In April–May 1963 the Tajik writer Fazlidddin Muhammadiev, a member of the Communist Party and atheistic propagandist, performed his first and only hajj in the company of 17 Soviet pilgrims. This journey resulted in an autobiographical novel In the other world or a tale of the great hajj (1965) that was republished multiple times as a Soviet best seller in Tajik, Russian, and other languages. It is a unique, detailed, emotional, though sometimes blasphemous, Soviet pilgrim’s account. This paper examines Muhammadiev’s novel in terms of entangled narratives of the pilgrimage from Central Asia to Mecca proposed by Communist propagandists, academic Orientalists, and Soviet Muslim officials in the Cold War period when Islam was partly legalized in post-Stalinist Russia. It shows continuity and ruptures between Orientalist discourses of Islam in late tsarist and Soviet Russia, and sheds light on individual and collective religiosity of post-war Soviet Muslims.
Given the lack of reliable first-hand sources, nobody has yet traced the modern history of Islamic charitable endowments in the North Caucasus under early Soviet rule. This article is one of the first attempts to conduct such research in Daghestan. In this republic waqf foundations were legally acknowledged until 23 January 1927, when a decree turned them into national state property that would be divided among their previous holders in cooperatives and kolkhozes. Is it possible to recover the early Soviet history of waqf in the period 1920-1927, when it functioned under the protection of state law, while remaining almost completely exempt from state control and registration? What can be said on competing visions of waqf and its place in the Soviet discourse of mountaineers' survival and modernity? What role did it play in the countryside on the eve of collectivization? To answer these questions the author focuses on village communities which, as he argues, constituted crucial level of post-Revolutionary Islamic endowments. This research introduces a unique waqf register of the 1920s from the village of Dibgashi. It relies on a broad range of Muslim and Soviet sources in the Arabic, Caucasian and Russian languages, including oral histories gathered by the author among contemporary villagers in Mountain Daghestan.
Fazliddin Muhammadiev’s Dar on dunyo (“In the other world”), first published in Tajik in 1965 and later translated to Russian, Uzbek, and many other languages, is the only known fictionalized account of the ḥajj produced in the Soviet Union. Based on a trip made by the author in 1963, the novel provided the Soviet reader a rare glimpse into this sacred rite. Drawing on archival sources, contemporary responses, and the text itself, this article traces the origins and publication history of the novel, situates it within Soviet domestic and foreign policy goals, and analyzes the text to see how the author tried to reconcile competing ideological priorities.