Monday, April 27, 2020

Sufi-Salafi Cooperation in Ingushetia a Model for Bashkortostan, Gabbasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 26 – The ability of Sufi and Salafi Muslims, two trends within Islam often in conflict, to come together in Ingushetia to protest against the illegal deal that cost that republic 10 percent of its territory is a model for other Muslim republics in the Russian Federation, Ruslan Gabbasov says.

            Gabbasov, a leader of the Bashkort national movement, says that “in all the Muslim republics in recent decade, the struggle between the Sufis and Salafis has intensified.” That is especially true in his native Bashkortostan, and the conflict there is increasingly giving cause for alarm (

                Half of Bashkortostan’s population is Muslim, the leaders of the two trends in the republic are Bashkirs, and consequently, the conflict is “taking place within the Bashkir people,” the nationalist leader says. “Radicalism on both sides is fraught with tragic consequences and must not be allowed to develop.” Otherwise differences within Islam will be a national tragedy.

            In Daghestan eight years ago and in Ingushetia over the last two years, the two trends have recognized this danger and subordinated their disagreements on theology in order to protect their nations. The case of Ingushetia is especially instructive. To defend their republic’s territory, the Sufis and the Salafis “united on a common nationality issue.”

            The same thing should happen in Bashkortostan because the republic faces challenges to its sovereignty and titular nationality that can only be solved by unity. Both Sufis and Salafis are Muslims; but in Bashkortostan, they need to recognize that they are Bashkirs first, Gabbasov argues.

           What makes his argument intriguing is that it is a rare example from the Middle Volga where the Muslim nations there -- the Tatars and the Bashkirs -- tend to view themselves as models for the Muslim nations in the North Caucasus, not the other way around.  And it is also interesting because it suggests a Muslim nation in the North Caucasus can be a model of unity rather than division.

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