Russia occupies a unique position in the Muslim world. Unlike any other non-Islamic state, it has ruled Muslim populations for over five hundred years. Though Russia today is plagued by its unrelenting war in Chechnya, Russia's approach toward Islam once yielded stability. In stark contrast to the popular "clash of civilizations" theory that sees Islam inevitably in conflict with the West, Robert D. Crews reveals the remarkable ways in which Russia constructed an empire with broad Muslim support.
In the eighteenth century, Catherine the Great inaugurated a policy of religious toleration that made Islam an essential pillar of Orthodox Russia. For ensuing generations, tsars and their police forces supported official Muslim authorities willing to submit to imperial directions in exchange for defense against brands of Islam they deemed heretical and destabilizing. As a result, Russian officials assumed the powerful but often awkward role of arbitrator in disputes between Muslims. And just as the state became a presence in the local mosque, Muslims became inextricably integrated into the empire and shaped tsarist will in Muslim communities stretching from the Volga River to Central Asia.
For Prophet and Tsar draws on police and court records, and Muslim petitions, denunciations, and clerical writings--not accessible prior to 1991--to unearth the fascinating relationship between an empire and its subjects. As America and Western Europe debate how best to secure the allegiances of their Muslim populations, Crews offers a unique and critical historical vantage point.
Robert D. Crews is Associate Professor of History at Stanford University.
Table of Contents
Note on Transliteration and Spelling
1. A Church for Islam
2. The State in the Mosque
3. An Imperial Family
4. Nomads into Muslims
5. Civilizing Turkestan
6. Heretics, Citizens, and Revolutionaries
What People are Saying About This
Beautifully written and meticulously researched, For Prophet and Tsar casts relations between the imperial state and its Muslim subjects in an important new light. Crews demonstrates how the Russian imperial state established an important site of accommodation and mutual interest between the Muslim communities and state power. Remarkable for its chronological and geographic breadth, this book is an impressive achievement representing a major contribution to the field.
Muhammad Qasim Zaman
This book illuminates as never before how Tsarist policies fostered structures of Islamic religious authority that came to occupy a critical position not only in the imperial administration but also in the Muslims' own, evolving, understandings of Islam. It brilliantly demonstrates how ordinary Muslim men and women competed with the religious elite in shaping particular interpretations of Islam. This is a work of great comparative interest for the study of Islam, politics, and religious authority in the modern world. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, author of The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change
Beautifully written and meticulously researched, For Prophet and Tsar casts relations between the imperial state and its Muslim subjects in an important new light. Crews demonstrates how the Russian imperial state established an important site of accommodation and mutual interest between the Muslim communities and state power. Remarkable for its chronological and geographic breadth, this book is an impressive achievement representing a major contribution to the field. Peter Holquist, author of Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921
Lucidly written and deeply researched, this is a revelatory analysis of how the Tsarist state sought to rule its Muslim subjects. An invaluable resource for anyone interested in comparative empires, this book speaks directly to the imperial politics of religion as well as contemporary debates about how governments try to manage confessional minorities. Mark Mazower, author of Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950