‘Popular Ijtihad’ and Entangled Islamic Discourse on the Covid-19 Pandemic in Russia
Keywords:Islam in Russia, coronavirus pandemic, sociology of Islam, religious authority, ijtihad
AbstractIn this article, I examine initial reactions of the Russian Muslim community in social networks to the spread of the Coronavirus. My two main questions are: Who and how reinterprets the category of Islamic piety in the context of the pandemic, and to what extent does the online environment transform the Islamic tradition? To answer them, I focus on the following key narratives of Russian Muslims’ online discourse on the pandemic: Covid-19 as a retaliation against China for the persecutions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang region, the search for signs of the coming doomsday, as well as various approaches to the reinterpretation of religious piety. Moreover, I consider how the pandemic sped up an entangled glocalised discourse. In the context of the increased role of the transnational online Muslim community, I suggest the term ‘popular ijtihad’ to describe individualised forms of religious engagement that the crisis situation stimulated.
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