23 April 2003, 13:48

Mansur

Mansur, Sheikh Ucherman, or Ushurma (most grounded dates of life: 1760 - 1794), Sufi preacher, imam, leader of national liberation movement of the Northern Caucasian highlanders of 1785-1791. Chechen, originated from the patronymy (teip in Chechen, derived from Arabic taifa - group, community) of Elistanzhkhoy; born in the village of Aldy. His father's name was Shebesse (Shabaz); two of Mansur's brothers, according to some data, were with him at the moment of his arrest; had a wife and three children.

According to a tradition, Mansur received clerical education in Dagestan; his teacher was one of the most competent murshids, probably of Nakshbandi fraternity - tarik, his name has not been established. According to Mansur's own words, the clergymen approved of his teaching and named him a sheikh in 1783. Speaker's talent, strict asceticism, observance of Sufi practice of "seclusion" (khalva), and stately appearance brought wide fame and authority to Mansur. He was gifted with the miracle-working (karama), had his own banner and multiple "doubles" of his. In the preaching of 1785, Mansur denounced "those persistent in ignorance", vices, and blood feud, and advocated for the unification of all Muslims. Under the influence of his preaching, according to some sources, even the elderly people committed circumcision. The sheikh's personality and his activities directed at the unification of Caucasian peoples basing on Shariate, played an important role in the spreading of Islam in the region.

The second half of the 18th century was characterized with dynamic socioeconomic processes inside the Chechen society, as well as with the increase of military and political activeness of Russian Empire in the Caucasian region with its interests conflicting with those of Turkey, Iran, and Western European countries. Repeated orders to arrest Mansur came from the Tsarist authorities. In July 1785, his house and the entire settlement of Aldy were burnt by the detachments under colonel Pieri's command, but these troops were defeated on their way back by joint forces of Aldy residents and their neighbors. This event was perceived by the highlanders as a sign of Allah's special benevolence for Mansur: since this moment, he became a powerful political figure as well. In July 1787, after some military defeats, the imam accompanied by several thousands of men moved across the Kuban, and after defeats at the Urup and the Laba rivers moved to Anapa accompanied by four men, where he stayed until it was captured by the Russian troops on June 22, 1791, continuing to appeal the Caucasians for the united attack; visited Chechnya in summer and fall of 1790. Sheikh's spiritual authority was so strong that, according to some testimonials, his presence during a siege could substitute a thousand warriors. Was arrested on July 6, 1791, and brought to St. Petersburg. His further destiny is lost in controversial biographies. According to some, the imam was sent to Solovki monastery; according to other, by Catherine the Second's decree of October 15, 1791, he was imprisoned in Schlisselburg fortress for "endless stay", where he got ill in February 1794, died in April, and was buried without a proper ritual.

Among Mansur's closest fellows were brothers Umar-hajji (senior advisor, keeper of the correspondence) and Usman-hajji, Butyk-hajji, mullahs Nagay-Murza-hajji, Bikultan-hajji, Khambe-hajji, Muhammad-hajji, military advisors Ali-Sultan Chepalov-Murtazali (a Kumyk from the settlement of Enderi) and Kabardin Duke Dol. It is known that the sheikh called Yusup from the village of Shali his spiritual heir.

Imam Shamil considered Mansur his predecessor and teacher. His image was so bright that interest for his personality did not disappear in Europe, which is confirmed by a version of Italian origin and legendary deeds of the sheikh, which received wide resonance in 1880s. There are lots of legends about Mansur circulating among the highlanders; he is a national hero, and some Makhdi concepts are associated with him.

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