Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly

The Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly (Russian: Оренбургское магометанское духовное собрание) was a state-controlled religious administration in the Russian Empire that had jurisdiction over certain aspects of Islamic activity in Siberia, the Volga-Ural region, and parts of Central Asia, including the Kazakh steppe. It was established in 1788 by order of Russian Empress Catherine II.

The Old Mosque, Ufa was constructed by the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly in 1830.


The Kazakhs were removed from the assembly's jurisdiction in the 1860s as part of a policy to decrease the exposure of the Kazakhs to Tartar influence.[1]


The head position in the assembly was mufti, under whom there were 5 or 6 qazis.


The role of the mufti was established in the assembly's founding documents of 1788, however neither his social status or the scope of his powers were made clear.[2] The first mufti, Mukhamedzhan Khusainov, immediately began to push for more power, demanding the same status as the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church. He met several times with Catherine II in St. Petersburg, and began to see himself as an important political figure in the Volga-Ural region. This worried local Russian administrators, who requested and received permission from Prince Alexander Bezborodko to severely limit Khusainov's influence and keep him under their control. Local authorities then decreed "his [the mufti's] duty is to administer strictly religious matters, and not to touch secular ones, except when the administrations sees fit to use him for these".[3]

According to an 1802 decree the mufti could not make any decisions without the consent of his deputies, however this was rarely followed by Khusainov. The first mufti was constantly dogged with lawsuits and complaints concerning bribery, swindling, and failure to follow salat. Though Emperor Alexander I send a letter supporting Khusainov, and in effect granting him legal immunity, charges over Khusainov's abuse of power continued for the duration of his time as mufti.[4]

Assembly Muftis[5]
Date Name
September 22, 1788 - July 17, 1824 Mukhammed-zhan Khusainov
September 30, 1825 - January 31, 1840 Gabdessalyam Gabdrakhimov
June 10, 1840 - August 4, 1862 Gabdulvakhid Suleymanov
April 28, 1865 - January 2, 1885 Salimgarey Tevkelev
January 2, 1886 - August 15, 1915 Mukhammed-yar Sultanov
July 28, 1915 - March 22, 1917 Mukhammed-Safa Bayazitov

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Martin, 58.
  2. ^ Azamatov, 356.
  3. ^ Azamatov, 356-357.
  4. ^ Azamatov, 357-361.
  5. ^ Azamatov, 355.


  • Azamatov, Danil D. (1998), "The Muftis of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly in the 18th and 19th Centuries: The Struggle for Power in Russia's Muslim Institution", in Anke von Kugelgen; Michael Kemper; Allen J. Frank (eds.), Muslim culture in Russia and Central Asia from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, vol. 2: Inter-Regional and Inter-Ethnic Relations, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, pp. 355–384, ISBN 3-87997-269-9
  • Crews, Robert D. (2006), For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press., ISBN 0-674-02164-9
  • Martin, Virginia (2001), Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism in the Nineteenth Century, Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon Press, ISBN 0-7007-1405-7