Reviews

Due to the decline of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan since the end of the Soviet period, one can observe in Dushanbe the emergence of a historiography that is totally cut off from the national models imposed until recently by the Soviet culture of nationalities.  Deprived of a real scientific character, the present work offers an interesting example of the sacred historiography that has been emanating for a decade and a half from religious and erudite circles related with Islamic institutions (like the central or regional qaziyyats) or Islamist organisations (in particular with the Party of the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan).  Whence academic publications remain very poorly printed and distributed, these books can be found nowadays on the markets around central mosques:  The author of the present review has found his copy of this one in the book market of the Imam Tirmidhi Mosque of Dushanbe, arising envy among his young and pious interlocutors of the PIR.  As in other regions of the former USSR—notably in the Volga-Urals region of Russia—, one of the major orientations of this ‘new’ historiography has been the reconstruction of lineages of sayyids:  Such is the central theme of the present publication, with a focus on Transoxiana and a particular interest in the lineage of Makhdum-i A‘zam and in the Khwajagan.  Although the non-mention of the often manuscript sources that have nourished this work makes its utilisation by historian problematic, at the same time the numerous data provided by the author and the poetical texts edited in the appendix make it a particularly interesting document for the study of leading spiritual figures in Central Asia, and of the modes of history writing in this region of the world in the contemporary period.

Another essay by the same author (Majmu‘ az olami tavorikh [A Collection from the World of Chronicles], 1st part, Dushanbe: same publisher, 2002, 80 p.) is a tentative universal history based on the great classical texts of epics and court historiography in Central Asia, but also by school textbooks of the Soviet time.  It offers an interesting example of the current reutilisations of a traditional genre par excellence: that of historiography as it has been practiced in Transoxiana until the beginning of the Soviet period.  Beside its value as a testimony on the neo-traditionalist currents in nowadays Central Asia, this book still outstands by the quality of its documentary basis—consisting of ancient manuscript works from the author’s private library, some of which are still unstudied by modern historians.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.4.A-247