10 April 2003, 13:57

Dudalany (Dudov), Aysandyr

Dudalany (Dudov), Aysandyr (a.k.a. sheikh Abdullah Bukharachi, Abdul-Kady, Khalal, Kart-Baba, etc., b. ca. 1620 - d. ca. 1735), prominent Karachayevan religious and public figure, poet, one of the first Islam exhorter in Karachay and Balkaria. Born in the village of Khurzuk, Larger Karachay, in a family of Karachay Princes Dudovs. Married the daughter of Elbuzduk Krymshamkhalov (known, according to the Russian documents of 1639, as a mighty prince of Karachayevan Kabarda). Studied in Bukhara, hence his nicknames of Bukharachi and al-Bukhari, where he learnt the Arabic and received solid spiritual education within the Sunni tradition frame. There are grounds to suppose that he became familiar with the mysticism and became a sheikh of one of Sufi orders.

Having returned to his homeland, Aysandyr Dudalany started active preaching activities to exterminate the paganism and establish Islam in Karachay and Balkaria. His name is associated with the construction of Karachay's first mosque in the place of a pagan temple in the village of Kart-Djurt and founding the first Muslim schools where Arabic was taught. He is considered to be Karachay's, and possibly Balkaria's, first kadi. Aysandyr Dudalany (Dudov) actively participated in social and political life of the North Caucasian nations. On several occasions in late 17th - early 19th century, he mediated the peaceful settlement of conflicts between Kabarda and Karachay. In 1715, he arbitrated the land conflict between the Crimea, Kabarda, and highlander communities of Balkaria.

Aysandyr Dudalany (Dudov) was also famous as a major poet of Karachay and Balkaria of his time. His extant compositions are: highly artistic ethic and philosophic epic Kart Babany sezyu (Word of an Old Wise Man), excellent translations into Karachayevo-Balkar language of the famous medieval oriental epics Takhir and Zukhra, Nur-Muhammad, Layla and Madjnun, and others. His named is associated with the authorship of the first Karachayevan Muslim epic Iman-Islam (The Faith Is Islam), which recites the basics of the Islamic faith in an easily comprehensible language, and a popular trilogy Prophet's Birth, Prophet's Ascension, and Prophet's Death written in a form of a religious epic. The authorship of these compositions is assigned by some researchers to other famous Karachayevan and Balkar poets: Ismail Akbaev, Kyazim Mechiev, Ismail Semenov, etc.

Aysandyr Dudalany (Dudov) was the founder of a new in genre in Karachayevo-Balkar poetry: religious epic songs zikirle (derived of Arabic zikr), and their recitation is a necessary element of maulid ritual. Traditionally, a maulid (Arabic) is a holiday of the Prophet's birthday, but in the Karachayevans' ritual practice it was organized on different remarkable occasions. At the present time, the practice of maulids is fixed as a part of a post-burial ritual, principally depicting the local specifics of Islam.

Aysandyr Dudalany died in Karachay at the age of 115; there are several presumed places of his burial in the Kuban and Teberda Gorges. The presumed grave in Teberda is a place of pilgrimage (ziyarat) of the Muslims from the entire North Caucasus. A panegyric song to honor Aysandyr Dudalany (Dudov) has been maintained in the local folklore.

Aysandyr Dudalany's importance goes beyond the national frames; he was worshipped all over the North Caucasus, and the compositions written in Turkic language were popular with Turkic peoples of the Caucasus and the Volga region.

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