A distinguished connoisseur of both archival and textual primary sources of the history of Islam in Dagestan, the author proposes a periodisation of the history of conversion to Islam in this region: (1) a long period dominated by the activity of Arab religious protagonists, from the fortress of Derbent (from the seventh to the eleventh centuries); (2) the turning point of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, with diffusion of Islam towards the north by the Saljuqs, and local reinforcement of the Shafi‘i School of law, of the Ash‘ari School of theology, and of the Sufi paths; (3) the aftermath of the Mongol invasion and Timur’s expeditions with the Islamicisation of central and northern Dagestan from the thirteen to the sixteenth century, and the formation of a vernacular religious personnel of Islam.
The second part of this dense article deals with the historiography of the diffusion of Islam in pre-modern Dagestan, from the Athar-i Daghistan by local scholar Hasan Afandi al-Qadari (1834-1919) to the biographical dictionary Tarajim-i ‘ulama’-i Daghistan by specialist of local lore Ali Kaiaev (1878-1943), to the recently published bibliographical guide Nuzhat al-adhan fi tarajim ‘ulama’-i Daghistan by Nadir al-Durgili (d. 1935). Among modern Soviet scholars the author distinguishes specialists of Arabic studies like I. Iu. Krachkovskii (1883-1951), A. N. Genko (1896-1941), and Orientalist V. F. Minorsky (1877-1966). The list is closed by mention of modern-day Dagestani specialists of Oriental studies like M.-S. Saidov and A. R. Shikhsaidov.
The author insists in particular on the large combination of primary sources implemented by the latter in his works on the lasting impact of Arabic culture on Dagestan, and on the wide amount of issues studies by the most recent generations of historians of Islam in Makhachkala.