Tolerating Islam

Adeeb Khalid

  • For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia by Robert Crews
    Harvard, 463 pp, June 2006, ISBN 0 674 02164 9

In 1902, Mirza Siraj Rahim, the son of a wealthy merchant from Bukhara, set out on a grand tour that took him to all the major capitals of Europe. He travelled first to the Ottoman Empire, and spent twenty days in Istanbul. He was delighted to be in the capital of the only sovereign Muslim state of any consequence, and a sense of Muslim pride is palpable in his account. Having toured the sights, Mirza Siraj wanted to see the sultan, Abdülhamid II, in person. Abdülhamid was a recluse, who emerged from his palace only once a week, to say Friday prayers at an imperial mosque nearby. Attendance at the mosque was limited to high functionaries and a few carefully chosen guests.

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