The zikr

🕔August 28, 2017 0 comments

The zikr, “the circular dance and incantatory ritual” (Wood, 26) used by the Qadiri Sufi Islamic brotherhood, Qadiriyya, as a form of prayer, developed into a symbol of national identity and national unity for the Chechens beginning with its introduction in the mid-nineteenth century and throughout its years under Russian rule. The dance became a rallying cry for the resistance movements in Chechnya under the tsarist rule, the Soviet regime, and the current Russian Federation.
When the Chechens converted to Sunni Islam in the 16th century, they were immediately drawn to Sufism, the mystical Islamic tradition, specifically Naqshbandiyya, which helped to unite the North Caucasus to revolt against annexation by the Russian tsar (Gaal, 32). In the 1850s, Kunta Haji brought Qadiriyya, another “one of the four oldest and most prestigious Sufi [brotherhoods]” (Gammer, 73), from Dagestan. Kunta developed into a national legend; Chechen myth portrays him as exceedingly intelligent, pious, and just. Qadiriyya was less intellectual than Naqshbandiyya, which appealed more to those Chechens who could not read or did not have access to Islamic texts (Bullough, 331). The Qadiriyya also introduced the zikr as a “loud ecclesiastical prayer” (Bullough, 331) as opposed to the silent prayer the Naqshbani used. In one of the few instances the Naqshbandi did use the loud zikr, Imam Shamil was able to “mobilize support and strengthen morale” (Gammer, 75) for the Caucasian War in the mid-nineteenth century, so the loud zikr already had a tradition in the resistance movement in Chechnya. Taner Celadin

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