Libmonster ID: UZ-1021
Author(s) of the publication: M. Y. ROSHCHIN
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Scientific life. Scientific business trip

In August-September 2002, the Alan-Pamir Research Group of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences conducted an expedition to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan (hereinafter - GBAO) and the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. This was the first expedition undertaken by Russian scientists to the Pamirs in recent years. N. M. Yemelyanova, the author of these lines, and U. V. Okimbekov, a post-graduate student of the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, took part in it. The tasks of the expedition included the resumption of contacts with scientists and scientific institutions of GBAO, studying the prospects for joint scientific research, collecting field materials about local Ismailis and Pamir peoples. In the province of Badakhshan, it was supposed to study the socio-economic conditions in which local residents live.

Our main assistants and companions in GBAO were employees of Khorog State University and the Institute of Humanities of the Pamir branch of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan. Scientific contact was established with the heads of these scientific institutions M. G. Shabozov and Shodikhon Yusufbekov. We managed to collect new materials about the customs of local Ismailis and understand the specifics of the religious structure of their community in our time.

The main feature of the Ismaili religion (tariqa) is that unlike other Muslims, Ismailis have their own supreme head-Imam Aga Khan IV, whom they call "His Highness". The imam's headquarters are located near Paris in Aglamont. The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London plays an important role in the religious and secular education of Ismailis. In the mid-1990s, a special department was created here, which included the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Committee (hereinafter referred to as YREC) for activities in Tajikistan. Its members were appointed by the Aga Khan IV himself. The Committee is chaired by M. Ilolov, a member of the Parliament of Tajikistan. Of the six ITREK members, four live in Khorog and meet once a month. The full committee meets once a year in Dushanbe. One of them, Shozoda-Muhammad Sherzodshoev, is also a representative of the Committee on Religious Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan in GBAO.

He told the author of these lines that currently 63% of the population of GBAO is Ismaili, the rest are Sunni. According to him, before 1917, the structure of Badakhshan Ismailism was simple: the imam appointed pirs (this position was inherited), the pir appointed the caliph (vicegerents), while not all caliphs were hereditary. The role of the caliph in Ismailism roughly corresponds to that of the mullah among Sunnis. In the 1920s, there were seven local feasts in GBAO, and in addition, five Afghan feasts had their own murids (students) in GBAO. Before the 1917 revolution, the Pirs were active supporters of the annexation of Badakhshan to Russia. In the 1930s, they were subjected to repression. The famous pir Said Yusufalisho was warned by the Murids about the danger that threatened him, but he replied: "I, like my father, tried so hard to protect the Murids from the Afghan invaders. And by inviting the officers and soldiers of the White Tsar to visit us in the Pamirs, we finally achieved peace. My achievements are not only appreciated by the murids, but they are well known from Tashkent to Moscow." * However, in the autumn of 1932.

* See: Khodzhibekov E. Ismaili spiritual guides (feasts) and their role in the socio-political and cultural life of Shugnan (second half of the XIX-30s of the XX centuries). Dushanbe, 2002, p. 17.).

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Said Yusufalisho was arrested. He took poison and died in the village of Nishusp. Yusufalisho's son Mamadalisho moved to Afghanistan and was appointed a pir. In 1940, he was captured by the NKVD and shot. The same fate befell the Shahdarya feast of Khojadabal. Communication between Tajik Ismailis and the Imam and their foreign co-religionists is interrupted. By the end of the 1980s, there were 23 caliphs left in GBAO.

Gulkhasan Kurbankhanov, ITREK's manager, gave me additional explanations about the features of the Ismaili structure in GBAO. He said that the Ismailis of GBAO do not have separate houses of worship called jamaat-khona (house of assembly), since each Ismaili house is also a jamaat-khona. Since the second half of the 1990s, ITREK has been searching for and selecting new caliphs. The candidate of the caliph must meet the following criteria: knowledge of the Persian language and Arabic graphics, knowledge of customs, ability to preach and the presence of authority among the people. The level of education of candidates is also taken into account. After the appropriate selection procedure, ITREK conducts a survey of the population and approves the new caliph. Currently, there are 98 caliphs in GBAO. ITREK regularly conducts seminars for caliphs, scholars, teachers and journalists, and sends students to study at the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

G. Kurbankhanov helped me visit the Ismaili youth and youth camp "Saodat" ("Happiness"). The camp's director, Aziz Gayusov, introduced me to its program. It included three topics: people and society; diversity in Muslim culture; and intellectual life. I will focus on the second topic. It is based on the principle of pluralism in Muslim culture: whoever recognizes shihada (the Muslim profession of faith) is a Muslim, and then there is diversity. Pluralism has deep historical roots. It is no coincidence that Sunni teenagers are also invited to attend camps of this type (a total of five summer camps are open on a regular basis in GBAO).

The third theme of the camp helps young people understand how people should use intelligence in their lives. I will give, for example, how the choice is supposed to be made in life: so that the choice is not harmful to society; so that it is not harmful to the chooser himself; so that the chooser does not regret his choice later; the chooser should not forget that the choice cannot be absolute.

The work of ITREK in the field of religious education and upbringing is supported by the active work of a number of Aga Khan organizations in the socio-economic sphere. I would like to mention, in particular, the Aga Khan Development Network and the Mountain Society Development Support Programm. The latter program was introduced due to the fact that collective and state farms were liquidated in GBAO four years ago. The second program provides assistance to individual farms, digs irrigation channels, builds bridges in the mountains, builds micro-hydroelectric power stations, and provides loans to support private initiatives.

During the expedition, I also managed to visit the Afghan part of Badakhshan in the Ishkashim region and get acquainted with local Ismailis. It still retains the old patriarchal structure of Ismailism that was characteristic of GBAO until the early 1930s. There are currently 13 pirs in operation in Afghanistan, but according to the firman (decree) of the imam in 2002, the functions of pirs as hereditary leaders of local Ismailism were abolished. It seemed to me that the feasts themselves and a significant part of the population are not ready to accept the proposed changes.

The members of the expedition visited the jamaat-khona in the village of Hermani in the vicinity of Ishkashim. As is customary among Ismailis, the weekly dua (prayer) began there in the evening (19: 00). U. V. Okimbekov, as an Ismaili, took part in it, and N. M. Yemelyanova and I were allowed to watch the service, often called juma-namoz, from the outside through the window. I was struck by the fact that Ismailis, unlike other Muslims, pray together in the same room, men and women, although they sit separately from each other. Unlike most other Afghan provinces, Badakhshan has never been occupied by the Taliban, and the old patriarchal way of life has remained virtually intact. It seems to me that the local Ismailis, unlike the residents of GBAO, study their spiritual heritage more, in particular the works of the remarkable thinker Nasir-i Khosrov, and the history of Ismailism.

The trip turned out to be very useful in terms of studying the ethnic characteristics of the Pamirs, including the largest ethnic group of GBAO - the Shugnans. Currently, the number of Shugnans includes-

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There are about 70 thousand people per 208 thousand population of the entire GBAO. In fact, this is the main ethnic group of GBAO, although the official Tajik statistics do not take into account the local Pamir peoples. The latter circumstance creates difficulties for the ethnic and cultural development of the Shugnans and other Pamir ethnic groups, as they are not able to publish educational literature in their native languages, conduct TV and radio broadcasting in them, etc. Nevertheless, the emergence of an independent press in GBAO, albeit to a very limited extent, led to the emergence of a number of Shugnan authors writing in their native language in the 1990s. Among them is the remarkable bard Alidonsho, whom the Shugnans call Ledush. Often compared to Vladimir Vysotsky, he became a bold reformer of Shugnan poetry and traditional song culture. Unfortunately, we did not find him alive: at the age of 39, he died on July 22, 2002. His successor was the young bard Furkat Shokhalilov, who works in line with the classical Iranian tradition. Poet and novelist Varkah Okhonniezov studies Shugnan folklore.

The study of the culture of the Shugnans and other Pamir peoples, in fact, is just beginning, and here fruitful cooperation is possible between the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pamir Institute of Humanities and the Ismaili Center for Culture and Education, especially in the field of "oral history", i.e. recording detailed biographies of individual Ismailis, studying the experience of Pamir tabibs-herbalists, and also in the collection and research of Badakhshan adats.

The history of Russian-Badakhshan relations is interesting, but, unfortunately, insufficiently researched. The Badakhsh people of Tajikistan still remember with gratitude that Russia took over their territories in the late 19th century and thus saved the Pamir peoples from extinction. Many archival materials devoted to the history of Russian-Badakhshan (or Russian-Pamir) relations have not yet been published. To fill in this gap only to a small extent, I enclose one of the archival materials relating to the time of the annexation of Tajik Badakhshan to Russia. This is an official translation of the appeal of residents of Vakhan, one of the historical regions of Badakhshan, to the Turkestan Governor-General. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Valdosh Valdoshov, a researcher at the Institute of Humanities of the Pamir Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, for his assistance in preparing this publication.



A plea from the helpless inhabitants to the merciful King:

Because we, the people, know that if the Bukharians come against us again, they will stretch out their hands on our wives, daughters and sons, so that we cannot live together with the Bukharians in any way. At any time when the Bukharans come to this country, we will have no other opportunity but to scatter in different directions and perish. If it will be the grace of his Excellency to bring our request to the white tsar, to deliver us from the hands of the Bukharians, then in the Russian citizenship, serving with all our zeal together with our wives and children, if we need any service, we will send it day and night, and if necessary under the Emir of Bukhara and the Emir of Bukhara, we will if you do not free us, then we swear to God, it is known that we will not live in the land of the white king, who is the greatest, but all of us... [scraped. - M. R. ], who went to the state [scraped. - M. R. let's go , because we have no other means. If you tell one after another about the harassment of Bukharans, then they are innumerable. We sacrifice our heads and souls to the Russian state, for there is nothing else from this great state but comfort. We hope that you will free us from the hands of Bukhara. Now we have heard that the inhabitants of Shugnan, Shohdara and Gunta [historical regions of Badakhshan. - M. R. ] sent a request to the tsar's viceroy in Tashkent. When we learned of this, we also wrote about it in our petition and sent it to the king. If the Russian state would charge us zakat [the Muslim tax. - M. R. ] twice or three times, then we would not say anything. And even in the Bukharian Zakat there would be no talk about this, but the point was in the faith and in the fact that [Bukharians. - M. R.] stretched out their hands on our wives and sons,

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saying that we are [Bukharians. - M. R. ] let us commit sodomy with your wives and sons. If the matter concerned honor and faith, then what hope do we have for our homeland? It is better to die in different places. Remove from our people the wicked deeds of the Bukharians. The people of Vakhan say to each other: if there is a Russian government, then all of us, the people, will become comfortable and calm down. The Bukharians, who during these seven or eight years have been the ruler over us, are the tsars. - M. R. ] were exempted from taxes during these 8 years , then with this privilege, the money that was given to us from the Russian barracks, this Bukharian, having learned, fined individuals of our people or ordinary residents, took from each person from 100 to 200 rubles and all the money that fell into our hands, I packed up and took everything away, so there was nothing left. The people were desperate in their souls, and we have filed a complaint with you. Bring our petition to the White Tsar, take us together from the hands of the Bukharians and make us your subjects. We have such a request. And in the midst of all the people, we have affixed our seals.

Correct: I. D. Diploma. ranks. (signature)

Sheet 13 from case No. 45 of the Political Agency in Bukhara, 1904-1905 (Report of Baron Cherkasov and other correspondence). - Central Archive Department of the Republic of Uzbekistan.


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M. Y. ROSHCHIN, EXPEDITION TO GBAO OF TAJIKISTAN AND BADAKHSHAN PROVINCE OF AFGHANISTAN // Tashkent: Library of Uzbekistan (BIBLIO.UZ). Updated: 27.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 23.07.2024).

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