The Conference: Islam in the Modern World: Looking For Analytical Approaches

On 6 December 2016, the conference – Islam in the Modern World: Looking for Analytical Approaches -- was held at the Gaidar institute.

The sponsors of the conference were the Gaidar Institute and the editorial board of the State, Religion and Church magazine.



The first panel session was dedicated to the analysis of modern Islamic movements. According to participants, modern Islamic movements are quite diversified. Аkhmet Yarlykapov, Russian expert in Caucasus believes that the fact that individual Islamic movements are diversified and their ideas may differ does not actually point to the crisis of religion, but development of Islam and that is quite a normal situation where answers are sought to challenges faced by modern Moslems. It is to be noted that the effect of the above factors is stronger in large cities.
Irina Starodubrovskaya, Head of the Center for Political Economy and Regional Development of the Gaidar Institute put forward a hypothesis that the religious split has a reforming potential that leads to breakdown of traditional institutional relations.


Irina Starodubrovskaya stressed that at present in Dagestan the undergoing processes in Islam resembled to some extent the Protestant Reformation Movement in Western and Central Europe in the 16th and early 17th centuries. The above movement set the goal to reform the Catholic Church in compliance with the Bible. Reformers brought together conservative and modern ideas. They stood for availability of the Holy Scriptures for ordinary people and that resulted in a situation where different interpretations of the Holy Scriptures emerged and split the Protestants. The Reformation Movement was an endeavor to comprehend the world in religious terms and values. Apart fr om reforming the church, they stood for reforms of the life in general in compliance with religious values. For them, social relations with like-minded people mattered more than family relations.

Also, Irina Starodubrovskaya outlined the processes which took place in Dagestan in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. “The world which people got used to starts to go into pieces. If earlier in Dagestan there were rather secluded cultural areals, that is, multi-ethnic cities with their own culture and a large number of secluded communities in the provinces, as a result of a large-scale migration to cities that insularity started to break up. Due to the above, people are in the need of comprehending the undergoing processes. One can see here an endeavor similar to that of the Reformation Movement of the past to comprehend the world in religious terms,” the expert says. In making active attempts to return to their roots, Islamic fundamentalists start to break common foundations and traditions which situation was typical of the Reformation Movement, too, Irina Starodubrovskaya stresses. At the same time, the expert believes that it is religious extremists that change the reality as an ordinary person needs a very strong motivation to break up with the medium he/she got used to.

For comprehension of processes taking place in Islam in Dagestan, Irina Starodubrovskaya proposed to use the term -- Islamic Reformation -- as in a situation of social changes, that is, globalization, urbanization and breakdown of the former social pattern the processes taking place in the Islamic medium are very much similar to those of the Christian Reformation Movement of the past.


Yevgeny Varshaver and Yegor Lazarev, researchers of the RANEPA’s Center for Religious and Urban Studies presented the outputs of the survey dedicated to the analysis of the value system of Dagestan’s Moslims. The purpose of the survey was to learn in what way religious groups differ from one another by values. Respondents of the survey were divided into the following religious groups: “secular”, “Sufi”, “traditionalists” and “non-traditional Islam”.

The survey’s preliminary results show the Dagestani are happy in general (85% of respondents say that they are very happy and almost happy); 60% of the Dagestani feel they are protected; 55% of the respondents believe they control their life. In the value system, respondents rated family first and then health and religion. Answering the question which values should be cultivated in their children, respondents said: “tolerance to others”. The survey showed that “Sufi” and non-traditional Moslims were more conservative in gender and political issues than traditionalists and seculars.

Within the framework of the conference, a round table – The Islamic Reformation: Heuristic Value of the Approach – was held. The participants discussed the reasons for which the term Reformation should be used as applied to the present-day situation in Islam, social changes and Islamic fundamentalism and tried to answer the question what the Islamic fundamentalism was like: archaism or a specific way of modernization.

At the second panel discussion wh ere Аkhmet Yarlykapov was a moderator a report – A Coalition Clinch against the Islamic Order: How Security and Justice are Sought to be Achieved in Dagestan?” – was delivered by Yevgeny Varshaver; Yegor Lazarev touched upon the effect of military conflicts on the ratio between the Russian law, Sharia law and adat in the Chechen Republic. Кonstantin Kazenin, Senior Researcher of the Gaidar Institute outlined the factors behind competition between regulators in economic relations in Dagestan.

• I. Starodubrovskaya. Analysis of Modern Islamic Movements in the North Caucasus in Terms of Reformation
• E. Varshaver and Е. Lazarev. Dagestani Moslims: Do Values Depend on Religious Views? (on the basis of the survey)
• Е. Varshaver. A Coalition Clinch Against the Islamic Order: How Security and Justice are Sought to Be Achieved in Dagestan?