Religious Boards at the Beginning of the 20th Century

Document 26

The policy of religious faith proclaimed by the 1904 and 1905 decrees signaled, among other things, a revision of the legal statutes in force regarding the population of non-Russian Orthodox faiths. In the Caucasus this matter was handled by the viceroy, Count I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov. It was deemed advisable to discuss possible amendments with members of the top-level Muslim clergy in the Transcaucasian Krai. To this end, Senator N. A. Sultan-Krym-Girei, an aide to the Caucasus viceroy for the civilian population, made a request of the Transcaucasian Mufti, Husein Effendi Gaibov, that he convene a special conference with participation by all members of the Sunni Religious Board, the Tiflis-Kutaisi Gubernia Sunni Majlis, the Muslim clergy in Tiflis, uezd kadis and other religious and secular figures. The same recommendation was sent to the Transcaucasian Sheikh ul-Islam, Abdussalam Akhund Zadeh. The 1897 draft Statute was sent to both of them for discussion under the letter B (No. 15).

On 1 October 1905 a general meeting of the top-level Muslim clergy and secular officials invited from other localities in the Transcaucasian Krai – both Sunnis and Shiites – was held in the building of the Sunni mosque in Tiflis. A special commission was formed to revise the 1872 Statute. The commission managed to complete its assignment, and on 25 May 1906 submitted its version of the Statute. However, due to the bloody clashes between Muslims and Armenians that flared up in various parts of the Transcaucasian Krai, it was not discussed.[i] Only in 1910 was the draft reviewed at a joint conference of chairmen and members of the Transcaucasian religious boards, gubernia majlises, the rank-and-file clergy and submitted by the Transcaucasian Sheikh ul-Islam (31 March) and Mufti (15 May) to the office of the Caucasus viceroy.[ii] But even then the matter did not move forward. The 1872 Statutes remained in force right up to the 1917 October Revolution, which marked the beginning of a completely different stage in Russian history.

[i] GIAAR, f. 290, op. 2, d. 2707, l. 97ob.

[ii] TsIAG, f. 13, op. 11, d. 338, l. 103.