Friday, January 7, 2022

Daghestani Muftiate Again Officially Part of Coordinating Center for Muslims of North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 17 – The Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Daghestan has announced that it has restored its membership in the Coordinating Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus, an action which because of the size of the Islamic community in that republic gives renewed wait to the KTsMSK at the all-Russian level (

            Daghestan is far and away the most Muslim region of the Russian Federation, with more mosques, more hajis, and more religious centers than any other. Indeed, its numbers dwarf those of the other Muslim republics in the North Caucasus. As a result, its decision to withdraw from the KTsMSK in 2017 after 19 years of membership seriously compromised that group.

            In the first instance, it means that the more conservative Muslims of the North Caucasus lost influence in the debates about the future of Islam in Russia because without Daghestan, the KTsMSK simply did not have the numbers for it to stand up to the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Ufa, the Council of Muftis of Russia in Moscow or other groups.

            That has allowed these more modernist and liberal Muslim groups to dominate this discourse and led many to conclude that it will be out of the struggle among them that a new super-MSD will emerge in Russia, something officials in the Kremlin would like to see in order to improve their control over the fractious Muslim faithful.

            But with the return of the Daghestani MSD to the KTsMSK and thus the return of that newly reunited body to the fray, questions concerning the unification of the Muslims of the Russian Federation will again become not just a bureaucratic issue but a highly ideologized one, with the conservatives from the North Caucasus playing a larger role and possibly even a veto.

            That is because, as experts take as common ground, the Muslims of the North Caucasus in general and in Daghestan in particular are vastly more conservative than followers of Islam elsewhere in Russia and thus far less willing to follow the dictates of Moscow on any issue, including organizational ones.


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