Home page    » RELIGION    » Islam in Azerbaijan   

Islam in Azerbaijan



Islam is one the world\'s largest religions. At the beginning of VII century, in Western Arabia (the province Hijaz, the city of Mecca) as a religion Islam was send by Allah to the people for guidance. The Prophet of Islam and propagandist is the Prophet Mohammed accepted by al the Muslims as the last Messenger of Allah, from Qureishi tribe, the Hashemites. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the most influential personalities of history.
The initial theory of Islam is explained in the Koran and Korani Karim, God\'s Word, the divine inspiration revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Islam, in turn, is divided into several faiths. Biggest of them are Shiism and Sunnism.

The spread of Islam in Azerbaijan
At the beginning of the VII century, Islam, which was emerged in the Arabian Peninsula could soon spread to the major parts of the world. Islamization of Azerbaijan begins since 18 th year (639 year) of Hegira. Ruler of Azerbaijan Isfandiyar ibn Farrukhzad was defeated by Arabs and the treaty of peace was concluded the same year. Ardabil, Tabriz, Nakhchivan, Beylagan, Barda, Shirvan, Mugan, Aran were conquered, and the Arabs came to Derbend along the coast the Caspian Sea. Fortifications of the city have impressed them and they called the city as Bab al-Abvab. According to the historian Balazuri, during the rule of Caliph Ali bin Abu Talib (656-661), the majority of the population of Azerbaijan accepted Islam. This process took longer in the north. The Arabs imposed the tax on the population on the territories conquered by them, continues their marches after concluding a peace treaty, and then returned back again. When local people refused to pay taxes they began attacks on them. 
Islamic rules were implemented peacefully in most places and in some places by the force. Pagan people of the areas conquered by Arabs were offered to accept Islam, those who accepted it paid zakat and kharaj and did not take part in the battles, and those who participated in battles received the share from the military trophies; Jews and Christians who did not accept Islam paid jizya, and they were under the protection of Muslims, and those who refused to accept Islam or those pagans refused to pay jizya had to fight with Muslims.
It is difficult to say something about specific forms of islamization in Azerbaijan, because this matter still remains unstudied. In any case, it is possible to distinguish several stages of this complicated process.  As the first stage the period of Islamic conquest can be considered since mid of VII century till the early of VIII century. This stage ends with the collapse of the Albanian state in the 705 and loss of the independence of Albanian Church. Islam becomes the dominating religion in Azerbaijan at the end of this stage, and it first of all was accepted unconditionally by elite people to protect their privileges.
The second stage covers the period starting from the early eighth century with coming on power of Buwayiids in Western Iran and Iraq. And independent states Shirvanshas Mazyadis and Sajdis were created in the territory of Azerbaijan. Idolatry, Zoroastrianism lost the importance but the Judaism maintained the existence, the Albanian church restored its independence, but as the influence area got weaker the Armenian language is used in religious rites and its followers were Armenizied. At this period the consciousness of the belonging to Islam increased, but consciousness related to ethnic roots was not completely lost.
The third stage covers period of the power of Buwayids (935-1055). At this period the moderate Shiism began to spread in Azerbaijan and reaches Darband. Hanafi Sunni and Shiite imam faiths were leading beliefs. Sufism also finds for self own followers. One of the most beautiful Sufi monuments of this period is khanagah (living quarter) in Shirvan over Pirsaat river.  
The fourth stage related to the period of power of the Saljukids (mid of XI century - the mid of the XIII century). At this stage, the Sunnism strengthened in the region and positions of Shiism was weakened. Shafiism turns to be a leading faith.  During this period Atabays and Shirvanhs of Azerbaijan could protect islam from pressure of Christians.
The fifth stage covers the period of Mongol conquests (the first half of XIII century- second half of XV century). Sufism was widely spread in this period. Hurufism became strengthened.
The sixth stage is connected with the power of Safavids (1501-1786) and since the sixteenth century the Ottomans (1281-1924). Safavids promote the Shiism and bound 12 red stripes on the turban in honor of the 12 Shiite imams. Therefore, they were called as Gyzylbashes. During the period after annexation of Azerbaijan to the Russian Empire can be considered as a new stage in the country’s Islamization. The most characteristic feature of this stage is connected with creation of Islamic structure like church structure in Christianity for purposes of subordinating Moslem religious figures to self.
In the letter of the Russian Emperor sent to Senate in November 29, 1832 it was offered to prepare the Regulations on the administration of religious affairs of Muslims of the Caucasus. However, none of the projects were approved. In 1849 by order of the governor of the Caucasus Vorontshov the employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs N. Khanıkov had prepared the Regulations of the Organization of Mohammadi clerics. Though the project was approved as a whole but the Crimean War delayed its implementation. In 1864 a new commission was created to continue this work, and the local Shiite and Sunni faiths’ representatives joined the Commission. The prepared instructions regulated the duties of Moslem clergymen, theirs rights and privileges, relations with secular government. Until 1867, if only sheikhulislam and mufti were received salary from the government, since that year other high ranked Moslem clerics began to receive a salary as well. Regulations on the Trans-Caucasian Shiite and Sunni Mohammadi clergies” was approved in April 5, 1872 by the Russian Czar upon the recommendation of State Council. 
The basic principle of organizing the structure of the office is taken from the Russian Orthodox Church. 2 Muslim administrative bodies was created in the South Caucasus - under the leadership of mufti- Sunni religious management (mufti office) and under the chairmanship of sheikhulislam religious administration of Shiites.  Each of these two offices located in Tbilisi, Georgia, and it consisted of chairman, three members of the Board of Directors, two referents, translator, clerk and archive keeper. Each of both offices had in their subordination 1 office, total 4 offices in Tbilisi, Yerevan, Yelizavetpol (Ganja) and Baku provinces. There are 16 qazis in Sunni offices and 20 qazis in Shiite department. Departments were under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and directly were responsible to governor. The clergy of province level were subject to the governor and to local powers in the provinces.
Until establishment of Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) the religious affairs of the Muslims of the South Caucasus have been regulated by the two departments. In December 11, 1918, sheikhulislam Mohammed Pishnamazzade resigned from his post. By the order of Minister of social security and religious affairs of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Musa Rafibeyov akhund Ali Aghazade was appointed to this post. During this period, tendencies to rationalize and modernizing Islam strengthened.
In 1920, after the establishment of Soviet power in Azerbaijan on May 15 and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and institute of Sheikhulislam were dissembledı, Muslim religious figures were subject to harassment, majority of mosques were closed. In 1943 the creation of the religious establishment of the Muslims of the Caucasus is considered expedient to use of religion in the fight against fascist Germany. I Congress of the Muslims of Transcaucasia was held in Baku on 25-28th of May 1944 in Baku and the Religious Administration of Muslims of the Transcaucasus with center in Baku was established. Akhund  Agha Alizade was elected as sheikhulislam. He was the first elected sheikhulislamin the history of Office and earlier all sheikhulislams were appointed by the state. In addition, since 1944 the dualism in religious organization of Muslim in the South Caucasus was eliminated. Religious Administration of Trans Caucasus turned to be one center and is managed by sheikhulislam, mufti is considered First Deputy Chairman of the Board and regulated issues of Sunnis related to religion.   
Currently, this Department functions as the Caucasian Muslims Office after state registration and is considered as the historical center of Islamic and other religious communities.
Religious figures like Sheikhulislam Akhund Ahmad Huseynzade, Sheikhulislam Akhund Abdussalam Akhundzade, Sheikhulislam Agha Akhund Alizade, Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade, etc. as a well as Akhund Yusif Talibzade, Fazil Darbandi, Ziya Bunyadov, Vasim Mammadaliyev, Alikhan Musayev, Shahin Hasanli, etc. Islamic scholars were formed in Azerbaijan.

Oxunub: 83197