Delineating the Boundaries of What is Permitted: Regulations and Rules for the Clergy
With the formation of Muslim religious boards in Transcaucasia, officials of the tsarist administration ran into a slew of organizational and technical difficulties and misalignments. The Statutes adopted in 1872 provided for the formulation of special regulations and rules to govern specific areas of activities of the religious boards.
Among the first were the “Rules on Keeping Civil Registers and Records on the Muslim Clergy of the Transcaucasian Krai” (No. 11), issued in 1873. It was assumed that keeping civil registers would make it possible to collect statistical material – extremely important for the civil and military authorities – on the number of followers of Islam who were living in the Transcaucasian Krai.
Another problem was the shortage of so-called staff mullahs in the newly formed parishes due to the lack of uniform programs approved by the secular authorities on testing for religious positions. In order to solve it, the “Regulations on the Testing Procedure for Admission to the Muslim Clergy” was approved in July 1873 (No. 12). In October of that year the department of the main administration of the Caucasus viceroy sent the Sunni and Shia religious boards requests for them to draw up testing programs for securing religious positions. And already in November the Transcaucasian Mufti Haji, Hamid Efendi Mustafa Efendi Zadeh, and the Sheikh ul-Islam Akhund, Ahmed Husein Zadeh, had prepared and presented their respective drafts (Nos. 13, 14). For some time they were under review by a member of the Council of the Main Administration, Prince D. D. Dzhordzhadze, who returned them to the main administration in 1874. After meetings and consultations with the Mufti and the Sheikh ul-Islam, Prince Dzhordzhadze began preparing his own versions of the programs. They were the ones that were approved by the Caucasus viceroy.