Staunton, January 22 – The Soviet government did everything it could to extirpate the legacy of the Islamic modernists of Tatarstan who wrote most of their works in the late 19th and early 20th century in Arabic script, viewing such people as its chief ideological competitors in the Muslim world.
Moscow changed the alphabet of Tatar from Arabic to Latin and then Cyrillic script to cut the Tatars off from this remarkable past. It executed the followers of this trend. It destroyed as many copies of their works as it could and made the possession of copies of their works a criminal offense.
But it was almost singlehandedly defeated in this effort by Zainap Maksudova (1897-1980), a Russian-language teacher in Kazan’s only Tatar school in the 1930s and 1940s who was the child of prominent Tatar reformers and who surreptitiously collected and saved the Arabic-script texts of the jadids.
She is not unknown among specialists on Tatarstan and the jadids. (See, for example, Alfrid Bustanov’s “Muslim Literature in the Atheist State: Zainap Maksudova between Soviet Modernity and Tradition,” Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 9 (2018): 1-31 at academia.edu/36578312/Muslim_Literature_in_the_Atheist_State_Zainap_Maksudova_between_Soviet_Modernity_and_Tradition.)
But she and her collection deserve to be better known, not only because of the role she played in keeping the jaded tradition alive but also because of the window her life and career provides into the small but remarkable cohort of people who did the same thing for other intellectual and political trends the Soviets thought they could stamp out.
That is now possible thanks to a new book by Bustanov, The Library of Zainap Maksudova (in Tatar, Kazan, 2019) that has just been presented in the capital of Tatarstan (dspace.kpfu.ru/xmlui/handle/net/111113, rt-online.ru/podvig-uchitelnitsy/ and business-gazeta.ru/article/454818