Russia’s Muslims, Ready to Protest, Seek Shariat Guidance on Demonstrations

March 11, 2015
Demonstrator in Grozny at mass march on January 19, 2015. Photo by Valery Matytsin/TASS

Staunton, February 1 — It is unclear which should disturb the Kremlin more — that Muslims in the Russian Federation are now sufficiently angry that they are thinking about taking part in public protests or that these same Muslims feel that they should ask not what Russian law says about such meetings but rather what Islamic Shariat law does.

In Chernovik, a Dagestani publication
, Umar Gadzhiyaliyev surveys the opinions and fetwas of leading Muslim thinkers concerning meetings, when they are permissible and when they are not according to Islam, and even whether a Muslim can take part in such things at all.

Not surprising to Muslims but perhaps to others, these “contemporary Islamic legal specialists have expressed various points of view on this subject. But if one summarizes them,” Gadzhiyaliyev says, “one can say that the scholars permit meetings and demonstrations … if they do not contain prohibited elements connected with external factors.”

The Dagestani writer considers the views of several of them in detail and observes that many are concerned that men and women do not take part in such measures together, that those considering protests need to recognize the difference between living in a Muslim society where such things should not be the first choice and elsewhere where they may have no choice, and that those who participate must behave as good Muslims and not insult the dignity of others.

“Thus,” Gadzhiyaliyev says, one can conclude that “if meetings and demonstrations do not entail obvious harm, lead to a positive result and do not contain prohibited elements, then at bottom they are permitted according to Shariat law.”

But he, being a citizen of the Russian Federation, adds the expected “postscript.” “This article,” he writes, “is not backing for or denigration of any specific measure and concerns only general propositions about meetings and demonstrations.”