For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central by Robert D. Crews

By Robert D. Crews

N stark distinction to the preferred "clash of civilizations" concept that sees Islam necessarily in clash with the West, Robert D. Crews finds the impressive ways that Russia built an empire with extensive Muslim aid. For Prophet and Tsar reveals the attention-grabbing courting among an empire and its matters. As the USA and Western Europe debate how top to safe the allegiances in their Muslim populations, Crews deals a different and important historic vantage element.

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Additional info for For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia

Sample text

This ministry oversaw the officially recognized clerical bodies for the non-Orthodox confessions, including an official Islamic establishment that Catherine the Great had created on the eastern steppe frontier in 1788, though it was forced to compete with other institutions—including the Orthodox Church—in shaping tsarist policy. The Ministry of War administered Muslims in the Caucasian and steppe borderlands. When the tsarist army assumed responsibility for the administration of Muslims in areas of the Caspian steppe and Transoxiana that it annexed between the 1860s and 1880s, it managed to wrest control of religious matters from the minister of internal affairs.

This was an empire in which policing, justice, and piety were simultaneously intimate affairs—and the business of both the community and the institutions of the empire. Long before modern Muslim thinkers conceived of the “Islamic state” as a bureaucratic instrument to enforce divine law, Muslim subjects of the Romanov dynasty looked to the institutions of the empire to realize the obligations and rights of the faith. Based on familiarity with other colonial environments, readers might expect a story of Muslim resistance to tsarist encroachment, especially in areas like the domestic sphere.

Like other such captives, he was forced to undergo the rite of circumcision and become a Muslim. Baranshchikov took a Muslim wife, he maintained, under constant surveillance and pain of punishment. He was nonetheless tormented by memory of his “dear fatherland Russia,” his “Christian faith,” and his wife and three children back in Nizhnyi Novgorod. ” “In their mosques there is no image to bring to mind the Divine grace and wonder,” he complained. ”20 The anti-Muslim rhetoric of this sailor’s adventure tale and other texts like it did not, however, prompt a shift in how the regime managed the imperial confessional order.

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