AW: Jihad and Revolution in Chechnya

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Sat Aug 12 16:22:40 MDT 2000

One more thing about Sufism. Although I am not an expert on local Islamic
movements In Soviet Russia or popular/mass Islamic uprisings in general, one
issue deserves immediate attention here. When we say that Sufism is
"depoliticized" Islam, we should not mean to suggest that it is "apolitical".

In the first place, Sufism *looks* unpolitical because it adopts a  secular
approach to the state. Sufi brand of Islam sees religion as a "private,
subjective, and mythical" affair, not as a political affair, strictly speaking. 
Therefore,  religion is considered to be an issue between the god and the
individual. Intermediaries like the state are not supposed to meddle with the
affairs of the relationship between the observant and the God.  Accordingly,
individuals seek religious emancipation subjectively, as a form of pure love,
through spiritual experimentation of God. Sufism is a passive, personal, direct,
and most unmediated way of experimenting the God.  As Nasr reminded, Islamic
radicals don't like Sufism for this reason.

However, the issue at stake here is more complex than it seems in the first
place. It seems to me that the difference between Sufis and Islamic radicals is
that the Sufis, unlike the latter, did not seek to establish a theocratic state,
although some Sufis were strict followers of Islamic law. Islamic radicals
*like* to misread Sufism from their own point of view, so whenever they seem to
refer to Sufi leaders with respect, they tend to politicize Sufism more than it
deserves. They do the same when they mistakenly assume that all Muslims want a
theocratic state or the seperation  between state/religion, public/private is no
relevant in Islamic political history (which is FLAT wrong and tends to
*perpetuate* the orientalist images of Islam as necessarily theocratic! Look at
the Ottaman dealings of religious uprisings by Turkish Janissaries in the
capital city of Islanbul! or look at the *Kanunames of Great the Maginificent*--
series of law orders by Sultan, *not* by Ulema! or Watch the movie "Istanbul
Kanatlarimin Altinda" (Istanbul Under my Wings) It descibes the internal
struggles of Ottoman Sultans (some of whom were *gays* like Murad III) against
the religious/prutanistic oligarchy within the palace . An alternative reading
of Ottoman history, btw:)

Accordingly, I still tend to classify Sufism as traditional Islam because it
goes against institutionalized forms of religion. Here, I am not using
*traditional* in a pejorative sense (anti-modern) but in a uniquely political
sense, which is THAT anti-state PASSIVISM of Sufi order MAKES SUFISM PERFECTLY
POLITICAL, and sometimes MILITANT, as Nasr said. For instance, the history of
the Ottoman empire from 15th through 17th  centuries suggest local/ popular
uprising by Bektasi groups in remote places of Anatolia. Their uprisings did not
in any way convey a strict religious message, in terms of demanding a theocratic
state. Surely, they mobilized religion, BUT in a secular way, not in a
theocratic way.

Despite being articulated through religion *on the surface*, Bektasi/Sufi
struggles were struggles of *political economy*, seeking social justice in the
socio-economic periphery of the Ottoman system. They articulated in their
revolts real issues, such as  uneven distribution of land, peasant exploitation,
high *palace culture of the Ottomans* and corruption in local estates. These
local religious uprisings raised demands against corrupt Timarli "sipahis"
(Ottoman feudal soldiers) who were unjustly collecting rents from poor peasants
to raise incomes to the Ottoman treasury in the capital city. Bektasi struggles
were *rural class struggles* from a Marxist point of view. The famous SEYH
BEDREDDIN LEGEND (real uprising), rewritten by a leftist poet NAZIM HIKMET and
then composed by leftist folk singer ZULFU LIVANELI  as "Eskiya dunyaya hukumdar
Olmaz" (eskiya=sort of country vagabond) is an example of the *strategic use of
religion in a progressive direction*.


BTW, *From a secular, Turkish, anti-US, Marxist-feminist dedicated to the
emancipation of women from *both* US and Afghan sexist oppression.

I am an interventionist, but an *anti-US and anti-sanctionist* interventionist
in Afghan's internal affairs. I don't see it particularly useful to leave women
there *starving* from UN sanctions. Something should be done if Afghan men are
not willing to emancipate their own women from UN aggression. We can neither let
Afghan men to settle accounts with their own women ( since, obviously, they have
not settled accounts with anything besides oppression), nor let the hypocritical
Washington human rights supporters emancipate Afghan women. Interventionism is
not the monopoly of western imperialism.  We can create our own interventionism.
Why not strategically use Islam against Taliban Islamists? Why not instead
mobilize the popular/ cultural common sense against institutionalized Islam,
like Sufis did once? say Taliban is *unislamic*..

Another question. Now that my detective side is exteremely aroused, do any of
you know any complaints by Chechen Islamists about human rights violations by
Russia to US or Europe? Since Muslim Afghan women's complains to Europe's human
rights organizations is seen a  feminist concession to imperialism, I wonder if
Islamists have made any concessions to imperialism in that respect.  I know, for
example, that the Islamists of the Welfare Party, taking the suport of liberals
and new leftish people,  complained to the European council of human rights when
their party was closed. Later, Washington seemed to be quite sceptical of the
"undemocratic" nature of the secular regime, as dictates about reforming the
Turkish political system followed. Of  course, as long as the end is just who
cares about who complains to whom.

another hug!



Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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