Religion In the North Caucasus: Inghushetia

By Yavus Akhmadov, Stephen R. Bowers, Marion T. Doss, Jr., Yulii Kurnosov, William R. Nelson Institute, n.d.

The small Republic of Ingushetia covers an area of 3600 square kilometers. It has a native population of 300,000 and about as many Chechen refugees. In ethnic and linguist terms, the Ingush are very close to their Chechen neighbors. Their religious cultures, however, are different since the Ingush were converted to Islam later and embraced it with less intensity. Moreover, there has been no tradition of militant Islam in Inghushetia, a factor which has had a major and positive impact on their relations with Russians. 3

Like most of the Chechens, the Ingush people are Muslim-Suniits. Currently Ingushetia is experiencing a revival of religiosity and boasts a total of over 400 mosques, most of which were constructed in recent years. Over 1,000 Ingush receive a religious education each year, either in Ingushetia or abroad. Spiritual leadership is directed by the Muftia Albogachiev who maintains good relations with the neighboring republics. But unlike Chechnya, the spiritual leaders of Ingushetia do not claim to direct participation in the state governance and have not demanded the introduction of the Shariat law.

For the most part, the Ingush are associated with one of the two traditional orders of Islam. The Naqshbandi order is represented in Ingushetia by the brotherhood of Deni Arsanov, a highly respected figure whose descendants are held in equally high regard. The son of the Shaykh, Ilias Arsanov, left Chechnya in 1996 because of the conflict with Ichkeria authorities and is currently residing in Ingushetia.

The Qadiri order in Ingushetia is primarily associated with Kunta-Hadji Kishiev and has close relations with their coreligionists in Chechnya. In the 19th century the brotherhood of Batal-Hadji appeared in the Ingush village of Surhahi. Members of this brotherhood strictly observe their Charter. They are very well disciplined and united under the leadership of the descendants of Batal-Hadji.

Learning from the tragic example of Chechnya, which suffered so much as a result of religious disputes, the Ingush Muslims have managed to resist ideVakhabism. While some of the young Ingush citizens, motivated by a sense of religious obligation, participated in military activities during the first Chechen war, they avoided involvement during the second conflict. Their opposition to the second war was a result of their rejection of Vakhabism as well as the slave-trade often associated with it. Many Ingush families suffered as a result of that slave-trade. ological and dogmatic extremism. In 1998 Vakhabism was formally banned in Ingushetia. Vakhab emissaries were expelled and theological schools allied with them were closed. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ingushetia was given responsibility for the suppression of… [the text breaks off here in the original]