In this issue, we address the subject of Islam.
Since 9.11 it has become a dominant theme at the
global level in political and media discourse. The
quality of the discourse, however, is far from being
unbiased or profound. While avoiding a theological
perspective, we aimed to collect diverse viewpoints
that would help us better understand the
nature of current political and cultural processes
that involve or counter Islam. What is the nature
of the Islamic worldview? Is Islam a real threat to
world stability or a mere figure of political rhetoric?
Is there a way for both the Islamic and
Western civilizations to overcome their mutual
resentment and learn to respect opinions of those
who think differently? Is there an alternative to
the Western Eurocentrist vision of the world?
Could Islam adapt itself to modernity without
sacrificing its basic values? How should Russia’s
policy toward its own Muslim population and the
outer Muslim world be shaped?

In the foreword, Vitaly Kurennoi explains the
specificity of the issue and suggests a guide to it.
Dealing with the subject turned out to be far more
complicated than expected. Although Russia has
a developed Orientalist tradition, it is mainly
focused on the achievements of the Islamic culture,
whereas domestic research of Islam in various
fields of social science has not yet taken shape.
Besides, there are some things in Islam that tend
to escape the attention of Western researchers;
thus the issue appears not as a structured picture
but rather as a “mosaic.”

Is there anything amiss in today’s Islamic
world? Although no one could agree with defining
Islam as a “religion of hatred and hostility,” the
fact cannot be ignored that most of the international
terrorist acts have been committed by
Muslims who justified them as a means of defending
Islam. Georgiy Mirsky endeavors to correlate
Islamic civilization, Islamic politics, and terrorism.
First of all, according to Mirsky, today’s
Muslim spiritual leaders are to blame. They failed
to avert the growth within the body of their religion
of a malignant tumor that is now threatening
the future of the great Islamic civilization.

Yuri Tikhonravov questions whether Islam
and modern civilization are incompatible and to
what extent they can influence each other.
Although Islamic doctrine does not contain anything
that would impede the formation of a liberal
version of the religion, it is the authoritarian
version of it that prevails. This version of Islam is
the cause of existing conflicts. Tikhonravov
deplores the incapability of today’s Islam to fit the
new tendencies of modern religious thinking,
including theistic one. He sees the reason of this
incapability “not in the Muslim religion as such
but in the culture of nations professing the religion.
”Tikhonravov suggests the ways of “painless
integration” of Islam into the post-Modern civilization.

Alexander Ignatenko examines the phenomenon
of propagation of Islamic religious and political
groups and organizations that began in the second
half of the 20th century. Ignatenko views the
phenomenon in a wide cultural and historical context.
He argues that the Eurocentrist approach
should be rejected for the sake of the “neoclassical”
analytical method epitomized by qutub almaqaalat,
the classical Islamic doxographies, or
articulations of opinions that have served as foundations
of the sectarian split. This is the only true
perspective for adequate understanding of processes
going on in the contemporary Muslim world.

Alexey Malashenko examines the problem of
radical Islam that has become so critical at the
turn of the century. Islam generates various radical
movements as “side effects” of interpreting the
Quran. Modernism and fundamentalism are the
limits of this variety. Between them lies a large
range of political movements; the extreme tendencies
overlap and supplement each other. The
Western world will have to deal with each of them.
Globalization, which on the one hand will stimulate
the process of reforming Islamic ideology, will
promote the constant emergence of reactive backward
movements on the other. The radicals, however
small in numbers they may be, are an active
and influential force in Muslim society. To deal
with them in terms of fight to the death would be
neither not too clever nor too safe. The earlier the
Western alliance finds an acceptable mode of
interacting with Islam, the more human lives it
will save.

Russian Minister for Ethnic Policy Vladimir
tells of peculiarities of Russian Islam in his
interview to an OZ correspondent. The mentality
of Russian Muslims who live in a multi-confessional
country is different from that of entirely
Muslim countries. The confessional diversity of
Russia generates substantial problems only when
the authorities neglect or lack adequate knowledge
of religion. Passing a new law of Church-
State relations is expected to ease the situation.

For the first time in the last decade, accurate
sociological polls have been conducted in
Chechnya. Professor of the Higher School of
Economics Sergey Khaikin who performed the
study in his interview with Vitaly Kurennoi asserts
that despite the great role Shariat plays in the
Chechen society, it is far from being commonly
accepted. Despite all the recent changes, Chechens
remain typical “Soviet” people. Regardless of tradition,
they take independent decisions on many
issues. According to polls, the majority of Chechens
think that Chechnya must stay a part of Russia.
However, it must enjoy a wider autonomy compared
to other subjects of the Federation. Islamic
principles could play a constructive and consolidating
role in the internal Chechen dialogue.

Mikhail Roshchin tells a story of the spreading
of Islamic fundamentalism in the Northern
Caucasus starting in 1980s: from Dagestan to
Chechnya and then back to Dagestan. Roshchin
tells details of organizing a raid of Shamil Basaev’s
and Khattab’s troops upon Dagestan in 1999 and
their attempt to reestablish an imam-ruled
Islamic state in the region.

The issue of Islamophobia and Muslims’
persecution is becoming an increasingly noticeable
component of the domestic political discourse.
Alexey Krymin and Georgiy Engelgardt
assert that even despite the absence of actual discrimination,
the “counter-Islamophobic” campaign
is used as an effective political technology of
advancing the interests of Muslim communities
and their leaders in Russia. It helps them to consolidate
and gain prestige of Islamic organizations
in non-Islamic political and social realms.
Russian muftis, who professionally use modern
social technologies, are highly competitive compared
to state machinery, and are very much
aware of that. Quite naturally, they strive to
increase their political weight and their influence
at both regional and federal levels.
Another article by Mikhail Roshchin traces
the development in Dagestan of one of the moderate
Sufi Islam versions. Roshchin views this
Islamic branch as a healthy alternative both to the
official “state” Islam and radical Islamic fundamentalism.
Much of the data found in both
Roshchin’s primary-source articles are important
documents collected by the author in his interviews
with characters of his stories.

Nikolai Mitrokhin postulates that friendly
relations between the Russian Orthodox Church
and Russian Muslims are an incontestable fact.
However, things do not go as smoothly as clergy
on both sides assert. Mitrokhin analyzes the current
situation in various regions of the Russian
Federation and in neighboring countries and aims
to draw a more complicated and realistic picture.

In his interview with OZ, chairman of the
Council of Russian muftis, Mufti Sheikh Ravil
explains the Russian Islam standpoint
on vital social, cultural, and political issues. The
Islamic revival has been a part of the general religious
resurgence in the former Soviet republics.
Russian Muslims today want to build a new relationship
with the state based not on involvement
of Islam in politics but on social partnership.
Gainutdin warns against the anti-Muslim bias of
some officials: Islam does not uphold but rather
opposes terrorism. He speaks of modernization of
Islam, establishing Shariat in the Northern
Caucasus, relations with the Russian Orthodox
Church, Russia’s prospective joining OIC, and
other vital issues.

Svetlana Chervonnaya reviews the history of
Russian pan-Turkism that emerged in 1880s as
a liberal cultural movement of Tatar intelligentsia
and to a great extent due to the social and scientific
work of the prominent Crimean Tatar
enlightener Ismail Gasprinsky. Chervonnaya concludes
that pan-Turkist ideology may become
a cornerstone of a new Russian State organization.
It could be of indispensable use for the
Russian people, democratic movements, and progressive
forces of other nations. This could only be
possible if pan-Turkism became an open, tolerant,
and humanistic system oriented to the values
of international peace and based on the foundation
of liberal Turkism laid by its originator.

Yaroslava Zabello, Igor Alexeev, Sergey
and Alexander Sobyanin argue for
Eurasian politics as the only political ideology
suitable for economic and political integration of
the post-Soviet country. (The ideology, however,
remains merely a product of cultural propaganda
that suggests convergence of Russians and
Muslims.) The authors list particular political and
economic steps that should be taken to aid
Russia’s “third advancement into Central Asia.”

Sergey Lunev examines the problem of
Russia’s relationship with the Muslim world in
general, and above all, with the former Muslim
Soviet republics. What Russia should be guided by
in the new geopolitical situation? Lunev supposes
that Russia must not play by the rules of the
“developed countries” that pursue their selfish
interests. Contrariwise, it is rather important for
Russia to normalize its relationships with the
Muslim world while strongly resisting Muslim
extremism and radicalism inside Russia and
around its borders.

Pyotr Kusliy juxtaposes existing knowledge of
the Medieval Shiah (Shiite) Assassins movement
whose members were the first to use terror as
a massive and routine political practice with actual
activities of their successors Ismailites headed
by Aga Khan IV, leader of one of the largest charitable

Diplomat Veniamin Popov explains motives of
Russia’s intention to join the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) proposed by Vladimir
Putin. Popov argues that in today’s multifaceted
world where extremists of all sorts strive to draw
Russia into the so-called clash of the civilizations,
it becomes one of Russia’s priorities to confront
the polarization of the world on the grounds of
religion. Russia is a great Eurasian power that is
experienced in maintaining dialogue with different
ethnic and confessional entities and can
indeed play a historical role in this respect.

Elena Suponina weighs perspectives of
Russia’s joining the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) proposed by President
Vladimir Putin. According to Suponina, OIC has
long become a hollow institution. Interests of
Russian Muslims could be represented by a special
organization. Joining the forum will neither
help protect Christian minorities living the
Muslim countries nor attract investments from
rich Arab nations. Muslim countries give a priority
to building relationships with the Americans,
even if they feel a lack of affinity, so Putins’s
pledge is merely a pre-election move.

Alexey Malashenko points at the two opposing
versions of Islam in Russia. The Tatar version
that is spread throughout the Russian territory
save for North Caucasus is relatively apolitical.
The North-Caucasian version is politicized; it
became a tool in both reaching internal regional
goals and confronting the Federal authorities.

Vladimir Volkov argues that Islamic radicalism
is not a religious but rather a political movement:
it aims not to reform religion itself but to
change the role of religion in society while confronting
dominant social, cultural, and political
norms. Volkov asserts that the Islamic revival in
the former Soviet Union has been a part of a larger
religious boom that resulted from the country’s

Alex Alexiev aims to demonstrate that the
spiritual and proselytizing organization of
Tablighi Jamaat (Teaching Societies) have long
been used as a cover for training of terrorists.

Igor Dobaev of Rostov State University states
that in the Northern Caucuses Islam is used as
ideological and organizational tool to promote
absolutely non-Islamic forces, namely separatist,
nationalist, and criminal structures. Dobaev lists
measures that he thinks are necessary to take to
block the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism
in the region.

We present a synopsis of Graham E. Fuller’s
The Future of Political Islam. Fuller examines the
phenomenon of political Islam and main tendencies
of its development. Islamism is a religious,
cultural, and political setting of politically
engaged Muslims. It is the most dynamic political
force in the contemporary Islamic world. Muslim
elites with their Western education do not have
any significant influence on people. Today Islamic
movements are the main actors of executing
reforming programs. They participate in building
the civil society in their countries, and they do it
more actively than other parties.

We present excerpts from Modernist and
Fundamentalist Debates in Islam: A Reader edited
by Mansoor Moaddel and Kamran Talattof.

In the fragment from Islam and the
Fundamentals of Authority by Ali Abd al-Raziq, the
author argues that no form of government including
Caliphate follows from the basic principles of
Islam and is commanded by Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet founded a new creed, not a new state.

Another fragment is from the article by
Sayyid Qutb, one of spiritual leaders of the modern
radical Islam. Along with other Islamic
notions, Qutb sets forth his interpretation of jihad
and its necessity.

In the fragment from Khumeini [Khomeini]
Speaks Revolution, Imam Ruhullah Khomeini
explains the nature and properties of the Islamic
state. It is neither a dictatorial nor a parliamentary
or presidential form of government since the state
imposes upon other people not rules made by men
but the Will of Allah. Khomeini names the qualifications
of the Islamic head of state.

To really appreciate the spirit and nature of
the Islamic ideology, one has to understand that
Islam is not a “jumble of unrelated ideas and incoherent
modes of conduct” but a coherent system
where all the major canons and rules of conduct
are all logically derived from its basic principles.
We introduce a fragment from Political Theory of
Islam by Sayyid [Sayed] Abul A’la Maududi.

Sharif and Rustam Shukurov assume that creativity
understood as a perpetual readiness to
transform itself and the outer world, as transcending
itself is a basic feature of true Islam. Russia
lacks such brilliant centers of Islamic cultures as
Bukhara, Samarkand, Isphakhan, Damask,
Baghdad, Cairo, or Cordova. The country never
possessed multi-confessional urban space that is
essential for the birth and maturing of authentic
Islam. Central regions of Russia and Northern
Caucasus that adopted basics of Islamic faith
throughout the medieval period did not have
enough time to build an independent urban culture
that could be compared with that of the cities
of the Near East, Middle Asia, Iran, Turkey, India,
Pakistan, and even Indonesia and Malaysia. The
Russian “steppe” version of Islam is far from being
perfect. Both Russia and Russian Islam could
recover only if they included themselves into the
Mediterranean universe that presents a sort of cultural
and geographic unity that is branded by the
authors as an “Alexandrian space” (ad memoriam
Alexander the Great who amalgamated Europe
and Asia in Hellenism).

Rafael Khakimov argues on the ways of Islam
development. He explains a notion of ijtihad as critical thinking as a necessary condition of contemporary
interpretation of Quran. In ijtihad,
a man upholding truth is worth a community,
according to Tatar theologian of 19th century
Gabdennasyr Kursavi. Speaking of distortions in
interpreting khadiths, Khakimov argues that some
of harsh Quran commandments were historically
determined. Whereas jihad by the sword was
understandable in the Middle Ages when Islam
had to defend itself against adversaries, in the
times of arms of mass destruction Muslims must
turn to superior form of jihad – one by preaching
Quran. Russian Islamic sub-civilization is not an
inferior part of the global Muslim community. It
rather forms a successful European model of
Islam that can survive in its unique historical situation
and maintain peace with other cultures.
Khakimov warns against islamophobia that
became popular after 9/11 that is capable of splitting
the world. He argues for new values that
should be neither purely liberal nor traditionally

In the introduction to Islam and Modernity:
Muslim Intellectuals Respond, Derek Hopwood
gives a brief definition of modernity as a phenomenon
of European consciousness that manifests
itself in constant search for innovation. Hopwood
describes intricate ways by which the culture of
social modernization makes its way into the
Muslim Orient.

Sayyid Ahmad Khan who represents the modernist
Islamic school opposes those who fear competition
of ideas and seek to limit freedom of
opinion validating it by the so-called “judgment
of majority” or “common good.”

Andrey Zhuravlev analyzes traits of the functioning
of Islamic banks. Understandably, economics,
just as physics, cannot be Muslim,
Christian, Judaic, or Buddhist. The author understands
the term “Islamic economy” as a standard
economic system that differs from any other in
only one way: it must follow a religious commandment
to use moral principles as a necessary
premise of the system stability. In practice it
includes the use of principles of financial management
prescribed by the Shariat.

Liubov Goryaeva gives a brief outlook of
Muslim education in today’s Russia. The essay is
prefaced by a reference on the system of Muslim
education in Russian empire and its reforming
(the history of the so-called “new-method”

Russian authorities and domestic Islam have
to find a way of sound interaction, Leonid
states. Islamic political and legal
teaching should aid not extremists but democratic
society. It should help society and state consolidate.
This, however, cannot be achieved without
government’s consistent effort to cooperate both
with domestic Muslims and Muslim nations. This
is the only chance to dismantle those who use
Islamic conceptions against true values of Islam.

Vladimir Bobrovnikov overviews the history of
Shariat courts in the Northern Caucasus. First
used by the Bolsheviks for diverse political purposes,
they were then outlawed for more
than 50 years. Since the1990s, Shariat courts have
been brought back into the regional life.
Bobrovnikov discerns between true Shariat courts
that, although unrecognized by the federal
authorities, help to prevent crime in some localities,
and pseudo-Shariat establishments. The latter
are branded by terrorists and strikingly resemble
the infamous early Soviet tribunals.

Sergey Abashin opposes the argument of
legalization of some norms of Shariat in Russia
and other countries with Muslim population.
Abashin asserts that this could become a source of
numerous conflicts and lawsuits. Ultimately, the
legalization could drastically change the entire
family life and restructure many institutions in
Middle Asian society.

Alexander Ignatenko suggests a metaphor of
Mirror that draws us near understanding the mystery
of the central divergence between the Oriental
and the Western civilizations. Malashenko calls
the former fundamentally concrete and imaginative
whereas the latter is based on an abstract verbal
discourse. Madjnun and Don Quixote are both
out-of-world characters that are archetypal for
their civilizations.

Art critic Faina Balakhovskaya reviews
“Islamic Project” by the Russian pop-art group
called AES. In a series of collages, the project
authors “embellished” famous architectural sights
of the West with details of Islamic architecture such
as minarets and domes. By filling photographs of
central Western squares with Oriental bazaar
crowd, caravans, and armed mojaheddins, AES
destroys the individualistic sterility of traditional
tourist scenes. The authors had come up with their
“Orientalist” vision of the West in 1996 but it was
not much exhibited until 9/11. Now it is a staple of
numerous presentations.

Andrey Ashkerov in a biographical essay
about eminent Palestinian-American scholar
Edward Said forewords the fragment from Said’s
Orientalism that we publish. According to
Ashkerov, Said’s main achievement is explaining
Orientalism as a complex discourse of the Western
ambition to exercise power over Orient. This
orthodoxy not only supports power but also is
itself a form of power. Any particular cluster of
ideas – the Orientalist idea of Orient in this
case – is a historical phenomenon, which Said

We present an excerpt from Orientalism by
the distinguished Palestinian-American scholar of Middle East and colonialism, activist, former
president of the Modern Language Association,
literary, musical, and cultural critic, musician,
professor of English and Comparative Literature
at Columbia University Edward Said who died
this year. In this classical work Said analyzes origins
and implications of the dominant Western
comparativist approach to studying Orient and
Oriental cultures.

The Bolsheviks must have imagined themselves
adherents of a new religion. If they could
abolish the institution of death as a bourgeois prejudice,
they would be a success. In the Archeological
book review section, Olga Edelman critiques Soviet
anti-religious literature of 1920-1930s.

In this issue, we start discussing the subject of
local government. Is local government a civil right
or a civil responsibility? To what extent are people
living in the Russian Federation ready to advocate
their own interests and participate in solving local
problems? What is the right formula of working
local government that will be good for all the vast
federal territory? Simon Kordonsky, Irina
Starodubrovskaya, Sergey Artobolevsky, Evgeny
Saburov, Sergey Maiorov,
and Vyacheslav
discuss the problem.

Common people in Russia usually do not
know the difference between the municipal and
federal state government. Now federal authorities
apparently aim to gain prestige by improving the
performance of municipal institutions, on the one
hand, and give a momentum to civil activity, on
the other. Sergei Maiorov analyzes the new bill on
the system of local self-government.

In the OZ discussion section, Valeriy G.Volkov
asserts that presented by Minister of Defense
Sergei Ivanov the so-called public version of the
Russian military doctrine is indeed an endeavor in
public outreach, and it should be appreciated
merely as an institutional openness precedent.

In the Country of OZ section, Liudmila
describes customs, morals, and traditions
of a small town of Toropets located in the
North-West of Russia. Old symbols and connotations
of the town life that used to hold it intact are
now extinct. The population flees. Nevertheless,
the author is full of optimism: Toropets has survived
a number of similar transformations.

Folklorist Kirill Maslinsky reconstructs the
appearance of the ancient Russian manor house
based on notions of a Russian peasant dwelling on
the house ruins. It appears that the image does not
differ much from the picture drawn by nostalgic
art critics and enthusiastic scholars of the Russian
manor: both conceive the manor as a bountiful
and ideally ordered cosmos in a world of chaos.