Dudoignon, Stéphane A., ‘A Surrogate Aristocracy’, in C. Mayeur-Jaouen, ed., Adab and Modernity, 2021

Dudoignon, Stéphane A., ‘A Surrogate Aristocracy? Sufi Adab, Modernity, Rurality and Civilisation in Ex-Soviet Central Asia’, in C. Mayeur-Jaouen, ed., Adab and Modernity: A ‘Civilising Process’?, Leiden: Brill (Islamic Literatures: Texts and Studies), 2020, pp. 527–51, ill.

Sufi adab in Soviet times shows paradoxical. In the absence of madrasas, it was revitalised, for cenacles of followers, by spiritual guides who had escaped or returned from the Gulag. To larger segments of society, it was communicated non-verbally, through the master’s physical example. In villages where they withdrew since not allowed to stay in cities, their very bearing and clothing determined their status as much as sacred ancestry, intellectual pedigree or magical power. Here, the legacy of Islamic reform strengthened the equivalence between adab and personal ethics (akhlāq). Besides, since the 1920s new roles fell to the shaykh and modern saint, who tended to become a substitute for the khan, and many a symbol of the aulic culture of the defunct khanates found their way into Sufi sociability. (Riding, hunting and other attributes of the past khans have found their place within the textual hagiographies that begun to be fixed in writing in the 1990s.) Identified with pre-modern Persian and/or Turkish literature, interpreted as heritage (ar. mirath) and a vector of civilisation (madaniyat), Sufi adab proved was to prove attractive, soon, to many actors the including secular intelligentsias of the late Soviet period. Through these facts, the present paper will try to question what the numerous paradoxes of a Soviet history now rediscovered bring to the common reflection on the place of adab in local the local reappropriations and constructions of modernity.

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