Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 20:16:25 EST
A dialog from CenAsia list on Wahhabism, March 1996
Sat, 2 Mar 1996 20:16:25 EST
Last month Abidkhan, the imam of the mosque Tokhtaboy in Tashkent, was dismissed. When the religious authorities came to the mosque a week ago to announce the appointment of a new imam, Abidkhan's supporters expressed their protest. Hence, the deputy imam, Tahir Ibrahimov, was deported to Tajikistan and the mosque has been surrounded by the police. The authorities say they had to take the actions in order to halt the mosque's teaching the purist type of islam. Most likely that was "waqhabism" (I am not sure if I've spelled it correctly). For the recent months, I have come across quite a few reports from Uzbekistan about the waqhabism's rise. It seems to be gaining ground there again (I mean the rise of this direction of islam in Namangan in 1991-93), especially in Andizhan and (!) Tashkent.
Why this is happening again? Is this type of Islamic theory popular anywhere else, apart from Saudi Arabia? Does the Tashkent government have serious reasons to be afraid of this trend? Experts on Central Asian islam, any comments?
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 17:47:38 -0500
The correct spelling of the word you want is "Wahhabi". This is a term currently applied to any fundamentalist/purist leanings in Central Asia, whether they are truly trying to copy the Saudi Wahhabis or not. Your news is a real shocker, since Abid Qari was quite a popular "oppositionist" imam; I attended several of his Jum'a prayers when in Tashkent last year, and his mosque (Tokhtabay Bachcha a.k.a. Chaqichman) was always packed, with many people coming even from the Ferghana Valley to listen to his lively and inciteful sermons. While Abid Qari's sermons focused on personal involvement in combatting unislamic practices and influences in contemporary Ozbekistan, sermons at other mosques I visited tended to be much drier and doctrinally-based. I suppose it was only a matter of time before he was silenced, given how much of a following he had gathered.
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 21:00:18 -0500
The term "Wahhabi" should rightly apply to those following the teachings of Abdul Wahhab, the 18th century preacher whose puritanical interpretation of Islam (anti-Sufi, anti-tomb veneration, anti-Shia, Hanbali) provided legitimation for the original Saudi kingdom and does so today. "Wahhabis" themselves reject the term and call themselves Salafis (those who seek to return to original Islam). There are other sects close to Wahhabis, such as the Ahl al-Hadith.
However for over a century the term "Wahhabi" has been a general term of abuse in South and Central Asia (at least) directed against any Sunni Islamic movement that challenged the rulers of the day. It is a way of portraying such movements as foreign-inspired and contrary to the local traditions of Islam (especially Sufism). Note that Karimov has been supporting veneration of naqshbandi traditions (speaking at the shrine of al-Bukhari, appointing a shrine guardian as mufti, if I recall correctly), while calling Islamic critics "Wahhabi." This is quite typical.
P.S. Some of the above may require correction, which I would welcome.
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 04:14:48 +0100
NB: some might find this rather long.
On March 2, Nadira Artyk wrote:
>For the recent months, I have come across quite a few reports from
The events in Namangan, mentioned above, followed by the oppresion of the socio-religious organisation 'Adalat' (Justice) by the Uzbekistan government, are indeed intruiging, intricated and deserves careful analysis, because it can question the very identities of people.
The Wahhabi reform movement is commonly associated with religious fundamentalism: intolerance, terrorism and scary theocratic regimes. This picture, I believe, is firmly rooted in western thought about 'the East' and is overtly articulated in massmedia, state politics and the social sciences. For now, I want to consider the following (somehow interrelated) issues:
So called 'parallel Islam', associated with Sufism, has played an important role for the continuation of the religion during the soviet decades. It is, therefore, not unlikely that contemporary reformationist ideas about society and religion stem directly from internal debates within the central asian orders and not merely from some foreign intrusion. I simply cannot imagine that the influence of the Sufi brotherhoods declined in such a rapid pass since the break-up of the Soviet-Union. Unless nothing more is known about the leaders and followers of 'Adalat', about their motives and ideas, the old colonial theory of "Wahhabi conspiracy" still seems to give an appealing explanation for the events in the Fargana Valley.
I've also read about the influence of Saudi Muslim functionaries in Central Asia and the destruction of Sufi shrines. This information, however, has a speculative character and lacks any detail about the people involved and their motives. Therefore, I want to ask if anybody on the CENASIA list knows about the role of these Saudi-Arabian officials in the region, and if destruction of Sufi tombs really occurred. If yes: why, where and when? Is there indeed a trend within central asian religious pratices towards scripturalism and\or islamism?
Please correct me if you think that my statements above need serious adjustments. Further, let me say quickly that I certainly didn't intend to insult the intellect of anybody with my remarks about 19th century colonialism; I merely wanted to touch slightly upon some persistent ideas in national and international politics, media and science about socio-religious reform movements and the Muslim world in general. I hope more people will comment on the role of Islam in Central Asia today, and the intricated relations of religious and national identities.