Dissertation Abstracts

Competing Islamic Traditions: An Anthropological Perspective

Author: Wiktor-Mach, Dobroslawa , dobroslawa.wiktor@gmail.com
Department: Faculty of Philosophy, Sociology Department
University: Jagiellonian University, Poland
Supervisor: Prof. dr hab. Mariola Flis
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Islam , sociology of religio , post Soviet states , Azerbaijan
Areas of Research: Religion , Local-Global Relations , Youth


This dissertation focuses on Islamic pluralism and the competition between various Islamic branches. It underlines the heterogenity, dynamics, and flexibility inside Islam. In this work, I show how various historic and contemporary factors affect diverse Islamic traditions which struggle to win the hearts and minds of Muslims.

The focus is on Azerbaijan, a country that has been undergoing many changes. Iran, the Arab countries and Turkey are among the main countries that try to influence Azerbaijani Muslims. This situation contributes to the religious revival that is noticeable especially in Baku and makes this revival colorful and interesting. Inn particular, the Turkish model of Islam has been gaining increasing popularity among the younger population, who seek more transnational identities and opportunities.

As in other post-Soviet states, this process has to be seen against the background of the majority of Muslims with secular outlooks, who are often called cultural or ethnic Muslims. For this group, religion is more about belonging to a particular group than about religious observance or orthodox beliefs. However, this situation is also dynamic, as religious ideas spread across society and religious knowledge becomes more and more accessible.