Home History of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan in the Russian Empire Kazakhstan in the beginning of the 20 century The ideas of Ismail Gasprinski and “Alash”

The ideas of Ismail Gasprinski and “Alash”

19 September 2013
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In the beginning of the 20th century intellectuals of Russia’s Turkic nations searched innovative ways to improve the social structure. The spread of information, as a result of Russian-native schools opening in the national outskirts as well as in connection of the development of periodic press, created the opportunities to exchange concepts and opinions. In the context of Eurasian education movement the activity of Ismail Gasprinski was the phenomenal fact.

Ismail Gasprinski (1851–1914) was born in Gaspra city of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine. He was a public figure, philosopher, founder of Jadidism, pedagogue and publicist. Graduating from Muslim school in Bakhchisarai he continued the education in the Moscow Military School (1865–1866). In 1867–1870 was a teacher in Zandzherli madrasah (Republic of Crimea). In 1871-1875 he travelled to Europe and visited Egypt, India, Turkestan. In 1876-1883 was the head of administration of Bakhchisarai city. In 1881 he published his famous work "Russian Islam: Thoughts, Notes and Observations of a Muslim" in which he criticized the education system and internal policy of the Tsarist Government towards the local nations. He propagated including of such disciplines as Mathematics, Geography, History, and Biology into the curricula of Muslim schools in addition to religious subjects. He was the author of tutorials for children and teachers. Since April 1883 he started publishing the Tarzhuman newspaper aimed at working out the universal literary Turkic language of Russian Muslims in the process of liberation struggle. Gasprinski was active participant of organization of the first conference of Russian Muslims. In 1910 nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

For the present time, the national special literature does not provide the detailed analysis of ties between progressive ideology of Gasprinski and formation of the Alash movement and party platform and, afterwards, the Alash Government. At the same time, some sources, including the articles of A. Bukeykhanov, A. Baytursynov, M. Dulatov, B. Karatayev, and others, outline how respectfully Kazakh intellectuals behaved towards the ideas and activity of Ismail Gasprinski.

The problem of Kazakh identity interested philosophers, scientists and masters of oral genre. The manuscripts of famous Kazakh poet Abay Kunanbayev keep the draft of his own analysis of etymology of "alash". The ideas of Shakarim Kudayberdyyev are also well-known. However, by the end of the 19th century the problem had been unsolved because of domination of old education method far removed from scientific objective laws.

In beginning of the 20th century revolutionist ideas, the I Imperialistic War, social movement, aspiration for liberty, and so on, were the reasons for Kazakh intellectuals to examine the question of identity. The case touched on opportunity of religious and political contacts within the borders of the Russian state.

On the pages of the Kazakh newspaper and the Aykap journal A. Bukeykhanov published his notes on the burning issues of political practice in Russia. His fellow A. Baytursynov also supported the need to discuss the results of the first in Kazakh history participation in the work of the State Duma.

There are some materials where Bukeykhanov analyzed the results of the conference of Russian Muslims in which delegates from Kazakhstan took part. According to Bukeykhanov, the conference reflected the real situation of actual for the Russian society problems of national self-consciousness and social structure.

Bukeykhanov was not only limited on theoretical concepts, he also used the major of his ideas in the reports, entered into polemics or assimilated the criticisms of Tatar and Azerbaijan delegates. He had to enter into a controversy with such recognized authority as Bakhytzhan Karatayev who had his own opinion on several issues.

As a result, by spring 1917 the leader of the future party had seriously developed concept of identity of Kazakhstan as a sovereign state. Only in alliance with Russian nations, only solving the questions of social democratization together it was possible to move on.

It was obviously that the members of the Alash Kazakh political party and government were accused of notorious "national" question under the cover of perceived charge.

I. Gasprinski, probably, did not mean to be an inspirer of Alash but pushed ahead the idea of national self-consciousness in Kazakhstan’s political arena. The Alash movement processed the concept of the philosopher and introduced the Jadidism method on the high intellectual level by distribution of periodic press in native language. Being understood by reader it was developed and participated in all-Russian political process without any limits on national frames. Therefore Gasprinski indirectly influenced the process of formation of Kazakh national democratic elite.

Mukanova G. K., Mukanov M. K.
(North Kazakhstan state university named after Manash Kozybayev, Novosibirsk State University)

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