By Agnes Nilufer Kefeli

within the 19th century, the Russian Empire's heart Volga sector (today's Tatarstan) used to be the positioning of a protracted fight among Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, each one of which sought to solidify its impact one of the frontier’s mixture of Turkic, Finno-Ugric, and Slavic peoples. The instant catalyst of the occasions that Agnes Nilufer Kefeli chronicles in Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia used to be the collective flip to Islam by way of the various region’s Krashens, the Muslim and animist Tatars who switched over to Russian Orthodoxy among the 16th and eighteenth centuries.

the conventional view holds that the apostates had particularly been Muslim all alongside or that their conversions have been pressured by means of the nation or undertaken voluntarily as a question of comfort. In Kefeli’s view, this argument drastically oversimplifies the complexity of a zone the place many participated within the non secular cultures of either Islam and Orthodox Christianity and the place a colourful Krashen group has survived to the current. via reading Russian, Eurasian, and important Asian ethnographic, administrative, literary, and missionary assets, Kefeli exhibits how conventional schooling, with Sufi mystical parts, helped to Islamize Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples within the Kama-Volga geographical region and set the level for the advance of modernist Islam in Russia.

Of specific curiosity is Kefeli’s emphasis at the function that Tatar girls (both Krashen and Muslim) performed as holders and transmitters of Sufi wisdom. at the present time, she notes, intellectuals and mullahs in Tatarstan search to restore either Sufi and modernist traditions to counteract new expressions of Islam and advertise a basically Tatar Islam conscious of its specificity in a post-Christian and secular environment.

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Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy by Agnes Nilufer Kefeli

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