Waqf in Turkestan : the colonial legacy and the fate of an Islamic institution in early Soviet Central Asia, 1917-1924

Niccolò PIANCIOLA, University of Trento
Paolo SARTORI, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Copyright © 2007 Routledge

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The paper investigates early Soviet policies regarding the institution of waqf (charitable endowment) in Turkestan, questioning the issue of the post-colonial character of the early Soviet administration. After taking into consideration practices related to waqf management in modern Muslim states and European colonial empires, the paper briefly describes the tsarist administrative approach to the issue. We then address the ambiguity inherent in Soviet policies on waqf requisition and restitution during Civil War years. In the section that follows we deal with different groups of Muslim intellectuals that attempted to use the Soviet state in their mutual struggle over authority in Central Asian society and describe the creation and functioning of the bureaucracies responsible for managing waqf. Finally, we outline some provisional conclusions on the legacy of tsarist colonialism for Soviet power in Central Asia and the role played by progressive Muslim intellectuals.