The Myth of Militant Islam: Islam Returns

THERE IS A TRADITION OF POLITICAL Engagement on the part of Islam in Russia that began before the 1917 October Revolution and developed through the first decade of Soviet rule. Prior to 1917, Muslims in Russia had their own Duma faction. Their leaders and ideologists preached reform, which they sought to combine with the idea that a Muslim element was an organic part of the Russian Empire. Attempts to incorporate Islam into politics were also made after the revolution. In the 1920s, the Muslim thinker and politician Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev attempted to portray Islam as “a repressed and defensive religion” that could contribute to the revolutionary process. By then, however, the Bolsheviks had begun implementing an actively anti-religious doctrine, and Islam was practically excluded from politics.