Monday, March 14, 2022

Khasavyurt, Center of Arabic Publishing in Russia, Begins Reprinting Pre-1917 Tatar Islamic Thinkers

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 10 – A major problem for Tatars interested in their national history as a center of Islamic thought and especially its modernist variant, Jadidism, is that most of the works of the late 19th and early 20th century authors of this movement are extremely difficult to gain access to.

            Many were destroyed by the Soviets and are almost impossible to find even in major libraries. A few have been scanned and are available online, but only a handful have been republished, something that limits their accessibility and hence influence. But now that appears set to change.

            The publishing arm of the Khasavyurt University of Al-Shari Muhammadsaid Yahya ad-Dagistani, the leading center in Russia of the publication of Arabic-language and Arabic-script works like those of the pre-1917 Tatar intellectuals, has taken up this challenge by publishing Ahmadkhadi Maksudi and hopes to publish more (

            Maksudi (1868-1941) was a Tatar polymath who was associated with the Crimean Tatar enlightenment figure Ismail Gasprinsky and who published a wide range of books that made him a central figure in the intellectual flourishing of Tatarstan before the Soviet crackdown against Tatar modernism.

            In 1932, the Soviet authorities arrested him on the basis of a false accusation that he was a leader of the All-Union Socialist Fascist Party, a group that did not exist. The charges brought with them a three-year exile in Vyatka. While there he continued to write. But in 1938, he was arrested again and accused of being a Sultan-Galiyevist involved with the Idel-Ural movement.

            This time, the courts found him not guilty; and he lived until the age of 73. He is buried in the Tatar cemetery in a place of honor. The republication of his books in Daghestan will ensure that he gets more attention not only in Tatarstan but across the Muslim and especially Muslim Turkic worlds.

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