Michael Kemper, Shamil Shikhaliev
August 29, 2015
This article analyzes the interplay of Jadidism and “Qadimism” in the North Caucasus region of Daghestan, through the twentieth century, with a focus on educational methods for teaching Arabic and Islam. In the multi-ethnic context of Daghestan the issue of pedagogy was important not only for teaching the vernaculars but also for the transmission of Arabic, which retained its importance as a lingua franca of Daghestani scholars and intellectuals well into the Soviet period. We argue that all through the Soviet era, “Qadimism” (as the traditional teaching system) continued to be practiced in Daghestan alongside Jadid approaches, and both are still employed in the new Islamic schools that emerged in the early 1990s. Innovative aspects of this paper are: (1) it brings Daghestan into the debate about Jadidism, which has so far centered on the Volga-Urals and Central Asia; (2) it examines Jadidism in constant interaction with its competitor “Qadimism”, not as its antipode; and (3) it uses a longitudinal approach that covers the whole of the twentieth century, all historical breaks notwithstanding. Finally, this paper explores new methodologies by using the personal educational experience of one of its co-authors, who went through the mixed “Qadim”/Jadid/Soviet system in the 1980s and early 1990s. Our observations challenge the widespread assumption that Jadidism was overall an undoubted success story, and that “Qadimism” as a method was, after the establishment of Soviet power and even more so after its dissolution, bound to disappear.