Reviews

This monumental work, by a leading historian of modern Persian-language literature in Central Asia, proposes a reprint of a succession of essays and articles on the most varied aspects of the work of ‘Abd al-Rauf Fitrat (1886-1938), a key figurehead of the Jadid movement in the Emirate of Bukhara, then of the government of the Popular Soviet Republic of Bukhara, last of the secular intelligentsia of the Uzbek SSR. Four large introductory chapters are devoted in volume 1 to the introduction of some of Fitrat’s major works of the last Tsarist period: his Munazara, his Bayanat-i sayyah-i hindi, and his Rahbar-i najat, as wall as to the treatment of the notion of fatherland (watan) in his verses. The second volume itself is divided into four different essays: on the notion of family in Fitrat’s work; on his Mawlud-i sharif ya khud Mir’at-i khayr al-bashar; and on his Mukhtasar-i ta’rikh-i islam; with a fourth chapter that consists of a comparative analysis of the successive historical treatment of the Manghit dynasty of Bukhara by Danish in the 1870s-90s, by ‘Ayni in the 1920s and 1950s, and by Fitrat himself. The main part of the first volume is however devoted to the analysis of a series of religious and ethical issues of cardinal significance for the further development of Islam in the twentieth century, through key notions like tawakkul or hilm; other notions (like the political role of ‘societies’, the importance of physical education, etc.) are borrowed from the social and political history of Central Asia in the first decades of the twentieth century. At the same time, however, the selection of themes and their treatment suggest that S. Tabarov (b. 1924), at the end of a long and productive academic career devoted notably to the rehabilitation of modern Islamic reform and of to the rediscovery of the Jadid movement, has endeavoured to propose to a wide Tajik-reading audience a kind of encyclopaedia of Jadid thinking for everyday use. Unfortunately deprived of any critical apparatus (typically of present-day publication in Tajikistan, the Editor has managed to print 1,214 pages of dense text without a footnote, to say nothing of an index), the whole collection provides the readership with a precious gathering of studies that had become extremely difficult to find even in Dushanbe, and with a major piece of literary critic and history of the past half century. It also suggests a number of ideas on the contribution by Central Asian philologists to the rediscovery of Central Asia’s modern Islamic past, as well as to the history of modern secular ― atheist, in Fitrat’s case ― intelligentsias during the last decades of the Soviet period and in the first two decades of independence.

The Redaction
CER: II-3.4.D-311