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Category: History

Distribution of Islam among Circassians


Work is presented by department of national history of the Karachay-Cherkess state university of U.D. Aliyev.

The research supervisor - the doctor of historical sciences, professor G.V. Smyr

In article the character and features of a pslamnzatsna of Circassians are understood, as well as the fact that adoption of Islam by the Circassian community did not result in prevalence of new, confessional bases of culture of Circassians over its traditional bases.

The articles considers the character and specifics of islamization of the Circassians, as well as the fact that the Circassian community&s turning into Islam religion has not lead to prevailing of new confessional cultural principles of the Circassians over their traditional basis.

Single questions of history of distribution of Islam and its features at ady-gy - Adyghes, Kabardians and Circassians -

contain in works of a number of foreign and domestic authors. So, for example, many valuable and important data are given in izves-

tiya of the European authors of X111-X1X of the centuries traveling around Kavkazu1 at Spencer 2

(soch. 1839), etc.

Considerably valuable materials and thoughts on the topic interesting us contain and

3 4

in K. Stal, L.Ya. Lyulye's works, N. Oak-5

rovina, etc.

The good factual base for studying religious beliefs of the Adyghe people (Adyghes, Kabardians and Circassians) was put by the Adyghe authors of the second catch-nyH1H century Sh. of Nogmov6, the Khan-Girey7, etc.

The subject of our research is directly adjoined by works known uche-


ny: A.V. Avksentyeva, A.H. Zafesova, H.I. Nagucheva, R.G. Landa, S.A. Lyaushe-voy, G.V. Smyra and also L.I. Lavrova "Pre-Islamic beliefs of Adyghes and Kabardians" and A.T. Shortanova "Adygey-9

sky cults", etc.

However in works of the above-mentioned authors valuable materials and observations, of course, were given, the general islamo-vedchesky and some adygovedchesky issues, but at these researchers, especially at foreign are resolved, there is no fair idea of time and prerequisites of distribution and of process of Islamization of Circassians. They studied religious beliefs of Adyghes and Kabardians, meaning Circassians as a part of Kabardians or in general ignoring historical and ethnographic reality of Circassians, studied mainly social and economic aspects, and some authors have no separate idea of difference between geography of distribution and degree of religiousness of Circassians.

So, despite existence of a number of researches on the general questions of Islam, there are no special works devoted to specific problems of historical evolution and the current state of Islam, a ratio of Muslim and secular cultures at Circassians. They need special system and complex study.

Especially in islamovedchesky literature it is unambiguously noted that Islam history research at each people specially and in a context with general historical processes is one of major scientific problems as many aspects of cultural history (in the broadest meaning of the concept "culture"), social development, political and interethnic connections of the people of the Caucasus, Russia and the Middle East are connected with it. Besides Islam history at the people of the Caucasus does not know such problems which a name of the major symptom of democracy - religious pluralism - were claimed presently.

For example as it is visible from materials

articles of the authorized president of the Karachay-Cherkess republic

on communications with the religious organizations

E. Kratova, "that religions were not akhil-


with a loessial heel of the state", only in the territory of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic 117 Muslim communities with the similar (traditional) and not similar (extremist) blocks of intra confessional, interfaith and state and confessional problems which already were act and further can become a reason for the conflicts not only in community, but also between communities of all Muslim reunification of the Karachay-Cherkess republic.

The relevance of a research of the offered subject is explained by the fact that it gives the chance in more detail to proannalizi-rovat a number of scientific and practical problems of spiritual culture of the Circassian nationality which consisted generally of demon-leneevsky and Kabardian Adyghe with the isolated territory not earlier than HU-HU1 of centuries & #34; and others ethnographic (Adyghes and Kabardians) groups of the Adyghe ethnos to allocate differentially the general and special. Also special studying features of cult and ceremonial practice sovremen-became twice relevant

the ny Circassian Muslims living in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Special need of such research is dictated not only scientific interests, but also in connection with the statement of the president of the Karachay-Cherkess republic of M. A-and. Batdyeva that Islam and Orthodoxy became a spiritual core of culture of the people living in


Karachay-Cherkess Republic. As it is noted by

p in scientific literature on the history of Circassia, in particular in widely recognized monographic works of the Adygei historian C.X. Hotko, "as Circassia in the political relation represented confederation of the self-coping areas, and process of adoption of Islam was not single". This Raznovremennost speaks not only "confederation of the self-coping areas" in the political relation of Circassia, but also factors and conditions, special for each of these regions.

On this matter C.X. Hotko concludes the following: "Chronologically, achievements of Moslem in Circassia should be looked for in quite late period. Achievements of Islam in Circassia can be explained with two major factors: first, this strengthening of aggressive policy of Russia in the south that caused a contradiction from Circassia; secondly, the strengthened promotion from the Ottoman Empire which after a number of large military failures in Circassia of the end of the 15-16th centuries, evolved by the beginning of the 17th century in political, military and economic school desks -

and 14

ner of Circassia".

Of course, an important factor was also the relation of the government of Ottoman Turkey to Circassia. It is known that the Ottoman government since 16th century "did not undertake any military action for the purpose of capture of Circassia. Quite naturally in these conditions the refusal of the Circassian society of Christian faith which threatened them with enslavement with 15 looks


The given thoughts in itself true, but are insufficient for disclosure of influence of not less essential other sociohistorical conditions of acceptance and distribution of Islam among Circassians differentially, on regions of "confederation of the self-coping areas".

Among Circassians it is necessary to carry to the factors and conditions of acceptance and distribution of Islam stated above:

• weakening of the former prevailing provision of numerous pagan representations and cults;

• weakening of influence of Christian religion which also from the very beginning was apprehended only in that measure and functioned only in that framework in which did not contradict traditional etike-Habze;

• weakening of influence of Christian church which activity of attendants was always subordinated to norms the all-Adyghe ethnocultural system to an adygagje-adygstvo;

• the pro-Turkish orientation of representatives of the nobility of "confederation of the self-coping areas" of ethnographic groups of the Adyghe ethnos, suggesting to take some political (and not only) dividends;

• value of activity of influential people on a people at large, on their way of life;

• the sharia movement in a root modernizing the Circassian Islam;

• nonviolent, voluntary nature of introduction of Islam.

It is authentically established that Islam was widespread among ancestors of modern Circassians of the Karachay-Cherkess republic, as well as at other ethnographic groups of the Adyghe ethnos, step by step throughout the period from 16th century prior to the beginning of the 18th century Islamic dogmas and cults which did not interfere with consolidation of the Circassian societies, functioning of cults of pagan and Christian origin, development of secular forms of spiritual culture Were apprehended.

So, for example, in scientific literature the conclusion that "Adyghe prevails (Adyghes, Kabardians and Circassians. - M. J), like all people, never were only under the power of religion. Along with it, they used the positive knowledge accumulated in I rub -

16 l,

>", they "did not differ in religionism which is characteristic 17 TT

line of Islam". Moreover, "among Adyghe the relative free-thinking in interpretation of Muslim dogmas, "18 rules, ceremonies" remained.

Were not apprehended and such specific forms of ideology of Islam as Sufism, a myuridizm (Naqshbandi tariqa), the concept of the universal caliphate, Pan-Islamism, a makhdizm (the idea about coming of the Messiah), etc. had no significant effect on policy and the moral of the Circassian society

We will add to such conclusion also what Circassians considered and continue to consider: "is

19 to

the mind - is everything", "there is happiness, wealth, force, namys (good breeding, honor, advantage)"; "there is a character Nartov and all human" 20. They (Circassians) advised: "Hoping for Allah, do not calm down, Hoping for Allah, not ploshay" 2.

In conclusion we will notice that historical and ethnographic sources and literature unambiguously confirm: first, that the personal liberty and the free, held-down by nothing life was the highest ideal for Circassians (Adyghes, Kabardians and Circassians of the Karachay-Cherkess republic); secondly, in the territory of the Adyghe enclaves of the Caucasus: in Shapsugiya, Adygea,

Circassia and Kabarda - could find at least one person who would put and puts national below religious; thirdly, and the most important - the paganism, orthodox Christianity, Islam of Sunni sense always remained and remain a part of spiritual culture of Circassians, but not "core" in any way.

By the way, it is possible to speak about strong "core" influence of Islam only concerning foreign Circassians among whom the considerable number puts religious over the national feeling, saying that they are first of all Muslims, and already then - Circassians.

Belonging to Moslem is perceived by such people as accessory to one bigger superethnic group, and the confessional outlook tends to full replacement national "I". Of course, Islam in foreign countries where descendants ady-gov-makhadzhirov live, acts as means to assimilation of Circassians.

Than it is considered to be the above conclusions drawn within the present article and a subject about adoption of Islam by Circassians much earlier, the attitude of Circassians to Islamic and to the ethnic culture, about need of a concrete research of an originality of Islam not only at each people, but also branches of one ethnic group, can be used by preparation of the generalizing works on Islam stories at Adyghe, at other people of the North Caucasus and not only.

1 Adyghe, Balkars, Karachays in news of the European authors of the 13-19th centuries / Sost.

B. K. Gardanov. Nalchik: Elbrus, 1974. Page 47, 49, 51-52,67, 70-72, 76-80, 88-90,92, 94-96,104, 161162, 201, 296,301-306, 311-319, 357,370,375,389-390,413,415-416, 418-420,448-453, 458-531, 542544, 569, 574-579, 583-584, 597, 607, 608, 618, 621-628.


E. Spencer. Travel to Circassia. Maykop: RIPO "Adygea", 1998. Page 106-118.

Steel K. Ethnographic essay of the Circassian people//Caucasian collection. Tiflis, 1900.

C. 109-114.


Materials for history of the Circassian people. Krasnodar, 1927. Page 25-36.

5 In the same place. Page 28-54.

and Nogmov Sh. Istoriya of the adykheysky people made according to legends by Kabardians. Nalchik: Elbrus, 1994. Page 63-64, 72, 75-78, 122, 151.


Khan Weight. Notes about Circassia. Nalchik: Elbrus, 1978. Page 96-102, 315-322. A.V. Avksentyev. Islam in the North Caucasus. Stavropol, 1984; A. Zafesov. X., Naguchev of X. I. Islam in Adygea. Maykop, 1960; The Landau R.G. Islam in the history of Russia. M, 1995; Lyaushev S.A. Evolution of religious beliefs of Adyghe: history and present (philosophical and culturological analysis). Maykop, 2002; G.V. Smyr. An Islamic factor in Abkhazia and in the North Caucasus: truth and conjectures. Gagra: Historical scientific organization of Abkhazia of G.A. Dzidzariya, 1994.

Religious beliefs of Adyghe. Anthology of researches: For average and higher educational

institutions / Sost. And. X. Zafesov. Maykop: AGU, 2001. Page 201-313, 315-366, 261-313, 315-366.


E. Kratov. That religions were not an Achilles' heel of the state//Day of the Republic: Newspaper of People's Assembly and Government Karachay-Cherkess republic. 2005. June 23. No. 105 (16719). Page 3-4.

& #34; People of Karachay-Cherkessia: history and culture: Studies. a grant for 10-11 classes of educational institutions / Under the editorship of the Dr. filos. sciences, prof. V.Sh. Nakhushev. Cherkessk, 1998.

Page 439-440.


History and culture of traditional religions of the people of Karachay-Cherkessia: Book of the Teachers' Day. Cherkessk: Ministry of Education and Science Karachay-Cherkess republic, 2005. Page 1.

Hotko of Page X. The history of Circassia in the Middle Ages and modern times. SPb.: St.Petersburg State University, 2001. Page 317.

15 In the same place. Page 317.
16 In the same place.

Tsit. on: Religious beliefs of Adyghe: Anthology of researches: For average and higher educational institutions / Sost. And. X. Zafesov. Maykop: AGU, 2001. Page 263.

17 In the same place. Page 431.

In the same place.

& #34; Proverbs and sayings of the people of Karachay-Cherkessia//Original and translation into Russian.

Cherkessk, 1990. Page 104.


In the same place. Pages 88-188 & #34; In the same place. Page 124.

Dean Hammond
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