(based on North Caucasian documents)

Vakhit AKAEV

Vakhit Akaev, D.Sc. (Philos.), professor, chief researcher at the Comprehensive Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Grozny, Russia)


The religious situation in the Northern Caucasus, a conflict-prone territory of the Russian Federation, is becoming noticeably politicized due to the overall difficult, often contradictory, socioeconomic and political-cultural transformations in the country. This situation can be called the rebirth of Islam, or revivalism, to use Western terminology.

Islamic revivalism in the Northern Caucasus is a specific phenomenon whereby regional traditional Islam receives a revivalist boost in the form of its free development. During the years when the Soviet ideological system prevailed, this gave rise to certain problems. However, Islamic revivalism also has another special feature related to the penetration of radical and extremist trends that are not traditional for this region. These include the Salafite trends, among which an important place is occupied by so-called Wahhabism.

The main purpose of this article is to look at how relations between traditional Islam in the Northern Caucasus and the non-traditional Islamic religious trends are developing. In order to do this, we need to look at the special features of local traditional Islam, the reasons for the appearance and spread of Wahhabism, the contradictions and conflicts between them, the interrelations between Chechen teyps and wirds, and the ways to overcome religious extremism.

1. The Special Features of Traditional Islam

The Muslims of the Northern Caucasus are mainly Sunnis who follow the Shafii and Hanafi schools of thought. There are more Sunnis than Shiites in the region. However, researchers often incorrectly cite the number of Sunnis and Shiites. For example, a study translated from English to Russian notes that: the Sunnis comprise the minority of Muslims in Tatarstan, Daghestan, Chechnia, Ingushetia, and Kalmykia, which belong to the Russian Federation. In actual fact, however, Sunnis, on the contrary, comprise the majority of..

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