"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).

Monday, July 20, 2020

Muslims in Russia

My favourite course to teach focuses on Eastern Christian encounters with Islam. We look at a number of countries with substantial Orthodox presence alongside Islam--both historic and current--and so that includes of course Russia, which presents a very different series of encounters from, say, Egypt or Lebanon. A new book looks especially at the jurisprudence of those encounters in the Romanov empire:  Sharīʿa in the Russian Empire: The Reach and Limits of Islamic Law in Central Eurasia, 1550-1917,
eds. Paolo Sartori, Danielle Ross (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), 384pp.

Some of the virtues of this book, according to the publisher, are that it

  • Studies the formulation, transmission and application of Islamic law under Russian colonial rule
  • Presents the theory and application of Islamic law in the Volga-Ural region, the Kazakh Steppe, the north Caucasus and Central Asia from the 1550s to 1917
  • Draws comparisons between Islamic law in Russia and elsewhere in the colonial world
  • Based upon important, but largely unstudied print and manuscript sources in Arabic, Persian and the Turkic languages
  • Brings together the work of an international collective of scholars of Islam in Russia

Additionally the publisher says this:
This book looks at how Islamic law was practiced in Russia from the conquest of the empire’s first Muslim territories in the mid-1500s to the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the empire’s Muslim population had exceeded 20 million. It focuses on the training of Russian Muslim jurists, the debates over legal authority within Muslim communities and the relationship between Islamic law and ‘customary’ law. Based upon difficult to access sources written in a variety of languages (Arabic, Chaghatay, Kazakh, Persian, Tatar), it offers scholars of Russian history, Islamic history and colonial history an account of Islamic law in Russia of the same quality and detail as the scholarship currently available on Islam in the British and French colonial empires.

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