Staunton, September 2 – Most Russians think of Tajiks as one of the Central Asian peoples who came to Russia only recently, who work in construction, and who are often in conflict with other Central Asian nations with representatives there. But that picture is wrong or at least seriously incomplete, Vladislav Kokoulin says.
In the course of an interview with Tayga.Info, the editor of the Sibirsky Arkhiv says Tajiks have been part of Siberian life for centuries, that they have worked hard to maintain their cultural, linguistic, and historical traditions and that their relationship with Islam and other Central Asian peoples is very different than many imagine (tayga.info/170581 reposted at gumilev-center.ru/doktor-istoricheskikh-nauk-o-tadzhikakh-v-sibiri-stroiteli-prodavcy-i-vrachi/).
His observations about the relationship of Tajiks in Siberia to Islam are especially significant. Kokoulin writes that “Tajiks are Sunni Muslims. That is, they belong to the same school as the Tatars,” but in Siberia, Muslims of all nationalities and all schools assemble together in mosques there.
Consequently, “when people say that this or that mosque is a Tatar, Kazakh or Tajik one, they are calling attention only to local urban characteristics.” Muslims in Siberian cities choose this or that mosque either because it is closer to where they live or because of the mullah or imam who heads it.
“For example,” the historian says, “in Tomsk there are two mosques, the Red and the White which are located not far from one another. But the Red mosque has been headed for several years by Nizamutdin Zhumayev who came there from Tajikistan, while the White mosque is headed by Nurulla Kolykakhunov, who came from Kyrgystan.”
Kolykakhunov gives his homilies in Kyrgyz and Russian, while Zhumayev does so almost exclusively in Russian. “The Uzbeks go where the Kyrgyz go while the Tatars go to both mosques, the White by tradition and the Red because Zhumayev tries to read the services not only in Russian but in Tatar.”
“In principle,” Kokoulin says, what happens elsewhere is similar. “In Novosibirsk or Omsk, where the local mosques are headed by Tatars, the Tajiks choose the mosque they attend on the basis of convenience and location. Religious differences do not a role,” he stresses in conclusion.