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DEPARTMENT “HISTORY OF RELIGION AND SOCIAL THOUGHT”
Department’s researchers systematically focus on religious and spiritual life of eastern peoples, various ideological trends, national liberation movements, etc. To assess the research work correctly, it’d be appropriate to consider three stages of department’s activity. The first stage covers a date of Institute of Oriental Studies’ foundation to February 1986. On February 19, 1986, the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic passed a decision “On Additional Measures for Enhancement of Efficiency of Research Work due to Increase in Activity of Islam in the Politics and Ideology of Foreign Eastern Countries”. The decision assigned Islamic studies as priority direction of Oriental Studies subject to processes in the Islamic world, especially causes of renascence of this religion. The second stage embraced a period from earlier 1986 through 1991 when Azerbaijan gained its independence. The period that ensued marked a methodologically new, third period in the religious-philosophical research of the Institute of Oriental Studies.
The first stage largely concentrated on the analysis of social thought of the Near and Middle Eastern countries and dissemination of Marxism-Leninism ideas in the region.
In the reviewed period, the department was active as an ideological-propaganda structure headed by Prof.A.Agahi and later by Prof. J.Mustafayev. The department issued various research works on the topics mentioned above. These included A.Agahi’s “Dissemination of Marxism-Leninism ideas in Iran” (Baku, 1961, in Russian) and “From the History of social and philosophical thought in Iran” (Baku, 1971, in Russian); E.Hasanova’s “Bourgeois Nationalistic idea in Turkey” (Baku, 1966, in Russian); M.Aliyev’s “Modern intellectuals of Iran” (Baku, 1970); B.Bagirov’s “Struggle against falsification of the Marxism-Leninism Philosophy in Iran” (Baku, 1978, in Russian); E.Zamanova’s “Marxist-Leninist aesthetics’ influence on the development of progressive aesthetic thought in Turkey” (Baku, 1987, in Russian), as well as works of A.Shamideh dealing with the History of labor movement in Iran. Note that Q.Kerimov’s “Al-Qazali and Sufism” monograph (Baku, 1969, in Russian) was different from traditionally accepted research directions, research papers content and partisanship of the reviewed period.
In the period under consideration the focus of researchers’ attention was laid on Iranian and Turkish issues, for Arabists were yet unprepared to undertake studies into the Arabic social thought. It was no mere coincidence that in 1970 Arabists joined the Department to start studying social and religious thought of the Arab countries.
A new impetus to the research into Islamic studies was given on October 1-3, 1986 when, first ever on the Soviet expanse, an international conference arranged by the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan “Moslems struggle for peace” was held in Baku. This period saw a number of research papers of historians and philologists on some ideological issues and foreign Islamic studies. Thus, “Islam and National liberation movement in Arab countries” (Baku, 1986) by R.Aliyev and A.Mamedov was issued. The monograph analyzed a role of Islam as ideological system and mode of life in the political processing going on in Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Yemen in 1960-1970. The authors tried to give proof of the fact that Islam had always been connected with policy, not only in modern age but at the very beginning of its emergence. Also, an attempt was made to exhibit Islam’s role in the political life of Arab societies. Note that experts highly appreciated another research work of A.Mamedov “Islam and Problems of Social and Cultural development of Western countries” (Baku, 1986, in Russian).
Department’s researchers thrashed out ideological processes going on in the Moslem East in the reviewed period, laid a special emphasis on Islam’s role in these processes. E.Hasanova, T.Hasanov, E.Zamanova and A.Mamedov took part in conferences held in Moscow and Tashkent, made reports on Islam’s role in the social thought of Turkey and other Eastern countries. A book by R.Mursalov titled “Ideological aspects of Non-alignment policy” (Baku, 1986, in Russian) analyzes emergence, formation and state-of-the-art of neutrality movement in Egypt, Algerie, Iraq, Libya, South Yemen.
It has to be kept in mind that the Department maintains dynamic international research papers ties with Near Eastern countries in examining various aspects of region’s social thought. G.Ahmedova defended her PhD thesis at the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences titled “Social-political views of Salama Musa and His role in the development of Arab enlightenment ideology”. In 1991, the researcher published a monograph titled “Salama Musa as an ideologist of the Egyptian renascence movement”.
The Department lays a special emphasis on research papers conferences devoted to the Islam-related questions. A Republican conference titled “Islam in ideology and politics of Near and Middle Eastern and Northern African countries” held on 20-21 May 1987. Department’s researchers-experts in Islamic studies made reports on religion and nationalism at the All-Union research papers conference “Ethno-confessional processes going on in Modern Africa and Near East” on May 11-13, 1988.
It should be noted that at the second stage a concept of “national socialism” lays a special emphasis on the topic of Islam. In 1989, R.Aliyev defended a doctoral thesis on the subject. His monograph “Islam, Arabism, Socialism” published in 1993 dealt with the same topic. The author thrashed out a place of Islam in the concept of social development widely spread and bolstered by the Government of Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Iraq and South Yemen. In spite of the fact that the mentioned work was published in 1993, R.Aliyev made no amendments in the original text and defended his views on the basis of Marxism-Leninism principles.
E.Hasanova published a monograph “Ideas of “Islamic socialism” in the Turkish socialpolitical thought” (1960s). The study into “Islamic socialism” in Turkey provides rich material in terms of collapse of socialism as a system; it was the issue of collected “Topical problems of Modern Islam” in 1986-1990 that gave impetus to raising the Islamic studies up to the new mark.
The first issue of the collected papers (1986) provides information about various aspects of Islamic studies. These papers include T.Hasanov’s “Commentary on some Koranic ayats about women”; A.Mamedov’s “On Rebirth of Islam”; I.Avdiyev’s “Moslem ecclesiastics in the social-political structure of Azerbaijani society in the 19 century”; R.Pashayeva’s “Ulems’ role in the social-political life of Saudi Arabia”, etc. Guided by well-founded and valid arguments, the authors enter into polemics both with Western and Soviet experts in Islamic studies.
The second issue of the collected papers (1988) proved to be more significant; the experience of the first issue had a meaningful effect on subsequent research papers. These include A.Mamedov’s “Modenr Islam: criticism of concept on freedom in Islam”; E.Hasanova’s “Some aspects of “Islam-Turkic synthetic” in modern Turkey”; jointly with A.Mamedov – I.Avdiyev’s “A Concept of Progress in Islam”. The papers above put in the foreground some important methodological issues and retrace stages of evolution of the Islamic thought.
The third issue of the collected works (1990) analyzes concepts of Islamic socialism as mirrored in the works of Arab authors; examine Koranic ayats and hadiths which are consonant with ideas of socialism. An article by E.Hasanova examines various interpretations of the question of power in the social and political thought of modern Turkey. An article by A.Mamedov titled “Attitude to labor in Islam” tries to retrace evolution of a notion of labor in Islam.
In the reviewed period, the research papers focused on “Islam and National socialism” issue, advocated stereotype views on struggle against imperialism, advancement of developing countries towards progress. Such an approach found its parallel in doctoral thesis of R.Aliyev “Islam in the concepts of National socialism (Arab countries)” (defended in 1989; N.B.Babayev’s candidate thesis titled “Formation of liberal-democratic direction in the social thought of South Azerbaijan” (later 19-eaelier 20 centuries) (defended in 1991; M.Sh.Arabzadeh’s candidate thesis titled “Ideological-political struggle in Sudan and “Islamic factor” (1970-1980s)” (defended in 1992); R.S.Mustafayev’s “Candidate thesis titled “Islam and nationalism in theory and practice of state system (Sudan case)” (defended in 1994).
An interest in Islam as integral part of national-spiritual values increasingly rose after gaining by Azerbaijan its Independence in 1991. The interest of the sort led to intensification of Islamic studies. The Department “History of religion and social thought” was reorganized to provide a greater room for Islamic studies.
During independence, Department’s researchers stepped up their studies in Islamic cults. Thus, monographs “Pilgrimage” (1990), “Hajj manual” (1991), “Cult pilgrimage in Islam” (2001) thrashed out Hajj actions. Jointly with Moscow colleagues, the Department prepared collected materials on “Islam: History, Philosophy, Cult” (Baku, 1994) which traced back trends in Islamic thought and cults “A Dictionary of Islamic terms”. In 1993, a monograph by Rajab Dikichi’s “Great Saints”, including an introductory word, notes and comments, was prepared for the press in Azerbaijan. In considering a great interest in the monograph, Corrspondent Member of the ANAS Mashadikhan Neymatov published a new material on the subject in 1998. Since 2001, the Department is headed by PhD in Philosophy Abutalib Mamedov. In 2001, a monograph by A.Mamedov “Basic social and philosophical notions in Islam” was issued. The monograph analyzed the development of Islam, terms - time, labor, freedom and responsibility, clarified definitions of welfare and poverty, retraced evolution of these definitions depending on social and economic system of Moslem society.
In the reviewed period a monograph by R.Mursalov “Nationalism thinking – unity and disunity tendencies” (Baku, 1994) was published. Readers welcomed its articles on pages of mass media devoted to reading of Koran, creation, history of hadithes, his translations of Arab researchers of Islam, particularly Vahhabizm, provides rich material for further examination.
The latest research papers and materials of the Department were devoted to important and topical issues of Islamic studies A.Hasanova’s “Secularism and Islam in the Republic of Turkey” monograph analyzed “laiklik” as a leading principle in the relations between state and religion, culturological and social-psychological factors, changes in “laiklik” in terms of political activity of Islam. Hopefully, the monograph will be a valuable source for regulation of religious-state relations in Azerbaijan.
In 2003, an international research papers conference dedicated to the 200-jubilee of M.Kazim was held; a conference “Topical problems of the East: History and Modernity” dedicated to the 80-anniversary of acad. Z.M.Buniyadov; Department’s researchers played a great role in the conference’s “Globalization and Islam” held in 2004-2005. In 2005, the researchers focused on Islamic factor in the social and political life of near east, origin of Islamic fundamentalism, its directions and forms in some Moslem countries. As a result, there were issued A.Mamedov’s “Islamic fundamentalism: nature, main principals and forms of manifestation” (Baku, 2004) and R.Mursalov’s “Modern Islamic fundamentalism” (Baku, 2004).
In 2005, the number of Department’s staff amounted to 11. The same year the researchers of the Department published various research papers, made reports at local and foreign research papers conferences on topical questions of Islamic studies. Worthy of mentioning are research works as follows: “A comparative analysis of various religious-philosophical conceptions in Bahayizm as a sincretic religion” (L.Melikova); “Islamic problems in Turkey, 1980-1990s” (E.Hasanova); “Ideological trends in Iran after Arabic conquests and renaissance relations between Iran and Azerbaijan” (B.Bagirov); “Islam and Global problems of Modern age” (R.Mursalov); “Islam in the social and political thought of Egypt at the end of 20 century” (G.Ahmedova), “Mecca in the History of religions” (J.Khidirov); “Shahrasatan as a representative of moderate word” (A.Mamedov). J.Khidirov’s “Mecca in the History of religions” was published in 2005 (Baku, “Nurlan” publishing house).
In 2005, the Department was engaged in training new cadres of researchers. Thus, to PhD students of the Department defended their doctoral theses titled “Nursism: history and present day – state” (K.Mamedova) and “Movlana Jalaladdin Rumi’s “Masnaviye-manavi” as a basic source for Islamic tasavvuf” (I.Ibragimova).
In 2006, E.Hasanova published a monograph titled “Sociology of religion and Islamic mysticism in Turkey, 20 century (ideological sources, main problems, new trends)”. Besides, E.Hasanova prepared a research for collected articles “On two doctrines of social and political process in Turkey earlier 20 century” (St.Petersburg) dedicated to the 80-anniversary of Turkologist D.Jeltyakov; PhD in Philosophy A.Mamadov made a report titled “Philosophy and Sufi resolution of prophecy as kalam subject: Ibn Sina and Rumi” at the international conference in Baku dedicated to the 800-anniversary of Movlana Jalaladdin Rumi.
In 2007, Department’s researcher J.Khidirov translated Shakir Zabit’s “A Brief History of Iraqi Turkmans” and A.Bandaroglu’s “Turkmans in Iraq” monographs.
In 2007, the Department focused on basic ideological trends of Islam; L.Melikova toiled at “Elements of Ismailite
cosmogonist teaching in Bahaist philosophy”.
Since 2008, the Department is headed by PhD in Philosophy E.Hasanova. In 2008, the Department worked over topics as follows: philosophy, social thought, history of religion, including Islamic questions in Azerbaijan, of the Near and Middle Eastern countries. Researchers of the Department analyzed religion and social thought, a place and role of Azerbaijan in modern Islamic world, influence of Islamic scholars on social and political development of Azerbaijan, comparative analyzes of relations between state-society-religion in Azerbaijan. With that end in view Departments researchers were engaged in researching the following questions: “Historical-philosophical analysis of non-traditional religions and new religious movements in the near Eastern countries and Azerbaijan” (L.Melikova); “Islam and Modernization problem in Modern Egypt and Azerbaijan (comparative analysis)” (G.Ahmadzadeh); “Synthesis of western and eastern cultures in modern Islam and Azerbaijan’s experience” (R.Mursalov); “Religious-philosophical heritage of Ibn Arab in research works of Modern Western scholars (1960-present)” (Q.Safarov); “System of Islam in modern Turkey” (E.Hasanova); “A Concept of cultural revolution in Iran after the Islamic revolution” (B.Bagirov); “Islam in Modern Arab countries: main trends” (R.Mursalov); “Religious factor in Palestine-Israeli confrontation” (G.Ahmadzadeh); “Preparation of Encyclopedic dictionary “Islam” (A.Abbasov); “Political views of Arab leaders (20 century)” (J.Hidirov); “Nasir Khosrov and Ismailizm” (L.Melikova); “Vahdat-l-vucud” and pantheism” (Q.Safarov). In 2008, R.Mursalov’s monograph “Islam and Global developments in Modern age” was published. Department’s researchers took active part at various international conferences. Thus, PhD student E.Rahimov made a report “Reapprochement of Mazhabs as call of time” at the Teheran international conference “Reapprochement between Mazhabs”; L.F.Melikova made a report at the international research papers conference “Women and Social sector” (Baku, June, 2008) titled “Influence of religious factor on conditions of Azerbaijani women later 19-earlier 20 centuries”, as well as “Some spiritual-ethic aspects of Bahaizm” at the international conference titled “Problems of analysis and teaching of Islam within global context framework” (Baku, October, 2008). Also, the same year, Department’s researchers published research papers in country’s press devoted to the topics as follows: “On revelation of the mind relations in early Islamic period”; “Religious-philosophical relations in the Oriental peripatetic after example of al-Kindi and ibn Farabi”; “Religious-philosophical relations in Christianity” (E.Mamedov); “Downloading, writing and making of Koran according to Ahl-I Sunna and Shia sources”; “Downloading and reading of Koran on the basis of 7 letters”; “Uncertainties in Koran during the first years of Imamiyya according to Shia commentators” (A.Habibov).
Department’s researchers took part at numerous research papers nternational symposiums in 2009. They made reports at symposiums including: “Straggle of progressive theologians of Modern Turkey for true Islam and criticism of religious fundamentalism” (E.Hasanova); “Religious Educational and Theologian Centers in Turkey” (A.Habibov); “Islamic culture and its role in evolution of Universal civilization” (R.Mursalov); “Influence of Islam on the Egyptian cultural heritage (1980-2007)” (G.Ahmadzadeh); “Religious teachings and their philosophical aspects” (B.Bagirov). The same year L.Melikova made a report at the international research papers symposium in Baku “New development trends worldwide and the Turkic world”. The report was titled “Social-cultural processes worldwide and socialreligious system in Modern Azerbaijan”.
Department’s researcher presented in 2009 their new research papers to country’s research papers public. These included “On theoretical aspects of religious-philosophical relations” and “A Problem of methodology in Enlightenment philosophy” (E.Mamedov); “Imam Hasan al-Askari and his “Tafsir” working” (A.Habibov).
In 2010, Department’s researchers carried out research work on topics as follows: “Historical-philosophical analysis of Non-traditional religious and new religious movements in the Near Eastern countries and Azerbaijan” (L.Melikova); “Modern Islam and Problem of modernization” (G.Ahmedzadeh); synthesis of cultures of East-West in modern Islam and Azerbaijani experience” (R.Mursalov); “Philosophical heritage of ibn Arabi in studies of Modern Western scholars” (Q.Safarov). The same year, the researchers continued their activity on the topics as follows: “Modern internal Islamic processes (on the basis of ideas of Egyptian authors)” (Baku, “Baki Chap Evi”, 2010); A.Habibov’s “History of tafsir of Imamiyya Shia and the oldest Shia tafsirs that survived to our days” (journal of theology faculty of Chukurova University, Turkey, Adana, 2010) and “Sources of Shia tafsir at the early stage” (journal of theology faculty of 19 May University, #28, Turkey, Samsun, 2010); “Sacred letters in Koran according to Imamiyya scholars” (Proceedings of the Faculty of religion, BSU, #3, 2010); R.Mursalov’s “Death and Testament in Islam” (magazine “Azerbaijani-Islamic studies”, #2, 2010), E.Mamedov’s “The role of Moslem women in the social-cultural education at modern stage” (collected articles “State and religion”, June, 2010); “Views and notes on definition of “agil” in Koran” (collected articles “State and religion”, June, 2010); “Koranic tafsir and its types” (collected articles “State and religion”, June, 2010).
In 2010, for services to science to the Oriental Studies, a Head of the Department PhD in Philosophy E.Hasanova was awarded with Honorary Diploma by the President of the ANAS.
The same year, doctoral theses of E.Rahimov “Concepts of rapprochement between mazhabs in modern Islam” (April 28, 2010) and E.Mamedov “Religious and Philosophical relations in Medieval Islamic conceptions” (October 15, 2010) were defended for PhD in Philosophy.
Of interest are research papers “Philosophy and Religion in the Ancient Greek social thought and Christian teaching” (E.Mamedov), “Shiism in Turkey” (A.Habibov).
Contributing to the enrichment of research papers basis of the Department in religious and social thought is L.Melikova’s “Sources of Bahaizm and main aspects of its world outlook” (in Russian).
In the period under consideration PhD student Q.Safarov defended a doctoral thesis “Religious-philosophical views of Ibn Arabi” (June 6, 2011).
Senior researcher of the Department L.Melikova took part in the 1st Congress of young orientalists of Russia and CIS countries in Zvenigorod arranged by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). L.Melikova made a report titled “Mutual relations between neo universal religious concept of the East and the Global ideology of the West” (on the basis of bahaizm). Over this same period PhD in Philosophy R.Mursalov published his monograph titled “Formulation of ideological and administrative principles of migration and Early Moslem community of Medina”. Worthy of note is senior researcher, PhD in Philosophy I.Alimuradov’s “Strangeness” in Islam as a religious-ideological trend (origin, development and modern forms)”. The research paper examines “strangeness” as religious, political and ideological trend. The research retraces causes of strangeness, areas of its origin and forms of development, first generation of strangers and their followers, principles of strangeness ideology, adoption of Islamic principles differently from other beliefs, strong opposition against dissents, etc.
In 2012, PhD in Philosophy E.Hasanova was awarded with Golden medal (diplom, AZ #803250124) of the European Publishing house of the Azerbaijan Republic; “Azerbaijani flag”, “Golden pen” and “People’s authoritative intellectual” honorary diploma as the best patriotresearcher.
In 2012, senior researcher, PhD in Philosophy E.Mamedov from the Arabic language into Azeri monographs “Moslem morality”, “Religious-cultural Islamic thought: critical notes” and “Goals of the East”.
In 2013, A.Habibov co-authored collected papers published by “Shii Tefsir Gelenegi”, Tefsire Akademic Yaklashimlar, (Editor: Prof. Dr.Mehmet Akif – Prof.Dr.Ismail Chalishkan, OTTO Yayinlari), Ankara, Turkey.
Also, in 2013, the article “Bahaism - the way from East to West: History of one neouniversalist doctrine” by L.Melikova was published in the scientific journal «The Caucasus and Globalization» (Sweden: CA & CC Press® AB Publishing House, 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 3-4.).
A significant achievement of the reviewed period of the Department in the reviewed period was PhD in History A.Abbasov’s “Islam. Encyclopedic dictionary”. The Dictionary provides information about origin and dissemination history of Islam, vocabulary and Hadithes of Koran, history of Moslem communities, Moslem theology and Philosophy, questions of theory and practice of Moslem statehood, social, political and economic relations in the Medieval Moslem society. Sufi teachings, question of theory and practice of Moslem law, prominent figures of Islam psychology, relations of Azerbaijan with Moslem religion, Sheikh-ul-Islams, muftis, akhunds and other theologians of Azerbaijan.
In 2003, E.Mamedov translated from the Arabic language into Azeri a number of research works, specifically Mohammad Omar Shabran’s “Islamic model of Development” (On the basis of “magasid” concept); Taha Jabiyev al-Ulvani’s “Freedom of Word in the History of Islam”; Khalid Mohammad Khalid’s “And Abu Bekr has come”. Another success of research papers activity of the Department is E.Mamedov’s monograph (3 volumes) titled “Classification of Koranic ayats by themes – Fehrist” published in Istanbul.
On March 3-4, 2014 L.Melikova attended and international research papers conferences hosted by London (the European Azerbaijan Society/EAS) where the researcher made a report titled “Islam in Azerbaijan”. L.Melikova is also a member of the editorial board of international scientific and theoretical academic journal “Problems of Eastern Philosophy” (Ed. Z.Kulizade) and the author of numerous annually carried scientific translations into Russian and Azerbaijani languages articles, both domestic and foreign scholars on Islamic religious philosophical topics.
In addition to his research papers activity PhD in Philosophy N.Mamadov translated about 30 religious and philosophical books from the Arabic language into Azeri. His last translation is “Abdulhamid Abu Suleyman’s “Theoretical principles of International relations according to Islam”. The translated book is useful for any expert in political thought of Islam.