ABSTRACT

This chapter deals with the role of Islam in the secessionist conflict in Chechnya. Chechnya is one of the twenty-one republics of the Russian Federation. During the seventeenth century the Sufi tradition of Islam, coming from the Ottoman Empire, gradually became the religion of the majority population of Chechnya and neighbouring regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan. The spread of political Islam into Chechnya has transformed a secessionist conflict into a conflict between the proponents of traditional Sufi Islam and of political Islam. During the armed resistance to the Russian conquest and occupation in the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century, the Sufi spiritual or religious leaders in the region of Chechnya and Dagestan took the role of military and political leaders of the resistance. Judging by the available and non-clandestine news sources, Chechnya appears to be, as its former Grand Mufti Akhmad Kadyrov would have put it, a 'Wahabite-free' country: a country where political Islam has no following.