Dagestan Muslims: values and prejudices
In May 2016, a group of Russian scholars from the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration and E.T. Gaydar Institute for Economic Policy (Irina Starodubrovskaya, Yevgeniy Varshaver and Egor Lazarev) conducted the Internet-survey, aimed at studying the Dagestan Muslims’ values. However, it turned out that there were many adherents to the secular way of life among the respondents. Therefore, the authors of the work believe that the survey has reflected the values of the Islamized segment of Dagestan’s Internet-community- mostly educated part of urban Muslims.
3,106 people were interviewed as part of the survey, including 1,675 respondents who filled in the forms completely. The analysis was based on those 1,675 forms.
Dagestan muslims about themselves and the surroundшng world
Strange though it might sounds, the Dagestan Muslims are happy people despite the economic problems, clannishness, corruption and legal chaos in the republic. Nearly 85% of respondents stated, they were happy or more like happy; about 1, 5% of respondents regarded themselves as absolutely unhappy.
The majority of surveyed Dagestan Muslims are ready to live in neighborhood with migrants, representatives of other races, religions, nationalities, language groups.
Their attitude is much more critical with regard to those, whom they perceive as the carriers of ‘social vices’ – alcoholics, homosexuals, drug addicts. Practically no one wants to have such neighbors.
As for the HIV/AIDS patients and unregistered couples living together, the votes here divided fifty-fifty. 43-45% of respondents consider them to be undesirable neighbors.
What is condemned
Dagestan Muslims are intolerant to violation of the traditional moral principles – homosexuality, prostitution, sexual intercourse before marriage and corruption.
- 86% of respondents think, bribe-taking using official powers could never be justified;
- 80% agree that unofficial payments represent corruption, which is harmful for the society;
- over 70% prefer a system with the authorities’ tough control over the observance of rules and no concessions for those, who violate these rules.
Although 85% of respondents stated that the laws of the state they live in should be observed even if they disagree with these laws, but tolerance to certain cases of violation of the legislation is much higher. Things that are considered as unjustified are as follows:
- taking state benefits by a person who is not entitled to it–48% of respondents;
- charge-free travelling in public transport – 45% of respondents;
- tax dodging-36%.
Larceny of others’ property is the only thing that causes almost unanimous condemnation.
What is Dagestan Muslims’ attitude to education problem? Only 2% of respondents disagree that gaining education is important for a person. 80% of respondents are concerned over the fact that they have no opportunities to give good education to their children, 14% of respondents are concerned about it to a certain extent. 80% of respondents are to some extent concerned that they have no possibility to improve their professional skills (in many cases it’s also related to education).
The youth are less concerned about the lack of opportunity to provide children with high-quality education. Apparently, this isn’t a very topical issue for them for the time being, but they to a greater extent concerned over the lack of opportunities to improve their professional skills.
So, what education is actually important?
According to over 60% of surveyed individuals, both religious and secular educations are equally important. 30% of respondents noted that secular education was important first of all; 30% – the religious education.
‘Every person must work.’ Nearly more than half of respondents agreed with this thesis with no add-ons. The opinion on obligatory nature of labor is lower in the younger age groups: it is recognized only by 65% of people aged above 55 and 48% of the youth. 5% of respondents think that a person must work as less as possible (1% of adults and 7% of the youth.)
A role of family relations is evidently high for practically all respondents and they placed family values on the first place.
However, only one-third of respondents are ready to trust the relatives first; only 7% will allow their wives to work if parents look after their little children.
No matter what the respondents’ positions are, it seems that the importance of family relations, the ‘big family’ values recede into the past. More critical attitude to the older generation, based on which the extended family’s internal relations are built, testify to this fact. In a conditional situation, in case of inappropriate behavior of a representative of older generation, 73% of respondents are ready to come up to an elderly man and ask him to behave decently and only 7% believe, it should not be done, since it’s incorrect to dictate the elderly what to do (19% hesitated to answer).
Even among the youth 64% of respondents are ready to reprimand an old man.
Engagement in politics
Democratic values are important for Dagestan Muslims, no matter how much the opposite is claimed. About 90% of respondents fully share the idea that political leaders should be elected by people through free and fair elections. Over 60% of survey participants would have voted in all-level elections if those characteristics of elections had been observed, whereas 15% would have run for a post in the governmental agency. 17% of respondents wouldn’t have participated in elections even under the aforesaid conditions.
As for the youth, this share increases almost up to a quarter while a share of persons, willing to participate in all-level elections, drops to 49%. A share of individuals, willing to run for a post in a governmental agency, increases to 20%.
- A legal state (be it based on secular law or the Sharia law), is not an absolute value for Dagestan Muslims.
- Non-traditional Muslims are split most evidently as for the value system.
- Dagestani youth are more religious and more conservative in its religious commitment.
- Islamization has an ambiguous influence on traditional social hierarchies, undermining the generation hierarchy and trying to preserve gender hierarchies.