By Agnes Nilufer Kefeli
within the 19th century, the Russian Empire's center Volga quarter (today's Tatarstan) was once the positioning of a protracted fight among Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, every one of which sought to solidify its effect one of the frontier’s mixture of Turkic, Finno-Ugric, and Slavic peoples. The quick catalyst of the occasions that Agnes Nilufer Kefeli chronicles in Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia was once the collective flip to Islam by means of 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 rather been Muslim all alongside or that their conversions were compelled through the nation or undertaken voluntarily as an issue of comfort. In Kefeli’s view, this argument drastically oversimplifies the complexity of a quarter 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 means of studying Russian, Eurasian, and vital Asian ethnographic, administrative, literary, and missionary assets, Kefeli indicates how conventional schooling, with Sufi mystical parts, 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 position that Tatar girls (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