A short historical panorama of the history of Islamic teaching in the Northern Caucasus, since the appearance of the first madrasas in Southern Dagestan in the eleventh century CE, is followed by the author’s developments on the uneven expansion of Islamic religious practice and teaching in the Northern Caucasus since the end of the Soviet period. The author notably underlines the differences between Southern and North-Eastern Dagestan with the Western Caucasus, where the lesser development of a maktab and madrasa network has given way to the irruption of Islamic movements from abroad, like the Sulaymancı of Turkey, rapidly repressed by regional authorities, and to the development of alternative structures like courses of religion in high schools and faculties. The role played since the 1990s by Northern Caucasian diasporas in the Near East and Turkey is rapidly evoked, as well as the local emergence of Islamic universities in a number of Northern Caucasian republics (including Kabardo-Balkaria). The lack of financing and relative weakness of traditional and modern institutions of Islamic religious teaching in the Northern Caucasus has had two mutually opposed consequences, of primary significance for Islam in Russia as a whole. First, its has brought about disaffection with them (graduate students of the Faculty of Oriental Languages of the Dagestan State University are more qualified in Arabic language than those of the Imam ash-Shafii Islamic University of Makhachkala), which has driven numbers of youth to leave the region for making their religious studies abroad. Second, the first waves of these students’ return in the 2000s have transformed the Northern Caucasus into a territory of missionary activity towards more central regions of the Federation of Russia. As in many studies on Islamic religious education in Russia today, the author’s recommendations focus on the necessity to restore a system of “traditional” ― i.e., vernacular, non-imported ― Islamic teaching on the territory of Dagestan and in the other Northern Caucasian republics.

The Redaction
CER: II-4.3.C-384