate. I would wake up early to prepare qurut. We were traveling in a special carriage, reserved only for pilgrims. This was in December. The days were cold. We spent five [days] in Sevastopol. My passport went through registration. Once the steamboat became full of pilgrims, it departed. It was a special steamboat for pilgrims that belonged to a Russian society and bore the name Tsaritsa. /83a/

The third class tickets from Sevastopol to Jeddah cost 105 rubles; 55 rubles one way. Of course, since we were only intending to study, this caused difficulties. We were not rich hajjis. Therefore, several students appealed to the steamboat office: “We are not hajjis, we are going to study. Can we get a ticket for free?” In those days, students with a document (shahadat nama) would get tickets with 50 percent discount. We received the following answer from the office: “You are students and therefore get a 50 percent discount, not for free. You will enter the steamboat only after all the hajjis take their places.” This way they gave us the tickets to Jeddah just for twenty-seven rubles. They let us on the steamboat after checking the passports. That was around ten in the evening. There I got acquainted with a fellow named Iskander Mannanov from Bäldänke village of Kuznetski district, and he joined me for food. This Mannanov was going to study in Egypt, funded by the Diberdeev merchants (fabrikant). He was a Qur’an specialist (hafiz). Previously he had studied at ‘Alimdjan hazrat’s madrasa in Kazan.286

We headed to Istanbul by sea from Sevastopol at around 12 p.m. There were some 700 Uzbek, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Qyrym and Bashkort people. On our steamboat, my fellow Kazakh pilgrims did not leave me in peace. I was on the third deck and they were on the first. They started to make demands every minute: prepare the qurut, cook the food, boil the tea. I decided that the only option was to leave them. That was only the first day and it took fifteen days to Jeddah. I thought that in Istanbul they would also not let me see the places that I wanted to, and I told them: “Please let me go and not serve you any longer. If I go to see the city in Istanbul, there will be no one to prepare food and tea for you and you will be offended. This is the holy trip, on hajj one should not offend the other. We will have a long journey. Yours is to eat and drink day and night, mine is to travel the cities. This is why we have to part.” They agreed among themselves that I would find my way, and let me go. /83b/

We traveled one day by sea and on the third day entered the Bosporus, and some of the buildings of Istanbul became visible. All the hajjis went out on the deck and shouted happily: “Look, there is Istanbul!” Our steamboat became decorated with different flags and moved slowly, greeting the [Ottoman] authorities and waving a special green flag of hajjis. A tug took our steamboat to the pier, because there was a danger of collision due to the great number of steamboats in the Bosporus. So our steamboat switched off the engine and followed the tug. In the Bosporus the Turkish officials (nachal’nik) entered the steamboat and, after examining it, allowed it to enter the city. Then we stopped near the city. A lot of people in red fezzes surrounded our steamboat near the sea. Some of them cried: “How many hajjis are there?” while others asked: “Are there any Kazakhs and Uzbeks?” Someone replied that there were 700 hajjis on the boat. After that the boat captain made an announcement for hajjis: “We will stay in Istanbul for five days. Do not take your luggage off. In the morning you can go to the city and come back in the evening to spend the night.”

Turkish police near the boat, with a crescent flag, brought the people on the ship directly to the customs office. Here they took our passports and let us go into the city. Everybody started to look for people they knew. Hajjis would be taken by higher ranking people. This is how I parted from my Kazakhs. I went out together with Iskander Mannanov whom I had met at Sevastopol. He asked: “Where shall we go?” And I replied: “My friends (iptäshlär) who arrived a month earlier must be here. I have to find them by the address. I also have to find our former village neighbor named ‘Abdullah.” In our village people gave this ‘Abdullah b. Ahmadi a nickname (laqab): Pugach. This ‘Abdullah hajji resettled (hijret qïlïb) in Istanbul in 1895. His wife Sa‘ida b. ‘Ubaydullah Sharipov was also our village neighbor. My fellow traveler told me: “I will also look for an acquaintance, because he must receive a transfer of 1,000 rubles from our village.” /84a/ We agreed to part there and see each other the next day at a specific time and place. Whoever came first should wait for the other.

I had studied in Istärlibash with Kamal al-Din b. ‘Alam al-Din from Kärkäle village near Istärlibash, who [now lived] in the Chenberle tash mahalla. ‘Ayd Muhammad b. Mir ‘Ali Akhmerov was another friend of mine with whom I had studied in Istärlibash in childhood. I found them [in Istanbul] and spent the night at theirs. In the morning we went out to the city; Mannanov also came to the agreed place. Since I was dressed in a Tatar way, poor people on the street asked me for alms: “Hajji, give me (vir) [alms].” They were everywhere and I was forced to dress as a local. In a shop I dressed in coat (palto), boots (shtiblet) for my feet, red fez and a tie and left my former clothing with the shop owner till the night. Now I had become a European (yavrupis) and no one would ask me: “Hey, hajji, give me [alms].”

Now, together with my companions, we went to see the city. First we took a bath. After that we went to see the Hagia Sophia mosque and some other must-see (tieshle) places. In the evening we agreed to stay in a small lokanto [hotel]; or, in our language, gostinitsa. The next day was Friday and we went to the Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid mosque, known as Yulduz Saray, to perform the Friday prayer. We went there and waited for the Friday prayer. Most of the mosque grounds were surrounded by soldiers. We stayed outside the barrier. There were also several thousand hajjis and other people. No one was allowed to enter the mosque before the Sultan had finished the Friday prayer and left the mosque. Once it was time, the Sultan entered the mosque together with his guards and pashas (ministers). After the Friday prayer, they left. The guarding soldiers, division after division, started to leave to the accompaniment of brass music (dukhavay muzïqalarï).

Now we were allowed to enter and perform the prayer. We entered. The Sultan had his own entry with lots of stairs leading up. There, upstairs, he had a separate room where he prayed with his ministers. /84b/ After the Friday prayer we had dinner in an ashkhana, then I had to find the aforementioned ‘Abdullah hajji, and then I had to see ‘Abd al-Rashid efendi who had migrated (muhajir bulub) to Istanbul many years ago. This efendi was from Chobar village on the Mällä River in Bugulma district, which is 20 km from Qaramalï village, the home village of my father. At times, when coming back to Russia to visit his relatives, he would stay with us in Istärlibash. I wanted to see this person, because he was among the closest contemporaries (zamandash) of my deceased father. I agreed with my companions that I would go there and we would see each other in the evening at such-and-such a place. I had to see ‘Abdullah efendi, since he was our dear neighbor (ut kürshese). Besides that, when we descended from the steamboat the captain announced that we needed to prepare food for the 13-day trip to Jeddah. Since I did not know what to prepare for an overseas journey, I needed to ask ‘Abdullah efendi for advice. After the meeting with him I returned to my companions. I told my traveling companion Iskander Mannanov: “This is my brother (hämshir), he will prepare the stuff for our journey.” He agreed, gave [me] some money and said: “Now you take care of it.” Then ‘Abdullah efendi and I went to the Bal Qapal market and started to buy all we needed: bread, cheese (päynir, sïr), crops, dried bread (sukhari), a grill to prepare food, coal, and tea. Then we ordered two vehicles to bring it to the boat. We brought everything on board using a wherry. We had to go (gedecek) in the morning. My companion ‘Ayd Muhammad Akhmerov decided to come along and joined us on the steamboat. Several Tatars going to study also joined us. They had moved to Istanbul in their youth (burzaq). One of them, Mir ‘Ali Shir, was from Chuqmarlï village close to Tïmïtïq village on the Ïq River in Belebey district. The second, Harith Zahidov from Qaderle village in Sarapul district, studied at the Bubi [madrasa]. The third, Diya’ Rahmanqulov, studied with Ahmad Latif hazrat in Orsk; he was from Stavropol district. The six of us shared food with each other and went together from Istanbul. May our journey be good. Amen.

We entered the Marmara Sea, then passed the Dardanelles and proceeded into the White Sea. After spending several days in the White Sea we arrived at the city of Port Sa‘id. From a high place at Port Sa‘id, a projector shone light out to a distance of one day’s travel. /85a/ Upon the arrival at Port Sa‘id our fellow Iskander Mannanov had to go, because he was headed for Egypt. The Captain gave him a wherry and a sailor to disembark. We saw him off to the city of Port Sa‘id. From there it took six hours on a train to get to Cairo. Our steamboat went on through the Suez Canal, constructed in Egypt at the time of Sa‘id Pasha in 1869, thence the name of Port Sa‘id. The Canal was 184 km long, 22-100 m wide and 8 m deep; now it must be even deeper. On the way the steamboat approached the Isma‘iliyya lake and stopped there, because that day (bugen), December 25, it was the Russian holiday of Rozhdestvo. Here, the captain and sailors celebrated for a day. Since it was very hot, we asked the captain to allow us to swim. He let down a wherry, where we took our clothes off and swam. The next day, we departed and reached the city of Suez. The blessed waters of the Nile River flowed from Egypt to the canal. The steamboat stopped for a couple of hours to collect drinking water. Arabs brought it on wherries and then via a water pump to the steamboat. Once the water was ready, we headed to the Red Sea.

That day on the steamboat I met Sayyid ‘Abdullah Jafri, a relative of sharifs in Mecca and a student at Istanbul University, who was on his way home for vacation (qaniqul). We traveled together, laughing and joking. Sayyid ‘Abdullah was a handsome person with blackish hair, [dressed] in a European way with a tie.

A couple of days later our steamboat approached the Yanbu‘ port and stopped 100 m (tayaq) before it. Yanbu‘ port leads directly to Medina the Radiant. From there it took five days of travel on camel to Medina. Those hajjis who went to Medina before the [actual] hajj left here, while hajjis traveling to Jeddah, as well as us, went on. In Yanbu‘, Arab children swam to the steamboat and shouted, asking for alms: “Hey, hajji, give me [alms]!” They gathered like a flock and spent the whole day with their feet in the water, crying: “Hey, hajji, give me [alms]! Allah salamat! Mämläkät salamat!” /85b/

The poor hajjis found it entertaining to throw ten- or twenty-kopek coins into the water so that they dropped there and the people would pick them up, show them around and put the money in their mouth. They searched for coins in the water with open eyes! How did their eyes manage that, given that the seawater was salty and bitter, impossible to take into the mouth, yet they searched for coins with their eyes open? Once their mouths became full of money, one by one they got out of the water and returned to their villages.

The next day, we started again for Jeddah. In a day’s time, Jeddah started to be visible. At the gates of the city we saw the remnants of the masts of crushed boats. The reason is that the sea has a lot of rocks, covered by water that is only one meter deep. The steamboat navigated carefully, weaving between the rocks, but that could not go on for long. The steamboat stopped at a distance of 5 km from the city, waving its flags. After that, the Arabs approached the boat and the officials checked it and allowed it to enter. They invited the hajjis and started to take our belongings to the wherries. Each wherry had capacity for more than fifteen to twenty people and thus all of us fitted at once. I thought that we were going to Jeddah, but the they brought us to an island and ordered: “Hey hajjis, disembark!” The Arabs started to check us. This place turned out to be a quarantine spot. They took off our ihram clothes, sent us for disinfection and then left us undressed in a place surrounded by a metal barrier. Like sheep, we were gathered in groups of 100 in each room, without clothing, watching through the metal curtain. The day was very hot. Once our clothes were returned from the dryer (paravay), the same Arabs took us on wherries to the city. This time around four or five o’clock we were standing on our wherries at the doors of the customs house (tamuzhnä sarayï). Every nation (millät) has its own representative (dälil). They took the documents, i.e. passports of all of us, Qazanlï, Uzbek, and Kazakh, and had us registered by writing down the name, surname, and the passport number. After that they separated us, the Tatars, and placed us in a four floor house with twenty to thirty people in each room. /86a/ They told us: “Today you stay here. Tomorrow the caravan camels will be ready to go to Mecca and you will also get your passports back.” After that we went out to the city and had some tea and coffee at the coffee house; in short, we had something to eat.

Several people close to the Mecca sharifs came to welcome ‘Abdullah al-Jafri, whom I met during the journey, with good donkeys. ‘Abdullah approached me and said: “If you want, you can take a donkey and we go together.” I replied: “Thank you for your kindness. If God allows and I will be safe, I will go with a morning caravan,” and then saw him off. God knows it, but our representatives (dälilläremez) brought us to the shrine (ziyarat) of our mother hazrat-i Hawwa. Jeddah in Arabic means grandmother (äbi).

The next morning the caravan camels were already present, making a lot of noise, in front of our apartment. Representatives appeared right there and ordered: “Every person should show their passport, tie their belongings onto a camel and then mount it.” They also collected the appropriate travel fee. At around 3 p.m. we departed from Jeddah the Blessed to Mecca. Every one of us had an ihram on, because already in the sea we had performed the intention (niyat qïlïb) for hajj.

It was 60 km from Jeddah to Mecca. We departed from the brick gates.

All along the way the Arab children prepared water and we would go to tea and coffee houses. The day was hot. Between the mountains, from one mountain to another, the Turkish soldiers sent signals following the caravan. Their tents were on the top of the mountain. At the time, these lands were in Turkish possession. Halfway, we spent a night in a place called Bahira. The next day at around six o’clock we arrived at Mecca, all praise to the Lord of the worlds. Here we were welcomed by Kazan representatives (qazanlï dälillär). I told them: “If possible, I would stay at the house of Najm al-Din efendi.” He [the representative] replied: “Very good,” and brought me there. It was a three-story stone house. Our rich people from Russia (Rusiya baylarï) erected it for visiting students and poor hajjis who would stay there for no fee. This Najm al-Din efendi was made a chief (mudir) there and hence [the place] was known as the guesthouse (tekie) of Najm al-Din efendi Qazanlï.

The six of us ended up in a single room. There was a Qur’an specialist, who stayed there for six or eight years, Farah al-Din efendi. He had been sent to study by the noble Hakimov family of Ufa. He was himself from Turay village in Belebey district. In the 1910s he came back to serve as an imam in Turay village. May God cover him with His mercy. At the time of the Great Russian Revolution (olugh Rusiya inqilabï) he was senselessly murdered by the revolutionaries, simply because he was a mullah. May God count him among the forgiven servants of God and among the martyrs of the religion (din shähidläre).

/86b/ We performed the ikende and akhsham prayers at home and, when the time of yastu approached, a representative arrived and took us to the Ka‘ba to perform tawaf. Inside Haram Sharif, in front of the Ka‘ba, hundreds of thousands of people performed the yastu prayer. We also prayed following the imam, then performed the tawaf, ran between Safa and Marwah and, thus completing all the duties for the day, returned. Since we had arrived early, there was still a month before going up to ‘Arafat. Every day, thousands of Muslims were arriving from around the world. We also met with fellow students (hämshiri shäkertlär) who arrived from Medina the Radiant.

The days of hajj and going up to ‘Arafat approached. Still the month was not wasted: hajjis bought thirteen to twenty meters of white material called käfenlek and Zamzam water. They took several hundreds of bottles of Zamzam water. I took this käfenlek material and brought the Zamzam water in a bucket and then sold fifteen to twenty pieces of käfenlek and several hundred bottles (called sahra) of the Zamzam water to Kazakh hajjis. One piece of käfenlek costs one-and-a-half rubles and one bottle of Zamzam costs three rubles. This way I made some money to cover the trip expenses.

On the day before going up to ‘Arafat I became very ill. People said: “It’s because of the weather.” Indeed, my temperature was thirty-nine to forty degrees. My condition was very bad. There was no way to miss the ‘Arafat visit, because without it one cannot be considered a hajji. Nobody stays at home. If I stayed, there would be no one to even give me water. Now, what to do. My companions told me: “Let it be. If you die, you die in our hands and we bury you. If God allows, you will get better,” and decided to take me to ‘Arafat. They said: “Whatever, we cannot leave you anyway. We will take a donkey and in pairs will support you from two sides.” Relying on God, we did as my companions suggested.

My condition was very bad. We were supposed to spend a night in Mina with its tents, tea houses and canteens and then go to ‘Arafat in the morning. So we went there, I was lying with no clothes on except for ihram. Thanks be to God, in the night I had loose stools, black like tar. After that my temperature went down and I opened my eyes. In the morning with the help of my companions I managed to go up to the ‘Arafat mountain. Day after day my condition got better. After staying there in the evening we slept in a place called Muzdalifah. In the morning at sunrise we went to Mina. The movement of several thousands of hajjis and governmental hajj officials was accompanied in several places by music (dukhavay muziqalarï) from Turkey, Egypt, and Iran. Several minutes afterwards, they shot a cannon. /87a/

We arrived at Mina. On the day of the Sacrifice festival (qorban ‘aydï) at sunrise we saw a small city between the two high mountains. People say that this is the place where Ibrahim the Prophet intended to slaughter his son Isma‘il with the words: “I slaughter you.” There was a post office (puchta), telegraph office, and shops in the city. With regard to the hajj rituals, there was a place called hajar ‘uqba for throwing the stones. We threw the stones, slaughtered a sheep, cut our hair, and changed from ihram into our clothes. From this place it was 6 km to Mecca. We obtained a donkey, then performed the obligatory rite of tawaf at the Ka‘ba and returned to Mina, where we spent the next two nights. At that time, there were very few people in Mecca and the Ka‘ba was covered with material (pärdä). Since its doors were open, we seized the opportunity, entered the Ka‘ba and performed two raka‘at of supererogatory (nafl) prayer. They do not open the doors at other times.

Two days later, all the hajjis returned from Mina to their apartments in Mecca. Now we prepared to leave for Medina the Radiant. This way we had fulfilled the obligation of hajj, praise be to God.

Now was the time for ‘umra hajj, i.e. a supererogatory pilgrimage intended on behalf of our parents and others who could not join us. At a distance of 5 km from Mecca there was a mosque called Tan‘im. We went there on a donkey, performed the intention, dressed in ihram, then prayed two raka‘at of ihram prayer. We prayed for the souls of those on behalf of whom we performed the hajj, for example our father so-and-so, the son of so-and-so. Then we returned to Mecca, performed the tawaf at the Ka‘ba seven times, ran between Safa and Marwah seven times, then cut our hair and thus completed the supererogatory pilgrimage called ‘umra hajj. It is possible to do it four or five times a day, a return trip on a donkey costs eighty kopeks or one ruble. To perform this pilgrimage the hajjis take from five to twenty-five rubles, depending on the person. This way we made 100 rubles in a week.

Now we had to go from Mecca to Medina. We decided to take a steamboat via Jeddah to Yanbu‘ and then to Medina, because it is easier than by caravan, which would take twelve days on a donkey with the need to sleep in the desert. Sometimes it is impossible to find water on the way. Taking that into consideration, we agreed to go that way [on the steamboat]. We loaded our stuff on the camels of our acquaintances (tanïsh) who headed to Jeddah and moved further on foot, since it was expensive for us to take a camel from the city. We thought that we would take cheaper camels outside of the city and thus followed the caravan. Some distance away from the city /87b/ we encountered the available camels. We asked the price and it turned out to be too high. Alright, we thought, there will be more, and continued the journey on foot. We were walking and walking, but no more camels appeared; meanwhile the journey was difficult and the day was hot. The bottoms of our shoes were full of sand that stuck to our feet, and at every step our feet would slip out of our shoes. My companions were mocking me: “You told us before that there would be a lot of cheap camels!” I did not answer them, going on without uttering a word (kütemne qïsïp). This way, hoping to get the cheap camels, we arrived at the overnight stop. My legs were bleeding. People rightly say that sometimes searching for cheap ends up being expensive. That is true: if you have money, save your life.

The next day, we took the camels, reached Jeddah and safely took our belongings from the hajjis. After a day or two we took the steamboat and headed for Yanbu‘. That was one day’s travel. The next day, we arrived and moved to the apartments. There we had to spend four to five days, waiting for more people to gather in the caravan. Water was quite precious and expensive. In the caravan, we put a camel loaded with around one bucket of water that we bought for one golden coin (altïn), but even that was collected rainwater.

One day they announced that tomorrow the caravan would depart for Medina. We rushed to the payment office to buy the tickets, then collected our bedding and came to the places where camels stayed. From there it was five days of travel to Medina the Radiant. This way, we five friends (räfiqläremez) headed for Medina.

On the fifth day at around 3 p.m., we arrived at Medina the Radiant. Ten chaqrïm away from there, there is a mountain called Jabal al-Mufrihat. We ran there and saw Quba Sa‘ada. Without mounting camels, several of us fellows ran before the caravan. Arriving one hour before the caravan, we went to a tea house and drank there. Then the caravan arrived. The migrant (muhajir) Qurban ‘Ali efendi from Mindän village near Shafran station, whom we met in Mecca, welcomed us. Our companions also arrived. He [Qurban ‘Ali efendi] ordered a porter to take our belongings up and invited ‘Ayd Muhammad Akhmerov and myself to his apartment (fatir). May God cover him with His mercy. He was a good person. After drinking tea and suchlike, we did our ablutions and moved to the grave (türbä-yi shärif) of the Prophet. Entering through the gates called Bab al-Salam, reciting the blessings and the Qur’anic verse “My Lord, lead me in with a just ingoing, and lead me out with a just outgoing; grant me authority from Thee, to help me,”287 we stopped at the Muwajja Sa‘ada. I nearly lost consciousness (hushïm kitä yazdï) when I thought where (qanday yirdä) I actually stood. Oh God, You have allowed a servant to visit this place! I thanked God many, many times. After praying on my feet with hands uplifted, /88a/ I asked for prophetic intercession on the Day of Judgement (shafa‘at) for myself, my parents, and all the Muslims. May God accept it. Then I prayed for the souls of hazrat-i Abu Bakr, hazrat-i ‘Umar, may God be satisfied with them, and hazrat-i Fatima, may God be satisfied with her. There are four graves (qaber) inside of this hujra sa‘ada. It is located in a corner of the Great mosque of Medina called Haram Sharif. People also call that place Rawza-yi Mutahhara. This Haram Sharif is richly decorated with several hundred stone columns. Every fourth column has a dome (quba). From inside, [the building] looks like a boiler (qazan). It is anointed inside with the best oil and contains inscriptions of various Qur’anic verses. An entire book praising the Prophet, Amin tazakkur,288 is inscribed in circles inside the domes. The columns bear information on how many times [the building] has been enlarged since the time of the Prophet and during whose reign. Half of Haram Sharif is closed this way, the other half is open. The floors in the closed part are covered in marble, the bases of the columns are plated with copper. The floors in the open side are sand, there is nothing else. There is a spring inside, called the spring of hazrat-i Fatima. There are seventy to eighty very expensive lamps of white and red glass in huge candelabras as well as in leaf-like bronze, five in a row. But the best is the Bukharan silk carpets used as the prayer rug, richly decorated and inspiring for people. The chief (ïstarshinä) from Chatïrdan village on the banks of the Ashqadar [River], named Almagol, recounted after his visit to Haram Sharif Nabawi during the pilgrimage: “I visited the palace (dvorets) of Tsar Nicholas and was deeply impressed (isem kitkän ide). That mosque is even more beautiful.” Haram Sharif has five doors called Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Rahma, Bab al-Majidi, Bab al-Nisa’, and Bab Jibra’il, and five minarets. Women come for five prayers, for festivals, and on Fridays. They were given a room in the mosque separated by a grille. Women enter via Bab al-Nisa’ and exit from there. The mosque closes its doors after the yastu prayer. Nobody is allowed to stay there, except for the so-called haram seniors (haram aghalarï), i.e. castrated black Ethiopians who watch over (qaraul bulïp) the mosque at night. I have a lot to write about Haram Sharif, but let us leave here and move to another topic.

Now it was time to arrange [my] studies. It did not seem like I would find a room ready in the monthly (aylïqlï) madrasas. Still, with the hope of getting a [permanent] place in a couple of days, I rented a place at a non-monthly (aylïqsïz) madrasa with an intention to find a suitable room with no rush, [as suggested by] the late ‘Ubaydullah efendi from Qarghalï. /88b/ I rented a hujra, i.e. a room, in Thardat madrasa. I thought that it was better to have a room than to miss out on it.

I visited those places in Medina that must be seen, such as the Quba mosque, the shrine of hazrat-i Hamza near the Uhud mountain, and other places. One day, ‘Ubaydullah efendi told me: “There was a person from Kazan (ber qazanlï) called Badr al-Din, the son of Iskhaq mullah from Qarghalï, together with whom I studied. Tomorrow at 9 a.m. come to my place, we will try to ask the madrasa’s director for his place for you.” That was a madrasa located inside Haram Sharif on the left of the Bab al-Salam gates (qapïsï), called the madrasa of Bashir agha, in front of the Muhammadiyya madrasa. On the left of that gate at the time of the Prophet’s companions there was supposedly a house of Marwan the companion. Two centuries ago, the person called Bashir agha served at the palace of Turkish caliphs in Istanbul. For some reason, he was exiled to Medina the Radiant, but then returned to Istanbul and died there. His grave is located near the mosque of Ayyub al-Ansari. There is a stone with an inscription. Due to this person, I benefited from three years of studies. May he be in God’s mercy. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good then increase his good fortune.

We went to Bashir agha madrasa and met its director and teacher ‘Arif khwaja in his room. I asked: “Can you give me a room at your madrasa?” He replied: “No, we have no room in our madrasa at the moment.” I begged his pardon, kissed his hand, and went out completely disappointed (bik ma’yus häldä). The next day, my friend (hämshir) ‘Ubaydullah efendi told me: “Come tomorrow morning, we will ask the director again,” because he knew that there was a room. Next time I went there, ‘Arif khwaja was drinking tea in ‘Ubaydullah efendi’s room. He asked: “What’s new, my son? (ne var, ävladem)” I asked him: “I came to you again to ask for a room for myself.” He started to ask ‘Ubaydullah: “Was he a good student in Kazan?” ‘Ubaydullah praised me, saying: “A very good person.” Then the director asked me: “What did you study in Kazan? Did you study grammar and syntax?” I replied: “Yes (evet), I did,” and then cited the following: الكلمة لفظ وضع لمعنى مفرد.289 Then he asked further: “What would you say about the difference in a sentence between the article for kind (jins) and singularity (wahdat)?” I replied: “If we take wahdiyat jins from the jins of the article and put the wahdat jins, even in that case the article will stay in its place.” Then he ordered to ‘Ubaydullah: “Give him a room and a key. This is not a permanent (aylïq) place, you will stay for a while as a candidate waiting for a free room.” Not even a month had passed, when one student departed and I moved to a room on the second floor. /89a/

Now it was time to start my studies, relying only on God. In the morning, before the first lesson at the madrasa endowment, we had to commit a prayer of half an hour to the soul of its donor, Bashir agha. This lesson was obligatory for students residing in the madrasa. The aforementioned ‘Arif khwaja taught that lesson.

Secondly, we started to study the Maliki madhhab of Maghrib and Tunis with Shaykh ‘Umar efendi. All my fellow students know him. We studied al-faqih ibn Malik for grammar,290 Qur’an commentary by Jalalayn,291 Miftah al-‘ulum292 and other disciplines at his home, because it was very crowded at Haram Sharif and it was more convenient to study at home.

In addition to that, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Trablusi was our teacher. We studied Sahih al-Bukhari at his home. Then we studied Bayan ma‘an with ‘Aysa khwaja Shirwani, principles of Islamic law with Shaykh Husayn Hindi, Dala’il al-khayrat and books of hadith chains with Shaykh Ridwan, may God cover him with His mercy. With Shaykh Fatih we studied a bit of Hadith arba‘in. This way we slowly spent a year studying until the month of Rajab, when the so-called Rajabiya started, i.e. the vacation, because at that time the tribal Arabs (qaba’il ‘arab) from regions of Arabia visit the grave of the Prophet. Therefore, the city becomes very crowded and the classes stop for a month during the hajj.

We, the students, also went to hajj for a change of scene and to lighten our spirits. That year we had to go, because the first time one does pilgrimage it is done for others, and now I needed to do it for myself, since it is obligatory for everyone who is in Mecca, even if he is not rich. That year I performed the hajj. May God accept it, amen. All of the students, including my companion ‘Ayd Muhammad and others, went to hajj either to perform badal hajj,293 or to serve as translators on the way for rich hajjis. There were ways to cover the expenses. After performing the hajj safely, the second year of studies approached.

I had the idea of learning the Qur’an by heart, and to get guidance I relied only on God and came to the shrine of the Prophet, pronounced the prayers and performed the intention (niyat qïldïm). I started to learn the Qur’an from Muhammad Shukri b. Hafizi, a student of Hasan qari from Egypt, on condition that I paid one golden coin (altïn) a month. Taking a page from each part of the Qur’an (parä) I started to memorize thirty pages every thirty days. This way I learned [the entire Qur’an] in eight months. Every day, I came to my teacher to check my recitation and he then recited the next parts for me. Once memorized, I practiced it for nine months. In total, I took seventeen months to complete it. I was surprised by myself, thanking God for His help and saying: “Is this a dream or reality?” At that time I was twenty-two. Besides this memorization, I continued two other classes every day. /89b/

Now the pilgrimage time approached again. We went on to hajj. I took 100 rubles (sum) to perform a badal hajj and headed together with my companions via Yanbu‘ and Jeddah and returned after completing the hajj rituals. I intended to recite the entire Qur’an during the tarawih prayers in the mosque of the Prophet in the upcoming Ramadan of 1324. Once Ramadan approached, I told the director of the Mosque of the Prophet that I wanted to recite the Qur’an, and he assigned me a place near Bab al-Salam, in the direction of qibla, not far from the Maliki mihrab. Starting from 1 Ramadan, for twenty-three days I had to prepare a part (parä) for recitation at the tarawih prayer. One has to repeat that part of the Qur’an the whole day long. One part of the Qur’an has to be recited for thirty days. Therefore, I was busy learning full time for these twenty-three days without paying attention to anything else. My fellow student Mir Sayyid Muzaffarov, a neighbor in the madrasa, memorized the Qur’an and went to perform the recitation together with me.

We invited another student to prepare food for iftar and suhur and gave him the money required. He took care of us until the end of the khatm and ate together with us. This way, seven qaris started the recitation in the right-hand part (on taraf) of the mosque: the two of us, then a Kazakh named ‘Ataullah qari who studied in Qarghalï with Khayrullah hazrat, then ‘Asim efendi, the son of Badr al-Din qari from Mastaq village in Khvalin district of Penza governorate, then an Uzbek qari and two others whom I do not remember. This way we performed the khatm. The place of recitation was decorated in the evening with various lamps and carpets of good quality – that was done by the mosque administration. Our respected teachers, fellow students, and many other Arab and Turkish people came to the recitation evenings. After our teacher performed the khatm prayer (khatm du‘asï), according to Medinan tradition, the people present would be given dates. For that purpose, the students brought several boxes (kärzinkä) to the mosque in advance. After the dates were given out and the prayer was performed once again, we left. May God accept it, amen. In Medina there is no tradition of giving alms to the reciters; on the contrary (bi-l-‘aks), as written above, they give alms themselves. I hope that this recitation should be for the sake of God. I gave a golden coin to an Arab who stayed listening to me for the entire twenty-three tarawih prayers. Later, I invited my fellow students for a party. May that be for the sake of God, amen.

Now the time of the fourth hajj approached. Again, together with my companions, /90a/ I went to Mecca. As usual, we went safely via Yanbu‘ and Jeddah to perform tawaf at the Ka‘ba. ‘Abd al-Rahman efendi, the son of our late teacher Habibullah b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev from our Istärlibash village, was a student there. We communicated with him as relatives (tugannarcha) and there was no end to our conversations. He also felt nostalgic. Unfortunately, cholera (waba ränjuï) spread in Mecca that year. We were greatly horrified, but still went there, relying on God’s will. One day before going up to ‘Arafat I returned from the öylä prayer together with ‘Abd al-Rahman efendi. On the way, we decided to visit the hostel (tekie) of Najm al-Din, mentioned at some point above, to see Farah al-Din. He welcomed us cheerfully, saying: “Please come in, you are being praised [in the city],” and fed us with food that he prepared.

At that time, ‘Abd al-Rahman and myself both stayed in Mecca at the house of the famous Shaykh Murad. Once we came back, poor ‘Abd al-Rahman said, “I feel pain in my stomach.” He became infected with cholera. He had diarrhea and did not know what to do. He cried: “Please take me to a doctor (dukhtur)!” As quickly as possible we took him to visit a doctor, but failed to find one; what to do? People told us to go to a city doctor and we did so. He ordered us to take him to the hospital (hastahanä), but foreigners were not allowed there. We asked the doctor: “Please, this is a son of an important person (ber olugh adäm), not a pilgrim, he came to study here. If possible, provide him a better place.” The doctor wrote a note to the hospital director. Together with my companion ‘Ayd Muhammad, I lifted him up again and took him to the place, which happened to be near a dump on the outskirts of Mecca. Here we saw hundreds of pilgrims lying in the sand. Many people of Indian, Afghan, Jawa, Uzbek, Kazakh and other nationalities were asking for water in Turkic, Arabic and Hindi. There was nobody to give them water. When someone died there, the Arab gravediggers would simply dig a hole and throw the body in there. We were shocked. There were also four or five tents with beds (kravat) inside. There, with the doctor’s note, they placed our brother (hämshir) ‘Abd al-Rahman.

He asked for water and we brought him a kettle from the teahouse. It was getting dark and I told my companion ‘Ayd Muhammad: “I am very tired and want to go home. Stay with him this night.” While I was going away, [‘Abd al-Rahman] cried: “Goodbye! Goodbye!” /90b/ These words are still in my ears. I went home and slept. At first light, ‘Ayd Muhammad returned and said: “Go there quickly, he is in a very bad state.” I rushed there and no sooner had I arrived than he passed away. He obeyed the Qur’anic verse “Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return. Return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing!”294 and I prayed for him: Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer then overlook his wrongdoings.

Now he had to be buried, and if he had stayed there, his body would have been thrown in a hole. If so, that would have been a great shame (yözgä qaralïq) for us in the future. The public graveyard of Mecca is called Jannat al-Ma‘ali. We had to take him there, but since he died of cholera it was not permitted to bury him elsewhere. I saw the doctor and asked him to let me take the corpse to the public graveyard. He did not agree for a while, until I gave him some money (qullarnï sarï may belän maylangach). He said: “Wash him properly. The local Arabs cheat saying that they wash [the body], taking the clothes off and dressing them in a shroud.” The Arabs thus dressed him in a shroud, placed him in a coffin and brought him there. The doctor asked them: غسلتم يا شيخ؟ i.e. “Did you wash him?” They replied: نعم غسلنا – “Yes, we did.” Then he became angry: “Why do you cheat?! You did not wash him!” Then these Arabs swore: واللّٰه فاغسلنا, i.e. “I swear to God, we washed him.” After that I recruited two Arabs to bring the coffin to Jannat al-Ma‘ali, because there was a public place for washing the corpse. There we saw up to twenty coffins with corpses to be washed. This would take a long time, and I talked to the old shaykh, director of the washbasin (ghuslkhanä): “Could you please wash the student sooner?” He said طيب, i.e. “very well.” His hands were damaged by water, because he washed a lot of corpses. Once I gave him money (sarï may belän qullarïn maylagach), the corpse was washed immediately. It turns out that whatever you do, wherever you go, money (sarï may) helps to ease your way.

In around 1891, the late ‘Abd al-Rahman’s father and his older brother ‘Abd al-Majid b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev, after spending several years in Bukhara, had come back to Istärlibash for a winter to teach students. Then he had married Mahfuza, the daughter of ‘Ubaydullah hajji Kildishev, a merchant from Ilek city on the Jayiq River, left her in Istärlibash and gone to hajj the same year. /91a/ At that time, the brother of ‘Abd al-Majid hazrat, ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev, had been studying in Medina the Radiant. During the hajj he had stayed with his brother ‘Abd al-Qadir and they had gone to ‘Arafat together. That year the cholera had spread in Mecca, and ‘Abd al-Majid hazrat had died of the disease there. His brother ‘Abd al-Qadir had buried him in Jannat al-Ma‘ali graveyard in Mecca, and had erected a stone (tash) with an inscription. I found that grave and buried the late ‘Abd al-Rahman next to it. May God forgive them. He died in 1908 of Miladi. According to his will, the money left after burial and some of his clothes were sent with our fellow villagers to his mother in Istärlibash and she received it in good order.

Cholera started to intensify in Mecca and dead people started to be seen on the streets. I relied on God for whatever would happen to me, but still I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Thanks be to God, unexpectedly the rain started and on the same day the cholera simply stopped, as if washed away by water. From then on, nobody died [of cholera]. I also thanked God, rented the fastest caravan back to Medina, and together with my companions headed for Medina. After this fourth hajj I parted from Mecca.

Arabs call this fast caravan of camels the rakib hijn. This caravan reaches Medina from Mecca in just eight days. Only very few foreigners were on that caravan, because it was meant for citizens of Medina and our fellow students. The caravan has 300 places and 100 camels. Six hours’ travel and six hours to rest. We moved during the day, starting from twelve at night. The first overnight stop from Medina was in Wadi Fatima, a place full of greenery. One night we had to reach an Arab village called Rabigh on the shore of the Red Sea. On the way, it was raining hard and thunder was rumbling loudly. We could not go on, because the night was dark and our legs became slippery. Only the lightning illuminated the desert between the mountains. We stopped and rested under the camels. Soon the daylight should appear. The caravan leaders said: “We spent too much time waiting and have to depart now; otherwise the rain will overtake us.” We slowly moved our camels towards the mountains; there it was getting clearer. /91b/ Since our clothes were extremely wet, we warmed ourselves by building a fire, then we performed the morning prayer and moved on. We were on our feet, leading the camels by a rope. It was some 5 km to Rabigh village. Once we arrived, we found out that the rain had cut off our route onwards. Since in Arabia all the rocks are of black stone, the rainwater flows down, creating a huge basin. Arabs call this sayl, by saying جاء السيل [, i.e. “the rainwater flew down”]. It was not possible to cross the basin, and we spent three days in this Rabigh village. On the fourth day we crossed the basin under the stomachs of our camels, thanks be to God. People in Medina even started to worry about the caravan, because we had sent a telegram from Mecca when we departed.

In this way, we approached Medina. On the way there was a mountain called Jabal ‘A’ir. No caravan except our light caravan could cross that mountain, and that was a straight path. We were on our feet leading the camels, because to one side there was a huge chasm. If a camel halts and falls down, there is no way to survive; therefore, we were not allowed to ride the camels. We continued this way for six hours till sunset and then we finally crossed the mountain safely and happily. We spent a night there. After two days we approached the city, thanks be to God, left our caravan in a place called Dhu-l-Khalfa, and then walked into the city. It was 5 km away. I returned safely to the madrasa, went to the bathroom (muncha), put on my good clothes, visited the shrine of the Prophet, then in the same clothes I took my camel from the caravan, raised a green flag, recited a qasida, i.e. a poem in praise of the Prophet, then stopped at Bab al-Salam of the Prophet’s mosque, recited the prayer to God and His Prophet and great Arabic poems in praise of the Prophet, then visited the shrines of hazrat-i Hamza and the martyrs at the Uhud mountain, went to Quba mosque, visited the appropriate places, then returned my camel to the owner and went back to our madrasa. Praise be to God. May God accept our pilgrimage and forgive our sins, amen. If I lived to do so, I intend to return to our country (mämläkät) after the month of Mawlid in 1326 of Hijri. /92a/

Now I had to visit my teachers and ask for their prayer (du‘a). It was also necessary to get a diploma (shahadat nama) saying that I had memorized the entire Qur’an, performed the tarawih prayers at the mosque of the Prophet, and that my recitation was correct. One day I prepared food and invited our teachers and friends for a party. There I addressed the great teachers: “If you allow me, I intend to return to my country after the month of Mawlid.” Now our respected teacher Muhammad Shukri turned to the teachers and qaris present at the gathering: “This ‘Abd al-Majid al-Qadïri efendi has memorized the entire Qur’an in ‘asim qira’at and riwayat hafs295 and performed the tarawih prayers at the mosque of the Prophet. Now I want to grant him a diploma (ijazat nama) testifying the said above.” The people present confirmed: “You can give him a good diploma.” Then he wrote and signed (möherläb) a diploma with a chain starting from himself, via those with whom he had studied, up to the Prophet. In 1923,296 while residing in my village, I got other diplomas with the magnificent signatures of mufti ‘Alimdjan al-Barudi for teaching Qur’an and hadith. In 1930, all of my diplomas got lost when the government (hükümät) threw away all of my books during the severe confiscation.

Now, God permitting, it remained for me to start my return. That year a railway called Hamidiya Mujar from Damascus to Medina was under construction. I left Medina from a place called Bab al-‘Unbar and I spent my vacation (ta‘til) participating in the construction work, because that was regarded as a holy path. I waited for the necessary travel supplies that had to be brought from Damascus by soldiers on caravan, because the way to Damascus was not secure from robbers. The reason was that England was afraid of this railway construction by the government, and thus sent the Bedouin Arabs to attack the caravans that supported the process. Therefore, the government used the power of weapons (qoral quwäte). /92b/ Cursed Britain incited the Bedouins by saying: “If the Turkish government builds the road, your camels will not be needed and you will die of hunger.” The British gave them weapons, bullets and suchlike. One day, news spread that the governmental caravan would come on a certain day. Expecting it to be so, I bound and prepared my luggage to go, waiting to depart either today or tomorrow. The caravan arrived in Medina with seventy armed soldiers. On the way, they struggled with Bedouins. Now being afraid of them, the caravan could not depart for a month, and I also had to wait in readiness. After the government made an agreement with the Bedouins, the caravan could go. Hence I went to the shrine of the Prophet, performed prayers and departed, leaving Medina. We departed in the evening, spent the night on the outskirts and at first light we went on. My remaining companions and friends (hämshir) saw me off and wished me a safe journey. In three days on camel we had to reach the railway under construction; there would I take a train to Damascus.

On the second day in the evening, our caravan stopped in the open to sleep. I was accompanied by my friends (räfiqlärem) Mir Said b. Asfandiyar mullah Muzaffarov from Dändäm village in Cherkes volost of Elabuga district and Khalil Sultanbekov from Bigesh village near Challï in Mänzälä district. There were also shaykh Muhammad Murad Ramzi from among the gatekeepers (mujawir) of Mecca; Hasanullah Hamidov, from among the gatekeepers of Medina, originally from Chistopol’; ‘Izz al-Din from Uchili village close to Shafran station, as well as many Arabs of Medina and other people. We were secured by some seventy armed soldiers who prepared for the night. While we were cooking, five or six old Bedouins approached, greeted us and explained the reason for their visit. They said: “If you do not give us such-and-such an amount of money, we will not allow the caravan to pass. We will take money from people of Medina and others.” In accordance with their request, everyone gave forty cents (tien) and the sum reached several hundred. The old Bedouins got the money and said in satisfaction: “Tomorrow we will come /93a/ to accompany you. Do not depart without us.” We spent the night safely. In the morning, we prepared our camels and gathered our luggage, waiting for those old Bedouins. The sun was already high, but nobody appeared. People said: “Let’s go,” and we departed. After traveling several kilometers, they started shooting at us from mountains on the right side. Bullets arrived, going wzh, wzh. Nobody was seen. We dismounted our camels and made them run. Still, one or two camels were slightly hit. We went on and nobody shot at us, because these Arab Bedouins have a habit of attacking the caravan if it stops and not following it if it keeps going. We went on safely in high spirits.

We moved on some 4 to 5 km, and they started shooting from the left again. Now they started to hit harder. Our seventy armed soldiers used the camels as a wall and started shooting in response. This only caused more damage to us and our camels. The camel owners went on a distance from the camels to prevent them from being hit. We asked our soldiers to stop fire and waved a white flag, looking at the mountains. The gunfire ceased. Then we sent several Arabs who were among the camel owners to go to the mountain and listen to what they wanted. They found out that every person had to pay a majidiya, i.e. one ruble and sixty kopeks, to pass their lands. We answered: “We gave the money yesterday.” They replied: “We did not get our share of it, therefore we decided to follow your caravan. Give us what we want, nothing else, and go on your way.” We paid them and moved on. On the way, we encountered some twenty Bedouins, they greeted and then followed us for a while and then disappeared at the mountain. We pretended that we had not noticed them, and they did the same.

On the way there was a mountain called Astil ‘Untar. We arrived there and around midday we approached the workers on the railway construction. We heard the sounds of a train. All the workers were Turkish soldiers. They were busy putting a [train] car on rails. There was no water and the day was hot. The poor soldiers worked drinking /93b/ salt [water]. I sat in an empty car which brought me to the station called Hidiya. The car was open and the day was hot. We spent several days there, cooking on primus stoves and drinking tea. After that I bought tickets to Damascus, moved to a good car and departed. On the way at Mada’in Salih station we were taken off for quarantine. Tents were arranged half a kilometer away. They distributed us among these tents. We spent five days in quarantine in that place, and afterwards we were supposed to be brought to Damascus.

This place is known in history and in the Qur’an as the land of Salih the Prophet and his folk. At the top of the mountains there we saw windows and doors. Even though it was pretty close, we were not allowed to go there. The Qur’anic verse “They were hewing the mountains into houses, therein dwelling securely”297 must be referring to these mountains.

After five days of quarantine we sat in the train again and went on to Damascus. In a day or two, we reached the station called Tabuk; there were ruins of Tabuk at the time of the Prophet. There is also a good mosque. After that we arrived at another station and there they put our train in a siding and removed the railway engine. Without knowing the reason, we were forced to sit there for several days. The passengers started to starve, because their food ran out and there was no place to buy anything. Now we were forced to send a telegram to Nazim Pasha, the railway minister residing in Mina. Soon after, the station chief arrived and said: “Why do you write to Nazim Pasha without letting us know first?” We replied: “You know our condition and the fact that several hundred people are starving here and you do not even come here to listen to us!” Right there, the railway engine was put back and we went on. Then we passed Ma‘an station and arrived safely in Damascus, thanks be to God.

We went to the city, leaving the luggage to a porter. The city has a fortress (kreposte) and an entrance gate. A song that we used to sing came to my mind: “In the city of Damascus // the gate will not close without you at night” (Sham shärif digän ay shähärdä // ahsham sezläy qapqa yabïlmas). I had a companion named Hamid who encouraged me to pass through this gate singing that song. We sang it, happily passing through the gate and then found a good hotel room, forty cents a day per person. Then we went to the bath house (muncha), because we had spent seventeen days en route, so that even /94a/ a layer of skin on my face was gone because of the heat. The bath house was really good, with a warm pool in the main hall, pale with marble. We paid forty cents per person and went inside. In the time we were there, they gave us five different white sheets. We also swam in the pool. It was so great there (küngelle). Once we were done, we went out to see the city. It was a city full of gardens, big canals flowed in the streets, trams moved on both sides; there were European-style shops with milk, meat, and oil. The city was surrounded by snowy mountains, its outskirts were full of fruit gardens, currants, and apricots. It turned out to be a city resembling the old Tashkent (Shali Tashkent).

The teacher of Sahih al-Bukhari at the first mosque, Umawiya, shaykh Badr al-Din, was living at his madrasa. He was eighty at that time. He taught Bukhari for an hour after each Friday prayer. There were a lot of people present and we also took the class. Our teacher in Medina the Radiant, shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Trablusi, had sent him a letter with us. This shaykh turned out to be the teacher of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Trablusi. We tried to offer him the Zamzam water, but he declined. He appeared to be a sincere (khalis) hadith specialist. May he be in God’s mercy, amen.

As for Jami‘ Umawiya, a mosque built in Damascus at the time of the Umayyad caliphs, one of its buildings is called “the white minaret” (Manari’ bayda). The old books have it that at the End of Times, hazrat-i ‘Isa will descend to this minaret. We saw that minaret, and then at its foot visited the shrine of the soldier of Islam (mujahid fi-l-islam) Salah al-Din Ayyubi. There was an old soldier at the door; we asked his permission to enter the dome. Separated off by a huge railing, [his grave] was covered with green material with a green turban on top. His grave (astana) bore a memorable crown left by the German ruler Wilhelm as a sign of respect during his visit to Damascus and Jerusalem. It had a Qur’anic verse on it: “God will not leave to waste the wage of the good-doers.”298 We asked the old gatekeeper: “What is the crown made of? Gold or silver?” He replied: “Would a non-believer (kafir) put gold on it?!”

In another part of the mosque there was the grave of Husayn’s head, may God be satisfied with him. After passing through several rooms, we visited it. When Husayn was beheaded at the battle of Karbala, his head was brought to Yazid, the ruler of Damascus. The head of Husayn was buried in the place where Yazid’s treasury house was located.

Then we went to the Malik al-Zahir library. There used to be nine libraries, but when the Europeans started to steal important books from the libraries, they collected all that remained into one single library called Malik al-Zahir. /94b/ In the library we saw a lot of books, including those written 150 years after the death of the Prophet. Unfortunately, we did not see Muslim readers there. The very few people who were present there were British and French.

After that, we went to the public graveyard and saw a stone with inscriptions that belonged to a companion of the Prophet, hazrat-i Bilal al-Habashi, the mu’adhdhin of the Prophet. Then we visited the grave of ‘Abdullah b. Umm Gulthum, may God be satisfied with her. His gravestone bears an inscription saying that this is the grave of ‘Abdullah b. Umm Gulthum and the Qur’anic verse “He frowned and turned away because the blind man came to him”299 was revealed in his regard. Then I went to the shrine of Muhi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi, may God’s mercy be upon him, located in the city. His shrine bears the following poetic inscription: “This is Muhi al-Din ‘Arabi. Know the date of his death. Whoever will believe, let them believe; and whoever will disbelieve, let them disbelieve.”300 From there we went to the shrine of Pamuq Baba who was a saint (awliyya’) of Kurdish origin. People supposedly doubted it: “Can a Kurd be a saint?” To prove his sainthood, he showed his leg out of the grave; indeed, a black leg was visible from the covered grave. Only God knows the truth. Many people visit the place.

On the outskirts of Damascus we went to the mountain called Jabal Qasiyun. Here the son of Adam, Qabil, killed his brother Habil. There is a tunnel with water dropping from the top. The people serving there for the alms of pilgrims told us the story that once the stone came to speak: “People will cry a short while for the murder of Habil by Qabil, but I will cry until the End of Times.” Even though we saw it there ourselves, we did not believe it, regarding it as superstition (khurafat). There was another mountain we could not go to, and were simply told: “There is the shrine of Dahiya al-Kalibi.” There is also a niche (mihrab) constructed at this mountain to symbolize a niche of mahal arba‘in, i.e. forty invisible men. After seeing and visiting (ziyarat qïlïb) the appropriate places, we traveled to Jerusalem. In Damascus we took a train from Baramka railway station to Beirut. It was a distance of nine hours. After passing the Lebanese mountains, we arrived at Beirut. The Lebanese mountains turned out to be populated by Arab Christians, who were engaged in silk weaving and horticulture. In Beirut, we stopped at the Hijaz hotel. We walked around for a couple of days. We saw an American college there and saw the movie theaters. Here I sent five boxes of books /95a/ to my home.

Beirut is a huge city. Its population is diverse, the majority being Arab Christians. Their language is Arabic; their books and newspapers, as well as sermons in churches (chirkäülär), are in Arabic. Their scholars have also authored many books in Arabic, such as a book called Nujum al-furqan, i.e. “A Guide to Verses of the Qur’an,” accessibly written by Christian Arabs of Beirut. Different nations (millät) populate the shores of the White Sea. British, French, Americans, Germans, Jews; all of them have their consulates here, as well as the Russian one.

Then, on a steamboat, we went to the city called Hi‘a. We arrived at the city of Jaffa and traveled on a train for six hours to Jerusalem (Qudush Sharif). Thanks be to God, we arrived safely. Our first goal was to see the al-Aqsa Mosque, then the Dome of the Rock and other places. We prayed inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, then we did the same in the Dome of the Rock, which has a twenty meter rock of black stone inside. The Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him, performed the mi‘raj after stepping on this stone. It has a foot imprint. People show one side of the stone; there is a cellar like an empty room beneath the stone, where one can go. On three sides, columns of marble were erected, supposedly to make people unafraid, because in previous times the stone used to hang freely in the air. God knows best. When the Prophet arrived in Medina, he first prayed in the direction of this stone. In the second year of hijra came the following order: “Turn thy face towards the Holy Mosque.”301 Hence, during either öylä or ikende prayer, the Prophet changed the direction of prayer to the Ka‘ba in Mecca. Medina has a mosque called the Mosque with Two Qiblas: one wall is oriented towards the Ka‘ba, while another faces towards the rock in Jerusalem.

The al-Aqsa Mosque has two floors. Its first floor looks like a palace with a small road to it. When we went down, we realized that it was a building from the times of Sulayman the Prophet; this was a stable for his horses. Downstairs there was a cradle-like monument (yädkär) made of marble. This cradle was placed here during the journey of the German ruler Wilhelm as a symbol of ‘Isa the Prophet’s cradle. Then we went to the grave of our mother hazrat-i Maryam. We went down several stairs into a basement. All servants (ferrash) there were Christian (nasara millätlärennän) clergy. We entered after asking permission. In a huge hall, there is a side room /95b/ with the grave. It has a table-like monument with green material on it and a small cross (salib) on the top with a wax candle standing there.

We visited (ziyarat ittek) her as prescribed by the Qur’an, which portrays hazrat-i Maryam as a vestal virgin, and then went out. In the hall, tables were present in several places to pray standing. Every school (madhhab) of Christians, such as Catholic, Protestant and others, prayed there in their own way at these tables. After that we entered a big church (kanisa). The keys of this church are in the hands of the Arabs, and every time the Christians leave after praying there, the Arab guardians close it. We went inside; there, Christians of many schools were praying (‘ibadat qïlïb). Some of them were kneeling and praying with lifted hands, saying “amen”; that is similar to what we do. Then we left that place and moved on to see a monastery built by the Russian government. It was full of monks and nuns. We asked their chiefs: “We are the Kazan Tatars from Russia (rusiyalï qazan tatarlarï). If you allow us, we would love to get inside and see the monastery.” They agreed, brought the keys and showed us around. The crosses on the top of every church were made of gold. Then they took us to a tower (manara) on the mountain and showed it [to us]. It was very high. We went up via 170 metal stairs and looked around. There was nothing else there but a huge bell. Supposedly, it was the mountain from which ‘Isa, may God bless him, departed to heaven. God knows it best. They have gardens located some distance from the tower. A mosque could be seen there, and they told us that the grave of Musa the Prophet was there. Twenty kilometers from Jerusalem there is [a place called] Khalil al-Rahman. The grave of Ibrahim, may God bless him, is there. Unfortunately, we could not go there. The road is difficult and they ask a lot of money for donkeys and camels. The majority of people in Jerusalem are Jews (yahudlär). The elderly Jews wore white caps (käläpush) and their beards were very long. They kept beads (tasbih) in their hands, thus this habit must have come from them. We thought that our ignorant mullahs (salqïn sufi-mullamïz) sitting in the mosque niches with rosaries must have taken this habit from the Jews. In Russian, Quds Sharif is called Ierusalim.

Now we intended to go to Egypt, but they did not let us go, saying: “Quarantine; people coming from pilgrimage are not yet allowed.” Therefore, we returned to Beirut and had to go to Istanbul. I told my friends (räfiqlarem) one day: “Let us go to the Russian consulate tomorrow. They /96a/ might help us.” They replied: “Why go there?” I said: “For some business. If God allows, maybe we will get it done.” They asked: “What business?” I replied: “You are traveling by ship. According to Russian law, if one does not have means to travel, the consulate must help him to travel for free.” We had the money though: I sent 500 rubles in gold to Istanbul in advance. However, thanks to the Russian law, we could still get something out of these pigs (hinzirdän ber tuk) by pretending: “We are students, you should help us.” My friends agreed: “Alright, let us go tomorrow.”

In the morning at first light we went to the consulate. It took us some time to find it. At the gate there was a black gatekeeper who knew Turkish. He asked: “What do you want?” We replied: “We have business with the consul.” He went in, then appeared again and let only me in. A secretary was sitting alone in the office. I related our business and he went to the consul. The latter appeared right there and asked: “What do you want?” I said: “Your majesty (vashe prevoskhoditel’stvo), we are going from Medina to Istanbul and then planning to return to Russia. We ran out of money. If possible, we ask you, as children ask their father, to give us a free ticket on the steamboat to Istanbul. This is our appeal.” He asked: “Where is your passport?” I gave him my passport. He said: “Look, your passport has expired. Why did you not come to the consulate to renew it?” I replied: “There is no consulate in Medina, we did not know where to get it.” He said: “Now I will send you directly back to Russia.” Now I got scared; why did I come here with money in my pocket! I was dressed like a cultured European, with a good suit and tie and a red fez on my head. I addressed the consul again: “Your majesty, you know yourself that we spent three years in Medina and wanted to get diplomas in Istanbul. If you send us directly to Russia now, the years that we spent studying will have been for nothing. You are a great man whose manners would not allow him to take such things seriously. Still, we sincerely appeal to you not to reject our plea. We hope that you accept it.” My passport was on the table and I watched it with four eyes, afraid that the he would write something inside. Fortunately, he did not.

Then he /96b/ asked his secretary to write something and disappeared into his office. The secretary produced a document, then obtained the consul’s signature, sealed it and gave it to me together with my passport saying: “You have to give it to the office of the Russian steamboat company.” I thanked him and went out. Now I thought, what did he write there; maybe he wrote to take us directly to Russia. If so, that would mean that we have denounced ourselves. Then I decided to open the envelope and make a learned person (belgän keshe) read it out before we gave it to the office. It turned out that he had indeed ordered a ticket to Istanbul, in compliance with my plea. We closed the envelope again and submitted it to the office. Even a mangy sheep is good for a little wool (hinzirdän ber qïl buldï)! From the third class ticket office we would have had to buy it for forty rubles, but now I could go to Istanbul for free.

Since it was a trade steamboat, it was slow: we stopped at every station to load and offload the cargo. After stopping in the sea for a couple of days at Rhodes and Sakiz islands, we arrived at the city of Izmir in Turkey. Here, a huge German steamboat was moored. We asked: “Where is it going?” They said: “To Istanbul.” We asked: “When does it arrive there?” They replied: “It will be there in the morning.” We asked further: “Is it possible to buy a ticket to Istanbul?” They said: “Yes. 1.60 for a third class ticket.” Our steamboat had to go now to Salonica and then somewhere else, reaching Istanbul only after three days. After that we asked around: “Who is going to Salonica?” and sold off our tickets taken in Beirut for ten rubles each. Then we bought new tickets on that steamboat for 1.60, and in the morning arrived in Istanbul on the German steamboat. We had to stay in Istanbul for three months. We stayed in an apartment opposite the Ministry of War at the Beyazit Square. I went to Sultan Fatih quarter to study mathematics with ‘Ismet efendi, paying him one golden coin or 860 cents. ‘Abdullah Pateev, with whom I studied in childhood, was also there. As I mentioned above, he studied at the University, the Faculty of Natural Sciences. He spent a year with me in Medina and then departed for Istanbul. We were together all the time and saw every corner of Istanbul. One day, we traveled by motorboat to /97a/ a place called Beykoz. That was Friday. Since it was the weekend, all the people of the city went there to walk around. That was 2 km from the city. There were many people on the banks of the Bosporus. Beautiful meadows and flat lands with rare old trees rose there. Everybody played and joked with their compatriots (üz millätläre belän). A few kilometers away, in the forest, there was the Karakulak spring, famous in Istanbul. We went there. We sat there in a marble building, drank the spring water, ate bread with olives, and came back. Since this water was free of germs, they would bring it on steamboats to Istanbul and sell it on the streets as the water of Karakulak. Then we went to see the place called Shu‘ayb türbesi on the top of the mountain. As people say, there is a shrine to Shu‘ayb the Prophet and the spring of holy water (ab-i hayat chishmäse). We went there, drank water and came back to the city in the evening.

The next Friday we went to the mosque of Ayyub al-Ansari; there we performed the Friday prayer, visited his tomb and the grave of Bashir agha, the founder of our madrasa in Medina. May God accept it. We went there on a motorboat from Galata bridge. The following Friday we went to Haydar Pasha station near Üsküdar; from there we took a train to Maltepe station and by motorboat reached a place called Büyükada on an island in the Marmara Sea. There was a mountain with private houses (dacha) belonging to rich people of the city. It was a picturesque place full of rose gardens. They have very beautiful summer houses and a restaurant on the very top of the hill. When we wanted to enter, the police stopped us: “Entry is forbidden for the Ottomans.” We said: “Alright, sir, but we are from Russia (musquflï),” and showed them our passports. Then we went in, drank and ate there. We returned to Istanbul only in the evening.

The next time, we went out on foot to see various places in Istanbul: we saw the mosques of Sultan Fatih, Sultan Sulayman, and Sultan Ahmad, as well as the museum of Janissaries. These people raised arms in the name of religion against the Sultan, who wanted to adopt some European rules. Some eighty lifelike individuals stand there in their former dress; these were judges, executioners and many other important people. The government /97b/ punished these people accordingly. Since that is a museum, those were only figures [of the people]. When the German ruler Wilhelm visited Istanbul, he built a fountain near the mosque and therefore people called it a German fountain. There are also tall stone columns called Diklitash with old square letters, hieroglyphics and figures of birds and animals. These columns had been brought from Egypt as historical artifacts (athar-i ‘atiqa) left from the Pharaohs.

The next time, I took a train from Sirkeci station to Samatya station and went to the Kücük Mustafa Pasha district, to the house of the aforementioned ‘Abdullah efendi; there I met his wife, and we spent time together. This poor lady had forgotten the time spent in Istärlibash. When I was a small boy in the village, she grew up in the neighborhood. She was the daughter of ‘Ubaydullah Sharipov. Unfortunately, I could not see ‘Abdullah, because he had gone to a village for some time. After that, we spent a day looking at the many historical artifacts (athar-i ‘atiqa) of ancient times preserved at the Hagia Sophia mosque. There were sarcophagi and many other items left from the times of the Pharaohs in Egypt.

The time to go to Russia approached. I had to buy some important books here, and I started to slowly buy them from the bookstores. I bought a lot of books on religion, science, hadith, tafsir, geography, and history, including Fath al-Qadir, Ibn ‘Abidin, Bukhari Sharif, Qamus al-A‘lam, and Shams al-Din Sami Bek. Most of them were fresh off the press, i.e. not yet bound, so that it would be cheaper for shipping and there would be no taxes. I rolled them in paper. In total it was twelve kilos and thirteen boxes (pasilkä). I filled in three forms in French for every box and took it all to the post office (puchtäkhanä). I paid sixty-five cents for each box. I sent [them] under the name of our brother-in-law, Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin, via Vienna and Paris to Russia, by the great railways to Samara, Zlatoust, and finally Nikifar station on the Siberian railway. Once back home, I received everything in good order. In addition, I bought some clothes for myself and small presents for my parents. I bought a pocket watch produced by Omega Company in Paris for twelve rubles. I also bought a good foreign-made (zagranichnyi) leather suitcase, a wrap of good quality, a suit, dress shoes, a jebba for my father, then a jebba, turban and fez for myself as well as some twenty items of jewelry for presents. /98a/

That was around August 1908. I was together with my companions coming from Medina. Now we had to go from Istanbul to Sevastopol (Chivastapul). Here we also wanted to take a free ticket as we had done through the consul in Beirut. We talked to a Tatar broker in Istanbul called Suqïr Hafiz. We asked him to get three tickets for us from the Russian consul and then let us through the Turkish customs. He said: “Each of you give an altïn, three altïns in total (one altïn is ten sum).” We agreed, because this Hafiz was acquainted with the Russian consuls. He stayed true to his promise and brought us free tickets and then he promised to let us through the customs the next morning. The next morning, we got on the steamboat. After we departed, the city newspapers announced that today Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid granted freedom (hurriya) to the people. Unfortunately, we could not return from the steamboat. We departed saying: “Goodbye, Istanbul! Long live the free Turkey!”

The next day, we were already in Sevastopol. On the steamboat we met some Crimean Tatars. We disembarked together and entered the customs office, where our luggage had to be investigated. Then the customs director appeared and told us: “Your passports have expired (wä‘däse ütkän). You have to pay a fee of 105 rubles for three and a half years.” We replied: “We have no money to pay. We will pay at home.” He said: “Then sign the document (aktä).” We signed and passed the customs. Then we met up with the Crimean Tatars again and asked them: “Please show us a proper hotel.” They agreed and brought us to a hotel. We thanked them and parted. Barely an hour had passed when these Tatars came back in a cab (izvozshchik) and told us: “We have a community (jam‘iyat) here, they asked us to bring the students for a gathering (mäjles). You will have to recite the mawlid sharif.” After agreeing amongst ourselves, we decided to go. We went there and entered the gathering house, where up to 200 Crimean Tatars gathered. They welcomed us warmly, and after finishing the greetings they asked us: “Dear students, please, /98b/ recite some mawlid sharif to us.” We replied that this was a great honor, and started to recite. After the mawlid had ended, they treated us with soup and pilaw. We asked them: “What kind of meeting is this?” They replied: “Our Tatar community in Sevastopol bought this house to erect a mosque. This was a [mosque] council meeting. If God allows, we will start building soon. The presence of students at our meeting has made us happy.” We wished them in reply: “May God allow you to finish the mosque and praise God inside it,” and then went out.

Two days later, I bought a ticket to Samara via Moscow, while my companions bought tickets to Kazan via Urazovka. I traveled to Moscow via Kharkov, Oryol and Tula. I arrived at Kharkov railway station in Moscow, then ordered a porter to take my luggage to Kazan railway station, there I put my things in a locker and went out to the city. I stayed on the third floor of the Novovarvar’inskoe courtyard (podvor’e) and paid four rubles and fifty kopeks a day. At the hotel, a Kazan Tatar (ber qazanlï), Muhammadjanov, prepared halal food (möselmancha ash) for the travelers and brought it to each room according to the order, because in Moscow it is difficult to find meat slaughtered in the Muslim way. May this Muhammadjan agha be in God’s mercy. For a couple of days he treated us to his food and then showed us various places in Moscow; its Kremlin, gardens, and mosques. He did not take money for food, even if we asked him. He accompanied us to Kazan railway station. May God forgive him his sins!

At Urazayevka station, I parted from my companions Muhammad Khalil Sultanbekov and Mir Sayyid Muzaffarov. I arrived in Samara safely, stayed there a day or two, then bought a ticket to Aksyon station. From there I traveled 12 km to Nikifar village, the home of my brother-in-law. There I found out that my father and mother had come there for a visit. Thanks be to God, I was very happy to see my parents. My father told me that our village imams ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev and his brother Muhammad Shakir b. Muhammad Harith Tuqaev would depart for Ufa the next day. /99a/ I thought about the fact that I also had business at the Governorate Office in Ufa; maybe if I went together with them, they would help me in my business, and [so] I decided to go to Ufa. I went to Aksyon station and bought a ticket to Ufa. At Shafran station I encountered our imams, and we went to Ufa together. There we stayed at the Sibirskiy hotel. I told them about myself and said: “I have business at the Governorate Office, how can I go there?” They said: “Our acquaintance Ahmad Sultan Teregulov serves there; we will see him tomorrow and talk about it.” Once back, they told me: “He promised to talk to the governor tomorrow morning and will let us know.” The next day, Teregulov came to our hotel: “I brought your volost passport, now you should give me your international passport.” I gave it to him and he added: “The governor said the following in regard of your business, i.e. to annul the fines of 105 rubles at the customs: the governor cannot solve this question, only the ministry can do it. If the local government (nachal’stvo) approves in writing that this person has no means, we can then give that document to the minister.” We found a solution for this question and the Tuqaevs and I returned to Shafran station. Their car (troikä pavuskä arbalarï) was waiting there. We traveled together to Istärlibash and arrived safely at the time of yastu prayer. Thanks be to God, we came home, saw our parents, praised God and went to sleep.

A week later, a rural police officer came to our house and gave me a notice: “The Sevastopol customs demands a fine of 105 rubles.” I confirmed, signed and took the document. A month later, a district police officer came and said: “It appears that you went abroad (zagranitsa), the customs demands a fine of 105 rubles, will you pay it?” I replied: “This is true, but I have just come back. I do not have a house to stay in and I have nothing at the moment to pay the bill. If I move [to a house], then at some point I will pay.” He thought for a while and then said: “If so, bring six elders to testify to your poverty, who will sign a paper saying that this person cannot pay the bill. Then I will take that paper to the governor.” In this way, the six elders signed the paper and he said: “If needed, I will ask you to come.” That’s it (wa-s-salam), the question was solved in this manner.

/99b/ It must have been September 14, Ramadan 1908, when I had promised to memorize the Qur’an, come back, and perform the tarawih prayer at home, making my parents listen to my recitation behind me. With this intention to fulfill my promise, I recited the Qur’an from the first to the fifteenth day of Ramadan. Our dear neighbors and relatives joined us in our house. May God accept it as a sincere deed, amen. Imams and qaris of our community (mähällämez) participated in the recitation ceremony, and then performed the khatm prayer (du‘a).

Now I had to spend the winter at the madrasa among the students. They let me into the madrasa where I had previously studied. At the madrasa, I did my best to teach some subjects to the students and give them information in other possible ways; I ordered various newspapers and journals, explaining to the students the need to learn diligently with an eye on the future, and sharing different thoughts with them. The madrasa administration did not like my work. They denounced me at the appropriate place (tieshle urïnga danus) for being an atheist reformist (jädid dähri) who came from studies abroad, putting forward the arguments that I instigated political ideas among the students and bought newspapers from Turkey, but they failed to harm me.

After the winter, nearly in spring, my parents started to think of my marriage, afraid that if they did not tie me down, I would leave. They agreed on Fatima, the daughter of ‘Ali khalfa Aydabulov from Narïn division (qism) of the Cherkes tribe (ru‘) in the Bukay Khan region (il) of Astrakhan governorate, who was famous in Istärlibash. This ‘Ali khalfa was of Kazakh origin (ta’ifa); he had come to study in Istärlibash in his twenties, there he had studied [various] subjects (khatm-i kutub qïlïb), then traveled to great madrasas. He married the daughter of Khalilullah khalfa, named Rabi‘a, and my [future] wife was born to them. My mother’s father, Waliullah, was the brother of Khalilullah; that is, my wife’s mother, Rabi‘a,302 and my mother’s father were relatives. Our wedding took place on April 29, 1909.

A month after our wedding, I realized that I had to see ‘Ubaydullah hazrat ‘Alikaev in Yalpaqtal, who had helped me to go abroad. Therefore, I went there in June, first to Urazay, then Kazan and Saratov, and then by train to Aleksandrov Gay. There I took a horse, and after 90 km reached Yalpaqtal. /100a/ Now I had a plan to go to Makaria (Niznilï) market. I saw hazrat and repaid him my debts (ämänät). After a couple of days I had to go, but since Ramadan was approaching, hazrat told me: “It would be great if you stayed with us for Ramadan and recited the Qur’an.” I replied: “I did not come to you with the intention to perform recitation, I only wanted to visit you as my patron (wäli ni‘mät).” He insisted: “If possible, please do it for one evening.” I said: “If this is your true desire, my conscience (wujdanïm) does not allow me to refuse,” and promised to perform the recitation: “If so, starting from today I have to practice the text.” A couple of days before Ramadan started, I went to some Kazakhs who asked me to perform hajj [badal] and gave me money to go. I presented them with the necessary diploma (shahadat nama) for hajj, some Zamzam water, and bead-like presents. I returned after a couple of days.

Upon my return, hazrat brought up an issue: “After your departure, Muhammadjan Manjuqov, a merchant from Ilbishin city located on the Ural River near Uralsk, came to visit us. He said: ‘We need a person in Ilbishin city to perform the duties of imam and to teach Muslim children at school in a modern fashion.’ I told him: ‘I have a person, but he is not at home now. Upon his return I will talk to him and will send you a telegram.’ What do you say? Will you go or not? I need to give an answer.” I answered: “Hazrat, I am not thinking of being a mullah, I will not manage.” Hazrat told him: “That person did not agree.” Another telegram came in reply: “He can come to recite the Qur’an on the first of Ramadan. We will cover the travel expenses.” Hazrat asked me what I thought, but I replied: “You know better, it is up to you.” He said: “In my opinion, you should go. You will see the people and the city and if you find it appropriate, you might choose to stay there as a mullah. You will go there for eleven or twelve days to recite the Qur’an and then on 15 Ramadan return to recite here. I think, first, it will be good for practice; secondly, it will be the market time here and that will disturb your practice.” I replied: “Alright, I shall go, but if so, I need to depart today.”

Right there, I hired two horses and traveled 150 km for eleven rubles (sum). /100b/ Ramadan started on September 2, 1909. I spent a night on the way in the house of a rich Russian. I started fasting that night, and that Russian owner ordered his Kazakh servicemen: “Prepare meat for the fasting mullah.” I woke up in the morning, continued the journey fasting, and by night was in Ilbishin. The person who had invited me came to see me on a horse, to take me somewhere to break our fast. I washed myself quickly and joined the rest. There he addressed the people present: “Today, if God allows, we will start the Qur’an recitation. This person is an invited qari.” We returned from that gathering and asked for a bathroom, since because of the hard wind on the way, my body and clothes were all full of sand. He gave us water and the necessary things and brought me to the bathroom (muncha) and said: “While you are taking your bath, I will go to the mosque to inform the people, because many are still unaware.” Then he came back, I prepared myself, and we went to the mosque. Relying on God, I performed the recitation of three parts (parä) every day, and had it finished in ten days. After that, Muhammad Sharif [sic]303 Manjuqov brought me to Yalpaqtal on a troika. Here, on 15 Ramadan, relying on God, I started to recite with an intention to finish by the Night of Power (qadar kichäse). This was the way I did it. Hazrat gave me a ruble and said: “Thank you, you did not spend your time for nothing.” After the recitation he gave me a good silk robe (chapan) as a gift. May he be in God’s mercy.

Now I had to go home. Hazrat told me: “If possible, come back in the winter to teach. There will be a lot of students and it would be great if you could help my son ‘Abd al-‘Aziz memorize the Qur’an.” I departed by saying: “Alright, let me go back and figure it out. Then I will let you know.” I returned safely, asked for advice and decided to go. In Istärlibash, ‘Ubaydullah ishan Tuqaev in his capacity as madrasa director did not allow me to teach students. He claimed that he did not want to serve me (tärilkä totasïm kilmäde). That was not surprising to me: these idiots would gather students at a useless madrasa, relax, and profit from the collection of goose and turkey from students for their teachers. I could not share a classroom with ignorant students, [those who were] unable to give a proper definition for a single sentence of a hadith. I must have become depressed by all this. /101a/

Then I traveled to Yalpaqtal again, started to teach there at the madrasa, and instructed the son of hazrat in the memorizing of the Qur’an. There were many Kazakh students. I spent a winter alone there and then in spring returned to Istärlibash. That year, our brother-in-law Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin wrote me a letter inviting me to perform the Qur’an recitation that Ramadan in Nikifar village by the Dim River. I intended to go there and then to Yalpaqtal. In Nikifar, during the recitation, I became ill. With God’s help, I finished the recitation and sent a telegram to hazrat saying that I could not go there, and then returned to Istärlibash. There, I received a letter from hazrat: “You could not come for the recitation, so come next winter to teach.” I did so next winter and finished teaching the Qur’an to his son. In spring, I returned. After our studies, his son went to the famous Khayrullah hazrat ‘Alikaev in Qarghalï, practiced the Qur’an there and became a professional specialist in the Qur’an (murattib hafiz kalamullah). That was in 1911.

In 1912 I came back to Istärlibash and, without visiting the madrasa, stayed at home. On May 30, 1915, I brought my wife Fatima to our house. Our late father (babamïz) saw us off and gave us lots of presents, fulfilling our most basic needs. May he be in God’s mercy.

In 1914 the war with Germany started and continued until 1917. In 1916, I heard that the men born in 1881 would now be recruited. I had to find a way out. To do so, I took a military job at the sewing workshop (tun tegu zavodï) of the merchant Muhammad hajji Ayupov in Orenburg. Here we prepared fur for sewing. Every fur was accepted for ten kopeks. This job provided a delay of three months from joining the army. We worked there in a group of five. In 1917, with the outbreak of the Great Revolution (olugh inqilab) in Russia, workers at the factory started to leave, because the power (vlas) moved from the hands of the rich (baylar) into the hands of the workers. That year I received a letter from my father, saying: “Fire has destroyed all the buildings around the house, as well as the firewood and chaff.” Only the house stayed untouched, while the cattle and things were left without shelter. /101b/

I had to see the house somehow and therefore went to Ayupov, asking: “Please give me some vacation.” He replied: “I have no power now, ask the council of workers.” I waited for the meeting day and asked them. They voted unanimously to provide me with a month of vacation. On March 15, I went home by train. I wanted to see my relatives in Nikifar village, but our brother-in-law Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin was on his deathbed. He could speak a little, and asked for news. I said: “Tsar Nicholas lost his throne and a person called Kerensky has taken his place.” He laughed, probably happy about the Tsar’s downfall. I stayed for a day, but then had to go to Istärlibash, because the melting snow might destroy the road. A day or two after I returned to Istärlibash, we learned that our brother-in-law had passed away. There was no road to go there on the day of his burial, because of the flooding and rain. Therefore I could not go for the funeral.

Several days later I got a letter from my friend ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Bilalov, who had stayed at the factory: “A commission of workers, soldiers, and peasants visited our factory for an inspection and ruled that you and I have to go to the army. Try to return quickly, here the workers have disappeared, I am staying here alone with the guard. If possible, try to find a reason for us not to go to the army.” This [commission] found out that we were not leatherworkers, but teachers, because we were uchitel’ in the documents. As I had to find a way out, I asked the elders (qartlar) of several villages to produce a statement (isprafkä) saying that I had left teaching and was a leatherworker. They agreed and confirmed it (täsdiqlap) at the village office (silsavit).

After that, with complete reliance on God, I went to Orenburg. I arrived by train, left my luggage in the railway station lockers and marched directly to the factory, even though it was nine o’clock in the evening. At the gate I found an old guard; I knew him, he was from Istärlitamaq. /102a/ I greeted him: “Hello, countryman! (isänmä, zemliak)” and asked how things were. He said that all the people had run away and that the factory was not functioning. I continued: “Is there anyone left?” He replied: “Only Battalov304 remains in the office.” I asked: “May I enter?” He said: “Come in.” I knocked on the office doors and he asked: “Who is there?” I said: “Me, Qadïrov.” He replied: “Come in.” I greeted him and asked about the situation. He said: “No news so far, since they wrote that report and left.”

I spent a night there and in the morning went to the city. There I saw many people who I knew and had worked together with. I asked them for news. They said: “Be careful in the city, return to your village. They are checking the army documents of all young people.” Others spread rumors: “The Kerensky government released teachers from mobilization.” I checked this information and it turned out to be true. Now I needed a statement that I was a teacher, and hence went to the village. I made the statement and came back to see the military officer. He took the statement and ordered the secretary to produce a document (kägaz). He had only just started to type it when members of the commission of soldiers and peasantry arrived at the secretariat and explained their reasons, but the secretary continued to type my document. He suddenly stopped and asked: “Wait, are you from Ufa governorate (razve Ufimski guberna ishtoli)?” I said: “Yes.” He continued: “No, we cannot issue documents for people from other governorates.” He took the document out of the typewriter, ripped it up and returned the rest of my papers. I said “Goodbye,” and left.

It was unsafe to walk in the city. I had to flee to my village as soon as possible. Luckily, my fellow villager Fadil Akhmerov was in the city. I asked him: “Will you take me back home?” He answered: “We will depart today, if we can manage it. Let’s go.” On the same day, he took me out of Orenburg and brought me safely to Istärlibash. Soon after, I went to Istärlitamaq, where the local military officer gave me a document granting me, as a teacher, exemption from military service (‘askärlek khezmäte). That was sometime in August 1917. The same year, through the Istärlitamaq branch for education, I was assigned to teach at the school of Mäläkäy village. /102b/ I taught there until 1920 and then moved to Istärlibash school, where I worked until 1922, when I submitted an appeal to be released.

Those were the years of great hunger. People slaughtered and ate their own children and wives. Many people were even eating the dead bodies. So many people died of hunger that there was nobody left to bury them. I saw it myself and helped as far as I could to bury these poor people: we loaded up to sixty corpses onto three sledges, then bound them with a lasso and took them to the cemetery, because no one else could do it. With intention for God’s sake I told my friends and companions to come together and dig a huge hole. We covered it with straw and then buried those corpses there, men and women separately. They accepted their destiny from God and submitted their souls to Him with patience. May God forgive all of them, amen. This graveyard is located at the main cemetery (olugh mäqbarä) in Istärlibash, in the eastern part, near the mountains.

Another huge grave was dug for some 100 people. This was in the middle of the main cemetery, near a niche for water collection.

That was the year when my daughter Asiya came into the world. I invited some fifty people and arranged a name-giving ceremony. Thanks be to God, I had three children and two brothers in my care (tärbiya). We did not experience hunger and did not see a shortage of bread: foreseeing difficulties, I organized some provisions. The government (hükümät) also helped me a little, since I was a teacher. Besides that, American society took note of the hunger in Russia and opened dining rooms for children and elderly people in need so that a great many people stayed alive. This dining room was called Ara. Elderly people received a pood of corn every month. They provided food for children at the dining room twice a day. The food that they gave out included a white roll, sugar, cocoa, milk, and hot soup. They also provided something to wear. The director of this dining room profited a lot by selling the food of these hungry children, harming them (zölem qïlïb). What shamelessness! /103a/ Dear readers (uquchïlar), judge for yourself: these children are still alive, while those who ate their food are long in their graves and must answer to God.

This hunger started in fall 1920. That year, first typhus and then cholera spread, and in Istärlibash up to twenty people died a day. This [hunger] continued until the spring of 1922. It was so terrible that no horses, cats, or birds like hawks were left in our village. People even produced flour out of bark and bones and ate it. At the mill, one could see that bones served there as the main material, and there was no seed present whatsoever. Some people even ate the products of calving, called “trash” (chüp). They would request: “Do not throw it away before calving.”

In spring 1922, it got much better: people could eat the roots of plants called itläk, clover (qïmïzlïq), and sorrel (qulgalaq) and thus stayed alive. If a human being goes out to eat plants, he will not die of hunger. That spring and summer were so fruitful that we even thought that there had never been a spring like that. Previously unseen flowers blossomed. On the mountain, people made hay. As never before, cows went home having been milked three times. Our community cattle herd was located in a court in front of the graveyard. Women would go there to milk cows. My wife Fatima would go there too, bringing back a bucket of milk every day. I told her that we needed to sow some rye and she agreed, but where to find seeds? I said: “We will find it, if we try hard. If God allows, go out tomorrow morning with the children and collect some ears of corn. I will also try to find something.” I found half a pood from someone. In the village by the Künderäk River there was a mill belonging to ‘Ubaydullah hazrat Tuqaev. His son Sharif Tuqaev lived there. I borrowed from him a pood of rye. In this way, in fall 1921, I sowed two and a half pood of rye in a field of eighty sazhen in length and forty sazhen in width. Relying on God, in summer 1922 I collected ten loads of rye on ten carts that a horse could not move. Without counting expenses, /103b/ I managed to preserve 110 poods of rye in my barn. When God gives, He gives it this way. This is what I have seen and done.

From 1923 on, we had a horse and I started to farm. Before the revolution (inqilab) we were not given land. Starting from 1918, together with peasant folk we were given land. Since we now had the land, we ought to cultivate it. I took on agricultural work by cultivating four to five acres of land. I had no other source of income but to grow potatoes and other garden plant varieties. My peasanthood (dehqancheqlegem) was enough for me: until 1928 I kept a horse, two cows, five to six sheep, geese, and four to five beehives.

In 1926 I was invited by imam Fatih Karimov to perform Qur’an recitation during Ramadan at the new Muslim community of Jirgän village on the Aq Idel River. The people of this community were previously Chuvash (äwwälendä chuwash milläte bulïp) and in 1905 they officially converted to Islam (räsmi möselmanlïq qabul qïlïb), built a mosque and organized a community. They found it appropriate to perform a Qur’an recitation to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their prayers, and thus invited me.

During the same Ramadan, Karamatullah Aydarov, an imam from Perm, sent me a telegram inviting me to perform a Qur’an recitation, but due to some reasons (bä‘ze ber säbäplärgä bina’än) I replied that I could not go.

In 1929, ‘Abd al-‘Alim Davletshin,305 a respected imam from Orenburg, sent a telegram inviting me to perform a Qur’an recitation. He had been inviting me over the previous year, but since I had promised to be elsewhere, I could not go. He invited me again that year. I went there and performed the Qur’an recitation at the mosque of Ahmad bay Husaynov in Orenburg. I appointed ‘Abd al-Rahim qari, one of the teachers at the Husayniyya madrasa in Orenburg, to act as a listener (sami‘) behind me, and I finished the recitation in fourteen evenings. After that, ‘Abd al-Qawi hazrat, an imam of the Caravansaray mosque in Orenburg, came with the trustees of that mosque to my hotel and requested: “Now come to recite at our mosque too.” I agreed and performed the second recitation [round] at Caravansaray. Its main imam Ni‘matullah Timäshev was a prominent scholar and a good orator, [claiming:] “Dear Muslims, do not follow religious innovations (dini khurafat)!”; someone supportive of progress (täräqqilek). May he be covered with God’s mercy, amen. /104a/ The buildings of these mosques are still present. During the recitation period, I stayed with the mosque’s mu’adhdhin. At the Night of Power in Ramadan, the majority of people present were children and many women. I completed the recitation with the appropriate prayers, then the imams addressed the audience on some religious topics, and that was it. All praise goes to God, the Lord of the Universe.

This must have been written above, but I write it here.

Even though I stayed at home between 1912 and 1916, I was not without a job. I participated in social work. First, in 1912 I talked to the village wise people (anglï adämnär) and we came up with the idea of opening a hitherto rare cooperative for everyday needs (potrebitel’). To open this partnership, four people went to the Ufa governorate office to ask for permission. I (bez) was an organizer of this enterprise. We soon got permission, and then gathered people to explain to them the benefits of this cooperation, the fact that income will be gathered on this company’s account and so on: “Now, if you agree, you can become a member of this company; then you will have to pay membership fees and select three people from all the members.” Then we discussed the name of the company and decided it would be Nur. The membership fee was fixed at fifty rubles; then we had to elect the director, bookkeeper, three members of the revision committee, and the director’s assistant. They elected me and some others as members of the revision committee. This is how our business started. The people were also happy to help, being thankful and saying: “How did you find this out? We benefit by supporting this enterprise.”

In 1915 we realized together that we needed to broaden this market and open a second one, and [so] submitted an appeal to Ufa. First, our community imam ‘Abdullah hazrat Tuqaev, Sharif Tuqaev and myself signed it as organizers. We got the permission quickly and opened a shop called Shäfqat with a 100-ruble fee. We rented a stone shop belonging to ‘Abd al-Karim Iskandarov, one of the village merchants, making him a seller, /104b/ and opened a new shop. We started to sell various products at our shop, such as confectionery, for a cheap price. Even though the private entrepreneurs tried to agitate people [on their side], nothing came of it (numerlarï ütmäde). Our business went well. The number of members grew and our account (kassa) strengthened, because people realized that they benefited from the partnership.

Between 1921 and 1922, I worked as a member of Istärlibash rural council (silsavit). In 1922, I acted as a delegate from Talqash volost administration in the district elections of the Volga region. There were ninety delegates in total. That year we also opened a loan cooperative (burïch shirkäte, kreditni tavarishstva) in Istärlibash. I was elected a member of the revision committee at this cooperative.

A Water System in Istärlibash

In 1926, I had the idea of restoring the old watercourse in Istärlibash. This fountain had been erected ninety years previously, through the means of the late ‘Abd al-Khaliq Majidov, an Istärlitamaq merchant. Though it had been functioning up to the 1917 Great Revolution (olugh inqilab), since there was no one to repair it, it had ceased to work. This water flows down from a mountain on the graveyard side. To lead this spring towards the mosque and madrasa, they dug the earth and put long pieces of pine wood there, hollowed out with a borer. In my time, this [construction] was called sukhanä. The water flowed under pressure to that sukhanä through beams of three arshin up and then down. Excess water would flow on the big street so that people could use it. This part was called a small spring (bäläkäy chishmä). [This water] was present in each house of the Tuqaevs as well as in the house of ‘Ayd khalfa Fazullin.

In this way, the water flowing into the sukhanä dwindled. By the time of the Revolution (inqilab waqïtïnda), the Tuqaevs who supported the water constructions had either passed away, or fled the village. Hence the people (khalïq306 ) suffered from a shortage of water. /105a/

Now I exchanged ideas about it with the officials of our village. They said: “If people help, we will also provide any kind of governmental support, including state credit (burïch, issuda) as well as technical aid. This year the population has the right to use the collected taxes for common needs (‘amm fa’idasïna).” I asserted: “Good, if this work is feasible, then we have to explain it to people at a larger meeting.” I became convinced (küngelem ïshandï) of this project after my fellow agronomist confirmed: “On my side, I can also provide the necessary assistance, explaining and convincing people in Russian.” I thought that his words would help me a lot, and I relied on God.

It was in late April307 that the whole village population gathered to divide the forest territory. Everybody was present there. For that purpose, they gathered at the part of the forest called umartalïq.308 This part of the forest had been in the hands of the Tuqaevs and they had separated it by ditches.

To start the meeting, I went forward and asked: “Dear friends, let me address an issue relating to everybody.” After they allowed me to do so, I started to talk: “As you know, ninety years ago ‘Abd al-Khaliq Majidov, an Istärlitamaq merchant, erected a fountain for our village, intending it as a life-long donation (‘omerlek sadaqa). This canalization is nowadays in a broken state, but everyone knows that the village people are in need of good water. Especially when there is a fire, because there is no water at the center of the village, it is difficult to find a drop of water. Dear brothers, here I suggest to you (mäslähät qïlam), relying on God, that it be repaired. If you donate as much as you can, even if you are poor, you can be sure that it will help this matter of public benefit (khalïq fa’idasïna esh). We have now achieved free government (irkenlek hükümäte), while with the previous government such an enterprise would have been difficult to achieve on our own (üz ihtiyar belän). As for the Tuqaevs, given that the water was on their land, /105b/ they would not have been concerned by the general need for water. Now, for us living in this era of progress (täräqqilek zamanïnda), the destruction of a water system provided by someone would be a shameful moment in history (tarikhta ber qara bulachaq). Everybody understands that such shame would never be forgotten in the history of Istärlibash. If we spend our energy on this work sincerely (chïn küngelemez belän), it would serve as a memorial (istälek) for the next generations and an enduring donation (sadaqa-yi jariyya) until the End of Times. That would confirm the Qur’anic verse “and write down what they have forwarded and what they have left behind.”309 This Qur’anic verse has the following meaning: “We will note down the good deeds left before one’s death.” You know, of course, that millions of people and animals will benefit from this water until the End of Times. They will satisfy their thirst and happily fulfil their needs. For example, on hot days when you are thirsty and then encounter a well, you thank the person who built it. In this case you are alone, but our water service will help millions. If human beings strive, it will succeed. The Qur’an says: لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى ‘People will profit only from their effort.’310 In accordance with our Qur’an, the leader of the Great Revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, says: ‘No work, no pay (kem eshli, shul teshli).’ The Qur’an says the same.”

After I explained it at length, some people (agaylar) doubted: “Will we be able to do such a great task?” I told them: “If done sincerely, the strength of men can move mountains (همة الرجال تقطع الجبال).” Some people said: “We can live without water, why would we need it?” Others say: “I have a well.” There were also people saying: “I have water flowing near my house.” I replied: “Human beings should not always care only about themselves. Majitov from Istärlitamaq must also have had water or a well in his house. Think – why did he construct the water system for Istärlibash, rather than saying ‘I already have a well’? He did not aim for personal profit (ber shäkhsi fa’ida).” /106a/ [They continued:] “We understand what you say, but how will we find money to arrange the work?” [I said:] “The comrade (iptäsh) agronomist will explain that.”

He started to talk: “Dear comrades! I will tell you a bit about the water system. After listening to comrade Qadïrov, I found his words correct, and from my side I only add the following. You ask where to get money for this work. Dear comrades, very soon the government will organize the self-taxation system that allows for the collection of money for public needs such as a bridge or well. This is the first thing. Secondly, if this will not be enough, we will ask the government for credit and technical support. I promise to participate in this work. I only ask that, to accomplish this profitable work, you help us unanimously (ber tän, ber qul bulïp) with your horses for up to three days, without any harm to them. First, we have to vote whether to repair this water system or not. Second, once we have a decision, we need to elect a committee of five people. This committee will lead the process and take the necessary further steps. Third, we will take on ourselves all the expenses of digging the earth and bringing raw materials from the forest and other places.” He suggested voting on these three issues.

Then I began to speak: “Dear community (mühtäräm jämä‘at), to feed our children we have no difficulty in working diligently the whole summer, but that is only for ourselves. Next to the fact that it will be usable until our death, there is no doubt that this construction would be a holy deed in this world for the sake of God and eternal reward (mängelek savaplï akhirät), similar to prayer and fasting. Think of the people among us lying in their beds for months and years, think of people sitting in jail, who think: ‘If only I was strong or free again, I would do all kinds of holy deeds (yakhshïlïqlar).’ I truly believe that it is a way of appreciating your health, to spend two or three days of your wellbeing /106b/ to help in this endeavor as a pious donation (sadaqa). When someone’s horse dies, he says: ‘I would do this and that, if only I had a horse. If not to help the poor, I would accomplish the deeds for God’s sake.’ When time passes, there is nothing to regret. I hope you will consider this and bring the energy of your horses to help, wishing them health. None of this is a difficult matter.” Now we had to vote.

With regard to the first issue, the majority voted for the repair of the water supply. As for the second issue, they asked for a list of candidates in the committee: Majid Qadïrov, Basir Duseinov, Muhammad Hasan Sayf al-Mulukov, Majid Hasanov, Majid Munasïpov, Khalilullah Hibatullin. The majority voted for them. One of the six was appointed to replace someone in case of illness. The third issue regarding the supply of resources at our expense was also supported. Now we only had to start working.

On May 20, 1926, when a technical expert arrived, the committee talked to him. He explained what had to be done: “First, you have to compile a list of men in the village capable of work, as well as working horses. After that, select someone for technical support, who will find the necessary materials. The rest of you will stay here to oversee the workers.” We appointed Basir Duseinov to carry out the technical support and to bring the appropriate wood to the spot from the forest. The rest of us would oversee different aspects. Khalilullah Haybatullin was appointed to compile the list of workers and horses, and soon it was ready. Now the question was how to supply water, whether to keep the old path or construct a new one. /107a/ We had a discussion on the issue and then decided to abandon the old path and make a new one in a similar way from lumber, so that the pressure becomes stable. In three places on the main street of Istärlibash we had to make huge reservoirs, filled with several thousands of buckets of water. These reservoirs had to be covered with metal on the top, so that the water could be pumped at any time. We needed to dig the source of the spring, insert the borer, cover it with metal and then paint it. The former water system had to be left for laundry.

The first reservoir was placed in front of the mu’adhdhin’s house, near the market. The second had to be made at the former ‘small spring’ place (bäläkäy chishmä) and the third was planned to be on the street after the stone bridge that leads to Istärlitamaq. The new system was meant to follow through the old garden of the Tuqaevs to the great mosque, then on to the mu’adhdhin’s house; there it had to turn to the first reservoir, then to the second, then to the bridge, to the third reservoir and back to the bridge, where it should flow into the Istärli River. Our first step was to dig at the spring and pad its borders with loam, then we had to bring eighteen loads of loam on each horse from Qïzïlyar hole; I did it myself too. This way we started our work. May God allow us to finish it, amen.

We managed to dig the lumber road from the spring to the third reservoir. It was one kilometer in length. To accomplish this, every worker had to dig either half a meter, or three meters, or a meter, depending on the depth. I also performed my part of this job at a place near the spring. Now, how much lumber did we need here? They calculated 130 pieces. Hasan Sayf al-Mulukov had to bring them. He went to the mountain at the top of Aq Idel and took this lumber to Istärlitamaq on a raft. From there we brought it to Istärlibash ourselves. I also brought the necessary metal for covering.

This lumber is some nine to ten arshin long per piece, and we had to make a hole through it. Since they already had an instrument for that, we invited the carpenters from Istärlitamaq /107b/ and paid them one ruble and fifty cents for each piece. By June, we had the ground ready. As the prices in shops got higher, it became difficult for people to work. I heard lots of damning talk: “Majid qari poisoned us with religion and forced us to do this job.” I accepted all of this calmly (salqïn qan belän), with patience. Among the majority of people there might be those who experienced a shortage of food, but they completed the digging. May God reward them for this, amen. To connect pieces of lumber to one another, we needed metal binding that we procured from Shahi Ahmad, the blacksmith.

Every time I went out to the market, my fellow villagers would ply me, saying: “The food is expensive. It was you who started this work, now you see that the prices at the market have increased. Go (davai) find us the food.” They caused me a lot of headaches and I was even afraid to go out. I was forced to tack up a horse and flee to Orenburg for five to ten days. Even with such difficulties, the work went on. I told my friends: “I will go away for a while. You try to continue work.” Thanks be to God, I had a bit of rest, and came back. The work was still in progress. The lumber had been placed and the reservoirs were ready and full of water as well. Superfluous water was directed away.

Now we had to try and see if water would flow through the lumber. Oh God, now was a moment of life or death for Majid qari311 : if water did not flow, they would immediately bury me in this hole. I said “In the name of God, I rely solely on God,”312 and let the water flow. Then I ran to the first reservoir and began to wait. At some point I heard the sound of water. /108a/ Soon after, the water arrived. I thanked God, and my concerns (ükenechem) had all but disappeared: if I died, it would be without a concern. In my heart (küngelemnän)313 I pronounced the following prayer: “When God asks me: ‘What good have you done for people in the world?’, I will point to this work. In accordance with the hadith “The one who points towards something good gets the same reward as the one who did the good itself,”314 may the Lord of the Universe count my work as an enduring donation (sadaqa-yi jariyya) with reward until the End of Times.” To this day, that water system is still functioning. All the people around said: “Look, look, qari, your service was not for nothing.” The whole village drank this water and everyone thanked the constructors after drinking. May that be for the sake of God. This must be the only good that I performed for Istärlibash. Maybe they will learn the story upon reading this;315 I ask the readers (uquchïlar) to pray for me.

In 1953-1954, the government improved this water system by installing pipes and granite tiles at the reservoirs. That was already the third construction of the water system in Istärlibash. The first, created by ‘Abd al-Khaliq Majidov, flowed below, closer to the Istärli River, and led away [from the village]. The second, i.e. ours, was made closer to the mountain, flowing near our house, then to the higher part of the village and down to the main street.

Dear readers, I wrote this with an intention to leave a record (ta’rikh) of what I know about the Istärlibash water system. However short, maybe in the future those who write the history of the Istärlibash water system will add more to this.

Meaning: “Letters will stay on paper for eternity, their writer will decay in ashes.”

I end here with the brief history of the water system. ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam Qadïrov known as (al-mashhur) Majid qari. Istärlibash, 1955.316 /108b/

My Imprisonment

To leave a memory (yädkär) for my children and to provide a lesson (‘ibrät), I decided to describe the events of my imprisonment (mähbuslek) as I committed no crime and was innocent, rather I was oppressed (na-haqq, bäla-gunahsïz mäzlüm). That happened on December 11, 1928. On a dark night in Istärlibash, a certain ‘Izz al-Din ‘Aleev, a procurator’s assistant, struck a stone and accidentally shot himself with his gun.

This ‘Aleev had earlier come to Istärlibash as a procurator to perform his duties. This ‘Aleev was from Qaragan village on the Dim River. During my time, he studied in Istärlibash at the religious school (dini madrasa). Hence I knew him. After the revolution, he started to work in the justice system. First he assisted judge Husayn Teregulov at the court in Nikifar village. Back then, every time I stayed at the house of my sister I would talk to him. After that, he worked in Qïrgïzbikä village; then he started to work as a procurator’s assistant in Istärlitamaq. His wife ‘A’isha was the daughter of Isma‘il mullah Islamqulov from Nikifar village. When my sister Farhi Sorur was a child, she always played at the house of this ‘A’isha. Hence we knew each other very well. We always saw each other at the sabantuys in Bashkir villages.

Once, when I came to the sabantuy in Narïstau (Chabïnlï) village, I spent a night as a guest in the house of Dawlat Shah agha. When [‘Aleev] came to Istärlibash, I wanted to see him and we met. He greeted me: “Hello, Majid abzï! ‘A’isha also asked me to greet you, if I see you.” I invited him: “Welcome to our house, you will be my guest!” He replied: “I am sorry, Majid abzï, I have no time during this trip, but maybe next time, if God allows.” I said: “Alright, I am looking forward to welcoming you,” and we parted. That evening, ‘Aleev went to a theater play (ispiktal), where he sat together with a woman with whom he had previously worked in Qïrgïzbikä. /109a/ This woman lived with Samarin, a Russian postal chief in Istärlibash. He probably told her: “Shall I come to your place after the play?” Then ‘Aleev went to the volost office for a meeting. Then, around nine or ten, he went to the volost guard and asked: “Bring me my gun. I will go now to the credit society.” The volost chief told him: “If so, I can provide someone to accompany you.” He refused, gesturing at the gun: “If you have this, you do not need a guard.” It was dark at night and the mess on the street had dried up. He went to the post office and saw through the window that in one part of the building the youth had gathered for a party (aulaq).

At some point, young men started to come out and he saw Samarin there. He got scared and hurried along the street. There is a water canal near the gates, with huge stones and timber behind it. In the darkness, he struck a stone, accidentally pressed the gun’s trigger and fell with his head on the stone. In the same minute there was another gunshot, probably to alert people, because the first shot was quiet, while the second was heard clearly. When people arrived, he uttered: “I have killed myself (kharap buldïm). Take me home.” They took him inside the post office, then he asked for water and they gave him cold water from the canal. He died soon after. Near the place where he fell down, his gun was left behind with two bullets shot. One of the bullets went into his shoes. His whistle also remained there. Another bullet hit his left leg and got stuck in his shoes. They told the inspection (qan soragan adäm) that they had given him warm water first. That is one lie, and the other: instead of “I have killed myself,” they rendered his words as “They have killed me.” They said that he was killed for his work.

Now, in the middle of the night, /109b/ they started to arrest decent people in the village. At eleven o’clock, I was in my house writing a document (ber ‘ariza) with my friend Hasan. The gates were open and we were sitting opposite one other. The window shutters were also open. Suddenly someone knocked at the door. I went out and asked: “Who is there?” They said: “Us, open the door.” I opened [the door] and saw the police, inspector, judge and other people there. They entered, then ordered me: “Hands up!” and started the search (obysk). They told me: “You are under arrest.” My wife and children were sleeping. After searching me, all the boxes and the entire house, they took me with them. I did not know what the matter was, but they put me in prison. They arrested imams and mu’adhdhins of three mosques, wealthy peasants from other villages, as well as merchants, even those who were in Istärlitamaq at the time. Thirty-six people in total. After that, the volost chief from Qaragush village, Sabir Maqsudov, and the communal inspector ‘Inayat Tukhfatullin sent a telegram to Ufa. The message was the following: “All the shooters are under arrest.” I was shocked and had no idea what was going on; the same must have been true of the others. For several days the village was blocked by guards who did not let anyone in or out.

In the morning, the authorities from Ufa started to arrive; that is, a military procurator, the secret police director, and all the authorities of Istärlitamaq. The entire village was thrown into chaos and people spread rumors about what had actually happened. At night the guards changed, and I asked the new guards: “What happened?” They replied: “The procurator got killed.” I was surprised, because that was an impossible thing, but I was patient and relied on God. I hoped that at some point the truth would be known anyway.

Now the investigation started and they initiated the interrogation (dapros). First, they invited and questioned my companions, then they invited me. Since I had not seen such things over the fifty years of my life, I was afraid and confused. In my entire life I had never come before the court, even in the capacity of a witness (gah). I had to answer to all of their questions: “Where did you spend the day, what did you do, who did you talk to, did you know ‘Aleev?” and so on. /110a/

  • “Do you recognize your guilt in this issue?”

  • “No.”

  • “On that day, who did you talk to? Where did you go?”

I replied that I went here and there and talked to so-and-so: in the afternoon my brother-in-law, my wife and myself had guests over.

  • “Who was there?”

  • “Such-and-such people, and also a poor person who assists me all the time.”

  • “Who is he?”

  • “Khabir Iskhaqov.”

Then I added: “Back then, a committee of rights inspection had denied me my rights. All my activities thus revolved around writing appeals to get the rights back. The committee consisted of Zinnatullin Lutfullah, Muhiddin Hibbatullin, and someone else whose name I do not remember. In 1921, I suggested Majid Hasanov, now the chair of this committee, as a candidate for appointment as a teacher. In former years he was a khalfa who laughed [at me] and called me ‘an atheist reformist’. The committee was on my side, but as a chair Hasanov voted against me and denied me my rights. People say: if you do good to someone, wait for evil.317 That was the case. Day and night I was busy collecting materials from different places to defend myself. I went to ‘Aleev to explain this. He said: ‘Majid abzï, I know who you were before the Revolution, bring me the documents showing your work after the Revolution. I will process them, but be quick, since I depart today.’ This is why addressed him.”

– “Did you know him? He was a Communist, why would you talk to him?”

I replied: “In my youth we studied together, he was my neighbor and friend. On December 11, I spent the whole day working until nine in the evening. At eight, I even sent my small children to get a document from someone. I invited Hasanov to my home to draw up the appeal together according to instructions. He agreed and promised to come. I was thus at home waiting for him. Then the sound of gunshots was heard. First clearly, and then /110b/ another one, hollow. Right away, the sound of whistles and cries was heard. My house is on the hill, I went out on the doorstep and stayed there listening. Then my son and daughter came back and greeted me: ‘Daddy, we heard the gunshot and people going along the street with lamps.’ I replied: ‘The police must have taken a drunk person.’ After that, I went back into my house to examine the documents. Soon after, Hasanov arrived: ‘There is so much noise in the street. I heard it on my way here, but I do not know what happened.’ Then we wrote the appeal. Then someone knocked the door. I opened it. The police entered the house and arrested both of us. My wife and children were asleep.”

They invited me for examination several times and performed a search of my house. In a day or two, the procurators from Ufa began to leave. They came to show off in front of the people, but nothing happens without the order of God and the truth will come out anyway. They lacked guards in the village for this terror (dähshät) and invited people from neighboring villages. Later, they organized a gathering of the poor, and asked about us. People said: “If the fact is proved, we will ask for execution, but without proof the issue will remain open, because we do not think that these people would commit this crime. Maybe it was an enemy from another village. We know nothing of it. You have a lurcher [dog]. Bring out the people and the prisoners, the dog will identify the criminal.”

The next day, they took the people and the dog to the place of the murder. The post officer and Zahir al-Dinov, the policeman, took the dog from the place of the murder back home. They stopped the dog from searching. People asked them: “Let the dog out!” But they took it away.

After that, we were all sent to Istärlitamaq to prison. We spent ten days in the village. Thanks be to God, though I had heard of prisons, God let me enter it without a sin. /111a/

Without hesitation, the volost administration, based on false evidence from other people, unjustly (na-haqq) forced me to leave my wife, six children, and two orphan brothers. Since I had committed no crime (gunahsïz), I did not feel any sorrow. I had great hope that the government (hükümät) would not punish innocent people without knowing the truth.

When compiling the report on ‘Aleev, they did not mention that his overcoat and trousers were slightly burned. Hence Khayr al-Din Farkhshatov, the chair of the village council, said: “Why don’t you write it? I ask you to write it. People say that in war the bullet does not burn when it is shot from a short distance.” Then they wrote it down. The doctor (dukhtur) who examined the body first said that it was difficult to say that he was actually killed, but then he obeyed the word of the local administration and wrote that he had been shot. Then the body was sent to Istärlitamaq, where factory workers greeted it with the sound of horns.

I wrote above that Khabir Iskhaqov was together with us at the party. He had bad luck, since when they searched his house, they found a bloodied fur coat and knife on the top of the oven. The policemen rejoiced, saying: “We have found the murderer.” In fact, they did not, because they only found a bloodied fur coat and a knife, while ‘Aleev was not stabbed, he was shot. In their view, if the fur coat has blood on it, that is the murderer. Then they started questioning Iskhaqov:

  • “Was it you who killed ‘Aleev?”

  • “No,” he replied. “I had been asleep since the evening, I did not even leave the house.”

  • “Why are you lying? Do you want to escape?” The policeman wanted to scare him.

  • “Feel free to search and investigate.”

  • “So how did a bloodied fur coat and knife appear in your house?”

  • “They did not appear. I brought them myself. If you ask why, I slaughtered a horse for someone and my things got dirty. Once back home, I threw them on the oven. This is the nature of that blood.”

They asked the person whose horse was slaughtered and he supported the case. This joy of finding a murderer recalled the saying: “there is no smoke without fire.”318 /111b/ The local administration was afraid of being blamed, and therefore sent the fur coat and knife to Moscow for inspection. There it was testified to be the horse’s blood. Their case did not succeed: neither was the dog allowed, nor was the knife of any help. These people started to worry about themselves. It had been easy to send a telegram saying that they had arrested the murderers, but it was now difficult to prove. When we found ourselves in prison, someone shouted via the door viewer (volchok319 ): “Ask for a gathering of the medical commission to check the body again.” Since this was all new to us, we were afraid that this would be turned against us. Had we done so back then, maybe we could have escaped, because seventeen professors and doctors in Ufa examined the relevant report and concluded that he must have killed himself. Had the committee been organized in time, things could have gone differently.

We spent three months in Istärli prison and then they moved us to Ufa. We all entered the same cell for investigation. Several days later the secret police (GPU) charged all eleven of us and sent the case to the procurator. After that, they expelled the rest to Siberia for different periods, to Omsk, Narymskii krai and other places. I remained, with the thought “Oh God, let it be,” and was repeatedly invited to the court office for examination. Then they moved us from the communal cell to the four-floor building with separate cells. I was on the second floor in cell no. 19, ‘Alim Tuqaev was in the neighboring cell, Hasanov was on the third floor. The month of Ramadan arrived. May God accept it; we broke our fast with prison bread and cold water. We did not miss the five prayers, thanks be to God. Then my wife and baby daughter, called Maryam, came to visit me. May God reward them greatly for their attentiveness.

In April, we heard rumors that they would let us go. /112a/ [The prison workers] said: “Now your case is on the desk of the high court, there it will be solved.” A certain ‘Uthmanov worked there as inspector for the most important cases. The Russian holiday of Paskha approached. One day, seven of our companions were suddenly let free. The five of us, i.e. ‘Abd al-Rahim b. ‘Ubaydullah Tuqaev, Hasanov, Iskhaqov, Hadi the mu’adhdhin, and myself, had to stay. We thought that now we had been found guilty. ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Lutfullah Tuqaev, ‘Alim Tuqaev, ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov, Basir Duseinov, Ahmad ‘Aleev, and Majid Munasïpov left the prison.

One day, Majid Valiullin, my brother-in-law born in Nikifar, came to visit me and brought some presents. He told me: “Abzï, do not worry, you will get out.” I replied: “You are only saying this to calm me down. They would not separate us from those who left.” [He said:] “Abzï, it turns that the situation is as follows. He [‘Uthmanov] considered the case of seven people and then got ill. He has not had time to consider your case yet. Once he gets out of the hospital, he will consider your case.” He made me calm by saying: “You will be free very soon, if God allows.”

The May holiday approached, but we were still waiting. On May 5, we were finishing our daily meals, when they cried from the door viewer (volchok): “Qadïrov, your case is upheld. Let’s go, you are free (chist, davai iskoree svobodu).” I was confused. Once I left the cell, I asked: “What about the others?” He said: “All of you are getting out.” Right there, they joined me with their luggage. [The prison workers] ordered: “At six o’clock you will go to the gate.”

We were leaving the prison gates and saw ‘Abd al-Qadir Tuqaev with a cab driver (izvushik) coming to greet us. I (bez) told him: “We are finally free!” He laughed: “Oh, are you? You will come to our place. I will now order the cab driver; take us there!” They were waiting for us, to feed us. May God forgive them, amen.

We went to the secret police (GPU) at six o’clock.320 He [the GPU worker] said: “Once at home, if you hear or learn something about this case, write to us at this address. We will investigate it,” and then let us go. /112b/ This means that the highest court did not find the case appropriate for sentencing. We got out safely without the court procedure. Thanks be to God, of course the truth must have become clear. The government also investigated properly and performed justly (‘adellek belän). Long live the government and the just court (‘adalät mähkämäse) that recognize conscience (wujdan) and truth (haqiqat). There was such terror (dähshätle eshlär) about what could have been if the government had followed this line, but they performed only just deeds (tugrïlïq). All the newspapers, all the workers’ conferences called unanimously for the highest sentence (‘ali jaza’) for us. Russian newspapers published in America and Moscow wrote about it. Such shameless and cruel people!

Without knowing the case, on January 19, 1929, a Bashkir comrade (iptäsh), Asan Kildiev, wrote an article in Bashkortostan, called “Traces of Blood” (qan ezläre). When I came back, I saw [my name there]: Qur’an hafiz Majid qari Qadïrov. I was shocked how one’s conscience (wujdan) can allow one to write such an insult (iftira’) and such a lie. You have to know, dear reader, that there are such shameless oppressors (wujdansïz zalimnär) in the world!

Our case went to Moscow and then was returned to Ufa with written advice (tanbih): “Check it properly! Do not consider the case following your personal judgment (shäkhsiyategezgä birelep) of mullahs and kulaks.” In December 1928, our case bore the number 520. Thanks be to God, even though all the newspapers were full of calls to sentence us with the highest penalty, due to the justice of the government (hükumätneng ‘adaläte), the court did not find any facts for consideration and let us go free. I thanked God ceaselessly.

I rejoined my family on the ‘Arafa night of Qurban bayram, at around eleven o’clock. Thanks be to God, I informed the police station and started to live quietly. For us, those were days of happiness, but for the oppressors (zalimnär) and the local authorities that was like the Last Day (khatim köne). I thought that they would do everything not to let us stay in the village and would find ways to fabricate another case against me, because they were worried about themselves. They tried to do something evil (yawïzlïq) /113a/ and get rid of me. Sabir Maqsudov, Tukhfatullin and others were among them. At some point, on September 19, a meeting about taxes in the volost took place. Because some of the citizens (grazhdannar) were in high spirits, they expressed some criticism. These were the comrades Sharifjan ‘Aleev and ‘Ubaydullah. The volost chief Maqsudov said: “You are being denounced by those who have returned [from prison].” On the same evening they arrested Sharifjan, ‘Ubaydullah and myself on the way back [from the meeting]. They sent us directly to Istärlitamaq prison. After several days there, they sent us again to Ufa prison. This time they asked me only once in Istärlitamaq about my life and social origin (ijtimagïy chïgïshïm), wrote it down and never asked me anything in Ufa. On the first arrest they gave me article 58: 2-3, on the second, article 58: 11.

I stayed in Ufa from my imprisonment until August 1929 without being asked anything. At that time, all the mullahs, mu’adhdhins and religious people of each village were taken to prison. The prisons became so full that there was no room left. In Ufa there were 3,000 people together with me. In July, they started to send people off to various places. Sharifjan and ‘Ubaydullah Munasïpov returned to their houses. One day, ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Lutfullah Tuqaev and ‘Alim Tuqaev, an imam from Istärlibash, were moved from our cell to another. One or two days later, a car took them away.

At that time, the secret police had tripartite committees (troika). The next day, we learned that according to their decision, ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov, Majid Hasanov and myself had been given ten years, Basir Duseinov, Ahmad ‘Aleev, ‘Imad al-Din Tukhfatullin had been given five years, and Khabir Iskhaqov had been given three years [of prison]. This was a rude (nakhalnïy) gift for me from the Istärlibash volost officials.

On August 2, 1929, 300 people were put on the same train and sent off to Arkhangelsk (Arkhangel). I said, “Let us have a safe journey,” and joined them. The days were hot; each of the red coaches contained thirty-five people. They gave us very little water. The metal roof radiated heat. In this way we traveled via Samara, Penza, Moscow, Petrozavodsk, Medvezh’ya Gora and Kem and on the eleventh day they brought us to the station called Louhi, on the Murmansk railway. Through the larch forest /113b/ and swamp we moved on from Louhi station to a particular place (ber punkt). Near the houses, at the lake, there were several barracks surrounded by a fence. After lining us up and asking our names, the GPU officials pronounced their customary words. At the same time, our luggage was brought on carts and jumbled up. We went there on foot. After that they ordered us into a bath house. In fact, it was just a small building near the lake with several benches inside. We washed ourselves with warm water. They took our clothes for disinfection. We went out [of the bath house] naked, but there were enough clothes prepared waiting for us. They gave us white shirts, trousers, leather shoes, jackets and caps and then took us to a clean barracks. We arrived at night, but when we entered the barracks the sun rose, because nights are very short in that place. Then we slept and rested. After waking up, we ate bread and one kilogram of fish, and drank tea. They took us to the house, examined our things (paketlarnï), showed us to the doctor and then divided us into categories: strong young people were assigned to the fourth category, sick people to the second category and those in between to the third category.321 Night approached. We ate things like soup, porridge, and fish and then had some rest. Starting from the third day, they called us for work. Three hundred people who had spent several years in prison, then eleven days en route, arrived terribly hungry and could not satisfy themselves with food. The local people talked to each other in amusement: “Who are these people? A team of gluttons (obzhornï kamanda)?” We got 1200 grams of rye bread. There was a lot of fish: no matter how much you ate, the bowl of it was still standing near the kitchen.

Our job was the following. We were near the Finnish border, 56 km away from the station, amongst the swamp, rocks and larch forest. We had to build a road by digging earth and cutting trees. Our job, in the third [category], was to bring sand and clay on horse-drawn carriages. /114a/

Later on, after a month of work, they took us to the 19th point which had a single barracks, which was in bad shape. There was a bridge being constructed over the lake. We worked there until November 7. On the holiday they started to take us on the march (etap). We were in high spirits hoping to get soup, water and good meat for the holiday, but now they ordered: “Let’s go, let’s go (davai da davai)” and ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov and I started to collect our things. Duseinov and Hasanov stayed: only those sentenced to ten years were not taken. Hasanov had arrived there earlier.

Nobody knew where we were going. They collected our things and took them to one place and forced us to go on foot: “Your luggage will be sent on ships.” We were near a huge lake. We departed at night and then marched for 15 km back to the previous settlement. In the middle of the night, the guards told us: “We will rest here for an hour.” There was no place to sleep in the forest and swamp, but we slept putting our heads on stumps or timber that was lying there. At sunrise we went on, and arrived by midday. Once there, we realized that our luggage was still missing. We waited until the evening. At some point, we got the news that the ship had sunk. Then suddenly, at around eleven o’clock, people became flustered: the ship had arrived. We ran there; the ship had indeed arrived, but all our belongings were floating inside, full of water. We picked up the stuff with difficulty and brought it to the barracks. Everything was wet: pillows, blankets, fur coats, and felt boots. I stayed awake the whole night until sunrise, trying to dry it, but it helped only a little. No sleep, no food. They started shouting: “Let’s go on the march (davai etapqa)!” I put the wet stuff around my neck, they gave me one or two salty fish to carry, and we went on 6 km to the former Louhi station. They took us on a train and we did not know where we were going. I was so exhausted that a boil appeared on my shoulder and I could not lift heavy things. Thanks be to God, my brother-in-law (qaynagam) Aydabulov helped me, carrying the things for me. There was no water in the train to drink after eating fish, and I did not know what to do. I asked if I could eat snow from the window and they would not even allow that. It was cold in the train. That was November. /114b/

We reached Popov Island on the shores of the White Sea; there we picked up our heavy luggage and marched another 3 km to the barracks. I set down my belongings on the way, but the guards told me: “Take it.” I replied: “I cannot (ne mogu). My shoulder hurts. You can do whatever you want.” Then they left it with a watchman. We entered the barracks, but there was no water to drink and it was impossible to drink the salty sea water. At night, around ten o’clock, they shouted: “Whose luggage was left?” I ran out and took my belongings which had been brought on a horse.

We had to spend ten days there in quarantine. I took this opportunity to dry out all of my belongings. After fourteen days, they took us on the march again and we still did not know where we were going. They put us on a steamboat by the shore of the White Sea. It was five in the evening; a lot of people were going on the steamboat. There were also many delinquents (shpana). On the steamboat, they did not let us inside, because it was full of food. We moved into the middle of the sea. It was night when suddenly the wind, snow and storm started. That was a terrible moment (qiyamat). The wind on the steamboat was very strong and people were crying terribly, especially the delinquents, because their clothing was very thin. Even though I had a fur coat and felt boots [with me], I was afraid that they would be stolen once I took them out. I started to shudder violently. We did not know where the steamboat was going. It was simply circling in the storm. What to do? I went to a sailors’ cabin, they asked me: “What do you want, old guy (starik)?” I asked them: “May I warm up a bit?” They said: “Alright, keep guard here while we go to work. Don’t let anyone inside.” They were cooking pancakes and gave me one or two, as well as a boiled potato. I also drank tea and warmed up in this room that was like a bath house. People outside were suffering, but I had entered a paradise. I was sitting there thanking God. The sailors came back and asked me: “Hey, old guy, is everything alright (nu istarik, vse paradkämu)?” I replied: “Yes.” They continued the conversation: “The steamboat has lost its way. Nothing can be seen and the waves are strong. I hope we won’t sink.” Dawn approached and it cleared up. /115a/ Once it was daylight, the steamboat returned to Popov Island.

Again under orders we marched the 3 km back to the barracks. I did not take my belongings; though the guards shouted at me, I left them on the hill, saying: “It’s heavy. If it gets lost, you will be responsible.” Upon reaching the barracks we drank some tea, ate something and slept. After getting some rest I went to the guards. They had brought my stuff to their place. I saw it was safe and I returned to the barracks. Then we slept, and in the morning they took us on the march again. They lined us up near the watch, but my things were not there any more. I told the guard: “Where is my luggage? If you do not find it, I will not go. You can shoot me.” He replied: “No worries, you will get it back,” and returned me to the line. Alright, I trusted them and went on. We reached the steamboat and stopped there. I still inquired about my belongings. Nothing came after the first and the second bell. I asked: “Where is my stuff?” The guard replied: “They will bring it now.” At the third bell, we were taken on board the steamboat; only then did my things arrive, and I received them in good order. In the afternoon the guard asked me: “Did you get your stuff?” I said: “Yes.” The steamboat departed. Now we learned that we were going to the Solovki Islands, 60 km away in the middle of the sea. That was a six-hour journey. We arrived safely and the steamboat set down its anchor. They started to take us off [the boat]. The landing stage was full of officials and other people. When we disembarked, we met comrade Hasanov:

  • “Aydabulov and I are both fine. How come you are here?”

  • “After you left, we came here. I live in a barracks and I’m doing well.”

  • “Alright. You know, we will take a bath now; please save a place for us next to you, if possible.”

  • “I will try.”

We took a bath and around ten at night we went to Hasanov. The huge barracks was made of larch, it was bright and warmed by ovens. There were five people inside. Thankfully, he had prepared a good spot for me. We slept.

In the morning, we woke up and drank tea. /115b/ Then the commander told us that the two of us could stay for a day. After that they shouted again: “On the march!” We all took our things and went out; there were another three people. They checked us and sent us off. Hasanov was sent to another place. The two of us marched 11 km to a point called Muksalma near Solovki. They carried our luggage on a horse, and we went on foot. We went in the evening. The day was cold. They checked us for a long time and then placed us in a dugout barracks. It turned out to be a quarantine barracks. There were many Bashkirs from the Chilabi region, including Sulayman mullah from Tunshaq village, who had worked as a lawyer in the highest court of Bashkortostan, and Nuri A‘zam Tahirov, a commander of the Bashkir troops who defended Petersburg322 from Denikin. It was so hot in the barracks that it was impossible to sleep. One evening, when I went out for a roll call, I became severely ill. I had a temperature of forty degrees. Now they took me to the hospital. Aydabulov remained in the barracks. I spent a month in the hospital and they moved me to the second category, due to the state of my health. When I came back, Aydabulov had been transferred to the Kremlin. In this way I was left alone.

After the hospital, I moved to a barracks made of good wood. It was spacious, full of light, warmed by three ovens. Officials told me: “We cannot assign you to work, because you are an invalid. We have no right to make you work.” They gave me back my things; that is, my winter clothes, felt boots, and mittens. I moved to the fourth category, [meaning that] I got 400 grams of black bread and thirteen grams of sugar a day. They told me: “Just stay in the barracks.” I stayed there.

Summer came. With the intention of getting more bread, I managed to get a job as a gatekeeper at the office. Here, life became better: the office workers sometimes gave me their food stamps and leftover bread. I remained well until May. On May 5, they sent me on the march again. I did not know where to.

We went to the Kremlin, Aydabulov was there. We had to sleep in a bath house and in the morning they [would] take us somewhere. We woke up and Aydarov came from the barracks, since he had to go with us. /116a/ We went out and after 20 km reached the cliffs of the White Sea. After traveling 5 km by sea, we landed at an island. At that time, icebergs the size of barracks roamed the sea. We moved among them on a boat and arrived at the point (punkt) called Anzer. There were huge churches that had previously made up a monastery. After stopping here for a while for a roll call, some people stayed here, including Aydabulov. ‘Abd al-Bari Fattahov, a mullah from Bugulma region, was living here. Right, but we went 4 km further, to a place called the Second Golgotha. Here, the churches were also located on mountains. They put us there. From that place, one could see the movements of all the ships in the White Sea. Once there, I found out that our comrade Hasanov was also there. We met each other. He turned out to be working as an orderly in the hospital. He said: “If you want to work as an orderly, there is a place. Just write an appeal (‘ariza).” I submitted an appeal right away and they accepted me. We started to work at the hospital together. We did so until August 1931.

In May, even after sundown, it was still bright. At night it was possible to write letters without using a lamp. Then they demolished this hospital and moved us to the central hospital in the Kremlin. We took everything with us and moved there. We started to work at the central hospital, a three-story red-brick building. Azerbaijani Jawdat efendi and others were working there as doctors. Until September 12 we stayed there, but then they called us to go on the march again. We did not know where we were going, but there were rumors that we were going back to Russia. Hasanov was invited, but he decided to stay by saying: “I have no strength to go.”

There were famous people of Russia: Hadi Atlasov from Bugulma; Sa‘id Sunchalay, a poet; ‘Abd al-Wudud Fattahov, an imam of Moscow; and the Kazakh Ahmad Baytursunov as well as Sultan ‘Aleev from Ufa. They all stayed there, but 800 people boarded a steamboat and departed. We reached the aforementioned Popov Island, where we took a train. We passed the city of Kem and arrived at the place called Qarymayguba, at the fourth division of Shavan station. There was a single barracks located amongst the larch forest. We stopped there. /116b/ There were some people there. We started to build a bath house. There was a small kitchen, but nothing else. After a day or two people arrived, marching. Every day, people came from Russia. One day, we welcomed our fellow villager ‘Izz al-Din b. ‘Abdullah, and Sa‘idullah b. Sayfullah, a mu’adhdhin from Aydarali village. We were very happy to see each other, as if it was our relatives that had come. I asked: “What job did they assign to you?” They replied: “First we worked in Syzran. Then they sent us here to construct a canal.” Here we learned that we had also come here with the same task.

We started to work on the White Sea Canal on November 12, 1931. We milled the larch forest in the swamp, laid down a bridge and built a road leading to the canal. After that, people started to work on the canal itself. Since I was old, I belonged to the second category and only did easy work. I was in a team of some twenty people that prepared wood for the kitchen. A Ukrainian called Gapon was our foreman. I worked on the White Sea Canal until 1932, at the Mayguba division of Shavan station. Up to 8,000 prisoners worked there in turns, day and night. Thanks be to God, I was only tasked with easy jobs, such as leveling the sand, cleaning up particular areas and sweeping. By November of the same year, the land work at the White Sea Canal was finished. Every day of our work was counted as two [days], and with the end of the construction they also took a year [off my sentence]. In those days, they were asking at the barracks: whoever wants to apply for a medical release can go to a certain barracks. Though I did not have a document, I told Aydabulov: “Let us go there too.” We went there; they checked us, but did not say anything.

In February 1933, the days were extremely cold. After cutting trees, I came back terribly tired and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, they called me: “Is Qadïrov here? Be quick, you are now free (irekkä).” I was sleeping next to Aydabulov, and was shocked. He stayed. I went out at one o’clock at night and saw that twenty-five people were waiting with their luggage at the gate and were busy loading their things on the sledge. They had already called people in the afternoon and had apparently not been able to find me in the barracks. We left safely on foot. The days were very cold.

We marched 15 km to Mayguba point. There we stayed in barracks for fifteen days for quarantine. /117a/ Fifteen days later they ordered twenty-five people to leave for voluntary exile (ikhtiyary sürgen). Some people went to Melekes, others to Pugachev, and I went to the city of Kotlas in Vyatka governorate, on the banks of the Dvina River. That turned out to be our freedom (irekkä chïgu). We had to spend the remaining five years there. They gave me a GPU document no. 4444, saying that Qadïrov, sentenced for ten years according to article 58: 11, according to a decision of the GPU committee must spend the remaining term in exile (bäylänmesh yirdä). They gave me some food for the trip and a train ticket, and I set off without a convoy. On March 8, I arrived in Kotlas, left my belongings in a luggage room and registered at the local police station.

It was really cold, down to minus fifty degrees, and it was impossible to find a place to sleep. Night approached. Everything was expensive: black bread cost ten rubles per kilo and half a liter of milk cost five rubles. Prisoners like me died on the streets of hunger and cold. I asked at the police station where to spend the night; they replied: “We have no apartment here. Look, a kilometer from here, there is a place for homeless and delinquents. If you don’t go there, there is no other place. Those who go there get 200 grams of bread.” I went there and entered the barracks which had no light and was full of smoke. There was a single lamp in one corner. I sat awake by a pallet the whole night, got 200 grams of bread in the morning and then went out. I came to the police station and asked: “Where will you send me?” They replied: “You will find out in Nikolsky region, there they will tell you where to go.” I said: “If so, give me a document to find an apartment there.” He produced a document asking the village councils to provide me with a place to sleep. I took the paper and agreed with some companions to depart that day. Since everyone had a lot of luggage, we constructed a sledge. Wafa Suleymanov, a mullah of Qunshaq village in Shadrin district, and I put our things on the sledge and dragged it along on the ice of the Dvina River. Oh God, let us have a safe trip. Then we turned onto the great Arkhangelsk road, together with twenty-five others. /117b/ On the way there were huge Russian villages. In the evenings, we asked the village councils for a place to sleep. We had to wait on the cold street for an hour or two, only to be distributed among different houses. In this way we spent several days dragging our sledge.

Nobody knew the place called Nikolsky where we had to go. We were confused. In one village we asked at the police station: “We do not know where this place actually is. Can you show us the route?” The official stood up, examined the map and then told us: “You took the opposite direction by mistake. Now you have to go back and ask on the way, that way you will find the place.” We turned back. There was a huge Russian village near Kotlas city; we spent a night there. In the morning we got together to figure out what to do: “Shall we go? If not, then we go back to Kotlas to say that we failed to find the place and ask for instructions.” [We went back and] they told us: “We will send you to another place.” We took a [new] document. On the street, a foreman of workers living in a barracks invited us: “Our barracks is 2 km from here. We have a job for you. We can take you.” I consulted with my companion and we decided to stay.

We returned to the police station and told them: “We want to stay here.” They agreed. We went to the barracks right away. After a couple of days, we got a job producing railway ties. If we fulfilled our quota, the two of us would get 900 grams of bread; if not, only 400 grams. They also gave us a ticket for dining, and nothing else. In this way we tried to work. It was impossible to fulfill the quota, and every day we got 400 grams of bread. We continued to work, but even this food would only be received after five days. How should we survive these five days? If we wanted to buy it, one kilo cost ten rubles. We had no money and I started to sell my clothes. I sold my felt boots, weighing 7 lb, for 500 grams of bread. I also had a foreign-made leather bag that I sold for five loaves of bread. This way I sold off and ate up what I had left. I lost energy and could not work. My legs and face became bloated. My condition was bad. I thought, as I lay down: “This is my end.”

My wife Fatima, may God have mercy upon her, despite shortages at home, sent me a package with some money, a bit of butter, pasta, dry toast, and flour. This sustained me for a while. This, too, ended. I received another package. This ran out as well. That was May 1933. Greenery appeared on the banks of the Dvina. I collected clover and sorrel, /118a/ put salt on it and, since there was no other place, cooked it in a bath. I ate it and laid down in joy, covered in sweat. Sometimes I collected flax roots, fried them and then added them to soup. My energy left me day after day, so that I had to crawl to go to the toilet. My face was bloated, my legs were bloated. I sold off everything I had. Only the jacket in which I had left my house was still with me. That was lined with lambswool. People told me: “You are going to die this way. You have to go to a village. They would give you some food and you might get better.” I had no strength to go to the village. I replied: “If God helps me, I will go to the village.” Now there was nothing left for me but to die. One weekend, my fellow traveler Suleymanov went to the market in Kotlas and died on the way back. He perished in a hollow. I found him there and let the police know. After keeping him for several days, they took him and must have buried him somewhere. May God cover him with His mercy, amen.

Soon after, the doctors invited me for a medical examination. I went there and they registered me. My impression was that I certainly had no hope. I realized that they had filed a report on me and I asked them: “When will the results be known?” They replied: “It’s unclear. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in three months. We cannot say exactly.” Those were my most difficult days. I thought that I would die if I waited for these results. I had to rely on God, sell my fur jacket, and go somewhere by train. If I died, I would die on the road; but maybe God would help me. I came home and sold the fur jacket for forty-five rubles. I went out in the morning, hanging a bag (qapchïq) around my neck. I walked 2 km to Kotlas, bought half a liter of milk there, and half a kilo of bread, then I had a bite to eat and headed to the station, relying on God. I bought a ticket for five rubles to a place five stations away. The train had to depart soon, but at the gates the GPU officers were checking people to prevent escape. Oh God, the train arrived and boarding started. Oh God, I passed through together with the rest /118b/ and entered the train. I climbed up just inside the door and laid down. It was a berth with a small railing for keeping coal in. Suddenly the GPU officer started to check the car. I was lying there between life and death. Oh God, he did not notice me and passed on.

In the evening I arrived at the place that I had bought the ticket for. While traveling quietly in this way, I decided to get out to see the station. If I had stayed, I would have been in Vyatka by the morning. When I got off, [a police officer] approached, stopped me and asked for my documents. Fortunately I pulled out my documents from the police station in Kotlas, saying that I wanted to go elsewhere. I showed him my documents, but he did not trust them. He took me off the train and brought me into a room at the station. He ordered: “Stay here until I come back.” I waited for a while, maybe half an hour, and he came back. He took me among the red trains, where another ten people joined me. They were people like me. After that, a GPU plenipotentiary arrived and examined my documents.

  • “Why did you run away?”

  • “I did not. You have my documents.”

  • “No, these are the documents to Kotlas, but you do not have the appropriate documents [for this part of the journey].”

  • “I’m going to work in another place. I have no energy and my condition is very bad. I am looking for an easy job.”

After that he returned my documents and boarded another ten people on the train. I stayed. There was no one to say “go” or “no, stay.” I stayed for a while, then decided that they must have left me, and very slowly disappeared among the trains.

I arrived back at the railway station. It was evening. In June, the nights were very short. I was there alone. I sat there, unable to sleep. In the morning, people started to gather. A Komsomol worker approached me and took me to the police. They asked the chief, but he answered: “Let him go, he was already checked (puskai iava, ul tiksherelgän).” I went back to the station. I had the documents and thirty rubles that I had kept. I bought a ticket to Vyatka for nineteen rubles. The rest of the money /119a/ I spent on bread, and ate it.

The train was to arrive in the evening, since it passed by there only once a day. Now it was time and I went to the train, but the police officer who had taken me the day before saw me on the platform. He asked: “Babay, are you leaving?” I replied: “Yes, you let me go, right?” He said: “Right, go (davai, valai).” Oh God, I cried, and went on to Vyatka. Only God knows the future.

In the morning I arrived in Vyatka. I got out at the station and saw that all the travelers were there too. At that moment, I had no bread to eat and no money. I went to people who were eating and asked them to give me a bit of bread. This way I settled my stomach for a while. I asked people: “Is the market [still open] for long?” They replied: “Not that long.” I had a leather shirt and decided to sell it. I went to the market and sold it for ten rubles, and bought a bit of bread and qatïq and ate it. Thanks be to God, I met an old Muslim man at the market, greeted him and talked to him. He turned out to be from Bugulma district.

  • Babay, is there a mosque here?”

  • “Yes, it has been built recently.”

The mullah there came originally from Ufa governorate.

  • “Can you please show me the mosque?”

  • “Yes, sure.”

He took me there. After a few blocks he said: “Here, brother, go to the right side of this street. You will come to a mosque there.” It was a two-story red-brick building without a minaret. The mullah lived there. I thanked the babay and parted with him. I stopped in front of the mosque. Then I saw someone approaching with water in both hands. It turned to be my friend Ahmad Thuban, who was my neighbor at the madrasa in Medina the Radiant. He did not recognize me at first, but then we greeted each other. Saying: “Come in,” he invited me [in]. He started to ask me: “Right, how are you?” I replied: “Good, I will tell you later. First I have to ask you: may I stay here for three days?”

  • “Sure, such is life now: let us share what we have and not be resentful for what is lacking.”

  • “Good, thank you. I left a bit of clothing at the station. Let me bring it.”

  • “Alright.”

I brought my things. He prepared tea and I told him my story. He told me that one time mullah Shahar Sharaf323 had come from Kazan and he had helped him as best he could. /119b/ Before, there were simple folk and some rich people. Now, the number of people had decreased.

He told me that he would do his best to cure me. Poor fellow, he had six children. He made a living by producing bags, while his wife (abïstay) worked at the market. His condition was also pretty bad. Still, he did not turn his back on me (qara yöz kürsätmäde). May God have mercy upon him, amen.

There was no food to feast on; we ate only to survive. I was in terrible need. I went to the market asking people for food. Some would give me qatïq, others would share a bit of bread. I went to stay in front of the bread shop so that people could give me at least a small piece. Ahmad efendi came back and told me: “I cannot find a job for you.” This Ahmad efendi was a regional imam of Vyatka and a muhtasib with lots of mosques under his supervision. “You know yourself, there is a road. If you follow it, then after 45 km you will reach Nokrat village, which is under my oversight. In previous times it was a rich village with six mosques. I sent Shahar Sharaf there and they helped him a lot. If you decide to go, I will write a personal letter to the mullahs, asking them to help you on behalf of their community. Of course, people there are also in need nowadays, but they will not let you go like that. You would be in luck.” I said: “Alright, write it.”

I departed the same day. I crossed the Vyatka River on a ferry. It was difficult to walk in the dust and I had no energy to go on. I walked one kilometer slowly, and then on the road I saw a young Russian boy eating bread. I approached him and asked: “May I ask you to give a piece of bread to an old traveler?” He replied: “Sure, here you go,” and gave me a piece of bread with butter. Tears fell from my eyes. I was glad, and thanking the boy I moved on. I predicted (fal qïldïm) that my travel would be successful, because already at the beginning I had got bread and butter. I reached a huge road. On both sides there was a larch forest. Every kilometer (chaqrïm) was marked. I moved slowly. I passed by the huge Russian villages. On the streets I asked for bread. Thankfully, some of them gave me qatïq, others provided with things like kvass or potatoes, but they never left me empty handed. /120a/

Evening was close. In the distance, a big Russian village was visible. I thought that if I managed to arrive before sunset, I would find a room and sleep there; if not, then I would spend the night in the forest, near the road. In June, the nights were very short. By sunset I reached the village. It was very big, but no one took me in. The Russian crones (qarchïq marjalar) shouted at me. Since it was hay-making time, all the youth had gone far away, to the river, to cut the hay. In a desperate state I walked through the streets; they did take me in. Then someone told me: “There is a kolkhoz office. Go there, they will give you a place.” I found it, and after they had a look at my documents, they allowed me to stay. There was also an old priest (pop) like me. We spent a night together and in the morning we took our documents and went on: he in one direction and I in the other.

After some time, another huge village came into view. It was not far; I made it there. Here, Muslims could be seen and it turned out they were working in the shops. There was a huge leather factory called Vakhazushev. The workers had a lot of space there. I entered a shop and, since the workers there were Muslims, I told them my story. Everyone helped me with one or two rubles. They told me: “Now go to the houses, our brothers will help you out.” That was true, everybody welcomed me, fed me until I was full, gave me good food, qatïq, and milk. The night drew near. I talked to someone, wondering where to spend the night. He replied: “Babay, do not be offended, but it will be difficult to stay here: everyone is a party member living in state apartments. Therefore you will not be able to find a place here. You’d better go to a Russian village 3 km from here. There are two Tatar houses. They are very good people. They will let you in and give you food.” I agreed and went on.

I reached the place and found those people. I asked permission at one of the houses. There was a young lady who invited me [in]: “Babay, please come in.” I entered the house and told her my story (hälem). The poor girl cried terribly: “Oh, my father must now also be wandering like this!” She fed me and gave [me] five rubles in alms: “Babay, forgive me, but you cannot stay here. We are renting this place and we have an agreement (shart nama) with the owner not to let people stay overnight. The local Russians /119b/ are afraid of foreigners, especially [foreigners] like us. Probably, someone like that hurt them in the past. Babay, there is a new house nearby with two brothers. You can go there. If they do not let you in, then come back, we will find a way.”

I went there: the windows were open and they were drinking tea. They invited me [in]: “Please come in.” I went in to drink tea. They cooked a good chälpäk. As I was hungry, I ate my fill and told them my story. I asked: “Is it possible for me to spend the night here?” They made me happy by saying: “The issue of guests is very difficult here: the house owner, an old lady, does not allow guests to sleep [over]. Still, we will find a way, you can stay.” May God have mercy upon them, amen. In the morning we drank tea.

  • “With your permission, I will go.”

  • “Where will you go?”

  • “To Nuqrat, they called it Karino in Russian.”

  • “In that case, from here you go to Nikolsky city. A train departs from here at such-and-such an hour. The ticket costs only ninety kopeks,” they said, and gave me the money. “We have a friend there. You can stay for a night at his place.”

  • “If possible, write a letter to that person. It will be easier for me to go there.”

  • “Alright,” they said, and wrote a letter.

I reached Nikolsky and found those people. The householder was not at home, but I asked permission from his wife. She let me in and I gave her the letter. She gave me food right away: a soup of good meat and küpäch. I ate my fill. There were Muslim neighbors too, they also joined us for a chat. I slept there. In the morning, I continued my journey. At 15 km on the way to my destination I encountered a huge river. The kolkhoz people were going home with empty carriages, but nobody took me on to where I was going. They carried hay. I reached the place on foot, saying to myself that even among Muslims there are such people.

I went to mullah Qasimov, mentioned by Ahmad efendi Thuban, and gave him the letter. He welcomed me: “Please come in, you are welcome,” and invited me to his house. After the greetings, I briefly explained my situation to him. He told me: “Good, dear guest, please wash yourself and have a rest.” Suddenly, a small boy came and invited hazrat to a religious meeting (ash). He promised him and let the boy go. He turned to me: “This is a poor family, I do not know how it is with food there, therefore I cannot take you with me right now. Once I learn the situation, I will send the boy after you.” He left, /121a/ but the boy soon came and invited me: “Babay, please join us.” I told him: “Alright,” dressed and went out. Despite his poor condition, that person prepared very good meals, as in the former times of rich people. It was the first time that I had seen such food. I was there as a guest. On the way back, hazrat told me: “If God allows, your journey will be successful. The reason is that, over the years, this was the first meal that I have seen. Today was the first time and you got it.” This is how the day passed. I was glad. Thanks be to God that I saw and ate this meal.

The next day, I delivered the necessary letters to other mullahs and became acquainted with them. I saw all of them, gave them the greetings of the Vyatka imam, then explained the reasons for my trip and drank tea. They told me: “Stay for some fifteen days, we will try to help you and will ask people at Friday prayers. You can also come.” I led Friday prayers in two mosques. Fifteen days passed. Meanwhile, the neighboring women and older people brought things like butter and eggs to the imam, and passed on some food for me, asking: “May babay pray for us.” I started to get some income and was well fed, thanks be to God. On the day of my departure the community representatives (mutawali) gave me sixty rubles of donations. In addition to that I also sold the bread given by neighbors for ten rubles. Now, being thankful for everything, I set out to return to my friend Ahmad Thuban in Vyatka. This Nuqrat village was the reason for my survival. May God forgive the sins of those people who helped me, amen.

I returned safely to Vyatka. My friend greeted me: “Oh, you came back safely, thanks be to God. I am very glad. When you left, my community blamed me: ‘Why did you let that person go alone and not accompany him? His condition is very bad. What if he dies on the way?’ Therefore, I was waiting for you with four eyes [i.e. waiting anxiously]. Did it help you a bit?” I replied: “Thanks be to God, I got some money for the trip.” He said: “Oh that is very good.” One or two days later I bought ten pounds of bread at the market for twenty rubles and a ticket to Ufa for forty-nine rubles. The next day I set off on the journey. /121b/

I took a train and went to Perm. For the journey I took a whole piece of white bread and nothing else, except for the ticket. At night, before arriving in Perm, I put the bread under my head and slept. When I woke up the bread had disappeared. I said, alright, [may God replace it with something] better. Now I had neither money nor bread. It was still two days to reach Ufa. I got off in Perm to take another train to Ufa that was to depart at twelve o’clock at night. I had to spend the whole day at the station. What to do? My stomach was empty. I was shuffling about in front of the station, when a Tatar person came out. I greeted him. We talked for a while and then I asked him: “Do you know Dhakirjan Rahmatullin? His father was a great tradesman here.”

  • “Yes, I know him.”

  • “If possible, could you please give me his address?”

  • “I do not know the exact house number, but can tell you approximately. You take a tram on Lenin Street, then get off at the second stop, there will be such-and-such a house. If you enter it, there will be a small apartment. He lives there.”

I went there and found it. This Rahmatullin was in his twenties when he went to hajj together with ‘Abdullah Bubi Ni‘matullin. I had met him there and taken his address. That was around 1907. Since I remembered that, I wanted to see him. He did not recognize me. I had become a bit shabby and it had been twenty-five years. He had become gray. Finally we greeted each other, and I told him: “Please forgive me, the reason I came is the following. I was on my way back from prison (totqïn). I have a ticket to Ufa, but unfortunately, at night my bread for the journey was stolen. I have nothing with me but my ticket. May I ask you to give me a bit of food, enough to get to Ufa?” He replied: “Please come in,” and invited me into his house. There, his old, white-bearded father was reciting the Qur’an wearing glasses. We greeted each other and drank tea. They also had a bälesh with rice. We ate it, drinking good tea. That was my first food that day. I thanked them and asked for permission to go. He rolled a piece of bread up in a newspaper and gave me ten rubles. May God have mercy upon them, amen. /122a/

This way I traveled via Birdäsh, and the next day arrived in Batar. Thanks be to God, there I knew the road and went to the house of the former imam of the third community, Sabir Hasanov. It was already dark. He had passed away and his wife had sold the house and moved out. I asked the new owners: “May I stay here for the night?” They replied: “No, we have too many people in the house.” I asked: “Where does his wife live now?” They told me that she lived on such-and-such a street. The distance was long. There was a mosque nearby. I asked them: “Who lives in the mosque?” They replied: “Only a servant and nobody else.” I went to the mosque and asked the servant: “May I sleep at the mosque?” He replied: “No, this is not a hotel.” I said: “This is a house of the Creator, where one can both pray and spend a night, if needed.” He insisted: “Someone like you came here and left dirt behind. I will not let you in.” I said: “No, Mr. Servant, whatever you do, I will stay here tonight.” I went in and slept.

In the morning, I went to the market and ate a bit. Then I started to look for ‘Ayd Muhammad Akhmerov, my friend (shärik) and fellow villager. I knew that he worked here as a director of the Central Library. I went there, found him and told him my story. He said: “Look, I have to work now. I come home at four o’clock. You are welcome,” and left me his address. On the way, I encountered Ghani Khalfin, my friend, in whose wedding I had actively participated and who I had back then accepted as a guest at my house. When I was in the village, he married Mahi Sorur, the daughter (kärimäse) of my close friend ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Lutfullah Tuqaev. Therefore, I participated in the wedding from beginning till end, taking him many times on my horse from Istärlitamaq. I was with him also on other occasions. At this moment, he was working as a member of the Highest Court of Bashkortostan. Alright, I greeted him and told my story. Then I asked: “I have no means of survival. If you can, please help me.” He replied: “No, I do not help people like you,” /122b/ then turned his back and left. When one becomes needy, even friends talk this way. If you have done something good, wait for evil.

That day was Friday. I decided to go to the mosque where I had slept. I returned, washed myself and entered the praying room. The Friday prayer was conducted by Muti‘ullah ‘Ata’i, a mufti of Ufa. I (ma‘lumengez) was in a bad shape; the condition of the person just out of prison is well known: an old hat on my head and wearing a shabby jacket. Still, after the Friday prayer I recited the Qur’an and we performed a prayer (du‘a). The Muslims started to leave, but the mufti stayed. We greeted each other.

  • “Where are you from?”

  • “I am from Istärlibash, my name is Majid.”

  • “Oh, are you Majid qari?”

  • “Yes.”

  • “While listening, I thought that your voice sounded familiar to me. Why are you in such [bad] shape?”

I briefly related him my story.

  • “Why didn’t you tell me before the Friday prayer? I would have asked people to help you a bit.”

  • “Thank you, hazrat. My conscience (wujdanïm) did not allow me to approach you for that matter after getting to this place.”

The mufti turned to the servant who had not wanted me to enter: “Give him five rubles from the mosque budget,” then said goodbye and left. May God have mercy upon him for his attentiveness.

I took five rubles from the servant and walked to the house of my friend ‘Ayd Muhammad. He was alone, his wife was not at home. We cooked together and talked freely. I stayed two nights there and then intended to go. I also found the widow of Sabir hazrat. Her son ‘Abd al-Hayy Hasanov studied engineering. He respected me greatly; he gave me five rubles and then saw me off. Thank you. I believe that Sabir hazrat came with his wife to Istärlibash as a guest. He was our relative on the maternal line: my mother’s father Waliullah b. Rahmatullah was a grandson of Hasan, who was also a grandfather of Sabir mullah. This is how he was our relative. Then I took a train to Rainka station, got off there and came across the son of Mingullah from Qayraqlï village. /123a/

He brought me to Qayraqlï village. I spent a night there, then the next morning I went to drink tea with Fakhr al-Din agha. He cried with happiness, saying: “Thanks be to God, you are back,” asked me to recite the Qur’an, gave me alms and saw me off. At night, I went to Istärlibash to see my children. It was 10 km from there to Istärlibash. Avoiding the main route, I went directly to the village without taking the road, because people might recognize me. At sunrise, I stopped at the mountain spring. Our house was located at the foot of the mountain. Children played joyfully near the house. I was so happy I did not know what to do! Thanks be to God, I could see my children again! They stoked the stove and I went to see them. I met my wife, who was healthy, and children. Only God knows my happiness. My small daughter Maryam had been just forty days old when I left. She did not even know me. At this time, she was already five years old. Those years were difficult: my wife, together with some of the children, would go far away to collect pieces of wheat from the field to support the family. My older son Mas‘ud grazed the village cows. This way they fed themselves without asking people for alms. Thanks be to God. My older daughter Halima, at sixteen years old, served at the building site by bringing clay to the workers.

We had no clothes left. Those who were meant to keep our things for a while sold it all off on the market. We had had a lot of good clothes. Majid ‘Ali Akberov, known as (laqabï) Manqa Majid, was the biggest cheater. I saved his life during the 1921 hunger, since he was our neighbor. His father died. I provided the burial cloth (käfen) and they buried him. This is how that boy paid us back. The prophetic words are right: “beware the danger of a person to whom you performed good.”324 He died too, and others have died. Thanks be to God, today I am alive and my children are alive. In the past, we had a huge house and [plenty of] clothing. My children received education and developed as people (adäm buldïlar) through the help of the government. We suffered for the sake of God. I fully trusted the Qur’anic verse “And whosoever puts his trust in God, He shall suffice him.”325

Once back, /123b/ I had to inform the community officials, but then I started to think about what would happen once I disclosed myself. It was scary. I decided to invite Ya‘qub agha to my home to talk; [he was] an older man of our village who grazed cows together with my son. He said: “You have to wait a bit. Let the rest of the people come back, then reveal yourself. ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov returned some time ago, and they kept him in prison for a day or two. Wait for a month or two and then reveal yourself.”

I had to go somewhere, and decided to visit my sister Farhi Sorur in Nikifar village by the Dim River; would she be dead or alive? I asked the student of my father, ‘Abd al-Rafiq b. ‘Abd al-Rahim Iskandarov: “If possible, could you please take me to Qayraqlï village early in the morning?” May God bless him, he did not object: “Alright, I have to go there to see the sheaves anyway. I will take you. You can come at sunrise.” The next morning, he took me to Qayraqlï village. May God forgive his sins, amen. I had no means to go, but my late wife326 had saved one of my good shirts. Oh God, may God be satisfied with her. With thanks, I took it, with the idea that I could sell it for money. From Qayraqlï I went on foot in straw shoes and an old hat. It rained heavily on the way and I stopped at Yangïrchï village. There I stayed with Marfuga abïstay, my foster grandmother. She welcomed me warmly and dried all of my clothing. With great respect she took care of me and allowed to stay a night. The next day, I marched to Mullahgulum village, where I stayed with ‘Afifä apa, the wife of Jamal al-Din hazrat. With great respect she hosted me for three days and then saw me off to the road. May God have mercy upon her, amen.

Then I arrived at Nikifar village. It was market day. I asked about my sister and brother-in-law. They replied: “They are not here, we do not know.” When I went to their house, there was nothing in its place but old stones. Only the storehouse was there, not the house (ihatasï). Back at the market, I encountered my old friend ‘Abdullah Maqsudov and told him: “I have no other place to go but your house.” /124a/ He replied: “You are welcome. Come to my house.” I went there and he offered me tea. The father of his wife was also there, Hafiz from Mannan village. I knew him. As we talked, the police officers came in and asked for our documents. I had an old passport from Istärlibash village office. They said: “This document has expired. It has no value.” They investigated my bag (qapchïgïm). He wanted to take me, but I showed him the document from the White Sea Canal. He said: “Why didn’t you show this earlier?” and left me. Then his wife started to worry: “Majid abzï, please leave sooner.” I was forced to take my belongings and leave. ‘Inayatullah, a man who was a neighbor of my friend, pointed at me saying that the murderer of the procurator had escaped from prison and come back. I spent the night with Jihangir agha and asked him about my sister. He replied: “Go to Mengli Ahmad327 in Ïslaq village, he must know.”

I went there and he [Mengli Ahmad] told me that they worked in Belebey. I marched there and, to my joy, found my sister and brother-in-law and greeted them. My sister’s life was thus: they had nothing to eat at home. My poor sister washed my clothes and cooked a pie of beets and rye flour. We ate a bit. If I was hungry, this poor pair were in an even worse condition. Thanks be to God for our life. After one or two days I left for Mänzälä, where Kalimullah, the son of my sister, worked as a teacher. Maryam, the daughter of my older sister, was also working there as a teacher. The aim was to find out if they could help me a bit. From Belebey I traveled from village to village on the banks of the Äsän River.

This way I reached Olugh Chaqmaq village on the Ïq River. I stayed there with Majid, the son of Mahi Sorur, the daughter of my father’s brother. They welcomed me. Then I left and reached Shälärmä village on the Mänzälä River via the villages of Väräsh Muslim, Väräsh Qatmïsh, Tabïn, and Saqlaubashï. There I stayed with ‘Arifjan mullah, who was a son of the daughter of my father’s sister. He welcomed me cheerfully and hosted me with great respect. The next day, I traveled to Telänche Tamaq village. /124b/ That was some 20 km away. I managed to walk there and saw my relatives. My original intention was to get some help from my relatives in my situation of need, but the reality turned out to be different. Everything was like this: man proposes, God disposes.328 They probably hoped to get help from me. On the way back I came to my brother ‘Arif mullah. This poor guy was also in a desperate state: he had five or six children, but still tried to do his best and went with me on foot to Nurkäy village. May God have mercy upon him, amen.

From Nurkäy village I headed to Qaramalï village in Sarman district, where my father grew up. That was thirty chaqrïm away. There I came to the house of our relative Habib al-Rahman b. Kashshaf al-Din abzï. ‘Abd al-‘Alim agha, a brother of my father, served as a mu’adhdhin in the village. His two children, Ahmad Latif and Nur al-Ghayan, did not come to greet me. I found them myself. Our niece came to me and, calling me an abzï, showed much respect. May God reward them. I stayed there for a couple of days, prayed at the graves of my ancestors, and then intended to return to my village.

Salah al-Din, the son of the late Kashshaf al-Din, offered to transport me on a horse to Bugulma, which was 70 km away. A train goes from there to Tuymazï. Salah al-Din took some flour with him to sell there, and took me to Bugulma. May God reward his efforts, amen.

I spent one or two nights there, took a train, and after three or four stations reached Tuymazï village. Belebey was 80 km from there. I went to Belebey and arrived safely at the house of my sister Farhi Sorur. She was happy to see me again, fed me as much as she could and then saw me off to the station. There I traveled to Shafran station, got out [and went] to the market, where I encountered my fellow villager Tahir b. Biktimir, an egg seller. I asked him: “Could you please take me back to the village?” He made me happy by replying: “Sure, qari abzï, let our horse feed and let us eat something first, then we can go.” The time came; we tacked up the horse and set off. We arrived in Istärlibash safely at night. He dropped me off near the mountain and [I] went directly to our house, to my children. /125a/

In the village there were many fellows who I used to spend time with. Now nobody wanted to visit me after this terrible journey (qïenchïlïq säfär). When they saw me walking in the street, they even ran away to the other side. Tuqay329 says: “When you have money, everybody is your friend. When there is no money, everybody runs away from you.” This poor fellow Tahir, maybe he did not even drink a cup of tea in my house in his whole life, but in my hard times he brought me home over 60 km, out of respect. This is a true Muslim. I will never, ever forget it. May God endow his life with blessing, may he live peacefully with his children without depending on other people. Amen. May his deeds be on the path of God, may God forgive his sins, may he leave this world with faith in his heart and enter paradise. Amen.

Now I had to go to the GPU office to reveal myself. After a couple of days I found it appropriate to go there. Only God knows how afraid I was. If only I had been afraid of God before that, maybe I would have not got myself into that situation. I recited all the prayers that I knew, and went in. I showed the documents that I had. He [the officer] examined it. Rashid, the son of old Sulayman from Ïslaq village, was a chief there. In my youth, I studied with his father Fayd al-Rahman at the madrasa of ‘Abd al-Kabir khalfa in Istärlibash. He was a master in shoe production. During the previous few years he had gone to the madrasa of ‘Ubaydullah ‘Alikaev in Yalpaqtal and served as an imam among the Kazakhs of Aleksandrov Gay or Almalïq. The document was issued at the White Sea Canal and bore the number 4444. It was written that I was released early according to the provision of the GPU committee. Then he asked me different questions about the Canal – how I had worked there, and whether it was difficult. In the end he said: “Alright, babay, you can register at the police station and stay.” I thanked him and went to the police station to register. Thanks be to God, now I realized that I had truly returned to my children and my village. I could not utter a word except for gratitude to God. I returned to my wife at home. She and the children were so happy that they did not know /125b/ what to do.

Now I started to go out in the streets. Before, I felt like a foreigner in the village, like someone who came from a foreign land. I had a cap on my head, bast shoes on my feet, and wore an old leather jacket. I thought about how, years ago, I used to wear a silk chapan and caps of black leather, and that there must be people who were happy to see my desperate state now. I considered this to be the mercy of God and in my heart (küngelemnän) I felt nothing but relief. This must have been a test from God. I hoped for the best from God, trusting His promise to balance one difficult thing with two easy things. I was completely convinced of the Qur’anic verse “So truly with hardship comes ease.”330 Now I had to find a job in sewing, but there was no place to go and no other jobs available. A society of invalids functioned in the village. They were busy producing burlap, braiding the strings and other things. I went to their office, where my acquaintance Mengali b. Zarif Akhmerov was a boss. He knew my situation.

  • “If possible, can you give me a job in burlap production?”

  • “I can give it to you, Majid abzï, but for people like you we need permission from the GPU. I will ask them and if they allow, I will provide you with this job.”

Satisfied by these words, I went home. The next day I went there again [and was told]:

  • “Alright, we’ll give you the job.”

Then he measured out several kilos of the material and passed it to me. I took it and went home, without knowing how to produce the burlap. What to do? I took the material and went to a boy named ‘Afur, who was doing the same job:

  • “Dear brother (tugan), can you help me? I do not know how to do it. Can you give a few hours of your time to come to my home, construct a lathe and teach me how to produce the burlap?”

  • “Alright, qari abzï, I will come.”

He soon arrived, constructed a lathe for me, explained everything, put in the material and even started the burlap production. He told me: “If you have any questions, come and ask me.” I thanked him. May God forgive the sins of this brother ‘Abd al-Ghafur for his help and count him among the true believers. Amen. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings.

For every bag I got forty-five kopeks, and for every 100 bags the government additionally provided half a pood of white flour, sunflower oil, sweets, and fish. /126a/ I worked in this way for two years. Still, life was very difficult. Six children, one brother, and the two of us – nine people in total! One spring, my wife and I cultivated ten sazhen of land with metal shovels and sowed millet. In fall, we collected ten pood of millet. I cut some hay and prepared five to ten stacks.

Then I decided to go to Uzbekistan somehow, but it was difficult to find means for the trip. I wrote letters to my friends in surrounding villages, explaining my situation and asking for help. Mutahhar b. Khayrullah was a local of our village. He made a living by producing rope for the state. In our youth we had studied in the same madrasa. When this poor guy heard about my situation, he took forty rubles out of his pocket, saying: “Return it to me when you can, if not – don’t worry about it.” I thanked him sincerely and went home in high spirits. I agreed with my wife (rafiqa) and set off on the journey. I could not repay my debt. Before going to Uzbekistan, I told my children about it. They said that he was not in the village and nobody knew where he was. Once back home, I also tried to find him, but he must have died and nobody knew his children. Until this day, I have not been able to repay this debt. I intend to find his relatives and repay my debt to them and have also instructed my children about it. If he died, May God have mercy upon him and forgive his sins, amen. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. There are poor people like that in the world, and I fail to pray properly for him.331 My former friends, when encountering me on the same street, would not look at me.

With this much money I intended to go to Uzbekistan, and traveled to Orenburg. May God make it a safe journey. /126b/ I arrived at Orenburg safely and stayed with my fellow villager Majid b. Habibullah Muhammadyarov. He welcomed me warmly (achïq yöz belän) and never behaved negatively (qara yöz birmäde). I went to the market to sell some clothes. Sometimes I bought old clothes at the market (talchuk bazarïnnan) and went to Qarghalï station to sell them at different collective farms. I went there together with Farid, a waste collector (util’ zhïyuchï) from Orenburg. He would lead me. This way I started to …332 One time, we went to sell old clothes in a marketplace in the Kashin region (today known as Oktiabr region), 70 km from Orenburg. I sold my wares there, bought five or ten kilos of white butter and then sold it in Orenburg. I got a good income and went to the market again to sell the clothes. This time I bought fifteen kilos of butter to take to Tashkent, because there in a place called Qaunchi my daughter Halima lived together with her husband Husnetdinov. I wanted to give them a present. Once the market was over, I was sitting at home intending to depart, but a police officer came to the house. A Russian householder told me: “Babay, he is calling you.” He checked my documents and started to ask: “What did you buy at the market?” He investigated my bag and added: “Did you buy any butter?” I said: “No.” The Russian householder said: “He did,” and showed the policeman my butter in the storehouse. The policeman told me: “On the previous market day you also traded. You are a speculator!” Then he took me and my belongings to the police station. The householder was pretty drunk. He had asked me to give him money for drink, but since I had only money for the trip, I did not give him any. So he ratted me out to the policeman, because he was angry at me.

The policeman compiled a report, confiscated my butter, took my passport and let me go, saying: /127a/ “I will send your passport to your region, you will get it there.” Then he gave me a temporary document and I left. I returned to Orenburg. I still had some money left. My fellow villager Muhammadyarov said: “Let your passport be there. You must have lost it. Whatever, these are events of the past and we can only pray about them.”

What should I do now? I was afraid that if I went to Asia, I would have no passport, but if I went home, they would judge me and might even imprison me for a couple of months. On one of those days when I was walking down Sazhinski street with this headache, I encountered my acquaintance ‘Abd al-Azal Badikov. He asked about my situation: “Hey zhizni, why are you walking like this?” He took me to a restaurant and entertained me there. In the evening, he took me to his house to spend the night. He had just come back from the Caucasus, Kislovodsk city. I told him my whole story.333 He told me: “Zhizni, please do not blame me, that I could not help you earlier.” Then he gave me sixty rubles, some clothes and presents for my children. May God reward him, amen.

In this way, with full reliance on God, I decided to go back to Istärlibash. I said: “Let it be what God has predestined,” and came home. After returning safely, I was sitting at home, drinking tea with my children, when someone knocked at the door. I came out and he said: “Aghay, be quick. The village administration wants to see you. Your passport has arrived here. You must have been taken somewhere for selling the butter.” I said: “Right, that is why I returned. Good, I will go there.” He left. I went to the village administration.

  • “The policeman wants to see you at six o’clock.”

  • “Alright.”

I left and went to the police officer right on time. I waited until ten in the evening, and only then did the policeman arrive. He said: “Sit down,” and started to check certain papers. It turned out that the village administration had provided him with information on my children. Questioning began. /127b/

  • “Did you come back after being in prison for murdering ‘Aleev?”

  • “I returned from the prison, but I am not a murderer. You see, someone provided false information about me, as if he was a witness.”

  • “Your children are trading at the market.”

  • “Right, I have no means to buy them books and exercise books for study. For collecting waste in the entire village, the government provides them with matches and other things. They sell it on the market. You can ask the waste company (utilsïr’e) about it, they will tell the truth.”

  • “Where did you go from here? Why did you go? Tell me.”334

  • “I have a daughter and a son-in-law in Central Asia (Sredniaia Aziia). I wanted to go there on foot from one village to another. To cover the expenses, I sold off my clothes on the way. When I reached the Kashin region, I sold some little things there. I bought fifteen kilos of butter to give as a present to my daughter. For this, the policeman confiscated my butter and passport, called me a speculator and ordered me to return. I did not even drink tea upon my return and came to see you.”

  • “Wait, but you bought thirty-five kilos of butter.”

  • “That is a lie. A Russian bought similar butter and put it next to mine in the same storehouse. When the police came, he ran away, and the police decided this was my butter too. Since that was an acquaintance of a certain householder, and out of nationalism (millätchelek),335 that householder bore witness against me saying that it was my butter. Then the policeman compiled a report and ordered me to return. He gave me a temporary document.”

The policeman (nachal’nik) was a Tatar. He said:

  • “I will pass your case to the court.”

  • “Do what you want. Give me my passport.”

  • “No, you will get it back after the court procedure.”

  • “I have to go elsewhere. It is a period of seasonal work, I have to feed my children.”

  • “You will work here. If you go elsewhere, they will tell you that you have no passport and will report to me.”

I signed the report and went out. /128a/ Now, what to do? The next day, I went to an acquaintance to ask for advice. That person was well-informed about the law. I told him about my situation in detail. Then he replied: “I have to see your case and then I will make you a recommendation.” I said: “The case is exactly as I have told you.” He thought for a while and told me: “Look, Majid abzï. Your neighbor will most probably judge this case. For a long time this person has been causing you trouble. Despite the fact that he is a judge now, his father was a kulak in the village, who oppressed all the peasants and would collect several thousand [pounds] of grain from them. He died before the revolution. Now his son has become a judge and brings kulaks to the court. This is a ruthless and dishonest person (ber rähimsez wujdansïz adäm). Nobody can trust him. Secondly, since you are a Qur’an specialist (qari), they drove your children out of the house in February in the winter cold. I know, of course, that you were innocent: they harmed you illegally out of personal enmity (shäkhsi doshmanlïq). The local elites (yirle türälär) must now also realize this. If so, your case is minor. In my view, nothing should happen to you. On August 7, according to the law, they will call for a jail term (srok) for you, however short. Were it another judge, he could have even let you go. If possible, get out of here. I have nothing else to say.”

The next day, I talked to my wife (rafiqam): “If I go, I will need money; if I stay, it is not easy to go to jail for nothing.” Let it be, I relied on God and decided to go. We had a goat. My wife exchanged it for a shawl and gave it to me, saying: “Take it, you can sell it on the way.” I took the shawl and headed to Central Asia. I had a document (metrikä) that I got there after working for several months. I received a three-month passport. /128b/ That was in a place called Sarï Agach in the South Kazakhstan region, close to Tashkent. That was in 1935. After that, I worked at the wool shop of Almakant village council of the Aq Qurgan region in Tashkent oblast.

In former times there had been a cotton factory belonging to ‘Abd al-Wali Yaushev336 from Troitsk. That factory is still present today. This way I started to work there alone. I prepared wool, eggs, furs and waste and then transported them to Piskent region, 20 km away. I worked there effectively. Not far from there, 19 km away, there was the Aq region, where my son-in-law and my daughter Halima worked. Their 13-year-old daughter was also with them. After several years of work, I approached Umid Haydarov, an Uzbek chief of the village council (selpo): “If possible, may I kindly ask you to give me some money in advance, because I am from Russia and have to bring my wife and children.” He agreed and gave me 200 rubles. My salary was 200 rubles. I gave 450 rubles to my daughter to go to our village and bring our family. After fifteen days, my daughter brought my [other] children to Qaunchi station near Tashkent, and from there called my son-in-law in Aq Qurgan asking for a horse. Then my son-in-law Husnetdinov went there on a carriage and brought them home. May God reward him for this, amen. Thus he brought my wife and children from Qaunchi to Aq Qurgan. Thanks [be to him]. After that, my daughter Halima called me in Almakant: “Daddy, our mom and the family have arrived safely.” /129a/ Tears fell from my eyes and I was so happy I did not know what to do. I asked my boss: “My children have arrived. May I go to see them?” He agreed and I immediately went to see my family for an evening. I asked my boss for an apartment. Thankfully, he gave me a good one. The next day, my wife and children arrived and cleaned the house inside and outside. I brought my children to the house and fell down, since I so wanted to sleep. I said: “Thanks be to God [that] I saw this day.” I was ready to live in a dugout house. That was in June 1936. Until 1937 I worked there and supported my children to study.

In early May of that year I decided to move from that work to Piskent, where my daughter Halima and her husband resided. I rented a horse and coachman to move there. We also had a goat that we brought with us. We spent a night on the way, and the next day we got a house for free from a khan called Guleb. May God have mercy upon him, amen. We stayed there for a month without a job. Then I was invited for a job at Murtalï village council, which is 8 km away. For a month I worked there traveling with a horse and carriage, but then resigned, because it was difficult to travel by horse in the hot open areas.

A month after returning to Piskent, Ishan ‘Aleev, a chief of the Buka village council, invited me [to Buka village]. I went there and started to work alone at the supply service (zagotovka dükenï). My children stayed in Piskent. That was August 1937. I worked there until April 1938 and then resigned, because it was difficult to work without seeing my children. Thanks be to God, I did not cause trouble at the workplace, and I returned to Piskent. After staying a while, ‘Abd al-Razzaq Sarsatov, a chief of the Kirov village cooperative (selpo) in Piskent, /129b/ invited me to work at the supply service. When I told him that I could not go, he disagreed and insisted. Then I accepted the invitation, and started to work at the store. I worked well there, and had two assistants. They collected wool and waste in qïshlaqs. One was Muhammad Qul and the other was ‘Abd al-Qadir. In 1939, I became a shock worker (udarnik) at the supply service, and they hung my picture on the wall of the consumers’ association (potrebsoyuz). I tried not to cause any trouble and was satisfied in my job. I had no feeling (fikerem) but gratitude to God that I could be together with my children. I worked there until 1942, but in 1941 the Kirov village cooperative ceased to exist and I had to find another job. In May 1942 I resigned. Thanks be to God, in that year I bought my own house for 6,000 rubles. We renovated it a bit and it became a good house. I entered it with my children and thanked God for allowing me to get a house for my children who had been left homeless.

At the Kirov village cooperative, I worked together with my friend ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad Rahim ‘Uthmanov. He was a storekeeper who would collect items and from whom I would get my stock (zagotovka). We worked together for four years and also became neighbors. We never disagreed or quarreled. However, he sought personal profit (shäkhsi fayda) by buying the products that I collected for the state supply without including them on the state account. At times when we got good items, he would take them for himself and pay me from the state money. I turned a blind eye to this once or twice, but then stopped it decisively by saying: “These items are meant for the state supply and I am responsible for them. If you continue to take like this and I take it [i.e. the state property] to clothe my small children, then how are we supposed to secure the state supply?” /130a/ If you ask me why I did so, he was selling the items that I had painstakingly collected at the market in Tashkent. Of course, anyone would oppose this.

After that, he started to dislike me. Sometimes he would enter the store and say: “Let’s have a drink!” I would not do that, but he said: “Hey Majid abzï, your fate is in my hands!” I did not pay attention to this, but in fact he turned out to be a member of the ideological board. All the conversations between us, although there was nothing in them against the state, he would exaggerate and relay to his colleagues. He sought a way to get rid of me from this job, because I knew his other secrets. One day, at home, he unlawfully slaughtered a horse that belonged to the state. The next day, an Uzbek from Tashkent took the meat to sell at the market under the pretext of transporting the fur. I knew it, but never told anyone. In the end, the government people learned about it anyway, and he thought that I had informed them. Hence he wanted to harm me somehow, even though I was unaware of the situation. Several Tatar policemen came to my store and asked for some items. Since I knew that he had sold that stuff, I did not give it [to them]. Sometimes other authorities would also come to ask for leather or eggs, and I would give them a bit, but more often refused. They also started to dislike me for this.

Khalil Qulmatov from Piskent worked for the waste collection. One day this evil person (zalim) approached me and asked: “I have a wedding, can you give us a bit of tea, and other items like shoes?” I agreed as long as the store would allow it, but the store provided very few items and his request remained unfulfilled. To remain true to my promise I gave him some tea and several scarves. He looked at me, became angry and left shouting at me. He also turned out to be a political agent. He went [to the ideological board] /130b/ and slandered me there.

On November 4, 1942 I got arrested. That year I saw off my 19-year-old son Hasan and my son-in-law Husnetdinov to the front. My older son Mas‘ud had been in the army since 1939. I stayed with my wife and small daughters. On November 4, they put me in jail. I spent six months in Piskent prison, then I was transferred to an underground cell at the jail for political crimes. After a month and a half they took [me] to Piskent again. They organized an interrogation at the People’s Commissariat in Tashkent. The following people bore witness against me: the aforementioned ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Uthmanov; an Uzbek, Khalil Qulmatov; a Tatar policeman; and Nuriya, a Russian lady who worked at my store as a cleaner.

On May 21, 1943, a female Tatar procurator and three female Uzbek judges pronounced a sentence upon me at the court of Tashkent oblast. Even though the female procurator asked the court for a death sentence, the judge decided on ten years in the concentration camps. A couple of days later, they took me to Tashkent prison again. After spending several days there, my daughter Asiya brought me some food for two days. Thank you: despite the difficulty of those days, you thought of me. For this I asked God for a good life for my wife and children.

A couple of days later, they transferred me to a labor camp near a qïshlaq called Zangi Ata at the Urta awïl station 18 km from Tashkent. On June 17, 1943, I was transferred to another camp (lagir). I was registered as an invalid and assigned an easy job: I collected barley and hay. I spent around two months doing tasks like collecting cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes in the garden. Because of the war, the question of food for prisoners was problematic. Every day, several prisoners would pass away. However, I did not experience much hunger, because my wife and children, though they did not have enough themselves, sent money and food with my daughter Asiya once every two or three months. /131a/ I sold off excess clothes, and despite all difficulties did not experience hunger. Then I entered the account department of the labor camp as a servant. I cleaned the office, the floors. It was not difficult. I served there together with an old Crimean man. After several months, they made me a cleaner at the office of the head of the infirmary. I stopped going to work in the field. Several months later, together with Bogdanov, a Russian from Leningrad, I was assigned to clean houses. We received six rubles a month. One could buy 200 grams of black bread at the labor camp market, but Habibullin, a terrible Tatar commandant from Andijan sentenced to ten years of prison, harmed me a lot (zur zhäbär-zolïm qïldï). I continued to work without complaining of his deeds, reminding myself “to be afraid of those who are not afraid of God.”

I worked in this capacity for two years. Thanks be to God, my children returned from the war and, together with my wife and son-in-law, visited me regularly. The guards watched us well and did not behave as violently as Habibullin.

After two years of work there I was transferred to the third point at the labor camp, the one for invalids. On April 8, 1946, some seventy people were transferred to a labor camp 60 km from Tashkent called Tabaqsay, which was also meant for invalids. I asked the prison chief if I could join them, and he agreed: “It must be better there.” This way, sixty people went to Tabaqsay in two cars. There, they accepted only thirty-five people and sent the rest back. I remained in Tabaqsay. For a month they forced me to produce cotton thread, but I could not fulfil the quota and hence they gave me only 400 grams of bread. One day I appealed to the director of hygiene, asking for help due to my old age (qartlïgïm). Soon after, a committee inspected me and ordered me to be hospitalized. The next day, /131b/ which must have been May 21, I relied on God and entered the hospital. It was clean there. The hospital had a library and radio. There was a metal bed, bedspread and bed sheet as well as a bedside chest. At ten o’clock they sent us to the bath, after which they replaced our old clothes with fresh ones. As for food, each day they gave us 200 grams of white bread (nan)337 and 400 grams of black bread. They would serve us food at the white tables in the room. We also received twenty to twenty-five grams of sugar a day, sometimes milk, a bit of white and yellow butter, and sausages. They would not allow us to go out, counting us regularly. There were books, newspapers and journals to read. I regularly reserved a Tashkent newspaper Pravda Vostoka under my name. To sum up, we received good treatment at the hospital; doctors inspected me regularly and gave me pills. After several months, the government issued a law prescribing the transfer of all prisoners older than sixty to hospitals. All the elderly people were now collected at the hospital. From then on, everybody was sent directly to the hospital.

I stayed in Tabaqsay until 1949. After that, they sent me for a while to the Yalangach labor camp in Lunacharsky city, close to Tashkent. There I also stayed in the hospital. After two months and ten days they returned me to Tabaqsay. When I was in Yalangach, my son Mas‘ud lived in Lunacharsky, 4 km away. My son and my daughter-in-law always visited me and brought me food. Thank you; my daughter-in-law Fatima cared for me well.

After several months in Tabaqsay, in September, they transferred us to the Angren labor camp. That was very close to my home. My children Muhsin and Asiya lived there in our house, 3 km from the camp. Here I also stayed at the hospital. /132a/

In February 1951, I got a severe cold and had a high temperature of thirty-nine to forty degrees. My condition was very bad. They lifted me on the stretcher and put me inside a car to take me to another hospital 2 km away. It was raining and snowing. There was nobody to help me. I went to the bathroom and relieved myself. In those days food was abundant, but I could not eat it. I left all my clothes in the bathroom and went out in torn shoes, full of snow. I had no power to move. A hospital servant supported me and helped me to go back to my ward. I asked people there for the sake of God to let my children know about my situation. May God allow them to reach their goals in this world and the afterlife, amen. My daughter Asiya came the next morning. They invited me [out], but the doctor did not allow us to see each other: “Your condition is bad, you cannot go outside.” After that they brought my parcel to the ward. There was what I wanted, the qatïq. I drank it and now felt better. There were lots of fruits, chicken meat, eggs and many other things. Thank you, my children, for respecting me as your father. I prayed to God, asking [Him] to repay this respect to my children.

I got much better after staying there until early August. Thanks be to God, my children visited me regularly to learn about my condition. The hospital workers were also very attentive. From there I was transferred again to the central hospital in Tashkent, located in Quyluq qïshlaq of the Ordzhonikidze region. First they thought that I had pneumonia, but then checked me with the X-ray apparatus and told me: “Babay, you simply have bronchitis.” They placed me in the second ward. /132a/ This hospital was known as a medical town (Sangorodok). After spending two months there I returned to Tabaqsay in September. There I was in a hospital too. Our ward was calm: everybody there was old. In December I had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. That was around three o’clock, when the doctors were still present. I called them and they immediately gave me medication. They took 150 grams of my blood [for inspection]. I did not speak for fifteen days, but they did not let me read books and newspapers. All my excrement was beneath me. Thanks be to God, on the fifteenth day my tongue slowly started to work again. Then I became cold because of the open window and my temperature increased to thirty-nine degrees. Before, I had felt much better, but now my condition got worse again. That was February 1951. It was in the afternoon that they took me by the arms and brought me to a club, where all the windows were open. It was terribly cold. The whole night long I tried to warm up. In the morning we had to go on the march again. I got a letter from Halima saying that they had sent me a parcel, but it never arrived. Then I asked a guard whom I knew: “You see that I am setting off in bad shape. If possible, could you please send my parcel over to me?” He promised to do so.

They brought me to a car and then transported me to the station. I spent the whole day in a train. My condition was simply bad. At night it was terribly cold. We laid down on the floor and I had no strength to stand up and relieve myself. I asked God to help me. Kovalev, an old man with whom I spent years there, helped me as much as he could despite his poor condition. My Uzbek and Tatar companions did not even give me water.

This way, at nine in the evening they brought us to Yuzaq station close to Samarkand. The prisoners hoisted their things around their necks /133a/ and got out, but I could not move. The guards shouted: “Let’s go (davai)!” I said: “I cannot.” They continued shouting: “Let’s go!” I was forced to leave without my belongings. Later the guards brought my things to the camp themselves. After a while they took me to a hospital. An Uzbek called Rizaev was a doctor there. He was a good person. He cared for me well; thank you. I had no strength and there was nothing to eat, not even butter, but then the parcel from my daughter Halima arrived. May God give happiness, prosperity, and long life to my children. Amen. May God be satisfied with them. They sent me a lot of stuff: goose meat, white and yellow butter, and sweets. This helped me greatly for a long period. Even the guards were impressed; they had not seen such rich parcels before.

After a month or two spent here I felt much better. Then they transferred all prisoners sentenced for ten years to another camp, called Farahat Stroi Bigavat. We went several stations by train on the Andijan road. We arrived there at night and they put us in the barracks. The Japanese captives had been there before us. The barracks were clean and good. They placed me in a separate barracks. Since I was sentenced under a political article, I declined the invitation to the hospital. Let it be. I wore my clothing and walked freely on the street; I got tired of lying in the room.

In May 1952, I learned that that year on November 4 my ten-year term would come to an end. I asked for health from God. Around October 20 they invited me to have my photograph taken. /133b/ I was inspired with hope that they would now have to set me free, because fifteen days before the end of imprisonment they would take a photograph for the passport. Still, it was a bit scary, because sometimes they would not let the political prisoners out. The fourth of November arrived. I was waiting, saying to myself: “Oh God, let it be.” After dinner I was invited to the office called Urba. There the officer (nachal’nik) asked me: “Where will you return to?” I replied: “If possible, to the city called Angren.” He said: “Alright, we will send you there.” I got excited, because they would allow me to join my family at home. Thanks be to God. In some cases they would not allow people to go home and would send them on a voluntary exile (ikhtiyary vïsïlkä) for three or five years. I was afraid of that, but now I realized that I would be free.

The officer ordered me to obtain stamps on the document from eight offices in the camp. I was therefore busy getting that ready. An old Uzbek fellow told me: “Ata, they say that your son is here.” I did not believe him and got confused: “No, that cannot be.” I ran to the gate and saw my son Muhsin standing there near his car. I was shocked and did not know what to say. I was moved to tears. I cried to him: “If God allows, I will get out today! Stay there, if possible! I will ask the officer to let you come in.” When I approached the officer, he replied: “What meeting? We will set you free in a couple of hours.” I said “Alright,” and shouted to my son: “I cannot go before five o’clock. Everything is in order. You can go to a tea house to rest.” At that moment the officer went out to the place where Muhsin was standing. I cried to him: “Hey, my case is in that person’s hands now!” /134a/ My son took the officer and took him away somewhere. I finished all my business and prepared my things to leave. Sometime around one o’clock they invited me [out]: “Let us go outside.” I quickly took my luggage, said goodbye to my companions at the barracks and moved to an office near the gate. Here I signed the necessary papers and received a passport. They set me free.

My son Muhsin was standing in front of me with his car. In the car, I asked God on behalf of my friends who were left behind: “May God let you go,” and we headed away from the camp. My companions waved me off. Praising God, who allowed me to see these days, we arrived at the station. My destination was 6 km from there. An officer who had let me go wanted to see me off at eleven in the evening. We waited at the station and the officer came on time. He bought me a ticket to Tashkent. We said: “Let us have a safe trip,” and set off on the train. Thanks be to God, I completed with patience the ten years of imprisonment, prescribed by God, innocent and oppressed (bi-gunah mäzlüm). All good and evil comes from God.338 I thanked God for these days. Praise be to God, I did not experience difficulties during the imprisonment (mähbus) to complain about. Thanks be to my dear wife and children who always helped me.

I spent six of the ten years in the hospital. People older than sixty /134b/339 were put in the hospital even without evident diseases. Here the government cared about us, servants would bring food and tea before me. Water was boiled ready, doctors cared for me all the time. The food was the following: each day I got 200 grams of white bread, 400 grams of black bread, twenty-five grams of sugar, sometimes also fifty grams of white butter, qazïlïq, milk and other products. From time to time they would also give us some different fruits, watermelons and melons. There was a radio and a library with various newspapers in the hospital. My clothing and bed were fresh every day, and servants would change it regularly. Elderly people thanked the government for this mercy and asked God for peace in the country (watan) and in the government. Inside the camp there was a shop and a canteen, where anyone could cook freely. Those who had money bought food at the canteen. Various flowers grew at the camp; there were also potatoes and tomatoes there. Water was in abundance: irrigation channels were everywhere.

Here I have completed a brief description of what I saw during those ten years in jail. On November 6, 1952, I returned safely with my son to my house in Angren city, to my wife and family. Thanks be to God, the Lord of the Universe. October 29, 1955.340 I have copied [this]. /135a/

Places in which I was oppressed during fifteen years of imprisonment, as described above, [were as follows]. I spent 1929 in Istärlitamaq and Ufa. In 1930, from Ufa I went towards Murmansk; by railway I reached Louhi station, near the Finnish border, then to the Solovki Islands in the White Sea. After a year, in 1931, [I went] from Solovki back to the construction of the White Sea Canal. I did not do hard labor. I spent up to five years there. Another five years I had to spend in voluntary exile in Kotlas city in Vyatka oblast. A committee set me free because of my age. I returned safely to my village, to my children. During the ten years of my second imprisonment in the Tashkent region of the Uzbekistan Republic, I visited ten labor camps. Each of them was not far from Tashkent, between 60-70 and 300 km away. First, between 1943 and 1946 I stayed in Zangi Ata camp, 18 km from Tashkent. Then I went to Tabaqsay camp, 70 km from Tashkent, near Chirchiq. After that I went to Yalangach camp near Lunacharsky for two months, and then returned to Tabaqsay. I spent ten months in Angren camp, close to the city where my family resided. There I got terribly ill and moved to Quyluq hospital near Tashkent. I spent two months there and then came back to Tabaqsay. From there they moved me to Yuzaq camp near Samarkand. After staying there from February to May, they took me to Bigavat camp. There I stayed some six months and was released on November 6, 1952 and came back to Angren. I was at the transit camp in Tashkent two or three times. /135b/

I spent the winter of 1953 with my children in Angren, but in early June my daughter Wasilya, at her own expense, brought me back to Russia to my home village of Istärlibash, to see my sister Farhi Sorur and daughter Halima. In the village I visited my relatives and the graves of my parents. My daughter Wasilya worked as a pharmacy director in Ziab city in Kashkadarya oblast. She showed respect to her father and made it possible. May God bless her, provide her with peace, put her daughter Flura on the right path and let her be a help to her mother. Amen.


اعوذ باللّه من الشيطان الرجيم بسم اللّٰه الرحمن الرحيم

يا أيها الناس اتقوا ربكم الذي خلقكم من نفس واحدة وخلق منها زوجها وجعل منهما رجلا كثيرا ونسيأ والتقوا اللّٰه الذي تسألون به والارحام إن اللّٰه كان عليهم رقيبا

What I have written above was about events that I have seen in my life. If God allows, I intend to write my genealogy (näsel näsäbem) to the best of my knowledge. May God, the Lord of the Universe, allow me to do so. Amen. In the future this will be a memoir (khätirä) for my children and will not be without benefit for their knowledge about their ancestors.

As I have written above, my father Shaykh al-Islam b. ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Biktimir was born in Tatar Qaramalï village of Aleksandr Qaramalï volost in the Mänzälä district in Ufa governorate, according to the old administrative division (borïngï tarikh buencha). Today it is called Tatar Qaramalï village of the Sarman region of the Republic of Tatarstan. My father was born in 1843 of Miladi, and died in 1918. I buried him in the old cemetery of Istärlibash, near the grave of the old scholars. There is a gravestone with an inscription.

The children of ‘Abd al-Qadir baba: 1) Shaykh al-Islam, 2) ‘Abd al-‘Alim, 3) Habib al-Rahman, 4) Yözle Bikä, 5) Hubbi Jämal, 6) Mähbubä.

The children of Shaykh al-Islam: 1) Zuhra, 2) ‘Abd al-Majid, 3) Farhi Sorur. Other children died prematurely. My older sister Zuhra spent her life as a seamstress and died of pneumonia in 1906 of Miladi. A gravestone with an inscription is located in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. She was married to Niyaz ‘Ali, the son of Ahmad ‘Ali khalfa in Istärlibash. They had two children, Ummi Jihan and Maryam, who stayed with me after the death of their parents. /137a/ They both had night-blindness and could not live alone. Ummi Jihan married ‘Abd al-Karim, the son of Baqir Muhammadyarov in Istärlibash. They left a son, but themselves passed away and were buried in the cemetery of Istärlibash. Their son Raim grew up at the orphanage in Istärlibash and works there nowadays. My niece Maryam served as a teacher for ten years, but then lost her eyesight and [now] receives the state pension.

On April 29, 1909, ‘Abd al-Majid married Fatima, daughter of the famous teacher of Kazakh origin ‘Ali khalfa Aydabulov in Istärlibash. She was born in March 1881. The following children are alive:

1) the birth of Halima in 1913 of Miladi was noted in the family register (‘ailä däftäre)341 of Istärlibash. In 1934 she married ‘Ubaydullah b. Tukhfatullah Husnetdinov from Aytugan village of Istärlibash region. She lives now in Belebey city of Bashkortostan. Her children [are]: 1) Amina, 2) Na’il, 3) Shamil, 4) Mädina, 5) Khalida. My daughter Halima was literate in Tatar and Russian and worked a lot in trade. Today she is a housewife.

2) According to the family register, my son Mas‘ud was born on January 13, 1917. He married Fatima, a girl from the Tuytubä region in the Tashkent region of Uzbekistan. They had a daughter Ra’isa. For some reason they had disagreements and got divorced. My daughter-in-law now lives with her daughter Ra’isa in Lunacharsky, a settlement near Tashkent, and works as a teacher. They live on Kalinin street, house no. 55. Then he married Dhakirä, daughter of Sharaf al-Din from the Tuymazï region of the Bashkortostan Republic. They had a daughter called Wasilya. They now live in Tuymazï. /137b/ He [Mas‘ud] entered military service prior to the Second World War (olugh jihan sugïshï), studied aeromechanics in Leningrad and then participated in the Finnish war. During the Second World War he served at the airport in Moscow and returned as a lieutenant of the second class. He knows how to write and read in Tatar.

3) My daughter Asiya was born in Istärlibash in 1922. Then she entered a school for ten years in Piskent in the Tashkent region, where we arrived first, and graduated with distinction. Later she graduated from a medical college in Tashkent and worked at the hospital in Piskent, where she continues working to this day. Due to her excellent academic work, she traveled to Moscow and Leningrad some time in 1941. She married Rahim, the son of Shakir Mengliwaliev, a citizen of Piskent. They have a son called Farid. He is ten years old now, studying in the second year of school.

4) The family register has it that my son Muhsin was born in Istärlibash in 1924. He graduated from a school in Piskent with distinction and then taught in Dum Qurgan qïshlaq in the Piskent region. On August 19, 1942, at eighteen years old, he was mobilized to [serve in] the Second World War. There he trained to be a machine gunner, became a lieutenant and returned safely. Still, he spent ten months in a hospital in Krasnodar in the Caucasus and came home only in 1946. His body was full of shards; some of them remain inside. /138a/ On February 12, 1945, he married Dilbär, daughter of Sami‘ullah Latifullin from the Brianski mine of the famous Donbass region, born in a coal mine. He brought her from the army. They have the following children:

1) Mahmud Qadïrov. Today he is eight years old and is in the first year of school.

2) Münirä, [who] is six years old.

The rest of their children died in infancy. Rawil was buried in Donbass. Mansur was buried in Angren, near his grandmother, the daughter of Fatima. Murad was buried in Kumertau in Bashkortostan in 1954. For over a decade he has been working in trade.

3) Dilyara was born in the Kumertau region of the Bashkortostan Republic on February 13, 1956. She lives now with her parents in Orenburg.

5) The family register has it that my daughter Wasilya was born in 1926 in Istärlibash. She came to Uzbekistan, when she was nine years old, finished a ten-year school in Piskent and graduated with honors from the medical college in Tashkent as a pharmacist. Today she works as a pharmacy director at Qarshï station in Kashkadarya oblast. Before that, she worked in Shahrizabz region. On December 31, 1953 she married Fida’i Islamov, a local. In 1955 she gave birth to her daughter Flura. I was present at the wedding ceremony (nikah) and performed the prayers myself. /138b/

6) The family register of Istärlibash has it that my daughter Maryam was born in 1928. She came to Uzbekistan when she was eight, and graduated with distinction from a Russian ten-year school in Piskent. Then she entered the medical college in Tashkent. She studied there for a while and then entered the Medical Institute in Leningrad. After graduating there with distinction in 1953, she received a diploma (shahadat nama, diplom) and continued her studies writing a dissertation in the same place. If everything goes well, she will defend this year, 1956. She has not married yet. May God allow her a proper match, amen. [added later:] She finished her studies in 1956 and received an appointment from the Ministry of Education in Moscow to be a doctor in the Melekes region of Ulyanovsk oblast.

My second sister, Farhi Sorur, was born in Istärlibash in 1883. In the early days she knew Arabic and the Qur’an well. In 1905 or 1906 she married Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin in Nikifar village on the Dim River, a famous merchant from Kazan. He was in his sixties. She cried desperately at the wedding. That was a custom (mädäniyat) of those days. Even though the religious books have a rule that mutual consent is needed, the mullahs decided (shärigat chïgargannar) that it was okay for a rich person to be married without the consent of the bride. They had a son called Kalimullah, born in 1906. In late March 1917 our brother-in-law Sami‘ullah passed away and was buried in Nikifar cemetery. Since in 1922, at the time of Great Revolution, all their property was confiscated (musadara qïlu), my sister Farhi Sorur with her child Kalimullah had only a house. Her foster son took the property of the child. /139a/ Later, a person called Shahgiray claimed the house as his property, and forced them onto the street. God knows everything. My oppressed sister and her son are still living quietly in Belebey city, but all the oppressors are long dead. God’s justice has reached you! We believe and have confirmed it.342

After my sister was forced to leave her house, her life became difficult. I invited Majid b. ‘Izzatullah Valiullin, a brother of my mother who worked at Azkitä station on the Uralsk railway, to take care of her. He went there, and after staying a while married my sister and they began to live together. They had four girls and lived happily. In the end they moved to Belebey. Their children are Amina, Zaytuna, Zuhra, Ra’isa. Amina studied German at a ten-year school in Belebey and now works as a German language teacher in schools in Bashkortostan. She married a Bashkort judge called Sagitov, but they had disagreements and got divorced. They had a son, Banu, and a daughter, Lalä. After teaching in Istärlibash for a couple of days, today she teaches at a school in Ufa. Her daughter is fifteen and her son is ten.

Kalimullah, the son left by Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin, studied agronomy and today lives in Belebey together with his mother Farhi Sorur. Zaivoyskiy street, /139b/ a detached house, no. 17. He now works at the local newspapers as a journalist.

Zaytuna graduated from a ten-year school in Belebey and then entered the Medical Institute in Ufa. Today she works as a doctor in Ufa. She married As‘at, a person from Safar village in Chishmä region. They had a daughter called Rashidä. Recently, in August 1955, another daughter was born to them.

Zuhra graduated from a ten-year school in Belebey, then she entered the Oriental Faculty in Leningrad. After three years there, she studied for three years at the Academy in Kazan, then she spent two years in Moscow and since 1951 she has been teaching at the Pedagogical Institute in Kazan. In total she studied for twenty years, and this year, 1955, she got married. She has a son, Iskander.

Ra’isa graduated from a ten-year school in Belebey and then from the Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad. She taught at a school in Leningrad and married Gafurov, a Tatar academic. They have a son, Rashid. Today, in 1955, they live in Ekaterinburg and she works as a teacher. /140a/

The second son of ‘Abd al-Qadir, ‘Abd al-‘Alim, served as a mu’adhdhin of the first community in Qaramalï village. His children are Nur Muhammad, Fa’iza, and Hajar. They were born of his first wife Maryam. After she passed away, he married Husni Banu from Nurkäy village. She bore Raykhan, Ahmad Latif, and Nur al-‘Ayan. I think she was the daughter of a mullah from Burali village. This mullah and the mother of my wife’s mother were siblings.

Nur Muhammad first studied at the madrasa of Ahmad Latif hazrat in Tamtïq village on the Ïq River. Then he came to Istärlibash, studied here for a year or two and afterwards served as a mu’adhdhin in Qaramalï. He passed away, but I do not know when. He was a very good person. May God forgive his sins, amen.

Fa’iza was married to ‘Abd al-‘Alim, a person from Ilbek village. She died there. I knew them both personally. May God have mercy upon them.

Hajar was married to someone from Chalpï village, not far away from the Mällä River. I saw her in my childhood, but do not know who her husband was.

Of the children of the second wife, Husni Banu, Raykhan was married to someone in Nurkäy village.

Ahmad Latif lived in Qaramalï.

Nur al-‘Ayan lives in Qaramalï. I do not know if he is still alive. /140b/

The third child of ‘Abd al-Qadir was Habib al-Rahman. He had a son Kashshaf al-Din. He lived well in Qaramalï and died there at some point. He was a good person. May God have mercy upon him. Every time we visited Qaramalï, we enjoyed his hospitality. He had a son Salah al-Din. I do not know if he is still alive, since I have not heard anything from them for a long time. His wife was called Mastura.

The fourth child [of ‘Abd al-Qadir baba], Yözle Bikä, married someone in Qatmïsh village of the Muslim region on the banks of the Ïq River. We visited her regularly together with my father. She had an only son called Ahmad Hafiz. She was very pious and lived well. After the death of my father, approximately in 1923, she moved to Shälärmä village in the Mänzälä region to live with a person called Sahib Giray. They came together to our house in Istärlibash. May God have mercy upon them.

Farhi Sorur, the daughter of this Yözle Bikä, had a son called ‘Arifjan. He was an educated person and served as a mullah in Shälärmä village. He studied with Muhammadjan hazrat in Nurkäy village. In 1933 I visited them. He was an extremely religious and pious person. May God have mercy upon him. Amen. He had six children. I do not know their names.

Mahi Sorur, the third child of Yözle Bikä, was married to someone in Olugh Chaqmaq village on the Ïq River. She had a son, ‘Abd al-Majid. I saw them in the same year, 1933. They were farmers and were of average means. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. /141a/

The fifth child of our grandfather ‘Abd al-Qadir, Hubbi Jämal, married someone in Nurkäy village. Her husband died early. They had a son, ‘Arifjan. He had difficulties with hearing. I visited them once together with my father. They earned their livelihood from agriculture.

The sixth child, Mähbubä apay, married someone in Ballï Tamaq village near Qaramalï. I do not know her husband. They had a single son. Together with my father, I visited them once. They earned their livelihood from agriculture. May God forgive the sins of all of my ancestors and relatives. Amen.

Now I will write the genealogy of my late mother.

My late mother ‘Alimä, the daughter of Waliullah, was born in the famous Bayraka village on the banks of the Ïq River, part of the Chäkän volost of Bugulma district. Waliullah was a son of Rahmatullah, a son of Hasan. Our late grandfather Waliullah had three wives. The mother of my mother, Sharif al-Jamal b. Mustafa, moved there from Kazan. Waliullah must have been doing some trade in Bayraka. One spring he went on a horse to a market in Chäkän and was murdered on the way back, near a mill. According to testimonies, in the evening he divorced his wife ‘Afifä and in the morning he went to the market. People say that this was the reason that she killed him. He had another wife, but I do not remember her name. She was the mother of Farhi Sorur and ‘Izzatullah. Farhi Sorur had a daughter called Äsma. They lived in Bashkortostan, on the banks of the Kävämälek River, and died there. ‘Izzatullah abzï has been mentioned above. My brother-in-law Majid is the son of this ‘Izzatullah. Today he lives happily with my sister Farhi Sorur. Above I have written about their children. /141b/

When ‘Izzatullah abzï was alive, I went to see him at Azfikä station. He was a very poor and harmless person. Since he had a little education, he gave lessons in religion to the Bashkir children there. In summer, he would go to the foreign markets to be hired by the rich people for agricultural work. In his last days he used to transfer travelers from Azfikä station on his horse. One night he was innocently (bi-gunah mäzlüm) murdered by a Russian whom he transferred to a village. He was a very good person. May God have mercy upon him and count him among the martyrs (shähid). Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

My brother-in-law and brother [Majid] got a stomach disease in Belebey and spent several months in Ufa hospital. The doctors decided that he needed an operation and they sent him to a hospital in Leningrad. There he stayed only four hours after the operation and then passed away. “Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return.”343 My daughter Maryam, who at that time was studying at the Medical Institute, also participated in the operation. His son-in-law from Leningrad and his daughter Ra’isa took care of him and buried him in accordance with the Muslim rites. May God reward them for taking care of their father at a time of difficulty. Amen. His daughter Zaytuna came from Ufa to participate in the funeral and to construct a metal enclosure on his grave. May God reward my relatives, amen.

After the death of our grandfather Waliullah, his older sibling Khalilullah b. Rahmatullah stayed in Istärlibash, taught there and was engaged in trade. /142a/

Once he heard about the death of his brother Waliullah, he immediately returned to Bayraka village and brought our mother and grandmother Sharif al-Jamal to Istärlibash. The distance between these villages was 180 km. That was the time of my mother’s youth (qïz waqïtï). He raised her and gave her in marriage to Hafiz b. mullah Nasr al-Din from Gayna village, near Istärlibash. After Hafiz passed away, he brought our mother ‘Alimä to Istärlibash and then gave her in marriage to his student, and my father, Shaykh al-Islam. That must have been in 1870. The late Khalilullah khalfa had hearing problems and this was not without impact on his children.

He had two wives. After his first wife passed away, he married Umm Gulthum from Istärlitamaq. His first wife was the daughter of hajji mullah from Burali village in Mänzälä district on the banks of the Mällä River. They had a daughter called Rabi‘a. She married a Kazakh student in Istärlibash, named Dus Muhammad, when she was fourteen. By Umm Gulthum, he [Khalilullah khalfa] had a son named Muhammad Karim. He went to Medina the Radiant to study, but died there and was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi‘ cemetery. Another son, Muhammad Sharif, went to military service and then returned to Istärlibash, where he occupied himself with agriculture and a bit of leather trade. He was a good, wealthy, pious and kind person. In 1928 he was unlawfully (na-haqq) arrested and sent off to Siberia. There, in Omsk, he served as a mosque servant and took his wife and children there. He died in Omsk and was buried in its cemetery (qabrstan). May God forgive his sins, amen.

Today his wife Zainap and his son Mahmud remain in Omsk. Zainap is the daughter of Walidov from Istärlibash. For some years, he [Walidov] worked at the mill in Ayt village near Örshäqbash Qaramalï. He died there. May God have mercy upon him. He was a scholar (‘alim), a sincere person who led a pious life. I was present at his funeral and pronounced a couple of words about him there. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. /143a/

He was buried in …344 cemetery. He had a son As‘ad, but he died somewhere, probably during the Second World War (watan sugïshïnda). Today his son Mahmud lives in Omsk together with his mother Zainap.

Ahmad agha studied at the madrasa in Istärlibash and then spent several years at the madrasa of ‘Ubaydullah b. Zaynullah al-Istärlibashi in Yalpaqtal (Salachin) in Uralsk oblast. Then he returned to Istärlibash and taught for years at the madrasa. He spent much of his time in prison. He married Farhi Sorur, the daughter of someone of the … nasin345 family in Istärlitamaq. They had a daughter, Urqïya, one son, and another daughter. He died around 1915 and was buried in the cemetery in Istärlibash.

After the death of Dus Muhammad, the aforementioned Rabi‘a married ‘Ali khalfa b. Asaqay Aydabulov, a great teacher, who originated from the Narïn division of the Cherkes tribe in Bukay ile in Astrakhan governorate. He taught for many years in Istärlibash. The fathers of my mother ‘Alimä and Rabi‘a were cousins. I, ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam, married Fatima, the daughter of ‘Ali khalfa and Rabi‘a, on April 29, 1909. We had a great wedding. Present there were: my brother-in-law from Nikifar, Sami‘ullah ‘Abdullin; a famous merchant from Istärlitamaq, Habibullah ‘Uthmanov; all the scholars (‘ulama) of our community (mähällämez); as well as other respected people. The famous imam of Istärlibash, ‘Abdullah hazrat Muhammad Harith Tuqaev, performed our wedding ceremony (nikah). We gave presents to our parents and prominent people. Not since then was there such a great wedding of poor people in Istärlibash.

I was given special presents, a silk robe, wool bishmät, a turban, /143b/ shoes, cap, shirts, pants, and other clothes. There was no end to the food on offer. As a groom, I was presented a honey baursaq, which is a special type of food prepared according to the ancient tradition among us Tatars. This required lots of oil. Two people lifted the baursaq to present it to the audience. I write these small details about food, because I want to inform my children about the ancient traditions, because they might not trust that they ever existed. Thanks be to our grandparents who respected us this way. May God grant them paradise, amen.

In June 1915 I managed to bring my wife to our house. The relatives of my wife, ‘Abd al-Rahman, ‘Abd al-Rahim baja, Murtaza Badikov from Batïr village, ‘A’isha, and ‘Abdullah Urmanasov, brought five carriages of presents with them. May God have mercy upon them. Amen. This way I spent forty years with my wife Fatima and she passed away in Angren city of Tashkent oblast in Uzbekistan. “Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return.” She was buried in the cemetery of Tishektash community in Angren. In 1954, I placed a gravestone with an Arabic inscription and a grave enclosure (ihata) there. I also took a picture (fotografiia) [of the grave] and passed it on to my children as a keepsake (khätirä). May God have mercy upon her. /144a/ The gravestone has the following inscription: “This is the grave (qaber) of Fatima, daughter of ‘Ali. Pray in remembrance of her. This is the grave of Fatima, daughter of ‘Ali and wife of Majid qari. She died on August 26, 1949. Her elderly brother ‘Abd al-Rahman is a [gravestone] scribe (yazguchi). Her son Muhsin ordered the inscription.”

The Children of ‘Ali khalfa

The daughter of ‘Ali khalfa, ‘A’isha, was married to Murtaza Badikov from Batïr village on the banks of the Ashqadar River. Originally, Murtaza was from Tuysugan village in Bugulma district. The following are the children of ‘A’isha:

  1. Zainap married Shaykh al-Islam Kashaev from the same Batïr village. She had a daughter Zubarjad who married a Kazakh, who served as a judge at the Qïzïl Qum station of the Sarï Agach region of the Kazakhstan Republic, near Tashkent. Following childbirth she passed away in Sarï Agach in 1935. Her daughter stayed with her grandmother Zainap. I visited them in 1935. Her grave is located in Sarï Agach. [Zainap had] two other children, As‘ad and Farid. I do not know where they are at the moment.

  2. ‘Abd al-Hayy was born in Batïr village, then he moved to Orenburg for a while, then settled in the Tajikistan Republic, where he undertook trade at the village cooperative. Then he perished in the Second World War (jihan sugïshïnda). His wife Hajar [was] from Orenburg. They did not have children. He worked in Kuibyshev region, 200 km from Stalinabad. I visited them in 1935. May God count him among the martyrs (shähid bändäläre). Amen. /144b/

  3. ‘Abd al-Azal was also born in Batïr village and then worked in commerce in Orenburg. He was wealthy and bought a huge house. After the revolution (inqilab) he moved to Tajikistan and worked in commerce at a place called Tugalan in Qurgan Tübä region, 150 km away from Stalinabad. His wife, Hayat, was a sister of ‘Ubaydullah Kashaev from Orenburg. They had several children. Their daughter is still alive and resides in Qugalan (Kagunovichabad). [‘Abd al-Azal] was mobilized for the Second World War and returned with mental problems, which led to the death of his wife Hayat and his imprisonment for fifteen years. He is still in a labor camp. ‘Abd al-Azal was a good and kind person (bändä). May God grant him salvation (najat) and return [him] to his children. I visited them together with my son Mas‘ud in 1935. He took my son to teach him for work.

Hadija b. ‘Ali khalfa was married to ‘Abd al-‘Alim mullah from Bikqol village of Orenburg district. A year later, following childbirth, she passed away and was buried in the cemetery in Bikqol. There is a gravestone with an inscription. May God have mercy upon her.

‘Abd al-Rahim b. ‘Ali khalfa is still alive. He studied in Istärlibash, then went to Istanbul for a couple of years. After that he taught using a new method (usul-i jadid) at the school [madrasa] of Istärlibash. The Tuqaevs, directors of the madrasa, did not like his teaching. He started to trade and became a successful merchant. He was a well-educated and sincere person. Even though the Tuqaevs tried to harm him, he stayed well. /145a/

The Children of ‘Abd al-Rahim Chalaqaev

At some point, I do not remember when, he married Shamsi Kamal, daughter of Qahar al-Din, a mu’adhdhin of Yashargan village near Istärlibash. They had the following children.

Hadija b. ‘Abd al-Rahim was born in Istärlibash and married Lutf al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Aleev. After the revolution, the latter went to study aircraft engineering in Kazan. He did a great job in the Second World War, reached the rank of captain, and returned as an invalid. Today he lives in Istärlibash and receives a state pension of 1,600 rubles. They had three sons, who are still studying. I do not remember their names.

Zuhra ‘Aleeva was also born in Istärlibash. In her youth she married Sa‘id Tukhfatullin from Istärlitamaq, but they did not stay [together] long because of his immorality (akhlaqsïzlïq), and divorced. Then she married Daud, a Bashkir from Ufa. They had a daughter and Daud passed away. She went to Uzbekistan with her daughter and married a Tatar there. She got divorced from him too and then died herself. She was buried in Uzbekistan. Oh Allah! If she was a doer of good, then increase her good fortune. And if she was a wrongdoer, then overlook her wrongdoings. Amen. May God have mercy upon her. Her daughter lives with her aunt Maryam and studies at the Railway Institute in Tashkent.

Maryam was born in Istärlibash. After a while she married Dhakir b. Fazlullah Akhmerov from Istärlibash. They lived a proper, peaceful life, full of love. Dhakir worked in the government. /145b/ In 1941 he was mobilized to the front and perished there. May God count him among the sinless martyrs (shähid bändälär). He was a very modest (insaflï) man. When he was twenty-one or twenty-two, he taught at the primary school in Istärlibash. He was an extremely wise man. His father, Fazlullah Akhmerov, first baked rolls in Istärlibash, then sold eggs and in the end became a wealthy person (yakhshï däulät iyase). As a result of the Great Russian Revolution, he died in prison. May God forgive his sins.

Ma’wi ‘Aleeva was born in Istärlibash, studied there and then went to Uzbekistan, to Namangan, for marriage. She disagreed with her husband and got divorced. Then she received education in law in Kharkov, became a judge and in recent years served as an inspector (sudyanïng täftishche) in Zab city in Kashkadarya oblast. Today she has returned to Istärlibash to work for the government. She serves as an inspector in Fedor region.

‘Abd al-Rashid ‘Aleev was born in Istärlibash, then in his youth he went together with his siblings to Tashkent and graduated from a local medical school in 1942. He had just started to work when he was taken to the front for medical service. He returned safely and worked as a doctor in the Miräkä region of Kashkadarya oblast.346 Then he returned to Istärlibash to serve as an eye doctor at the local hospital. He married Mahi Nur, daughter of Sharifjan b. Akhundjan in Istärlibash. Today they have a son and two daughters. In 1954 he received a diploma from a three-month course in ophthalmology. /146a/

Mahirä ‘Aleeva was born in Istärlibash and then moved to Uzbekistan. There she graduated from art school and became a painter. She worked as a schoolteacher in Zab city until 1954, when she came back to Istärlibash to work as a teacher and painter. She married Rashid b. ‘Abd al-Rahim Dhakir from Qaragush village. They have two daughters at the moment.

All these children were orphaned347 by the death of their mother Shamsi Kamal, who had breast cancer. After she died, ‘Abd al-Rahim Chalaqaev had to take another wife, daughter of someone called Tanau Ahmad from Täter Arslan village. They had a daughter, Rashidä. She also joined her sisters in Uzbekistan and graduated from the medical college. Today she works in a place close to Shahrizabz.

When this second wife also passed away, ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Latif married [‘A’isha], a daughter of Salqïn ‘Usman from Istärlibash and then died himself. They had a son ‘Abd al-Bari. ‘A’isha b. ‘Uthman got married again. She is now more than eighty years old and resides in Istärlibash.

The third wife and her son antagonized the rest of children, who had to leave their father and migrate to other places, but in accordance with the saying “Man proposes and God disposes,” ‘Abd al-Bari perished during the Second World War. May God forgive his sins, amen. /146b/

Above, I mentioned Umm Gulthum, the first daughter of ‘A’isha b. ‘Ali khalfa. She was born in Batïr village. She went to Qïzïl Urda in Kazakhstan and married Arslan Shakirov, a Tajik. She still lives there. Shakirov is a barber. He is a good person. I visited them a couple of times. Their son Farid now studies at the medical college in Tashkent. The second child has problems with his legs and attends school in Qïzïl Urda. I do not remember the name of their third son. Their mother, ‘A’isha, died in Qïzïl Urda and her grave is in the local graveyard. There is a gravestone with an inscription. ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov made the inscription when he visited the burial place. ‘A’isha was a very kind and good lady. May God have mercy upon her. May God forgive her and cover her by His mercy.348 Amen.

‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Ali khalfa was born in 1881.349 In his youth he lived in a place near Uralsk, then grew up in Istärlibash and, until the age of twenty, studied with his father ‘Ali khalfa, then went to pursue religious knowledge in Bukhara (tahsil ‘ulum diniya). He stayed for six years at the Mir-i ‘Arab madrasa in Bukhara, and in the seventh year he returned to Istärlibash. He married ‘Afifä, daughter of Nur Muhammad Urmanov from Istärlitamaq. Then he taught at the madrasa of Istärlibash until 1921, when another mosque was erected /147a/ and he was elected imam of the third mahalla in Istärlibash. He received a diploma (shahadat nama) from the Muftiate in Ufa and started to perform his duties as imam until the night of December 11, 1928, when the event described above [i.e. the murder of ‘Aleev] took place. Due to that event, he was imprisoned together with me. He spent five months in the jail of Ufa, then returned and on September 19, 1929 was taken again to the same prison.

He was there for eleven months and in 1930 he was sentenced for ten years to the White Sea Canal. He was in Solovki, but in 1933350 he was released (najat bulup) and sustained himself through common labor (qara esh). In 1939, his enemies slandered him unlawfully (bik na-haqq danuslar birep) and he was exiled to Siberia for six years. He returned safely to Istärlibash before the end of his term (wä‘däsennän elek). He performed his duties faithfully (khalis hezmät qïlïb) at the camp in Novosibirsk and even though he was counted among the political prisoners (siyasi maghyublar), the government released him two years early. He came home and began living with his family. When the government allowed the performance of religious rites, [and] an order arrived to erect mosques in every famous community, a mosque was reopened in Istärlibash and, in accordance with the request of the local people, the aforementioned ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Ali khalfa Aydabulov was allowed to become an imam and received a license from the Muftiate in Ufa. He is still performing the duties of imam at the mosque of Istärlibash. May God grant it continuity. Amen. May God continue [our religion] until the End of Times in accordance with the saying “Oh God, show us truth and falsehood clearly.”351 /147b/ May God make sincere his religious performance and the sermons that he translates into people’s hearts in accordance with the hadith “the one who introduces a positive innovation.”352

The Children of ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov and his wife ‘Afifä

Mukarrama was born in Istärlibash and around 1930 got married, but because of the strikes they divorced. Then she married Salah al-Din from Örshäqbash Qaramalï village near Istärlibash whose wife had passed away, but since he was rather dull, they also got divorced. They had a daughter and a son. Her son Anwar graduated from the ten-year state school in Istärlibash and learned to paint very well. Today he works at the Qaramalï collective farm as a bookkeeper. The daughter is still working at the collective farm (kolkhoz).

After the first wife of ‘Abd al-Rahman passed away, he married Dilafruz, daughter of Sadïq mu’adhdhin from Qaragush village. Around March 1914, my late wife Fatima and I went to their wedding in Qaragush village. At the time, my oldest daughter Halima was still an infant. The aforementioned ‘Afifä b. Nur Muhammad passed away following childbirth. May God count her among the martyrs. Amen. She was a modest and good person. She respected me as a brother-in-law. Oh Allah! If she was a doer of good, then increase her good fortune. And if she was a wrongdoer, then overlook her wrongdoings. Amen. May God have mercy upon her. She was buried in the graveyard in Istärlibash, there is a gravestone with an inscription. /148a/

The Following are the Children of ‘Abd al-Rahman Aydabulov From His Second Wife

Munawwara got married, but after several years her husband left her with her daughter; [the daughter] is still alive, but her mother Munawwara died of breast cancer. She was buried in the graveyard in Istärlibash, there is a gravestone with an inscription. May God have mercy upon her.

Yagmura died in her youth and was buried in Istärlibash.

Khalilullah studied at the state school in Istärlibash and then fought in the Second World War. Today he is studying at the High Governmental School in Moscow. He was an extremely clever boy. May God allow him to finish his studies successfully, return home, [and] become a servant of the fatherland (watan khädime) who helps his parents. Amen.

Magfura today takes care of her parents. Even though the time of marriage has approached, she has not married yet. She is a clever and wholesome girl who takes care of her parents and participates in common work (‘umumi eshlär). May God grant her a good husband.

Urqïya graduated from the ten-year school in Istärlibash and after a year of teaching children at school she went to study at the Pedagogical Institute in Istärlitamaq. May God make her a wholesome girl who helps her parents. Amen.

In good memory I have done my best to write down the genealogy. If in the future there are those willing to record the genealogy (nasab), they can add to this work. I wrote this in October 1955, Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1375 in Kumertau city. /148b/

Now I have decided to write what I know about my home village Istärlibash.

بسم اللّٰه الرحمن الرحيم

رب يسر و لا تغسر

الحمد للّٰه الذي خالق السموات والأرض وخالق الليل والنهار وقدرا معشيه الانسان فی القری وفی البلدان

والصلاة والسلام علی حبيب اللّٰه محمد رسول اللّٰه عليه السلام وعلی آله واصحابه الكرام

The famous village of Istärlibash is located 150 km from Ufa, 55 km from Istärlitamaq, in the direction of Mecca, 75 km from Shafran station on the Great Siberian Railway, approximately 73o longitude and 53o latitude, 1 km away from the source of the Istärli River. Some people from Qarghalï near Orenburg, [originally] from the Kazan side, arrived in the Bashkir lands and agreed to establish a settlement (utar) on the spot where Istärlibash is located. Later on, given the growth of trade, other people also started to come and that was the beginning of the village. Though the exact dates are unknown, it must have been a century after the Pugachev uprising (waqi‘a) which took place in our lands in 1773. A place called Bosqïn choqïrï is located northwards from Istärlibash. During the Pugachev war, [the rebels] built dugout houses in the forest. Our ancestors related that this was the reason why this place is called that. /149a/ According to some, the first newcomers initially rented the land from the Bashkirs for fifty years. A certain Abu-l-Na‘im b. Muhammad Latif has a document (kägazläre) composed on April 25, 1859. His grandfather Yusuf was a merchant; he arrived from Qarghalï to do trade and set up a potash factory. The document mentioned above belongs to him. Apparently, that was the third agreement (alularï) with the Bashkirs. Each time he agreed for fifty years. Hence they started to document this practice a century ago, and maybe for another thirty years prior to that they did not write it down. This means that Istärlibash must have been established around 1655. Nobody knows our ancestors of those years or their genealogies. Some twenty-five years ago there were still some elderly people informed about the Pugachev uprising and some people still possess documents from the past containing information on the years of 1774 and 1797.

Istärlibash is a village located on both banks of the Istärli River, with a high mountain in the north. The eastern side and the Qibla side are open with very few forests. The air of Istärlibash is good, there are some fruit gardens there. All the fruits, like apples and melons, ripen on time. Its fields yield plenty of strawberries. Its forests are full of nuts and raspberries. In winter it is usually around minus fifteen degrees and in summer around seventeen degrees [above zero]. The population of Istärlibash is Tatar. The majority of people are involved in agriculture. There are some craftsmen as well, such as a stonemason, shoemaker, blacksmith, and joiner. There are also those who bake bread. /149b/ Among women there are those who do embroidery, produce shawls, and towels. According to the 1897 census (perepis), there were 1,572 men and 1,552 women, i.e. 2,124 people in total. One day a week there was a market in Istärlibash which provided people with everything they needed. Many people would come for trade from Istärlitamaq and other places. There were also many people who opened shops in the village. Every day it was possible to buy anything you wanted. Starting from 1910, a trade company was established, which included a lot of members. This company had a shop called Nur. In 1915, another shop called Shäfqat opened. Each member donated 100 rubles and the shop prospered. Together with other people, I participated in getting state permission to open both shops.

Istärlibash counts among the famous villages; its madrasas functioned as home to several hundred students from different places annually. There were many students from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. From among the inner cities of Russia, numerous students arrived from Saratov, Astrakhan (Achtrakhan), Uralsk, Simbirsk, Kazan, Ufa and other governorates. There were also many people pursuing the sacred knowledge of Sufism (tariqat ‘ilm-i batin) from the shaykhs. Some 200 years ago, knowledge started to spread from here.

Munasib mullah was the first imam in Istärlibash, in approximately 1725. After the establishment of the first mosque, Husayn mullah b. ‘Abd al-Rahman initiated teaching at the madrasa. He was the first person to erect a mosque in Istärlibash and performed the first Friday prayer. /150a/ A minbar stick in Istärlibash bears an inscription on one of its sides: “Husayn b. ‘Abd al-Rahman.” I saw the inscription myself. People said that in 1875 this stick was 150 years old. The grave of this Husayn mullah is located in the old cemetery in the center of the village. The inscription on the gravestone was executed by Muhammad Shah agha. I do not know how he figured out the exact location of the grave. Husayn mullah was the father of the first mufti Muhammadjan Husaynov. He became a mufti according to Catherine the Great’s decree of 1789. As noted above, Husayn mullah started to teach around 1725. At that time, mosques and madrasas were built. It is possible to date the history of the Istärlibash madrasa from 1725. It is unknown when Husayn mullah passed away and how long he taught for, but people say that he was a learned and pious person. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

The next person who taught in Istärlibash was ‘Adl Shah hazrat b. ‘Abdullah Bogdanov. He was the father of the famous Dawlat Shah hazrat from Chabïnlï near Orenburg. ‘Abdullah hazrat from Chaqmaq on the Ïq River related information regarding ‘Adl Shah hazrat. Sham‘un mullah from Warish Muslim village in Mänzälä district studied at the madrasa of ‘Adl Shah hazrat in Istärlibash, became a licensed imam (ukaznïy imam) and died in his nineties in 1865. He must have been studying in Istärlibash around 1795. The famous Husn al-Din akhund from Balïqlï village, 40 km from Istärlibash, has a book /150b/ that was written at the madrasa of ‘Adl Shah hazrat in 1799. Based on this information, was there anyone teaching after Husayn mullah and before ‘Adl Shah hazrat, i.e. before 1775? Was Husayn mullah very old when ‘Adl Shah hazrat took over his position at the mosque and madrasa? There was nobody who knew exactly.

One can say that, at the time of ‘Adl Shah hazrat, prominent scholars grew in Istärlibash and the most distinguished of them started to teach abroad. From approximately 1755, Istärlibash started to produce scholars. ‘Adl Shah hazrat died at seventy-five years old in 1812, may God cover him with His mercy.353 People say that he was a learned and distinguished person. His son Dawlat Shah hazrat studied in Istärlibash, for some time with ‘Adl Shah hazrat and then Ni‘matullah hazrat, but later moved to Bukhara.

‘Adl Shah hazrat was succeeded by Ni‘matullah b. Biktimir b. Tuqay, known as Kättä hazrat. He was born around 1773. In 1801 he went to Bukhara the Noble, to study sciences. Some old documents (bä‘ze iske kägazlärdä) mention that this took place on March 1, 1801. Before going to Bukhara, Ni‘matullah hazrat studied at the madrasa of Muhammad al-Rahim akhund in Mächkärä. After the death of ‘Adl Shah hazrat, starting from 1812, after receiving a license on August 22, 1813, he became a teacher in esoteric and exoteric sciences and an imam of the mosque. He was a model teacher and a prominent shaykh who strived to stop the heresies (bid‘at) and religious superstitions (dini khurafat) spreading among the simple folk (‘awwam), and called for following the path of the prophet. For example, he opposed the celebration of sabantuy and Nowruz, as well as the gatherings to commemorate the deceased on the third, seventh, and fortieth days following the death. Today, mullahs suggest to the heirs of the deceased /151a/ to perform Qur’an recitation for the souls of their deceased father or mother. Of course, it would be great if they did it solely for the sake of God, but they do it to take the property of the dead. Clearly, this Qur’an recitation turns out not to be for the sake of God, because it causes disagreement and enmity when done by semi-literate qaris, rather than by mullahs or mu’adhdhins. If there was no money involved, they would only try to escape from this duty.

Today, those mullahs who consider the Mawlid celebration as illegal (bid‘at) and forbid its performance only undermine their own authority (abruy) among the people. However, the Mawlid celebrations were performed at mosques in front of large audiences with recitation of prayers to the Prophet and the telling of stories of his morals and qualities. Nobody collected alms and gifts or prepared food. But today those mullahs who reject the Mawlid, when the Mawlid month approaches, [nonetheless] gather women in the mosque and tell them complete nonsense. They preach that those who do not perform Mawlid, commit an error. If only they could recite the Mawlid [poems] in a beautiful voice that would make the women happy! However, they would not say anything about the moral qualities of the Prophet. This kind of Mawlid is, of course, forbidden (bid‘at). Naturally, in performing Mawlid, especially today, in this time of weakness of religion, there is a dire need to tell the younger generation in their mother tongue in general terms about the personality (nindi keshe bulgan) of the Prophet and how he spread Islamic religion all over the world. Nothing can distort this; however, cooking food, collecting alms and /151b/ the rhythmical recitation of Mawlid will have no effect on the souls of those women and other people, while for mullahs it is great to eat bälesh and pilaw and collect alms the whole month long.

In the times closer to the Prophet’s life, the Mawlid was not officially permitted, but five or six centuries later people started to perform this rite. Still, it was not the way described above. It consisted of gathering people at the mosque, reciting the Qur’an, explaining the legacy and ethics of the Prophet, reciting prayers to the Prophet, asking him for intercession on the Day of Judgment. In the times closer to the Prophet’s life, people knew his ethics and deeds well, therefore there was no need to perform Mawlid. In accordance with the saying “law differs in different parts of the world,”354 today the Mawlid ceremonies have to be performed. The aforementioned gatherings on the third, seventh and fortieth days have been ended. That must have been a confirmation of the hadith: “Those who introduce a positive innovation will get their reward, as well as the reward of those who practice it thereafter.”355

People say that among the great people who visited Istärlibash were the Kazakh rulers Jihangir khan and Shir Ghazi khan. One of the students of Jihangir khan studied at Istärlibash madrasa in the 1840s. In my time, one of the madrasas was known as a khan madrasa; maybe he founded it (waqf idelmesh). Since, at the time of Ni‘matullah hazrat, knowledge prospered in Istärlibash and the number of students increased, there was a pressing need to enlarge the mosques and madrasas and a lot of resources were spent on it. The present-day mosque building was brought some 100 tayaq downwards into the center of the village. In 1930, it was restored with funding from the people, and today hosts a club. /152a/

A large hall in the mosque was built with the help of Isenbay b. Khwaja Bek from Isenbay village, in Kazakhstan. The metal roof of the mosque was left as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya) by Qujantay hajji Adbulov from Yalpaqtal. May this serve an illustration of the Qur’anic verse: “Save those who believe, and do righteous deeds; they shall have a wage unfailing.”356 May God forgive them and cover them with His mercy. Amen.

At the time of Ni‘matullah hazrat, in 1836, a water system (fantal) was constructed in Istärlibash. It is still in function today and during its history has been renovated three times. In 1926, I proposed to the community that it be renovated, since the water had stopped flowing, and I became a member of the committee. Between 1954 and 1955 the government renovated it for the fifth time.357 I wrote about this water system above, you can find it there.358

Ni‘matullah hazrat taught both exoteric and esoteric sciences. He put more emphasis on the exoteric sciences and, since there was a shortage of printed books, he spent a lot of money to get hold of the literature. One can still find volumes (majma‘lar) copied in his hand. There are copies on every subject: people say that he traveled far away to copy the tafsir Qadi and tafsir Shaykhzada. Many manuscripts that he brought from Bukhara the Noble are still in existence. May God bless him and reward him greatly. Amen.

In 1815, Ni‘matullah hazrat had a son named Muhammad Harith. His older brother Muhammad Harrath was born in 1814. In 1833, Muhammad Harith received permission no. 1380 from the Orenburg governor to travel to Bukhara the Noble for studies. In 1841, he returned safely. In the same year, when his father was still alive, he started to teach in Istärlibash and a couple of years later gathered students to teach them Sufism. The other son, Muhammad Harrath, went to study in Bukhara in 1844. At that time, Istärlibash was full of people: many students came from different places to study /152b/ exoteric and esoteric sciences, and the classes were progressive. On March 27, 1844, Kättä hazrat (or Ni‘matullah b. Biktimir) passed away. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. He was seventy-three.359

After Ni‘matullah hazrat’s death, his son Muhammad Harith became an imam and teacher in Istärlibash. There is a document given to him by the Orenburg mufti ‘Abd al-Wahid Suleymanov on April 4, 1844 that permits him to be an imam and teacher and to solve the problems of the community. The state approval must have arrived the same year. He married Fa’iza, daughter of ‘Abdullah b. Dawlat Shah from Chabïnlï, but originally from Qarghalï. She was known then as tutash abïstay.360 This ‘Abdullah b. Dawlat Shah was a local authority selected by the Bashkirs. One older person from Känjä composed a poem (bäyt ya‘ni munajat) about him. Today, people sing these verses as an ‘Abdullah mullah melody (köy). Today, the family of Davletshin are his descendants. Among them, ‘Abd al-Gaziz Davletshin was a general and lived in Leningrad. His wife was a Christian. He participated in the committee for the building of the mosque there. May God have mercy upon him. There were many other descendants [of ‘Abdullah].

In 1852, Muhammad Harrath, the brother of Muhammad Harith, came back from Bukhara the Noble and started to teach. That was the time of greatness and progress for Istärlibash. Many scholars visited the village and left satisfied. The muftis ‘Abd al-Salam and ‘Abd al-Wahid visited Istärlibash repeatedly. The mufti Salim Garay Tefkelev intended to live in Istärlibash and built a house there, but it did not happen and his house was donated as a waqf. Today this building still exists and hosts a post office. /153a/

Since the students arrived in Istärlibash in large numbers, Muhammad Harith built many madrasas. He constructed a bathroom near the madrasa and classrooms for Muhammad Harrath. In 1888, Habibullah b. Muhammad Harith moved these classrooms to another place. This bathroom was suitable for the [ritual] full-body washing and purification during the winter time; it was warm all the time, because a bath servant heated and cleaned it every day. This bathroom was demolished during the time of the Great Revolution and its stones were stolen for other buildings.

Muhammad Harrath was appointed second imam of Istärlibash. On December 24, 1859, Muhammad Harrath received permission from the Orenburg governor to perform hajj. In 1860, he went on pilgrimage. On the way he visited Syria and Medina the Radiant and returned in the same year. Several times he visited the region of Kazan and Talovka village on the Sarï Uzen River (in Russian: Malyi Uzen) in Astrakhan governorate. The prominent and wealthy Kazakh, Isenbay b. Khwaja Bek, invited him to pay a visit. He traveled 800 km via Uralsk to get there. Isenbay invited him due to his passion for sincere scholarship. Above, I mentioned that he built a large hall in the mosque for 400 people and covered the floor with sheep’s wool. May God accept this deed as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya), forgive his sins and allow him to enter the palaces of paradise. Amen. The grave of this Isenbay b. Khwaja Bek is located in Medina the Radiant, in Jannat al-Baqi‘ graveyard. There is a gravestone which says that he died in 1272 of Hijri. When I was in Medina, I discovered his grave there. I was born in that village of Isenbay and, with my parents, taught children there.

He [Muhammad Harrath] visited [Isenbay village] around 1879. /153b/ In the year after this visit [he] married Hadija, the daughter of Isenbay b. Khwaja Bek. This Hadija arrived in Istärlibash with lots of things. In accordance with the Kazakh tradition, she even brought a decorated tent with her. Everything that was in the house was made of the most expensive materials, such as the Bukharan rug. People say that these materials were produced upon request at the factory. I have seen some of them. She did not live long and passed away after a couple of years. She was buried in Istärlibash graveyard near the graves of great teachers (olugh hazratlärneng qabere yanïnda), there is a gravestone with an inscription.361 She left a son called Muhammad Zarif, who lived some forty years. For many years he suffered from a mental disease. May God have mercy upon him. He was a good and modest person. May God forgive him and cover him with His mercy. He had two sons, but they died early. Today only his daughter Umm Gulthum is still alive in Istärlibash.

The late mufti Salim Garay came to the wedding in Isenbay. People say that the wedding party lasted up to ten days with several hundred sheep, cows, and camels being slaughtered. There were a lot of people, even the Kazan merchants from Talovka came to trade there for ten days.

Muhammad Harith hazrat was open-minded, friendly to others, regarded everybody as equal and welcomed guests cheerfully. His house was always full of guests. He had a separate house called utar khanä, where he organized the care of some forty invalids, orphans, and infirm people. In the year of hunger he distributed 3,000 pood of bread to people. At the time of Tsar Alexander II, on August 14, 1869 he received the title of tarkhan for helping simple folk. Among his great monuments (olugh äthärlärennän) /154a/ is a bridge of white stone that he erected in the center of Istärlibash across the Istärli River. This bridge still stands today, in 1956.

In 1869, Kazakhs of the Orenburg region raised arms against the government, and the Orenburg governor Krzhanovskii asked Muhammad Harith hazrat to advise them and calm them down. A document based on this order, dated March 23, 1869, is still preserved in Istärlibash, saying: “You will perish. Try to calm down anyway. Our Muslim religion always calls for peace.” Following this advice (nasïhät), the Kazakhs calmed down and yielded to the state. The document (kägaz) bears his seal and signature.

People say that Muhammad Harith was an educated person and regarded the study of sciences and learning of languages as a necessity. In his time, they bought 4,000 desiatina of land from six Bashkir villages located on the banks of the Istärli River. These lands covered the space from the Istärlitamaq road to the other side of the Istärli River, i.e. between the present-day Russian villages of Nikolaevka, Sergeevka and Qunaqbay.

After the death of Muhammad Harith, to cover their debts, his heirs sold off 300 desiatina of land for two rubles each. Today the Russian village Sukhadol is located there. The old border was on the hillside above this village. In my youth there was a milestone. People say that the price was very low. They sold it for no more than five or ten rubles. In 1917, at the time of Great Revolution, all of this was confiscated and dedicated to the common needs.

Muhammad Harith hazrat died on November 2, 1870 or Sha‘ban 1286, when he was sixty-three. He was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. /154b/ There is a gravestone with an inscription. People say that 300 people were present at the funeral. May God have mercy upon him.

The following were his heirs: ‘Abdullah, ‘Ubaydullah, Habibullah, Muhammad Shakir, ‘Abd al-Majid, ‘Abd al-Qadir, and girls: Zubayda and Zuhra.

‘Abdullah hazrat served as imam during our time. In 1909 he performed the hajj, visited Medina the Radiant and returned safely. Then he continued his duties as imam until 1919 and passed away in October that year. Hazrat was not talkative, and as part of performing his duties he delivered impressive sermons. He was an extremely persistent person. May God have mercy upon him. He was buried in Istärlibash cemetery.362 I took part in the funeral. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. He was a straightforward person who always told the truth without being afraid of anyone.

‘Ubaydullah was an imam and akhund in Istärlibash as well as a director of the madrasa, but he also taught a little. He died in February 1920.363 May God have mercy upon him. Amen. Even though his morals were good (güzäl kholïqlï keshe), he often listened to the lies of his children and harmed many people who stayed angry at him. As you know, his rich children remained stupid and ignorant, they slandered people to their father unlawfully and without investigation, and judged them. May God forgive them. In his youth, [‘Ubaydullah] studied at the madrasa of ‘Abdullah hazrat in Chaqmaq, but his knowledge was weak.

Habibullah b. Muhammad Harith first studied in Istärlibash, then moved to the madrasa of ‘Abdullah hazrat in Olugh Chaqmaq in Mänzälä district, and studied in Bukhara the Noble. There he became a true scholar and teacher, then returned to Istärlibash and taught there successfully for years. He renovated the mosques and madrasas in Istärlibash and erected a bathroom made of stone. /155a/ Since there was an abundance of knowledge and students in Istärlibash, that was the time of progress for religious scholarship. Habibullah hazrat364 loved scholarship; he planted trees in front of the mosques and madrasas and established bathrooms nearby to perform ablutions. He put everything in good order. May these be counted as lasting pious deeds (baqiyat-i salihat). Amen. I (fäqirengez) studied with him for two or three years. Even though I was young, he paid more attention to us. May God have mercy upon him, amen. When he died, he was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash at the feet of his grandfather Ni‘matullah hazrat. There is also a gravestone with an inscription. His heirs were ‘Abd al-Rahman, Zaynab, ‘Abd al-‘Alim, and ‘Abdullah. ‘Abd al-Rahman died of cholera in Mecca in 1907 and was buried in the Jannat al-Ma‘ali cemetery on the top of the grave of his brother ‘Abd al-Majid b. Muhammad Harith. Together with my companion (shärikem) ‘Ayd Muhammad, I buried him there, when I was still in Mecca. May God forgive his sins, amen. He perished on the path of acquiring knowledge.

Zaynab married ‘Abd al-Rahim, the son of ‘Ubaydullah b. Muhammad Harith. He died early; she went to Tashkent and passed away there. ‘Abd al-‘Alim was an imam of the great mosque in Istärlibash, but due to the Revolution he was arrested and died in prison in 1930. ‘Abdullah studied in Istärlibash in his youth, then went to Muhammadiyya, the madrasa of ‘Alimdjan hazrat in Kazan, and afterwards graduated from the medical college in Tashkent. He worked as a doctor, but became paralyzed after a stroke and lost his job. Today he is still alive and has two sons. I visited him in 1954.

Muhammad Shakir b. Muhammad Harith studied in Istärlibash for a while and then moved to Chaqmaq madrasa, then entered the pedagogical school in Orenburg, but interrupted his studies to return to Istärlibash and marry. /155b/ He had some 500 desiatina of land that he inherited from his father Muhammad Harith, located on the banks of the Istärli River near Qunaqbay village. He built a farm there, cultivated some wheat, then opened a shop in the front of his house in Istärlibash and lived off trade. Since he knew a bit of medicine, he helped students who were ill with medication. Since at that time there were no hospitals in the countryside, this help was very important. He never took money for the medicine. May God reward him, amen. Sometimes he undertook temporary jobs for the state. In the wake of the Russian Revolution, in 1905 he was elected three times to be a member of the State Parliament. He came back from St Petersburg when the Parliament was closed down. He was a very modest person, but his morals were not perfect: sometimes he harmed innocent people for no reason. After the Great Revolution of 1917, in 1924 the government forced him to leave Istärlibash ‘voluntarily’ (ikhtiyary räveshtä). Nothing was confiscated except for his house; he sold his property and used the money himself. He lived in Orenburg for a couple of years and then was buried in the great cemetery of Orenburg. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. May God have mercy upon him. Qasim from the Bannuy Ujar community of Orenburg told me that, together with three other people, he took [the body of Muhammad Shakir] on his carriage and buried him.

[Muhammad Shakir’s] first wife had long since passed away. His next wife was from Yumran village on the Aq Idel River. They had a son, Habibullah. I do not know whether he is still alive. His first wife, Mahitab, was from the Rameev family in Istärlitamaq. She must have been the daughter of ‘Abd al-Haqq. Her daughters are still alive: Maryam, Khurshid and Amina in Istärlitamaq, Halima in Ufa, and Fatima in Samarkand. /156a/

Habibullah b. Muhammad Harith first studied in Istärlibash. He studied with ‘Abdullah b. Ni‘matullah from Bubi village, known as Hajji khalfa. Then he went to the madrasa of ‘Abdullah hazrat b. ‘Abd al-Ghafur in Chaqmaq village, and afterwards finished his studies (khatm-i kutub qïlmïsh) in Bukhara the Noble. That must have been in 1881. The late Hajji khalfa taught in Istärlibash for twenty years, striving for the good of education, and in 1883 of Miladi after the month of Ramadan, in August, he went on hajj. After completing the hajj, he fell ill in Medina the Radiant, where he deteriorated and passed away on the day of ‘Ashura (yaum al-‘ashura), November 2, 1883 of Miladi. His blessed grave is located in the cemetery of Jannat al-Baqi‘ in Medina. May God cover him with His wide mercy.365 He was a prominent and pious scholar and specifically a master in the field of law (usul fiqh). He authored a book on grammar of the Turkic language. ‘Abdullah Bubi, the son of his brother Ni‘matullah in Bubi village, opened a special school for boys and girls to teach [them] according the new method. He was a leading servant of the nation (berenche millät khädime) and a foremost teacher of Tatars in Russia (Rusiya tatarlarï). In 1907 we undertook hajj together and stopped at ‘Arafa and other places. We also visited the Ghar Sharif in Mecca and performed two raka‘at of the supererogatory prayer (nafl) inside. He delivered a sermon there on the importance of this place for the spread of the Islamic religion. May God have mercy upon him. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

‘Abd al-Majid b. Muhammad Harith366 first studied in Istärlibash, then joined the madrasa of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Ghafur in Chaqmaq village of Mänzälä district, and in 1886 he began the study of religious subjects in Bukhara the Noble. He returned safely in 1890 and married Mahfuza, daughter of ‘Ubaydullah hajji Kildishev, a well-known merchant from Ilek village on the banks of the Jayiq River. ‘Ubaydullah hajji paid for his return from Bukhara to arrange the marriage. The wedding took place in June, but already in September [‘Abd al-Majid] went back to Bukhara to complete his education. /156b/ He returned to Istärlibash in 1892 and began to teach students. The late ‘Abd al-Majid makhdum was a hospitable, kind and cordial person. Since he had a good approach to classes, students loved him. I (fäqirengez) knew him personally. At that time, I was only ten. He always talked to my father with affinity. On March 10, 1893, he set off for hajj and first visited Medina the Radiant to see his brother ‘Abd al-Qadir who, at that time, studied at Qurrabash madrasa in the city. They undertook the pilgrimage in Mecca together, but he became infected with cholera and died within ten hours. His brother ‘Abd al-Qadir buried him at the Jannat al-Ma‘ali cemetery on June 14, 1893 of Miladi or 12 Dhu-l-Hijja, and left a gravestone there with an inscription. I also visited his grave and buried his brother ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Habibullah next to him, as I have described above. In 1907, many pilgrims died of cholera. I was also among the hajjis who came from Medina. May God forgive his sins, amen.

‘Abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad Harith studied in Istärlibash in his youth, but then moved to Medina with intention to pursue religious studies at the Qurrabash madrasa. He returned safely to Istärlibash and instructed students in the recitation of the Qur’an and other subjects for a year or two, but then stopped and occupied himself with a secular job: he irrigated the lands that he inherited from his father, opened a farm in the Russian village called Nikolaevka on the lower bank of the Istärli River, and sustained himself through agriculture and cattle breeding. He became extremely rich. He was a hospitable person who helped poor people financially and spiritually. His first wife was Maftuha, daughter of ‘Arif Davletshin from Orenburg. After her death,367 he married Äsma Bikä, daughter of ‘Ilaj al-Din b. Hisam al-Din Bayazidov, a merchant from Istärlitamaq. He spent his last years in Namangan city in Uzbekistan, /157a/ and died there. May God forgive his sins. He was a great helper of scholars and other poor people. For many years he took care of the water system of the madrasas and mosques in Istärlibash. May God count this as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya). Amen. By Maftuha he had a son, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, who married Nafisa, daughter of Luqman Hamzin from Oslï village. These days he must still be living in the Karakalpak region. He did not have children with Äsma Bikä. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.368 He was a good person. He lived in this world justly, without cheating (tugrïlïq belän).

The Daughters of Muhammad Harith

Zubayda married ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Kemal al-Din hazrat Nugaev from Istärlitamaq. In 1911 she safely undertook the pilgrimage.

Zuhra married ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad Zarif Utiamishev, a merchant from Istärlitamaq. They had a son and a daughter. Her son, ‘Abd al-Karim, accompanied his aunt Zubayda during the hajj.

These are the members of the famous Tuqaev family [who lived] in Istärlibash during our time. Other members of the family got dispersed after the Revolution.

Muhammad Harrath b. Ni‘matullah was born in 1814, then went to study in Bukhara in 1844 and returned safely in 1856. He served as imam in Istärlibash and instructed students. After a long illness he passed away on November 30, 1871.369 May God forgive him and cover him with His mercy. He behaved according to his knowledge and was a devoted and straightforward person of ardor (sahib al-ghayrat). After he died, his son Lutfullah took his place as imam. He did not live long, and passed away in 1878.370 May God have mercy upon him, amen. He had a daughter, Zaynab, and a son, ‘Abd al-Rahim. His wife Hidiya abïstay raised them and gave Zaynab to marry ‘Ismatullah Yenikeev from Ufa Qarghalïsï, who worked as an officer at the Ufa railway station. They had a son, Ahmad, who married a Russian girl. I do not know where he is now. /157b/

‘Abd al-Rahim b. Lutfullah first studied in Istärlibash and then graduated from the Russian school in the same village. He engaged in public service and worked for more than ten years as an assistant and then as a chief of the local communal office (zemstvo idaräse). He was on the righteous path, building schools, hospitals, bridges and suchlike for all the people. He did such a great service for poor people during the difficult years of hunger. He was smart, straightforward, and devoted to his job. He put all his energy into improving the situation of the most ignorant Muslims. He married ‘Izza from Istärlitamaq, but due to the absence of love he divorced her in correspondence with the law (‘ala wajh al-shar‘) and stayed alone for the rest of his life. They had a daughter Mahi Sorur, who, on reaching maturity, married Ghani Khalfin from Istärlitamaq; they lived in Ufa. I think Khalfin was a veterinarian.

‘Abd al-Rahim371 inherited from his ancestors some land in the Russian villages of Nikolaevka and Cherkeevka, as well as a mill on the banks of the Istärli River. Because of the Great Russian Revolution, he was unlawfully oppressed (mäzlüm na-haqq bälalärgä duchar bulïp) and I think he died in prison in 1930. May God have mercy upon him. He perished so early. May God count his service to the people as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya) and forgive his sins. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

The Famous Teachers (khalfa) in Istärlibash of the Time

Zaynullah b. Husraw Shir ‘Alikaev came from Arslan village near Ufa to study at the madrasa in Istärlibash, and then became a teacher. In summer he never returned to his home village, but stayed on in the service of the great teacher Muhammad Harith b. Ni‘matullah. He was at the head of the household and therefore got the nickname “Amir khalfa.” /158a/ Subsequently he became a Sufi disciple of Harith hazrat. He was born in 1810 and arrived in Istärlibash in 1827. After the death of Muhammad Harith, he acquired a Sufi diploma from ‘Abd al-Hakim hazrat in Chilabi and then performed Sufi rites (shaykhlïq) in Istärlibash. He died when he was ninety-five and was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. There is a good grave enclosure (ihata) of white stone and a gravestone with an inscription.372 May God cover him with His wide mercy. I knew him, he was a true shaykh. He lived as a true person (chïn keshe) who sustained himself by doing a sufficient amount of agriculture and cattle breeding. He did not force his Sufi disciples to work for him, but had two assistants. He regarded everybody as equal and did not try to enter into public affairs on every occasion, nor did he talk a lot at gatherings. He did not travel to other villages to enjoy the hospitality of his disciples. Only rarely, if there was a huge wedding, would he go. He did not care about his stomach as other shaykhs did (nafs khur bulïp). May God have mercy upon him. He gave the impression (okhshïydïr) of a sincere shaykh.

‘Ubaydullah, Khayrullah, Lutfullah, and ‘Ata’ullah were the heirs of the late Zaynullah hazrat. Husni Jämal, Umm Gulthum, and Shamsi Jamal were his daughters. These were the children from his first wife. When she died, he married Kamilya from Yuzay village in Orenburg district, who gave birth to Lutfullah, Mukarrama, and Habibullah.

The first son of Amir hazrat, ‘Ubaydullah ‘Alikaev, studied in his youth with the aforementioned ‘Abdullah b. Ni‘matullah Bubi, then went to Bukhara for a couple of years and returned around 1880 after completing his studies in esoteric and exoteric subjects. He was appointed to be an imam and teacher in Yalpaqtal, a Kazakh village in Uralsk oblast. He lived there for the rest of his life. There were several madrasas, where large numbers of Kazakhs and our fellow Tatars studied. He was a hospitable and kind person. /158b/ He married Munawwara, daughter of the former imam of Yalpaqtal ‘Ata’ullah mullah Aydulov, who transferred the job of imam to his son-in-law.

The heirs of ‘Ubaydullah hazrat are Hidayatullah, Habibullah, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, ‘Abd al-Hadi, ‘Abd al-Basïr, ‘Abd al-Bari, and a single daughter called ‘A’isha. After the death of Munawwara, in 1910 he married Farhi Sorur, daughter of Muhammad ‘Ali Isenbaev. ‘Abd al-Bari is her son.

In his youth, Hidayatullah studied at the madrasa of Yalpaqtal and then graduated from the madrasa of his brother Khayrullah b. Zaynullah hazrat in Orenburg Qarghalïsï. Then he became occupied with worldly matters and married Sa‘adat, daughter of ‘Ubaydullah b. ‘Abbas Belousov from Uralsk. They had several children. Of them, ‘Abd al-Hamid and ‘Abd al-Majid are still alive. They taught at a college in Bukhara and then lived in Nukus city in the Karakalpak Republic. Due to the Great Russian Revolution, Hidayatullah fled to Uzbekistan and worked as a bookkeeper in Nukus. He died of a stomach disease. May God forgive his sins. Amen. We spent a lot of time together, we traveled together and were friends. He was an open-minded person who loved to work for the common good.

Habibullah ‘Alikaev went to study in Istanbul in his youth, but died early.

‘A’isha married Muhammadjan, son of Shams al-Din hajji Utyakov who was among the great merchants of Yanga Qala in Kazakhstan. At the time of the Great Revolution, he went to [Central] Asia and passed away. In his last days he was greatly humiliated. I do not know where ‘A’isha is.

‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Alikaev studied at the madrasa in Yalpaqtal for a while, then between 1909 and 1910, when I became a teacher, he memorized the Qur’an from me. Then he moved to the madrasa of Khayrullah hazrat in Qarghalï, where he practiced the Book, and upon his return to Yalpaqtal he performed the Qur’an recitation. /159a/ In 1921 or 1922 he became a victim of hunger and died in Kuibyshev.

‘Abd al-Sabir and ‘Abd al-Hadi took my classes between 1909 and 1910, but then died sometime in their youth. ‘Abd al-Bari ‘Alikaev graduated from a Soviet school (shura hükümäte mäktäbendä) in Moscow and I heard that in the 1950s he lived at Davlekan station in Bashkortostan. I do not know what happened to him after that.

The aforementioned ‘Ubaydullah hazrat helped me to go to Medina the Radiant. With his help, I studied in Medina for four years and became a Qur’an specialist. May God forgive his sins for being my patron (wali ni‘mätemez) and may He count his benevolence as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya) on the Day of Judgement (yaum al-jaza’). Amen. ‘Ubaydullah hazrat died in Aleksandrov Gay or Almalïq located 90 km from Yalpaqtal. His grave is there. Around the time of the Great Revolution, he was sent into exile (näfi qïlïnïp) and stayed there for a while. That must have been around 1929.373 His wife Munawwara was the daughter of Muhammad Harith and Rabi‘a. She died when I was there in 1910. Her grave is there. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

The second son of Amir hazrat, Khayrullah, studied in his youth at the madrasa of Hajji khalfa, then he went to Medina and, at the Mahmudiya madrasa of Bab al-Salam, he memorized the entire Qur’an in the al-sab‘a and al-‘ashara styles of recitation. He returned to Istärlibash and became an imam and teacher at the mosque of Amma Bay in Orenburg Qarghalïsï. He trained many students, a lot of them being Qur’an specialists, and he devoted his entire life to the instruction of Kazakh, Tatar, and Bashkir students. During my time, there were some 600 or 700 students at the madrasa. May God have mercy upon him. He was one of the great scholars. May his efforts serve as an illustration of the Qur’anic verse “and do deeds of righteousness”374 and be rewarded by God. Due to the Russian Revolution, he was sent into exile (näfi qïlïnïp) and after release (najat) he passed away in Tashkent, obeying the Qur’anic [verse] “Return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing!”375 Khayrullah hazrat was born in 1853 and died on January 18, 1934. Until his death, Khayrullah hazrat stayed with his son ‘Abdullah in Tashkent. /159b/ After he died, ‘Abdullah took great care of him and buried [him] in Tashkent. Many scholars gathered there to recite the Qur’an.376 ‘Abdullah worked as a bookkeeper in Bustandïq village near Tashkent. He is still there now. I saw the late Khayrullah hazrat many times at gatherings and talked to him. May God have mercy upon him. His wife was the daughter of ‘Abbas Belousov from Uralsk. Khayrullah hazrat rests in the Chaghatay cemetery in Tashkent.377 There is a brick covering (ihata) at his grave.

Lutfullah ‘Alikaev did not study much and was overwhelmed by worldly matters, doing agriculture. He had a mill at the Künderäk River in Shipay village. One night, a local official (nachal’nik) passed by and saw that a canal bridge was broken. He woke Lutfullah up and asked him angrily why he didn’t care about the bridge. Lutfullah must have said something to him in irritation, and for this reason the official shot him with his revolver. Wounded like this, in a month Lutfullah passed away as an unfortunate victim (mäzlüm). May God forgive his sins, amen.

‘Ata’ullah ‘Alikaev studied in Istärlibash in his youth, then went to Bukhara and upon his return was appointed as imam and teacher in Yanga Qala city (Navay Kazankä) in Astrakhan governorate. There were many Kazakhs in the community (mahalla). He stayed there for many years and became a wealthy person. He died at the time of the Great Russian Revolution. He had a son from his last wife, whose name was also Lutfullah. He studied at the madrasa in Qarghalï and then was involved in trade. Then he went to study in [Central] Asia, but in 1938 he returned to his daughter [who was] living in a small Bashkir village called Dürt ile, near Istärlibash. Later he returned to [Central] Asia and died there.

A daughter of Amir hazrat, Mukarrama, studied at the madrasa in Qarghalï and married Fatih khalfa, son of Fasih of the same city. Fatih was well educated; he served as imam and performed religious rites in Nitbash Musa village and then in Jirgän village in Istärlitamaq district, on the banks of the Aq Idel River. /160a/ The community of Jirgän consisted of Chuvash people (millät) who converted to Islam in 1905 and erected an official mosque. They numbered seventy households, and [Fatih] served as their religious mentor until the Great Russian Revolution. Then he was forced to leave (hijrätkä mäjbur bulïp) for [Central] Asia. Now he lives in Osh city.

Habibullah, the son of Amir hazrat by his second wife, first studied in Qarghalï and then became an imam in Timerbay village near Yuzay village. Later, he served as imam of the Graveyard mosque (ziyarat mähälläse), but then he voluntarily left his position and lived in Manaut on the banks of the Aq Idel River. In 1960, he became an imam at the local mosque.

[Another] daughter of Khalfa hazrat (or Amir hazrat), Husni Jämal, married Habib al-Rahman mullah Iskhaqov from Örshäqbash Qaramalï village. They had a son, ‘Abd al-Rahim. During the time of the Great Russian Revolution, [Habib al-Rahman] died in prison. Another son of his, ‘Abd al-Majid b. Habib al-Rahman, memorized the Qur’an at the madrasa of Khayrullah hazrat in Qarghalï and then served as an imam’s assistant. During the Revolution, the government sent him into exile and now he lives in Ufa together with his wife Hidiya, daughter of the aforementioned Lutfullah ‘Alikaev. They do not have children.

Another daughter of Amir hazrat, Shamsi Banu, married Sa‘di mullah in a Bashkir village on the banks of the Kämälek River. She died there. I think they had a boy.

A daughter of Amir hazrat, Umm Gulthum, married ‘Abd al-Nasr Urmanov in Yuzay village on the banks of the Saylamïsh River in Orenburg district. She died there. Urmanov had a mill on that river and lived off it. He was a wealthy person. They had sons: ‘Abd al-Karim, Habib al-Rahman, and Fayz al-Rahman. [Fayz al-Rahman] became a Qur’an specialist, then studied in Istanbul and must have died there. /160b/

The Following Were the Famous Teachers of the Former Times

  1. Hajji khalfa or ‘Abdullah b. Ni‘matullah came from Sarapul district in Perm governorate to study and then teach in Istärlibash. Later, he went on hajj and died in Medina. His grave is in the Jannat al-Baqi‘ graveyard.

  2. Halim khalfa Amirov was born in Buray village in Buray district, then studied and taught in Istärlibash, but returned to his home village and died there. For a while, he served as imam in Tomsk, in Siberia, but went back to Buray, where he was an akhund and imam. May God have mercy upon him. He was an eloquent (hush süzle), open and modest person. I had a chance to talk to him, when he was alive. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

  3. Muhammadyar khalfa came to study in Istärlibash from Chaqday volost in Belebey district and then taught [there]. He must have been a good scholar of religious subjects and the Arabic language. May God forgive him and cover him with His mercy.

  4. He had a son, Abu-l-Na‘im, who also studied at the madrasa in Istärlibash and was a scholar of law (fiqh) and creeds (‘aqa’id). He trained many mullahs. To make his living, he was engaged in agriculture, stockbreeding and trade. Teaching for his entire life, he was quite wealthy and died in 1925. His grave is in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. May God have mercy upon him.

  5. ‘Ayd khalfa b. Fazlullah came to study in Istärlibash from Ïslaq village in Belebey district. Then he became a teacher and instructed students. He may have been the first to open a shop in Istärlibash and establish trade. He was quite wealthy. As part of his enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya), he erected five madrasas in Istärlibash and bequeathed (waqf itep) 100 desiatina of land to the Istärlibash mosque and water pipe, as well as to the sixth community’s mosque in Ïslaq village. He possessed 400 desiatina of land between the Istärlibash and Maqsud villages, from the Istärli River to the Qumbazi River. He did well at agriculture. /161a/ He passed away in 1895 and was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. There is a gravestone with an inscription. I knew this khalfa personally. May God accept the heritage (mirath) that he left and count it as a lasting pious deed (baqiyat al-salihat). Amen. I studied at his madrasa until 1903. May God forgive his sins, amen. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen. On his land he dug a canal (ür, kanaw) of an arshin in depth, stretching from Yukalï Qul near Istärlibash to Qumbazi Nughay. This channel is still there.

  6. Zaynullah hazrat b. Husraw Shir from Arslan village in Ufa district. His biography (tärjemä-yi hale) has been written above. He had a nickname (laqab): Amir hazrat.

  7. My father-in-law ‘Ali khalfa Aydabulov, a Kazakh from the Narïn division of the Cherkes tribe in Bukay ile in Astrakhan governorate. He came to Istärlibash at twenty years old to seek knowledge, and after completing the study of religious subjects he became one of the great teachers and instructed students for many years. He passed away in 1919, obeying the Qur’anic verse “Return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing,”378 and was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. There is a gravestone with an inscription. He possessed great knowledge of law (‘ilm fiqh), Qur’an commentary, hadith, rhetoric, the theory of Islamic law (usul al-fiqh), Arabic grammar and syntax. I have written about him above.

  8. My teacher ‘Abd al-Kabir khalfa b. Din Muhammad Sateev came to Istärlibash from the neighboring village of Arslan, and after completing the study of religious subjects, he became a teacher. He was a master of sciences, such as mathematics, geography and history, and propagated education in the native tongue (ana telendä) according to the new method. In my youth I did not know how a newspaper looked, but he bought all the issues of Tarjuman published by the late Isma‘il Gasprinsky until his death. In the evenings, after classes, he would /161b/ read them to us and say: “One day, such newspapers will be in abundance. Therefore I teach you to read them.” I began studying grammar with this teacher at seven and continued to the age of sixteen. Until 1896,379 the young students received literature in the Turkic language in the new method by mail from Bakhchisaray. When I was seven or eight I learned arithmetic operations by memorizing a book with tables. May God have mercy upon him. As I wrote above, he had great books on history and geography, such as Ibn Khaldun, Tarikh-i Jawdat, Tarikh-i Tabari and many others. He loved sciences to such an extent that, until his death, he collected all the issues of Tarjuman and bound them in several huge volumes. He used to leave his comments in the margins of the newspaper articles. May God have mercy upon him.

  9. ‘Abd al-Rahim khalfa tabib Sha‘manov came to study in Istärlibash from Mu’min (Tamyan) village in Buguruslan district, then instructed students for many years and trained many imams. He was a master of medicine. During our time, he cured many diseases and was the reason for survival for many poor people. He owned many books on medicine. He was reading constantly, and every spring he collected various flowers and herbs in the fields to prepare medicines. He did not socialize much, was always occupied by his job, caring about his rose garden and beautiful flowers. He produced perfumes from aromatic thyme flowers that grew on our mountain. Around 1905, he returned to his home village to be an imam and teacher and was buried there. He had sons: ‘Abd al-Rahman and ‘Ubaydullah. At the time of the Great Revolution, they perished in prison. May God have mercy upon them. This ‘Abd al-Rahim khalfa was an outstanding and pious scholar. May God forgive him and cover him with His mercy. Amen. /162a/

  10. My teacher Fathullah khalfa b. Fattah al-Din came to study in Istärlibash from Usaq Kichü village in Belebey district and stayed to teach students for many years. He trained many imams and teachers. I also studied with this Fathullah khalfa for six or seven years, and from his madrasa I departed to Medina in 1904. The late Fathullah khalfa was not talkative; he was knowledgeable in various sciences and in later years he carefully investigated the writings of scholars from Egypt and Istanbul. He understood the many superstitions (khurafat) present in religion. He spent all of his free time reading books. In the 1920s, he moved to his home village Usaq Kichü and served there in the quest to spread knowledge. He passed away in that place and was buried in the village graveyard. May God cover him with His wide mercy. He had a son, ‘Abd al-Majid, and a daughter, Zuhra. Today, his son works as a teacher in the same village. I (fäqir) visited the grave [of Fathullah khalfa] in 1955. May God forgive his sins, amen.

  11. Fakhr al-Din b. Husn al-Din came to study in Istärlibash from Mastaq village in Shayquq volost in Khvalin district. He stayed in the village as a teacher. He was a good master in the art of Qur’an recitation and trained many students and imams. He learned the Qur’an from the famous Badr al-Din qari from the same Khvalin district. For many years, this Badr al-Din qari performed the Qur’an recitation in Orenburg and other places. Despite his blindness, he sustained himself. During a decade spent in Medina, his son ‘Asim memorized the entire Qur’an according to the styles of sab‘a and ‘ashara. I (fäqirengez) lived with ‘Asim efendi at the Bashir agha madrasa in Medina, and we always undertook hajj together. He was a good, gentle and friendly person. We performed the Qur’an recitation during the Ramadan night prayers at the Mosque of the Prophet. May God cover him with His wide mercy. Amen. /162b/

  12. My late father Shaykh al-Islam b. ‘Abd al-Qadir came to study in Istärlibash from Tatar Qaramalï village in the Sarman region of the Mänzälä district when he was twenty. In his youth, he studied for a while at the madrasa of ‘Abdullah hazrat Ghafuri in Olugh Chaqmaq village on the banks of the Ïq River. In Istärlibash, he studied at the madrasa of Khalilullah b. Rahmatullah khalfa, then he took over [Khalilullah’s] community, but after marrying my mother he taught children in Isenbay village for a couple of years. That was at the time of the famous Muhammad Harith hazrat. In 1882, he returned to Istärlibash and began to teach the children of workers and the poor at the madrasa of the same Khalilullah khalfa. He continued this work for forty years and passed away in 1918. He was buried in the graveyard of Istärlibash. I placed him in the grave niche (lahad) myself. May God forgive his sins. Oh God, forgive me, my parents and all Muslims until the Day of Judgement!380 My late father was devoted to worship; until his death he never missed the time of each prayer. On his last day, he performed the second prayer (öylä), placed his turban on the prayer carpet and passed away in the state of ritual purity. Even when traveling by train, he never missed the time of prayer and performed the obligation. My late mother was similarly devoted to worship. She taught girls in Istärlibash to the best of her ability, and passed away in the same year as my father. She was buried in the great cemetery of Istärlibash. I placed her in the grave niche myself. May God forgive her sins, amen.

  13. Abu-l-Na‘im khalfa b. Muhammadyar came to study in Istärlibash from Islambek village in Choqadï Tamaq volost in Belebey district, and then stayed as a teacher. He was a scholar of Arabic; for many years, he gave lessons in Istärlibash and trained imams. He engaged in agriculture and other work, and became a wealthy person (sahib däulät). In died in 1930 and was buried in the graveyard of Istärlibash. May God forgive him and cover him with His mercy. Amen. /163a/

The Younger Generation of Istärlibash Teachers in Our Time

Hajji Ahmad b. Khalilullah was a nephew of my grandfather Waliullah b. Rahmatullah. He grew up in Istärlibash, then studied at the madrasa of ‘Ubaydullah hazrat ‘Alikaev in Yalpaqtal and returned as a teacher in 1889. Most of his students came from Munawaz village on the Dim River and from Qïrgha Qanbäk village. Most of his life he was the victim of imprisonment and died in Istärlibash in 1916. He was buried next to his father Khalilullah b. Rahmatullah at the great cemetery in Istärlibash. There is a gravestone with an inscription. May God forgive them all, amen.

A Kazakh, Ahmad ‘Ali khalfa b. Bay Muhammad,381 came to study in Istärlibash and then taught for many years. In 1925, he occupied the position of imam in Munawaz village on the Dim River and stayed there for several years. During the Revolution, he was arrested and died in the prison of Ufa. May God forgive him. I think he had several daughters, but I do not know where they are.

Tahir b. Ahmadjan Nurimanov came to study in Istärlibash from Äläm village of Mänzälä district and then taught for a couple of years. In 1919, he was appointed as imam of the third community mosque in Istärlibash, but in 1928, due to the great unjust case of ‘Aleev, he was exiled to Siberia for three years. He returned safely and served as imam in the neighboring village of Änäch. In 1939,382 he was arrested again and died a victim in the prison of Ufa.

Among my contemporaries, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Ali khalfa, Majid Hasanov b. Fakhr al-Din khalfa, and my friend ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Kabir, among others, also acquired the title of teacher and instructed for a while. /163b/

Biktimir khalfa ‘Aliakberov was the oldest teacher in Istärlibash. He came from Taymas village in Orenburg governorate. He devoted his entire life to worship at the mosque and passed away at the age of ninety-six, but I do not remember in which year. He was buried in the great cemetery; there is a gravestone with an inscription. May God accept his worship and count him among the true believers. Amen.

Qur’an Specialists in Istärlibash

First, Shams al-Din sufi from Azak village. ‘Abd al-Kabir sufi was his student and must have been his relative (näbiräse).383 Fazl Ahmad qari memorized the Qur’an in Qarghalï, from the blind Shakir qari b. Mir ‘Ali Akhmerov. During our time, he went to Medina the Radiant and returned around 1910 and died in Buray village in Buray district. May God forgive him. Shakir qari memorized the Qur’an at the madrasa of ‘Ali khalfa in Istärlibash. In his last years, he was an imam of Qanbäk village on the Dim River and died there.

The blind Hasan qari memorized the Qur’an at the madrasa of ‘Abd al-Rahim khalfa and then performed Qur’an recitation in various villages. He was my close neighbor. May God accept his Qur’an recitation.

‘Abd al-Sabir sufi also learned the Qur’an from ‘Abd al-Rahim khalfa and performed the Qur’an recitation at Istärlibash mosque in 1923. He taught the rules of recitation for a while in Tamyan village in Buguruslan district. His father was called ‘Abd al-Qahir, he was an eminent elder, but only God knows his true merit. He died in 1932 and was buried in the cemetery in Istärlibash. May God forgive him. Amen.

Sami‘ullah qari, ‘Ubaydullah b. ‘Abdullah Munasïpov, memorized the Qur’an from Tahir mullah in Istärlibash and then performed the Qur’an recitation during the Ramadan, but died young and was buried in the cemetery in Istärlibash.

Even though ‘Abd al-Wahid Abu-l-Na‘im Munasip was among the good Qur’an specialists, he did not perform the recitation. He died young in 1931 and was buried in the cemetery in Istärlibash. He did not have children. His wife ‘A’isha was the daughter of ‘Abd al-Rahman Turk Tukhfatullin. She is still alive. /164a/

I must have been among the last Qur’an specialists. I (fäqirengez), ‘Abd al-Majid qari b. Shaykh al-Islam Qadïrov, memorized the Qur’an at the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina and performed the Qur’an recitation at the mosque in Istärlibash in 1925. May God accept it and absolve it of insincerity. Amen. In 1926 I performed the recitation in Jirgän village on the Idel River. In 1927, at the invitation of ‘Abd al-‘Alim Davletshin, an imam of the Husaynovs mosque in Orenburg, I performed the recitation at the Caravansaray mosque. Ni‘matullah hazrat Timäshev was imam there.

Those people in Istärlibash who performed the pilgrimage to Mecca during our time [were as follows]: Zaynullah hazrat ‘Alikaev, ‘Ayd khalfa Fayzullin, Husayn hajji Karimov, ‘Abd al-Qadir Tuqaev, ‘Abd al-Rahim b. ‘Ali khalfa Chalataev, Ghani Muhammadyarov, ‘Abd al-Raqib Nazirov, myself ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam Qadïrov, ‘Ayd Muhammad Akhmerov, and ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Kabir Sateev.

My Students Who Memorized the Qur’an From Me

Firstly, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the son of ‘Abdullah b. Zaynullah hazrat. In 1910 he finished the recitation, but died young.

‘Abd al-Sabir qari memorized the Qur’an and, by practicing it in front of me, corrected many of his mistakes.

The son of Sa‘id al-Din mullah Muhammadshin from Ätäch village in Fedor region. In 1921/1922 he memorized the Qur’an in front of me in Istärlibash, and performed his first recitation at the upper community of Istärlibash. I was there as a listener (sami‘). Today he lives in Orenburg, greatly respected by his community, and continues his recitation (qarilïq). In 1954/1955 I was present at his recitation. His community was very pleased and showed me great respect. May God accept it, amen. May God give my student a long life and make it my enduring donation. I hope that I will not be asked for the correctness of my Qur’an recitation, if God so wishes. /164b/

Places in Which I Performed the Qur’an Recitation During the Ramadan Prayers

First, in 1908 of Miladi, at the Grave of the Prophet in Medina I performed the recitation over the course of twenty-three prayers, and on the last evening my fellow students and respected teachers in Medina were present. I finished the recitation with an invocation of God (du‘a).

Second, in August 1908, I returned safely from Medina to Istärlibash and performed the Qur’an recitation in fourteen days with my parents, neighbors and friends behind me. May God accept it, amen. Qari ‘Abd al-Sabir sufi was a listener (sami‘) behind me. On the final night, the community imams and teachers were also present and we completed the recitation with an invocation of God.

Third, in 1909 I performed the recitation at Qazachi village at the invitation of a merchant, Muhammadjan Manjuqov. I went there from Yalpaqtal and finished in ten days. May God accept it, amen.

Fourth, at the request of my patron ‘Ubaydullah b. Zaynullah ‘Alikaev, I performed a recitation in Yalpaqtal from 15 to 27 Ramadan. May God accept it, amen. The late hazrat and members of the community were satisfied, and hazrat dressed me in a yellow robe. He said: “Thank you, boy; you did not spend your life for nothing,” and then prayed for me. /165a/

Fifth, in 1910 my brother-in-law Sami‘ullah Abdullin invited me to Nikifar village on the Dim River. I completed the recitation in fourteen nights and returned to Istärlibash. May God accept it, amen.

Sixth, I performed the recitation at home in Istärlibash for the second time. May God accept this.384

Seventh, in 1926 at the invitation of Fatih Karimov, an imam of the famous Jirgän village, I completed the Qur’an recitation in fourteen nights and returned to Istärlibash. In 1905, this Chuvash community returned to the religion of their ancestors and received a permission from the Tsar to erect a mosque. They invited me on the twentieth anniversary of these events. Seventy households were illuminated by the light of the Islamic religion. I asked God to reward those who return to Islam until the Day of Judgement and let them enter paradise.

Eighth, in 1927 at the invitation of ‘Abd al-‘Alim b. al-‘Allam Davletshin, imam of the Husaynov mosque in Orenburg, I performed the recitation from 1 to 14 Ramadan. Many people of the community were present there. May God accept it and let me die as part of the Qur’an community. Amen. /165b/

[Ninth,] after completing this recitation, on 16 Ramadan, ‘Abd al-Qawi b. Fatih, the second imam of the mosque, came to my hotel room to say that Ni‘matullah hazrat, imam of the Caravansaray mosque in Orenburg, built in 1842, was inviting me to perform the recitation. I told them that I had to ask ‘Abd al-‘Alim hazrat Davletshin, who had invited me to the city, for permission. He let me go and when they returned I told them that I agreed. I began the Qur’an recitation the same evening. They ordered me to stay in Caravansaray. The local mu’adhdhin and his wife cared for me for fifteen days, may God have mercy upon them. I completed the recitation on 26 Ramadan, on the Night of Power. On that occasion, imams of all communities in Orenburg, Qur’an specialists, and damullahs exiled from Turkestan were all present at my Qur’an recitation. Our fellow villager the late Muhammad Shakir b. Harith Tuqaev addressed the audience with a short sermon and we completed the event with an invocation of God (du‘a). Many women followed the Qur’an recitation on the second floor of the mosque. May God absolve my deed of insincerity and accept [it] for His sake. Amen.385

Tenth, in 1925 of Miladi I performed the Qur’an recitation for fifteen days at the great mosque in Istärlibash at the request of the community mutawalis, namely my brother Muhammad Sharif b. Khalilullah khalfa, ‘Abd al-Jabbar b. ‘Ata’ullah Iskandarov and others. The community imam, ‘Abd al-‘Alim b. Habibullah b. Harith Tuqaev, and muhtasib Muhammad Shakir b. Harith Tuqaev were present there. May God accept my Qur’an recitation.

Having performed the Qur’an recitation ten times, after 1927 I could not continue, because following the Great Russian Revolution I stopped performing the recitation. Many troubles befell me, as I have written above. /166a/

In Istärlibash, imams, teachers, and Qur’an specialists of our times had a habit of secluding themselves in the mosque (i‘tikaf) for the last ten days of Ramadan. Praying in the mosque for ten days, eating there at night, and reciting the Qur’an during daylight, the teachers would give lessons at the mosque. I was also present at classes of the respected Habibullah hazrat on the biography of the Prophet (sir al-nabi) and Kitab al-Karahiyat on law. During [the time of] seclusion in the mosque, more than a hundred people were usually present. Every year on the Night of Power, the late ‘Abdullah hazrat b. Harith organized an evening meal for those present in the mosque. He continued this practice for the sake of God until his death. May God accept it. Amen. During the days of seclusion, prior to the second prayer, ten teachers would read out the Sahih al-Bukhari and then do the invocation of God. Every year, the Qur’an recitation was performed at night prayers. During our time, the Qur’an specialist ‘Abd al-Kabir sufi performed the recitation [for many years]. Then Fadl Muhammad qari, his student from Azak village, [then] ‘Abd al-Sabir qari and, for the last time, myself. May God accept it.

When the Sacrifice Festival came in summer, the Tuqaev family would collect all the meat they had slaughtered and invite the village people and neighbors for a party. Some 200 or 300 people were present there, including small boys. They would prepare food in a huge bowl that had a capacity of forty or fifty pails. This party would usually take place at the famous place called Kaliachnik Borïnï, or sometimes in the mosque forest. Participants were entertained by such games as horse races and running. They would also stick in the earth a slippery piece of timber that was twenty arshin long, and ask children to climb on top of it. Those who succeeded got a prize. /166b/ Besides that, they would place another [piece of] timber with a fifteen or twenty kopek coin [on it]. Those who hit it with a gun got a prize. Among the games there was also wrestling between strong men, high jump, and tug-of-war. Whoever won, got a prize. After the games were over, they placed twenty or twenty-five tables for fifteen people each and gave them food. They would also make separate tables for children and feed them in the same manner.

In my youth, it must have been around 1896, when Tsar Alexander, father of Nicholas II, passed away, an enthronement ceremony (tähetkä ultïru märasime) took place. On May 6, the famous Tuqaev family, together with people from other villages, organized a celebration in Istärlibash. All the population of the surrounding villages, including Russians and the state officials, took part in the party, which took place at the top of mountain, down from the cemetery. Tents and benches were placed there. The guests were invited to drink tea in those tents. Old people and other visiting peasants (dehqanlar) were offered tea at the tables. Around 2,000 people came to celebrate. They placed a flag at the center of the square with a Russian inscription, “God Save the Tsar! (Khoda padshahnï saqla).” The Muslims performed the second prayer in a huge community; [they] performed the Qur’an recitation (Qur’an tilawat) and an invocation of God. Then the entertainment program started, with games like races, running, wrestling and suchlike. Horses raced from Baim village, located 18 km from Istärlibash. The first horse got a silver watch and a veil. People ran /167a/ from Maqsud village, located more than 2 km away. A Bashkir boy from Murtaza village came first and got the main prize, others received things like towels and veils. This hill is still known as an enthronement hill. Our late teacher Habibullah hazrat departed to Uralsk with his wife and children in the evening of the same day. Once the party was over, people dispersed, content.

Since in 1915 there were many captives of the Russian war with Germany, a society for the support of the captives opened its doors in Istärlibash. Anyone could become a member by making a voluntary donation of three rubles, and I also became a member. In spring, they decided to organize a sabantuy for the support of the captives. I do not remember what day in May that was on. An entrance ticket to the sabantuy cost fifty kopeks. The party took place at the mill of Hasan Shah agha near Maqsud village, next to Istärlibash. There were many people present and people organized running [races]. Those who came first received prizes. This party raised a decent fund, which went to the captives. Many officials (nachal’niklar) from Istärlibash attended the party.

In those years, Turkey fought against Russia on the German side. Battles took place around Batum, in Qars, Ajdarhan, and Sarï Kamïsh. Especially in the latter, many Turkish soldiers were captured. That was in winter. They were dispersed among the many cities of Russia. Mahi Parwaz Bikä Shaykhgalina, a lady residing in Ufa, asked the government to collect voluntary donations from Muslims for the Turkish captives. Once the permission was granted, donations were collected from everywhere. The husband of this lady was a general from the Caucasus. He was blind and, upon retirement, stayed only at home. That must have been in 1917. In those years I (fäqir) taught at the state school in Khälekay village and made donations to the extent that I was able. /167b/ It must have been in January that I traveled to Ufa to find the aforementioned Mahi Parwaz khanïm. She received me at home and introduced me to the late Shaykhgalin efendi. I gave them the money that had I collected, and took an official document [from them]. She would not let me go and insisted that I join them for lunch, and I stayed. When she learned that I had studied in Turkey, she asked me about many things. She showed me the clothes that she had prepared for the captives, and asked if it would be appropriate. I said that this was all very good and thanked her sincerely. She proved the Qur’anic verse: “They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive.”386 I told her: “May your service be counted as an enduring donation.” She thanked me. Then I asked her: “Khanïm efendi, may I go to the hospital to ask about the condition of the captives?” She said: “Very well,” then wrote me a permission document and I walked directly to the hospital. There I asked the captives about their condition. Most of them were very ill, because they had been transported in cold train cars. At the hospital they asked for qatïq and received a cold drink. As far as I was able to, I gave them some money. I told them to entrust themselves to God and parted with them. May God consider my visit to these captives as a confirmation (misdaq) of the Qur’anic verses “They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive. ‘We feed you only for the sake of God; we desire no recompense from you, no thankfulness’.”387 /168a/

The Following People (dhatlar) Were My Teachers, Starting From My Youth

At the age of five I started to learn Iman shartï with my father, then I read Shurut al-salat wa ta‘lim al-salat, Asl al-tawhid and similar books in Arabic. After I had started to read a bit of Arabic, my father (pädäremez) took me to ‘Abd al-Kabir khalfa b. Din Muhammad Sateev to study grammar and syntax. I began the study of the Qur’an from Ahmad Shah hazrat from Sarlï village on the Ïq River, who was paying a visit to the Istärlibash scholars. My father put half of the Qur’an into my hands, sat in front of the teacher [Ahmad Shah] and asked him to recite al-Fatiha and pray afterwards. Then my late father put twenty kopeks of silver into my hand and asked me to give it to the teacher. I gave it to him and he prayed again.

I shall write here what I remember about some aspects of my teacher’s biography (ahwal-i tärjemäse wä siräte), ideas, and his zeal for teaching. My late teacher ‘Abd al-Kabir hazrat was of short stature, wore black socks and had a short black beard and black eyes. He was quite devoted to the students. He always cared about the cleanliness of the madrasa and even that of the students’ dishes. He was very accurate in his teaching. I never saw him miss a single class. He taught between the morning prayer and the second prayer, then up to the third prayer. He would not leave the madrasa before ten or eleven in the evening, after the fifth prayer. He never went to visit other villages as a guest and always stuck to the classes. I know of only two occasions on which he went out for a visit: first, when he went on Thursday to the funeral of Jihangir hajji in Berenche Qaramalï, and second, when he went to the funeral of ‘Allam al-Din Rahimqulov in the neighboring Kärkäle village. He never interrupted his studies in winter time to visit his home village of Täter Arslan. He spent his entire life reading books, newspapers, and journals. He had a habit of returning from the madrasa at around twelve o’clock at night. Then he stayed at home until one or two o’clock, reading books. When we were at the madrasa, after the last classes he would invite us to read the Tarjuman newspaper. We wanted him to leave sooner, and did not like reading the newspaper, but he would say then: “Children, one day [you will need it], /168b/ learn to read the newspapers beforehand.” He tried to introduce order into the teaching process of the madrasa. He would always receive appropriate teaching literature by mail from the editors of Tarjuman in Bakhchisaray, and he advised us to get similar books. He had books like Khwaja Sibyan, calligraphy books (mashq däftäre) and suchlike. He paid much attention to history and geography. He explained the contents of Tarikh-i Jawdat, Ibn Khaldun and other historical books. Twice a week, [he would] gather poorer students and teach them mathematics. He had a habit of leaving his ideas in the margins of each article that he examined, and binding volumes of a full set of Tarjuman. Because of his striving (ijtihad) on the path of knowledge, he got ill: his stomach could not digest food any more. That became a reason for his death. Such people are known to experience a similar disease. The late Shihab al-Din al-Mardjani in Kazan also died of the same disease. May God cover them with His mercy. Amen. He was buried in the Istärlibash cemetery in 1317 of Hijri.388

After starting to read Mullah Jami, I went to Habibullah b. Harith, one of the greatest teachers in Istärlibash, to study Mullah Jami and take classes on law. I took classes in such books as Tariqa-yi Muhammadiyya and ‘Ayn al-‘ilm. Sometimes during Ramadan we studied a book on the life of the Prophet, and Kitab al-Karahiyat on law. May God have mercy upon my late teacher. He studied in Bukhara and upon his return he erected a mosque, madrasa, and bathroom, and /169a/ put all the madrasas of Istärlibash on the right path. He planted chestnut trees between the madrasas and put up street lights. In spring, he planted many birch trees behind the madrasa and turned it into a garden (baqcha). He was a straightforward person and wore only simple clothes. In pursuing the truth he did not pay attention to anyone’s status (hich beräüneng khäterenä qaramas ide). He knew every corner of Arabic sciences. To the great satisfaction of students, he taught Jazari in Qur’anic reading, Shatibi in Qur’anic exegesis, then books on hadith, ‘aqa’id, and grammar.

Fathullah khalfa b. Fattah al-Din first studied in Istärlibash and then became a teacher himself and taught at the madrasa for many years. I (fäqirengez) studied with this respected teacher for quite a few years. He was a very quiet and educated person, not talkative, and he taught kindly. From him, I took classes in Mishkat sharif on hadith, Jalalayn on tafsir, and Tawdih on jurisprudence. He read all kinds of books, did his best to understand the truth and did not fanatically follow any single opinion. He used to say that there were many right ideas in the books by Mardjani and Musa b. Jarullah.389 Other teachers were fanatically obsessed, but our teacher [Fathullah] would express his own opinion on each of their arguments (dälil). May God count him among the forgiven. Amen. He was never greedy towards anyone. He would support himself by sowing wheat. He would spend summers doing agricultural work. He would come to religious gatherings in simple robes, as other peasants did. He owned a single horse and a cow, but nothing else. He was not jealous of anyone and devoted his entire life to teaching, content with what he had. At the end of his life, he returned from Istärlibash to his native village of Usaq Kichü. He died there and was buried in the local cemetery. I visited his grave in 1957. May God have mercy upon him. Amen. Qadïrov.

/207b/ According to the telegram sent by my son-in-law ‘Abd al-Haqq from Melekes, on August 4, 1958, my daughter Maryam gave birth to Zuhra. That was 7 Safar 1378 of Hijri. May she be a servant of God, member of the Prophet’s community, and a loving child of her parents. Amen. In September 1958, I went there myself to give her a name, according to the Muslim tradition.

This is written by her grandfather, ‘Abd al-Majid Qadïrov, in Orenburg.

My statement to my children [is] to inscribe the following on my grave:

“Speak well of the deceased.390 ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam al-Qadiri al-Istärlibashi, a pilgrim to the two Sacred Places and a bearer of the Qur’an, is buried here. He was born in 1881 and died on [January 5, 1962].391 May God forgive him and cover him by His mercy.”392 /208a/

My lifelong friend ‘Ayd Muhammad b. Mir ‘Ali Akhmerov died in Beloret city in Bashkortostan around 1956. He was a bearer of the Qur’an (hafiz kalam) and a scholar. He memorized the Qur’an in Medina the Radiant, and after studying hadith and other subjects, he returned to Buray village in Buray district in 1920 and opened a madrasa. May God forgive his sins. Amen. We studied together from the age of eight, and memorized the Qur’an together at the madrasa of Bashir agha in Medina. He started to do a great service for the nation in Buray village, but because of the Great Russian Revolution he was forced to move to Ufa, where he worked as director of the Central Library, but then migrated (hijrät itep) to Siberia and then to Japan. He returned safely to Belebey city in Bashkortostan and stayed there for several years with his wife Maryam. They built a house and lived there. He passed away in Bilared city and was buried there. Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings.

I wrote this in full consciousness in Orenburg in 1961. A fellow traveler (yuldash), ‘Abd al-Majid Qadïrov. /208b/

My friend ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-Kabir Sateev, mentioned on page 6 above, died in Kazan in 193?.393 Oh Allah! If he was a doer of good, then increase his good fortune. And if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his wrongdoings. Amen.

He passed away in the arms of his wife Sajidä on Friday, July 25. We studied together from the age of seven with his late father at the madrasa in Istärlibash. In 1904, we went to Istanbul and then to Mecca to undertake pilgrimage, then to Medina the Radiant to study, then returned to Istanbul. There, he graduated from the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University. He taught in many cities in Russia: in Alma-Ata, then at the Husayniyya madrasa in Orenburg, then in Ufa, and at the end of his life in Kazan. He worked in the service of education and science until his death. He left some thirty works on science. I (fäqirengez) went to Kazan at his invitation in 1957, stayed there for five days and came back. That turned out to be my last meeting with my friend (räfiqïm). On November 16, I received a letter from Sajidä khanïm saying that he had passed away. May God have mercy upon him. Amen.

[Added later:] The author of this story (tarikh), a bearer of the Qur’an, ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam al-Qadiri, died on January 5, 1962, and was buried in Orenburg.


[اللهم إن كان محسنا فزد في إحسانه وإن كان مسيئا فتجاوز عنه This invocation of God (du‘a) regularly cited by al-Qadiri stems from a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra and is present in Imam Malik’s Muwatta’ (Kitab al-jana’iz, no. 539).]


[إرجعي الى ربك راضية مرضية Q 89: 28 (here and below I rely on Arberry’s translation).]


[ربنا اغفرلي ولوالدين وللمؤمنين يوم يقوم الحساب Q 14: 41.]


[The first publication of this gravestone inscription: Vener Usmanov, Tarikhi yadkärlär, 119-120.]


[هذه مرقد العالم الفاضل الكامل معلم الصبيان بضع اربعين سنة شيخ الاسلام بن عبدالقادر بن بيكتمر القارمالى المنزلوى امتثل الخطاب ارجعي في سنة الف و ثلاث مائة ست و ثلا ثين من الهجرة (٦٣٣١) ٤ شعبنانده و فى سنة ٨١٩١ ٢ نچی ماى طيب اللّٰه ثراه و اجعل الجنة مأواه]


[Desiatina is an old Russian unit of land measurement, ca. 2.7 acres.]


[Qatïq is a fermented milk product, while qumïz refers to a drink made from horse milk.]


[Direct speech of these women is rendered in Kazakh in the original.]


[أغفر وأرحم]


[Madrasa teachers (mudarris, ustaz) and instructors at the state schools (uchitel’) are carefully distinguished in the text. Isma‘il Rahmatullin (1891-1967) in his reminiscences relates that even the gravestone inscription for a local school teacher stressed that the deceased was an uchitel’ and not a mudarris. Isma‘il Rahmatullin, Troitski shähäreneng tarikhi bulgan hällär (1941), The Kazan Kremlin Museum, Ms. MZKK-154, f. 40b.]


[إرجعي الى ربك راضية مرضية Q 89: 28.]


[إنا للّٰه و إنا اليه راجعون اللهم إن كان محسنا فزد فى إحسانه و إن كان مسيئا فتجاوز]


[Shihab al-Din al-Mardjani’s extensive magnum opus Wafiyyat al-aslaf was never published, except for its Introduction (Muqaddima) and an abridged version called Muntakhab. However, individual volumes of his work had been copied by al-Mardjani’s students and were in circulation. Habibullah Tuqaev either had access to such copies, or al-Qadiri simply meant the printed versions of al-Mardjani’s work. The only complete set of six volumes of Wafiyyat al-aslaf is preserved today at Kazan University Library and originates from the collection of ‘Alimdjan al-Barudi.]


[Khajain must be a Tatar rendering of the Russian word khoziain.]


[Traditional Tatar houses consist of two parts: the main part with four walls and an additional part with two walls, where food is usually cooked. Al-Qadiri writes that the remnants of the old house were used for erecting this additional part of the construction.]


[Note the anachronistic usage of the city’s name: Samara was renamed Kuybyshev only in 1935.]


[‘Abd al-‘Allam Salihi (1832-1899) served as an imam of the Apanay mosque from 1880, as well as the director of the neighbouring Qasimiya madrasa, known also as a “madrasa on the banks of a lake” (kul bue mädräsäse).]


[Shihab al-Din al-Mardjani (1818-1889) was a famous Islamic scholar and historian who resided in Kazan.]


[اذكروا موتاكم بالخير This is only a part of the hadith, of which the full version is usually rendered as اذكروا محاسن موتاكم واذكروا أمواتكم بخير]


[The usage of the Russian name of the river in place of the Tatar Idel is notable, since one would rather expect the separation of these terms in Tatar and Russian national discourses, given the importance attached to the myth of Volga being “the Russian river.” Cf.: Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory, and Nation-Building: A History of the Volga and Mississippi Rivers (Berghahn Books, 2015); Mark Bassin, Imperial Visions: Nationalist Imagination and Geographical Expansion in the Russian Far East, 1840-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).]


[In the Tatar texts of the imperial era, chaqrïm was used as an equivalent of Russian versta, roughly corresponding to 1.06 km. Etymologically, the word means a maximum distance in which two persons can hear the voice of the third standing between them. In contemporary usage that must have become current in Soviet times, chaqrïm is used interchangeably with kilometer.]


[Mullah and abïstay here refer to al-Qadiri’s parents.]


[At least during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nughay functioned as a common way to refer to Tatars among the Central Asian peoples, including Kazakhs.]


[Qari is an honorific title for a Qur’an specialist who has mastered the recitation of the Qur’an.]


[وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ Q 2: 186.]


[‘Alimdjan al-Barudi (1857-1921) was a prominent religious figure and director of the Muhammadiyya madrasa.]


[رَبِّ أَدْخِلْنِي مُدْخَلَ صِدْقٍ وَأَخْرِجْنِي مُخْرَجَ صِدْقٍ وَاجْعَل لِّي مِن لَّدُنكَ سُلْطَانًا نَّصِيرًا Q 17: 80.]


[The book Qasida al-Burda is attributed to Muhammad al-Busiri (1213-1295). This work had been in circulation among the Muslims of Inner Russia since at least the early eighteenth century].


[This is the first sentence of the grammatical treatise al-Kafya fi-l-nahw by Ibn al-Hajib.]


[The book meant here is Alfiya by Ibn Malik.]


[The Qur’an commentary by Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli and his student Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti is meant here.]


[The book meant here is Talkhis al-miftah by al-Taftazani.]


[Badal hajj refers to the practice of performing pilgrimage on behalf of someone else. Often this was done by young students for remuneration.]


[إرجعي الى ربك راضية مرضية Q 89: 28.]


[‘Asim qira’at and riwayat hafs refer to established ways of reading the Qur’anic text.]


[This must be a mistake, since ‘Alimdjan al-Barudi passed away in 1921.]


[وَكَانُواْ يَنْحِتُونَ مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا آمِنِينَ Q 15: 82.]


[فَإِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ Q 11: 115.]


[أَن جَاءهُ الْأَعْمَى عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى Q 80: 1-2.]


[فَمَن شَاء فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاء فَلْيَكْفُرْ وهذا محى الدين عربى أعرف وفته The last part of the inscription is a fragment of Q 18: 29.]


[فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ Q 2: 144.]


[Rabi‘a passed away in April 1913. Her gravestone was produced by her son ‘Abd al-Rahman upon the request of her husband ‘Ali khalfa: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 101.]


[Above, his name is rendered as Muhammadjan.]


[Possibly this is the individual referred to above as Bilalov.]


[‘Abd al-‘Alim Davletshin (1843 – ca. 1930) served as director of the Husayniyya madrasa in Orenburg.]


[He often refers to the people, rather than to ‘ulama or the educated community.]


[Only rarely does he use the Muslim calendar; only when dealing with religious life.]


[Since umarta has to do with beekeeping, this open part of the forest must have been used as a field for apiculture.]


[وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا وَآثَارَهُمْ Q 36: 12.]


[Q 53: 39.]


[This is one of the rare examples when the author takes distance from himself, referring to himself by name.]


[In the original: بسم اللّٰه توكلت على اللّٰه]


[Here and elsewhere, the heart functions as an internal place of thought and worship.]


[In the original: الدال على الخير كفاعله]


[Thus it was meant for a readership and the intended audience was local, able to appreciate his contribution to the common good.]


[The last line of this sentence was cut off at the edge (as in many other instances, when the owner wanted the book to fit the binding). Presumably, there was a fuller date. This form of colophon shows that the text was produced in stages. At some point, this part of the text was meant to finish the autobiographical narrative on a high, portraying the construction of the water system as his life achievement, not his religious training.]


[This sentence is underlined.]


[The language of the original is rather coarse: tïchmagan kütkä buq yabïshmas, i.e. “If you don’t take a shit, there won’t be shit stuck to your ass.”]


[This term is prison jargon.]


[Presumably, he is referring to the following day, although this is not made clear in the original.]


[These categories were introduced in 1927 under the management of Naftalii Frenkel’, a former prisoner of the Solovki camp: Andrea Gullotta, Intellectual Life and Literature at Solovki, 1923-1930. The Paris of the Northern Concentration Camps (Cambridge: Legenda, 2018), 50.]


[In the original: Leningrad.]


[This was written in place of “Burhan.” Shahar Sharaf (1877-1938) was a historian and Muslim scholar who taught for many years at the Muhammadiyya madrasa in Kazan. Burhan Sharaf (1883-1942) was his brother. Both perished during the Great Terror.]


[إتق شر من أحسنت اليه]


[وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ Q 65: 3.]


[Fatima passed away in 1949.]


[Not only is this narrative is full of direct speech and dialogues as well as thoughts and intentions (along with subjective judgements of others’ behavior), but it is also notable for the great number of people who only episodically enter the speech. This style is close to the oral language, hence the regular omission of letters, unstable grammatical forms and general closeness to the vernacular language, rather than the language of ‘ulama (note, however, how his language changes when he addresses the Bashkir mufti on fol. 122b).]


[In the original: الانسان يدبر واللّٰه يقدر]


[The Tatar poet ‘Abdullah Tuqay (1886-1913) is meant here.]


[فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا Q 94: 5.]


[In the margin: “I entrusted this debt of forty rubles to Khalilullah b. Miftah. The widow of the late Mutahhar must be alive. If God has allowed it, my debt has been repaid.”]


[The text here is damaged.]


[In different variants he had thus related his life (ähwalem) to different audiences, practicing the autobiographical genre in its oral form.]


[One can compare his ways of dealing with the state officials in the late empire and in Stalinist Russia. He seemed to be quite successful in cheating the tsarist officials, while he seemed completely lost in the face of new instigators and the genre of dapros.]


[Here al-Qadiri tries to use the strategy of an accusation of nationalism.]


[‘Abd al-Wali b. Ahmadjan Yaushev (1839-1906) was a prominent merchant in Troitsk. His gravestone with an extensive inscription is located in the city’s graveyard: Vener Usmanov, Iskandar Shamsutdinov, Epigraficheskie pamiatniki g. Troitska (Troitsk, 2012), 25-26.]


[Nan is an Uzbek-Tajik word for bread originally borrowed from Persian. In Tatar it is used only rarely. Therefore, as in the case with Arabic and Turkish loanwords in previous parts of the book, al-Qadiri’s usage of the word reflects his situational mood of remembering the time spent in Central Asia.]


[In the original: ويقدر خيره وشره من اللّٰه تعالى.]


[In the margin: “The case number during this imprisonment was 32653.”]


[This colophon shows that the work progressed in stages: he did not write everything at the same time.]


[Al-Qadiri refers here to the official family registers carried out by the local imams. The practice of family registers (‘ailä däftäre) was introduced by the state in 1828. These registers included annual information on births, deaths, marriages and divorces. Over time, Muslims developed multiple ways of dealing with this official documentation (copying, using quotes in legal matters, etc.) and even used them in autobiographies (cf. the autobiography of Kazan imam ‘Abd al-Khabir Yarullin (1905-1994) stored in the private archive of his grandson Na‘il in Kazan). The question remains: when and where did al-Qadiri have a chance to consult the family registers of Istärlibash? At the time of writing they must have already been placed in the State Archive in Orenburg. It is also possible that he had copied this information before the transfer of registers from the village to the archive.]


[In the original: خدا عدل جاءکم آمنا وصدقنا]


[إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ Q 2: 156.]


[Here the text is damaged.]


[Here the text is damaged.]


[These biographies, including the life of al-Qadiri himself, illustrate the mass migration to Central Asia after the Revolution.]


[In Tatar, being orphaned (yatim qalu) can refer to losing just one parent (rather than both parents, as the English term would normally imply).]


[In the original: اللهم اغفرها وارحمها.]


[In the original: 1981, which must be a mistake.]


[In the original added: “after five years,” which must be a mistake.]


[In the original: اللهم اهدنا الحق حقا وارنا الباطل باطلا]


[In the original: من سن سنة حسنة]


[In the original: رحمة اللّٰه عليه]


[In the original: الاحكام تختلف باختلاف الارض]


[In the original: من سنّ سنّة حسنة ً فله اجرها وأجرٌ من عمل بها]


[إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ Q 95: 6.]


[The original states “the fifth time”; however, it must in fact be the third time.]


[This indicates that the author considered the contents of this book to comprise a coherent narrative.]


[Ni‘matullah al-Istärlibashi was buried at the main cemetery, inside the shaykh’s burial complex with the following epitaph: ”This is the noble grave (thidrba) of Abu Muhammad Harrath Muhammad Ni‘matullah b. Biktimir al-Istärlibashi, the perfect and honorable shaykh and imam, the successor of the Naqshbandi shaykh the great Niyaz Muhammad b. Niyaz Quli al-Turkmani al-Bukhari, may God cover them with His wide mercy.”]


[According to the gravestone inscription, she passed away in 1321/ 1911: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 75.]


[Al-Qadiri provides erroneous information: Hadija was never married to Muhammad Harrath. Hadija’s grave inscription contains the following text: “This is the noble grave of the deceased Bibi Hadija b. Isenbay, the daughter of imam-khatib mullah ’Abdullah al-Istärlibashi in the year of 1877.” In fact, Muhammad Harrath had a wife called Bibi ’Aziza, the daughter of Iskander Aglaev, who passed away in 1880. See the graphic reproduction of both gravestones Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 30, 36.]


[The gravestone inscription reads: “He (God) is Eternal, while creatures are temporary. This is the noble grave of the deceased scholar and pilgrim of two holy places ‘Abdullah b. shaykh Muhammad Harith in the year of 1337.” Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 115.]


[The gravestone inscription reads: “This is the grave of the true scholar and perfect shaykh ‘Ubaydullah b. shaykh Muhammad Harith, a successor of the famous shaykh Zaynullah b. Husraw Shir. He had been teaching for forty-two years.” Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 116.]


[In the margin: “He studied in Bukhara at the same time as Mardjani. I was present at his funeral in early October 1896.” His gravestone was produced by the calligrapher (al-munaqqash) ‘Abd al-Rahim b. ‘Ali khalfa al-Qazaqi on 7 April 1888: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 57-59.]


[In the original:رحمة اللّٰه عليه رحمة ً واسعة ◌ً]


[In the margin: “A stone wall of one kilometer in length that still exists at the great cemetery in Istärlibash serves as an enduring donation (sadaqa jariyya) of ‘Abd al-Majid b. Muhammad Harith.”]


[According to her gravestone, she died in 1911 at the age of 38: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 93.]


[The gravestone of ‘Abd al-Qadir’s daughter Fatima was produced in 1913: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 98.]


[The grave inscription reads as follows: “Death is enough as an admonition. This is the noble grave of the honorable perfect shaykh Muhammad Harrath, a successor of shaykh ’Ubaydullah b. Muhammad Niyaz Quli al-Naqshbandi, the son of shaykh Ni’matullah al-Istärlibashi. He died on 3 November 1871 of the Christian calendar. May God cover them with His mercy, make better his eternal reward and place them in paradise. [He was] 62 years old.” See the gravestone’s graphic reproduction: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 20.]


[His gravestone inscription reads: “This is the noble grave of the deceased imam Lutfullah b. shaykh Muhammad Harrath. He obeyed [God’s] call to return. He was 32 [and died] in 1877.” See the graphic reproduction: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 31.]


[In the margins: “The first school, hospital and post office in Istärlibash were built by ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Lutfullah Tuqaev between 1910 and 1911. That required a lot of effort. The imams of the village did not want to support this project that was for the sake of the people, saying that with a hospital and mail [service] there would be more Russians coming.”]


[His gravestone inscription reads as follows: “God is Eternal, while creatures are temporary. This is the noble grave of Zaynullah b. Husraw Shir, known as Amir khalfa, a true shaykh, [and] the successor of the great shaykhs, including shaykh Ni‘matullah b. Biktimer and two shaykhs Muhammad Harrath and Muhammad Harith, the two sons of the abovementioned shaykh. The latter [i.e. Muhammad Harith] received [Sufi knowledge] from ‘Abd b. Qurban ‘Ali, the successor of shaykh Sharaf al-Din. All of them belonged to the Naqshbandiyya brotherhood via shaykh Niyaz Quli al-Turkmani. May God illuminate their graves and those who follow them. Amen.” A graphic reproduction of this huge gravestone is provided in Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 80-81. His wife Fatima’s gravestone has also survived (Ibid., 103).]


[In his narrative, al-Qadiri uses expressions like “because of the Great Revolution” or “at the time of the Great Revolution (olugh inqilab säbäple / mönasäbäte belän or olugh inqilab waqïtïnda) to convey not a date, but a whole period up to the 1930s.]


[In the original: وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ Q 18: 107.]


[In the original: إرجعي الى ربك راضية مرضية Q 89: 28.]


[In the margin: “His brother Habibullah makhdum related that Khayrullah hazrat claimed that in Istärlibash nobody possessed a correct style of recitation (dörest qira’atlï keshe) except for ‘Ali khalfa and Majid qari.”]


[This cemetery is located on the former site of the city gates called Chighatay-Darwaza. Subsequently it was a graveyard for the Soviet elite. I am indebted to Prof. Ashirbek Muminov for this clarification.]


[In the original: إرجعي الى ربك راضية مرضية Q 89: 28.]


[In the margin: “My teacher ‘Abd al-Karim died in 1317 [i.e. 1899/90].”]


[In the original: رب اغفرلي ولوالدي وللمؤمنين يوم الحساب]


[The grave of his father Bay Muhammad b. Ahmadjan al-Qazaqi is located in Istärlibash. The text reads as follows: “I testify that there is no God but God, and that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. This is the noble grave of Bay Muhammad b. Ahmadjan al-Qazaqi al-Jaiqi of the Kardaqi division of the Jaba’i tribe, a disciple (murid) of shaykh Muhammad Harith. May God cover them with His mercy. In the year of 1288 of the Muslim calendar [i.e. 1871-1872]. The gravestone’s graphic reproduction: Vener Usmanov, Bashkortstan respublikasy tatar epigrafik häikälläre, 21]


[Because of the way it is written, the date can alternatively be read as 1930.]


[In the margin: “In my time, he performed the Qur’an recitation during Ramadan at the mosque of Istärlibash, and died in the village of Azak. He had a good memory and was a completely pious person. May God accept his Qur’an recitations. Amen.”]


[In the original: تقبل اللّٰه]


[In the margin: “ ‘Abd al-Rahim qari b. Hasan, one of the teachers of the Husayniyya madrasa, was present as a listener (sami‘) at both recitations that I performed in Orenburg. He must have been 60 at that time. In his youth, he had studied in Istanbul and was among the best students.”]


[In the original: وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا Q 76: 8.]


[In the original: إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاء وَلَا شُكُورًا وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا Q 76: 8-9.]


[The gravestone inscription reads: “Death is enough as an admonition. This is the noble grave of the deceased scholar ‘Abd al-Kabir b. Din Muhammad al-Arslani in 1317 of the migration of the one who deserves the highest praise [i.e. the Prophet Muhammad].”]


[Musa Bigeev (1875-1949) was a prominent theologian with ideas that caused much controversy among the contemporary ‘ulama.]


[In the original: اذكروا مؤتاتكم بالخير]


[The last date was added later. Another sentence is written below: “He died at 81 years old.”]


[A previous version of the text: “Speak well of the deceased. ‘Abd al-Majid b. Shaykh al-Islam al-Qadiri, a bearer of the Qur’an, who visited Medina the Radiant and the House of God.”]


[The paper is damaged here.]

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Muslim Subjectivity in Soviet Russia

The Memoirs of ’Abd al-Majid al-Qadiri

Series:  Eurasian Studies Library, Volume: 17


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