24 October 2008, 13:14

Malashenko: Chechnya experiences re-Islamization

Alexei Malashenko, expert of the Carnegie Foundation, asserts that today Chechnya is in the process of re-Islamization. In his opinion, by strengthening the Sufi branch of Islam in Chechnya and spreading the Sufi values President Ramzan Kadyrov is fighting against Salafites - his religious and political opponents, and by reviving traditional Islamic norms of behaviour, he keeps the society under control.

"In Chechnya, we witness politicization of the Sufi Islam, its Kunta-Hadji trend of the Qadiriyah branch (followers of the mid-19th century preacher Kunta-Hadji Kishiev), on which Ramzan Kadyrov is adherent," said Mr Malashenko in his interview to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

In Chechnya, about thirty Virds belong to the Qadiriyah. Except for Sufis, Chechnya has Salafites (also named as Wahhabites) - their influence is widespread, in particular, in mountainous villages, especially among the youth. In Northern Caucasus, Shiites live compactly only in one place - in Dagestan near Derbent, where a Sunnite-Shiite mosque was built, while in Chechnya their influence is not widespread, said the expert.

Mr Malashenko believes that due to Kadyrov now Chechnya experiences the second wave of Islamization. In his opinion, today the authorities of Chechnya exercise control over the Sufi Islam, which is a political tool.

The expert has added: "The religious factor is becoming an argument of Kadyrov's political fight on Salafites. He makes use of religion as a political lever to lift up his authority."

"Kadyrov tries enforcing the system of Islamic education into schools. The new Mufti has announced introduction of a quarterly Islamic seminar in the system of higher education. There were attempts to revive the Shariat education. The re-Islamization has rendered an especially great influence on the youth; they try to impart old traditional Islamic values on them," Alexei Malashenko continued. "In particular, young girls are now dressed in long skirts down to ankles and wear headscarves. There is no written decree to wear scarves so far, and still women are not let to official Republic's establishments without them".

However, in the expert's opinion, these traditional values are not everywhere accepted by the senior generation, since many representatives there are secular people born in Leningrad, Karaganda and other non-Muslim cities.

Author: Anastasia Kirilenko, CK correspondent;

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