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THE HISTORY OF PUBLIC AND CULTURAL 
REFORMATION IN THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA 
(19th - EARLY 20th CENTURY)
Samarkand — 2013
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE 
FOR CENTRAL ASIAN STUDIES

The History of Public and Cultural Reformation in the Caucasus and Central Asia (19th-early 20th
 
cen-
tury) — Samarkand: IICAS, 2013. — 312 p.
Project Manager: Shahin Mustafayev
Executive Editors: Dilorom Alimova, Irada Bagirova
Reviewers: Nailya Velikhanly (Azerbaijan), Bakhtiyor Babajanov (Uzbekistan)
Authors: Ravshan Abdullaev (Uzbekistan), Dilorom Alimova (Uzbekistan) Irada Bagirova, (Azerbaijan), 
Zharas Ermekbaev (Kazakhstan), Imanutdin Sulaev (Dagestan, Russia), Shamil Rahmanzade (Azerbaijan), 
Dilshod Kenjaev (Uzbekistan), Mahfuza Zeinalova (Azerbaijan).
Translated into English: A. Ulko
 
The publication discusses the genesis and the history of development of the national progressive movement in 
Muslim communities in the Caucasus and Central Asia in the 19th – early 20th century. The authors have identi-
fied common and specific features of cultural and educational reforms and their practical implementation in the 
complex context of the Russian imperial colonial rule. The publication focuses on the genesis of the public and 
philosophical positions of the advanced intelligentsia in both regions and its efforts towards the enlightenment and 
social progress of its peoples. Through the works of the prominent representatives of the movement, the authors 
have disclosed the genesis of the ideas of consolidation and unity of the progressive forces of the Muslim ‘periphery’ 
of the Empire and the formation of the new liberal and democratic ideology which resulted in the establishment of 
the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Mountain Republic, the Turkestan Autonomy and the Alash Orda. 
The book is of interest to specialists and the wider general public. 
The contributors are responsible for the choice and representation of the facts and opinions con-
tained in this publication, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organi-
sation. The abbreviations and materials provided in this book do not imply the expression of any opin-
ion on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its 
authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 
ISBN 978-9943-11-087-8 
© IICAS, 2013.


INTRODUCTION_CHAPTER_I._PREREQUISITES_FOR_THE_GENESIS_OF_THE_REFORMATION_MOVEMENT_OF_JADIDISM'>TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER I. PREREQUISITES FOR THE GENESIS OF THE REFORMATION 
MOVEMENT OF JADIDISM
Socio-economic and politico-ideological context in the Caucasus in the 19th-early 20th 
century
Socio-economic and political transformation in Central Asia after the annexation by the 
Russian Empire
CHAPTER II. FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEW IDEOLOGY OF 
ENLIGHTENMENT
Development of the theory and ideology of enlightenment in the Caucasus
Enlightenment in Central Asia; from the criticism of the regime to realities
CHAPTER III. ESSENCE AND PRACTICE OF EDUCATIONAL REFORMS IN THE 
CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
Specific development of the new education in the Muslim Caucasus
Public education in Central Asia; the issue of national survival 
Birth of national periodical press and its role in the enlightenment 
CHAPTER IV. MODERNISATION OF SOCIETY AS THE MAIN OBJECTIVE OF 
REFORMATION MOVEMENTS 
Religious views of the national intellectual elite in the regions.
Reformation of Islam or transformation of Muslim consciousness?
Issues of gender and youth in Jadidism
Culturological concepts of national progressists in the context of the new time 
CHAPTER V. POLITICAL ACTIVISATION OF REFORMATION MOVEMENTS IN 
THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA. DEVELOPMENT OF CONSOLIDATION 
AND UNITY PRINCIPLES
Expansion and intensification of public reformation movements in the political conditions of 
the new time
Three consolidating and unifying factors in the progressists’ views and ideas
CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
ABBREVIATIONS
INDEX OF NAMES
5
13
29
54
55
75
98
141
159
192
206
223
244
262
275
278
295
296


INTRODUCTION
The Russian colonisation of the Caucasus and Central Asia in the 19th century disrupted the traditional 
development of these regions, forcing them to face the East-West dilemma. Within this dilemma the West 
was associated with progress, which implied liberation from centuries-old religious dogmas and tradi-
tional way of life historically prevalent in the East. According to Ibn Arabi (1165-1240), a well-known Arab 
Sufi mystic, ‘”The East” implies the conspicuous, visible, while “The West” means the invisible, closed 
to sensual perception. Therefore, “The East” and “The West” draw the boundaries of the Universe, with 
the world “between the two”, in which some things are perceived through feelings (East), while others 
are closed for them and are perceived through intellect (West)’
 1
. However, only a combination of intel-
lect and feelings can create both a harmonious personality and a progressively developing society. All 
the history of the mankind can be seen as the struggle and interaction between the rational and emo-
tional principles. In this context the struggle and mutual influence of the eastern and western cultures 
may be interpreted as the engine of the human progress, which resulted in the modern civilisation with 
all its globalist objectives. This has been proven by the whole history of the mankind.
The dynamic development of the economy and social system in Europe in the 19th century, the in-
tensive urbanisation and the rapid dissemination of the scientific ideas produced the so-called ‘moder-
nity’, a phenomenon, which today has acquired a wide range of interpretations and includes everything, 
from a way of life and outer looks to social, economic and cultural progress
 2
. The enlightened Europe 
‘absorbed all the past global cultural experience (Antiquity, Rome, Renaissance and the Medieval reviv-
al of the Muslim culture), adding the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, as well as 
the achievements of the technical progress. In this respect such “Europe” was created by Aristotel and 
Beruni and Ibn Haldun and Max Weber and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Darwin and Einstein and Lutfizade 
and many others’
 3
. According to F. Rosenthal, a well-known American Orientalist, the Islamic civili-
sation ‘can be compared or opposed to the civilisations of the classical antiquity or the Christian West. 
However, at the same time, they are branches of one and the same tree. In particular, their “knowledge” 
has common roots. It can be said that all the visible differences merely reflect brighter or paler tinges 
of one and the same colour’
 4
.
Then why did these parts of the planet, so strong culturally, found themselves in such unequal posi-
tions by the 19th century? The humanism of the Renaissance asserted the freedom of will and the trust 
in the man’s intellect, as well as the egoistic self-reliance. In the West natural sciences and new tech-
nologies had replaced religion to hold the rank of supreme values. The scientific way of cognition, which 
led to the rapid development of mechanical production, a gradual growth of unregulated commodity 
production and the geographic discoveries finally resulted in an armed expansion, dividing most of the 
countries into industrial producers and raw material suppliers.
1
 Ibn Arabi. Gemmy mudrosti. – Beirut, 1980. P. 208 // Quotation from: Religiozno-filosofskiye ucheniya Vostoka 
(sbornik) / Pod red. G. B. Shaymuhambetovoy. – M., 1989.
2
 Badalov R. Yeschyo raz o nashey integratsii v Yevropu. Baku: Tutu, 2010. P. 97.
3
 Ibid. P. 78.
4
 Rosental F. Torzhestvo znaniya. – M., 1978. P. 327.

6
The History of Public and Cultural Reformation in the Caucasus and Central Asia (19th - early 20th century)
At the same time, contacts with the West highlighted the economic and technical backwardness of 
the Asian peoples of once powerful states in the territory of Central Asia and the Caucasus. There the 
civilisation rested on a rich cultural heritage and possessed enormous mobilising resources, such as 
philosophical rationalism regulating the capacity of the philosophical law, mechanisms of social self-
organisation based on the ancient national traditions, natural resources and a multi-million population. 
The emotional qualities brought up by the Eastern culture, such as mutual assistance, aspiration for uni-
ty and flexibility, prevailed in the East instead of the European pragmatism and vigour. However, they 
could not prevent the social protest caused by the aspiration for a better life. This protest, or intellectual 
and social outburst, was prompted by the people of a new generation, known as enlighteners, modern-
ists, the Jadids, progressists and reformers. Having mastered the theoretical heritage of both the east-
ern and the western philosophies, they considered that their countries could be modernised through 
the use of each of the philosophies’ achievements. In the early 20th century it was not only the Russian 
society that faced the threat of an inevitable need to choose one of the two, but the 20-million Muslim 
population of the Russian Empire as well. Ultimately the Muslim society preferred the symbiosis of the 
two cultures, which brought about the transformation of the whole social and cultural life. 
The history of modernisation of the social life in the Caucasus and Central Asia cannot be considered 
outside the context of the changes that were taking place in all Eastern countries. In the 19th century, 
the Eastern countries that had not been colonised, but were greatly influenced by the advanced West-
ern European states, were also involved in this process. The Ottoman Empire and the Levant countries 
(Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine), which were officially considered to be its part, faced an enormous 
economic and cultural pressure in the mid-19th century. As a result, reforms involving the administra-
tive, judicial and education systems started across its territory in the 1840s. However, the democracy 
of that time proved to be very unstable. In 1878, after Turkey lost the war against Russia, it went back 
to its initial positions, disbanded its parliament and re-established the despotic system
 5
. The 1908, the 
Young Turk Revolution headed by the party ‘Unification and progress’ (‘Ittihad ve tereggi’) not only did 
prompt the national and liberation movement, but also encouraged a cultural revival in the Ottoman 
Empire, which had a great influence upon other Muslim peoples.  
Egypt and Iran also began to develop the European life standards. In Egypt changes in the social 
and economic life started in the mid-19th century and were reflected in the pan-Arab cultural and ideo-
logical rise, which was named ‘Nahda’ (Revival). Its supporters tried to synthesise the elements of the 
western and eastern civilisations, at the same time considering the task of turning Egypt into a strong 
centralised state as the most important one. The wide programme of education reforms after the Euro-
pean pattern, the revival of the Arab language and the establishment of periodicals changed the image 
of Egypt in the eyes of the Muslim world. The process continued in the early 20th century with the es-
tablishment of the Cairo University in 1908, when the secular education began to develop rapidly, and 
intensified during the World War I, when Egypt actually broke away from the Ottoman rule and came 
under the protection of Great Britain
 6
. An enlightenment movement, which later transformed into the 
Arab nationalism, appeared in Egypt and the historical Syria (the present-day territory of Syria, Leba-
non, Jordan, Israel and Palestine)
 7
. The attempts of modernisation in Iran in the early 20th century re-
5
 Miller A. F. Kratkaya istoriya Turtsii. – M., 1948. P. 21.
6
 Kilberg H. I. Yegipet v borbe za nezavisimost. – L., 1950. P. 13.
7
 Kudryashova I.V. Natsiyestroitelstvo na Blizhnem Vostoke: ot musulmanskoy ummy k natsii-gosudarstvu // Po-
liticheskaya nauka. Fromirovaniye natsii i gosudarstva v sovremennom mire. Sbornik nauchnyh trudov. – M.: RAN, 
INION, 2008. No. 1. P. 137.


Introduction
sulted, on the one hand, in a liberation movement, mainly in the territory of the Southern Azerbaijan, on 
the other hand, in an impressive cultural development. It was characterised by the appearance of new 
literary genres, including political journalism, and of secular education, enthusiastically supported and 
influenced by Azerbaijani enlighteners, dramatists and politicians. 
The Caucasian and Central Asian regions bordering on Iran, Turkey and Russia, could not stay un-
influenced by these activities, especially after they entered the political and cultural space of the Rus-
sian Empire. In addition, the pressure of the European capitalism stimulated the modernist movement 
in Egypt, Iran, Turkey and India, while the East of the Russian Empire was influenced by the advanc-
ing Russian capitalism
 8

 Progressive ideas, including those of enlightenment, were born in the context of struggle between 
opposite cultures and different religions and mentalities, and were, at the same time, a kind of dialogue-
bridge between the West and the East. The ideas and achievements were mediated through Russia. In 
this very period, in the mid-19th-early 20th centuries, social processes identical to those in the above 
listed eastern countries, begin to occur in the Muslim regions of the Russian Empire – the Volga region, 
Central Asia, the Crimea and the Caucasus. This transformation is characterised by the emergence of 
the artistic and scientific intelligentsia, which in its role of the generator and disseminator of ideas of 
social modernisation, regards the reformation of education as its primary goal.  
Representatives of the progressive national intelligentsia in Central Asia, namely, in Turkestan, 
Bukhara, Khiva and in the territory of the present-day Kazakhstan, were called Jadids (‘jadid’ – new), 
and their movement towards a new way of life and education – Jadidism. According to the American 
scholar A. Khalid, the Jadids were the individuals who tried to reform the Muslim society through con-
temporary means of communication and new forms of contact
 9
. According to the German researcher I. 
Baldauf, they were the people who had a positive attitude to the issues of modernisation and were con-
nected with Ismail Gasprinsky’s methods of education
 10
. However, this is a highly simplified definition 
of Jadidism. It should be noted that it must not be taken in a fixed and stable, once-and-forever-estab-
lished form, as it was constantly developing and was always enriched by new ideas within the limits of 
the current social and political. 
At first the Central Asian Jadids, like the Tatar enlighteners, had only one objective, which was to edu-
cate people in order to improve their living conditions and to reach the level of life of the enlightened na-
tions. However afterwards, developing syncretically, i.e. focusing on religious enlightenment and social 
and political activism, Jadidism exerted a great influence on the national self-identification of the Muslim 
peoples of the Russian Empire and shaped new forms of historical development using the achievements 
of the European culture. The activities of the Jadids (I. Gasprinsky, R. Fahreddin, M. Bigi, G. Iskhaki, 
M. Behbudi, U. Asadullakhojayev, M. Abdurashidkhanov, A. Avloni, A. Shakuri, S. Ayni, F. Khojayev, I. 
Altynsarin and others) stimulated the evolution of the social and political thought and became an im-
portant stage in the formation of the national ideology, primarily the liberal one
 11
.
8
 Gubaydullin G. K voprosu ob ideologii Gasprinskogo // ‘Gasyrlar avazy’ (The echo of the centuries). – Nauchno-
dokumentalniy zhurnal. 1998. Nos. 3-4. P. 7.
9
 Adib Khalid. The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Tsarist Central Asia. PhD adisa. 1993. P. 137. 
10
 Baldauf I. Dzhadidizm v Tsentralnoy Azii v plane reformizma v musulmanskom mire // Markazi Osiyo XX asr 
boshida: … – Toshkent: Manaviyat, 2001. P. 44.
11
 Fahrutdinov R. R. Tatarskoye obschestvenno-politicheskoye dvizheniye v kontse XIX-nachale XX vv kak faktor 
konstruirovaniya natsionalnoy identichnosti // Avtoreferat diss. … dok. ist. nauk. – SPb., 2007. P. 16; Alimova D. A. 
Istoriya kak istoriya, istoriya kak nauka. Vol. II. Fenomen dzhadidizma. – Tashkent: Uzbekistan, 2009. P. 11.  

8
The History of Public and Cultural Reformation in the Caucasus and Central Asia (19th - early 20th century)
The whole Muslim Caucasus, and Azerbaijan in particular, faced alien civilisation values and entered 
the zone of cultural transformations, which tore the country out of the context of its gradual historical 
development
 12
. The transformation continued during the whole of the 19th and the early 20th century 
and involved practically all aspects of social life, including the educational system, which was reformed 
thanks to the appearance of well-known national enlighteners. It was they who discovered the new lan-
guage of description and criticism for the East, the language that embraced the best achievements of the 
world’s philosophical and educational thought.
No doubt, the progressive reformation in Central Asia and the Caucasus played the same role as the 
Age of the Enlightenment did in Europe; only it took place several centuries later, changing the centu-
ries-old lifestyle and mentality in a whole generation of people belonging to various social classes. It is 
no coincidence that in many countries of the East these processes were accompanied by a cultural and 
political renaissance. The formation of a new type of the intelligentsia which was capable of realising its 
predestination to change the position of their peoples, as well as the presence of the political will, cre-
ated the conditions for the development of, first, the enlightenment movement, and then, of the social 
and political movement in the Eastern countries in general, and in the Muslim outskirts of the Russian 
Empire in particular. The enlighteners brought into the national consciousness such notions as progress, 
equality, freedom, social justice (the so-called universals of the Enlightenment), pinning their greatest 
hopes on the educated part of the population, which caused the transition from the traditional socie-
ty to the post-traditional or modernist society
 13
. The ideas of enlightenment as it was conceived in the 
West supported every person regardless of their social representation. An individual was able to develop 
through education into an autonomous personality endowed with all natural social rights. Struggling 
for the freedom of an individual, for the rights of a person, the enlighteners demanded education acces-
sible for the whole nation. 
One of the factors that conditioned the formation and evolution of the social and political conscious-
ness of the Muslim peoples in the late 19th-early 20th centuries was the democratisation of the Russian 
Empire itself, as well as the political atmosphere and the social and cultural changes in the society in 
the post-reformation period. The appearance of the intelligentsia, the representatives of which belonged 
to various social classes, were not restricted by class prejudices and therefore expressed their thoughts 
and often acted more freely, determined the development of new enlightenment currents in the centre 
of the empire as well. The pan-Russian legislation on the reforms in the peasantry and in the judicial 
and urban systems of administration, which was adopted in the 1870s, had a positive influence upon 
the political and cultural life of the peoples of the empire. The liberalisation of the whole social, political 
and economic spectrum continued at the turn of the century, when the capitalistic industrialisation fos-
tered further social stratification of the population. It was a contradictory period, when the processes of 
democratisation were accompanied by social, economic and political vestiges impeding the modernisa-
tion of the Russian Empire, and when the social and political movement of the Muslim peoples received 
a new impetus which was caused by the increase of the level of self-awareness and by the unresolved 
problems of the national identification in the country. Finally, conservative, liberal and revolutionary 
tendencies in the whole Russian society and in the Muslim social and political movement in particular 
were particularly characteristic of this period
 14
. They were reflected both in an opposition between the 
12
 Abasov A. Sotsiokulturniye problemy sovremennosti. – Baku, 2006. P. 94.
13
 Badalov R. Zardabinskiye chteniya: itog bez itoga. 2008, 16 iyulya – http://www.kultura.az/articles
14
 Fahrutdinov R. R. Tatarskoye obschestvenno-politicheskoye dvizheniye v kontse XIX-nachale XX vv… P. 5.


Introduction
revolutionary and liberal currents in the political life and in the struggle between the progressive and 
the conservative thought in the intellectual context. The traditions of enlightenment established by the 
great reformers of the 19th century were carried on in the early 20th century by J. Mamedkulizade, O. F. 
Nemanzade, A. Sabir, H. Mahmudbekov, R. Efendiyev, N. Narimanov, Uzeir and Jeyhun bek Hajibekovs
F. Kocharli, M.E. Rasulzade and A. Tsalikov in the Caucasus, and by M. Behbudi, A. Avloni, H. Muin, A. 
Shakuri, S. Ayni, F. Khojayev, A. Fitrat, S.R. Alizade, O. Mahmudov and others in Central Asia.
Although the ideas of enlightenment and the cultural reforms in the Muslim regions of Russia had 
their own local specificities, they were united by the common purpose to enhance the cultural level of 
their peoples and to establish the principles of formation of national self-identity, which caused politi-
cal transformations in the society. There was another important factor of unification, which was iden-
tified by the French historian A. Benningsen: ‘The Muslim world in the Russian Empire was united by 
some relative linguistic unity, which was the Turkic language’
 15
. In addition, the uniform script based on 
the Arabic alphabet, which was used by the Muslim peoples also served the purpose of integration. For 
many centuries the Arabic script helped the manifold ethnic groups of the Islamic world create a wide 
communicational space, a framework for the formation of similar political, legal, social and economic 
institutions, as well as of social and cultural norms and values. The Arabic script (which, in fact, levelled 
the linguistic specificities) actually encouraged the formation of the standard written language, which 
at the same time retained some local characteristic features. Thus, for instance, the Caucasian newspa-
pers and magazines published in Azerbaijani could be easily read in the Northern Caucasus, Crimea, in 
the Volga region and in Central Asia. In the same way Tatar, Uzbek and Bashkir periodicals were under-
stood by the Azerbaijani readers. 
In the early 20th century the Russian authorities reported the ‘Tatarisation’ of the Northern Cauca-
sus, in particular of Dagestan oblast (province; the Russian authorities of the time called the Azerbai-
janis Tatars – author). The Turkic language became the dominating one on the plains and in the foot-
hills alike. It was expected to reach the mountain regions of Dagestan soon. It could be explained by the 
establishment of native-language-teaching schools by enlightenment and charity societies and by some 
rich Azerbaijanis, as well as by the distribution of Caucasian newspapers in Turkic (Azerbaijani) among 
the people and by the appearance of publishing houses printing in the native language. In one of his 
works A.A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky noted that the Azerbaijani language, ‘like the French language in Eu-
rope, could be used to cross all Asia from border to border’
 16
. In our opinion, it was the commonality of 
language and script that ensured at the turn of the century an evident correlation of the social and cul-
tural processes between the Muslim peoples of the Empire, and thus predetermined to a certain extent 
their integration into the world civilisation space. The similarities between the languages also helped 
the progressists to establish trans-Caspian communicative links. Developing the reforming ideas both in 
their fundamental works and on the pages of periodicals, the representatives of the Muslim intellectual 
elite encouraged the revival and development of the national literature, philosophy and theatre. Their 
scientific and artistic heritage prepared a new generation of the national intelligentsia, which afterwards 
was solving the difficult tasks of struggling for the sovereignty of their peoples. 
It should also be noted that the Caucasian and Central Asian intellectual elite was bilingual, having a 
perfect command of both Turkic and Farsi. Baku was the regional hub, accumulating regional links, from 
15
 Benningsen A. Pechat i natsionalnoye dvizheniye russkih musulman do 1920 goda / Per. s frants. S. M. Polyakov. 
– Baku, 1971. P. 7, 49-50, 58.
16
 Marlinskiy A. A. Povesti i rasskazy. M., 1976. P. 272.

10
The History of Public and Cultural Reformation in the Caucasus and Central Asia (19th - early 20th century)
where the Turkic and Persian literature was disseminated across the Caucasus and Central Asia. In the 
late 19th century progressive publications reached Turkestan, Bukhara, Khiva, Kazakhstan, Dagestan 
and Ter oblast (province occupying the territory of today’s Chechnya) via Baku.  That was the way the 
Iranian magazine ‘Kanun’ spreading reformation ideas appeared in Central Asia
 17
. The first volume of 
‘Sayahat-name’ by the Azerbaijani author Zaynalabdin Maraghai, who analysed the social and political 
situation in Iran in this work, also reached Central Asia via Baku. The book became the manifesto of the 
reformers of Iran and the Caucasus and had a huge influence upon the Bukhara progressive intelligent-
sia
 18
. Being the transit point for foreign literature supplied to Central Asia, Baku also delivered almost all 
progressive Azerbaijani literature to the Central Asian region. The most popular were newspapers and 
magazines, particularly ‘Irshad’ and ‘Molla Nasreddin’, which provided plenty of coverage of the events 
in Turkestan and even published caricatures of the Bukhara clergy, who closed down the Jadids’ schools. 
In their turn, Central Asian publications also reached Azerbaijan, the Povolzhye, Iran and India. 
A vast amount of historical literature is dedicated to the study of reformation movements in the Cau-
casus and Central Asia in the 19th-early 20th centuries. However, neither the publications of that period 
nor the contemporary ones pay sufficient attention to the mutual influence and proximity of the reform-
atory concepts of that time. It also concerns other Muslim regions of the Russian Empire, in particular 
the Crimea and the region near the Volga. However, under a close scrutiny, the peoples of Central Asia 
and the Caucasus, and particularly Azerbaijan, demonstrate a remarkable degree of similarity and his-
torical closeness, which serves as the foundation for cultural and reformatory links strengthened in the 
course of the development of the national self-identity and the progressive movements of the 19th-early 
20th centuries. 
The ancient economic and trade relations between the Caucasian and Central Asian states, their in-
clusion in a single system of the world’s empires, the struggle for independence, the co-existence since 
the 8th century in the Caliphate, the revival of ancient cultural values on the basis of the single Mus-
lim religion, the development of the most important scientific centres of the East, which gave the world 
a range of great scholars and discoveries, and, finally, the particular consolidation of interrelations at 
the time of the empires of the Timurids and the Sefevids – all these historical processes led to a special 
connection between these peoples. The deep knowledge of the history of relations between the peoples 
of Central Asia and the Caucasus the 19th-early-20th-century enlighteners possessed also became a 
base for the development of relations between the social and reformation movements of the regions. It 
is impossible to consider this issue without characterising each of them. At every step the authors of this 
publication encountered the signs of the identity of the reformatory ideas of the intelligentsia, instances 
of imitation, direct and indirect contacts, mutual spiritual and practical support of almost all currents 
of the enlightenment movement. 
The single idea – the triumph of knowledge as a key to progress – served as the basis of the reform-
ers’ enlightenment conception. Taking into account that the peoples of the two regions belonged to one 
religion, from the very beginning of their activity the representatives of the movement did not separate 
Islam and knowledge, but, on the contrary, put them together to form a synthesis allowing a Muslim be-
lieve that not only did the religion let him study various sciences, but even wanted him to do it. A near 
complete identity of ideas can be seen in the works of A. Bakikhanov, H. Zardabi, M. Behbudi, A. Fitrat 
and A. Donish, who were among the establishers of the movement. Not only almost none of the reform-
17
 Turkestanskiye vedomosti. 1898, No. 48.
18
 Atabaki T. Transkaspiyskiye svyazi dzhadidov // Markazi Osiyo XX asr boshida. – Toshkent: Manaviyat, 2001. P. 38.

11 
Introduction
ers rejected the European and Russian enlightenment, but, on the contrary, called upon their people to 
seek support from it. They were also unanimous that the scholarly and educational work had to have 
ethical and practical implications. The ideas held in such works as ‘Moral upbringing’ by A. Bakikhanov 
and ‘Turkic gulistan or morality’ by A. Avloni are so similar that there is no doubt about the extreme 
proximity of their basic concepts. The works ‘Gyulistani-Iram’ by A. Bakikhanov and ‘Tarikh va Jugrofi-
ya’ (History and geography) by M. Behbudi also have much in common; both authors admit the impor-
tance of historical knowledge, not only for broadening the world outlook, but also for the growth of the 
self-awareness of the youth. 
The works of the enlighteners of the first generation and of the reformers demonstrate similarity of 
views, creating the line of A. Bakikhanov – A. Donish, Ch. Valikhanov; M.F. Akhundov – A. Fitrat, H. 
Zardabi; S.M. Ganizade – M. Behbudi, Munavvar Kary Abdurashidkhanov. They made a vast contri-
bution to the formation of the conceptual principles of the reformation, while their many-sided practi-
cal activity promoted social progress. M. Sidgi, M. Navvab and A. Avloni, the authors of textbooks and 
treatises on morality, as well as F. Kocharli, M.E. Rasulzade, A. Topchibashev, N. Narimanov, A. Fitrat, 
F. Khojayev and O. Mahmudov pushed the reformation movement into a new phase – from enlighten-
ment to the solution of political problems. The periodicals issued by the progressists had also very sim-
ilar contents. It will suffice to compare the objectives of H. Zardabi’s newspaper ‘Ekinchi’ and M. Beh-
budi’s magazine ‘Oina’. According to the former, a newspaper is like a mirror, reflecting the ugliness of 
all the curved and rotten and the lustre of all the good and pure. For Behbudi, a magazine is like a mir-
ror, in which the man sees the world and obtains the idea about his own appearance, like a guidebook 
for those searching for a way.
Certainly, the two regional reformation movements had their own specificities. It should be taken into 
consideration that the Caucasus is territorially closer to Europe than Central Asia, and development of 
capitalist relations began much earlier there, while the Caucasian reformers were closely connected with 
the European cultural space. Many of them were educated in the best universities of the world. The Rus-
sian conquest of the Southern and Northern Caucasus took place several decades before that of Central 
Asia; therefore, it is only natural that the social, political and democratic processes taking place in the 
metropolis, in the centre, made a longer and deeper impact in the Caucasus.
In the mid-19th century, when the new-method schools had already been established and were func-
tioning in the Caucasus, the territory of Central Asia was just being conquered. Possibly, that was why 
the modernist movement in Azerbaijan was broader and differed in its scale, contents and openly sec-
ular character from Jadidism in the Crimea, the Povolzhye and Central Asia. Certainly, that was influ-
enced by M.F. Akhundov’s anti-clerical heritage, which was deeply rooted in the public thought of Az-
erbaijan. ‘The combination of Islam and modernism’, as Jadidism is often defined, did not become the 
main direction of the public thought in Azerbaijan. At the same time, the religion (Islam) occupied the 
central position in the activity of the reformers from other Muslim regions. The question of substitu-
tion of the Arabic alphabet for the Roman one was being actively discussed in the Caucasus. The alpha-
betic reform implied a rapid Europeanisation of the culture, which was supported by some Azerbaijani 
modernists led by M.F. Akhundov. Due to the religious situation, this problem began to be discussed in 
Central Asia only in the 1920s.  
Nevertheless, the movement of the progressive intelligentsia in both regions is united by common 
activities, which were to arouse in people interest in knowledge, to struggle with ignorance and stag-
nation, to create a new class of educated young people familiar with contemporary scientific and tech-
nological achievements, whom they regarded as a force capable of changing the future of the peoples of 

12
The History of Public and Cultural Reformation in the Caucasus and Central Asia (19th - early 20th century)
Central Asia and the Caucasus, and to promote construction of a society based on freedom. The reform-
ers were convinced that it was the freedom that would raise the social status of the woman and ensure 
her participation in the public life equally with the man. Most importantly, their dreams to bring their 
peoples to the level of the socially protected and advanced European nations and to make their countries 
independent and free would come true in the free society. They tried to carry out their ideas through 
the creation of independent republics: the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the Mountainous Republic, 
the Turkestan Autonomy and Alash Orda. Although all these formations had tragic fates and deplorable 
ending, they became a real base for the creation of the sovereign republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, 
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in the late 20th century. 
The authors hope that not only will this book be of interest to a wide audience, but also that it will 
stimulate further academic research, and wish to express many thanks to the International Institute 
for Central Asian Studies for the initiation of the project, which has brought together scholars from the 
Central Asian and the Caucasian regions.

13 


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