DAGESTAN ON VERGE OF WAR AMONG MUSLIMS
Segodnia, 14 May 1997

Soon Russia will find out what the difference between Wahabis and Tarrikates is.

The incident that occurred in the night of 12-13 May in the village of Chabani-Makhi of Buinaksk region of Dagestan not only disturbs the population of this region but has elicited great concern among the Muslim clerics of Russia. "We are already accustomed to various kinds of emergency," one of the security experts of Dagestan declared in a conversation with a Segodnia correspondent, "but now for the first time we are forced to deal with the consequence of armed confrontation arising on a purely religious basis."

According to information of the security service of the ministry of internal affairs of Dagestan, a mass armed confrontation between adherents of different factions of Sunnite Islam, Wahabis and the so-called Tarrikates, took place. There were casualties of people killed and wounded. One of the contending sides even took hostages. By evening it was reported that the hostages were freed.

Substantial militia troops were deployed in Buinaksk region. The leadership of Dagestan quickly formed a commission for investigation of the incident in the village of Chabani-Makhi, and the procurator instituted a criminal investigation into the use of fatal weapons' fire.

It seems quite difficult to determine the cause of the armed confrontation among residents of the village. Investigation conducted by the Segodnia correspondent in cooperation with reporters of ITAR-TASS, RIA, and Novosti, security forces, and the ministry of internal affairs of Dagestan has produced only several working versions. According to one of them, there was a confrontation among Muslim believers of the village at the time of a funeral .

A second version said that the "orthodox" believes would not share the local mosque (and this is not a rarity in other regions of Russia, not only among Muslims), and this led to the conflict.

According to a third version, the wife of a military officer Ichkeriia Khattab is a local resident and the local Wahabis, who have taken an active part in military actions against the federal troops in Chechnia, decided to repress Tarrikates.

Still another version says that the armed provocation in the village of Chabani-Makhi was organized by some 'third force' which is trying to stir up Muslims of the Caucasus. In the leadership of Dagestan, meanwhile, there are those who are urging that this incident not be taken seriously because confrontations between Wahabis and Tarrikates have happened before in Dagestan, although not on such a large scale.

How did the situation develop? In the evening there was a demonstration of over 500 residents on the central square of the village. Speakers demanded that the Wahabis be driven out of the region, since they are creating "intolerable conditions for people who profess traditional Islam." Wahabis decided to take refuge in the mosque. There they organized a defense ring, appealing to fellow believers for armed support. Then the Tarrikates besieged the mosque. Only timely response by the Dagestan MVD avoided massive bloodshed.

We asked the president of the Moscow muftiate, Farid Asadullin, to comment on the conflict among Muslims in Dagestan. He declared that the religious situation in the northern Caucasus and in Dagestan in particular is of extreme concern to Russian Muslims. The situation is complicated by the events in Chechnia, where Wahabis, who represent the radical political wing of Islam and support Saudi Arabia, actively have fought on the side of the Chechens.

Islam in the northern Caucasus in general has followed the views of the Tarrikates (Wahabism is a relatively new phenomenon for Dagestan) and they have supported in recent times the idea of so-called Russian Islam, that is, they profess the idea of peaceful coexistence of religions. The expert from the Moscow muftiate noted that he would not want the events in Dagestan to develop along the projected course, but there are sufficient signs to indicate that it will.

If the ritual aspects of the activity of Tarrikates are more or less well known, there is virtually no information about their political orientation and, in particular, their numbers in northern Caucasus and Dagestan. Analysts have reason to believe that there are close ties between Russian Tarrikates and religious orders in Turkey, where they have gained considerable political force recently. This is why the events in the village of Chabani-Makhi require more careful attention to the religious situation.

The end of military actions in Chechnia has not resolved all the problems of the conflicts of Russia and the people of northern Caucasus, but has deepened them. And these unresolved problems reflect the conflicting interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Russia, which for the time being may take on the form of religious conflict. Thus it is understandable why adherents of "Russian Islam" may be upset, as expressed by the Ecclesiastical Administration of Muslims of Dagestan, one of the representatives of which in a telephone conversation with a Segodnia correspondent expressed concern that Chabani-Makhi may become the beginning of a new round of tension in the region.

Russian version.

WHO ARE THE WAHABIS?

Wahabis are a religious and political faction within Islam, which spread in Saudi Arabi at the end of the eighteenth century. The founder was Mukhammed ibd Abdal Wahab (1703-1787). Wahabis believe in one God, and they reject all possible innovations that have appeared in the process of the development of Islam, including the cult of saints and dervishes.

Wahabism is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia and it has spread into India, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. Before 1991 the activity of the Wahabis in the USSR was underground.

Russian version

WHO ARE THE TARRIKATES

Tarrikates are a historical phenomenon that represents a distinct faction in Islam that appeared after the establishment of the basic doctrines of Islam. Tarrikates preach mysticism and sufism, they have orders of dervishes, and they consider that there is only one way to worship Allah--through the singing of religious hymns and special rituals that seem like a dance. Imitating the revolution of the heavenly bodies, they express their joy and delight in circular dancing and, with deep sighs, they express their zeal and ardent quest for God. The ring of dancers sometimes breaks up into several small circles. And then develop states of extreme ecstasy or induced unconsciousness.

In the northern Caucasus the most widespread of the Tarrikates are the Kadyriia and Nurdzhu. These Tarrikate orders arose in the middle ages and spread in the Ottoman empire in the regions of the Mramor and Black Seas. They operated independently and their leaders, sheiks, had the right of autonomy. The chief sheiks of the orders had great influence with the Sultan's palace and army. They had the right of investing the sultan with the sword of the founder of the Ottoman dynasty at the time of his coronation.

They were subjected to periodic persecution, but they recovered and reappeared in the form of new dervish orders. At the end of the 60s and beginning of the 70s they entered the political arena, first in Turkey, giving support to one or another political party. After 1991 they began to operate legally in Russia, especially in the northern Caucasus. Russian version

ARMED CONFLICT OF RELIGIOUS OPPONENTS
by Ilia Maksakov
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 14 May 1997

While authorities call for negotiations, participants in the conflict are taking hostages

An armed confrontation of representatives of two religious factions, resulting in one killed, three wounded, and 18 taken hostage, broke out on Monday evening in the village of Chabana-Makhi, Buinaksk region, Dagestan. The press secretary of the president of the state soviet of the republic, Rizvan Rizvanov, told NG that leaders of the MVD, religious leaders of the republic, including Mufti of Dagestan Abubakarov, and supplementary militia troops, who completely blockaded the village, have gone to the scene of the events and a government commission is working there to arrange negotiations among the participants in the conflict. All entry points into Chabana-Makhi have been completed closed to armed people who are trying to get there in order to help their fellow believers. Several hundred local residents gathered at a demonstration in the center of the village.

In Chabana-Makhi the conflict broke out among adherents of traditinal Islam, Sunnites, and a group of Wahabis. However, according to reports reaching NG, the occasion for the confrontation was not the religious difference. Last year a resident of one of the nearby villages was killed here and a man was accused of the crime who, in the opinion of one side of the conflict, was not guilty of the murder. Tension among residents of Chabana-Makhi developed even earlier and now it has spilled over into armed opposition.

Interfax learned that yesterday members of the Wahabi sect barracaded themselves in their mosque and organized a defense ring in expectation of armed help. The demonstrators on the square demanded expulsion of the Wahabis inasmuch as they supposedly "created in villages intolerable circumstances for people who profess traditional Islam." With time the situtation in the village intensified, leading to the seizure of 18 Wahabis as hostages by the participants in the demonstration.

Leaving the scene, the minister of nationality affairs and external relations of Dagestan, Magomedsalikh Gusaev, in an interview with NG, characterized the situation in Chabana-Makhi as tense but under control. Noting that this is not the first case of strained relations on religious bases, the minister stressed the necessity of ending the tension by means of dialogue and national diplomacy. The leader of the republic Magomedali Magomedov gave this very task to the government commission.

This is not the only incident that complicated matters in the republic. In Nogaisk region, on the border with Chechnia, an officer of the Dagestan militia was killed by machine gun fire. The fire occurred over the course of a half hour from infantry on the Chechen side. Officers of MVD returned the fire. There were no casualties. On the same day in Chechnia a thirteen-year-old boy was abducted from the village of Tarumovka. The MVD of Dagestan reported also that in one village of Nogaisk region, on 12 May, a Chechen auto was stolen and its owner was threatened that if there were any attempt to prevent the theft, even with the help of the police, the thieves would return and burn down the whole village.

Russian version.

(translated by PDS)