«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»

Islam in the spiritual culture of Kazakhstan in the early 20th century

Islam in the spiritual culture of Kazakhstan in the early 20th century

Kazakh culture at the turn of the 19th and early 20th centuries despite the growing colonial oppression experienced a kind of spiritual uplift, which can be described as a national revival. It was the beginning of the century in Kazakhstan there is a whole galaxy of poets, writers, religious and political leaders, nominated to the fore cultural independence.
The reason for such popularity of cultural and educational ideas is the fact that by the time the national liberation movement of the Kazakh people is entering a new phase of its development. Recent attempts to further enslavement of armed resistance ended with a crushing defeat. For national leaders becomes apparent futility and destructiveness of such forms of struggle.
The colonizer’s resistance was defensive in the form of conservation as the latest forms of traditional folk life, namely: language, literature, religion, as others — statehood and the right to land at that time were irretrievably lost. Finally approving its political and economic dominance in Kazakhstan, Russia started now to the next stage of colonial policy, namely the formation of policy in the minds of all Kazakh people ideas of Russian citizenship.

A practical embodiment of this idea was in the creation of Russian-native, and then Russian-Kazakh school, project Ilminsky Translation Kazakh alphabet to Cyrillic, Russian missionary priests. Not all of the provisions of this policy have been successfully implemented in Kazakhstan since met with resistance by the Kazakh people, resistance, assumed the form of the protection of national culture, language and religion. Thus, the struggle for national independence at the turn of the century is almost completely converted into a plane preservation of national culture and national identity. In these circumstances, Islam as the dominant worldview opposite metropolitan confession is important in the protection of national identity.

Here we touch upon a very important in the history of the Kazakh culture question of the degree of penetration of Islam into the national consciousness. It should be noted that on this issue today, there is no single point of view. Clearly identifies two: first — the recognition of the development of the Kazakh culture, in the bosom of the Muslim world since the 9th-10th centuries and Kazakhstan’s perception as part of the Muslim world. The second is a statement of weak surface initiation Kazakhs to Islam. Arguments on both sides are very convincing and supported by opinion of large leaders, sufficiently to say that Sh. Ualihanov had the latter point of view.

The whole question of the degree of Kazakhs Islamization is a topic for another special investigation. Therefore, without having a discussion I would like to mention those of the author and the state of religious consciousness of Kazakhs duality, i.e., a combination of Tengrism with Islam. It’s quite peaceful coexistence of traditional ancient religion of the Turks to Islam was spread over several centuries. Even by the time of accession of Kazakhstan to Russia, i.e. to the 18th century Muslim’s tradition and Islamic law is closely intertwined with the worship of ancestors and the spirit of the adat.

Therefore, at the initial stage of implementation of its rule over the Kazakh steppe, Russia strongly encouraged the spread of Islam among the Kazakhs — Islam was a convenient ideological cover. In one of the memos steppe Governor-General about it wrote: «…In the beginning of our sovereignty in the steppe political interests required the approval of their faith intact. This reason, along with the desire to attract the khans, sultans and generally influential people steppes led to the fact that at first our government not only has the full tolerance of Islam, but even some protection».

Another reason that forced the royal diplomacy to use Islam to their advantage was that in the early accession of Kazakhstan to Russia, Russian officials and officers had great difficulty in communication with the local population, as well as among the Kazakhs had almost no knowledge of Russian. Therefore, to implement in the Kazakh steppe Russian influence, it was decided to use the Kazan mullahs, as a kind of agents, who previously appeared in the Kazakh and Russian citizenship have already been defined Russification. This fact is confirmed by the statement of the Russian government Orenburg Governor-General: «The supply of different kinds of Kyrgyz mullahs can bring many benefits, why do you try and determine others, Kazan Tatars, selecting reliable people, giving instructions to the statement needs Kyrgyz allegiance to us».

To achieve this goal the construction of temporary and permanent mosques along military lines in Orenburg fortresses already began many years ago while Catherine II was governed. These fortresses are Verhneuralsk, Troitsk, Petropavlovsk and directly in headquarters of Kazakh rulers.

The steppe was filled with the mullahs. Especially many Kazan mullahs were Bukey Khanate under Khan Dzhangir, they even created their own quite privileged and isolated social group. This lasted until the end of the 19thcentury. By this time the number of Kazakhs was created numerous enough and skilled squad colonial administration officials, most of the higher layers of the Kazakh society faithfully served the interests of the Russian throne. Now Russia has no needs of ideological cover for strengthening their rule. Also notable changes occurred in the international arena. Turn of the century was marked by the rise of Muslims of the East with a new struggle against the expansion of European powers. This struggle has wide spread and is known in history as the movement of pan-Islamism».

Pan-Islamism promoted the idea of unity and brotherhood of all Muslims in the face of the European-Christian West, with its leaders and ideologist have always stressed defense, cultural and educational nature of the movement, which directly contradicts the aggressive and militant pan-Islamism image created by the efforts of Russian and then Soviet historiography.

Spread the idea of pan-Islamism in Turkey and Iran, which directly border with the eastern edge of Russia, including Kazakhstan, could not be taken into account Russia. The idea of the unity of all Muslim peoples under the oppression of the Gentiles contributed to the unification of the Turkic-Muslim population of the Russian colonies and contributed to the growth of anti-Russian sentiment. Therefore, with the beginning of the 20th century, the further spread of Islam in Kazakhstan becomes extremely detrimental to the interests of Russia.

Islam from politics of patronage metropolis proceeds to direct persecution of Muslim clerics, limiting the creation of new religious institutions and strict control over the process of Islamization edge. According to the data given in the article by E. Bekmakhanova «notes that school started at mosques were subject to oversight by the Russian officials, teachers also chosen by them. In addition, in respect of Muslim teachers maqtabs (schools) existed following rules: «The mullahs must be elected from among the candidates presented by the administration, they are mandatory. They must complete the course in the Russian school with at least three years of course the city. Urban mullahs were forbidden to visit Kazakh aul (village) prohibited pilgrimage to Turkestan, Bukhara, Mecca».

However, despite the opposition and attempts to restrict, Kazakhstan considerably enlivened religious life. Islam becomes a kind of ideological confrontation slogan Russification policy. Only one Omsk in 1910 was granted more than 500 special permits for Hajj pilgrims to Mecca Kazakh. Mass character acquires edition «of the Quran». If in the middle of the 19thcentury, in printing of Kazan for Russian Muslims was issued to 32,600 copies of the sacred books, by the beginning of 20th century their number almost doubled [3].

More secular and religious schools were built on the wealth of the Kazakhs. Unfortunately accurate data on the number of Muslim schools at the beginning of the century has not been detected. However, statistical surveys of the colonial administration, are listed in the paper of Sabitova allow us to trace the dynamics of the end of 19th the beginning of 20th centuries. If in 1891, in the Semirechensk area were 64 secular and religious schools with a total enrollment 1251 people, in 1897 their number reached 88 maqtabs (schools) and 12,835 students. In the Syr Darya region (including Tashkent, Shymkent, Aulie-Ata, Turkestan, Petrovsky and Kazalinskiy counties) in 1892 was 1487 maqtabs and 35 madrassas and in 1895 — 2409 maqtabs, 37 madrassas with 28,898 students.

In Turgay region in 1894 was 59 secular and religious schools with 457 students in 1911 — 103 secular and religious schools with 1400 students. In Akmola region in 1896 was 13 secular and religious schools with 547 students, in 1907 they became 15 970 students [4]. In addition to local schools Kazakh youth was educated outside of Kazakhstan, which traditionally had influence of two centers of Islam — the Volga region and Central Asia. Kazakhs of western and northern areas of greatest popularity Madrasah — Muhamed and Kazan, Madrasah and Galia in Ufa, Madrasah — Husaini and Orenburg, and southern Bukhara certainly occupies a special position in the Muslim world.
According to A. Alektorova evidence «Bukhara always was considered as pillar of Islam and a source of pure Mohammedan faith. The capital for the Turkestan is recognized not only by virtue of Bukhara, but also by all the followers of Islam in all lands and countries around the world, and still highly revered hitherto her for it. «Numerous Bukhara madrassah considered the most prestigious educational institutions of Kazakh Muslims, so here went to learn from all regions of Kazakhstan.
Appeal to Islam as one of the principal means of self-preservation is confirmed by the predominance of religious subjects in the Kazakh and book publications of the century. Along with the advent of the first newspapers and magazines, mass circulation in printing Kazan, Orenburg and Ufa produced Kazakh books, the amount of which was the highest among the Turkic peoples of Russia, and second only to the Tatar printing [5]. The vast majority of these books were religious. However, despite the unity of the subject, there has been a variety of genres. Works created in the genre of so-called «Hiss», widely spread in Kazakh literature since 9th century, took a special place. Works created based on Oriental literature, were called Hiss at the beginning, later this term was used to designate the same sorts of poetry books.

The basis of this «Hissa» stories were legends and stories, which promoted Islam, where were mentioned five covenant of Islam, sermons, diaries of pilgrims to Mecca. Among them the most popular were: «Salsa»,
Underlying this story «Hissa» were legends and stories, propagandizing Islam, which sets out five precepts of Islam, sermons, diaries of pilgrims to Mecca. Among them, the most popular were: «Salsam», «St. Battad», «Bedir», «Mohammad-fanafiya», «Zakrom» (Yusuf Bey Hodja), «Siyar-Sheriff» («Shadi-torus», as well as poem Kashaf-Ul-Din-Shahmardaka «Abulkaris», «Shah Mahmood», etc. Although later created «Hiss» on the lyrical and heroic theme. It was a kind of religious literature attempt to adapt to national specificities that their content has been clear for a simple Kazakh coincide with the mentality of the nation.

Therefore, in such parables as «Kasim-shamart», «Hattym- tay-Zhomart» or the fairy tale about the rich and greedy man Karynbay, the generosity of people willing to give guests all his possessions is praised scourge those who from miserliness refuses to give alms to the poor, to pay zyakyat (alms). Peculiar national religious illumination of an ancient custom of hospitality of the nomadic people was happened.
Simultaneously, the Kazakh environment has established a tradition of book production in memory of the dead. Usually at the beginning of such books were placed praise of the deceased, as a devout Muslim, then followed «Hissa», made on a plot of his life. Such, for example, «Hissa — and Sergazy», «Ihsan» or «Hiss Chondirbay hakisl harashin», published in 1913, Tribute Hazy Ondirbayu that one of the first Kazakh visited Mecca and died on the way to it, knowing that there is plague in the city.

The popularity of religious «Hiss» among the Kazakh population is the fact that just before the end of the last century there were about a hundred new titles, some of them reprinted 5 or 10 times. Works such as «Adebiet kazakie», «Ahoual-Himaly», «Hakiyab Shagafar», «Nasihat Shagafar» and «Aina», which had propagandistic nature and which in simple language and in an accessible manner proved the need for knowledge of the basics of Islam, compliance with and implementation of all Muslim rites, took special place. The authors of these books were often the mullahs.

Their professional affiliation led to the fact that until the rehabilitation period of Kazakh culture, which, in our opinion, begins with 1989, in the literature they were referred to clerical reaction in the direction of the Kazakh culture. Therefore, a serious study of their literary heritage is just beginning. However, today we can say that the literary and practical activities such authors as Abubakir Kerdem, Kashav-Ud-Din Shahmardak, Shuarka Koneeva, Makasheva and others were in line with the educational tradition, therefore justifiably be attributed to their brilliant galaxy of Kazakh Enlightenment of the century. It is impossible not to mention one feature of their literary heritage. It exists only in poetic form, i.e. they were not only the mullahs-mualimam, but akyns (poets). To receive even a small booklet Kashav-Ul-Din devoted entirely prosaic subject — prevention of plague is a kind of medical consultation, written in verse.

Feature of Muslim confession in Kazakhstan was that the clergy on their ethnicity was newcomer as evidenced by the presence in the Kazakh society special class «Khoja», which is not miscible with the Kazakhs, emphasized their separateness as well as numerous testimonies Russian officials, scholars living in Kazakhstan. In particular, N. Rychkov wrote: «They Kazakhs had actually their priests, but instead in the autumn visit their khodja, ahoon mullahs coming from Tashkent, Khiva and Turkestan».

Now, with the increase of Islamic religious institutions increases the number of local mullahs Kazakh environment. They became engaged in translation of separate Quranic texts. Difference between the new generation of Kazakh mullahs from traditional Muslim clergy consisted of greater openness secular issues, which was largely due to the originality of the period in which their activities are unfolding. As it mentioned above, the beginning of the century is marked by national revival, appeals to Islam, as one of the principal means of confrontation Russification policy. However, it should be noted that the national revival based not only on religion but also on a broad education of the people. Growth of national consciousness is expressed ideas — religion and enlightenment.

That’s why most of the Kazakh mullahs actively participated in the educational movement of the early 20th century, got its final shape in jadidism, which in its original content means the use of new teaching methods (effort-and-Jadid new method). Subsequently, Jadidism not limited cultural educational tasks will include political ideas. Religious leaders of Kazakhstan apprehended in jadidism not only the idea of the need to modernize off traditional Muslim school (turn of the century in Kazakhstan was opened 106 new-methodological schools) [6], but the idea of familiarizing its people to the highest achievements of human civilization.

Unlike the European enlightenment, Kazakhstan’s enlightenment movement, same as in the whole Russian East, stood firmly on the traditional spiritual values. Without denying the achievements of European culture, the intellectual elite of Russian Muslims are trying to carry them through the prism of the Muslim world, proving itself especially that Islam does not contradict, but largely predates the scientific discoveries of the 20th century. One of the founders and ideologists jadidism Ismailbey Gasprinsky article «Islam and civilization», he wrote on this subject: «Research shows that Islamism is preceded civilization and that the Quran encompasses a lot in this relationship. The Prophet’s sayings and his surrounding formed the best rules in the sense of rational activity» [7].

Graphic illustration of the quotation above can serve as a line from a poem Karkarala mullahs Kashav-Ud-Din Shahmardan «Doctor Guende» which followed by Gasprinsky said «…the Quran says that the earth moves non-stop in the universe. Now scientists using a telescope know that the sun is the center of the universe around which the motion of the Earth»[8].
At a higher level, the same idea is justified in the philosophical and theological work of Shakarim «Musylmandyk sharttar» («Fundamentals of Islam»), published in 1910 in Kazan. The work itself illustrates the high philosophical erudition of the author, familiarity with the latest researches of Western philosophers and, at the same time, a deep knowledge of the Quran.

Shakarim saw his main task to systematize the main provisions of Islam, make understandable and convenient for teaching the Kazakh language in schools and self-study.
A significant part of the book covers the basic interpretation of Sharia, Shakkar actually made one of the first translations of the basic texts of «Quran» in the Kazakh language. For him, Muslim authors only mention certain texts and works of Muslim scholars Kazakh readers had enough about them a vague idea. Before Shakarim similar attempt was made by I.Altynsarin, writing in 1884, a kind of textbook for students of Islam Russian-Kazakh schools [9].
Shakarim provides not only an explanation and summary of the main tenets of Islam with their translation into Kazakh language, but also criticizes some Kazakh mullahs, reproaching them in ignorance and the perversion of Islam. He encourages readers to follow him as the man seeking the true faith, as it believes that true faith — is the fruit of personal effort of each individual. The critic of European philosophical thought of the century took a special place in the book.

Arguing with Auguste Comte and Schopenhauer, Shakarim stood against exaggeration values sensory experience of the first and second excessive pessimism. He seeks to protect Islam from materialism and atheism, based on the method of logical and rational thinking. As a true enlightened Muslim Shakarim seeks the answers to all relevant topical issues of the day in the Quran, and found them compelling enough for readers.

Muslim philosophers Shakarima Kazakhstan represented, as well as throughout the Russian East, keeping the traditional spiritual values, believed that the Muslim world does not contradict scientific, but also has great social significance, since it contributes to the preservation of humanistic personality bases in complex contradictory phenomena of the 20th century.

Therefore, even the most advanced social ideas of the 20thcentury — socialism and communism was regarded by them as a repetition or development of the main provisions of Sharia. So, for example, in the article «Islam and Socialism», published in the newspaper «Uakyt» in 1906 stated: «We Muslims are holding our faith is well know that the penetration of socialism in our environment did not hurt as equality and fraternity, honor and charity, being the basics of Islam, are included in socialism.
So the basics of Islam and coincide with the fundamentals of socialism and democracy. «Quoting the Quran, which says: «look not with your eyes on those we bestow blessings what some families», the authors believe that Sharia gives the correct solution to the problem of distribution of wealth and social inequality to reduce inconsistencies.

In fact that according to the Sharia, rich people should give to the poor 2% of their assets, and all possessing 10% of the crop, allowing them to conclude that «the relationship between rich and poor in socially and economically established in Islam very well» [10]. Thus, the above material suggests that the beginning of 20th century, Islam admits deeply rooted in the national consciousness, becoming the ideological basis of national identity. Further development of the process of strengthening of Islam in Kazakhstan was suspended Bolsheviks came to power and domination of the new communist ideology.

Today, in the wave of the modern national revival, Kazakhs again turn to Islam. How fruitful for the future of the nation wills this appeal, time will tell.

S. Assanova, Ph. D., Senior Researcher, Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ualikhanov
Published in: a collection of articles in Kazakhstan in the early 20th century: methodology, historiography and chronology, Almaty, 1994