Relations between the state and intelligentsia on religious issues at the end of XIX – beginning of XX centuries

The article is an attempt to analyze the relations between the state and the intelligentsia in relation to religion at the turn of the XIX – beginning of XX centuries. There are defined the role and place of religion in the life of the Kazakh society, formation of the national intelligentsia and its relation to religion. Also in the article are revealed the features of the different areas of national intelligentsia in relation to the religion. Researched changes in the relations between the state and intelligentsia on religious issues at the stage of Kazakhstan accession to the Russian Empire, during the revolutionary events and the dual power in the first years of Soviet power.

With registration of the first state formations the mankind searched for tools of management and society submission. One of such tools, in due course one of central and important, the religion became become. The proof of it was formation of world religions with which help throughout many centuries the power regulated society ability to live. One of such religions is Islam which was extended among the majority of the countries of the Arabian East, in Central Asian region, including in Kazakhstan. Hence, studying of history of Kazakhstan is impossible without the reference to such problem as a place and a religion role in a life of the Kazakh society during various epoch. The given problem can be considered from different aspects. One of actual and difficult, in our opinion, is the problem of revealing of a place and a religion role in mutual relations of the state and intelligentsia.

The intelligentsia played at all times a role of spiritual defining force round which concentrated most advanced, thinking and not indifferent to destinies of the people a society part. It is quite natural that the power has been compelled to reckon with opinion of intelligentsia, to react to its performances and, as far as possible, to subordinate and exploit it.

This problem with reference to the Kazakh society can be considered from the Euroasian positions as Kazakhstan occupied and occupies the central position in the Euroasian space. On the other hand, Kazakhstan is one of the defining states in Central Asian region.

On a boundary XIX–XX-th centuries the structure of the Russian empire included extensive territories with the Muslim population: the Volgo-Ural region (with Tatars and Bashkirs), Central Asia and Kazakhstan (occupied by Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Tadjik tribes), Crimea and Caucasus (the Crimean Tatars, the numerous mountain people of the North Caucasus and Azerbaijanians). According to the All-Russia census of 1897 in the Russian empire lived 13,9 million Muslims (not including inhabitants of Bukhara and Khiva) that made 11,06 % from an aggregate number of citizens of empire [1]. It is quite natural that the Kazakh intelligentsia actively co-operated with representatives of intelligentsia of other Turk people which were a part of the Russian empire, in particular, in questions of definition of the relation to religion and its place in a life of a society.

The relation of the Kazakh intelligentsia issued on a boundary XIX–XX-th centuries, to religion questions was not always unequivocal and identical. The intelligentsia of this period, according to a number of the Kazakhstan researchers, represented non-uniform in the social and educational relation a society part. Today the point of view has affirmed as a domestic historiography that formation of the Kazakh intelligentsia went to this period in two directions: in the form of traditional, focused on the East, within the limits of Islamic culture and European, got education in average and higher educational institutions of the Russian empire and gravitating to European, Russian culture. In opinion of Japanese researcher Tomohiko Ujama,  it is possible to allocate three directions of formation of the Kazakh intelligentsia, corresponding to three civilisations to layers: a nomadic civilisation, an Islamic civilisation and Russian civilisation. Also the author comes up with idea that the Kazakh intelligentsia XIX – the beginning of the XX-th centuries has been seriously anxious by influence of Islam and the Tatar language: «They (that is representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia) very much were proud of the Kazakh language and traditions of Kazakhs and were afraid that Islamic doctrines and the Tatar culture can «profane» chastity of the Kazakh culture» [2]. In its opinion, influence panturkism and panislamism in the environment of the Kazakh intelligentsia was very weak and the purposes which they persistently pursued were expressed in the following: a survival of the Kazakh people and their peaceful co-existence with Russian and other people.

In Kazakhstan on a boundary XIX–XX-th centuries it is possible to consider as carriers of religious ideology representatives of the first direction of national intelligentsia which by this time was issued in the form of a steady social generality. It is necessary to notice such feature of the Kazakh society as non-uniform and not strongly pronounced character of religiousness of Kazakhs by then that, in our opinion, has remained and till today. As a rule, religious figures — natives of Tatars were attendants of Islam in the Kazakh steppe during this period. This situation has remained and to the XX-th century beginning when attendants of Islamic religion — mullahs, khodji, ishans, heads of mosques were, as a rule, representatives of traditional intelligentsia. In 4632 Muslim schools it was trained in 44, 8 thousand shakirds [3].

Islam wide circulation in the Kazakh environment after occurrence of Kazakhstan in structure of Russia from the XVIII-th century beginning was counteracted by the colonial authorities of the Russian empire to which presence in a colony of the strong religion was unprofitable, capable to unite round themselves the society most part. Especially religion which is distinct from those was professed by the most part of the population of the empire namely Christianity. The policy of tsarism concerning intelligentsia was based on principles of mistrust and aversion of any variants of the decision of socially significant questions for the Kazakh society, including religious. Besides colonial bodies of imperial Russia adhered to enough rigid Antiislamic position and traced any attempts of activization of activity of traditional intelligentsia.

As in the majority as already it was marked above the Kazakh population was not religious that part of intelligentsia which has traditionally been connected with departure of religious cults and service to Islam did not use a great popularity in the Kazakh society. Nevertheless, the traditional Muslim intelligentsia was organizational and is politically enough mobile and active and actively participated in a political life of Russia of beginning ХХ century having good contacts to Muslim parties of other regions of the Russian empire. The facts of carrying out of the All-Russia Muslim congresses, formation of Muslim fractions testify to it in the State Duma, for example.

Other part of intelligentsia — liberally-democratic, got the European education, skilfully used in the struggle against colonial Russia a protest spirit of religious intelligentsia. The religious question always was the focus of attention this part of intelligentsia, especially when it has actively joined in a political life of the Russian state since the XX-th century. So, according to one of bright representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia of this direction of M.Dulatov one of the conceptual systems useful for reformation of the Kazakh society, there could be Islam. He said that Kazakhs should study Islam. At the same time M.Dulatov criticised the inefficient methods of training applied by mullahs that allows to speak about influence on it djadidism. Other representative of the Kazakh intelligentsia A.Bukejhanov paid attention that Kazakhs in the basic weight were non-muslims or Semimoslems. Though A.Bukejhanov did not reject directly elements of the Kazakh culture and the social institutes based on Islam, but at the same time preferred training in Russia and to mastering Russian, and in more broad understanding the European culture [2; 254].

Speaking about mutual relation between national intelligentsia and the state, in this case the Russian empire, it is necessary to remember that the Kazakh intelligentsia constantly developed and kept in touch with representatives of intelligentsia of other Muslim people which were a part of empire. These contacts were carried out within the limits of teamwork in the State Duma of Russia where there was a Muslim fraction of deputies. The Kazakhs selected from various areas of Kazakhstan entered into it also. Working out of the bills, concerning spiritual affairs of Muslims was one of directions of activity of Muslim deputies. At  the initiative of Muslim deputies congress of representatives of Muslim public organisations which in the literature has received the name of the fourth Muslim congress on June, 15–25th, 1914 has taken place [1; 394].

At this congress the deputy S.B.Karatayev reported on position of Kazakhs. At congress «Positions the project has been developed and approved about management of spiritual affairs of Muslims of the Russian empire» in which all major aspects of functioning of spiritual establishments of Muslims — the rights and advantages of ecclesiastics, living conditions and activity comfessional educational institutions, etc. [1; 395] However the questions which have been taken out in this project have been painted, remained on a paper as their realisation was impossible without the corresponding decision on them from outside the governments of the Russian empire. Russian officials, after many years after all-round discussion and the analysis of numerous projects about management of spiritual affairs of a Muslim part of the population, including Kazakhs, recognised that they and could not find a true variant of the decision of a problem of Muslim spiritual establishments. As it seems to us, it has been connected, first, by that the Russian colonial administration basically lightly concerned problems of spiritual arrangement of the population of suburbs of empire, secondly, was not clear in the mind about the importance and importance of the decision of these questions for the Muslim population. Finally, these questions and have not been solved, as the First World War which has removed for uncertain time of a problem and needs of Muslims of Russia has begun.

The system of mutual relations of the state and the Muslim population has radically changed after February and, especially, October revolution of 1917. It is natural that the national intelligentsia should react to the new political realities which have developed in already former Russian empire. In conditions when there was a possibility of creation of the independent national state, the Kazakh intelligentsia has seriously reflected on ways and methods of the decision of this problem.

The analysis of program documents of the political parties created by national intelligentsia, materials of the congresses which were passing in the Kazakh steppe during the period between the first Russian revolution of 1905 and two revolutions of 1917, and also right after October revolution of 1917 give the chance to track, as it was supposed to deal with a religious question in case of creation of the independent state.

So, among questions which were supposed to be considered on the first Kirghiz (Kazak) congress, there was a question «about establishment myftiats in areas where the population feels requirement for muftis» [4; 13].

The opinion of the majority of representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia was stated by Zhubegen Tleubergenov which have written in magazine «Aikap»: «My opinion in an occasion (convocation kirghiz congress) this congress the following: It is necessary to collect such congress on which representatives of all the Kirghiz ….Questions could take part, subject to discussion at congress, there should be following:) an agrarian question; concerning religion (it is allocated by us); about national court; to ask to return the rights to Kirghiz for representation in State Duma» [4; 15,16].

In reports of the Kirghiz (Kazakh) congresses spent in various regions of Kazakhstan right after of February revolution, has found reflexion the decision of a religious question as one of the central and important questions for the Kazakh population. So, in decisions of the Tourist's Gajsky regional  Kirghiz congress which has taken place on April, 2–8nd, 1917 in the city of Orenburg, spiritually-religious questions have been solved as follows: «1. the church should be separated from the state. 2. Kirghiz of Tourist's Gajsky area temporarily should join to Orenburg muftiat. 3. At elections of a mufti and kazi in spiritual meeting, there should be a proportional representation from Tatars and the Kirghiz. 4. New position of the Orenburg spiritual board is developed with the assistance of representatives of the Kirghiz people … 6. The number of mosques is defined by desire of the population» [4; 27, 28].

The Ural regional Kirghiz congress solves: «Having discussed the first a question on necessity of establishment special muftiat, congress has stated a wish about expediency of establishment special muftiat for the Kirghiz; however, in a kind of that this question is subject to the permission together with Kirghiz of other areas, congress has decided: spiritual management the Kirghiz of the Ural area temporarily to attach to Orenburg muftiat. Concerning local ecclesiastic’s congress has decided that imams get out parishioners of the persons having appropriate certificates on spiritual formation« shaadatnama ». Akhyn and Kazii to select the order established at Tatars. To make a population duty that in each administrative aul was not less than one mosque. To make a duty of the parish imam conducting registers of births about a birth, death and wedding. Service life for elective imams is not defined» [4; 40].

In the subsequent the decision of a religious question has been postponed to the announcement of autonomy of Alash which have grown out of activity of political party Alash where the elite of the Kazakh intelligentsia in the name of A.Bukejhanova, A.Bajtursynova, M.Dulatova entered, etc. Aspiring to use a protest spirit of religious intelligentsia in interests of emancipating struggle, the Kazakh intelligentsia of a liberally-democratic direction which were the centre of political party Alash, at the same time considered religion as a private affair of each citizen of the state to what the program document of this wing of intelligentsia — the Alash-horde program testifies: «the Religion should be separated from the state. All should be free and equal. At the Kirghiz is separate mufti. Records of marriages, births, death rate and divorces remain with the Kirghiz mullahs» [4; 89].

In the session Report kirghiz congress in Orenburg on December, 5–13th, 1917 among other  decisions it has been written down: «In a kind of the forthcoming announcement of an autonomy of Alash, congress has decided: questions about muftiat, national court and local (aylnii) management to remove from turn at what spiritual management the Kirghiz-Cossack should remain without any change until the announcement of an autonomy and convocation of the constituent assembly of Alash where consisting at the Orenburg Mohammedan spiritual board kazi the Kirghiz-Kazakh of areas are obliged to present the project of reform the Kirghiz-Kazakh of spiritual board» [4; 75].

The Kazakh intelligentsia tried to realise these ideas and after October revolution of 1917, during creation of government Alash of the Horde in territory of Kazakhstan. However Bolsheviks have seen in it real threat and throughout 1917–1920th years have undertaken rigid concrete steps on liquidation of the most active and mobile part of the Kazakh intelligentsia, using a principle «divide and dominate»: the intelligentsia part has been subjected to repression in 20th years of the XX-th century, the part has emigrated, the part has gone on cooperation with the new power, forgot about former ideas and projects of creation of the independent Kazakh state that, however, also has not rescued it from a repressive machinery of the Bolshevist state in 30th years ХХ century.

The Kazakh intelligentsia understood that realisation of idea of creation of the independent state is impossible without support of intelligentsia of other Muslim people. Therefore throughout the first years after revolution of 1917 it actively co-operated with representatives of the Russian Muslim organisations and Turkestan. The Russian Muslims have created the independent Muslim socialist fraction taking active part in work of the Constituent assembly in 1918. It is interesting that in the decision about the state system of Russia accepted at last session of the Constituent assembly, the formulation offered by Muslim fraction has been confirmed. Not casually Chernov in the speech has noticed that «the Muslim population, huge and scattered on all cities of Russia, one of the most deprived of civil rights hitherto irrespective of, whether it occupies continuous territories or is scattered as a national minority, — can count from outside the Constituent assembly on the same recognition of the sovereign rights, as any other nationality» [5; 361]. Dispersal of the Constituent assembly by Bolsheviks in the same 1918 has put an end to hopes of the Russian Muslims to solve the national problems by creation of sovereign state formations as a part of the Russian democratic federal republic.

Creation of the Kokand autonomy in territory of Turkestan was other example of participation of national intelligentsia in a political life. At formation of the Kokand government in March, 1918 the decision on elections to parliament on the basis of proportional representation of a Muslim and not Muslim part of the population of this region was accepted. One of bright leaders of the Kokand autonomy of M.Chokaj wrote later that attempts of representatives of the Kokand government to find common language with Bolsheviks were unsuccessful as they have been adjusted to carry out a course on colonizer oppression of the Muslim population. The Kokand autonomy has been crushed, and one of the reasons was that «in Turkestani edge, with absolute prevalence of the Muslim population, necessary unity in its numbers was not because of contradictions between religious and political elite» [5].

One more attempt independently to decide destiny of the Muslim people has been undertaken by representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia in 20–30th years of the XX-th century. It has found the expression in the project of creation of the Turk state offered by T.Ryskulov and etc.

T.Ryskulov — one of active figures of the Kazakh intelligentsia in 20th year’s of ХХ century, was one of authors of creation of Turkic republic of the Muslim people of the East. Supported idea of the world revolution propagandised by leaders of a Bolshevist wing of social democracy of Russia at a stage of realisation of a socialist revolution, T.Ryskulov has suggested creating Turkic republic by association of all Turkic Muslim people. He considered that «it is impossible to release the native poor from servitude of colonists the same colonists or hands of the local authorities leaning against colonists … Turkestan should promote development of revolutionary movement among east people. In turn, revolutionary movement in the east should make deciding impact on destinies of world revolution» [6; 227, 304]; [7; 183, 185]. These ideas have been supported by representatives of intelligentsia of the Muslim people former imperial, already Bolshevist  Russia, however sounded in the mid-twenties ХХ century, they any more did not consider the changed political realities and have been categorically rejected by the Bolshevist country leaders. Moreover, they have been estimated as nationalist and antiparty, and their authors have been subjected to repression in 30th years under article «the enemy of the people». The explanation to it was that the arising Bolshevist nomenclature saw threat of the power in the name of getting stronger and gaining in strength national intelligentsia, including the Kazakh. And as to share the power the new nomenclature did not want, an optimum variant of the decision of a problem saw in physical destruction objectionable.

In existence of the Soviet state the relation to Islam as to religion and the people of the East which are practising Islam, gradually varied in a negative side. So, if in November, 1917 in circulation «To all workers to Muslims of Russia and the East» it was said that beliefs and customs, national and cultural establishments of these people appear inviolable and free in 1920 in the Declaration of the rights of workers of the Kazakh Independent Soviet Republic there is no term «Muslim» though believers still can select and be the elite in Councils. Disfranchisement bies, imams, ishans, khazrets, muftis and members of spiritual managements of Muslims in 1921 became following step. And in 1926 in official documents there is a thesis «about antiSoviet character of Muslim» [7]. From now on the relation of the power to Islam is expressed in in the politician of eradication of Islam that, however concerned and all other religions.



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  4. From the message of the chief of the Orenburg gendarme management to the assistant to Troitsk and top-Ural districts about propagation among the Kirghiz for convocation of congress of major general Babich from July, 2nd, 1913 / The Alash-horde: the Collection of documents / Composer N.Martynenko, Alma-Ata: Small publishing house «Aikap», 1992, 192
  5. Iskhakov M. Russian Muslims and revolution, Мoscow: Institute of the Russian history of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2003, P. 367.
  6. Ryskulov T. сomp. In three volumes, Vol. 1, Almaty, 1997, 336 p.
  7. Zhysypov Islam in Kazakhstan: the past, the present, future states in mutual relations and religion /
Year: 2013
City: Karaganda
Category: History