"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Russian Orthodoxy and Russian Islam

In my courses on Eastern Christian encounters with Islam, we look at Russia, both because it is fascinating in itself (not least as the largest Orthodox country in the world), but also because the picture is of course very different from the Middle East and elsewhere, and rather complicates facile narratives of one type or another about Islam today.

Next month we will have the release of a new scholarly collection that looks very interesting: Russia's Islam and Orthodoxy beyond the InstitutionsLanguages of Conversion, Competition and Convergence, eds. Alfrid K. Bustanov and Michael Kemper (Routledge, 2018), 120 pp.

About this book the publisher gives us the following blurb and table of contents:
Islam and the Orthodox Church in contemporary Russia are usually studied in isolation from each other, and each in relation to the Kremlin; the latter demands the development of a home-grown and patriotic ‘religious traditionalism, as a bulwark against subversive ‘non-traditional’ imports. This volume breaks new ground by focusing on charismatic missionaries from both religions who bypass the hierarchies of their respective faith organizations and challenge the ‘traditionalism’ paradigm from within Russia's many religious traditions, and who give new meanings to the well-known catchwords of Russia's identity discourse.
The Moscow priest Daniil Sysoev confronted the Russian Orthodox Church with ‘Uranopolitism’, a spiritual vision that defies patriotism and nationalism; the media-savvy Geidar Dzhemal projected an ‘Islamic Eurasianism’ and a world revolution for which Russia's Muslims would provide the vanguard; and the Islamic terrorist Said Buriatskii found respect among left- and right-wing Russians through his Islamic adaptation of Lev Gumilev's ‘passionarity’ paradigm. On the other side, Russian experts and journalists who propagate the official paradigm of Russia's ‘traditional Islam’ argue from either Orthodox or secularist perspectives, and fail to give content to the concept. This allows even moderate Salafis to argue that their creed is Russia's real ‘traditionalist’ Islam. This book was originally published as a special issue of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

1. Russia’s Islam and Orthodoxy beyond the Institutions: Languages of Conversion, Competition and Convergence Alfrid K. Bustanov and Michael Kemper

2. Nationalism and Religion in the Discourse of Russia’s ‘Critical Experts of Islam’ Kristina Kovalskaya

3. Daniil Sysoev: Mission and Martyrdom Gulnaz Sibgatullina

4. The Language of Moderate Salafism in Eastern Tatarstan Alfrid K. Bustanov

5. Jihad as Passionarity: Said Buriatskii and Lev Gumilev Danis Garaev

6. Between Salafism and Eurasianism: Geidar Dzhemal and the Global Islamic Revolution in Russia Gulnaz Sibgatullina and Michael Kemper

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