Central Asian reform project

According to John Voll there are three primary responses to western expansion in the Muslim world.

The first he calls “adaptionist Westernizers”,the second is a militant reaction, wheras the third response involves a revivalist activism but no westernising reform programs or Islamic modernism3 While militant reaction was seen in the Caucausus,the Tartar’s reaction was certainly adaptionist.Adeeb khalid argues that Tartar reformers were largely recruited from ‘aristocratic elites that had been co-opted into the Russian social hierarchy.’ Apart from being adaptionist Tartar reform project clearly belonged to the tradition of Islamic modernism.Gaprinsky had propagated a new kind of education similar to that offered in the Ottoman Empire during the pragmatic reforms of the nineteenth century. As it was in the case of other Muslim reforms throughout the world these changes too challenged the authority of the Ulema creating thereby tension between Ulema traditionalists and the modernizers. The advantage with these reforms promulgated by the Tartars is that these involved the establishment of civic institutions as well as the improvement of womenAmong the Tartar reformers, new visions of identity appeared ,notably the concept of pan-turkism. The appearance of pan-Turkism must be seen in the light of pan-Slavism,but it was also a part of an intellectual trend in the wider Muslim world.

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In the Ottoman empire these currents were initially most prominent among various non-Turk millets 4 As part of the reforms in Ottoman administration in the 1860s the admininistration of these millets was seculiarized as it was earlier dominated by the higher clergy in the respective religious communities. The formation of these millets however fostered national and separatist tendencies contrary to hopes that it would pave a way for a way for a uniform government for the entire Ottoman Empire!The Tartars of the Russian Empire focussed neither on historic continuity nor on territorial aspects .Instead their pan-Turkic project stressed the community of all Turks.a giant fictive “super family”. In addition to Gaprinsky another leading pan- Turkist was Yusuf Ackura born in the Russian Empire. In 1904 Akcura presented his pan-Turkic manifest Three kinds of policy ,in which he argued that the strategies of Ottomanism and pan-Islamism5 would be met with definite hostility by the world powers, in relation to which the Ottoman Empire was ‘clearly inferior’ at this point.Pan-Turkism would be acceptable to all the powers except Russia. This Pan-Turkic program, was hardly very successful.

Among the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, there was little support for these ideas, and even theYoung Turks largely stuck to its predecessors: Ottomanism, centralization and modernization (Yapp 1987:194)However, the significance of this Turkist or pan-Turkist rhetoric and ideology may have been greater on another level. According to Adeeb Khalid,”the more basic idea of the affinity of various Turkic groups, and the knowledge of their Turkness, rapidly suffused all notions of identity in the Turkic world”6. This was the case I believe with the Jadids of Central Asia as well, and their understandings of and visions of community.Without any doubt the Tartar Jadids played an important role in the development of a Central Asian reform project. First, the Tatar newspapers published in Russia were widely read. This was particularly the case with Gaprinsky’s own Terjuman while other Tatar papers won considerable popularity in Central Asia as well. The Tatar press introduced ideas of reform and served as a model for the Central Asian press that developed after 19057 Of the 1000 individuals who subscribed to Terjuman approximately 200 were located in Central Asia8.

Second Tatar Jadidism contributed to the Central Asian reform project in that the in that the reformed schools in Central Asia made use of Tatar text books and many reformed schools in Central Asia had Tatar teachers9 In fact one of the first new-method schools in Central Asia was opened by Gaprinsky himself in Samarkhand in 1893. Elsewhere in the region, new-method schools also opened with Tatar instructors for both Tatar and Turkestani boys.10So the role of the Tatars was substantial, although Khalid is correct in stating that Central Asian reformism should not be considered “a pale reflection of a better organized movement in European Russia11 (1998:90ff) has documented that ‘as far as the interrelation between Tartars and Central Asians is concerned it was a complex one. Tartars saw themselves as leaders vis-�-vis the Central Asians, a position not necessarily congenial to the Central Asians themselves, who had their ambitions. Moreover Tatars often felt Central Asia strange to them’.

So one can believe that there were certainly important similarities between Tatar society and Central Asia. In both cases the population was predominantly “Turkic” from a linguistic point of view and the great majority of the population identified themselves as “Muslim”. At the same time there existed great economic, social and cultural differences.

Education was a cornerstone in the reform project in Central Asia and the first reformed schools were opened in Turk Stan during the 1890s.The new -method schools were to represent an alternative to the traditional system of education, as it existed in the mantas (clergy-run primary schools mostly held in mosques). While the reformed education among the Tatars became, within a short time, the predominant form of education the reformed schools did not achieve any hegemonic position in Central Asia.

They remained grossly outnumbered by more traditional schools.12 The first efforts to have reform schools in Bukhara were made by the Tatars around the turn of the century though the attempts in the first decade of the twentieth century were unsuccessful. But in 1908 the Emir authorized the established of reformed school for the children of his subjects13 The Bukharan Jadid’s battle was tough one and their main adversary was the Emir. The most prominent names among the Bukharan Jadids are Fitrat and Fayzullah Khojaev.The first was particularly influential in the period prior to Bolshevik rule, while Hojaev became the most influential Central Asian in the first years of Communist rule in Central Asia.According to Becker (1968:11) printing press was virtually unknown in the region prior to Russian conquest. In the Tsarist period, Jadid reformers strove to establish a press that would serve as a forum for the redistribution of reform ideas. But these are understood to be not so successful although the press represented something and an important element in the project of the Central Asian Jadids.

More noteworthy ideas were the distribution of poetry, literature and drama. It is indicative of Jadidism’s intellectual break with tradition that they introduced new forms of expression to Central Asia, such as prose, fiction and drama.In Soviet scholarship, the Jadid reform movement in Central Asia was presented as an entirely class-based phenomenon. As a consequence of the integration of Central Asia into the Russian Empire and thus global capitalism, a bourgeoisie, primarily consisting of wealthy merchants, began to form in the region. According to Soviet historians like Vakhabov the Jadid movement was ‘neither more nor less than a phenomenon expressing and representing the interests of this developing class’ (Vakhabov 1961) Relating the Jadid movement to class was not incorrect. The Jadids represented no popular movement. Members were invariably urban and the movement among what might be called the bourgeosie.

As far as membership is concerned therefore the movement did exhibit a distinctive class character. Moreover the JadidsOf Central Asia enjoyed the financial support of wealthy merchants, although not to the same extent as the Tatar reformers. Among the Tatars, capitalism and class differentiation was much more developed Differences in interpretations of the Jadid movement between Soviet and Western scholars are typical of the polarization of the Cold war period.

While Soviet scholars focussed on new social and economic structures, many western scholars have focussed on the alleged anti-Russian character of Jadidism, seeing it first and foremost as a response to colonization and foreign dominance. In this perspective reform was not an end in itself, but a means by which a main goal could be accomplished: liberation from Russia in this view primarily a political phenomenon with cultural reform as a major weapon.Carriere d’ Encausse maintains that “the final goal was to liberate Dar-ul-Islam from the Infidels’domination”.Similarly Abduvakhitov maintains that “national liberation” was among the Jadid’s main goals.15 The Jadid movement was a nationalist response to colonization, nationalism here manifesting as hostility to foreign rule16 This is, however a problematic view which can be demonstrated by the attitudes of the Jadid leaders during the revolt of 1916.

According to Carriere d’ Encausse:”the leaders of the Turkestani reformist movement came out resolutely against the decision” to mobilize Central Asians in working brigades. In her presentation Jadids are anti-Russian separatists, sympathetic to the revolt.17 However not much evidence is provided. In the discussion of the 1916 revolt in Soviet journals in thee mid-1920s, it was convincingly claimed that on the contrary the Jadids were opposed to the revolt and separatism had not been on their agenda. This seems to have been accepted by all participants in the discussion at the time, irrespective of attitudes towards the events of 1916 according to some Soviet scholars. Recent research appears to support this view.The Jadid movement was exclusively urban. It had little contact with the rural population and even less with the nomads, who played the leading role in the revolt of 1916.

The revolt therefore took place in surroundings with which the Jadids were quite unfamiliar. Given this fact, it seems quite unlikely that the Jadids should have played any important part in the events. On the contrary they opposed the entire revolt.Adeeb Khalid has documented that leading Jadids not only opposed it, they were in fact enthusiastic about the recruitment of Central Asians that led to the outbreak of the revolt.

18 This does not fit very well with the idea of Jadidism as a primarily anti-Russian phenomenon. Khalid has introduced a more fruitful perspective Of cultural reform, in which Jadidism is seen more as a result of factors internal to Central Asia than as a response to colonization or foreign rule.