Search Results

Karaite Exegetes and the Origins of the Jewish Bible Commentary in the Islamic East
Author: Allen J. Frank
The Jewish Bible commentary was created in the Islamic East during the tenth century by scholars seeking a rational, systematic approach to Scripture. Among its earliest champions were the Karaites, scripturalists who denied rabbinic authority. Seeking to restore Judaism to its biblical roots, they wrote numerous commentaries in Judeo-Arabic. Through the investigation of key topics, this book traces the contours of early Karaite biblical exegesis. Subjects covered include: halakhic indeterminacy; dream interpretation; the Song of Songs as salvation history; Psalms exegesis as liturgical commentary; and inter-religious polemics. The exegetes discussed include Ya‘qub al-Qirqisani, Salmon b. Yeruhim, Sahl b. Masliah, and above all, Japheth b. Eli. Extensive selections from unpublished manuscripts are presented in English translation and the original Judeo-Arabic.
Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige
Author: Allen J. Frank
In Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia Allen Frank examines the relationship of Tatars and Bashkirs with the city of Bukhara during the Russian Imperial era. For Muslims in Russia Bukhara’s prestige was manifested in genealogies, fashion, and in the elevated legal status of Bukharan communities in Russia. The historical relationship of Russia’s Muslim communities with Bukhara was founded above all on Bukhara’s reputation as a holy city of Islam, an abode of great Sufis, and a center of Islamic scholarship. The emergence of Islamic reformism critiquing Bukhara’s sacred status, led by Tatar scholars who were trained in Bukhara, created a number of paradoxes. The symbol of Bukhara became an important feature in theological and political debates among Russia’s Muslims.
Author: Allen J. Frank

Since the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Islamic history of the Volga-Ural region has been based, for the most part, on a modernist narrative in which the dominant frame of reference for understanding these Muslim communities has been an ethno-national framework, focused, above all, on the role of the Tatar bourgeoisie in promoting Islamic reformism and Islamic modernism. The main sources for this framework have been the political writings of the Jadids, Islamic reformists and modernists who later became engaged the mass-movement politics, beginning in 1905 and continuing through the Russian civil war and the first decade of Soviet power. A central feature of the Jadid narrative, which has carried over into the historiography, has been that Muslim society, particularly in Russia’s Volga-Ural region, was facing a crisis brought about by the supposed failure of its traditional Islamic institutions in the face of a modernizing Russia. An examination of non-Jadid Islamic sources from this era, however, brings the “crisis” narrative into question.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Author: Allen J. Frank

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


In: Islamic Law and Society
In: Sufism in Central Asia
In: Explorations in the Social History of Modern Central Asia (19th - Early 20th Century)
In: Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia
In: Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia
In: Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia
In: Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia