Alan W. Fisher, "A Model Leader for Asia, Ismail Gaspirali," The Tatars of Crima: Return to the Homeland, ed. Edward A. Allworth, pp. 29-47. Copyright 1998, Duke University Press. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.*

A Model Leader for Asia, Ismail Gaspirali

Alan W. Fisher

The Crimean Tatars have been blessed with a number of outstanding leaders over the past hundred years who are in large part responsible for the remarkable ability that the Tatars have shown to survive, even thrive, as a vital nationality within the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Most recently Mustafa Cemilev has provided direction and leadership to the small Crimean Tatar nationality in the Soviet Union, especially those residing in the Tashkent region. The tasks for Cemilev are extremely difficult ones, as the Crimean Tatars over the past two decades have faced challenges to their identity much more severe than their ancestors experienced under czarist rule: official refusal to consider them as a legitimate nationality, refusal to permit their return to their territorial homeland, and refusal to give them the even limited encouragement granted to other more acceptable ethnic and national groups. Yet Cemilev's example, hard work, perhaps stubbornness, have permitted the Crimean Tatars in the Soviet Union today to be among the most energetic national groups in the realms of literature, journalism, and political activities.

About one hundred years before Cemilev the most important Crimean Tatar leader was Ismail Bey Gaspirali. The challenges facing the Crimean Tatars in his day were quite different from those that confront Cemilev. Then it was a matter of survival, in the cultural sense, in the face of clear Russian political, economic, and educational superiority. Understandably, Gaspirali's responses to the different challenges were of a different order than those used, or appropriate, today; Gaspirali's emphasis lay on educational and spiritual renewal, not politics. Indeed, he found nothing wrong with the idea of close cooperation with the Russian political and cultural authorities, for he could not conceive of a set of circumstances in which the Crimean Tatars would be without a homeland. But without his efforts and accomplishments, it seems unlikely that the Crimean Tatars would have survived long enough to produce the political and national movement that inspires them today.

When Ismail Bey Gaspirali (Gasprinskii)1 died on 11 September 1914 in Bahcesaray after a long illness, most of the important Turkic newspapers and journals in the Russian Empire and Ottoman Empire published obituaries that reflected an outpouring of emotion and grief about what they generally agreed was a major loss to Turkic society.2 In Iqbal, an Azeri journal in Baku, Saifi Ibrahimov wrote:

Who was Ismail Bey'? We don't yet have an answer to this question. In Russia, in Turkey, in Egypt, in Arabia, in India, in Afghanistan, in Iran, in Turan, everywhere his name was known and beloved. Ismail Bey was everything, everyone, our all, the entire nation. Ismail Bey was the genius and the conscience of our modern language, our heart, our literature, our writers, our readers, our press, our maktabsand medreses, our pupils and students, the entire being of all of us.3

Yusuf Akçuraoglu wrote in Türk Yurdu in Istanbul:

Ismail Bey was a good teacher, a skillful journalist, a distinguished editor, a social and political intellectual, and an active member of our national societies and institutions. But all of these attributes do not add up to or even describe Ismail Bey. In the Turkic and Islamic world of the past half century, it is possible to number twenty or thirty persons whom I knew who possessed qualities worthy of eulogy. But Ismail Bey was unique—tek adam—who belongs among a handful of persons in the Islamic and Turkic world over the last several centuries to be singled out for especial praise.4

A year later, Osman Akçokrakli wrote a long essay in Ismail Bey's own Tercüman in which he concluded:

In 1903 Ismail Bey wrote in this journal: "We are making progress. But our national education remains yet to be born. What is Tercüman? It is our national treasury. Yes, Tercüman is our national literature, our national education, the treasury of our modern national history. Do we have a national public library? Do we have a national public museum? Do we have a national public academy? What we have is twenty-three volumes of Tercüman. This is our great national treasury.5

Dozens of such statements appeared through the Turkic press in 1914 and the following months,6 as in Vakit (Orenburg) by Fatih Kerimov, "Great National Grief"; in Yoldız (Kazan) by Abdullah Battal-Taymas, "Difficult Event"; in Koyash (Kazan) by Fatih Emirhan, "Small Memory of a Great Nationalist." Finally, in a very important article in Cumhuriyet in Istanbul fourteen years later, Fuad Köprülü wrote about Gaspirali and his journal Tercüman: "Tercüman had an important effect not only on the Crimea, but in Kazan, the Caucasus, Turkistan, Chinese Turkistan, Siberia, Romania, Bulgaria, everywhere in the Ottoman Empire, in short, in the entire Turkic world. It produced great hope, laid foundations for the accomplishment of that hope, of a national renewal for the Turks, especially for the Russian Turks. Its editor's name, Ismail Bey, is known everywhere.7

These were evidence of Ismail Bey's immediate legacy throughout the Turkish and Turkic world. In order to determine what might remain today, more than seventy years later, of a direct and identifiable legacy from Ismail Bey in the Turkic world, it is necessary to examine studies produced in the Soviet Union and Turkey relating to the history of Ismail Bey's period, and to the history of Islamic education and renewal in and outside of Russia, and to studies of the Turkic and Tatar political and nationalist movements written in Turkey, the West, and the Soviet Union.

It is surprising that works by the leading Soviet Turkologists do not for the most part even mention Gaspirali. In his important study of the turn-of-the-century period (first published in 1966), Muhammad Gainullin, perhaps the leading Soviet Tatar historian of Tatar literature and journalism, completely ignored not only Gaspirali, but Tercüman and almost any author who had published in it. Because the Crimean Tatars were officially rehabilitated by the Soviet government no earlier than 1967, presumably his book about Tatar literature in the nineteenth century, published in 1975, would have rectified the earlier omission. It also seemed likely that Gainullin's revised edition of his first book, expanded and considerably changed, published in 1983, would have had something to say about Ismail Bey and Tercüman. But in all of his works there is total silence on the subject.8 Ismail Bey is not credited with contributions to Turkic, Tatar, or Islamic educational reform in such works as those by M. Z. Tutaev, V. M. Gorokhov, or R. I. Nafigov, which deal specifically with the Jadidism initiated by Gaspirali.9

But it is not only Soviet works on the subject that downplay or avoid mention of Ismail Bey. Many of the most important works on modern Turkish history, literature, and journalism produced in Turkey and the West ignore Gaspirali and his contributions.10 Indeed, besides the Crimean Tatar authors and historians themselves, in their Istanbul journal Emel, in Dergi published for several years in Germany, and in Türk Külturü, which devotes a good deal of attention to Turks outside of Turkey, almost nothing about Ismail Bey and his influence has appeared in Turkey either11 before 1991.

In works by Western scholars interested in Soviet nationality affairs and history, more has appeared about Ismail Bey.12 Almost all such studies focus on the existence and importance of Ismail Bey's journal Tercüman and especially on the meaning of the motto that appeared on the masthead of the journals later issues: "Dilde, fikirde, işte, birlik" (Unity in language, thought, and action). Most have placed the importance of his work within the broader topic of Pan-Turkism.

None of the early obituaries, or even essays discussing Gaspirali that appeared in the 1920s, such as that by Fuad Köprülü, mention this motto, and they certainly do not claim that Ismail Bey's chief importance lay in the political movement relating to Pan-Turkism, Turkic nationalism, or Turkic unity. Rather, they all focus on language, literature, and especially on renewal through education.

Finally, two very important studies by Western scholars focusing almost exclusively on Ismail Bey Gaspirali must be mentioned and credited with drawing our attention back to the really important elements of his work life. These are the dissertation by Gustav Burbiel on the language developed by Ismail Bey and used in Tercüman and the dissertation by Edward Lazzerini on Gaspirali's ideas. No modern evaluation of Ismail Bey's contributions may ignore the information and ideas presented by these two scholars.13

The first task in identifying the true legacy of Ismail Bey is to determine what he considered most important and to establish his intellectual contributions. It is possible to divide his concerns into four main categories, which, though separate, are obviously interrelated: the general question of Islamic renewal and relations between the Islamic and various Western worlds; language and its role in Islamic renewal; women's rights and emancipation as an essential ingredient for renewal; and finally, for Ismail Bey the panacea for the first three, education in a form new to the Islamic world. It is also very important to place Ismail Bey's ideas in their own context, both in the Islamic communities of the Russian Empire in which he lived and operated and in the larger Islamic world of his time. Finally, with the above at least outlined and identified, it is possible to note Ismail Bey's immediate impact at home and abroad and to make some suggestions about his possible long-term legacy.

First, Ismail Bey believed that the rapidly changing political and cultural relationships between Muslims and Western states and peoples made necessary an immediate and rapid Islamic renewal. He summarized his views on the problem succinctly in a long article in Tercümanin 1907, which was translated and partially published in the London Times by Arminius Vambery:

In paying due attention to the relations of the Muslim world, we shall be grieved to notice that, wherever and under whatever rule they be, they always remain behind their neighbors. In Algiers the Muslims are superseded by the Jews, in Crete by the Greeks, in Bulgaria by the Bulgarians, and in Russia by everybody.... We must investigate into the causes of this deplorable state, for admitting, for example, that the Algerian Jews surpass the Algerian Arab, it is astonishing and quite inexplicable that the poor and devout Buddhist should get ahead of the once energetic Muslim.14

Gaspirali's views here were aimed at encouraging the organization of a Pan-Islamic congress to meet in Cairo to discuss the broad issues of Islamic revival.

Again, Gaspirali wrote that "it is an indisputable fact that contemporary Muslims are the most backward peoples. They have been left behind in virtually every area of life by Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews, and Hindus.... We have remained behind them and now regard them with amazement."15 What was even worse was the fact that a number of areas of the Muslim world that had only recently been independent were losing their sovereignty in the face of European expansion and imperialism. What were the causes of this misfortune? What remedy was available to stop the decline and recover the losses? He noted more than once that he did not accept the widespread belief in the West of his time that Christianity and Judaism had innate strengths that no other religion or religious tradition could match. Islam once had itself dominated both Jews and Christians in politics, economics, and even culture. Rather, Gaspirali placed much of the blame on Islamic religious leaders who had "stifled progressive ideas, placed thought in a vice, and closed the doors to scientific research.16 It was not Islam as a religion or as a culture that was at fault, but its leading practitioners.

Ismail Bey's attitudes toward the West were only partly produced from his firsthand experience. He had lived for a few months in Paris early in his career and apparently could read French. But his views, for the most part, about Western-Islamic relations were the result of his experiences in Russia, from his study of Russian culture and institutions, and his good knowledge of the Russian language.

Ismail Bey wrote in the editorial in the first issue of Tercüman in 1883:

Exactly 100 years ago, on 8 April 1783, the small [Crimean] khanate, worn out by disorder and bloodshed, was made a part of the greatest empire in the world and received peace under the patronage of a mighty power and the protection of just laws. Celebrating this day together with all the other peoples of the Russian Empire, the Crimean Muslims cannot fail to recall all of those good deeds by which they have already profited for 100 years.17

While one might note that Gaspirali needed the approval of the Russian government's censorship committee before the journal could be issued, and such an editorial might well be aimed at gaining such approval, Ismail Bey was not hostile to the idea of Russian political domination of the Turkic communities in the empire and did truly believe that the Turks there had a great deal to gain from a close association with the Russians.

Gaspirali had written a small book in 1881, in Russian, entitled Russian Islam: Thoughts, Notes and Observations of a Muslim (Russkoe musul'manstvo: Mysli, zamietki i nahliudeniia musul'manina) in which he called for the total and immediate renewal of Russian Islam. This could be done, indeed, had to be done in concert with the Russian government. He believed that Russia "would be one of the greatest Muslim states in the world," that Russia was the heir to the former Tatar possessions, and that sooner or later Russians and Tatars would enjoy the same rights. He was convinced that the Russian government would itself in the end come to its senses and abandon its policies that had been often admittedly hostile to Muslims and other minorities. "I believe that the Russian Muslims shall be more civilized than any other Muslim nation. We are a steady nation, give us the possibility to learn. You, great brothers, give us knowledge.... The Russians and Muslims shall came to an understanding in this way."18

Some years later, in 1896, Gaspirali wrote an essay in which he elaborated on these ideas. This essay was written long enough after 1883 to emphasize the point that he was writing at least in part from belief and not merely as an effort to please the censor. His essay, Russian Oriental Relations (Russkoe-vostochnoe soglashenie), emphasized not only agreement between and understanding of one another by Russians and Muslims, but an actual drawing closer together—sblizhenie. " Muslims and Russians can plow, sow, raise cattle, trade, and make their livings together or side by side.... We think that sooner or later Russia's borders will include within them all of the Tatar peoples.... If Russia could have good relations with Turkey and Persia, she would become kindred to the entire Muslim East, and would certainly stand at the head of Muslim nations and their civilizations, which England is attempting so persistently to do." Gaspirali was not in favor of nor did he believe probable the disappearance of Muslim or Turkic identity among the more numerous and more advanced Russians. "The key to the future of both the Islamic community and the Russian Empire was the active cooperation of an enlightened Russian government with an awakened Muslim people." 19

In his views toward Russia, with his relatively positive attitude toward Russian-Muslim cooperation, Gaspirali resembled a contemporary in Central Asia, Ahmad Mahdum Donish, a scholar, poet, and for a while the court astrologer in Bukhara. Donish looked to Russia, though, not so much as a model to be imitated as a useful source of knowledge and of tools to rebuild and renew Bukharan society, to save it from total extinction at the hands of the West (Russia). Donish apparently believed that there was room for cooperation between Bukharan Muslims and Russians, even when the relationship was so unequal in power.20

There were many Muslims of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were highly critical of their own society and who looked at the West with some envy or at least respect. In this regard Ismail Bey was no different or unique, even within the Russian context. One can compare him, for example, with Ziya Gökalp, who is in fact often mentioned when discussions of Gaspirali are conducted. Gökalp was more circumspect, however in calling for close cooperation with the West. Of course he lived in a state where he could write about such matters with more freedom than could Gaspirali. Yet in 1911 Gökalp sneered at those in the Ottoman Empire and outside who seemed to accept European civilization unquestioningly, "like someone who buys ready- made suits.... We Muslims cannot imitate fixed models of civilization. We need clothes made to measure principles of life which fit our figure. We have to create a new civilization from our own spirit."21

Gökalp and Gaspirali were both accepting, perhaps without doing so knowingly or clearly, the idea of the possibility of progress and basic change, and a change with positive value. Even in the Europe of Gaspirali's time this was a relatively new idea, and the Muslim world should not be overly criticized for being slow to accept it. The discovery that institutions were capable both of novelty, which was not mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible, and of development by which one kind of institution would grow out of another were ideas that were not centuries old in the West. Indeed, one of the most important Western theoreticians of the idea of progress of this sort was Lewis Henry Morgan, who died only in 1881.

The Islamic world, in Russia and outside, was in desperate condition in the minds of many reformers. Without some major change it might collapse entirely. Gaspirali saw no real danger in cooperation and growing closeness between Muslims and Russians or other Westerners. He apparently did not believe that Islam itself would have a difficult time surviving such proximity. And his prescriptions were quite different from those offered today by many within the Islamic world, who raise the same questions about danger and survival but who call for rejection of cultural relations with the West and call for a return to pure and early Islam.22

What were Gaspirali's specific prescriptions for survival? First of all Ismail Bey focused on language, particularly in its written form. "Everyone knows what happens to a person without a language; there is no need to explain. If it is bad for a man, it is the same for a nation."23 "It must not be forgotten that the language of a people is no less important an element in daily life than is religion." 24 Ismail Bey was convinced that at least the Turkic Muslims of the Russian Empire must have a common literary language—the critical mass for a viable culture and society was larger than any single part of that Turkic world. Such a common language would associate Russian Turkic Muslims with Turks outside Russia —in the Ottoman Empire, in Persia, and so forth. Such contact, communication, and resulting cooperation would greatly benefit the renewal of their society.

Ismail Bey was convinced that the language he used in Tercüman was just such a language, that in its simplified form it would be understood by Turkic readers anywhere and would facilitate the drawing together of the Turks throughout the world. The language of Tercüman was, for all practical purposes, however, only a simplified form of Ottoman Turkish used in Istanbul at the time. It was criticized by a number of Gaspirali's contemporaries as not being understood easily by Turks in Central Asia, even in the Volga region. What is important to note here is that Gaspirali was interested in such common literary language in order to facilitate renewal, not for any political purposes. He did often write of a Turkic nation (kavim), but where is the evidence that he dreamed of using this as a base for facilitating or creating a unified greater Turkic independent state or political entity?25

We remember that intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century grappled with the language question too. Ibrahim Şinasi, a young Ottoman intellectual and poet, had several decades before Ismail Bey published a journal, Tercüman-i Ahval, the name of which served as a partial model for Gaspirali's own journal. He had emphasized as Ismail Bey would later the simplification of the written language to facilitate wider readership.26 Ziya Paşa, too, had written an article, "Poetry and Prose," in 1868 criticizing the Ottoman language as a useful literary medium for the vast majority of Turkish readers. This is ironic when one takes into account the fact that Gaspirali modeled his journalistic language on Ottoman.27

Some years later, Şemseddin Sami also focused attention on the necessity of creating a common literary language for Turks from Bukhara and Kashgar to the Balkans. "The first symbol of a nation and a race, its foundation and its common property, shared cqually by all its members is the language in which it speaks.... Each people and nation must therefore first of all bring order into its language. 28 Ziya Gökalp looked upon language as the foundation stone of nationality and regarded independence in the sphere of language as a neccssary~ condition for political independence.29

Gaspirali's contemporaries in the Russian Empire, Muslim and Turkic, often agreed with his emphasis on language and increased literacy. But the movements toward national development among many of the Turkic people and other non-Russians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries proved to be divisive forces too strong to permit the adopting of a "neutral" common language among the Russian Turks. The Kazan Tatar intellectual Nashirvan Yanishev, who usually supported the idea of Islamic solidarity and cooperation, did not believe that Gaspirali's focus on a common literary language was useful or possible. He wrote that "no one, with the exception of the Azeris, can understand the language of Tercuman; the farther north you go, the fewer the people who read Tercüman."30

Policies pursued in the late nineteenth century by the Russian government helped encourage the separate development of minority languages. N. A. Il'minskii had argued that the ultimate goal of assimilating these nationalities into the mainstream of Russian culture was best and most quickly achieved by creating Russian schools for the nationalities, using the children's own language at the early stages of education to introduce them to the rudiments of Russian culture, but their language transcribed in Cyrillic characters. Ultimately Russian itself would he used at the upper school levels. (These views bear some resemblance to current policies in the United States on bilingual education.) These Russo-Tatar schools would compete with purely Muslim schools; Gaspirali himself both attended and taught in such a school.31

Against this negativism, Gaspirali, in some exasperation, wrote in 1912 that " the desire of each Turkic people to create its own language is in agreement with democratic principles, but it is harmful for the future."32 To the end of his life, Gaspirali held firmly to the idea he had expressed in Tercüman in 1906, that "without a national language there can be no progress, because a national language, a common literary language, is the means and source most fundamental and necessary for the advancement of education, literature, religion, and national hopes." 33 The statement has a great deal of meaning today, and his focus was not off the mark, for his judgment of language's importance was sound.

A second interest of Gaspirali's, which proved important for the national development of Russia's Turks, and particularly for the Volga and Crimean Tatar communities in the future, was that of women's rights and emancipation. In the legal sphere, he wrote little about women, though emphasizing the equality of women with men in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

Knowing how sensitive an issue this was among most Muslims in Russia and outside, Gaspirali made greater efforts to stress his Islamic orthodoxy. "I beg the reader to understand that I am not suggesting that the Sheriat be changed; this is impermissible." 34 Instead, he pointed out that the Qur'an demanded equitable treatment of women. What masqueraded as Islamic law and custom relating to women was nothing more than "some Asiatic concept." Beyond the legal questions, Gaspirali raised the issue in terms that sound strikingly modern. He pointed out to his readership that, since more than half of the Muslim and Turkic population was female, for the Muslims to deny women the right and possibility to contribute to national development was to deny themselves half of their human resources.

Ismail Bey firmly believed and often stated that without female participation it would be difficult if not impossible for Islamic society to raise its level of existence to that of the West. There was an intimate connection between the assurance of a vigorous and enlightened national life and the raising of the conditions of women's lives. All this had to begin with education, as with virtually everything else Gaspirali called for. "Whoever loves his own people and wishes it a great future, must concern himself with the enlightenment and education of women, restore freedom and independence to them, and give wide scope to the development of their minds and capabilities."35

Ziya Gökalp, too, had raised the women's issue in Turkey itself. He called for women's participation in social life, especially in the economic sphere, and free and unhindered entrance into the professions. Gökalp called for the equalization of educational opportunities for men and women, just as schools for women were so important to Gaspirali.36 Whether or not Gaspirali's and Gökalp's hopes have been realized is a matter for debate. But it seems clear that women play a more important, at least public and visible, role in Turkic-Tatar life than in most other areas of the Islamic world.

While Gaspirali's slogan "Dilde, Fikirde, İşte Birlik" is more widely used in scholarly discussions of his legacy, the term usul-i jadid (new method) more accurately reflects his importance. Usul-i jadid referred originally to the new method of instruction of language— phonetic transcription, simplified grammar, and simplified vocabulary. It soon came to mean the style of instruction in all subjects used in the maktabs,with an expanded curriculum as well as a new method of teaching. This curriculum at the maktab level (which was the level of greatest importance to Gaspirali) was to include the traditional Muslim elements—Qur'an, calligraphy, Islamic traditions, but also a genuine ability to read in Arabic. But beyond these subjects Ismail Bey believed a student should study the grammar and literature of his native language, the history of Islam and Islamic societies as well as of other religions and other societies, geography, arithmetic, and at least enough science to make an impact on the student's own lifestyle. He was convinced that no genuine renewal of Turkic-Tatar Islamic society was conceivable without educational renewal. His society needed "an army of learned men" and an "enlightened public." 37

An American's dissertation (which ought to he published) shows that the usul-i jadid required reform in the actual physical environment for education, relating to size of classes, a regularization of beginning and ending school years, regularized school days, and a set curriculum of courses and levels. The school itself must be designed as a school, and the teachers must be prepared specifically in the subjects that they would teach.38 Gaspirali was convinced that a sound and full maktab education was a prercquisite for a mcaningful medrese experience. Admission to the higher level would require solid grounding in the maktab "basics."

To the south, the Ottomans, too, produced educational reformers who recognized the inadequacy of their traditional system. They had made great strides in identifying educational problems and had introduced a number of innovations that would be important later on as influences on Gaspirali, who spent some time in Istanbul. The idea of maarif, the process of becoming acquainted with things not known, was a direct challenge to the ilm of the ulema. The introduction of fan, establishment of commissions of ministries of education, all reflected deep concern, and innovative responses.39

There were important obstacles to overcome, however. In the decree of Mahmud II, which supposedly made primary education compulsory, it was said:

While, according to Muslims, learning the requisites of religion comes first and above everything else and while these requisites take precedence over all worldly considerations, the majority of people lately avoid sending their children to school. This condition is the cause not only of widespread illiteracy but also of ignorance of religion, and hence, has been a primary cause of our misfortune. As it is necessary to deliver the Muslims from these worldly and other-worldly misfortunes, and as it is a religious obligation for the entire umrnah of Muhammed to learn the affairs of religion and the faith of God, no man henceforth shall prevent his children from attending school until they have reached the age of adulthood.40

Again, in 1845, in addressing the Supreme Council, discussing the foundation of a Council of Education, Sultan Abdul Mecid, defined the aims of education thus: "To disseminate religious knowledge and useful sciences, which are necessities for religion and the world, so as to abolish the ignorance of the people. It is a necessity for every human being to learn first his own religion and that education which will enable him to be independent of the help of others, and then and only then to acquire useful sciences and arts."41

At least in the Ottoman Empire, however, the government endorsed the goals and methods of educational reform. In Russia, Gaspirali faced opposition from the existing Muslim educational profession, the teachers in traditional maktabs and medreses, as well as the government. Russian officials too feared the outcome of successful Muslim educational reform, and, as already noted above, N. A. ll'minskii particularly opposed these reforms. He wrote, "A Muslim fanatically hostile to the infidels was less dangerous for the Russian state than a Muslim educated in the European style, with a degree from a Russian or Western university."42 K. P. von Kaufman, governor general of Turkistan after the Russian conquest, believed that "the best way to undermine the influence of Muslim education was to create Russian schools to which Central Asian children would be admitted." This had the double advantage of drawing them away from Muslim schools, either traditional or of a new sort, and of bringing Muslim and Russian children together. He believed that the latter would assimilate the former when placed side by side. 43

Russians established schools to compete with the very popular Jadid schools of Gaspirali. These Russian-native (russko-tuzemnaia) schools were for Muslims only, however, to acquaint the children with Russian culture through the medium of their own language and with elements of the Russian language. The first was opened in 1884 under the headmastership of a Russian orientalist, V. P. Nalivkin. In 1911 there were almost ninety of them in Turkistan, and by 1913 there were more than 150 in the Kazak plains. This was an important recognition of the enormous success of Gaspirali's new-method schools.44

There is considerable disagreement about the number of usul-i jadid schools established by the time of the Russian Revolution in March 1917. But it seems clear that the number exceeded five thousand.45 Gaspirali traveled widely in the Muslim areas of the empire doing his best to persuade the local dignitaries of the importance of these new method schools. In some regions he was more successful than in others. In Kazan guberniia,where interest in educational reform and social renewal predated Ismail Bey's career, his new method corresponded exactly with the needs of the powerful Tatar bourgeoisie, and in the city of Kazan alone by 1916 there were more than a dozen Jadid maktabs. The presence of ten Jadid medreses in Kazan guberniia must have reflected some years of reformist primary education. One set of statistics published in the 1920s in Kazan argued for the proposition that these reformed schools were at least as successful as their Russian counterparts, producing a claimed Tatar literacy rate on the eve of the March 1917 revolution of 20 percent compared to 18 percent for the Russians, and between 5 and 9 percent for the other non-Russian minorities in the guberniia, the Chuvash, Mordovians, Votiaks, and Cheremisses.46

Gaspirali visited Central Asia and under his influence Jadid schools were opened in Andijan in 1897, in Samarkand and Tokmak in 1898. These early Central Asian schools were exclusively for the local Tatar population. It was only in 1901 that the first Uzbek Jadid maktab was opened in Tashkent. The first Jadid school in Samarkand began operation in 1903.47

Ismail Bey had less success in Bukhara and Khiva, whose political leadership wavered on the issue and then succumbed to pressure from the local clergy to prevent such schools' establishment. Gaspirali made a trip to Calcutta where he claimed to have succeeded in creating a Jadid school, using Urdu. An examination of educational literature published in India and Pakistan fails to verify any lasting result in that region; the main evidence of his achievements there appears in his own essays in Türk Yurdu in 1912, "Hind Yolundan and "Hind'den Dönerken. 48

Strong enough backing for Gaspirali's educational ideas emerged throughout the Russian Islamic political movements so that the Third Muslim Congress in August 1906 at Nizhni Novgorod adopted three resolutions, one of which was to press for school reform in Islamic areas and to conduct education in the maktabs in the mother tongue of the pupils and with classes in medreses in the language espoused by Gaspirali. In May 1917 the Pan-Russian Muslim Congress held in Moscow adopted a resolution offered by Zeki Kadyrov on school reform that conformed in all important ways to the ideas of Gaspirali.49

A number of important Central Asian, Tatar, Azeri, and Turkish intellectuals credited Gaspirali with providing models and leadership that influenced them heavily. Modernists like Yusuf Akçuraoglu, Akhundzada, Huseyinzade, Ahmed Maksudi, and Fatih Kerimi on the one hand, and editors of journals and newspapers such as Vaqt, Yoldız, and Ay Qap, all recognized the pathbreaking of Ismail Bey and Tercüman50. The great surprise, then, in looking at Gaspirali seventy years after his death is to discover that his accomplishments are given so little credit today either in the USSR or in the larger Turkic world in general.

Ismail Bey's language reform and any idea he may have had for a cultural (or even political) unity of the Turkic Muslim world would not overcome the desires of each Turkic group, the Azeri, Tatar, Uzbek, Kazak, and Turkish peoples, to focus on local and parochial political goals. But Gaspirali's evaluation of the weaknesses of Islamic society, his directions in educational reforms, and his journalistic achievements produced immediate, dramatic, and long-lasting results. What a pity that Tercüman has not been republished and has not been seriously studied by scholars who would have much to learn from it. If it served in 1914 as the treasury of Tatar culture, it is a treasury that remains to be discovered and mined today.


1 Ismail Bey's name appears in scholarship and on his own published work as either Gasprinskii or Gaspirali (the Russianized or local Crimean Tatar form). I have preferred to use Gaspirali in this chapter.

2 For some of these obituaries and statements about Ismail Bey, reflecting a wide range of opinions, see chap 7 in this volume.

3 Saifi Ibrahimove, "Büyük ve Tarihi Milli Matem," Tercüman, 1 October 1914, taken from Iqbal.

4 Yusuf Akçuraoglu, Türk Yurdu, no. 12 (1911).

5 Osman Akçokrakli, "Milli hazinemiz," Tercüman, no. 202 (1915).

7 Fuad Köprülü, "Ismail Bey Gasprinski," Cumhuriyet (Istanbul), 7 March 1928.

8 Mukhamed Gainullin, Tutarskaia literatura i publitsistika nachala XX veka, rev. ed. (Kazan: Tatknigoizdat, 1983); Mukhamed Gainullin, Tatarskaia literatura XIX veka (Kazan: Tatknigoizdat, 1975).

9 M. Z. Tutaev, Oktiabr' i prosveshchenie (Kazan: Tatknigoizdat, 1970); V. M. Gorokhov and V. P. Rozhdestvenskii, Razvitie narodnogo obrazovaniia v Tatarskoi ASSR (Kazan: Tatknigoizdat, 1958); R. I. Nafigov, Formirovanie i razvitie peredo voi tatarskoi obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli (Kazan: Tatknigoizdat, 1964).

10 N. Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964); I. Başgöz and Howard Wilson, Educational Problems in Turkey, 1920-1940 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968). Other studies of Turkic educational reform that ignore Gaspirali while discussing the Jadid movement include T. P. Dadashev, Prosveshchenie v Turtsii v noveishee vremia (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Nauka, 1972); A. D. Zheltiakov and Iu. A. Petrosian, Istoriia Prosveshcheniia v Turtsii (konets XVIII-nachulo XX v.) (Moscow, 1965); Mustafa Asiler, Türk egitiminin ana davalari (Istanbul, 1960); Nafi Atif, Türkiye pedagoji tarihi (Istanbul, 1929); Osman Ergin, Türkiye maarif tarihi, 5 vols. (Istanbul: Osmanbey Matbaasi, 1943-45); Nuri Kadamanoglu, Tkrkiye dc egitim (Ankara, 1963).

11 The main exception is a biography of Gaspirali by Kirimli Cafer Seydahmet, Gaspirali Ismail Bey (Istanbul: Matbaacilik ye Nesriyat Türk Anonim Sirketi, 1934); see also Zeki Velidi Togan, " Ismail Gaspirali," Enyclopaedia of Islam, 2d ed. (Leiden: F. I. Brill, 1965), 2: 979-81.

12 Serge ZenkovskY, Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia (Cambridge, MasS.: Harvard University Press, 1960), 30-37, 81-82, 107-8; Charles W. Hostler, Turkism and the Soviets (London: Praeger, 1957) pp. 123-30; Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia (New York: Praeger, 1964), pp. 194-207; Alexander Bennigsen and Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam in the Soviet Union (New York: Praeger, 1967), pp. 38-39, 47, 78, 128.

13 Gustav Burbiel, "Die Sprache Ismail Bey Gaspyralys" (Ph.D. diss., Hamburg University, 1953); Edward Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gasprinskii and Muslim Modernism in Russia, 1878-1914" (Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 1973). See also Bertolt Spuler, "Djadid," Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (Leiden: E. I. Brill, 1965), 2: 366.

14 Lazzerini, "lsmaiI Bey Gaspirali," 109-10, citing and translating Arminius Vambery, " A Mahomedan Congress in Cairo," The Times, 22 October 1907, 15.

15 Ibid., 153, citing and transllating from Tercüman, no. 45 (26 November 1895); and A. L. C., "Le Congres musulman universal," Revue du monde musulman 3, nos. 11-12 (November-December, 1907): 499.

16 Ibid., citing and translating from "Ulema-yi asiriyun," Tercüman, no.40 (17 February 1913).

17 Ibid., citing and translating from Tercüman, no. 1 (10 April 1883).

18 Bennigsen and Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam, 41; Zenkovsky, Pan Turkism and Islam, 33-34.

19 Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gaspirali," 14.

20 Seymour Becker, Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865 1924 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), 202.

21 Uriel Heyd, Foundations of Turkish Nationalism (London: Luzac, 1950, 78.

22 Khurshid Ahmad, "The Nature of the Islamic Resurgence," in Voice of Resurgent Islam, ed. John L. Esposito (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 18-29, especially 220.

23 Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gaspirali," p. 225, citing and translating "Can yani dil meselesi, Tercüman, (22 January 1908).

24 Ibid., 207, citing and translating "Vopros a iazyke," Tercüman (4 November 1905).

25 Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 1905 1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim community (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 3 1-32; he argues that in Azerbaijan an average reader could understand the language of Tercüman, which influenced the "Ottomanization" of the Azeri press.

26 David Kushner, The Rise of Turkish Nationalism, 1876-1908 (London: Frank Case, 1977), 57-58.

27 Ibid., 58.

28 Ibid., 62.

29 Andreas M. Kazamias, Education and the Quest for Modernity in Turkey (London: Allen and Unwin, 1966), 108-10.

30 Zenkovsky, Pan Turkism and Islam, 114-15, citing Yulduz, no. 786 (1912).

31 Alexander Bennigsen, "The Muslims of European Russia," in Russia and Asia: Essays on the Influence of Russia on the Asian Peoples, ed. Wayne Vucinich (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1972), 152; Zenkovsky, Pan Turkism and Islam, pp. 28-29; Wheeler. Modern History, 199.

32 Zenkovsky, Pan-Turkism and Islam, p. 115, citing Gaspirali's statement in Türk Yurdu, 16 May 1912.

33 Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gasprinskii," 225, citing and translating "Kerain-i kerame hutab," Tercüman 25 September 1906.

34 Ibid., 247-48, citing and translating "Gdie koren' zla'?" Tercüman, 15 September 1903.

35 Ibid., 23-27, citing Molla Nasreddin, no. 3 (1913), which is also in M. Kasumov, Boevoi revoltiutsionno-demokratischeskii zhurnal "Molla Nasreddin" (Baku, 1960), 32; Thomas Kuttner, "Russian Jadidism and the Islamic World: Ismail Gasprinskii in Cairo, 1908," Cahiers du monde russe et sovietique, nos. 3-4 (1975), 390.

36 Seçil Akgun, "Women's Emancipation in Turkey," Bulletin of the Turkish Studies Association (March 1986), 1-11, about a positive effect of American missionary schools upon the growth of women's education; Heyd, Foundations, p.94; Berkes, Development of Secularism, 390.

37 Lazzerini, "lsmail Bey Gaspirali," 172; Bennigsen and Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam. 39; Wheeler, Modern History, 202-3.

38 Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gaspirali," 184-95; see also Kuttner, "Russian Jadidism," 389.

39 Berkes, Development of Secularism, 99-100.

40 Ibid., 101.

41 Ibid., 173.

42 Bennigsen, "The Muslims," 152; V. M. Gorokhov, Reaktsionnaia shkol'naiapolitika tsarizma v otnoshenii tatar Povolzh'ia (Kazan, 1941), 201-5.

43 Wheeler, Modern History, 201.

44 Ibid., 201-3.

45 Bennigsen and Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam, p. 39; Lazzerini, "Ismail Bey Gaspirali," 195-99.

46 Kushner, Rise of Turkish Nationalism, 12-14; Tamurbek Devletshin, Sovetskii Tatarstan: Teoriia i praktika Leninskoi natsional'noi politiki (London: 1974), 47-48; Tutaev, Oktiabr' i prosveshchenie, 13-14, gives no mention of Gaspirali in discussing new-method schools; Alexandre Bennigsen and Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay, Les mouvements nationaux chez les Musulmans de Russie: Le "Sultan Galievisme" au Tatarstan (Paris. Mouton, 1960), 39-40, 59-60. Helen Carriere d'Encausse, Réforme et revolution chez les musulmans du l'empire russe: Bukhara, 1867-1924 (Paris: Librairie Armand Cohn, 1966), 137-42.

47 Becker, Russia's Protectorates, 203-5; Helen Carriere d'Encausse, "The Stirring of National Feeling," in Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule, ed. Edward Allworth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), 177-78, 194-95, 200.

48 Paul Dumont, "La Revue Türk Yurdu et les Musulmans de l'Empire Russe, 1911-1914," Cahiers du monde russe et sovietique, nos. 3-4 (1974), 321.

49 Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan, 48-49; Bennigsen and Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam, 78-79.

50 Manuel Sarkisyanz, "Russian Conquest in Central Asia: Transformation and Acculturation" in Russia and Asia, ed. Vucinich, 255; Francois Georgeon, Aux Origines du Nationalisme Turc (Yusuf Akchura, 1876-1935) (Paris: Editions Institut d'Etudes Anatoliennes, 1980), 18-21, 45, 54.

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