Monday 8 August 2022 \


Imam Hamzat Bek. Struggle for the faith and people.

Imam Hamzat-bek, second Imam of Dagestan, successor of Imam Ghazi Muhammad.

Imam Hamzat-bek (The Caucasian war)

Hold on, don’t be in rush,

You bunch of gold slaves.

Dwell in patience, sit in hush,

For Hamzat is keen to wreck your world.

                        Ali-hajji from Inkho

Hamzat-bek was born in a village of Gotsatl, in a family of Aliskandi, a brave and wise highlander, famous for his sense of justice. Aliskandi was a vizier for Khunzakh khans, particularly for Uma-khan, known as a man of great intellect. Being a good diplomat Aliskandi played a considerable role in settling relationships with the Persian Shah, who had threatened the Dagestan territory by war.  

Uma-khan appreciated his activities and granted him eleven villages from khan’s possessions.

Hamzat was twelve when his father sent him to the village of Chokh to study Islam. People say, that seeing well dressed son of a bek, with a costly papakha on his head, the teacher of the Chokh’s madrasah noted, “I am not quite sure that such a well dressed boy will be eager to study `ilm (Islamic sciences)”.

On hearing that young Hamzat went out, took off his clothes and threw them into teacher’s cattle yard. Then he got back to the classroom and took his seat not differing from the others any longer.

Having studied there for twelve years Hamzat was about to leave when his teacher reminded him not to forget his clothes. Actually now they looked more like pieces of rag eaten by moths. Hamzat did not want to leave that rubbish in his teacher’s house and threw it away.

This story needs to be taken into consideration; the teacher didn’t point to the boy’s costly outfit by mere chance. Very few well-off people studied ilm at that time.  Imam Shafii (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “But for the poor, the Islamic science would have disappeared forever.”

On his turn young Hamzat showed a rare quick-wittedness. He did not get offended by his teacher’s words and did not leave, but on the contrary, he stayed and assimilated among other pupils, trying not to single out. And Allah the Almighty rewarded him for such an attitude.

This example clearly unveils the real character of the future Imam.   

When Imam Ghazi-Muhammad fell as a martyr, the scholars and folk representatives gathered in the mosque of the village Coroda to elect another Imam. Hamzat was declared as the second Imam.

At the beginning he was visiting a village after village together with his companions. He met the jamaat, instructed them on Sharia laws. But it did not give necessary results. Then he went to the village of Irganay, killed all the munafiqs (hypocrites), and captured the most powerful and influential man of the village Sultanov, who was sent to Gimry and imprisoned in a dungeon. The imam himself settled in Irganay and established the Sharia law there. His resolute actions had considerable effect on the population. The envoys from other villages started coming to him and expressed their allegiance.    

Soon afterwards Hamzat and Shamil went to Untsukul, whose people had turned away from Sharia. Hamzat with his troops stopped at some distance from the village, having sent Shamil and twelve other murids to assess the situation.  

Shamil reached the well near the village; having learned about it the Untsukul people began luring him to enter the village, promising to fulfill everything he would require.

Thankfully there lived a wise highlander named Kebed-hajjiyav, who warned Shamil that it was nothing but a trap and he should not listen to them.

Then Shamil put forward his condition saying that he would not enter the village until they sent to Hamzat hostages as amanat. After long and hard deliberations, which could result in clashes, people of Untsukul accepted that. They were also obliged to pay 60 tumens as pledge. That case let them understand the true meaning of imam Gazimuhammad’s words: “The second imam will march against you and make your life difficult.” That second imam was Hamzat- bek.

So Hamzat would go on establishing Sharia law in villages and settlements. He didn’t hurry to encounter with the tsarist troops, directing all his efforts to struggle with people’s oppressors, beks and the rich who cared only about their own benefits.

One day he sent Shamil to village Mishuly to suppress the local rebels. Shamil had a success, having crushed the mutineers.

Another task was in the village of Gergebil where Hamzat and his faithfull companions made some clean up.

Having established the Sharia law in Avaria, Hamzat went to Khunzakh.

Author: Muradullah Dadaev

Head of the Department of Islamic History of the Dagestan Islamic university

From the series “The struggle for the faith and people”.


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