Sunday 20 September 2020 \

 

Murat Ramzi - the great son of the Bashkir people

Often the life path of talented and extraordinary people develops dramatically and even tragically, and we are not surprised that they have to overcome severe trials and losses.
 
But forgetting the personalities who made a significant contribution to culture and loss of their names from the historical memory of people - is this not the most bitter injustice?
 
Murat Ramzi is one of these undeservedly forgotten sons of the Bashkir people. Of course, his life fell on the most dramatic years of the history of Russia - the turbulent years of the October Revolution, the civil war and the change in the socio-economic structure of the whole country. This in some way justifies the guilt of the descendants before Murat Ramzi: after all, in those years not only individuals disappeared - thousands of people died, an entire socio-economic formation ceased to exist.
 
Moradullah ibn Bahadirshah Abdullah Sheikh Murat Ramzi is one of the prominent representatives of the Muslim scholars and religion who, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, who not only carried out the cultural and "religious upsurge of the Tatar and Bashkir peoples, but had a beneficial effect on the overall processes of spiritual revival of the Muslim peoples of the Russian Empire."
 
Today in the Western and Arab scientific circles he is known as a Muslim historian, author of the two-volume historical work "Talfik al-akhbar", dedicated to the history of the Turks living in tsarist Russia - Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Volga Bulgars, Kazan Tatars, Uzbeks, Nogais - and Islam in the vast territories of the former Russian Empire. In the West, this work has long been a scientific circulation, using as a scientific source, in particular by Professor Hamid Algar of the University of California. One copy of Sheikh M. Ramzi's book is kept in the department of rare books of the King Al-Saud University Library in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
 
Murat Ramzi received the honorary title of Sheikh for his services in the field of historical research and in the education of Muslims.
 
He was Murid (pupil) of the Sufi brotherhood of Naqshbandiya, and a substantial part of his book "Talfik al-akhbar" is dedicated to the biographies of the prominent Sufi sheikhs of the Volga region, the Urals and the North Caucasus, real spiritual guides, the murshids.
 
Information about Shaykh M. Ramzi, unfortunately, is scattered and fragmentary. A bit of information about his life can be found in the scientific article of Professor H. Algar about Zainullah Rasulev ash-Sharifi Al-Naqshbandi, an outstanding Bashkir Sufi sheikh, a Muslim theologian from the collection entitled Muslims of Central Asia (Duke University Press Durham and London, 1992). Sheikh Ramzi himself gives some information about his life in the second volume of the book "Talfik al-akhbar". But still, it gives us an opportunity to reveal the main milestones of his biography, even his pedigree, the genealogical tree, known among the Bashkirs as "shejere", which goes back to Arabic "shajarat" - meaning "tree".
 
Murat Ramzi was born in 1854 in the Bashkir aul of Almet Bulyarskoy volost Minzelinsky district of Ufa province, and his nationality is Bashkir. This is confirmed by his own genealogy. His uncle's father, Mulla Zeynuddin Nurkai, served as a regimental Imam in the Bashkir Cossack Host. The pedigree of M. Ramzi looks like this: Murat Ramzi (Muradulla) <his father Bahadirshah Abdullah <Myrzagol <Bakhlay <Mar zash <Mamazh <Merke <Abdullabek <Biksur-Khan. The name of his ancestor Biksur Khan is mentioned in some Bashkir legends, where he is depicted as a brave defender of the Bashkirs from foreign invaders.
 
In his youth M. Ramzi studied in the city of Troitsk, Chelyabinsk province. One of his teachers was Sharafetdin ibn Mahdi, his fellow countryman from the Bashkir aul Dusmet-Tirme of the Baylar volost of Menzelinsky district of Ufa province. It is known that for 12 years Sharafetdin studied religious studies in Bukhara. In Troitsk, M. Ramzi studied in the madrassah of the third city mosque, built with the money of the rich Bashkir patron of art Gaisa-bai. The name of one of the teachers of M. Ramzi is also known - a native of the Troitsk Uyezd Muhammad ibn Abdaz-Zahir Rahmangol, who also received religious education in Bukhara. Undoubtedly, while studying in Troitsk and learning the usual religious knowledge, Ramzi also became familiar with the Sufi knowledge and also joined the Naqshbandiya brotherhood. After receiving education in Troitsk, Sheikh Ramzi continued his studies in Bukhara, spent several years in the Volga region and the Urals, preparing his historical work, and then moved to permanent residence in Medina (Saudi Arabia). Sheikh Murat Ramzi died in 1936.
 
The main occupation of Sheikh Ramzi was the study of the history of Russian Turks and Islam in the Volga region, the Urals and Western Siberia. His book "Talfik al-akhbar" (full name "Talfik al-akhbar wa talqih al-asar fi waqai Kazan wa Bulgar va muluk at-tatar", or "Work on the history of Kazan, Bulgars and Tatar kings") M. Ramzi began in 1892 and completed in 1907. In 1908, with the financial support of Sheikh Zaynulla Rasulev ash-Sharifi, a prominent Bashkir Sufi and rector of the Muslim madrasah "Rasuliya" in Troitsk, this book was published in Orenburg.
 
The publication of the book of Sheikh Murat Ramzi caused great resonance. Tsarist censorship regarded M. Ramzi's work as "an open insult to the Orthodox Church and direct incitement of Russian Muslims against Russians" (H. Algar). Most of the circulation was seized and burned. Indeed, the author compiled his work in the light of the national and religious interests of his people, and his Islamic and pan-Turkic ideas were at odds with the official ideology of the Russian Empire.
 
The very historical book of Sheikh M. Ramzi "Talfik al-akhbar" is valuable in several respects. First, as a written monument of the Bashkir historiography of the late XIX - early XX centuries. Secondly, the book is a written record of a milestone in the development of national self-consciousness and ethnic self-identification of the Bashkirs of that period. Thirdly, the very structure of the book by M. Ramzi, the way he tells the history of the Turkic peoples, the methods of attracting written sources of other historians - both Muslim and Russian and Western European - all this helps in some way to reconstruct the way of thinking, the mentality of a fairly common Bashkir intellectual of the late XIX - early XX centuries. It was a type of Bashkir intellectual with a pronounced claim to spiritual aristocracy, to belonging to the "educated minority", who rose to free dialogue with the common Muslim, Russian, Tatar and Western European cultures. On the other hand, this same Bashkir intellectual was clearly aware of his unprivileged, usual and ordinary fate, similar to the fate of his simple Bashkir compatriots in the Russian Empire, understood the general significance of the trials and sufferings that the dominant Russian colonial power rudely subjected to educated Bashkirs along with ordinary Bashkirs.
 
As for the actual content of Sheikh M. Ramzi's book, it is a presentation of the historical development of the Huns, Turks, Slavs, Magyars and Goths from ancient times to the Middle Ages. Then the author tends to focus exclusively on the history of the Golden Horde, its culture and peoples who inhabited it, studying the relationship of the Tatar khanates with the rapidly growing young Russian state. Finally, Sheikh Ramzi goes on to the final part of his historical studies, which explores the history of Russia's conquest of the Volga, the Urals and Western Siberia and the consequences of these events for the peoples of the Volga-Ural region. The destinies of these peoples are the subject of special concern for Sheikh Ramzi because of his ethnic background and his stay as a mureed in the ranks of the Naqshbandiya brotherhood. And this obliged him to take care of the fate of the "uninitiated", that is, the main part of the Muslim population of the Volga and the Urals. Of particular value is the bibliographic material on more than one hundred and fifty prominent religious figures, mostly Tatars and Bashkirs (but there are also reports about some Dagestani scholars) who carried out cultural and educational activities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sheikh Murat Ramzi gave several pages for the presentation of the biography of Sheikh Zaynulla Rasulev ash-Sharifi Al-Naqshbandi, his spiritual mentor, and writes very warmly about him, praising him as a man and a religious figure.
 
The book of Sheikh Ramzi favorably differs from works of similar genre of other Muslim scholars of this region. He wrote his book in Arabic, but he already used rich experience, which he adopted from Russian and West European historians. Ramzi divides his work into chapters, paragraphs, gives a list of used works. His book is supplied with drawings, diagrams, tables and plans of historical places. It is in M. Ramzi's book that we see a transition to a fundamentally new method of historical research. For example, when analyzing the extent of colonization of the Bashkir land, methods of used by the tsarist authorities to suppress the grandiose Bashkir uprisings and colonists' ways of plundering of Bashkir lands, M. Ramzi operates statistics, clarifies the role of the economic factor in the policy of the Russian government, explains the negative effects of the Bashkir transfer to military Cossack class. The work of M. Ramzi is based on a large number of historical materials. But most importantly, Sheikh Ramzi has reasonedly criticized the incorrect approaches of Russian historians to covering the history of Russian Turks and Islam in the territory of the Russian Empire.
 
Sheikh Ramzi's principledness in upholding the idea of ​​the national independence of the Turks, his open condemnation for the policy of violent Christianization of the peoples of the Volga and the Urals, criticism of swaggering and corrupt local officials found a response in the soul of the future great historian-Turkologist Zaki Walidi Togan (1890-1970), the founder of the Bashkir republic. Now we can explain the reason for the great success of the young Zaki Walidi Togan, who in 1912, in his incomplete twenty-two years, published the book "The History of the Turks and Tatars". This book almost coincides with the structure of the book of Sheikh Murat Ramzi. Of course, Zaki Walidi can not be accused of mechanical rewriting, but one should recognize the fact that he wrote his book under the strong influence of the work of Sheikh Ramzi. Moreover, Zaki Walidi writes in his Memoirs that he read the book of the Sheikh in the manuscript, since he was friendly with his father and uncle, often visited his father's house in the village of Kuzyan (now Ishimbay district of the Republic of Bashkortostan) and left there drafts of his work to be viewed by the parent of Zaki Walidi, Mulla Akhmatshah.
 
We can only hope that among the Russian Muslims there will be people who are not indifferent to the historical heritage of Islamic scholars in Russia and will render effective assistance in translating the book of Sheikh Murat Ramzi from Arabic so that a wide range of readers interested in the history and culture of the Muslim world can benefit from it.
 
 

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