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.
Reprinted in H. B. Paksoy, Ed. CENTRAL ASIA READER: The Rediscovery of
History (New York/London: M. E. Sharpe, 1994) 201 Pp. +
ISBN 1-56324-201-X (Hardcover); ISBN 1-56324- 202-8 (pbk.)
LC CIP DK857.C45 1993 958-dc20]
``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
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
``Don't you know that this activity is
forbidden?'' Saidkorihojaev was asked. ``You should be severely punished for
``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
<%-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
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
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
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
Thus the author displays consideration
for the majority of readers. What would prevent such people from achieving
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
<%-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
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
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
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
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.