Reviews

The result of a collaboration between human scientists and public and religious activists of Moscow and of Russia, this encyclopaedic dictionary, the second of a planned series of twelve volumes on Islam in varied regions of the Federation of Russia, displays information on Islam in Moscow, with particular interest in the periods from Catherine II to the Red Terror, and since the dissolution of the USSR. The articles of this volume tackle varied aspects of the history and social sciences of Islam in Moscow and its region (Podmoskov’e). Among the main subjects dealt with, one can distinguish: (1) like in the other first volumes of the collection, a large majority of biographical articles (with pre-eminence of the late nineteenth and early-twentieth-century religious personnel of Islam but, contrary to most other volumes of the collection, relatively numerous and interesting, even if elusive, data on ‘ulama active during the post-WWII period); (2) populations and ethnic groups (including indeed the old and important Tatar and Bashkir populations of the city and region [in several articles pp. 31-2 & 250-62], but also mediaeval populations like the Bulghars and Burtas, as well as modern and present-date Muslim-background minorities like the Azerbaijanis, Dagestanis, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Chechens and Ingush of Moscow and Podmoskov’e, to say nothing of Afghans, Arabs, Africans, etc.); (3) monuments and sacred places (from the Danilov Muslim cemetery to the Asadullaev House built in 1913 by oil magnate Aqa Shamsi Asadullaev); (4) local places and communities of particular significance (like the Derbent neighbourhood of mediaeval Moscow, or the village, now suburb of Bolvanovka, a fifteenth-century market place of the Great Horde, or the varied Muslim ‘parishes’ [prikhody] of Moscow in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with also a long historical article on the ‘Oriental’ origin of part of Moscow’s ancient toponymy); (5) facts and events of varied size and significance (for instance the participation of Tatar murzas in the election of Mikhail Romanov to the throne of Russia in 1613); (6) a large variety of institutions and social bodies (mosques and madrasas, pre-Soviet waqfs, kindergartens, newspapers and journals, publishing houses, websites [like the ‘Oriental Bazaar’ and the Muslim marriage bureau hosted at www.Islam.ru]); (7) religious movements and trends (like Arab Islamic organisations active in Moscow since the early 1990s, or a variety of ‘para-Islamic movements’ grouped together into one article); (8) societal phenomena (with notably an interesting article on “Women’s Muslim religious identity in Moscow” pp. 76-7); (9) political institutions and organisations of the Tsarist, Soviet and present periods (like the Antireligious Commission of 1922-9 or, in an antinomic register, the Party of the Islamic Revival officially created in 1990); (10) overall technical terms pertaining to the Islamic theology and law, explicitly intended for religious staff and followers; (11) Russian cultural and political symbols of Islamic origin (among which a number of regalia of ancient Rus’ and modern Russia [p. 58-63]). In short, though this volume is by far not one of the most recent in the collection, it is distinguished from the other volumes by the particularly wide thematic and disciplinary range of its articles, and by the embryonic inclusion of categories borrowed from up-to-date sociology, which enhances the encyclopaedic value of the book. Also contrary to a majority of yet published volumes of the collection, the present one offers much room to the current demographic, sociological and cultural situation of Islam, as well as precious insights on the history on Muslim religious practice in Moscow during the decades after the Red Terror of the mid-1930s to early 1940s.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.B-366