For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central by Robert D. Crews

By Robert D. Crews

N stark distinction to the preferred "clash of civilizations" idea that sees Islam unavoidably in clash with the West, Robert D. Crews unearths the extraordinary ways that Russia developed an empire with wide Muslim aid. For Prophet and Tsar finds the interesting dating among an empire and its topics. As the US and Western Europe debate how top to safe the allegiances in their Muslim populations, Crews deals a special and significant old vantage aspect.

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24 Official concern with consistency and uniformity aided particular Muslim actors who argued for a certain vision of orthodoxy based on a narrow selection of Hanafi legal texts. But state backing for the “letter of the law” could also work against Muslims, as when the state seized land held ostensibly in violation of the shari‘a. These interactions placed religious authority—and the state-building processes to which it was linked—in flux. The terms of such contests for influence were not infinitely malleable.

The terms of such contests for influence were not infinitely malleable. Like “customary law” in colonial African societies, the elements of Islamic law that received state backing were likely to be those advanced by parties who presented themselves as the most authoritative arbiters of tradition and whose claims overlapped with the interests and expectations of the tsarist regime. Many of these Islamic legal texts accommodated the possibility of multiple outcomes to legal contests, including citations to authorities justifying a range of positions on a given legal issue.

Moreover, the tsarist government encountered a fundamental dilemma about linking the presumed usefulness of Islam to the practice of ruling the empire. Unlike the Protestants and Catholics—but similar to the Jews—of the western borderlands, the Muslims in the east had no preexisting church structures to incorporate into the bureaucracy in St. Petersburg. In a polity in which even the dominant faith had been subordinated to secular oversight since Peter, a faith f o r p r o p h e t a n d t s a r 50 without hierarchical organization was unthinkable.

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