Reviews

Elaborated by a large amount of scholars from varied regions of Russia, with strong representation of the main research centres of the Volga Region, this volume contains 430 articles on different aspects of the presence of Islam, from the early eighteenth century to our days, in Saint-Petersburg and, to a lesser extent, in several regions of Russia’s Northwest (currently united in the North-Western Federal District: the Republic of Karelia and the regions of Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, Murmansk, Novgorod, and Pskov). Though geographically peripheral on the map of Islam in the Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union, Saint-Petersburg played a role exemplified by its status as the imperial capital from 1703 to 1918. Figureheads like Imam ‘Ata-Allah Bayazitoff (1877-1937) could enjoy in the early twentieth century a situation of key intermediaries between the Muslim subjects of the Tsar and the outside world of Islam. Additionally, the permanent influx of Muslim militaries with their chaplains and own prayer houses, the continuous immigration till the early Soviet period of merchants, craftsmen and odd-job men from the Volga-Ural region, and the forced settlement of full segments of Muslim aristocracies of the newly conquered Empire after their respective conquest (Crimea, the Northern Caucasus, Azerbaijan, the Steppe domain) all contributed towards the gradual, if limited, reinforcement of the Muslim dimension of the imperial capital till the 1920s. The present volume shows a particular interest of its authors in the formulation and implementation of the imperial policy towards Islam and the Muslim subjects of the empire till the end of the Tsarist period, as well as in the varied forms of the public movement of Russia’s Muslims in the early twentieth century. It also casts light on poorly known aspects of the modern history of Islam in the Northwest Region of Russia (through aspects as varied as the functioning of Muslim ‘parishes’ [prikhody] in the governorates of Vyborg and Arkhangelsk, the history of the madrasa of Murmansk in the 1920s, or the cultural and political activity of the Muslim community of the governorate of Olonei in present-day Karelia). Among the most obvious lacunae deplored by the Editor must be mentioned the paucity of data on the Soviet period (due to the lack of available studies and accessible archive collections) as well as on the current period (due to the absence of reliable information on the diverse ethnic communities present in the city and in the wide Northwest region of Russia, and on the Islamic confessional associations and organisations presently active there).

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.B-368