Reviews

Following the publication of a strong volume gathering the first three fascicules of this extremely rich encyclopaedia of Islam in the territory of the former Russian Empire (cf. Central Eurasian Reader 1 [2008], review No. 88 p. 84), the present fourth instalment is the last fascicule published to date. Written by forty-one scholars from ten countries ― including several particularly rich articles by American scholar Devin DeWeese ―, it contains 85 articles arranged alphabetically. They cover principally Islam in regions traditionally peopled by Muslims: Central Asia (the majority of contributions, with several articles on Turkmenistan), present-day Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, and the North Caucasus. As in the precedent volumes, the range of subjects is particularly wide, including historical articles on ancient and new cities (like Barda‘a in the Caucasus; Biliyar, Bulghar, and Yelabuga in the Volga-Kama Region, or modern Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan), biographies of prominent figureheads of Islam (scholars, gnostics, political figures, families and lineages ― like the Babakhanov dynasty of Central Asian muftis of the Soviet period), types of protagonists (like the maddah or “sacred panegyrist,” or the yinli mullas or “jinn mullahs” among Noghais), worship places (mosques like the modern Burnaev of Kazan or the contemporary Ikhlas Mosque of the new industrial city of Naberezhnye Chelny, both in present-day Tatarstan; a number of mazars like those of Bobo-i Ob in Northern Tajikistan and Ismamut-Ata in Turkmenistan), worship instruments (like varied ritual seals: the muhr-i namaz and the muhr-i pir-i dastgir), religious and gnostic doctrines and practices (important articles on the dhikr-i jahr in Central Asia, on the Bibiseshanbe Uzbek and Tajik feminine prophylactic ritual), institutions and movements (from the Yasawiyya and Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi paths to the Shura-yi ‘Ulama and Shura-yi Islami political organisations of Russian Turkistan in 1917, to the Spiritual Board of the Muslims of Middle Asia, to the awlad religious and social groups of the Turkmens, etc.), classical books and modern periodical publications (from the arch-classical Hidaya of al-Marghinani to the journal Jaridat Daghistan published in Temur-Khan-Shura [present-day Buinaksk] from 1913 to 1918). If key regions of Central Eurasian Islam like the Kazakh steppe, Western Siberia, and modern Xinjiang (the latter out of the Russian Empire, except Tarbaghatay for a short period of time in the late nineteenth century) have been neglected in this fascicule as in almost all the previous ones, the Middle Volga and Transoxiana (essentially in present-day Uzbekistan) have been particularly well treated. In all, this selection of articles by the best specialists of the field presents a captivating illustration of the state of the art in the most various disciplines on Islam in Central Eurasia. As such, all the specialists in quest of reliable factual information, as well as those favourable to a mutual rapprochement between human and social sciences should always keep it handy.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-1.3.C-62