A Study of Sufism in post-Soviet Dagestan of the Russian Federation
Methodology of the research.
My presentation is based on preliminary results of two successive ESRC-funded research projects ‘Islam, Ethnicity and Nationalism in post-Soviet Russian Federation’, 1997-1999 and ‘Ethnicity, Politics and Transnational Islam: A Study of an International Sufi Order of Naqshbandi Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani’, 1998-2001. I am going to focus on organisation, doctrine and politics of Dagestani Sufis. I will also outline the major methodological, ethical and political problems of the research.
(i) Media analysis serves three roles in the project. Firstly it allows the close monitoring of the ethno- religious dynamic in Dagestan and chart popular responses to particular events and official policies. Secondly, media analysis facilitates the isolation of key figures shaping debates about the relationship between ethnicity, religion and nation and forms the background research necessary for the selection of interviewees as well as provide an important point of ‘triangulation’ whereby statements in interview can be cross-referenced against press releases and ‘popularised’ narratives. Thirdly, the media is a key agent in the construction of discourses of Islam and nationalism and thus requires the same critical analysis as state, religious and non-governmental documents and activities. Since it is the discursive role of the media that is central to the study, analysis is textual – focusing on articles by leading Islamic authorities, political and public figures, analysts and academics – rather than a quantitative content analysis. All key local and regional newspapers as well as journals that are thematically related to the research have been studied over a period 1997-2000.
(ii) Elite interviews are an effective way of accessing information from uniquely privileged actors in the processes under investigation. The respondents’ direct involvement in the shaping of the new spiritual, ideological and political infrastructures as well as public and elite debates make them ‘double’ objects of study: analysis of interviews will provide valuable insight into the ‘empirical’ processes at work but also into the discursive strategies of key actors in those processes. Respondents have been selected for approach on the basis of information acquired from the study of periodicals, the review of official documents and specialist literature, from the networks and contacts obtained during research and as a result of ‘snowball sampling’. About 120 interviews have been conducted, evenly divided between: Shaykh Nazim’s followers; Shaykh Nazim’s opponents among Dagestani Sufis; representatives of non-Sufi (including Salafiya) Islam; members of the Islamic officialdom; representatives of political, intellectual and cultural elite.
Historical background of the research.
Dagestan was chosen for the research because of its strong and lengthy Sufi tradition and its special place in the history of the International Sufi Order of Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani. Islam was brought to Dagestan by the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries; by the fifteenth and sixteenth Dagestanis had adopted the Shafii madhhab(juridical school) of Sunni Islam. From the sixteenth century onwards the majority of Dagestani Muslims chose to profess Sufi Islam. The resulting interweaving between Sufi and tukhum (clan) structures brought about the emergence of a specific Dagestani Sufism, known as tariqatism, which incorporated numerous pre-Islamic customs and adat (customary law) norms. Tariqatism became the dominant form of popular Islam, although there was also a strong tradition of intellectual, ‘high’ Islam in Dagestan, represented by ulema (Islamic scholars). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Naqshbandi tariqa provided a mobilising framework for resistance to Russian expansionism in the region.
After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 Dagestan was incorporated within the Soviet state. Over seventy years of Soviet atheism had a devastating impact on Islam in Dagestan. The vast majority of Dagestani mosques and medresses (Islamic schools) were destroyed or closed, Sufi shaykhs and ulema were either killed or persecuted or forced to emigrate. As a result, ‘high’ intellectual Islam was irreversibly undermined, while popular Sufi Islam was reduced to unofficial underground status. Having nevertheless failed to eradicate Islam, the Soviets opted for its control through the Muftiyats (the Higher Islamic administrations), staffed with collaborationist Muslim clerics,  which were institutionalised as the only legitimate representatives of Soviet Muslims. From 1943 until 1989 Dagestani Muslims, alongside their co-religionists from the other Islamic autonomies of the North Caucasus, were administered by the DUMSK (the Muftiyat of the Muslims of the North Caucasus), centred in Makhachkala. The DUMSK’s leadership subscribed to the official position on tariqatism which qualified it as religious obscurantism and suppressed any Sufi activities. Nevertheless, in spite of the Soviet persecutions Dagestani Sufism survived, although it was pushed deeply underground. Moreover, the Sufi shaykhs and not the official clergy remained the genuine custodians of Islamic faith and culture in Dagestan. Since the Gorbachevian thaw of 1986-1991 Dagestan has been one of the epicentres of an Islamic resurgence characteristic of the Muslim-populated areas of the former Soviet Union. Post-Communist religious liberalisation enabled the Dagestani Sufis to end their secretive existence.
Tariqatism: organisation, doctrine and political engagement.
The disintegration of the totalitarian Soviet system which began in the late 1980s had an invigorating impact on Dagestani Sufism, or tariqatism. It emerged from underground and championed the grass-roots re-Islamisation of Dagestani society. Despite the decades of Soviet oppression tariqatists had clandestinely preserved their hierarchical structures, affiliated to specific kinship and sub-kinship local formations. According to some expert estimations Sufis constitute over 60 per cent of the Dagestani Muslim population. The majority of Sufis in poly-ethnic Dagestan are Avars, who are considered the most religious ethnic group. There are also many Sufis among Dargins, Kumyks and Nogays who have the reputation for being moderately religious peoples. In terms of organisation Dagestani Sufis are affiliated to between 40 and 50 virds (schools of teaching within the tariqa). The biggest are the Naqshbandi and Shazali virds. However, the Akkin Chechens, who live in Dagestan’s Khasavyurtovskii raion (district), mainly belong to the Kadiri tariqa. There are also some followers of the Dzhazuli tariqa and of the Yasawi tariqa ( among Nogay Turks of Nogayskii district). The virds are headed by shaykhs some of whom simultaneously teach according to several different schools. The most common practice is when the same Sufi shaykh heads a Naqshbandi and a Shazali vird. Among the influential living Dagestani shaykhs are Badrudin Botlikhskii, Said-afendi Chirkeevskii, Magomed Amin Gadzhiev, Mukhadzhir Dogrelinskii, Arslanali Gamzatov(Paraulskii), Ramazan Gimrinskii, Idris-khadzhi Israphilov, Abdulwahid Kakamakhinskii, Muhammad Mukhtar Kakhulayskii, Tadjudin Khasavyurtovskii, Siradzhudin Khurikskii and Abdulgani Zakatalskii. Some Dagestani Sufis follow the path of the dead shaykhs Ali-khadzhi Akushinskii, Amay, Gasan Kakhibskii, Kunta-khadzhi and Vis-khadzhi.
Historically Dagestani tariqatists, especially those of Naqshbandi tariqa, have been much more involved in politics than Sufis elsewhere in Islamic world. Under perestroika Dagestani Sufis and traditionalist Muslims generally returned to public life and challenged the legitimacy of the Soviet Islamic officialdom, represented by the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the North Caucasus, or DUMSK. They became the major driving force of Islamic revival in the republic. A characteristic symbol of the Sufi dimension of the latter was the restoration of the traditions of ziyarat (popular Sufi pilgrimage) to over 800 mazars (burial places of shaykhs, or some other objects of Sufi worship). Tariqatists also strengthened their involvement in the processes of decision-making on a local level through the promotion of their representatives in village administrations.  This facilitated the renewal of public Islamic festivals, as well as the re-introduction of some elements of Islamic food norms and dress codes which existed in pre-Soviet times.
Among the other important characteristics of the religious revival were the rapid increase in the number of mosques and Islamic educational establishments. Until 1985 there were only 27 registered mosques; there were no Islamic schools, and less than a dozen Dagestani Muslims were allowed to conduct an annual hajj ( a pilgrimage). In 1996 there were already 1,670 registered mosques, nine Islamic institutes, including three Islamic Universities, 25 medresses, 670 mektebs (primary Islamic schools) and eleven Islamic cultural and charity centres. Dagestan also witnessed the emergence of an Islamic press which did not exist during the Soviet period. Among the first Islamic periodicals were the newspapers As-Salam (‘Peace’), Nur-ul-Islam(‘Light of Islam’), Islamskii Vestnik(‘Islamic News’) and Mezhdunarodnaya Musulmanskaya Gazeta(‘International Islamic Newspaper’). The hajj, which used to be a luxury restricted to just a few privileged clerics, became accessible for many thousands of ordinary Dagestani Muslims.
The increased religious activity of the tariqatists was accompanied by their rapid politicisation. The Sufis’ intrinsic conflict with the Soviet regime predetermined their participation in the Islamo-democratic opposition movement which also included dissident intellectuals and Islamists, incorrectly but widely labeled as Wahhabis.  The ultimate goal of the opposition was economic and political liberalisation and the re-Islamisation of state and society in Dagestan. Their immediate demands were the resignation of the old leadership of the DUMSK, which was regarded as the major obstacle to genuine Islamic revival in Dagestan, and their replacement by a younger generation of Islamic clerics, the ‘young Imams’- including both Sufis and Islamists -who claimed to have had no involvement with the Soviet state and the KGB. In 1989 Muftii Gekkiev of the DUMSK was charged with corruption, collaboration with the KGB and moral laxity, and was forced to resign.
After Gekkiev’s resignation the Islamo-democratic alliance fell apart. Tariqatists insisted on their supremacy in the Dagestani umma ( Islamic community) and alienated the Islamists. In order to strengthen their religious and political positions tariqatist activists allied with some of the leaders of the various nationalist movements which mushroomed during the ‘parade of sovereignties’ in Russia between 1989 and 1992. The establishment of closer links between the tariqatists and nationalists ensured the Islamisation of the nationalist agenda. As a result, the leaders of the main nationalist organisations clashed over the right to control the Muftiyat, which they regarded as an indispensable attribute of nationhood, as well as an important source of foreign and domestic cash.
In 1989 the DUMSK gave in to the pressure from various nationalist factions and split into seven separate Muftiyats, one in each Muslim autonomy of the North Caucasus. Most of them were headed by representatives of Sufi Islam which was henceforth legalised and became the official strand of Islam. In Dagestan the leadership of the newly established autonomous Muftiyat- the DUMD (The Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan) - was contested by traditionalists representing the largest ethnic groups, i.e.Avars, Dargins, Kumyks and Laks. Between 1989 and 1992 the central strife occurred between Avars, who dominated the Islamic officialdom in the Soviet period, and the rest. This major split was further exacerbated by internal conflicts. For example, Avar traditionalists were divided by their attitude to the influential Naqshbandi shaykh Said-afendi Chirkeevskii whose vird had a substantial numerical and ideological superiority over the other Sufi virds. As for the non-Avar bloc, its integrity was jeopardised by collisions between Dargin, Kumyk and Lak traditionalists.
Initially, representatives of non-Avar ethnic groups took the lead in the race for the Muftiyat. In early 1989 Kumyks promoted their candidate shaykh Muhammad Mukhtar Babatov to the post of Dagestani Muftii. Several months later Babatov was replaced by Abdulla Aligadzgiev, a protégé of the Dargin ulema. In January 1990 the Kumyks fought back: Kumyk Bagauddin Isayev became the next Muftii of Dagestan. However, the religious leadership of Kumyks and Dargins was short-lived. From late 1990 the Avar ‘young Imams’ intensified their campaign for the restoration of Avar domination within the Islamic officialdom. It is significant that in order to avoid association with the old, Soviet-era Islamic establishment, they stressed their allegedly democratic image. In particular, they established co-operation with the Islamic Democratic Party (the IDP), led by Abdurashid Saidov. In February 1992 Avars resumed their control over the Muftiyat through the ‘election’ of Avar Muftii Sayid Akhmed Darbishgadzhiyev. In spite of the democratic image of the new Muftii he failed to gain the support of the majority of non-Avar clerics. Their response was the formation of three other ethnic Muftiyats which claimed to represent Muslims of Kumyk, Dargin and Lak ethnicity. Faced with growing alienation within the non-Avar Islamic community, the Avar leadership of the DUMD abandoned its pro-democracy stance, broke its relations with the IDP and turned to the Government for support.
The change of political orientation of the DUMD was accompanied by the regrouping of forces among Avar traditionalists. By 1994 it was clear that Avar shaykh Said-Aitseev (Chirkeevskii) had outplayed his rivals both among the tariqatists and ulema and had asserted his control over the DUMD. The new Muftii Magomed Darbishev was a protégé of Said-afandi and an obedient orchestrator of his will. Darbishev’s successors Seyid Muhammad Abubakarov (Avar, 1996-1998) and Ahmad –khadzhi Abdulaev (Avar, 1998- ) were similarly close to Said-afendi. During the period of their administration Said-afandi’s murids (disciples), especially from Gumbetovskii raion, the homeland of Said-afendi, were appointed to the top posts within the DUMD.
Parallel to the establishment of his religious supremacy shaykh Said-afendi has increased his influence in other spheres of public life. His followers or sympathisers have also penetrated the political structures. Said-afandi’s approval has become crucial for many Dagestani politicians and businessmen. His growing authority forced some of his former opponents to seek his favour. For example, Said-afandi’sparty included Kumyk shaykh Arslanali Gamzatov and Dargin shaykh Abdulwahid Kakamakhinskii. Similarly, Said-afendi’s rivals among the Avar traditionalists, shaykhs Tadzhuddin Khasavyurtovskii and Idris-khadzhi Israphilov, joined the opposition camp led by Kumyk shaykhs Muhammad Mukhtar Kakhulayskii and Ilyas-khadzhi and Dargin traditionalists Muhammad Amin, Magomed-hadzhi and Abdulla-khadzhi Aligadzhiev.
In 1994 the Dagestani authorities responded to Said-afendi’s demand and declared the DUMD as the only legitimate supreme Islamic authority in Dagestan. In fact, the Naqshbandi Sufism of shaykh Said-afandi’s vird was associated with mainstream Islam in Dagestan. The rival Kumyk, Dargin and Lak Muftiyats were pronounced illegitimate and self-proclaimed. Alongside shaykh Said-afandi the DUMD recognised the legitimacy of three other Naqshbandi-Shazali shaykhs -Badruddin Botlikhskii, Arslanali Gamzatov (Paraulskii) and Abdulwahid Karamakhinskii - who accepted the supremacy of Said-afandi. The rest of the Dagestani shaykhs were pronounced mutashayks (spurious shaykhs).
The official backing allowed the DUMD and Said-afandi, in particular, to employ the state infrastructure, including the official mass media and the intelligence services, to secure his domination. This enabled the DUMD to unleash a propaganda campaign against an advancing Wahhabism which presented the major threat to the DUMD’s spiritual monopoly. Wahhabis were portrayed as agents of ‘dollar Islam’ which was being artificially implanted by foreign powers hostile not only to traditional Islam but to the national interests of Dagestan and the Russian Federation as a whole. As for the Dagestani authorities they had their own vested interest in the campaign against Wahhabism, which provided them with a means to boost their political credibility among a population increasingly disillusioned with corrupt and incompetent Government.
In December 1997, under pressure from Said-afendi’s group, the Dagestani Parliament issued a ban on the activities of the Wahhabis, who were defined as religious extremists. Many Wahhabi leaders were arrested, their offices were demolished and their periodicals banned. This official action had a radicalising effect on Dagestani Wahhabis, many of whom were pushed into alliance with the Chechen separatists. At the beginning of 1998 the leaders of Wahhabi Jamaat announced the start of a jihad against the Dagestani regime. In August and September 1999 they participated in the abortive military Chechen invasion of Dagestan commanded by the Chechen field commanders Basaev and Khattab in Tsumadinskii, Botlikhskii and Novolakskii raions of Dagestan. The Dagestani authorities’ reaction to the invasion was further suppression of Wahhabism and adoption of a new and tougher law aimed at the complete eradication of Wahhabism in Dagestan. The participation of radical Wahhabis in the Chechen incursion shifted Dagestani public opinion decisively in favour of tariqatism and undermined the Wahhabis’ chances of success in the perceivable future. The crack-down on Wahhabism further strengthened Said-afandi’s grip over the Islamic community of Dagestan.
The Tariqatists’ alliance with the de facto atheistic ruling regime affected their position on the pace and scope of religious reform in Dagestan. Unlike the Islamo-democratic opposition, they dropped the goal of an Islamic state and subscribed to exclusively parliamentary methods of achieving the re-Islamisation of Dagestani society. The DUMD leaders envisage this coming about through the Islamisation of education and the gradual re-introduction of Islamic legal norms which existed in the 1920s. They regard Turkish Islam - which is close to the traditions of Naqshbandiya Sufism - as a possible model for tariqatism in Dagestan. The Muftiyat designated the puppet Islamic Party of Dagestan (the IPD) to lobby on behalf of the Islamic agenda. The IPD’s parliamentary demands include the removal from the Constitution of Dagestan of the clauses on the separation of church and state and of schools from the church, and the official recognition of Islam as the ‘religion of the democratic majority.’ 
In spite of the tariqatist self-presentation as the champion of Muslims’ interests the popular rating of the tariqatist officialdom as represented by the DUMD has been low. Tariqatists have been accused of endemic corruption and links with criminal mafia groups; the tariqatist DUMD has also been sharply criticised for fraud, theological incompetence and aggressive intolerance to its religious opponents.  There has been a widely held perception that the DUMD has used its monopoly over hajj-related matters for unlawful enrichment. Specifically, it has manipulated the visa fees and the prices of the Koran and other Islamic literature supplied by various foreign Islamic organisations and funds free of charge. The public has also been unhappy with the way in which the DUMD appoints local Imams. Sometimes it installs as village Imams poorly educated persons whose main ‘virtue’ is their loyalty to shaykh Said-afendi. Clerical opponents reproach the DUMD leaders for their inadequate religious and theological training and the absence of authoritative ulema among them. It is significant that since the early 1990s Dagestan’s Muftiis have not issued one fetwa.
On the whole, the incorporation of tariqatism within the corrupt and semi-criminal state system has predetermined their association with the ruling regime, the post-Soviet re-shaping of which was over by the mid-1990s. Its core was made up of the old, atheistic Soviet/Party nomenklatura, the members of which maintained their jobs, although under new ‘democratic’ labels. They were joined by some new figures who represented either the Dagestani nouveau riche, a Dagestani version of new Russians, or the activists of the major ethnic business parties. Although according to the Dagestani constitution fourteen titular ethnic groups/nationalities have the right of legislative initiative and are equally represented in the State Council, the actual political and economic power has been monopolised by the Dargins and the Avars. While the Dargins have secured their influence in the political domain, the Avars have preserved their traditional domination in the economic and ideological spheres. Most top politicians have been closely connected with their respective ethnic business mafias. The Dagestani Government has been strongly dependent on federal subsidies. So, the ruling regime, including the tariqatist Islamic officialdom, has been characterised by authoritarianism, widespread fraud, corruption, the inability to curb the increase in crime and terrorism and to handle the acute economic and social problems. The social consequences of this regime have been the continuation of backwardness and stagnation, and the blocking of any structural reforms leading to the modernisation of Dagestani society and its evolution into a democratic civil entity.
The role of Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani among Dagestani Sufis.
In Dagestan Shaykh Nazim has managed to acquire a reasonable number of followers. During his visit of Dagestan in 1997 Shaykh Nazim nominated a Dagestani Sufi Abdul Wahid( Avar) as his khalifa. There are murids of Shaykh Nazim in several raions (districts) of Dagestan, as well as in Chechnya and Karachaevo-Cherkessiya. The majority of his murids are various Turkic peoples, although the ethnic factor is not crucial and there are also his murids among Caucasian peoples-Avars, Laks and Dargins, as well as Chechens. Shaykh Nazim is also recognised as a genuine Naqshbandi shaykh by the followers of Dagestani shaykh Sharafuddin, the predecessor of Shaykh Abdalla ad-Dagestani, the shaykh of Nazim al-Haqqani. It is significant that Shaykh Nazim is highly respected among Dagestan’s pro-Western dissident intellectuals. They distrust Shaykh Sayid-afandi Chirkeevskii and consider him a descendant of those members of the Naqshbandi tariqa who submitted to the Russian/Soviet rule and who have been paid by the imperial Russia, Soviet and post-Soviet regimes in Dagestan. However, the prozelytising activity by Shaykh Nazim in Dagestan has been seriously complicated by:
the high level of politicisation of the Naqshbandi vird of Shaykh Sayid-afandi Chirkeevskii;
its de-facto spiritual monopoly over the Dagestani Islamic officialdom;
its juxtaposition with the so-called Wahhabis and rival Sufi authorities;
the general political instability in the region and the recent military insurgence of Chechen-Dagestani Islamists(Wahhabis) in the western Dagestan.
the technological backwardness of Dagestan that excludes it from the cyber network which is crucial in Shaykh Nazim’s politics in Europe, the USA and other localities.
In Dagestan Shaykh Nazim has to deal with official propaganda forged by the Muftiyat which presents him as a spurious shaykh, or mutashaykh. The Muftiyat recognises the legitimacy of only four Dagestani shaykhs: Sayid-afandi Chikkeevskii, Badruddin Botlikhskii, Arslanali Gamzatov(Paraulskii) and Abdul-Wahid Kakamakhinskii. All of them belong to the Naqshbandi-Shazali tariqa and claim to be successors to Shaykh Sayful-qadi who is considered as kutba. They argue Shaykh Nazim’s claims to his place in the Naqshbandi silsila derived from the succession controversy which existed since Dagestani Naqshbandi Shaykh Abdurahman as-Sughuri (d.1882). The latter headed the most militant members of the tariqa who accused the others of complacency towards the Russian occupation and preferred the emigration to submission to the Russian rule. It significant that the largest part of Naqshbandis accepted the Russian domination (the line of Shaykh Sayful-qadi). They, however, criticized their opponents for politicization which their regarded as tagayur (deviation) from the Naqshbandi principles. Hypothetically, it may be possible that Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani represents that militant branch of the tariqa while Shaykh Sayid-afandi and other Dagestani official shaykhs belong to the mainstream Naqshbandi tariqa.
The Dagestani official Islamic periodicals have accused Shaykh Nazim of:
forging the Naqshbandi teaching for his own personal and political ends, i.e. violation of the basic principle man tagayyara laysa minna ( those who changed are not with us );
presenting himself as one of the nine and the last genuine Naqshbandi shaykhs who perceived the truth;
not recognising the madhhabs;
the succession to shaykh Abdalla ad-Dagestani who was himself a mutashaykh;
the devaluation of the institute of ijaza (permission) by its thoughtless and arbitrarily distribution;
the distortion of the Sufi ethics by invading the spiritual domain of other Dagestani shaykhs, by ignoring and bypassing the Dagestani Muftiyat;
the violation of the Naqshbandi zikr by introducing some elements of a loud zikr of ‘Allah, Allah, Allah’, instead of the respective internal zikr;
the close relations with Nadirshah Khachilaev (Lak), former chairman of the Union of Muslims of Russia (the UMR) who from September 1999 has been under the official criminal investigation related to his involvement in the Chechen-Islamist invasion of Dagestan;
being commissioned by British an Turkish intelligence to undermine the genuine tariqatism in Dagestan from within.
The official military and political crack-down on Wahhabism and all other non-traditional religious organisations and movements which began in August 1999 has pushed Shaykh Nazims’s followers and sympathizers deeply underground. Since then the official mass media has fought the alleged conspiracy of ‘the third force’ represented by MI 6 and the CIS which seeks to destabilise the Islamic regions of Russia and Central Asia in the interests of the American and British oil and gas companies building an alternative gas and oil transport route from Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan, i.e. by-passing Iran and Iraq. It is also alleged that Saudi Arabia, the USA and the UK have contributed a great deal towards Chechnya’s transformation into a base of international terrorism and Wahhabism in order to perpetuate the economic weakness of Russia and to secure its position as a provider of raw materials to the West. Wahhabism, hence, is qualified as an extremist religious and political movement. In terms of the project this means that any academic, or other association with Great Britain is perceived as suspicious.
Notes on contributors.
Dr Galina Yemelianova is a specialist in Islamic studies. She received her PhD in Islamic history from Moscow State University in 1985. Until 1994 she was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Since 1994 she has been a Research Fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. She has researched and published extensively in Russia and internationally on history and contemporary ethno-political and religious issues in the Middle East and the Islamic regions of the Russian/Soviet empire and post-Soviet Russia. She is currently working on the ESRC-funded project ‘Ethnicity, Politics and Transnational Islam: A Study of an International Sufi Order’ focusing on autonomous republic of Dagestan of the Russian Federation.
 See:A.Bell and P.Garrett, eds.(1998) Approaches to Media Discourse, Oxford:Blackwell;
A.Berger (1991) Media Research Technique, London:Sage Pablications; and A.Teun van Dijk, ed. (1985) Discourse and Communication: New Approaches to the Analysis of Mass Media, Berlin:Walter de Gruyter.
 See: R.Hertz and J.B.Imber, eds.(1995) Studying Elites Using Qualitative Methods, Sage; G.Moyser and M.Wagstaffe,eds. (1987) Research Methods for Elite Studies, London: Sage Publications ; and D.Richards (1996)’Elite Interviewing: Approaches and Pitfalls’, Politics, vol.16, no3, September.
 Dagestan is an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation. It is situated in the eastern part of the North Caucasus. Its territory is 50,300 square kilometres and its population is 1,954,252 (1995). The urban population makes up 43.6 per cent of the total while the rural population is 56.4 per cent. Dagestan is one of the least economically developed autonomous republics of the Russian Federation and is strongly dependent on federal subsidies and other suppliers. It is populated by over thirty different ethnic groups, each of which has its own culture and speaks a distinctive language incomprehensible to the rest.
 The term tariqatism derives from an Arabic word tariqa (‘a path’) which also means a mystical form of Islam. At the core of tariqatism is the mystical link between a Sufi shaykh and his disciples, or murids. The authority of a shaykh is based on a mystical permission, or barakat, which is transferred from the founder of the tariqa to successive shaykhs. The line of succession of shaykhs is known as the ‘golden chain’, or silsila. An important characteristic of a shaykh is his ability to perform miracles, or karamat. Tariqatists believe that the
tariqa provides closer contact between Allah and an individual Muslim than orthodox Islam.
 In 1922 Dagestan was transformed into an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation of the USSR.
 The institution of the Muftiyat was introduced by Tsarina Catherine the Great in 1789. During the Soviet time there were four Muftiyats:the Muftiyat in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) administered the Muslims of Central Asia; the Muftiyat in Baku (Azerbaijan) was in charge of Muslims of the Transcaucasus; The Muftiyat in Makhachkala (Dagestan) controlled Muslims of the North Caucasus and the Muftiyat in Ufa (Bashkorstan) dealt with Muslims of the Volga-Urals and Central Russia.
 Interview with Magomed Kurbanov, the Deputy Minister of Nationalities of Dagestan, Makhachkala, 30 June 1998.
 Interview with Magomed Kurbanov, the Deputy Minister of Nationalities of Dagestan, Makhachkala, 30 June 1998.
 For example, the leading Dagestani shaykh Sayid-afendi Chirkeevskii simultaneously controls a number of Naqshbandi and Shazali virds.
 Nur-ul-Islam, no3, March, 1997.
 In the case of Dagestan the term ‘Islamic traditionalism’ is wider than the term ‘tariqatism’ since it also includes non-Sufi ulema whose present unofficial leader is Abdul-khadzhi Aligadzhiev.
 By the end of 1999 Imams and other Islamic authorities controlled the decision-making process in 68 villages of Dagestan. Islamskii Vestnik, no 22, 1999.
 Historically, Wahhabism was a religious and political movement within the most strict and rigid Khanbali maddhab of Sunni Islam. It originated in the mid-18th century in Arabia and was named after its leader Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab. Strictly speaking the use of the term ‘Wahhabism’ in relation to Dagestani Islamic fundamentalism is incorrect because the latter is based on a wider doctrinal foundation than the teaching of Abd al-Wahhab. However, due to the term’s wide acceptance by politicians and journalists this article uses it as the description of Dagestani Islamic fundamentalism.
 A.Malashenko, Islamskoe Vozrozhdeniye v Sovremennoi Rossii, Moscow: Carnegie Endowment,1998, p.106.
 The IDP was formed in 1990 by Dagestani intellectuals of democratic orientation under the leadership of Abdurashid Saidov. The original programme of the party presented a paradoxical combination of Islamic and democratic ideals, opposing the rule of the corrupted Party nomenclatura and calling for its replacement by an Islamic-democratic Government. In doctrinal terms it favoured tariqatism although it was also tolerant towards Wahhabism.
 G.Yemelianova, ‘Islam and Nation Building in Tatarstan and Dagestan of the Russian Federation’, Nationalities Papers, vol.27, no 4, 1999, p.619.
 Among Said-afendi’s murids who occupied the top positions in the Islamic administration were, for example, Muftii Abubakarov (1994-1998); his father Khasmuhammad –khadzhi who headed the Council of the Dagestani Imams of the Central Mosque of Makhachkala; and Arslanali Gamzatov, the head of the Council of the Dagestani Ulema.
 Interview with M.Kurbanov, Makhachkala, 17 July 1997.
 In spite of close collaboration between the DUMD and the Dagestani authorities, relations between them have not been trouble-free. For example, in 1997-98 the DUMD bitterly criticised the Government for slowing down the Islamisation project, promoted by the DUMD, and for ‘insufficient ‘ hostility towards Wahhabis. As-Salam, no23, December, 1997.
 In particular, the DUMD calls for the introduction in state schools and colleges of religious subjects; the right of various religious organisations to teach religion outside the curriculum; the creation of Islamic nursery schools; the right of students at religious institutes to study general subjects as well and the creation of a state Islamic University which would produce qualified Imams and Islamic teachers. The DUMD also presses for the declaration of Friday as a holiday; the introduction of some elements of the shariat into the legal system, the amendment of the symbols and paraphernalia of the state in line with the requirements of Islam; the adjustment of the slaughter of animals and birds to the shariat; the imposition of restrictions on the sale of alcohol and erotic literature and the introduction of Islamic dress codes for women. As-Salam, no22, December, 1997; As-Salam, no 13 (77), July, 1988.
 The new Central Mosque in Makhachkala, opened in 1996, was built with Turkish aid, and until 1998 a representative of Turkey was the Imam of the mosque.
 The IPD was formed in 1994 as a result of a split in the Islamic Democratic Party (the IDP) between the democratic faction led by its founder Abdurashid Saidov, and the pro-government faction of Surokat Asiyatilov. The leader of the IDP is a Parliamentary Deputy, former wrestler and University lecturer.
 Dagestanskaia Pravda, Makhachkala, 29 May 1996; As-Salam, no24 (64), December, 1997; Nur-ul-Islam, no12, July, 1998; Islamskii Vestnik, no24, 27.07-02.08.98.
 For example, one of the main donors of the DUMD is Sharapuddin Musaev, the head of a large organised crime group in the town of Kaspiisk known as the Kaspiisk mafia.
 According to some figures, financial machinations made the DUMD some $182,000 profit from the hajj in 1998 alone.
In the aftermath of the break-up of the USSR the Dagestani authorities were the most resistant to any democratic reforms. They hung on to the Soviet political system until 1995, much longer than anywhere else in Russia.
 The term ‘ethnic party’ was introduced by the Dagestani sociologist Enver Kisriev to describe quasi-party political organisations based on ethnic and clan solidarity. See E.Kisriev, ‘Dagestan’, Mezhetnicheskie Otnosheniia i Konflikti v post-Sovetskikh Gosuarstvakh, Ezhegodnii Doklad, 1998, p.39.
The Dagestani Constitution of 1994 nominated the fourteen largest ethnic groups as titular. They are: Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, Lezgins, Russians, Laks, Tabasarans, Chechens, Azeris, Nogays, Mountain Jews and Tats, Rutuls, Aguls and Tsakhurs. Konstitutsiia Respubliki Dagestan, Makhachkala:Yupiter, 1994, p.20.
 The Dargin clan includes, for example, M.Magomedov, the head of the State Council of Dagestan and Amir Saidov, the Mayor of Makhachkala. The leaders of the Avar clan are M.Aliev, the chairman of the People’s Assembly (the Parliament), G.Makhachev, the vice-Premier and former leader of the Avar national movement, S.Asiyatilov, the leader of the Islamic Party of Dagestan (the IPD) and Muftii Abdullaev of Dagestan.
 Nurul Islam (The Light of Islam), No 8, August, Makhachkala, 1997.