On the basis of documents from the Central Spiritual Direction (Nazarat-i diniyya) of Tashkent (partly preserved in the Archive of the Apparatus of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan), the author casts light on the inner division of the religious personnel of Islam in Central Asia confronted to the land reforms of the mid-1920s. Numerous addresses of the Nazarat bear testimony of the engagement of substantial part of the ‘ulama in support of the reforms, according to a long tradition of ‘compromise’ with non-Muslim administrations that the author dates of the nineteenth century. Given the terms of the debate, the terminology adopted by the author for the designation of pro- and anti-reform ‘ulama, viz. “progressives” versus “conservatives,” is a mere adoption of the categories utilised by the Bolshevik state for the vituperation of its local religious opponents. This dialectical terminology does not take into account the very content of the quibbles of that period of time and, generally speaking, of the twentieth century ― especially in the Soviet period, during which the most traditionalist religious personnel of Islam often showed much more cooperative with the Soviet state than their reformist counterparts.
Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris