Deceivers: Observations Pursuant to Judicial Proceedings
Original title "Firibgarlar: Suddan Keyingi Mülahazalar." Translation first printed in Journal of the Institute of
Muslim Minority Affairs Vol. 9, N. 2, 1988. Pp. 435-443. From Sovet
Uzbekistanı, Tashkent, 26 Sep. 1982.
``Adabiyatchi'' is a pseudonym. Literally, the name means ``one who is involved with literature,'' and is sometimes loosely employed to refer to a ``philosophizer.'' The name was often utilized by the editorial board to sign editorials in the daily Sovyet Uzbekistani, which was the organ of the Uzbek Communist Party Central Committee. Recent information suggests that the Uzbek KGB may have ``borrowed'' the ``Adabiyatchi'' pseudonym from time to time.
I cannot deny that I am writing this commentary reluctantly. I ask myself whether it is necessary to write about persons who commit acts that violate customs and have brought shame to themselves.
One of the characters in this essay is a false healer type--a personality reminiscent of the movie comedy Evliya Yorgen Bayrami about the class struggle in the Ferghana Valley. Remember the charming deceiver (portrayed by artist A. Ktorov) who ``cures'' the depressed and the limbless with a crutch?
Our personality belongs to the same category. When his professional deficiencies are accepted and viewed with indulgence, it becomes evident that he has a female nature.... He believes that he has ``discovered the existence'' of a second spinal cord, which causes ailments. . . .
Yet another manipulative Mullah of Tashkent opened a ``school'' in his house to conduct instruction on religious books!
And why should it not be so, when in various quarters some graybeards are inclined to take their children to such ``schools'' and are endlessly joyful when they are accepted. The graybeards believe that their sons will try to emulate their ``teachers'' in leading a completely spiritual life.
Why would people in the twentieth century--an era of intellectual achievement--not respect the clear, documented, humanitarian [achievements of the] scientific-technical revolution?! Why would young people who embark upon a university education and succeed in passing the infinitely difficult final exams not serve as an example to those who are not similarly educated?! Humanity tames atomic energy for its own purposes and lives in space for months at a time, foreseeing the future benefits of its investigations, studies artificial intelligence and the secrets of life, prepares to divert a portion of the waters of the Siberian rivers for use in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. . . .
Contrast these great accomplishments to the revered medieval period. I forbear to pursue the comparison further. Most contemporary readers are, I hope, able to evaluate events objectively and realize, moreover, that one must attend to the known facts.
. . . This discussion leads down the following path. Let us meet the perpetrators of an unusual event that took place in the ``October'' Bazaar in Tashkent on June 5 of this year.... In the midst of all the people who were shopping for various colorful goods, the police apprehended a person named A. Saidkorihojaev.
He was selling--to people who place their trust in God first and last and who unfailingly say their daily prayers--an authorless book called About the Muslim Religion, which advocated shunning the ``Godless.''
This politically harmful booklet was being promoted to the shoppers in spite of the prohibition in Article 52 of the USSR Constitution, which bans ``incitement of hostility or hatred on religious grounds.''
``Don't you know that this activity is forbidden?'' Saidkorihojaev was asked. ``You should be severely punished for this.''
``May God strike me, I didn't know that before,'' he swore.
He confessed, out of fear, that he had bought the books cheaply in hopes of selling them at high prices, for speculative purposes.
<%-2>The police arrested Saidkorihojaev, and his identity was checked out at the Investigative Division of the Internal Affairs Department in Tashkent. He was questioned about the incident. During the investigation, much was learned. Slowly, all of his secrets were unraveled. It became apparent that Saidkorihojaev was buying these books from Mahmudjan Ruziev. The latter was procuring them from Abduzokir Rahimov, who was printing them clandestinely on his own handmade press.<%0>
In the beginning, Rahimov was printing the books alone in a cellar under his backyard. Later, as he tasted success, he took on his close friend Yuldash Muhamedov as a partner. In Muhamedov's house they expanded their activities. Later, flush with money, they rented two rooms, for which they paid very little to the owners, in which to print the books. Rahimov was paying salesmen from the ``Shuhrat'' Department Store to supply him with paper, and others such as Z. Mahkamov who used their ``Zhiguli'' cars for distributing the printed pamphlets to customers. Rahimov coaxed sellers to work for him by giving them money or vodka, and collected the proceeds.
What would induce Rahimov to such an occupation, punishable under Article 179 of the Uzbek SSR penal code? Who drove his partner Ruziev into selling not only the brochure About the Muslim Religion but also cassette tapes of namaz prayers, the Koran, and similar books? Eleven like-minded persons who were engaged in speculation were sentenced under Article 175 of the penal code.
What is more, two of this group had previously been tried for similar activities under the same articles!
We asked F.A. Danilian, the Internal Affairs Department investigator who has been conducting the inquiry, about Rahimov, Ruziev, and their band of undesirables. He suggested that we examine the prosecution documents, saying: ``You will be mistaken if you take these people for religious conservatives seeking to propagate their teachings through their publications. True Muslims never made commerce out of religious books, because this is against their belief and the shariat. The collection of Muslim laws forbids that.'' The motives of Rahimov and his partners in this activity were a hunger for wealth and a desire to cheat others of money!
On one occasion Rahimov gave Muhamedov one thousand rubles out of bookselling proceeds--and this was repeated many times over.... They did not just enjoy a cursory benefit from this activity; they led a magnificent life on earth, freeloading without a single day's job of work. Moreover, Rahimov, gave the appearance of being destitute, having only an insignificant job within the ``Vtorchermet'' administration. In actuality, however, he had bought a plot of land and was building a house!
Perhaps it was his awareness of the ultimate investigative powers of justice, and fear that his secret would eventually be uncovered, that drove Rahimov to serious drinking to chase these worries out of his mind. For example, in fear of discovery, he attempted to mislead a possible future investigation. Although he published About the Muslim Religion in 1981, he stamped the book with the inscription ``Isfara, 1976.'' Apparently he had learned this despicable gambit during his first imprisonment.
Rahimov, like his partners, had no regard for the truth in his everyday life; that is, a dishonorable occupation is not compatible with goodness. In the course of the investigation, Muhamedov confessed to jointly publishing books of a religious nature with Rahimov from 1980 until July 1981, displaying his partner's shame. This confession was completely confirmed by the discovery of unauthorized equipment and supplies in his brother Musaev's house--including a printing press, chemicals, and other materials.
It was discovered that the proprietor of the place where the printing press was located was A.H. Chemevatenko, a nurse from the Tashkent pediatrics hospital, who took advantage of the 130 rubles offered by Rahimov and rented him one of the four rooms in her large, western, Russian-style house, thereby abetting him.
This is a group of people whose hearts were full of wrath, involved in criminal matters in one way or another, driven to money making year after year, forgetting their honor, conscience, and the future, unable to face their own children, whose innocence cannot be defended in a courtroom.... To sum up: a link in the chain of criminal treachery and deception. . . .
When one familiarizes oneself with the investigation and the court documents, and reads the decision of Tashkent's Kirov Raion people's court, one fully understands the fact that they deserve the sentences they received. Rahimov's punishment is to spend seven years in a hard labor camp. Ruziev will not be free for four years. The remainder of this group of eleven like-minded people did not go unpunished.
<%-2>It made us very happy to learn that the samples of the great Eastern literary works that were confiscated from these people have been turned over to the Manuscripts Institute of the Uzbek SSR Academy of Sciences. There, perhaps for this first time in a long time, these works will used in the service of knowledge. . . .<%0>
Now, a lesson: The strong demand for this type of publication is surprising.
One of the protagonists of the incident described above, a former engineer from ``Uzmedtekhnika,'' P. Gaffarov, wanted to print the books more efficiently. For that purpose, he initiated relations with the production sections of several establishments and asked for ``help.''
They provided him with the latest technical assistance and--with the good resources of the state, ink and paper, and electrical power (used during business hours!)--prepared thousands of these misdirected and harmful books.
I do not understand why the supervisor of the production facility that gave them this assistance turned a blind eye to the ambitions of those entrepreneurs---P. Gaffarov and his associates S. Bakihojaev and S. Umarov. Their business was unusual, a sort of private criminal activity, and upon discovery should have been reported to the legal authorities.
Another question: What is the attraction of these secretly produced books? What is in these books, other than an invitation not to be in amity with those who do not believe in religion?
While I was leafing through About the Muslim Religion, I tried to find an answer to this question.... The appearance of the pamphlet was ordinary, and the picture on the cover was in only one color.... The inside pages contain some poems by the great poets--Sadi, Bedil, and Navai--and excerpts from the works of Abu Ali Ibn Sina. . . .
These pieces were masterfully selected so that readers would be unwittingly trapped into reading portions that pertain to religion. These passages primarily provide historical information about the Muslim religion, the duties of a Muslim, what is acceptable for Muslims to do and what is not. Interspersed among these were the texts of prayers and suras from the Koran.
Two pages of the book were printed in Arabic, in the Arabic script; the remaining twenty-eight pages in the Uzbek language. Presumably, the editor-author was being considerate. Considering that most of us do not read Arabic, he wrote the instructions on Muslim practices in Uzbek.
Thus the author displays consideration for the majority of readers. What would prevent such people from achieving their goals?
Since the schools in Uzbekistan do not teach religion, even the children say, ``We will not accept this: we are not taught in this manner.''
We cannot accept it because we have not been informed about the Muslim religion in the schools, institutes, and, after graduation, in the political indoctrination sessions at the workplace.
In this manner they have produced a forbidden fruit, whose sweetness becomes more alluring by the temptation to ``taste it.''
<%-2>Let us resume our consideration of why these people are interested in religious literature. For this purpose, we do not need to refer to books like About the Muslim Religion, which was printed clandestinely, to gather detailed information.<%0>
Over the past decade, the Department of Muslim Religion [the Muslim Spiritual Board, in Tashkent] has printed the Koran six times. The seventh edition is in preparation for publication. The library of the Religious Department is open to all. In this place it is possible to select and read any books one wants and to get to know the journals published for religious people.
Perhaps some people have believed the lies and disinformation being circulated in the West, according to which religious literature is ``forbidden'' in our country. They are then interested in buying these books which were not published by the state.
The following fact must be taken into consideration as well. The contemporary Muslim religion is totally different from its previous form. Now the dogmas of the religion do not frighten people; on the contrary, these principles invite believers to be acquainted with the present era! Influential great men of religion advise people to learn about space, and urge Muslims not to fall behind the West in this field. Some of these religious leaders have even announced that they are ready to fly to the moon--supposedly because they want to be close to ``Great God and away from a place that is submerged in sin.''
While on the topic, it would be appropriate to think about improving the mission of the Museum of Atheism in Tashkent. Its exhibitions can be filled with materials about the present day, and narrate the tragic as well as sometimes bloody history of struggles between enlightenment and darkness, between religious ignorance and scientific efforts, and between idealism and materialism, by writing skillful commentaries on the exhibited materials.
Perhaps we should also think about the nature of our ideological work in the collectives (and not only there); about political activities not confined to recitation and praise of our past accomplishments, so that political agendas seem to be clogged with matters of trivial importance. Insufficient concern is attached to progress in solving problems that require detailed and complex discussion. . . .
It should not be forgotten that in advanced socialism the struggle between new and old is abating. Ignorance, religious demagogy, and the class approach to life are disappearing.
It should not be forgotten, it seems to us, that knowledgeable people who went to the ``October'' bazaar in Tashkent should have been incensed at the efforts to sell booklets About the Muslim Religion and condemned the attempt by those speculators, egoistic peddlers, and editors to exploit [people] and make three rubles for their ``literature.''
Among ourselves we encounter the sort of people who act as if they are ``Soviet workers'' but bark chapters from the Koran without knowing the prayers anywhere near the proficiency of the Mullahs, and recite prayers at burial and other ceremonies. They do not personally honor the religious customs, do not fast, ignore religious holidays, do not offer thanks to God before meals, yet they criticize others who do not utter Fatiha [a short sura from the Koran] at the proper times. People in the know make fun of these persons.
Are we simply nitpicking? Do they not have any good qualities in their characters, relative to their station in life, that might evoke esteem and respect? To some extent, they do.
But most importantly: It should not be forgotten that what comes after this invitation to adherence and respect for customs is [an invitation to] conscious, secret submission to sharia and religious dictates, with no deviation from these religious precepts. . . .
Abbas Alovulla, an official scholar of the Muslim religion who completed his studies in four madrasas and spent many years studying the Koran and its interpretations and thus became a specialist on the subject, was at one time prepared to ``enslave the antireligious or even exterminate them.''
Then, twenty years ago I read an article by Abbas Alovulla that was published in the newspaper Sovetskaia Karakalpakiia and I was pleased to note that he had severed his ties to religion; I thought that religious people would want to follow his lead.
No, they did not learn or take heed. There is no shortage of lessons about the doings of religious people. As an example, I can cite incidents from the newspaper Pravda Vostoka. An elderly member of the Telman Kolkhoz took her twenty-five-year-old daughter to the sixty-year-old Mullah of the ``Hoja Urba'' mescid . . . so that the daughter could be treated for paralysis and cured.... The girl stayed on and became the fifth wife of the old man, who likes to have retainers to enhance his life. . . .
In order to pass judgment, let us bring to your attention the following example. In 1976, Ali Tukanbaev, People's Poet of the Kirgiz SSR and a Hero of Socialist Labor, published an article in Komsomolskaia Pravda commenting about the bride-price tradition of the Muslims. He said the following:
Nowadays the bride-price is favored under various guises, and in addition there are various hidden costs are associated with it. We may assume that the parents of an educated girl receive much, but a wealthy and esteemed person's daughter, according to tradition, commands a much higher amount. This secret monetary bride-price ``increases the honor'' of the girls as the sum rises. Thus ``the greater the bride-price, the higher the rank and dignity of the bride.''
It is regrettable that educated, knowledgeable comrades and their parents, who adhere to the latest fashions and wear contemporary clothes and neckties, accept this bride-price as a national tradition handed down for centuries and agree with it. Actually, these ``traditions'' are nothing but a cover that masks opportunism.
Further, there are certain bizarre persons who have resorted to accumulating wealth through ``activities'' that hide behind the curtain of the name of God. The activities of the false mullah Saidkerim Azamov may be cited as an example of this.
. . . He opened a religious learning ``school'' in a quarter of Tashkent. As soon as they heard this news, some teenagers were attracted to his doorstep under the guidance of their parents. The parents obligingly brought their children to his clandestine ``school'' so that they could learn the religious precepts.
Contrary to the general educational laws governing the separation of school from church in the Soviet system, which abolished this type of schools from the curriculum, this instruction took place daily.
Azamov, approaching middle age, determinedly pursued his efforts to increase his wealth without considering that he would one day be called to account for his crime. He continued to poison the minds of the young children with religion under the threat of the hereafter. He succeeded in attaching his hopes to the taste and existence of a hereafter.
He accepted presents from the parents of his students without hesitation. In his courtyard he tethered many heads of cattle and forty sheep. The mullah bought six magnificent pieces of real estate; but, fearing that his treachery would be uncovered, he registered them under the names of his siblings and other relatives, to legitimize them.
At this writing, Azamov's property has been confiscated. I heard that he is currently away from our sunny country, ``cleansing his sins.''
<%2>Now, in evaluating the behavior of Azamov, honesty requires consideration the help received by individuals, whose fathers are honorable, from those who published religious books and sold tape cassettes containing Koran and prayers, through which they speculated for ``easy'' money in order to accumulate wealth. Did Habibulla ever consider the error of his ways when he pursued the mirage of increasing his wealth? Did Azamov's ``students'' understand the purely harmful nature of their clandestine endeavors? As they fell victim to a manipulator, blindly believing in the lies, did they consider the consequences of their actions?<%0>
These questions are not asked in vain. The illegal ``activity'' of the false healer Devran Buronov provides verification. Currently it is difficult to determine exactly how, when, and on whom this ``healer'' performed his cures. However, it is <%2>true that the spread of his fame is unequaled. As a result of this success, he assumed the title ``miracle healer'' and was praised to the heavens by the sick people who placed their trust and faith in him. No one was concerned about the legality of his status, or curious about the manner in which he performed his ``miracles.'' Actually, since he did not even have intermediate medical training, they should have realized that he was a deceiver. Buronov was at one time the work brigade leader of the 17 Sovkhoz in Sariderya Oblast, where he embezzled three thousand rubles from the state. He escaped to Sovkhoz 18, where he committed thievery and finally attempted to hide in Ferghana.<%0>
He was found out and sent to court. Buronov escaped from prison, his shame revealed one more time, and he once again, as before his imprisonment, set out to amass wealth through the practice of ``healership,'' and he let this fact be known by word of mouth. In fact, ill people from Andijan, Namangan, and Osh oblasts of the Kirgiz SSR, and blind people suffering from eye disease and other afflictions came to him, bypassing state clinics and hospitals in order to appear before him. Ill women and girls who sought cures from him spent time and lived in his house. From the Hojaabad Raion, a twenty-year-old medical nurse named Etibar M. spent half a year in Buronov's house! An eighteen-year-old tenth-grade student, a girl named Ugilay H., was ``treated'' in his house for five months. At the time he was imprisoned, it was discovered that he had a list in excess of one hundred male and female patients.
Buronov was married three times; the womanizer's third wife was an ill woman from Namangan. He had an eye for young girls, coerced them into submitting to basically false ``massage,'' and ``aided them to a cure.'' The patients should have thought about what he was doing and told their own parents, so that his shamelessness could have been exposed. Since this was not attempted, the rat amassed one hundred thousand tanga [an old monetary unit]! But no, it was not done. Rather, they unresistingly ``served'' and lived in his rented home. The fraudulant ``doctor'' continued to busy himself with ``cures'' until the officers of the relevant organs were astonished to discover him.
Now, it is too late for the parents of the patients to worry about the predicament in which they find themselves. I cannot imagine the intensity of their sorrow, but neither can I sympathize with them. One view is that they brought it upon themselves. Because the parents did not teach their daughters, in a timely manner, the necessity of using logic to distinguish unacceptable behavior, not trampling on the values of humanity, and resisting the inclination to submit to societal pressures blindly.
It is possible that they are calmed by the fact that Buronov has been deservedly and appropriately punished. But this is no real reason to be calmed, since this needless injustice was punished without the participation of the victims.
At this point, it is appropriate to remember an old proverb: ``If God wishes to punish a person, He first takes away that person's mind. . . .''
Certainly, religious persons now oppose these type of activities, but in order to educate them in the end, it is necessary to bring them up to date. Against maladies like these it is necessary to mount a coordinated attack, from all fronts, utilizing all available means.