Hajj represents one of the most significant events in the life of the Muslim community. In the Russian Empire where Islam had become the second largest denomination in terms of the followers by the beginning of the 20th century, the Hajj transitioned from being a purely religious phenomenon to acquiring a certain political significance too. It was through this pilgrimage that Russian citizens professing Islam established relationships with their coreligionists from abroad.
The aim of this study is to trace the degree of participation of Siberian Muslims in this process during the second half of the 19th to early 20th centuries and to assess their ability to perform the Hajj. Relying on archival materials, the authors demonstrate the importance of the process of organizing the Hajj and the participation of Muslims from the Russian Empire. The research revealed that Siberian Muslims were relatively minimally involved in the Hajj for several reasons. Firstly, a portion of the Muslims in Siberia had the status of exiles, which limited their movement both abroad and within the country. Secondly, the remoteness of the territory from the main sanitary checkpoints also discouraged potential pilgrims. In light of these circumstances, a phenomenon known as the “small hajj,” i.e., visiting holy places in Central Asia, became common among Siberian Muslims. The administrative challenges associated with performing the Hajj led many Muslims from various regions of the Russian Empire, including Siberia, to partake in pilgrimages illegally.
This article may be of interest to religious scholars, historians, ethnographers, as well as a broad readership interested in the issues of state-confessional policy in the Russian Empire.
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