The First Practical Experience
Considerable support for the establishment of the Trancaucasian Muslim religious boards came from the viceroy of the Caucasus, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich. Under him the Caucasus administration and members of the top-level Muslim clergy formulated provisional rules to regulate the religious life of adherents of Islam. For example, at the end of 1862 and beginning of 1863, at the viceroy’s request, the state councilor A. L. Graf drafted regulations for the governance of Shia Muslims, which in 1863 was approved by the chairman of the Council of Caucasus Viceroy, Prince G. D. Orbeliani. Similar regulations, with certain names of religious positions changed, were provided as a guide to the Transcaucasian Mufti, Mahmud Efendi Mufti Zadeh. Until the Muslim religious boards themselves were established, these regulations became the basis for governing the activities of clerics and a measure of their responsibilities. Later they developed into the 1872 Statutes on the governance of the Muslim clergy. Officially, it became part of the duties of the leaders of the Muslim clergy to keep statistics on parishes. Foreign clerics were allowed to be present for the time being, but their participation was limited to teaching at mosque schools, and that was only after they went through many background checks. Later this too would be officially prohibited.