Reviews

In this concise and important article the author documents the influence of Egyptian Islamic modernist and reformist thought, specifically as expressed in the Cairean journal al-Manar on like-minded Muslim intellectuals in Russia.  While the influence of Egyptian modernist figures on Jadidism is generally well established, the author focuses on one specific and influential Tatar publication, Shura, and its chief editor, Riza ad-Din b. Fakhr ad-Din (d. 1936), emphasising specifically how al-Manar’s editorial content was relevant to Russian Muslims, and how in popularising and disseminating its ideas, they energised Muslim political and social debates between 1905 and 1917, at which time the Muslim community became particularly receptive to al-Manar’s reformist and modernist arguments.  Before focusing his article on Riza ad-Din, the author provides a useful synopsis of the development of Jadidism, including a discussion of the lesser-known, but still influential, figures such as the St. Petersburg theologian and journalist ‘Ata’-Allah Bayazitov, and the Kazani theologian ‘Alimjan Barudi.  He also provides insights into Cairo’s broader influence on Muslim religious thought in Russia by drawing attention to the role of Tatar graduates of the city’s al-Azhar University in stimulating Islamic reformism.  Indeed, al-Azhar’s influence on Islamic reformism in Russia continued into the late Soviet period, as the mufti Talgat Tajetdin having studied there in the 1970s.  The article’s main focus is the discussion of Riza ad-Din’s activity as chief editor of the bi-weekly journal Shura that appeared in Orenburg from 1908 until 1918 as a supplement to the newspaper Waqït.  The author demonstrates that Shura served as a platform for popularising the Wahhabi- and Salafi-oriented positions of al-Manar, but at the same time it advocated political accommodation with the Russian authorities.  In so doing, the author makes the important argument that among these intellectuals modernisation did not necessarily equate to secularisation, but did comprise Islamic reformism.

Allen J. Frank, Takoma Park, MD
CER: I-3.2.C-208