Imam Shamil
Overview
 
Imam Shamil also spelled Shamyl, Schamil, Schamyl or Shameel (1797 – March 1871) was an Avar
Caucasian Avars
Avars or Caucasian Avars are a modern people of Caucasus, mainly of Dagestan, in which they are the predominant group. The Caucasian Avar language belongs to the Northeast Caucasian language family ....

 political and religious leader of the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 tribes of the Northern Caucasus. He was a leader of anti-Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 resistance in the Caucasian War
Caucasian War
The Caucasian War of 1817–1864, also known as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which ended with the annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus to Russia...

 and was the third Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 of the Caucasian Imamate (1834–1859).
Imam Shamil was born in 1797, in the small village (aul
Aul
An aul is a type of fortified village found throughout the Caucasus mountains, especially in Dagestan.The word itself is of Turkic origine and means simply village in many Turkic languages....

) of Gimry
Gimry
Gimry is a village in Untsukulsky District of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia. It is located in the mountain where Imam Shamil, the third Imam of Dagestan, was born.-History:...

, which is in current-day Dagestan
Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Imam Shamil also spelled Shamyl, Schamil, Schamyl or Shameel (1797 – March 1871) was an Avar
Caucasian Avars
Avars or Caucasian Avars are a modern people of Caucasus, mainly of Dagestan, in which they are the predominant group. The Caucasian Avar language belongs to the Northeast Caucasian language family ....

 political and religious leader of the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 tribes of the Northern Caucasus. He was a leader of anti-Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 resistance in the Caucasian War
Caucasian War
The Caucasian War of 1817–1864, also known as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which ended with the annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus to Russia...

 and was the third Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 of the Caucasian Imamate (1834–1859).

Family and early life

Imam Shamil was born in 1797, in the small village (aul
Aul
An aul is a type of fortified village found throughout the Caucasus mountains, especially in Dagestan.The word itself is of Turkic origine and means simply village in many Turkic languages....

) of Gimry
Gimry
Gimry is a village in Untsukulsky District of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia. It is located in the mountain where Imam Shamil, the third Imam of Dagestan, was born.-History:...

, which is in current-day Dagestan
Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. He was originally named Ali, but following local tradition, his name was changed when he became ill. His father, Dengau, was a free landlord, and this position allowed Shamil and his close friend Ghazi Mollah to study many subjects including Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

. Shamil established himself as a well-respected and educated man of Quran and Sunnah among other Muslims of the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

.

Shamil was born at a time when the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 was expanding into the territories of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Persia (see Russo-Persian War (1804-1813)
Russo-Persian War (1804-1813)
The 1804-1813 Russo-Persian War, one of the many wars between the Persian Empire and Imperial Russia, began like many wars as a territorial dispute. The Persian king, Fath Ali Shah Qajar, wanted to consolidate the northernmost reaches of his Qajar dynasty by securing land near the Caspian Sea's...

 and Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)). Following the Russian invasion, many Caucasian nations united in resistance to harsh Tsarist rule in what became known as the Caucasian War
Caucasian War
The Caucasian War of 1817–1864, also known as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which ended with the annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus to Russia...

. Some of the earlier leaders of Caucasian resistance were Sheikh Mansur
Sheikh Mansur
Sheikh al-Mansur was a Chechen leader who led the resistance against Catherine the Great's imperialist expansion into the Caucasus during the late 18th century. He remains a legendary national hero of the Chechen people....

 and Ghazi Mollah. Shamil was actually childhood friends with the Mollah, and would become his disciple and counsellor.

War against Russia

In 1832, Ghazi Mollah died at the battle of Gimry, and Shamil was one of only two Murid
Murid
Murid is a Sufi term meaning 'committed one' from the root meaning "willpower" or "self-esteem". It refers to a person who is committed to a Murshid in a Tariqa of Sufism. Also known as a Salik , a murid is an initiate into the mystic philosophy of Sufism. When the Talib makes a pledge to a...

s to escape, but he sustained severe wounds. He went into hiding and both Russians and Murids assumed him dead. Once recovered, he emerged out of hiding and rejoined the murids, led by the third Imam, Gamzat-bek
Gamzat-bek
Gamzat-bek , Hamza-Bek, was the second imam of the Caucasian Imamate, who succeeded Ghazi Mollah upon his death in 1832.Gamzat-bek was a son of one of the Avar beks...

. When the latter was murdered by Hadji Murad
Hadji Murad
Hadji Murad was an important Avar leader during the resistance of the peoples of Dagestan and Chechnya in 1811-1864 against the incorporation of the region into Russian Empire.-Alliance with Russia:...

 in 1834, Shamil took his place as the premier leader of the Caucasian resistance and the third Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 of the Caucasian Imamate. In 1839 (June–August), Shamil and his followers, numbering about 4000 men, women and children, found themselves under siege in their mountain stronghold
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

 of Akhoulgo
Siege of Akhoulgo
The siege of Akhoulgo took place in June–August 1839 during the Caucasian War, when the Imperial Russian army under the command of Generals Yevgeny Golovin and Pavel Grabbe surrounded Imam Shamil and his followers, numbering about 5,000 men, in their mountain stronghold of Akhoulgo, nestled in the...

, nestled in the bend of the Andee Koisou River, about ten miles east of Gimry. This epic siege of the war lasted eighty days, resulting finally in a Russian victory. The Russians suffered about 3000 casualties in taking the stronghold, while the rebels were almost entirely slaughtered after extremely bitter fighting where typical of the war, no quarter was either asked or given. Shamil and a small party of his closest followers, including some family miraculously managed to escape down the cliffs and through the Russian siege lines during the final days at Akhoulgo. Following his escape he once again set about regaining his following and resisting the Russian occupation. Shamil was effective at uniting the many, frequently quarreling, Caucasian tribes to fight against the Russians. He made effective use of guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 tactics and the resistance
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 continued under his leadership until 1859. On August 25, 1859 Shamil and his family, by agreement with the Russian Czar, were guests for some days. The emperor respected him much, and his Generals also gave due respect to the Imam.

Last years

After his capture, Shamil was sent to Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 to meet the Emperor Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

. Afterwards he was exiled to Kaluga
Kaluga
Kaluga is a city and the administrative center of Kaluga Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River southwest of Moscow. Population: It is served by Grabtsevo Airport.-History:...

, then a small town near Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. After several years in Kaluga he complained to the authorities about the climate and in December, 1868 Shamil received permission to move to Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, a commercial center of the Empire's southwest. In Kiev he was afforded a mansion in Aleksandrovskaya Street. The Imperial authorities ordered the Kiev superintendent to keep Shamil under "strict but not overly burdensome surveillance" and allotted the city a significant sum for the needs of the exile. Shamil seemed to have liked his luxurious detainment, as well as the city; this is confirmed by the letters he sent from Kiev.

In 1859 Shamil wrote to one of his sons: "By the will of the Almighty, the Absolute Governor, I have fallen into the hands of unbelievers ... the Great Emperor ... has settled me here ... in a tall spacious house with carpets and all the necessities". Shamil while in Russian captivity apparently adopted the line of the Tsar and said that his "compatriots" (many of whom never were loyal to him in the first place, especially the Chechens) should stop fighting as it was pointless. The fight continued, however, as Chechens and Avars dismissed his advice and continued to fight for a couple more years. Shamil's memory now varies from group to group. Among some of the groups that he had considered part of his Imamate (whether they wanted to be part of it or not), like the Chechens, he is regarded as a man who merely went for power, good because he fought the Russians well, but good for nothing else.

In 1869 he was given permission to perform the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 to the holy city of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

. He traveled first from Kiev to Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

 and then sailed to Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, where he was greeted by Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Sultan Abdulaziz. He became a guest at the Imperial Topkapı Palace
Topkapi Palace
The Topkapı Palace is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of their 624-year reign....

 for a short while and left Istanbul on a ship reserved for him by the Sultan. After completing his pilgrimage to Mecca, he died in Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 in 1871 while visiting the city, and was buried in the Jannatul Baqi, a historical graveyard in Medina where many prominent personalities from Islamic history are interred. Two elder sons, (Cemaleddin and Muhammed Şefi), whom he had to leave in Russia in order to get permission to visit Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, became officers in the Russian army, while two younger sons, (Muhammed Gazi and Muhammed Kamil), served in the Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 army.

Said Shamil, a grandson of Imam Shamil, became one of the founders of the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus
Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus
The Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus was a short-lived state situated in the Northern Caucasus...

, which survived between 1917 and 1920 and later, in 1924, he established the "Committee of Independence of the Caucasus" in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

Further reading

  • Grigol Robakidze
    Grigol Robakidze
    Grigol Robakidze was a Georgian writer, publicist, and public figure primarily known for his exotic prose and anti-Soviet émigré activities....

    . "Imam Shamil". Kaukasische Novellen, Leipzig, 1932; Munich, 1979 (in German)
  • Lesley Blanch
    Lesley Blanch
    Lesley Blanch, MBE, FRSL was an English writer, fashion editor and writer of history....

    . The Sabres of Paradise. New York: Viking Press. 1960.
  • Nicholas Griffin. Caucasus: Mountain Men and Holy Wars
  • Leo Tolstoy
    Leo Tolstoy
    Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

    . Hadji Murat
    Hadji Murat (novel)
    Hadji Murat is a short novel written by Leo Tolstoy from 1896 to 1904 and published posthumously in 1912 . It is Tolstoy’s final work...

  • The Russian conquest of the Caucasus / John F. Baddeley (1908).
  • Shapi kaziev
    Kaziev Shapi
    Shapi Magomedovitch Kaziev, is a Russian writer, playwright and script writer. He is the author of historical novels and other books.-Life and career:...

    . Imam Shamil "Molodaya Gvardiya" publishers. Moscow, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010. ISBN 978-5-235-03332-0
  • Kaziev, Shapi
    Kaziev Shapi
    Shapi Magomedovitch Kaziev, is a Russian writer, playwright and script writer. He is the author of historical novels and other books.-Life and career:...

    . Akhoulgo
    Siege of Akhoulgo
    The siege of Akhoulgo took place in June–August 1839 during the Caucasian War, when the Imperial Russian army under the command of Generals Yevgeny Golovin and Pavel Grabbe surrounded Imam Shamil and his followers, numbering about 5,000 men, in their mountain stronghold of Akhoulgo, nestled in the...

    . Caucasian War of XIX-th century
    Caucasian War
    The Caucasian War of 1817–1864, also known as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which ended with the annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus to Russia...

    . The historical novel. "Epoch", Publishing house. Makhachkala, 2008. ISBN 978-5-98390-047-9

External links


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