POLITICAL ISLAM IN CENTRAL ASIA: ITS SOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT STAGES
Davlat Nazirov, Director, Center for the Studies and Analysis of Anti-Extremism and Anti-Terrorist Struggle “Shchit” (Shield) (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)
Religion and politics became closely intertwined in Islam’s earliest history. Practically from the very beginning it has been developing as a religious teaching and a political program actively defended by the Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslims. This should be made absolutely clear because today many of the Muslim leaders and common people regard the purity of early Islam and the image of the Prophet, an ideal man and politician, as one of the main ethical symbols.
At the early stage of Islam little thought was given to the nature of power: it belonged to Allah while power on earth was regarded as His gift and the duty imposed by Him. Its aims and tasks were fairly limited: the ruler should lead the people (his subjects) so that they obey the divine laws registered in the Koran and Sunnah. There were no ideas about the very possibility of separating the divine from the secular. Everything that was going on in the world—from the greatest events down to the minutest details of everyday life—was of religious significance and belonged to the spiritual sphere. The secular and the religious differed but little when it came to the use of similar or identical terms.
Early in the 7th century the Muslim community split as a result of power struggle between Caliph Ali ibn Talib and Muawiya who ruled Damascus. Those who supported Ali formed a religious-political group ash-shia (hence the Shi‘ites); their opponents called themselves the people of Sunnah (the Sunnis) and insisted that they followed the Prophet Muhammad’s tradition that the Shi‘ites were distorting. The battle at Siffin in 657 in which Ali fought the Umayyads gave rise to another ideological and political trend—the Kharijites—who continued fighting against Ali and having murdered him in 661 against the Umayyads. The Sunnis, Shi‘ites, and Kharijites interpreted the idea of power in the Muslim community (state) differently and this was their major contradiction.
Between the 9th and 11th centuries feudal society and the feudal state in its Muslim variant took shape. It was at that time that the Muslims acquired a ramified religious system; the Arab Muslim state was gradually disintegrating and the secular and religious spheres became more clearly seen. Secular power appeared. In Baghdad the Caliph lost a considerable part of his secular power first to the Buyid and later to Seljuk sultans. They became omnipotent holy rulers while the Caliph became something of an imam or a high priest who made the rights and the rule of a sultan sacred. In the 11th century the Seljukids who defended the Sunni tradition proudly called themselves maliks.
The Amirs in the Middle East, Iran, Central Asia and India were steeped in secular policy-making; the Muslim qadis and faqihs never tired of sanctifying their political and class interests and made feeble attempts at bringing the nature of their political power to the Islamic ideal in its “sacral” or “communal” variant.
In the 17th-18th centuries the Ottoman authorities initiated a gradual revival of the blend between the secular and the spiritual; power was gradually becoming Islamic. In the 18th century Wahhabism appeared; it was a wider and more numerous movement that wanted to revive the early ideals and the unity between the religious and secular elements in all spheres of life. Another attempt to reach the same was made in the 19th century by those who followed the Mahdist trends (in which the “sacral” principle predominated) in an effort to marry religion and politics.
Today, those of the Sunnis who want to restore the norms of “true” early Islam pay much attention to the ideas and attempts at restoring single power that could distinguish between the spiritual and the secular.
In this way, the dynamics of the Muslim conception of correlation between Islam and politics prompts several conclusions. First, the undivided secular and religious principle typical of Islam gives rise, in an ideal case, to the unity of all functions of power within the ruler’s duty to control all sides of life so that they correspond to the divine law. In this sense the ruler acts for the only and true potentate—Allah. Second, this unity is ensured by a concentration in the hands of the earthly ruler different functions of power (legislative, executive, and judicial functions) and different ideas of its nature (“communal,” “sacral”). Third, in the past there were periods when concentration of functions disintegrated, was later revived, and part of the common unity was restored. On the whole, the secular and the spiritual were gradually becoming more and more separated while each new drawing closer (during an “Islamic boom”) bridged only part of the old gap.1
The social shifts of the 1960s and 1970s brought to life massive political movements of the Muslims that, at first glance, looked unexpected. Indeed, having won political independence the majority of the Eastern countries stepped up secularization pace, political activities of theologians were limited while religious institutions were made accountable to secular governments. The Islamic swell was seen mainly in towns; in the first decades of independence political activists used secular nationalist slogans while the efforts of Muslim theologians to become involved in politics and a parallel desire of modern intellectuals to arm themselves with political Islam left no noticeable imprint on the ideological and political struggle.
Today there are the following types of political leaders in Islam: professional, and in fact secular, leaders of the Dudaev and Maskhadov type in Chechnia who use Islam as an opposition force while fighting for power or for strengthening their regimes; religious and social groups (the ulema, sheikhs of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Khomenei type in Iran); members of Muslim intelligentsia that act as ideologists or preachers of Islam rather than as professional politicians or theologians (such are the leaders of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan).
One should say that in different countries the role of the Muslim religious social groups is different. In Libya, for example, its political leader Colonel Qaddafi is the supreme interpreter of the Koran. The role of the ulema under him is limited to maintaining faith in the masses. In Saudi Arabia the ulema is invited to sanction everything the government does, all institutions of the regime and all its orientations, including the modernization process.
In the “Islamic boom” context Muslim parties and organizations become more active. Their political activities and organizational forms can be divided into three types. The first consists of modernist parties actively involved in political developments of their countries. Such are Istiklal (Independence) in Morocco, the Muslim League in Pakistan, the United Development Party in Indonesia, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party in Malaysia. Parties that brought together the structure of medieval religious orders and fraternities and the way the modern parties are organized belong to the second type. They are mainly revivalist parties such as Jamaat-i Islami in Pakistan, The Muslim Brotherhood in Arab countries (Egypt, etc.). Parties of the ulema (in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Jamaat-e ulema in Pakistan) representing the ulema’s corporate interests belong to the third type. They are traditionalist and (rarely) revivalist organizations.
Parties of the second type—Jamaat-i Islami and The Muslim Brotherhood—moved to the fore during the “Islamic boom.”2 The Muslim Brotherhood party was set up in 1928 in Ismailiya (Egypt) by a schoolteacher Hasan Al-Banna who formulated its ideology in the following way: “Allah is our aim; the Prophet is our leader; the Koran is our Constitution, jihad is our way; death on the way indicated by Allah is our ultimate wish.”3 The charter said: “I shall work toward restoration of Islam’s leading role in our thoughts and our morals… shall fight against freethinking and atheism that are undermining Islam’s leading role.”4 Its activists, like all other Salafites, idealized early Islam and described it as the “golden age.” They were convinced that in order to restore it the entire Muslim community should embrace Islam once more. They were talking about a union of all Islamic states under the banner of their common faith,5 that is, a restored Caliphate. Little by little the party developed into a large organization with numerous grass-root cells.
It reached its peak in the late 1940s when it worked together with an underground Free Officers organization led by Nasser and was engaged in wide-scale terrorist acts against pro-British Egyptian politicians; the party cooperated with the royal court and was deeply involved in a coup. The plot was discovered, the association banned and legalized once more in 1951.
In the 1950s-1960s, Sayyid Qutb was the party’s main ideologist; he supported the fundamentalist trend in Islam and revised the concept of “jihad.” According to him jihad no longer meant personal spiritual effort of the faithful on the way toward Allah; it was an idea of armed struggle against the infidels and, mainly, against those of the Muslims who failed to accept this teaching. One of the Egyptian researchers wrote in 1981: “The apostate deserves to be killed even if he cannot fight back while an infidel does not deserve death in similar circumstances.”6
Qutb introduced the idea about a revolution against the ruling regimes of the Muslim states that had been alien to righteous Sunni Islam. It was he who introduced fitna (revolt, or uprising) into Muslim law. In other words, he spread the taqfir (accusation of lack of faith) “to the rulers of Islamic states, … and those of the Muslims who by refusing to help the Salafis make themselves apostates.”7
Qutb adjusted the earlier somewhat contradictory ideology of Muslim Brothers to the ideas of militant fundamentalism and resolutely rejected the policy of compromises with the Egyptian authorities. He insisted that jihad was the only road toward political power. In 1965 he was arrested, sentenced to death, and executed a year later.
In 1981 a group of fighters left The Muslim Brotherhood to set up an organization of their own called Jihad; during a military parade they murdered President Sadat. Under President Mubarak The Muslim Brotherhood gradually blended with the state political system and became convinced that the road to power could be peaceful. By using the legal parliamentary instruments they insisted on introducing the Shari‘a, on resolute anti-communist actions; they were against cooperation with Israel. It set up its branches in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and other Muslim countries.
Functionaries of radical Muslim organizations and movements such as the Fida‘is of Islam in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the North Caucasian Wahhabis in Chechnia and Daghestan are using Qutb’s writings in their propaganda.
One should say that religious-political Islam, extremism and terrorism carry an imprint of three outstanding personalities: Hasan Al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, two leaders of The Muslim Brotherhood, and mawlana Abdul A’la Mawdudi who in 1941 founded Jamaat-i Islami in India (today, it is one of the official organizations working in Pakistan). All of them looked at Islam as a comprehensive ideology of personal and public life, of the state and society; they regarded the Koran and Sunnah as two pillars of the life of all Muslims; they believed that the Shari‘a based on the Koran and the Prophet’s life as a model was a sacred pattern for all Muslims; they were convinced that to restore the Muslims’ pride, strength and rule (the past glory of the Islamic empires and civilizations) society should return to Islam, obey the will of Allah and follow His instructions when ruling the state and society, etc.8
Let’s use this background to have a look at political Islam in Central Asia today. It came to the region in the 1970s as a surprise for many, therefore the public, the authorities, the media, the official clergy, respected hereditary ishans, prominent self-appointed mullahs and other religious leaders were looking at it as an “invasion of Wahhabism” from Saudi Arabia. At that time I had a chance to talk to many prominent Muslim religious leaders: Maulawi Muhammadjon Rustamov (Dushanbe), ishan Abdurakhmanjan (Faizabad District), ishan Saidashraf Abdulkhaev (Bokhtar District), mullah Safarali (town of Kurgan-Tiube), ishan Sorbon (town of Nurek), mullah Muhammadsharif (Gissar District), maksum Abdurauf Sultanov (the town of Khujand), and others. They all agreed: “The new young members of the clergy who call to return to the ‘purity’ of Islam are undoubtedly the ‘Wahhabis.’ They are connected with Rakhmatulla Aloma and Abduwali Mirzoev from Andizhan in the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan who embraced this reactionary teaching much earlier.” This explains a firm popular conviction that the young preachers who came to the political scene of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were Wahhabis. This fitted what the corresponding structures in the Center were convinced of: everybody was informed about the activities of the alleged Wahhabis in Uzbekistan. It was believed that most likely Wahhabism came to Tajikistan from the Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan.
Reality was a bit different. In the 1970s the media, especially the national press carried articles by prominent Orientalists and specialists in Islamic studies such as A. Ignatenko, A. Malashenko, L. Polonskaia, V. Korgun, E. Primakov, L. Borissov, and others who wrote about political Islam in the Middle East and said that The Muslim Brotherhood had captured power in Egypt. One of the publications of the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences carried detailed information about The Muslim Brotherhood, described its activities in Arab countries, its structure, quoted bits and pieces from its Charter, etc. L. Polonskaia, a prominent specialist in Oriental studies, wrote: “Starting with the latter half of the 1970s the slogans of Islamic renaissance acquired fresh impetus and became an ideology of massive political movements of the Muslims. These movements are playing a much greater role in general Islamization of public life and state policies of certain countries.”9 Another academic, L. Borissov had the following to say on this score: “Religious ideology can serve political interests of a wide variety of groups—this is what it is about. When we are talking about the processes of Islamization in the contemporary world we are not talking about religion per se, because the Islamic slogans are not that important. What is important is the form that all sorts of social and political processes assume in definite conditions.”10
L. Polonskaia said elsewhere: “In the 1960s and especially after the defeat Egypt suffered in the war with Israel in 1967 the trend toward greater Islamization of politics increased. As distinct from traditionalism and modernism, ‘revivalism’ is not merely a political slogan, not only an ideology of the religious and secular elite—this is a powerful political movement.”11 Islamic solidarity was born in the late 1960s as a result of the Middle Eastern crisis. Late in the 1960s and early 1970s The Muslim Brotherhood used the slogan of the Islamic Way to fight against the Arab countries of socialist orientation (Egypt, Syria, Algeria, etc.). The Iranian revolution that hoisted Islam as the banner of the destitute raised even a greater wave of political responsibility of the Muslims.12
This shows that the emergence of political Islam in Central Asia was promoted by the emergence of political Islam in the Middle Eastern countries in the 1960s and 1970s and by closer ties between the U.S.S.R. and this region.
It was in the 1970s that Islamists Rakhmatulla Aloma and Abduwali Mirzoev from Andizhan in the Uzbek part of the Ferghana Valley established contacts with Arabs from Middle Eastern countries who regularly came to the republic within the programs of religious and scientific and technical exchange. They set up underground organizations of young Islamists and a network of secret religious schools in Andizhan, Ferghana, Namangan, Kokand, Margelan, and other towns to educate political Islamists. Well-known ulema Khakimjan Qori was among the teachers while Juma Namangani was one of his pupils.
Until the 1980s Khakimjan Qori never abandoned his attempts to open similar schools in the Proletarskiy, Nauskiy districts and the town of Tursunzadeh of Tajikistan. The KGB of the Tajik S.S.R. cut short all these attempts. Some of the young Islamists in Tajikistan who had attended lessons of famous Muslim theologian Maulawi Muhammadjon Rustamov together with Rakhmatulla Aloma learned about his activities. They went to Andizhan to study in the local school. In 1976-1977 they themselves set up a secret Muslim Organization of the Youth in Kurgan-Tiube headed by Abdullo Nuriddinovich Saidov born in 1947 and living in the Turkmenistan state farm of the Vakhsh District. Today, Islamists insist that the organization was set up even earlier, in 1973.
Practically all Rustamov’s students agree that the Maulawi mainly concentrated on the spiritual values of Islam and never spoke about politics or political Islam. When talking to me in 1986 Maulawi Rustamov pointed out that he had never discussed politics with his pupils. Yet all of them started with reading the writings of Hasan Al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Mawdudi, Jamoliddin Afgoni and other Islamic radicals, fundamentalists and reformers who called to “resurrection” of true Islam. Rakhmatulla Aloma and Abduwali Mirzoev regularly traveled from Andizhan to Tajikistan to help the local Islamists. They spoke at clandestine meetings in the Vakhsh Valley and the Kulob Region.
Little by little the youth leaders widened their scope and reached Dushanbe, Kulob, the Gissar, Lenin, Kafirnigan, Dangarin, Kumsangir, Kolkhozabad, Jilikul, Bokhtar, and Vakhsh districts. In emulation of their Uzbek friends’ example they set up a network of clandestine religious-political schools where Islamic studies went hand in hand with physical training, studies of martial arts and handling of the nunchaka, etc. Hundreds of their graduates were prepared to sacrifice their lives.
In the 1980s, these young men became bolder, tried to plant their pupils in state structures and law enforcement bodies or at least, enlist supporters among those who were already working there. It was at that time that the Politburo of the C.C. C.P.S.U. adopted a document called “On the Islamic Factor” sent to all Union republics as classified information. The C.C. Communist Party of Tajikistan dispatched it to all regional, city and district party committees. Several months later the intelligence of the Islamic Organization of the Youth procured a copy in one of the districts of the Kurgan-Tiube Region. According to the republican KGB the C.C. of the Communist Party of Tajikistan recalled all earlier distributed copies and placed them in its special department. There was information that Islamists contacted people from the Communist Party and Soviet structures, the Ministry of the Interior, the KGB, and the public prosecutor’s office with an aim of enlisting their support; there were people who even dared to give money to the Islamists.
The Islamists established close contacts with students from the Middle Eastern countries and asked them to help organize a clandestine publication. They needed, in particular, Arabic script for a small printshop. One of the foreign students who studied in Dushanbe and had contacts with The Muslim Brotherhood supplied the Tajik Islamists with religious-political writings. During summer holidays the student went to Moscow where he informed his embassy about the request. To cut short his intermediary activities the student was expelled from the institute while the embassy was informed about his activities incompatible with the policy of the Soviet state. Deprived of this contact the Islamists became acquainted with a clerk of one of the republican ministries who multiplicated their materials until his activities were cut short.
To achieve a greater effect and conceal their true aims the Islamists tried to persuade the faithful to discontinue the practice of sacrifices of farm animals as part of the burial rite, exposed the “parasitical way of life” of certain self-appointed mullahs hanging about in “holy” places and the hereditary ishans.
Much time later one of the Islamist leaders told me that these and similar statements had helped them establish themselves on the religious scene and attract the faithful. The true reasons behind this were different: they were readying themselves to capture power in emulation of what imam Khomeini had done in Iran: the Islamic Revolution greatly inspired the Tajik Islamists. Some of them listened to Radio Tehran at night and recorded imam Khomeini’s speeches to share their recordings with friends. The local Islamists attached great importance to what the Islamic mujaheddin were doing in Afghanistan; there were permanent contacts with them through which printed matter and oral advice flowed to Tajikistan.
In an effort to capture power the Islamists eagerly looked into the past, at the Bolsheviks. Indeed, certain leaders of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan often pointed out that communists had said many correct and instructive things and that they were using their positive experience. Gorbachev’s perestroika opened the doors of mosques for them and gave them an opportunity to openly call to Islamization at all sorts of rallies.
In this way the following factors were conducive to the emergence of political Islam in Central Asia, and in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in particular: the “Islamic boom” of the 1960s-1970s in the Middle East; numerous articles about political Islam and The Muslim Brotherhood’s activity in the Arabic countries; regular scientific-technical and religious exchange with the Middle Eastern countries, etc. The local Islamists were inspired by the victorious Islamic Revolution in Iran and imam Khomeini’s advent to power, as well as antigovernmental actions of Islamic mujaheddin in Afghanistan. Perestroika made Soviet society and political movements more democratic and added boldness to the Islamists. They legalized their activities and were trying to plant the ideas of political Islam more firmly. In fact, it was political Islam that struck root first in Uzbekistan and then in Tajikistan and destabilized the domestic and regional political situation. By that time, nobody doubted that the countries were facing political Islam because its proponents were trying to capture power rather than to introduce Islamic values into people’s minds.
In fulfillment of their main task of fighting religious and political extremism the competent services were gathering information about extremist activities of the leaders and more active members of political Islam. In accordance with Art 67 of the Criminal Code “Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda,” they compiled dozens of files. The work was acclaimed by their highly placed colleagues from Moscow who praised the high professional skills demonstrated by the republican special services and their profound knowledge about what was going on in the Islamist camp. The Center took into account that in the conditions of perestroika and democratization it was necessary to register all facts of the Islamists’ anti-social behavior: the polygamy, illegal possession of firearms, slandering the Soviet state system (Art 203); document forging, army service evasion, etc.
The files were scrutinized in the republican Public Prosecutor’s office; First Deputy Public Prosecutor sanctioned arrests and searchers in the homes of the suspect. The operation was scheduled for 08:00 a.m. on 22 June, 1986. The law enforcement bodies followed instructions and on the eve informed the C.C. of the Communist Party of Tajikistan of the planned operation. Information was circulated among the regional, city and district party committees; later it turned out that two first secretaries of district party committees were connected with the suspects and had warned them in advance. Still, the operation delivered a heavy blow at the Islamists and disabled them for the next 3 to 4 years.
Investigation conducted jointly by the Public Prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of the Interior produced a lot of information about the structure, political activities, foreign contacts, the channels through which the Islamists received religious-political literature, and places where such publications were multiplied. Dozens of Islamists were sentenced to various terms in prison that they spent in colonies with a general regime in the Russian Federation. A great number of Islamists received official warnings from the Public Prosecutor’s office; some of them were warned at rallies of their fellow villagers, etc. These developments received wide coverage on TV, the radio, and the press (over 50 articles in local and national papers).
In the 1990s, the former prisoners started coming back. In October 1990, the Islamists of Tajikistan held a constituent conference in the village of Chortut, Lenin District, that set up the Tajik branch of the Party of Islamic Revival of the U.S.S.R.; the Ministry of Justice refused to register it.
In that period it was the republican Kaziat that stood opposed to the Islamists. There were nonformal leaders among its members (hereditary ishans and Muslim clergy) who enjoyed trust and respect of the common people. The Kaziat did its best to support the state.
In September 1991, Tajikistan became independent; in December the Ministry of Justice registered the Party of Islamic Revival of Tajikistan.
The country was moving toward presidential elections and had to choose from among 10 candidates the most likely winners being Supreme Soviet Chairman R. Nabiev, who used to be First Secretary of the C.C. Communist Party of Tajikistan, and D. Khudonazarov, Chairman of the Union of Cinematographers. The Islamists and the opposition in general (the Democratic Party, Rastokhez, La’li Badakhshon) supported the latter while the Kaziat and the majority of the faithful were for Nabiev.
The election struggle was fierce, passions flew high; the main rivals met in the second round which Nabiev swept. The opposition and the political Islamists of the IRPT found it hard to accept their crushing defeat. They circulated rumors and even stated in the press that the election returns had been doctored.
In 1990 and early 1991, I represented the Council for Religious Affairs in the Kulob Region. I deem it my duty to tell here the truth about the elections. At that time there were three mosques in the region’s center; one of them, strictly traditional, headed by imam-khatib Sharifzoda Khaidar was attended by 10 to 15 thou people on Fridays and up to 90 thou on large holidays such as Ramazan and Kurban). The second mosque headed by mullah Abdurakhim Karimov, a follower of political Islam, was attended by 250 to 300 people on Fridays and from 800 to 1,200 on large holidays. The same was true of the Kurgan-Tiube and Sogdi regions, the city of Dushanbe, and district centers. In other words, in 1991 the Kaziat had the religious situation in the republic under control while the followers of political Islamists comprised from 7 to 10 percent of the faithful. This shows that the election results corresponded to the situation while the political Islamists and their candidate Davlat Khudonazarov turned out to be political adventurers who refused to recognize their defeat and tried to provoke a revolt or mass disturbances.
Early in 1992, the religious situation turned to the worse. The Kaziat decided to side with the religious-political Islamists and became the headquarters of the opposition. The political balance in the republic was tipped. In April and August 1992, extremists took senior officials of the Presidential chancellery and members of the Cabinet hostage together with two deputies prime minister and about 15 Supreme Soviet deputies. The same people forced the Supreme Soviet chaired by K. Aslonov to pass a decision on removing the monument to Lenin; in September in the Dushanbe airport they insisted that President Nabiev resign. Terrorists assassinated Prosecutor General N. Khuvaidulloev and First Deputy Chairman of the Kulob Executive Committee S. Sangov. The republic was slipping to a civil war.
At that time the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were parties of political Islamists. There are people who are still insisting that the IRTP remains an extremist organization and a regional hazard. In particular I. Dobaev has written: “There are organizations that stand opposed to the authorities. They are extremist nongovernmental religious-political organizations (NGRPO). In most cases they are working toward toppling down official regimes or toward Muslims’ political and state self-determination. They do not rule out violence (they describe it as jihad, or a holy war) as a means of securing their aim. They are The Muslim Brotherhood present in many Arab countries, Hamas, in Palestine, Hizballah, in Lebanon, the Islamic Revival Party, in Tajikistan, the Wahhabi Islamic jamaats in the Northern Caucasus, etc.”13 Another author, E. Mamytova writes: “The Islamic Revival Party in Tajikistan is the core of Islamic radicalism; its leaders are cabinet members and are ready to compete for presidency and power. It is a source of constant inspiration for all other radical religious organizations active in the region.”14
I cannot agree with this: in September 1999, the party was re-registered. Today one cannot accuse it of radicalism and extremism because it is controlled by the Ministry of Justice. According to its program and charter the IRTP is a parliamentary party and it will never again resort to violence and jihad. The Tajiks have suffered enough in Islamic-democratic revolutions—it seems that in the nearest 50 to 70 years the Islamists will hardly come to power in the republic.
Speaking about the potentials of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan the former seems to have failed to achieve any considerable political influence in any of the Muslim countries. Its supporters and followers are persecuted in Arab countries and in other regions: the party is regarded as a radical organization preaching pan-Islamism and aimed at a Caliphate. Its members reject any possibility of a compromise with other organizations and movements.
Grass-root cells of this party appeared in Ferghana, Andizhan, and Tashkent between 1992 and 1994, later, in 1998-2000 they were set up in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Abdujalil Iusupov and Abdukholik Mulloev, two leaders of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Sogdi Region trained in Andizhan managed to organize party branches in the former Bolshoi Gafurov, Isfara, and Zafarabad districts, in the towns of Khujand, Chkalovsk, and Istravshan within a short period of time. When put to trial Iusupov described the aim of his party in the following way: “…either the Caliphate or death.”15 In Tajikistan the party is mainly engaged in illegal printing and distribution of leaflets, booklets, and other literature.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan appeared early in the 1990s in Namangan; it borrowed its political, economic, and social ideas from the Adolat and Islam lashkarlari movements. Having performed several terrorist acts in Uzbekistan its active members avoided persecution by crossing the border to Tajikistan where they fought together with the opposition.
When the inter-Tajik peace agreement was signed in 1997 they had to abandon their camps and joined forces with the Taliban. In August and September of 1999 and 2000 they moved from Afghanistan via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to raid Uzbekistan. In 2001, their warlord Juma Namangani became a de facto aide of Osama bin Laden.
Certain authors and heads of state accuse Tajikistan of the IMU raids into Kyrgyzstan allegedly started in the Karategin Valley. This is not true: the IMU detachments were deported to Afghanistan.
The antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan dealt heavy blows at the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan stationed in Kunduz; Juma Namagani is rumored to have died there. The IMU remnants are still camping in Afghanistan; today they take orders from Tohir Yoldosh allegedly hiding in Pakistan. In March 2003, it was reported that contrary to earlier information Juma Namangani was alive and well and was planning another raid into Uzbekistan.
Certain authors say that Hizb ut-Tahrir and the IMU are acting together. This is hardly true because their programs and platforms are different. The IMU leaders seek an official recognition of their party as a real political opposition in Uzbekistan and are prepared to discuss this with the country’s leaders. Since the latter are avoiding all possible contacts the party is working toward an Islamic state in the Ferghana Valley that later can be extended to the entire territory of Uzbekistan. Hizb ut-Tahrir sees a worldwide Islamic caliphate as its only aim.
The Taliban and al-Qa‘eda are still resisting the antiterrorist coalition in Afghanistan; one cannot exclude a possibility of their militants crossing into Central Asia. According to information obtained by the special services of Kyrgyzstan the IMU was transformed into the Islamic Movement of Central Asia, a blanket organization for some of the former Tajik mujaheddin, fighters from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and even Uighur separatists from China. The movement is still headed by the same Tohir Yoldosh.
It is commonly believed that the movement entrenched itself in the Smaller Afghan Pamir where the borders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China meet from which raids into Uzbekistan via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan can be organized.
From the very beginning Islam was a religion with a political program while the Prophet Muhammad, its founder, was a political and religious leader of the Muslim umma.
As it was reaching feudalism, in the 9th through to 11th centuries, the Muslim state was disintegrating and the secular and religious spheres became divided. In the 18th century there were attempts to restore their unity; this was especially clear in the Wahhabi movement that tried to restore the original ideals of early Islam.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the “Islamic boom” in the Arab countries, Wahhabism actively exported from Saudi Arabia, mainly to the Soviet Union, propaganda of The Muslim Brotherhood ideas all lead to the emergence of political Islam in Central Asia and the Northern Caucasus.
Islamists’ attempts to blend the secular and the religious in the state system by force triggered a civil was in Tajikistan, separatist actions in Chechnia and Daghestan, and mass disturbances in the Uzbek part of the Ferghana Valley.
Since 1999 the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan has been acting as an officially recognized party with members among the cabinet ministers and parliamentary deputies and with predominantly traditional minded leadership.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan presents a constant threat to regional security; its fighters may invade the Ferghana Valley from Afghanistan via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Hizb ut-Tahrir sees the caliphate as its final aim; today it is engaged in extremist actions and distribution of illegal literature.
1 See: M.B. Piotrovskiy, “Istoricheskie istoki politicheskoy teorii i praktiki sovremennogo Islama,” Islam v sovremennoy politike stran Vostoka, Moscow, 1986, pp. 17-34.
2 See: Z.I. Levin, “Idei i ideologi sovremennykh islamskikh politicheskikh dvizheniy,” in: Islam v sovremennoy politike stran Vostoka, pp. 67-76.
3 Quoted from: Le Mond, 30 August, 1996.
4 Quoted from: Muhammad Hussein, Al Ittijahat al-wataniya fil-adab al-mysri al hadith, Part 2, Cairo, 1956, p. 300.
5 See: A.B. Borissov, Rol’ islama vo vnutrenney i vneshney politike Egipta (XX vek), Moscow, 1991; A.A. Ignatenko, Khalify bez Khalifata, Moscow, 1988.
6 Muhammad inb Suleyman at-Tamimi, Kniga edinobozhia, Baku, 1997, p. 43.
7 A. Ignatenko, “Endogenous Radicalism in Islam,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 2, 2000, p. 127.
8 See: I. Dobaev, “Radical Political Institutions of the Islamic World: Escalation of Violence,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 6 (12), 2001, pp. 20-22.
9 L.R. Polonskaia, “Musul’manskie ideynye techenia i kontseptsii,” Nauka i religia, No. 6, 1983, p. 57.
10 L. Borissov, “Rasprostranenie islama prodolzhaetsia?” Nauka i religia, No. 12, 1984, p. 56.
11 An article by L. Polonskaia in Islam v sovremennoy politike stran Vostoka, pp. 79-80.
12 See: L.R. Polonskaia, “Islam v poiskakh ‘tret’ego puti’ razvitia,” Azia i Afrika segodnia, No. 1, 1987, p. 18.
13 I. Dobaev, op. cit., p. 19.
14 E. Mamytova, “Islamic Fundamentalism and Extremism in Central Asia,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 5, 2000, p. 53.
15 K. Mukhabbatov, “Religiozno-oppozitsionnye gruppy v Tadzhikistane,” in: Religiozniy ekstremizm v Tsentral’noi Azii, Dushanbe, 2002, pp. 83-84.