Reviews

Published for the nineteenth jubilee of the Cathedral Mosque of Nizhny Novgorod, and for the fifteenth anniversary of its reopening, this almanac edited by the Rector of the city’s Husayn-Fayzkhan Islamic Institute provides the transcription of varied textual and photographic documents from the regional archive on the Islamic religious institution of the city and region of Nizhny Novgorod. The text deals with varied steps of the project of the Cathedral Mosque, from the debates on its construction in the Mishar-peopled Soldatskaia Sloboda or near the Citadel, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to its unveiling in March 1915. The author’s narrative goes on with paragraphs on the life of the Muslims of Nizhny Novgorod during the Soviet period, through a biography of the Imam of Mosque “on the Mountain,” Shah-i Mardan Iliyasoff (1888-1953), a short evocation of his links with the Muftiyyat in Ufa under Fakhr al-Din and Tarjumanoff, and of the repressions of the 1930s. The following decades are evoked through biographies of practising Muslims and mullahs of the closed city of Gorki, through the campaign for the reopening of the Cathedral Mosque in 1948-56, and the opening of a second mosque in 1980, through the final restoration of the Cathedral Mosque in 1989-91, through the creation of the Mah-i Nur Madrasa in 1994, and through these institutions’ respective roles at regional and All-Russia’s levels in the late 1990s and early 2000s ― notably in the launching of a series of “scientific and practical” conferences on the inter-confessional dialogue, for which Nizhny Novgorod aspires to play the role of a model, if not of a centre, at the scale of the whole Federation of Russia. If a lot of elements and dimensions of this history have been more or less forgotten in this narrative (beginning with the sharp inter-confessional quibbles of the mid-2000s between the local Muftiyyat and the Orthodox eparchy), it provides us with a very interesting state of the collective memory of modern Islam that is promoted now by the Muslim confessional institutions of the Nizhny Novgorod Region.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.B-375