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ChechnyaLife in a War-Torn Society$
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Valery Tishkov

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238879

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238879.001.0001

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Religion and the Chechen Conflict

Religion and the Chechen Conflict

(p.164) Eleven Religion and the Chechen Conflict

Valery Tishkov

University of California Press

This chapter explores the impact of religion on the Chechen conflict. Historically, Islam tended to take moderate forms in Chechnya. Leading experts on Islam in the North Caucasus recognize that before the formation of Shamil's imamate in the middle of the nineteenth century, the 'adat system of social norms based on local customs, mainly of non-Islamic origin, reigned in Dagestan and Chechnya. In the Soviet period, Chechnya was subjected to a considerable amount of anti-religious propaganda and the Soviet bureaucracy spent much time dismantling old customs that it believed hampered social and economic progress. Liberalization under Gorbachev after the mid-1980s altered religious contexts. There was now greater freedom for clerical activities, including hajj (pilgrimages to Mecca), openly preaching Islam, and the publishing of religious texts. The mass revival of Islam in the period of conflict can be seen as a search for God in circumstances so extraordinary as to place one's life beyond one's own control.

Keywords:   Chechen conflict, Shamil's imamate, 'adat system, Soviet bureaucracy, hajj, Dagestan

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