Reviews

The author shows how the position of the ‘ulama of the Turkistan territory about the Russian conquest and the ensuing colonisation changed with times, often within the writings of one and the same individual.  The first examined is a well-known divine from Tashkent, Muhamma-Yunus Khwaja Ta’ib, whose position changed with time, this author departing from an apology of the Khanate of Kokand under ‘Umar Khan (r. 1809-22) as the ideal state for coming to the conclusion that compromising with the Russians is inevitable.  Another view, more tolerant and prompt to compromise, was that of the jurist of the shari‘a Ishaq Khan Tura b. Junayd-Allah Khwaja, known by his penname ‘Ibrat.  In his book Mizan al-zaman, he argues that the most urgent and important problems for the Muslims was their scientific and technical backwardness.  In polemics against the most conservative ‘ulama, he characterises the use of technical innovations and of the corresponding products as permitted innovation (bid‘a-yi hasana).  A third figurehead, the modernist writer from Bukhara ‘Abd al-Ra’uf Fitrat, was writing in the 1910s that Muslims could flourish only on the basis of technologies they had to take over from the West and from the Russians.  A fourth author, Mirza ‘Alim b. Mirza Rahim Tashkandi, is mentioned for his polemics against the intellectuals and local people of affluence who were all too willing to cooperate with the new powers.  These example stress the necessity to resituate the texts in the personal dynamics of their respective authors, and in the chronology of successive debates on the Russian dominance and its everyday consequences—a work still to be done by historians of Russian colonisation of Central Asia and of the reactions of the local elite groups (on this aspect, regarding the literary production of Fitrat, see infra 299 the review of the article by Adeeb Khalid).

The Redaction
CER: I-3.4.C-283