By Agnes Nilufer Kefeli
within the 19th century, the Russian Empire's center Volga quarter (today's Tatarstan) used to be the location of a protracted fight among Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, every one of which sought to solidify its impact one of the frontier’s mixture of Turkic, Finno-Ugric, and Slavic peoples. The rapid catalyst of the occasions that Agnes Nilufer Kefeli chronicles in Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia was once the collective flip to Islam via a number of the region’s Krashens, the Muslim and animist Tatars who switched over to Russian Orthodoxy among the 16th and eighteenth centuries.
the normal view holds that the apostates had fairly been Muslim all alongside or that their conversions were compelled by way of the nation or undertaken voluntarily as a question of comfort. In Kefeli’s view, this argument drastically oversimplifies the complexity of a area the place many participated within the spiritual cultures of either Islam and Orthodox Christianity and the place a colourful Krashen neighborhood has survived to the current. via interpreting Russian, Eurasian, and imperative Asian ethnographic, administrative, literary, and missionary resources, Kefeli exhibits how conventional schooling, with Sufi mystical elements, helped to Islamize Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples within the Kama-Volga nation-state and set the degree for the advance of modernist Islam in Russia.
Of specific curiosity is Kefeli’s emphasis at the function that Tatar ladies (both Krashen and Muslim) performed as holders and transmitters of Sufi wisdom. this present day, she notes, intellectuals and mullahs in Tatarstan search to restore either Sufi and modernist traditions to counteract new expressions of Islam and advertise a only Tatar Islam conscious of its specificity in a post-Christian and secular environment.
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Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy by Agnes Nilufer Kefeli