Tuesday 21 March 2023 \


Pride of the Ummah. Marjani

Shihabuddin Marjani
Marjani is a religious figure, an educator, a philosopher, a historian. The above definitions do not fully cover all aspects of his multifaceted activities. Marjani is also an ethnographer, an archeographer, an orientalist and an educator. The encyclopedic nature of his knowledge can be compared with the encyclopedicism of the French enlighteners of the eighteenth century - Diderot and Rousseau.
But how was Marjani's way to recognition, the heights that allowed Gabdulla Tukai to describe him as "the champion of thought, knowledge and progress, who made the first step to enlightenment" Shihab ad-Din (Shihabuddin) b. Baha ad-Din b. Subhan b. Abd al-Karim al-Mardjani was born on 16 January 1818 in the village Yabynchi of the present Atninsky district of Tatarstan.
The ancestors of Marjani from the side of the father and mother belonged to the families of famous Imam-Mudarris. The first insight into the history Shihabuddin received from his grandfather Subhan b. Abd al-Karim, who spoke Arabic and Persian. Marjani's grandfather on the mother's side, Abd al-Nasir, taught him Koran, Sunnah, Fiqh (Islamic law).
Mardjani's father Baha ad-Din was educated in Bukhara and was there as one of the respected people who was invited to his majlises (meetings) by the Emir of Bukhara Haydar b. Masum. With his father he studied Arabic, logic and kalam (a section of theological science).
At the age of five, Marjani lost his mother, and then was raised by his stepmother in a rather harsh environment. He received his primary education in the madrasah, where his father taught in the village Tashkich. Young Shihabuddin did not limit himself to studying the subjects taught there, but he studied independently in the home library. Already at the age of seventeen he begins to teach in this madrasah and, being an unsatisfied with textbook of the Persian morphology makes up his own.
Both his grandfather and father, being educated people, possessing extensive knowledge of eastern history, philosophy, religion, managed to instill in young Shihabuddin the desire for learning and knowledge. However, the received education does not satisfy Marjani, constantly striving to obtain new knowledge. In 1838, he went to Bukhara to continue his education.
In Bukhara, unsatisfied with the system of training in madrassas, he, mainly independently, engages in local libraries rich in valuable manuscripts. He earned money by training the children of wealthy people. Although the scholastic training in Bukhara no longer corresponded to the modern needs of society and did not satisfy Marjani, staying there was not useless for him: he met with well-known, progressive scholars of his time (although there were not many of them), more and more convinced of the need to change the old system of Muslim education . In 1843, Marjani went to Samarkand - one of the ancient centers of culture in Central Asia. There he studies at the Shirdar Madrassah, meets a well-known historian of Qadi Abu Said al-Samarkandi (d.1848-49), who, according to Marjani, was the reason why he "began to be interested in historical science and began to study history books."
In Samarkand, already possessing certain knowledge, Marjani feels the need to better understand the views of his predecessor and compatriot Abu Nasr al-Kursawi (1776-1812). For the first time he read the manuscript of Kursawi at about the age of twenty and it had a significant influence on the formation of the scientific views of Marjani, in particular, on the concept of "opening doors of ijtihad" (making his own judgment on the social and legal issues of Muslim life in the absence of direct instructions or recommendations in the Holy Koran or the Sunnah - Ed.).
If the views of Marjani are formed in Bukhara as a religious figure who does not agree with orthodox system of instruction, then in Samarkand under the influence of the Qadi Abu Said, Marjani begins to engage in historical studies. In 1845 Marjani returned to the Bukhara madrassah Mir-Arab. It is there that Marjani begins a serious study of the culture, history, philosophy of the East.
He devoted his first works to the history of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. In 1848, after eleven years of absence, with new knowledge, Marjani returns to his homeland and in March 1850 was appointed as Imam-Mudaris of the 1st Kazan Mosque. In 1867-68, the Spiritual Assembly of the Muslims of the Volga and Ural regions appointed Marjani to the post of Akhund and Muhtasib of Kazan (one of the most honorable religious posts of the region), which was an undeniable recognition of his activity on the part of the Muslim leadership.
Marjani also has positive contacts with the official secular authorities. He fulfilled separate assignments of the Kazan provincial government: he supervised the publication of the text of the Koran in the Kazan printing press (subsequently published a book dedicated to the history and principles of the publication of the Koran in Russia), organized collection of money for Caucasian peoples affected by the earthquake, reported on births, marriages, deaths of Muslims for state institutions and participated in court hearings when swearing Muslims.
Over time, the name Marjani becomes famous far beyond Kazan: in 1870 his book "Nazratul-haq", with his new for his time and environment religious and reformist ideas, was published, and brought the author wide popularity not only at home but also in the Muslim East. He becam a prominent ideologue of religious reformism, which continued and deepened in the new historical conditions the traditions of his predecessors A. Kursawi and A. Utiz-imyane. Marjani's religious and reformist views included the concept of "opening the doors of ijtihad", as well as an appeal to the times of the Prophet Muhammad (Quran, Sunnah, words of the mujtahids) to "purify" Islam of new "layers" as well as the reform of teaching in madrassas. Referring to the times of the Prophet Muhammad, he thought was "renewal of faith."
His "return to the past" was to "clear" Islam from later "layers", to make it accessible for understanding in the new socio-cultural situation that arose in the Kazan region in the second half of the nineteenth century. But in the eyes of conservative religious figures such an approach was not a "return to the past." "Nazratul-haqi fi fardiyatil-`isha ma lam yaghib ash-shafak" (Review of the truth about the obligation of night prayer before dusk) - one of the most famous of his writings, Marjani wrote not so much to explain the deception of the clause about the insignificance of the night prayer in Kazan area, as to present his new understanding of the basic tenets of the doctrine, the reformatory in fact.
"Nazratul-haq" has gained wide popularity not only in the Volga region, but also in the Near and Middle East. This work of Marjani was highly appreciated by famous Muslim scholars of India of that time Sadiq b. Hasan al-Kinaudji and Abd al-Hai al-Laknawi, the Syrian scholar Jamal ad-din ad-Dimashqi, the Tunisian scholar Sheikh Muhammad Bayram. 70 - 80-ies of the nineteenth century - this is the time of Marjani's close acquaintance with Russian culture, scholars-orientalists of Kazan University. Marjani knew Professor I. Gotwald, Academician V. V. Radlov, Professor Kazembek, the first orientalist among women O. S. Lebedeva and many other Russian scientists. Through his student H. Faizkhanov, he establishes cooperation with V. Velyaminov-Zernov and Sheikh At-Tantawi - well-known St. Petersburg orientalists. Marjani was the first Muslim scholar to be elected to the Society of Archeology, History and Ethnography at the Kazan University, and actively participated in its activities.
His personality in the white turban and green chapan often attracted the attention of Russian scientists at the meetings of this Society. In 1877, the IV All-Russian Congress of the Society was held in Kazan, which attracted about 300 scientists from many cities of Russia and its borders. On August 13 at the congress, Academician Radlov read in Russian the report of Marjani on the history of Bulgar and Kazan. In 1884 this report in the Tatar and Russian languages ​​was published in the materials of the congress.
The pedagogical work of Marjani is another page of his enlightenment activity in the broadest sense of the word. September 13, 1876 the Tatar school of teachers with eight years of education was opened in Kazan. The school trained primary school teachers from among the Tatars. Teaching was conducted in Russian, except for the Sharia classes. Marjani first of the Tatar Muslim clergy agreed to the proposal of the inspector of the school V. Radlov to teach theology. At the opening of the school, he delivered a welcoming speech, in which he called on the Tatars to study at this school. 
For nine years Marjani taught at the Tatar school of teachers, was a member of the Pedagogical Council. However, as a result of disagreements with the inspector and some teachers, he was forced to leave the teaching. For this activity, conservative circles of the Muslim clergy called Marjani a missionary, a heretic, an apostate. In his madrassa Marjani conducts many classes according to his own program. In the eighties of the nineteenth century the scientific activity of Marjani himself was radically expanding, with philosophical and historical disciplines coming to the forefront.
During this period, Marjani is working on the handwritten biographical dictionary "Wafiyatul-aslaf wa tahiyatul-akhlaf" (Detailed information about predecessors and their greetings to descendants), which includes 6057 biographies of scholars, writers, philosophers and social and political figures of the Muslim East. 
MArjani wrote intdoduction to "Wafiyatul-aslyaf" - "Muqaddima", which was also published. In it, the scholar describes the history of the origin of the sciences in the East, classifies them, supports them with references to statements by prominent Muslim cultural figures, examines the main religious schools, directions in Islam. In fact, it is not only historical but also philosophical work devoted to various aspects and problems of the spiritual culture of the East.
During this period the most significant works of Marjani are published, among them: "Haqqul-mārifa wa husnul-idrak" (Truth of knowledge and beauty of comprehension), 1880 - an essay on Muslim law (fiqh), in which the scholar, in particular, sets out his socio-political views; "Mustafadul-akhbar fi ahwali Kazan wa Bulgar" (A depository of information about the affairs of Kazan and Bulgar), 1885, 1 volume - historical work on the Volga Bulgaria and the Kazan Khanate; "Kitabul-hikma al-baligha al-janiyya fi sharhil-`aqaid al-hanafiyya" (A book on a mature philosophy that helps explain the teachings of the Hanafis), 1888 - an essay in which Marjani presents his religious views.
Marjani's intellectual enlightenment potential was greatly increased during his travels in the 80s through Russia and the countries of the Near and Middle East. In search of material for historical research, Marjani visited the ancient ruins of Bulgar, Tatar, Russian, Chuvash, Mordvin villages. August 31, 1880 he went from Kazan to the pilgrimage, during which he visited Istanbul, Izmir, Alexandria, Cairo, Suez and other centers of Muslim culture. In Istanbul, he meets the author of the collection "Chagatai and Ottoman Languages" Kudratullah al-Kanduzi and with the famous scholar Ahmad Jawadat Pasha, makes copies of the inscriptions of the dome of the mosque of Sultan Salim.
In Cairo he visited scholar Mahmud-bek al-Fallaki, takes copies of the inscriptions of the walls of the mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha. Marjani's educational ideas cover the most diverse aspects of the renewal of the social life of the Tatar people in the 70s and 80s of the nineteenth century, including the thought of the need for secular education by the Tatar population, the assimilation of the progressive heritage of the past (ancient, Arabian thought) and the present (Russian and Western European cultures). The scholar is also concerned with the issues of education of the national self-consciousness of the Tatar people, concerned about their welfare, socio-economic and political situation.
Considering enlightenment as the most powerful tool of progress, the scholar tried to get his people out of "dormancy". Marjani's outlook, syncretically combining religious reform and enlightenment, reflected the dialectic of the development of this period in the history of the Tatar society. It evolved from religious reformism - the period of his creative work until the 1870s - to the educational ideology of the 1870s-1880s.
The scholar aspired to answer many questions raised by the Tatar society developing along the bourgeois path: "to renew faith," to raise the socio-political and cultural level of the Tatar people, to attach it to modern civilization. Religious views of Marjani are manifested in the criticism of questions of Kalam (direction in Islamic theology). Kalam was cultivated in the Tatar madrassas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, its knowledge was considered compulsory for students: it was included in the curriculum and was considered one of the main subjects. Therefore, Marjani's appeal to Kalam was objectively conditioned by his time. It was necessary to reform the madrasah, the transformation of teaching.
Marjani explained the most detailed problem of Kalam in "Kitabul-hikma al-baligha ...". This is a religious work in which Marjani comments on the main provisions of the dogmatism of the Hanafis, according to him, misinterpreted by some scholars. "God with all His properties is necessary, eternal, infinite, created by no one, does not need anyone, His attributes are inseparable from His essence," writes Marjani. Marjani is the forerunner of the Jadid movement in Russia, and it was he who laid the foundation for it - the reform of teaching in the madrasah, the assimilation by the Tatar people of the advanced achievements of world culture and science.
Marjani wrote more than 30 works, most of which was published mainly in Arabic. Only some works are written in Tatar in Arabic script. Not all works written by the scholar have been discovered. For example, "Risalatun fi masailin-nahw" (A Treatise on the Questions of Grammar), "Al-Tahrirat al-mufrada" (Separate Editions). The ideological and philosophical views of Marjani, his work as a teacher, religious figure, historian, educator, philosopher will remain as a notable phenomenon in national history.
Aidar Yuzeyev

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