Exploring the Islamic Juridical Field in the Russian Empire: An Introduction


In: Islamic Law and Society
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  • 1 Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences


When studying Muslim-majority regions of the Russian empire, one sees substantial variations in the relations between the imperial state and Islam. These variations may be less reflective of changes in imperial policies designed to administer Islam than a function of the material we choose to study relations between the empire and its Muslim communities and, especially, of the assumptions that we bring to the study of such relations. Over the last decade, the historiography relating to Muslim communities living under Russian rule has shifted between two major interpretations. In this introduction I show that attention to Islamic juristic literature allows us to understand that such interpretations are not without problems and helps us to complicate the dominant narratives about Muslim culture in the Russian Empire.


Abstract

When studying Muslim-majority regions of the Russian empire, one sees substantial variations in the relations between the imperial state and Islam. These variations may be less reflective of changes in imperial policies designed to administer Islam than a function of the material we choose to study relations between the empire and its Muslim communities and, especially, of the assumptions that we bring to the study of such relations. Over the last decade, the historiography relating to Muslim communities living under Russian rule has shifted between two major interpretations. In this introduction I show that attention to Islamic juristic literature allows us to understand that such interpretations are not without problems and helps us to complicate the dominant narratives about Muslim culture in the Russian Empire.


The idea that Islamic law might be a subject of academic inquiry for students of Russian and Soviet history would have been pure fantasy just a few years ago. In 2007, when I began to study aspects of Muslim legal culture in Russian Central Asia and sought to include the Volga-Ural region, Western Siberia, Crimea and the Caucasus in my project, the situation was discouraging. Very few colleagues had been trained to read sources in the Arabic script or were conversant or interested in the history of Islamic law. Today the situation is remarkably different. A group of young historians not only have the required skills in paleography and local languages, but also are bringing the study of sharīʿa into meaningful conversation with Russian imperial history, studies on colonialism, global history, and literary history. This group of scholars, most from North America and from the successor countries to the Soviet Union, is part of a new generation of academics who are taking a fresh look at the history of Muslim-majority areas of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. These scholars share a critical approach to the interpretive dispositions that became dominant in the Cold-War period and yielded narratives that have long informed discussions about the history of the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Volga-Ural region. In 2014 I organized a network of scholars who collaborate on a broader project to rethink the legal landscape inhabited by Muslim subjects of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and to question the significance of certain socio-cultural formations for the histories of individual regions, for the empire as a whole and beyond. The essays published in this theme issue, which were presented at the first workshop of the “Sharia in the Russian Empire network,” held in Vienna in October 2014, represent the first in a series of publications on this topic.


1 In Lieu of a Background


Our overview of relations between Muslims and the Russian Empire within the Islamic juridical field must necessarily start with the regency of Catherine II (1729–1796), which is famous for the “Toleration of all Faiths” edict of 1773. This policy of toleration favored the constitution of consultative bodies consisting of ʿulamāʾ who had judicial and administrative powers over Muslim communities in the Volga-Ural region and Western Siberia, Poland-Lithuania, Crimea, and Transcaucasia. The empire had four such institutions. One, established in the city of Ufa in 1788, was called the “Orenburg Spiritual Assembly.” Its jurisdiction extended over Muslim communities living in the Volga-Ural region, Western Siberia, and the northern Central Asian steppe and its activities have attracted considerable academic attention.1 Catherine II’s founding of the Spiritual Assembly in 1788 provided a focal point for state-Muslim relations and a center for collecting and preserving documents relating to Muslim legal transactions. It also marked the beginning of an era of state attempts to comprehend, codify, and co-opt religious and customary law in the ethnically non-Russian regions of the empire. A second consultative body, created in Crimea in 1794, was called the “Tauride Spiritual Assembly.”2 In the first quarter of the 19th century, two other Muslim Assemblies were created in the southern Caucasus: one had jurisdiction over Sunni communities, the other over Shiʿis.3 There were no sharīʿa courts in the regions subject to the authority of these consultative bodies and legal affairs underwent a process of bureaucratization and standardization based on notions of legality found in Russian imperial law (zakon).4

This legal edifice of imperial institutions with jurisdiction over the Muslim-majority population of Russia does not take into account fluctuations in the power of the Muslim Assemblies or relations between and among them. In 1868, for example, Kazakhs in the northern Central Asian steppe were removed from the jurisdiction of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly, which had long administered Muslim legal and religious affairs in that region. This administrative change reflected the state’s attempt to check the influence of Tatar mullahs and of the sharīʿa among Kazakhs, we are told, while increasing the legal authority of the courts of tribal arbitrators (biys) and promoting customary law (ʿādat).5 Appeals by the Kazakh ʿulamāʾ to Russian authorities to reinstate the previous institutional arrangement fell on deaf ears.6 In some cases state officials overrode the jurisdictional boundaries between the aforementioned assemblies. In 1822, following a complaint from an Orenburg governor regarding marital disputes among Muslims, the Minister of Religious Affairs, Aleksander Golytsin,7 turned to the mufti of the Tauride Spiritual Assembly, in his capacity “as the closest [Muslim authority in Russia] to Turkey and Persia,” with the request that he recommend several measures to deal with conflicts among Muslim spouses. After receiving several recommendations from the Crimean mufti, Golytsin wrote to the governors of Orenburg and Astrakhan, instructing them to review the recommendations and determine whether they were in accordance with local custom.8 Thus, Muslim Spiritual Assemblies were not alone in exercising discipline in matters relating to sharīʿa. Scholarly authority did not stop at the jurisdictional boundaries of the assemblies.


In the North-Caucasus and Central Asia, where 60 percent of the empire’s Muslims lived,9 Russians applied a two-tiered form of governance called voenno-narodnoe upravlenie: higher levels of government were in the hands of the (understaffed) military, while many administrative tasks were assigned to “natives” (tuzemtsy),10 as the Russians called them. Thus Muslims could take legal matters directly to qāḍīs who presided over state-sanctioned “native courts” (Rus. narodnye sud’y) that offered judicial as well as notary services. In contrast to the Spiritual Assemblies, native courts enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy in dispensing justice. In these regions, sharīʿa and imperial statutory laws were never fully harmonized.11

To date, little scholarly work has been done to explain how “sharīʿa” (Rus. shariat) functioned in the Russian Empire, to shed light on the legal diversity of the Islamic juridical field itself, or to compare the situation within the Russian empire with that of other regions of the Muslim world. The application of sharīʿa varied from one administrative and jurisdictional unit in the empire to another. In regions governed by the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly, sharīʿa was reduced to “personal status,”12 while in other regions it had authority over criminal law (such as theft). At the level of procedure differences were even greater. In the Volga-Ural region and Western Siberia, for example, the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly sometimes conferred on fatwās the probative force of legal precedents. In Central Asia, by contrast, fatwās remained non-binding legal opinions that were solicited by the parties to a dispute from scholars of their own choice and routinely produced at court.13 Doctrinal differences between Shafīʿī, Ḥanafī, and Shiʿi law added more complexity. We do not know if doctrinal differences contributed to legal diversity, as in other regions of the Muslim world, or if they affected legal behavior among Muslims.


Conventional wisdom has it that under Russian rule sharīʿa was reduced to personal status law and was constrained by other powerful forces representing the state. Emphasis on personal status may suggest, albeit wrongly so, that the Spiritual Assemblies, together with their parish representatives (imāms), enjoyed authority over a relatively small number of misdemeanors, while felonies were subject to the jurisdiction of imperial law courts. This view is problematic because it is based on the assumption that disputes over inheritance, guardianship, property, marital relations, charity, and rituals (ʿibādat) had little bearing on the lives of Muslims and their parish constituencies, and that homicide and highway robbery mattered most to the populace. Even a cursory look at fatwā collections, petitions to Spiritual Assemblies and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the periodical press is sufficient to dispel this view. Indeed, personal status law extends across disputes and conflicts that occurred in, and were integral to, the daily life of Muslim communities in the empire. To attribute higher social relevance to felonies than to misdemeanors is to confuse what is conspicuous and impressive with what is historically significant. Also, this approach may lead us to overlook what Muslims deemed meaningful.


Muslim legal consciousness underwent substantial changes as the Russian Tsars sanctioned Islamic law and reorganized existing bodies of law into an imperial legal edifice. At the same time that Muslims used the legal services of the Spiritual Assemblies, as full-fledged subjects of the Russian state, they were required to bring their cases to “local elected councils” (Rus. zemstvo) and jury trials, at least after Alexander II’s judicial reforms (1864). We do not know, however, how Muslims understood their legal rights in those areas in which they were exposed to imperial legal institutions. It may well be that the strategies deployed by Muslims to defend their rights were informed less by sharīʿa than by Russian civil law and the experiences of communicating with imperial courts.14

In Central Asia juristic notions and legal imaginaries changed dramatically as colonial subjects increasingly adopted ideas that were current in imperial bureaucratese. One such idea was that the ʿulamāʾ were corrupt and unqualified. By invoking Russian rhetoric that characterizes Muslim legal scholars as irremediably corrupt, incompetent, and arbitrary, Muslim subjects contributed to the erosion of qāḍī authority. Arguably, one of the most remarkable changes in the Muslim-majority areas under Russian rule was the unprecedented freedom with which subjects could articulate their opinions about what was right and wrong. We know very little about the situation in, say, the Crimean Khanate15 or the Khanate of Qasimov prior to the Russian conquest. However, if legal practices in those areas resembled what was recorded by the Uzbek khanates in 19th-century Central Asia,16 it is safe to assume that there, too, what the Muslim populace said or thought about law was either translated into the formalistic bureaucratese in use among court scribes or rendered in the legalese found in complaints and protocols of claims (maḥḍars).17 When filing a claim with Russian imperial institutions (including Muslim consultative bodies), Muslims could use their own language or engage translators and lawyers to refashion their complaints into petitions and appeals.18

Legal change was certainly not a one-way street. Muslim legal culture influenced the procedures adopted by imperial legal institutions, including “justices of the peace” (mirovye sud’y) who adjudicated conflicts among Muslims. This phenomenon is visible not only in the language used by Russian officials in the Caucasus or Central Asia while commenting on legal issues, but also in records produced in local archives by officials who were corresponding with one or another layer of the colonial bureaucracy. These records are written in an improvised legalese peppered with terms and expressions often derived from formal sharʿī traditions. These expressions include, for example, mul’kovye zemli (“privately-owned lands”, from milk, “private property”), vasikhy (“legal records”, from wathīqa, “record”) and technical formulae like vabigi-iufta (wa bihi yūfta) and vo alia el’ fatva (wa ʿalayhi al-fatwā), i.e. a characterization (maʿlama) used by Ḥanafī jurists to determine the preferred position within their school of law.19 These loan words and neologisms attest to the fact that Russian officials felt it necessary to carve out a space for sharīʿa within their own language to allow for Islamic juristic notions to pass into their sphere of knowledge. Such influence is also apparent in the hybridization of procedures applied by justices of the peace. For example, when applying imperial law to conflicts in Osh province (today Kyrgyzstan), Russian justices asked Muslims to take an oath by reading a standardized printed text, called a qasam-nāma/kliatvennoe obeshchanie (“deed of oath”). The oath formula was in Central Asian Turki and it was printed in both the Arabic and Cyrillic scripts, probably to facilitate the task of the justice who had to ensure that the oath was pronounced correctly and in full.20 Given the asymmetry of power between Russian justices of the peace and qāḍīs who presided over “native courts,” one would expect only the latter to be subject to the forces of acculturation and change. But sharīʿa also percolated into the domain of the imperial courts, where Russian judges made procedural concessions to Islamic law.


2 Russia as a Legal Space for Muslims


Scholars who have studied relations between the state and its Muslim subjects in 19th-century Russia have produced substantially different, and, at times, conflicting interpretations. When trying to balance a historiographical vision that confers particular force on certain unifying principles of imperial governance, it is tempting to conclude, especially when looking at material from different regions, that there is a difference between the center and the periphery. Some may say that the empire included “variegated legal spaces,”21 “driven by the contingencies of expansion, making imperial law both fragmented and episodic.”22 Others may observe that, while some Muslim communities fell under the jurisdiction of Spiritual Assemblies that operated according to a common administrative framework, other Muslim communities were governed by the military with powers to transcend the imperial rule of law. One must conclude that there was a clear asymmetry of rights and obligations between Muslims living in different areas of the empire: some were full-fledged citizens while others were mere subjects.23

When studying Muslim-majority regions of the Russian empire, one sees major variations in the relations between the imperial state and Islam. These variations may be less reflective of changes in imperial policies designed to administer Islam than a function of the material we choose to study relations between the empire and its Muslim communities and, especially, of the assumptions that we bring to the study of such relations. Over the last decade, the historiography relating to Muslim communities living under Russian rule has shifted between two interpretations. One emphasizes that, under the authority of the Assemblies, Muslim communities were insulated.24 This view is best exemplified by what Michael Kemper calls “Islamic discourse,” that is to say, an episteme specific to Muslims who were subjects of the Christian Tsar, and which inheres in a mesh of writing practices that crosses over various genres (juristic, Sufi, literary).25 The term “Islamic discourse” reminds us that Muslims organized their communal life, and reflected upon it, as something separate from the state. This interpretation, however, is not without problems. For example, to treat a juristic treatise or a petition to a Muslim Assembly as an element of a “discourse” is to emphasize the linguistic dimension of Muslim writing practices and to suggest that such practices reflect a self-contained and reified system of knowledge monopolized by scholars (ʿulamāʾ) concerned with the legitimation of Russian sovereignty over Muslim communities. The “Islamic discourse” has therefore been viewed as the product of a Muslim intellectual elite, conducive to a regional Islamic identity vis-à-vis the Russian Empire.26

The same interpretive approach is applied to instances of communications between Muslims and imperial state agencies. James Meyer has suggested that “state authorities in Russia spoke to Muslims through an Islamic discourse, frequently invoking Islam.”27 They did so, he argues, by deploying “a terminology drawn from Islamic civilization,” i.e., expressions such as “Islam,” “Sharia,” and “Muhammadan law.”28 The use of a lexicon consisting of “invocations of Islam and Sharia,”29 explains Meyer, affected the way in which Muslims communicated with the state. He writes:


Muslims seeking favors or state intervention would frequently cite “Sharia,” “Islam,” and “Muhammadan law” in their petitions to state authorities, describing the state in precisely the same Islamic terms that state authorities would use when communicating with Muslims.30

Emphasis on the instrumentality of such “invocations” suggests, however, that a petition is nothing more than a linguistic strategy, a sequence of empty formulae, unrepresentative of knowledge, beliefs, entitlements, and emotions. Does this mean that a muftī who wrote to a Russian official using the expression “according to the laws of sharīʿa” was catering to the “Islamic discourse” produced by the Russian state? Or is it possible, instead, that by using a conventional Islamic phrase, the same muftī was in fact making a point about Islamic law and unreflexively employing long-standing writing traditions? In Central Asian Islamic juristic parlance, the formula “according to the splendid and illustrious sharīʿa of the Prophet” (ba-sharīʿat-i muṭahhara-yi ghurrā-yi nabawiyya) is an essential element of a fatwā. When we read fatwās, we do not necessarily pause to reflect on such formulae and ask ourselves whether they have an illocutionary force. Rather, we focus on the opinion, the idea that a jurist wants to articulate. To be sure, compositional conventions make a fatwā, or a petition for that matter, similar to any other textual artifact; and such conventions may evoke in readers of fatwās and petitions a feeling of a shared cultural experience. However, scholarship on Islamic law has also shown that legal opinions are not merely rhetorical exercises; hence, their evidentiary status both in sharīʿa courts and in the offices of, say, Russian prosecutors in colonial Central Asia.31 The use of such conventional Islamic phrases in petitions addressed to state authorities suggests that encounters between the Russian imperial state and its Muslim subjects may have morphed into instances of cultural commensurability, i.e., situations in which attempts at mutual understanding brought about a broad congruence between the language of sharīʿa and Russian bureaucratese.32

At the opposite end of the historiographical spectrum, one finds the work of Robert Crews, who argued that, starting in the era of Catherine II, Russian Tsardom came to be viewed by its subjects as a protector of the “House of Islam.”33 Muslims made Russian officials arbiters of their conflicts, Crews suggests, because they perceived imperial state officials as agents who would uphold sharīʿa. Among students of Russian and Central Asian history, Crews has been criticized for producing too “rosy”34 a picture of the empire. To be sure, his argument helps to correct earlier narratives about the history of Muslim communities under Russian rule, which emphasized confessional hatred and cultural antagonism. His book, For Prophet and Tsar, is therefore a useful reminder of the interpretive limits of the “Islamic discourse” position because it highlights the connectedness of Muslim daily life to the Russian state, in spite of the mediation role played by the Spiritual Assemblies. The problem with Crews’ interpretation, I suggest, lies elsewhere. At the heart of his argument is an essentialist view of Muslim behavior that is based on a reified understanding of Muslim culture as something both internally coherent and uniformly distinct from the non-Muslim world. According to this view, a Muslim engages a non-Muslim state if and only if the former recognizes the latter as a protector of Islam; hence, the proposition that Muslim subjects “recognized their new rulers as potential allies in the struggle to cultivate a society based on the shariʿa.”35 Studies of law, colonialism, and global history show us that this interpretation is wrong: Muslims brought their affairs to colonial authorities everywhere in the Islamic world, from the Maghreb to Xinjiang,36 with no apparent concern for whether they viewed their masters as protectors of Islam.37 What I want to emphasize is that Muslims did not necessarily understand behavior in narrow religious terms.


With regard to imperial policies on sharīʿa, it may be helpful to start from the commonsense observation that state initiatives reflect the sedimentation of experience governing Muslim-majority areas as well as the accumulation of Orientalist knowledge. We must not forget that the Russian Empire ruled over Muslims in the Volga-Ural region as early as the 16th century. Consistency and uniformity, key factors in the attainment of political stability, were to be pursued at all levels, including legal proceedings. Consistency and uniformity were essential in the imperial project of creating an “Islamic orthodoxy”,38 one would say, based on legislation, codification, standardization, and bureaucratization. In this regard, Crews helps us to appreciate the alliance, either pur­posive or accidental, between Russian state officials and Muslim scholars in pursuing the design of an Islamic legal canon. Indeed ʿulamāʾ participated in this enterprise by reviewing cases involving Muslims for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, by producing a body of knowledge in Western languages on the history of Islamic law, and by selecting, editing, and promoting a few legal texts that replaced a larger corpus of juristic traditions. All these tasks were performed, for example, by Alexander Kazem-Bek, a Shiʿi notable from northern Iran who converted to Russian Orthodoxy.39 Other codification projects involving Muslim legal scholars were pursued in other regions of the Russian Empire, with varying levels of success.40

Russian policy with regard to “Muhammadan law and customs” (magometanskii zakon i obychai) was framed by visions of cultural difference, themselves premised on notions derived from biological positivism. This phenomenon is not specific to the Russian Empire: other Western empires ruled over Muslim communities in a similar fashion. While the assumption of cultural superiority was integral to the mission civilisatrice of several colonial projects and thus ubiquitous in the Muslim world, in the Russian case cultural difference permeated the meaning of “law” (zakon) and “custom” (obychai) and a hierarchy of significance in which the former is superior to the latter.41

By the time the Russians entered the northern Kazakh steppe in the early 19th century and later conquered parts of Transoxiana, “doubts had appeared among administrators about the degree to which Kazakhs were actually Muslims, based in part on the development of ethnography and the appearance of Russian-educated Kazakhs […] which cast the steppe in a new light.”42 At the Asiatic Department in St. Petersburg and in offices in Orenburg, imperial officials were convinced that Kazakhs were only superficially Islamized, that their ethics and morality were not informed by sharīʿa, and that they followed a body of law that was less “developed” and that was placed under the category of custom. As nomads, Kazakhs were incompatible with sharīʿa.43 In the 1840s the Orenburg Border Commission requested the compilation of a digest of Kazakh customary law used in the Junior Horde by Kazakhs of the Syr Darya valley. Russian officials needed these digests so that they might better understand conflict resolution practices among nomads. In 1849 the task of compilation fell on a certain I.A. Osmolovskii (1820–1862), who had studied Oriental philology in Kazan and was sent to Fort Perovskii, where he served as “commandant” (Rus. nachal’nik). Osmolovskii produced a law code that highlighted similarities between Kazakh customary law and sharīʿa. He noted that in the Junior Horde most tribal headmen had received a classical Islamic training and that Kazakhs brought their disputes to mullahs. When the Orenburg Border Commission examined the text, however, it found that the work failed to distinguish between custom and sharīʿa. The manuscript never saw the light of the day. The same was true for other digests of Kazakh customary law, which, according to officials, overemphasized the influence of sharīʿa on custom. These cases point to the manner in which the imperial state disciplined knowledge about the law and designed policies to administer legal affairs among Muslims.44

The Russian state adopted a trial-and-error approach to Islamic law and customary law in regions as different as the Caucasus, the northern Kazakh steppe and Transoxiana. However, we should not overlook the fact that over the course of the 19th century the Russian state acquired the administrative capacity to make confident claims on its Muslim subjects and to speak to them in a legal language of its own, i.e. an imperial jargon characterized by a high degree of uniformity. This administrative capacity is visible on a number of fronts: the promulgation of statutory laws in the wake of the establishment of new jurisdictions over the Kazakh steppe and in Turkestan in the 1860s; a new culture of documentation that was premised upon the legal force of bureaucratic practices; metrical books that registered births and marriages in the Volga-Ural region and Western Siberia; certificates that defined aspects of Muslim land tenure in Central Asia; and, finally, the creation of a unified bureaucratic language that sustained the work of military officials, magistrates and lawyers in St. Petersburg, Astrakhan and Samarqand. If Muslim subjects in Central Asia easily learned how to mimic the legal jargon in which the imperial bureaucracy expressed itself, this was because this jargon was stable and uniform.


Of course, the empire was not a monolithic entity. It is a truism among students of imperial history that colonial officials frequently improvised while attending to the tasks of government. Indeed, one should keep in mind the complexity of the cultural repertoire that informed Russian decision-making in the legal field, especially when officials addressed legal diversity. For all intents and purposes, this repertoire was inclusive, open to concessions and compromises as well as to experimentation and cooperation.


3 An Age of Opportunity


For Muslims living in the Russian Empire, and for those operating within the sphere of political and commercial influence of St. Petersburg, the advancement of Russia into Asia in the 19th century marked, among other things, an age of opportunity. First, an economic revival facilitated the growth of Islamic institutions, increased public discussion, expanded educational facilities (and cadres), and promoted mutual intellectual engagement of various kinds within the empire and its neighboring polities, mostly in Central Asia.45 This situation brought about what I call “sharʿī-fication,” i.e., the exposure of Muslims to an unprecedented number of institutions in which Islamic law either was a topic of sophisticated scholarly discussion or informed practices of conflict resolution and the crafting of court proceedings. Madrasas mushroomed in the Kazakh steppe,46 in the Khanate of Khiva,47 and in Xinjiang.48 Russia had an impressive number of institutions in which Muslims could study sharīʿa with distinguished instructors.49 One might, for example, encounter a discussion of sharīʿa matters at a mosque in Semipalatinsk in the eastern Kazakh steppe, a new Muslim-majority urban center,50 but also, of course, in the newly-built madrasas in the southern regions of Central Asia. More often than not, sharīʿa-talk dominated the legal field of the many “native courts” whose creation was favored by Russian legislation in the northern Caucasus and Central Asia.51 Finally, the printing press was instrumental in increasing the availability of legal texts. In 2008 I conducted a survey of lithographic editions of Islamic legal works printed prior to the October Revolution, available at the library of the Institute of Islamic Manuscripts in Tashkent. I counted thirty different fatwā collections, the majority of which had been printed in multiple editions in the Middle East and in India. In addition, while looking for titles under the heading “law”, I found references in the card catalogue to 160 legal works in Arabic, 43 in Persian, 14 in Chaghatay, 28 in Tatar, and 17 in Ottoman Turkish. This material, which represents only a fragment of what once existed, gives us an idea of the scope of the body of Islamic legal literature available on the local market.


Second, the infrastructure of the Russian Empire created new opportunities for Islamic education and piety that made it easier for locals to travel for learning purposes or to perform their devotion to a saint. In the second half of the 19th century, a regional geography of studying, under the overarching regency of the Tsar and under one passport regime, became better connected through new means of communication by steamboat and railway. Numerous travelogues, many still in manuscript, attest to scholarly travel along the routes of learning and pilgrimage that connect the Volga-Ural region to Central Asia.52 We must therefore acknowledge the existence of a specific knowledge space, a true geography, not just an imagined space, in which sharīʿa texts circulated and informed practices relating to the textualization of legal proceedings, commentary, legal disputations, and patterns of consumption of justice. Such texts frequently were crafted in the vernacular Turki and thus designed for a local audience, i.e. Muslims living in the Volga-Ural region, Western Siberia and Central Asia.53 This corpus juris was created and distributed for internal consumption by Muslims living inside Russia.


Third, the opportunities made possible by the Russian conquest manifest themselves in the establishment of a pluralistic legal regime. The Muslims of Central Asia and the Caucasus now could, and did, take their disputes to parallel court systems and adjudicating venues. Muslims did not necessarily view such behavior as a capitulation to the epistemic forces of the empire. Nor did they engage the state because it served as a protector of the Muslim faith and of sharīʿa, as argued by Crews.54 Similarly, the opportunity to choose between and among a “native court” that applied sharīʿa, a justice of the peace, a military district court, a public prosecutor or the office of the governor-general provided locals with a number of legal instruments that had not existed prior to the Russian conquest. And these instruments were considerably cheaper than those available to subjects of the khans. I suspect that for Muslim subjects of the Russian colonies legal pluralism had a tremendous significance. In certain cases, for example, women must have regarded as a blessing their ability to avoid the application of the Islamic law of inheritance or to circumvent the authority of qāḍīs over guardianship by taking their affairs to Russian notaries.


4 Modernity


For certain Muslim communities, subjecthood to the Russian Empire represented a set of specific experiences of modernity that reflected new cultural and communal realignments. Together with Hui Muslims in China, Muslims of the Volga-Ural region were one of the largest Muslim communities in the world living under non-Islamic rule. Whereas in the Ottoman Empire and in Central and South Asia Muslim dynasties played a prominent role in the dispensation of justice, in the Volga-Ural region, in Western Siberia, and Crimea, Tatar and Bashkir Muslim scholars– that is to say, the ʿulamāʾ – were the repositories of justice, ethics, and morality. This situation led the ʿulamāʾ to debate the legal status of the Russian Empire and, more broadly, the contours of the culture that were germane to Muslim communal organization. The debate, which was multifaceted, included a variety of positions, from resilience and quietism to adaptation, confrontation, and rejection of the empire.55 For Muslims, Russian imperialism marked an age of challenges and compromises.56 This was also a vibrant intellectual age in which a new literary environment stimulated writing in compositional genres as diverse as regional histories, biographical dictionaries, juristic treatises, and poetry.57 When one reads across such genres, one senses that Muslim scholars were not mourning an imagined golden past or withdrawing from intellectual engagement with the present. To be sure, the study and analysis of Muslim manuscripts written between the late 18th century and the early 20th century remains a scholarly desideratum. The small number of studies available indicates, however, that the transmission of Islamic knowledge coincided with a profound engagement with the meanings of past traditions and a commitment to epistemic experimentation. Attempts to transcend the taqlīd/ijtihād dichotomy, for example, are visible, almost simultaneously, in Dagestan and in Transoxiana.58

The study of the Islamic juridical field allows us to see more clearly that the Muslim experience of modernity under Russian rule was not merely a by-product of the encounter with the West, with its sea-changes in patterns of production and consumption leading to the emulation of pan-European cultural models. To be sure, technological innovations, industrialization, the acceleration of trade, and the new speed of travel directly affected Muslims in imperial Russia. The most visible product of this commercial revolution was a new Muslim merchant class that invested substantially in education and printing.59 Another result of the encounter with the West was the formation of the Muslim intelligentsia known as Jadidists who advocated modernist cultural reforms and introduced a “new teaching method” (uṣūl-i jadīd) in a small number of Muslim primary schools (maktabs).60 The sustained emphasis of recent historiography on such manifestations of “modernity”, however, is predicated upon a Giddensian understanding of modernity as a fixed institutional nexus that originated in Europe and was transferred to other regions of the world. As Devin DeWeese has pointed out, historiographical interest in this aspect of modernity points to the historian’s unconscious preference for what resembles “European modernity” and a familiar historical subject but obscures cultural phenomena and intellectual currents that are inconsistent with Western sensibilities and less familiar to us.61 But there is another problem. By dividing the Muslims of imperial Russia into “modernists” and “traditionalists” or “progressives” and “regressives”,62 one suggests that a modernist acts (and can only act) qua modernist, while a traditionalist acts (and can only act) qua traditionalist. This understanding of culture ignores the fact that in the central regions of imperial Russia as well as in Central Asia at the turn of the 20th century, a large constituency of Muslims sponsored very different and, at times, only seemingly contradictory, cultural enterprises. The complexity of this phenomenon can be grasped only by listing the works in the shelves of the so-called “reformist” madrasas or in the libraries of scholars. By taking stock of such cases, we begin to see that the categories “modernist” and “traditionalist” are inadequate to address individuals (or groups) who supported, say, a self-proclaimed reformist journal while simultaneously sponsoring the lithographic publication of 18th century Sufi didactic texts, classics of Persian literature, Ḥanafī manuals of jurisprudence, and hagiographies.63

Attention to Islamic juristic literature is therefore key to exposing the hierarchies of cultural significance that have informed studies of Muslim culture in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. To assume that printed journals offer a metric for measuring cultural change in a Muslim society after the encounter with the West is to claim, albeit implicitly, that hundreds of juristic scrapbooks, Sufi tales, and works of poetry64 found in private libraries across Russia are less relevant to the study of that same society and the cultural ­realignments that it was navigating. It would be more helpful, in my view, to assume that historical actors had many “selves”.65 A Muslim merchant in Semipalatinsk might sell marmot pelts to Russians, enjoy European perfumes, cherish friendship with Sufis, and leaf through a journal that was an outlet for fatwās. The past may well have been chaotic and contradictory, but there is no need for historians to separate what was once whole.


1 Allen J. Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions in Imperial Russia: The Islamic World of Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780–1910 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 102–6; Danil’ D. Azamatov, “The Muftis of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly in the 18th and 19th Centuries: The Struggle for Power in Russia’s Muslims Institution,” in Muslim Culture in Russia and Central Asia from the 18th to the Early 20th Centuries. Vol. 2: Inter-Regional and Inter-Ethnic Relations, ed. Anke von Kügelgen, Michael Kemper, Allen J. Frank (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998), 355–84; Pavel Shablei, “Akhun Siradzh al-Din ibn Saifulla al-Kyzyl’iari u Kazakhov sibirskogo vedomstva: Islamskaia biografiia v imperskom kontekste,” Ab Imperio 1 (2012), 175–208.


2 Dmitrii Iu. Arapov, Sistema gosudarstvennogo regulirovaniia islama v Rossiiskoi imperii: (posledniaia tret’ XVIII – nachalo XX vv.) (Moscow: MPGU, 2004), 60–66.


3 James H. Meyer, Turks across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 26. See also, Dukhovnye pravleniia musul'man Zakavkaz'ia v Rossiiskoi imperii (XIX–nachalo XX v.): Dokumenty, ed. A.A. Ganich (Moscow: Mardzhani, 2013).


4 The process of bureaucratization is vividly illustrated in the essay by Rozaliya Garipova in this theme issue.


5 Virginia Martin, Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism (Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2001), 58–59; Robert D. Crews, For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 221–27; Paul W. Werth, “The Qazaq Steppe and Islamic Administrative Exceptionalism: A Comparison with Buddhism among Buriats,” in Islam, Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe (18th – Early 20th Centuries), ed. Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013), 119–142.


6 Tomohiko Uyama, “The Changing Religious Orientation of Qazaq Intellectuals in the Tsarist Period: Sharīʿa, Secularism, and Ethics,” in ibid., 95–117.


7 On Golytsin as chief procurator of the Orthodox Synod and head of the Russian Bible Society, see Paul W. Werth, The Tsar’s Foreign Faith: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 53.


8 Astrakhan Provincial Archive, f. I, op 6/3, d. 2716, ll. 1–2: delo o brakosochetanii magometan, 1822–26 gg.


9 Vladimir Bobrovnikov, “Islam in the Russian Empire,” in The Cambridge History of Russia. Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1689–1917, ed. Dominic Lieven (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 210–17.


10 Vladimir O. Bobrovnikov, Musul’mane severnogo Kavkaza: Obychai, pravo, nasilie (Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura, 2002), 171–75; Alexander Morrison, “Metropole, Colony, and Imperial Citizenship in the Russian Empire,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13.2 (2012), 347.


11 In the year 1898, the head of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship, S.M. Dukhovskoi, submitted a project for the creation of a Muslim Spiritual Assembly in Central Asia to the Ministry of War. The project remained a dead letter. See Dmitrii Iu. Arapov, Imperatorskaia Rossiia i musul’manskii mir. Sbornik statei (Moscow: Natalis, 2006), 194–227; Elena I. Campbell, The Muslim Question and Russian Imperial Governance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), 114–15.


12 Ebrahim Moosa, “Colonialism and Islamic Law,” in Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates, eds. M. Khalid Masud, A. Salvatore, M. van Bruinessen (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), 169; Léon Buskens, “Sharia and the Colonial State,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Islamic Law, eds. Rudolph Peters and Peri Bearman (Farnham, Ashgate, 2014), 215.


13 P. Sartori, Visions of Justice: Sharīʿa and Cultural Change in Russian Central Asia (Leiden: Brill, 2016), chapter five.


14 Stefan Kirmse, “Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia: Muslim Tatars Go to Court,” Slavic Review 72.4 (2013): 778–801.


15 For an overview on Islamic legal practices in the Crimean Khanate, see Natalia ­Królikowska, “The Law Factor in Ottoman-Crimean Tatar Relations in the early Modern Period,” in Law and Empire: Ideas, Practices, Actors, eds. Jeroen Duindam, Jill Harries, ­Caroline Humfress, and Nimrod Hurvitz (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 177–96


16 On this topic, see the essay by Paolo Sartori and Ulfatbek Abdurasulov in this theme issue.


17 See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 63.


18 See Sartori, Visions of Justice, passim.


19 See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 260–63.


20 See, for example, Central State Archive of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, f. I-127, op. 1, d. 171/3, ll. 21, 36: delo po obvineniiu Mintiubinskogo volostnogo upravitelia Abdu Kagara-Sha-Mirzina v prestuplenii predusmotrennogo 362 st. Ugol. Nakaz. (nachato – 12 noiabria 1895 g. koncheno – 28 fevrialia 1895 g.).


21 Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 33.


22 Rohit De, ““A Peripatetic World Court”: Cosmopolitan Courts, Nationalist Judges and the Indian Appeal to the Privy Council,” Law and History Review 32.4 (2014), 826.


23 Morrison, “Metropole, Colony, and Imperial Citizenship in the Russian Empire”. In China, Islamic law was used to administer Russian Muslim subjects, who had extraterritorial rights according to the 1881 Treaty of St. Petersburg. There, Islamic law was administered by a qāḍī jointly with the Russian consul. See Qurbān-ʿAlī Khālidī, An Islamic Bibliographical Dictionary of the Eastern Kazakh Steppe, 1770–1912, eds. Allen J. Frank and Mirkasym A. Usmanov (Leiden: Brill, 2005), xii.


24 Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions, 314–15.


25 Michael Kemper, Sufis und Gelehrte in Tatarien und Baschkirien: Der Islamische Diskurs unter russischen Herrschaft, (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998)


26 Christian Noack, “State Policy and Its Impact on the Formation of a Muslim Identity in the Volga-Urals,” in Islam and Politics in Russia and Central Asia (Early Eighteenth to Late Twentieth Centuries), ed. Stéphane A. Dudoignon and Hisao Komatsu (New York: Routledge, 2001), 5, 7.


27 James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 490.


28 James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 487.


29 James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.


30 James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.


31 See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 288–302, 304 footnote 194.


32 I here draw on Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012), 213–14.


33 Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 14.


34 Mustafa Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims: Islam, Empire, and European Modernity, 1788–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 9.


35 Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 261.


36 Claudia Gazzini, “When Jurisprudence Becomes Law: How Italian Colonial Judges in Libya Turned Islamic Law and Customary Practice into Binding Legal Precedent,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 55.4–5 (2012), 746–70; Eric T. Schluessel, “Muslims at the Yamen Gate: Translating Justice in Late-Qing Xinjiang,” in Kashgar ­Revisited: Uyghur Studies in Memory of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, ed. Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit Schlyter, and Jun Sugawara (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 116–38.


37 Equally, one should consider that local scholars attempted to legitimize colonial practices of dispensation of justice among Muslims from the point of view of the Perso-Islamic theory of kingship, according to which the ruler embodies the attribute of Islamic justice (ʿadālat). For one such case among the Hui Muslims in Xinjiang, see Eric T. Schluessel, The World as Seen from Yarkand: Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s 1920s Chronicle Mā Tīṭayniŋ wāqiʿasi (Tokyo: NIHU Program Islamic Area Studies, 2014), 16–18.


38 Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 28, 82, 297, 317.


39 Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 178–79.


40 Alexander Morrison, “Creating a Colonial Shariʿa for Russian Turkestan: Count Pahlen, the Hidaya and the Anglo-Muhammadan Law,” in Imperial Cooperation and Transfer, 1870–1930: Empires and Encounters, eds. Volker Barth and Roland Cvetkovski (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 127–40.


41 Martin, Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism,4–5.


42 Werth, The Tsar’s Foreign Faith: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia, 146.


43 On this topic, see the essay by Allen Frank in this theme issue.


44 Paolo Sartori and Pavel Shablei, “Sud’ba imperskikh kodifikatsionnykh proektov: adat i shariat v Kazakhskoi stepi,” Ab Imperio 16.2 (2015), 63–105.


45 Allen J. Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 4–6.


46 Allen J. Frank, “Islamic Transformation on the Kazakh Steppe, 1742–1917: Towards an Islamic History of Kazakhstan under Russian Rule,” in The Construction and Deconstruction of National Histories in Slavic Eurasia, ed. Hayashi Tadayuki (Sapporo: Slavic Research Center, 2003), 261–89; Uyama, “The Changing Religious Orientation of Qazaq Intellectuals in the Tsarist Period: Sharīʿa, Secularism, and Ethics”.


47 Paolo Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” Eurasian Studies 14 (2016), forthcoming.


48 On the revival of Islamic education and global reform movements in 19th- and early-20th century Xinjiang, see David Brophy, Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2016). On madrasas in Xinjiang, see Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Community Matters in Xinjiang, 1880–1949: Towards a Historical Anthropology of the Uyghur (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 329–33.


49 See, for example, Sadwaqas Ghïlmani, Zamanïmïzda bolghan ghŭlamalardïng ghŭmïr tarikhtarï I, ed. Ashirbek Muminov and Allen J. Frank (Almaty: Daik Press, 2015), passim. Written between 1964 and 1972, this biographical dictionary of Kazakh scholars offers information on ʿulamāʾ who operated in northern Central Asia, mostly, in the cities of Aqmola (formerly Akmolinsk, then Tselinograd, and today Astana), Qïzïlzhar, Kökshetaw (Kokchetav), Omsk, and Pavlodar, between the end of the Russian Empire and the 1960s.


50Materials for the Islamic History of Semipalatinsk: Two Manuscripts by Aḥmad Walī al-Qazānī and Qurbān ʿalī Khālidī, eds. Allen J. Frank and Mirkasym A. Usmanov (Berlin: Das Arabische Buch [Anor; 11], 2001).


51 Sartori, Visions of Justice, 123.


52 Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 98–99. I do not mean to downplay the importance of the classic trajectories of Islamic education, which included Constantinople, Damascus and Cairo as their main hubs, nor do I want to suggest that going on hajj to the Hijaz had less significance for Muslims living in Russia than travelling to Qizilyar, Turkestan, or Bukhara. Indeed, Mustafa Tuna is to be commended for reminding us that “madrasas of the Volga-Ural region were often small, poor, and short-lived” and that the “geography of studying” of Tatar ʿulamāʾ expanded beyond the political borders of the Russian empire and included the Ottoman lands, Afghanistan and India. Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 18–29. See also Eileen Kane, Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2015).


53 Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 129, 157, 175; Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” forthcoming.


54 Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, passim.


55 Alfrid K. Bustanov, “Bulghar as a “Land of Ignorance”: Anti-Colonial Discourse in Khvarazmian Connectivity,” Journal of Persianate Studies 9.2 (2016), 183–204.


56 Ingeborg Baldauf, “Akkulturation: Chance oder Gefahr für die Rußland-Muslime an der Wolga und in Mittelasien?,” in Leben in zwei Kulturen: Akkulturation und Selbstbehauptung von Nichtrussen im Zarenreich, ed. Trude Maurer (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 143–160.


57 Kemper, Sufis und Gelehrte in Tatarien und Baschkirien: Der Islamische Diskurs unter russischen Herrschaft; Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions in Imperial Russia: The Islamic World of Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780–1910; Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 18–36.


58 See the essay by Rebecca Gould in this theme issue and my “Ijtihād in Bukhara: On Central Asian Jadidism and Local Genealogies of Cultural Change,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.1–2 (2016), 193–236.


59 Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 109–24.


60 Adeeb Khalid, The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia (Berkeley, California University Press, 1998). For an evaluation of Jadidism in the historiography of the Russian Empire and Central Asia, see Beyond Modernism: Rethinking Islam in Russia, Central Asia, and Western China (19th–20th Centuries), theme issue edited by Jeff Eden, Paolo Sartori andDevin DeWeese of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.1–2 (2016).


61 Devin DeWeese, “It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (‘til the Jadids Brought the Light): Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.1 (2016), 37–92.


62 This terminology has been recently employed by Mustafa Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, passim. A critical assessment of the adoption of this terminology in Tuna’s monograph has been given by Alexander Morrison, “Muslims and Modernity in the Russian Empire,” The Slavonic and East European Review 94.4 (2016), 715–24.


63 For example, see Sartori, “Ijtihād in Bukhara: On Central Asian Jadidism and Local Genealogies of Cultural Change”.


64 On Islamic book culture in imperial Russia, especially in the Middle Volga region, see Agnes Nilüfer Kéfeli, Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2014), chap. 2; Danielle Ross, “From the Minbar to the Barricades: The Transformation of the Volga-Ural ʿUlama into a Revolutionary Intelligentsia.” Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation (University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2011).


65 See the essay by Danielle Ross in this theme issue, where she addresses the complexity of Muslim charitable practices under Russian rule.

  • 1

     Allen J. Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions in Imperial Russia: The Islamic World of Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780–1910 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 102–6; Danil’ D. Azamatov, “The Muftis of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly in the 18th and 19th Centuries: The Struggle for Power in Russia’s Muslims Institution,” in Muslim Culture in Russia and Central Asia from the 18th to the Early 20th Centuries. Vol. 2: Inter-Regional and Inter-Ethnic Relations, ed. Anke von Kügelgen, Michael Kemper, Allen J. Frank (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998), 355–84; Pavel Shablei, “Akhun Siradzh al-Din ibn Saifulla al-Kyzyl’iari u Kazakhov sibirskogo vedomstva: Islamskaia biografiia v imperskom kontekste,” Ab Imperio 1 (2012), 175–208.

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  • 3

     James H. Meyer, Turks across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 26. See also, Dukhovnye pravleniia musul'man Zakavkaz'ia v Rossiiskoi imperii (XIX–nachalo XX v.): Dokumenty, ed. A.A. Ganich (Moscow: Mardzhani, 2013).

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  • 5

     Virginia Martin, Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism (Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2001), 58–59; Robert D. Crews, For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 221–27; Paul W. Werth, “The Qazaq Steppe and Islamic Administrative Exceptionalism: A Comparison with Buddhism among Buriats,” in Islam, Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe (18th – Early 20th Centuries), ed. Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013), 119–142.

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  • 9

     Vladimir Bobrovnikov, “Islam in the Russian Empire,” in The Cambridge History of Russia. Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1689–1917, ed. Dominic Lieven (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 210–17.

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  • 10

     Vladimir O. Bobrovnikov, Musul’mane severnogo Kavkaza: Obychai, pravo, nasilie (Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura, 2002), 171–75; Alexander Morrison, “Metropole, Colony, and Imperial Citizenship in the Russian Empire,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13.2 (2012), 347.

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  • 11

     In the year 1898, the head of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship, S.M. Dukhovskoi, submitted a project for the creation of a Muslim Spiritual Assembly in Central Asia to the Ministry of War. The project remained a dead letter. See Dmitrii Iu. Arapov, Imperatorskaia Rossiia i musul’manskii mir. Sbornik statei (Moscow: Natalis, 2006), 194–227; Elena I. Campbell, The Muslim Question and Russian Imperial Governance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), 114–15.

  • 12

     Ebrahim Moosa, “Colonialism and Islamic Law,” in Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates, eds. M. Khalid Masud, A. Salvatore, M. van Bruinessen (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), 169; Léon Buskens, “Sharia and the Colonial State,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Islamic Law, eds. Rudolph Peters and Peri Bearman (Farnham, Ashgate, 2014), 215.

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  • 14

     Stefan Kirmse, “Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia: Muslim Tatars Go to Court,” Slavic Review 72.4 (2013): 778–801.

  • 17

     See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 63.

  • 19

     See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 260–63.

  • 21

     Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 33.

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  • 22

     Rohit De, ““A Peripatetic World Court”: Cosmopolitan Courts, Nationalist Judges and the Indian Appeal to the Privy Council,” Law and History Review 32.4 (2014), 826.

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    • Export Citation
  • 24

     Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions, 314–15.

  • 25

     Michael Kemper, Sufis und Gelehrte in Tatarien und Baschkirien: Der Islamische Diskurs unter russischen Herrschaft, (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998)

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  • 26

     Christian Noack, “State Policy and Its Impact on the Formation of a Muslim Identity in the Volga-Urals,” in Islam and Politics in Russia and Central Asia (Early Eighteenth to Late Twentieth Centuries), ed. Stéphane A. Dudoignon and Hisao Komatsu (New York: Routledge, 2001), 5, 7.

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  • 27

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 490.

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  • 28

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 487.

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  • 29

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.

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  • 30

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.

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  • 33

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 14.

  • 34

     Mustafa Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims: Islam, Empire, and European Modernity, 1788–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 9.

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  • 35

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 261.

  • 36

     Claudia Gazzini, “When Jurisprudence Becomes Law: How Italian Colonial Judges in Libya Turned Islamic Law and Customary Practice into Binding Legal Precedent,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 55.4–5 (2012), 746–70; Eric T. Schluessel, “Muslims at the Yamen Gate: Translating Justice in Late-Qing Xinjiang,” in Kashgar ­Revisited: Uyghur Studies in Memory of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, ed. Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit Schlyter, and Jun Sugawara (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 116–38.

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  • 38

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 28, 82, 297, 317.

  • 39

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 178–79.

  • 40

     Alexander Morrison, “Creating a Colonial Shariʿa for Russian Turkestan: Count Pahlen, the Hidaya and the Anglo-Muhammadan Law,” in Imperial Cooperation and Transfer, 1870–1930: Empires and Encounters, eds. Volker Barth and Roland Cvetkovski (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 127–40.

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  • 42

     Werth, The Tsar’s Foreign Faith: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia, 146.

  • 44

     Paolo Sartori and Pavel Shablei, “Sud’ba imperskikh kodifikatsionnykh proektov: adat i shariat v Kazakhskoi stepi,” Ab Imperio 16.2 (2015), 63–105.

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  • 45

     Allen J. Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 4–6.

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  • 46

     Allen J. Frank, “Islamic Transformation on the Kazakh Steppe, 1742–1917: Towards an Islamic History of Kazakhstan under Russian Rule,” in The Construction and Deconstruction of National Histories in Slavic Eurasia, ed. Hayashi Tadayuki (Sapporo: Slavic Research Center, 2003), 261–89; Uyama, “The Changing Religious Orientation of Qazaq Intellectuals in the Tsarist Period: Sharīʿa, Secularism, and Ethics”.

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  • 47

     Paolo Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” Eurasian Studies 14 (2016), forthcoming.

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  • 51

     Sartori, Visions of Justice, 123.

  • 52

     Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 98–99. I do not mean to downplay the importance of the classic trajectories of Islamic education, which included Constantinople, Damascus and Cairo as their main hubs, nor do I want to suggest that going on hajj to the Hijaz had less significance for Muslims living in Russia than travelling to Qizilyar, Turkestan, or Bukhara. Indeed, Mustafa Tuna is to be commended for reminding us that “madrasas of the Volga-Ural region were often small, poor, and short-lived” and that the “geography of studying” of Tatar ʿulamāʾ expanded beyond the political borders of the Russian empire and included the Ottoman lands, Afghanistan and India. Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 18–29. See also Eileen Kane, Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2015).

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  • 53

     Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 129, 157, 175; Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” forthcoming.

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  • 55

     Alfrid K. Bustanov, “Bulghar as a “Land of Ignorance”: Anti-Colonial Discourse in Khvarazmian Connectivity,” Journal of Persianate Studies 9.2 (2016), 183–204.

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  • 56

     Ingeborg Baldauf, “Akkulturation: Chance oder Gefahr für die Rußland-Muslime an der Wolga und in Mittelasien?,” in Leben in zwei Kulturen: Akkulturation und Selbstbehauptung von Nichtrussen im Zarenreich, ed. Trude Maurer (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 143–160.

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  • 59

     Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 109–24.

  • 61

     Devin DeWeese, “It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (‘til the Jadids Brought the Light): Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.1 (2016), 37–92.

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  • 1

     Allen J. Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions in Imperial Russia: The Islamic World of Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780–1910 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 102–6; Danil’ D. Azamatov, “The Muftis of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly in the 18th and 19th Centuries: The Struggle for Power in Russia’s Muslims Institution,” in Muslim Culture in Russia and Central Asia from the 18th to the Early 20th Centuries. Vol. 2: Inter-Regional and Inter-Ethnic Relations, ed. Anke von Kügelgen, Michael Kemper, Allen J. Frank (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998), 355–84; Pavel Shablei, “Akhun Siradzh al-Din ibn Saifulla al-Kyzyl’iari u Kazakhov sibirskogo vedomstva: Islamskaia biografiia v imperskom kontekste,” Ab Imperio 1 (2012), 175–208.

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  • 3

     James H. Meyer, Turks across Empires: Marketing Muslim Identity in the Russian-Ottoman Borderlands, 1856–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 26. See also, Dukhovnye pravleniia musul'man Zakavkaz'ia v Rossiiskoi imperii (XIX–nachalo XX v.): Dokumenty, ed. A.A. Ganich (Moscow: Mardzhani, 2013).

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  • 5

     Virginia Martin, Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism (Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2001), 58–59; Robert D. Crews, For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 221–27; Paul W. Werth, “The Qazaq Steppe and Islamic Administrative Exceptionalism: A Comparison with Buddhism among Buriats,” in Islam, Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe (18th – Early 20th Centuries), ed. Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013), 119–142.

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  • 9

     Vladimir Bobrovnikov, “Islam in the Russian Empire,” in The Cambridge History of Russia. Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1689–1917, ed. Dominic Lieven (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 210–17.

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  • 10

     Vladimir O. Bobrovnikov, Musul’mane severnogo Kavkaza: Obychai, pravo, nasilie (Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura, 2002), 171–75; Alexander Morrison, “Metropole, Colony, and Imperial Citizenship in the Russian Empire,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13.2 (2012), 347.

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  • 11

     In the year 1898, the head of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship, S.M. Dukhovskoi, submitted a project for the creation of a Muslim Spiritual Assembly in Central Asia to the Ministry of War. The project remained a dead letter. See Dmitrii Iu. Arapov, Imperatorskaia Rossiia i musul’manskii mir. Sbornik statei (Moscow: Natalis, 2006), 194–227; Elena I. Campbell, The Muslim Question and Russian Imperial Governance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), 114–15.

  • 12

     Ebrahim Moosa, “Colonialism and Islamic Law,” in Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates, eds. M. Khalid Masud, A. Salvatore, M. van Bruinessen (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), 169; Léon Buskens, “Sharia and the Colonial State,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Islamic Law, eds. Rudolph Peters and Peri Bearman (Farnham, Ashgate, 2014), 215.

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  • 14

     Stefan Kirmse, “Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia: Muslim Tatars Go to Court,” Slavic Review 72.4 (2013): 778–801.

  • 17

     See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 63.

  • 19

     See Sartori, Visions of Justice, 260–63.

  • 21

     Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 33.

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  • 22

     Rohit De, ““A Peripatetic World Court”: Cosmopolitan Courts, Nationalist Judges and the Indian Appeal to the Privy Council,” Law and History Review 32.4 (2014), 826.

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  • 24

     Frank, Muslim Religious Institutions, 314–15.

  • 25

     Michael Kemper, Sufis und Gelehrte in Tatarien und Baschkirien: Der Islamische Diskurs unter russischen Herrschaft, (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1998)

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  • 26

     Christian Noack, “State Policy and Its Impact on the Formation of a Muslim Identity in the Volga-Urals,” in Islam and Politics in Russia and Central Asia (Early Eighteenth to Late Twentieth Centuries), ed. Stéphane A. Dudoignon and Hisao Komatsu (New York: Routledge, 2001), 5, 7.

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  • 27

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 490.

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  • 28

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 487.

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  • 29

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.

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  • 30

     James H. Meyer, “Speaking Sharia to the State: Muslim Protesters, Tsarist Officials, and the Islamic Discourses of Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 14.3 (2013), 493.

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  • 33

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 14.

  • 34

     Mustafa Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims: Islam, Empire, and European Modernity, 1788–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 9.

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  • 35

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 261.

  • 36

     Claudia Gazzini, “When Jurisprudence Becomes Law: How Italian Colonial Judges in Libya Turned Islamic Law and Customary Practice into Binding Legal Precedent,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 55.4–5 (2012), 746–70; Eric T. Schluessel, “Muslims at the Yamen Gate: Translating Justice in Late-Qing Xinjiang,” in Kashgar ­Revisited: Uyghur Studies in Memory of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, ed. Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit Schlyter, and Jun Sugawara (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 116–38.

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  • 38

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 28, 82, 297, 317.

  • 39

     Crews, For Prophet and Tsar, 178–79.

  • 40

     Alexander Morrison, “Creating a Colonial Shariʿa for Russian Turkestan: Count Pahlen, the Hidaya and the Anglo-Muhammadan Law,” in Imperial Cooperation and Transfer, 1870–1930: Empires and Encounters, eds. Volker Barth and Roland Cvetkovski (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 127–40.

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  • 42

     Werth, The Tsar’s Foreign Faith: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia, 146.

  • 44

     Paolo Sartori and Pavel Shablei, “Sud’ba imperskikh kodifikatsionnykh proektov: adat i shariat v Kazakhskoi stepi,” Ab Imperio 16.2 (2015), 63–105.

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  • 45

     Allen J. Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 4–6.

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  • 46

     Allen J. Frank, “Islamic Transformation on the Kazakh Steppe, 1742–1917: Towards an Islamic History of Kazakhstan under Russian Rule,” in The Construction and Deconstruction of National Histories in Slavic Eurasia, ed. Hayashi Tadayuki (Sapporo: Slavic Research Center, 2003), 261–89; Uyama, “The Changing Religious Orientation of Qazaq Intellectuals in the Tsarist Period: Sharīʿa, Secularism, and Ethics”.

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  • 47

     Paolo Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” Eurasian Studies 14 (2016), forthcoming.

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  • 51

     Sartori, Visions of Justice, 123.

  • 52

     Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 98–99. I do not mean to downplay the importance of the classic trajectories of Islamic education, which included Constantinople, Damascus and Cairo as their main hubs, nor do I want to suggest that going on hajj to the Hijaz had less significance for Muslims living in Russia than travelling to Qizilyar, Turkestan, or Bukhara. Indeed, Mustafa Tuna is to be commended for reminding us that “madrasas of the Volga-Ural region were often small, poor, and short-lived” and that the “geography of studying” of Tatar ʿulamāʾ expanded beyond the political borders of the Russian empire and included the Ottoman lands, Afghanistan and India. Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 18–29. See also Eileen Kane, Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2015).

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  • 53

     Frank, Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige, 129, 157, 175; Sartori, “On Madrasas, Legitimation, and Islamic Revival in 19th-Century Khorezm,” forthcoming.

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  • 55

     Alfrid K. Bustanov, “Bulghar as a “Land of Ignorance”: Anti-Colonial Discourse in Khvarazmian Connectivity,” Journal of Persianate Studies 9.2 (2016), 183–204.

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  • 56

     Ingeborg Baldauf, “Akkulturation: Chance oder Gefahr für die Rußland-Muslime an der Wolga und in Mittelasien?,” in Leben in zwei Kulturen: Akkulturation und Selbstbehauptung von Nichtrussen im Zarenreich, ed. Trude Maurer (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000), 143–160.

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  • 59

     Tuna, Imperial Russia’s Muslims, 109–24.

  • 61

     Devin DeWeese, “It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (‘til the Jadids Brought the Light): Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59.1 (2016), 37–92.

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