By Agnes Nilufer Kefeli
within the 19th century, the Russian Empire's heart Volga quarter (today's Tatarstan) used to be the location of a protracted fight among Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, each one of which sought to solidify its effect one of the frontier’s mixture of Turkic, Finno-Ugric, and Slavic peoples. The instant catalyst of the occasions that Agnes Nilufer Kefeli chronicles in Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia used to be the collective flip to Islam through some of the region’s Krashens, the Muslim and animist Tatars who switched over to Russian Orthodoxy among the 16th and eighteenth centuries.
the normal view holds that the apostates had quite been Muslim all alongside or that their conversions were pressured by means of the nation or undertaken voluntarily as a question of comfort. In Kefeli’s view, this argument greatly oversimplifies the complexity of a area the place many participated within the non secular cultures of either Islam and Orthodox Christianity and the place a colourful Krashen group has survived to the current. by way of examining Russian, Eurasian, and valuable Asian ethnographic, administrative, literary, and missionary resources, Kefeli indicates how conventional schooling, with Sufi mystical elements, helped to Islamize Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples within the Kama-Volga nation-state and set the level for the improvement of modernist Islam in Russia.
Of specific curiosity is Kefeli’s emphasis at the function that Tatar ladies (both Krashen and Muslim) performed as holders and transmitters of Sufi wisdom. this present day, she notes, intellectuals and mullahs in Tatarstan search to restore either Sufi and modernist traditions to counteract new expressions of Islam and advertise a simply Tatar Islam conscious of its specificity in a post-Christian and secular environment.
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Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy by Agnes Nilufer Kefeli