Home    Number 3, 2021

Duty and Loyalty of the Central Asian Mullahs in Migration

[Dolg i loial’nost’ sredneaziatskikh mull v migratsii]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150015500-0

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 04.09.2020

Accepted: 02.12.2020

About author(s)

Dmitriy Oparin | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1895-5564 | dimaoparin@hotmail.com | HSE University (4–2 Slavianskaia sq., Moscow, 109074, Russia)


Central Asia, migration, Islam, religious authority, mullah, exorcism, loyalty, religious duty


The article examines the social topography and configuration of the Muslim space of a Russian city. It focuses on the position, religious practices, and worldviews of Central Asian mullahs who participate actively in the religious life of local communities, conduct various rituals, and provide counsel or guidance to fellow believers. These figures are individuals that migrated from Central Asia, call themselves mullahs, possess significant social capital, and in fact play a considerable part in shaping the everyday religious experience of their fellow believers, often their countrymen, as well as in establishing and maintaining the local Muslim space, even though they are not legally appointed muftis, nor do they hold official positions at a city mosque. I attempt to explore what kinds of relationships and rapports these mullahs build with or vis-à-vis local imams, their countrymen, and the Muslim milieu in general. I pay particular attention both to the religious experience and the experience of migration in biographical stories of my informants, trying to understand their reflexivity, striving for self-improvement, and the way they comprehend their duty toward the God and other believers.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 18-18-00293]


Oparin, D.A. 2021. Duty and Loyalty of the Central Asian Mullahs in Migration [Dolg i loial’nost’ sredneaziatskikh mull v migratsii]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 149–167. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150015500-0

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