22 May 2003, 18:48

Beliefs of the Ando-Tsez peoples

The Ando-Tsez peoples belong to sunnit Islam of Shafiit kind. Christianity penetrated before Islam in the 4-5th centuries from the territory of the neighboring Georgia and the Caucasus Albania. Islam affirmed in the 15-16th century, in some groups - by the 17-18th centuries. Ando-Tsezs actively participated in the movement of Shamil. Many important activists of imamat were Ando-Tsezs as well as many Dagestan alims. In 1850-60-ies the ideas of the sufi brotherhood kadiria preached by Kunta-Haji penetrated the Ando-Tsez peoples.

The anti-religious policy of the Soviet period didn?t have much success here. In the mountain villages they kept the best traditions of Moslem literacy as well as live Islam religion. That?s why during the last decade the Ando-Tsez people experience the possibility of the open religious worshipping rather than the revival of Islam. The mosques are full every Friday, many prefer to pray there every day. They celebrate the holidays of the breaking of the Lent, Sacrifice and the birthday of the Prophet by prayers, sacrifices, giving alms (sadaka), feasts. Sufi doctrine is popular (brotherhoods nakshbandia and kadiria). Zikr is a very important Islam rite, especially among the kadirits (Ands etc.) It?s a loud (kadiria) or quiet (nakshbandia) remembrance of the name of Allah followed by certain body movements. Some elements of the pre-monotheistic beliefs have survived: they believe in magic, spirits, witches etc. Magic plays an important role during the calendar holidays. Healing practice of mullahs and alims is based on belief in spirits. During the last years vakhabism spread among the Ando-Tsez peoples, especially in the Tsuntin district of Dagestan.

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