Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 12:27:36 -0500
Naqshbaniyya and the New York Times
A dialog on CenAsia list, November 1997
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 18:48:38 -0500
I was appalled by the number of huge errors in this article when I picked up my NYT this morning. Some, like "Naqshbandi [sic] abhor orthodoxy" is completely wrong. Also, Naqshband's name doesn't have an -i on it. As for their being 40 million Naqshbandi's in the world -- well, I'd like to see it. Since Malaysia is now the most active center of the Naqshbandiyya (the name of the order) now, that'd be an awfully high percentage of all south Asian Muslims. Turkey probably has a goodly number, but it hasn't been a very active Naqshbandi center for quite some time, despite their giving money to the shrine complex.
Has anyone else noticed that local Uzbek tilida works about Naqshband and the Naqshbandiyya usually stop dead at Khoja Ahrar? Even the people I spoke with in Bukhara this summer who called themselves Naqshbandis said that the spiritual core of the Naqshbandiyya had left Central Asia by the 18th century (at the latest).
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 12:27:36 -0500
It would seem that the points raised by the Kinzer article in the Nov. 4 New York Times and the subsequent criticism thereof deserve some further comment, if only because the post-Soviet rush to refurbish Sheikh Bahauddin's complex as well as the attendance there and at Khoja Ahrar's shrine near Samarqand suggest that something is indeed still going on with the Naqshbandiyya in Central Asia.
An additional bit of evidence may be found in the following excerpt from an interview with Qadi Akbar Turajonzoda in Central Asia Monitor (No. 2, 1995):
Q-- What groups or parties are members of the Movement [for the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan]?
A-- If we go back three years and look at the Islamic movement in Tajikistan, it can be divided into three groups. the first was the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), the second, the so-called official clergy headed by the Qadi of the Tajik Muslims, and the third group was composed of clergy who belonged to neither the first nor the second group; they were known simply as the traditionalists, but dominant among them were the Sufi ishans.
A-- Naqshbandi and Qadiri.
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 13:14:10 -0500
I would not say that the whole article is completely false, I would also not say there is no one in the Bukhara area who calls him or herself a Naqshbandi. In fact, I met a mulla who calls himself a Naqshbandi when I was there in the summer.
But it has to be reiterated that the historical Naqshbandiyya from any particular period may or may not hold the same beliefs, etc as any individual who calls him or herself a Naqshbandi. This conceptualization that the Naqshbandiyya is some kind of single entity in all times and places is not valid.
There were particular points which I took exception to, since the article makes it sound as if it is true for all times and places, and I don't even think they are true now. The most painfully obvious is the "Naqshbandi's abhor orthodoxy" which has not been true for any of the particular Naqshbandi figures with whom I am familiar, nor for the members of the Naqshbandiyya that I met. In Ottoman Turkey, for example, the Naqshbandiyya were known in particular for their orthodoxy and their subserviance to the government (another point in the article which was not correct).
Of course, the mulla with whom the reporter spoke would probably not say anything other than that the Naqshbandis always stay out of political affairs, given the political situation in Uzbekistan at the moment. The mulla I met with was very secretive; I was always asked if I was going to write an article about the Naqshbandiyya when I returned home. He was also extremely orthodox -- I was not allowed to meet with him (even at his work) without being fully covered (I'm a woman). This despite the fact that at Naqshband's shrine, even native Bukharans will wander around the shrine without so much as a doppa (or men) or a scarf (for women).
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 17:26:58 -0500
Did I fail to say it -- the most basic error? It's Baha ud-Din Naqshband, *not* Naqshbandi/Nakshbandi. Very common error, but I would be surprised if the mulla at the shrine got it wrong.
The added -i creaps in because people think he's from a village called Naqshband, but the _Rashahat 'ain al-hayat_ consistently spells it without an -i.
The k/q confusion is because Russian spells it with a k, since they lack a better way to transcribe an Arabic qaf (the loop with two dots over it). Uzbek, of course, uses the back k (k with a tail). Modern Turkish commonly spells it with an added syllable -- Nakseband, which represents Turkish (and Ottoman?) pronunciation of the name.