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Category: History

Activity of the Kazan Tatar town hall: dialogue of the Russian laws and Muslim traditions

b. I. Izmaylov


Work is presented by department of modern and contemporary history of Institute of history of Sh. Mardzhani of Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan. The research supervisor - the candidate of historical sciences R.R. Hayrutdinov

This research is devoted to interaction of the Russian laws and Muslim traditions on the example of activity of the Kazan Tatar town hall. On the basis of the analysis of documents of archive of the Kazan Tatar town hall, a common ground and interactions between the Russian legislation and Muslim traditions comes to light.

The paper is devoted to interaction of Russian laws and Muslim traditions by the example of the activity of the Tatar City Hall of Kazan. Basing on the analysis of archive documents from the Tatar City Hall, it is possible to reveal points of coincidence and interaction between the Russian legislation and Muslim traditions.

Gaining the Kazan khanate in 1552 became a key event for all history of the Russian state. For the first time under the domination of Moscow there was an independent government institution with own national traditions and elite of society, with other, alien Russian, religion. From this point the Moscow state, according to A. Kappeler, began to turn into "the multireligious and polietnichny empire" [4, page 24]. Meanwhile process of transformation into the multinational empire was difficult and ambiguous that somewhat is explained by search of optimum mechanisms of integration of the inonatsionalny region. Within the 16-18th centuries of the politician of the tsarist government concerning Tatars repeatedly changed, but the complex of repressive measures remained the core direction. However the rate on strengthening of colonial policy, violent Christianization and russification of Tatars in the 18th century did not yield desirable results and led to long crisis. Moreover, the Tatar society appeared practically out of legal space of the Russian Empire.

The beginning of government of the empress Catherine II was marked by turn in the policy of the imperial power for the Muslim population. Seeking to avoid further confrontation with the Tatar population, the government of the Russian Empire went to a number of essential concessions. The big role in reorientation of a political policy concerning Tatars was played by activity of the Ekaterina's commission working in 1767-1769 and a popular uprising under E. Pugachev's leadership.

First of all changes affected the legislation in trade and religions. As show materials of the Laid commission, practically all Tatar population made the requirement to keep freedom of religion. In the last quarter of the 18th century there were government decrees meeting requirements of Tatars. Among them there are decrees on toleration (1773), about the permission to make trade crafts to all Tatars (1776), about an equalization of rights with the Russian nobility Tatar murz (1784) and also about creation of "The Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual meeting" (1788) [12, page 25].

During this period there were prerequisites of an institutionalization of channels of influence of some social groups on all Tatar society [3, page 70]. Except the Spiritual Meeting in Orenburg the Tatar town halls in Kazan, Orenburg and some other Russian cities became such institutes.

Emergence of magistrates and town halls in the Russian cities is connected with introduction of the new system of local management in 1775 providing centralization and unification of the country. In spite of the fact that town halls were widespread across all Russia, the Kazan Tatar town hall had the specifics. The major feature was the fact that it was the national administrative secular institution functioning in urban Muslim environment. Maintaining the Kazan Tatar town hall included the population of old and new Tatar settlements - a peculiar Muslim suburb of Kazan.

Emergence of the Tatar settlements is directly connected with conquest of Kazan by Ivan IV in 1552. The survived Tatar population was expelled out of the city. Only a small part of Tatars most likely participating in conquest of the Kazan khanate and loyal to the Russian tsar got permission to lodge in close proximity to Kazan beyond Kaban Lake [14, page 11]. From this point and prior to the beginning of the 20th century the Tatar settlements of Kazan become the important center of the Tatar economic and cultural life.

Establishment of the Kazan Tatar town hall happened in 1781 "on force of Highest Eya of Imperial Majesty of oral command to mister general on-rutchiku ruling a position of the governor general Kazan and Penza to the prince Platon Stepanovich Meshchersky" [11, page 25]. The head, the burgomaster and two ratman from among wealthy members of the Tatar society chosen merchants and narrow-mindedness every three years were a part of a town hall.

The Tatar town hall was considered by the Russian government as the control device and adaptations of the Tatar population to the all-Russian principles, but for Tatars it was means for intra-communal consolidation and interaction with the Russian power structures. For ensuring effective transition to new forms of the organization of political space the power structures demanded submission of Muslim traditions to the all-imperial legislation, but at the same time in practice it was necessary to reckon also with norms of Muslim life, the instructions established by a complex fixed by the Quran and Sharia.

On the basis of the analysis of documents of archive of the Kazan Tatar town hall it is possible to reveal a common ground and interactions between the Russian legislation and Muslim traditions. Representatives of the provincial authorities and members of a town hall were forced to resolve many conflict situations arising in public life of the population of the Tatar settlements in practice.

The circle of competence of town halls and magistrates was quite extensive, but at the same time is very uniform. However the Kazan Tatar town hall, except a standard set of objects of department, had also specific functions. With establishment in 1788. The Orenburg Muslim spiritual meeting such important mission as election of her members was assigned to the Kazan Tatar town hall.

Opening of the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting actually marked itself official recognition of Islam and its institutes. The mufti (chairman) and three qadis directed activity of this body (assessors). If the mufti was appointed by the decree of the emperor, and subsequently on representation of the Minister of Internal Affairs, then qadis got out Muslim clergy of the Kazan province. In the decree on establishment of the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting it was recommended to elect qadis from the Kazan Tatars [13, page 1107]. Most likely, the Russian government thereby noted loyalty of local Muslim clergy to the power.

The scheme of elections of assessors was quite accurate and to the middle of the 19th century did not change though attempts of its reforming were at different times made [1, page 73-74]. In each county of the Kazan province with the Muslim population at a meeting of ecclesiastics two mullahs as delegates for participation in an all-provincial congress in Kazan got out. Two fundamental obligations were assigned to the Kazan town hall: choice of two candidates of the Tatar settlements of Kazan and organization of a congress of all candidates. When choosing candidates knowledge of the Mohammedan law and political reliability of the Muslim had the defining value. So the decree of 1793 it is offered "to elect mules yes from now on to choose at the expiration of each third anniversary, from the Kazan Tatars in fidelity reliable, in respectable behavior and in knowledge of the Mohammedan law tested" [9, l. 1-3].

The congress of all candidates took place in the most Kazan Tatar town hall under the chairmanship of the head of the Tatar settlements. Besides, part in elections was taken by members of a town hall, the Kazan Akhun, the former assessors in the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting and also the most honorary and influential members of the Tatar society, the so-called "best people". The total number of voters was not regulated. For example, 63 persons [9, l took part in elections of 1793 42, and in 1830 already. 13; 5, l. 573-574]. The Russian government tried to control as much as possible all stages of elections therefore as observers at all congresses there was an authority. As a rule, it was the chief of police or the private police officer. Vote was secret, and the elite turned out received the greatest number of voices. Such scheme of elections of assessors existed up to closing of the Kazan Tatar town hall in 1855

Results of elections were without fail approved in the Kazan provincial board. It once again demonstrates to aspiration of the government as much as possible to provide loyalty in relation to the power of all elite. It should be noted that in archival documents cases of a deviation of candidates of assessors are not traced. As a rule, the conflicts arose between the Kazan Tatar town hall and the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting.

The oath about faithful service of the autocratic power which was said by the employee chosen in a town hall was an important element of familiarizing of Tatars with all-imperial political culture. The oath was read in Tatar and passed in the mosque, with an oath and kissing of the Quran. As the historian I.K. Zagidullin correctly emphasizes, the Russian State in questions of the oath tried to observe as much as possible the rights of Muslim Tatars [2, page 241]. Thereby the state by means of religion as much as possible provided loyalty of heads of the Tatar town hall and all population of settlements of the Russian imperial power.

One of considerable progress in activity of the Kazan Tatar town hall is establishment of holidays on holidays, sacred for all Muslims. It is known that all Russian government and public institutions were guided by uniform regulations of carrying out days of rest and holidays which first of all leaned on orthodox canons. All previous years the Muslims serving in a town hall had no possibility of rest on Friday and other Muslim holidays.

In 1823 the members of a town hall submit the application to the Kazan provincial board, "that deigned, according to Mohammedan religion, about not a prisutstvovaniye

to members of a town hall in their festive days, out of respect that in these all Mohammedans devote themselves on a special church service" [6, l. 19 about.]. Most likely, the application was sent to the Senate where approval was given. The same year the governor's relation with the requirement to deliver data on days of celebration of Ramazan and Eid al-Adha was sent to a town hall. In reply from a town hall the report arrived that these holidays happen "raznovremenno and pass it kazhdogodno forward in eleven days" [6, l. 168 about.]. It is interesting that before from all government agencies only the Muslims serving in the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting had a rest on Friday and on other Muslim holidays [2, page 240].

Interaction of the Russian laws and Muslim traditions is the brightest happened in the field of the family and marriage relations and inheritance. These questions long time were in competence of Muslim clergy. However after establishment of the Kazan Tatar town hall the Tatars had an opportunity at the same time to regulate the conflicts by means of the Russian legislation or Sharia. Some of residents of the Tatar settlements give to an application town hall with a request to solve their cases on "the mukhometansky law", e.g.: [8, l. 2 about.]. From a town hall such affairs went to a meeting of mullahs of the Tatar settlements where they understood according to Sharia. Most likely, in representation of Muslims it gave to business big legitimacy both from authorities, and from Muslim traditions. In certain cases the defendant refused to investigate business on Sharia when understood that the decision will be obvious not in its advantage. Lawsuits with participation of the Tatar women who could choose for themselves the most acceptable option of legal proceedings [15] are especially indicative.

As a result there was an interesting collision when the applicant and the defendant could choose what court it is more favorable to it to solve the conflict. The same situation developed also in the field of the law of succession. Gradually the stream of such affairs increased that forced the provincial authorities to forbid the Kazan Tatar town hall to interpose in the matter concerning the Islamic law [7, l. 2]. The important role in it was played also by opening of the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual meeting in 1788 which applied for hegemony in spiritual life of Muslims.

Should tell

that creation and activity of the Kazan Tatar town hall was a significant step in legal integration of Tatars into space of the Russian Empire. Besides that thanks to its activity to the middle of the 19th century more than a half of representatives of the Tatar merchant families had experience in different positions and performance of duties in public service, at the same time in practice there was a search of mechanisms of interaction of two, originally antagonistic, legal systems - the Russian legislation and Sharia. It is interesting that only the string of concessions from that and other party was led to their joint coexistence on one legal space.


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7. HA PT. T. 22. Op. 2. 636. Business on the proposal of the governor general prince Meshchersky.
8. HA PT. T. 22. Op. 2. 213. Business on a donosheniye of the Kazan widow Tatar Ayshy Ermakova.
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11. Letter of book of P.S. Meshchersky of kN. To A.A. Vyazemsky//IOAIE at KGU. Kazan, 1908. T. XVIII. Issue 4-6.
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13. PSZ-1. T. 22. No. 16710.
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15. Habibullinaa. The Tatar woman and her laws of succession at the end of XVIII - the beginning of the 19th century (according to archive materials of fund of the Kazan Tatar town hall)//Gasyrlar of an avaza is centuries. 2007. No. 1.

List of reductions

HA PT - National archive of the Republic of Tatarstan.

PSZ - Complete collection of laws of the Russian Empire.

Mathias Georg
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