Saturday, March 27, 2021

Islam and Customary Law Again More Important for Ingush than Russian Law

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 25 – “The behavior of an Ingush in society is regulated at one and the same time by three systems of value: Islam, adat [customary law] and legislation of the Russian Federation,” Tanzila Dzaurova says. And what is striking is that for members of this nation, the importance of these three is “precisely in that order.”

            Thus, Islam now is more important than adat and both of them are more important that Russian laws in determining how an Ingush will behave, the Eto Kavkaz journalist says. When there are conflicts, Islam and adat take precedence and determine how an Ingush views Russian law and its application (

            Re-Islamization in the Caucasus has received a great deal of attention in recent years, she continues; but the role of adat has not, in large part not just because it is unique to each of the nations in that region but also because it has long been part of the mental maps of the peoples there and is not seen as some kind of external influence.

            What is true, however, is that Ingush feel compelled to pursue “balance” among the three, seeking to meet the demands of each. Sometimes that leads to modifications in the three systems, and sometimes it means that Ingush obey Russian law first but then take steps after doing so to follow adat and Islam.

            Among the most prominent provisions of adat are rules governing blood feuds, hospitality, respect for the elderly, and marriage customs. The possibility of blood feuds is intended to limit violence in the society because anyone who attacks another knows in advance that he and his relatives will be drawn into a cycle of violence.

            Hospitality is highly valued, so highly that those who have guests will neglect other things to make them comfortable. Related to this, Dzaurova says, is the Ingush commitment to building. Members of this nationality will sacrifice almost everything else in order to have a residence large enough to entertain people.

            Both in the past and now, Ingush will not willingly give up a guest to the civil authorities. That saved the Chechen Abrek Zelimkhan and the Bolshevik activist Sergo Ordzhonikidze in the early years of the 20th century. It has made it difficult for Russian police to arrest Ingush they seek for participation in protests.

            Respect for the elderly is an absolute inculcated in Ingush children from the earliest years. And respect for teip boundaries is as well. Adat precludes marriages within the same teip, and this provision extends back generations. Consequently, every Ingush knows at least his seven direct male ancestors so as not to violate that rule.

            Other adat rules about married life and children are also important, but what is most significant now, Dzaurova suggests, is that adat, along with Islam, is becoming ever more important as a guide to life just as Russian law, viewed as external and imposed against the will of the Ingush, is becoming less so.

            Meanwhile, there were two other reports concerning Ingushetia and its protests against repression today. In the first, a group of activists in St. Petersburg organized individual pickets in support of the Ingush Seven, yet another example of how the situation in Ingushetia is attracting ever broader attention (

            And in the second, Ruslan Mutsolgov, head of the Ingush section of the Yabloko Party, says that repression in Ingushetia continues unabated, affecting ever more residents of the republic and leading them to conclude that still more detentions and arrests will occur in the future (

            Over the last two years, he notes, “more than 300” Ingush have been subjected to administrative punishment, some 40 NGOs and businesses have been subject to various kinds of pressure. “Dozens of people have been fired from their jobs. “About 60” have been criminally charged, and “more than 30” have already been convicted and served time.


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