International Symposium on Islamic Civilisation in Caucasia, organised under the patronage of H.E. Haydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, jointly by the National Organising Committee, the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences and IRCICA, Baku, 9-11 December 1998

The international symposium on Islamic Civilisation in Caucasia took place in Baku, on 9-11 December 1998, under the patronage and in presence of H. E. Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The symposium was jointly organised by IRCICA and a national organising committee which was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister H. E. Dr. Elçin Efendiyev. The Azerbaijan Academy of Science was in charge of the symposium’s academic aspects. The Ministry of Waqfs of the State of Kuwait and the Commission for Asian Muslims of the Kuwait Charity Society extended their collaboration for the organisation of the symposium.

The event was received with interest in scholarly circles. Its proceedings, to be published, are expected to contribute in disseminating the studies related to the various aspects of Islamic civilisation in Caucasia and promoting academic interest in this field.

The idea of this symposium was put forward and agreed upon during President Aliyev’s visit to IRCICA on 9 May 1997. Following the President’s visit, cooperation between the Government and cultural institutions of the Republic of Azerbaijan on one hand and IRCICA on the other, was given a new impulse. A national organising committee was set up upon the President’s instructions, comprised of: state advisors, counselors and high officials at the Presidency of the Republic, the Ministers of Culture, Finance, Transport, Publishing and Information, the Mayor of Baku, university presidents, deans of faculties, the President of the Academy of Science, the President of the State Radio and Television, and other dignitaries. This was followed by a series of preparatory meetings held in the presence of the Head and members of the organising committee, including Prof. Dr. Feramez Maksudov, President of the Academy of Science, Prof. Dr. Rafik Aliyev, Director of the Center for Islamic Studies (IRSHAD), and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

President Heydar Aliyev delivered a comprehensive address at the inaugural ceremony which took place in the conference hall of the Azerbaijan Academy of Science. Addresses were also delivered by H.E. Dr. Elçin Efendiyev, Deputy Prime Minister; Dr. Allahshukur Pashazade, Sheikh ul-Islam of Azerbaijan and Head of the Religious Council of Caucasia; Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA. Prof. Dr. Cemil Guliyev, Vice-President of the Azerbaijan Academy of Science, represented the Academy at the inaugural ceremony.

In his address, President Aliyev expressed his happiness that the idea of the symposium, which was discussed and agreed upon with Prof. İhsanoğlu at IRCICA last year, had materialised. The President traced the history and elaborated upon the expansion of Islamic civilisation in the region, its achievements and its contributions to world civilisation. He said that the people of Azerbaijan, with its history, its national and civilisational values and its mother tongue, is proud to belong to the Islamic religion, civilisation and moral system. Recalling the key role played by the people of Azerbaijan in the expansion of Islamic civilisation in the region, he said that among the peoples of Islamic faith who settled in Caucasia, around Caucasia and in Central Asia, the people of Azerbaijan gave the example of a people of modern vision whose own civilisation was enriched through inputs from universal human values and exchanges with other civilisations. President Aliyev said that the theme of the symposium highlighted the position of Azerbaijan as a bridge linking Europe to Asia, the West to the East, not only geographically but also from the socio-economic, moral, cultural and political points of view. The President pointed to the research and studies that IRCICA in Istanbul, and similar institutions in the western world, are carrying out in the field of Islamic culture and civilisation. He emphasised the need to develop and expand these studies by launching projects within the framework of cultural and research institutions, and affirmed that he would always support such scholarly ventures. The President concluded his address by underscoring the importance of the symposium and wishing success to the participants.

Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Elçin Efendiyev gave an address, in which he referred to the eternal values of Islam and described the place of Azerbaijan and its historical heritage within the framework of Islamic culture and civilisation. H.E. Dr. Efendiyev also spoke of the active membership of Azerbaijan in the OIC, recalling the efforts made by President Aliyev to strengthen Azerbaijan’s participation in the Organisation. Then, Dr. Allahshukur Pashazade pointed to the socio-cultural values and cultural heritage of the people of Azerbaijan which are an integral part of the Islamic civilisation. Referring to Azerbaijan’s membership in the OIC, Dr. Pashazade recalled that the bases of cooperation between Azerbaijanian institutions and IRCICA were laid in the 1980s, even before Azerbaijan’s membership in the OIC. He underlined, in this respect, that through this cooperation, IRCICA Director General Prof. Ihsanoğlu had contributed notably to the process of Azerbaijan’s membership in the OIC.

IRCICA Director General Prof. Dr. İhsanoğlu delivered an address, expressing his pleasure that the symposium convened in Baku, the most advanced city of Caucasia which represents the heritage of Islamic civilisation. Prof. İhsanoğlu expressed his gratitude to H.E. President Aliyev for the patronage which was graciously extended to this event. Then, he described IRCICA’s project to hold a scholarly symposium on this subject in Caucasia and the process which ultimately resulted in its convening in Baku. He recalled the relations which were established in the 1980s between IRCICA and the institutions of Azerbaijan, in particular the Academy of Science. He referred to his different visits to Azerbaijan on previous occasions, which were all fruitful, as well as to the lectures that two scholars from Azerbaijan, the late Professors Ziyaeddin Bunyadov and Cihangir Kahramanov -gave at IRCICA in 1990 upon the latter’s invitation. The Director General also recalled the visit of the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Polat Bülbüloğlu to IRCICA in 1996. He said this continually evolving process culminated in H.E. President Aliyev’s visit to the Centre in 1997, which paved the way for this symposium. Prof. İhsanoğlu briefed the audience about IRCICA’s aims and activities, in particular its research project on the history of Muslim nations, which drew the framework of this symposium.

The symposium was attended by fourty researchers from ten different countries. The Centre was represented at the symposium by Director General Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Dr. Halit Eren, and Mrs. Nükhet Varlık.

Working sessions of the symposium were held in three sections, which were organised, respectively, at the Institute of Manuscripts named after Fuzuli, the Museum of Literature named after Nizami, and the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences. Paper presentations were followed by discussions.

The session themes and papers presented were as follows:

First section: Establishment of Islamic Civilisation in Caucasia
Co-Chairmen: Dr. Allahshukur Pashazade (Azerbaijan), Prof.Dr. Mehmet Saray (Turkey), Dr. Jafari Subhani (Iran). Secretary: Akif Agayev


First session

The 'science houses' and medreses as scientific centres during the Azerbaijanian renaissance, Haji Sabir Khasanly (Azerbaijan)

The attitude of Russians towards Islam during the Tsarism period, Mehmet Saray (Turkey)

The historic role of Islam in the development of the Azerbaijanian culture, Mamed Adilov (Azerbaijan)

Research in Islamic studies at the Ziya Bunyadov Institute of Oriental Studies, Joukhar Bakhshalieva (Azerbaijan)

Participation of Azerbaijanian intellectuals in the Congress of Russian Muslims in 1905-1917, Nadir Devlet (Turkey)

Surahs of the Quran and Azerbaijanian literature, Mokhsun Nagisoylu. (Azerbaijan)

Second session

Cultural and political relations between Ural and Caucasia, I. Türkoğlu (Turkey)

Translations from the Quran in dictionaries of the middle ages, Mukaddes Payizov (Azerbaijan)

Islam and musical arts in Azerbaijan, Afsana Babayeva (Azerbaijan)

The influence of Islam on the social structure of Caucasus people in the XIXth century, Ufuk Tavkul (Turkey)

The problem of literary style in Azerbaijanian treatises of the middle ages, Rena Abdullayeva (Azerbaijan)

Relations between Shaikh Shamil and the Ottoman Empire according to Ottoman Sources, Mustafa Budak (Turkey)

Observations on research of Arabic philology in Caucasia, Laura Orudjeva (Azerbaijan)

Third session

The waqfs in Azerbaijan in the Ottoman period, Husemeddin Mamedov (Azerbaijan)

Efforts towards eliminating religious-sectarian conflicts in Azerbaijan, Halil Bal (Turkey)

From the history of learning in Tadjwid in Azerbaijan, Vuqar Garadagli (Azerbaijan)

The position toward Islam in the policy of Tsarist Russia in Northern Azerbaijan, Rasul Huseynli (Azerbaijan)

Second section: Material - cultural Islamic monuments in Caucasia
Co-Chairmen: Prof. Dr. Vasim Mamedaliyev (Azerbaijan), Prof. Dr. Nadir Devlet (Turkey). Secretary: Nigar Mamedova


First session

Azerbaijanian scholars who wrote in Arabic in the middle ages, Vasim Mamedaliyev (Azerbaijan)

Islamic law as a value of the Islamic culture, Prof. Agababa Rzayev (Azerbaijan)

Imam Mansur in Ottoman documents, Ali Arslan (Turkey)

Azerbaijanian poetry in the XIVth-XVIth centuries and Surahs of the Quran, Aida Kasimova (Azerbaijan)

Words of Arabic origin introduced in the language of Azeri Turks as a result of the influence of Islamic civilisation, Esra Karabacak (Turkey)

One page of history: Fathullahi Pirvani, Cemil Akpınar (Turkey)

Second session

The Azerbaijanian culture in the context of Islamic Civilisation, Fuad Mamedov (Azerbaijan)

Arab poets of the IXth century who wrote about Azerbaijan, Elkhan Azizov (Azerbaijan)

From Quranic and Sufi studies to the learned and didactical mesnevi (according to Senai’s work Hadikat-ul hakaik and Nizami’s Mahzen-ul esrar, Azade Rustam (Azerbaijan)

The role of Azerbaijan in the conquest of Caucasia and the spread of Islam in the region, Al-Shahat Ibrahim al-Sayyid (Egypt)

Azerbaijan and Derbent: concerning religious relations in the middle ages, G. Seyidova (Daghestan)

Third session

Data base about Quran manuscripts in the CIS, Efim Rezvan (Russia)

Regional Islam as the reflection of religion in the mode of life, Stanislav Prozorov (Russia)

Islamic architecture in Azerbaijan, Şamil Fatullayev (Azerbaijan)

Third section: Islamic Civilisation and Contemporaneity
Co-Chairmen: Prof. Dr. Rafik Aliyev (Azerbaijan), Prof. Dr. Leonid Medvedko (Russia). Secretary: Leyla Melikova


First session

General aspects of the development of Islamic civilisation in Central Asia and Caucasia, Eleonora Babayeva (Uzbekstan)

Islam and post-Soviet reality in Chechnya and Daghestan, Abdul Kerim (England)

The past and present of Islam among the Karachay-Balkar Turks, İsmail Doğan (Turkey)

Caucasian synthesis of early Christian-Muslim conflicts, Henry R. Houtenbah (USA)

Second session

An introduction to research about Muslim tombs in Azerbaijan, Jean-Louis Bacqué-Grammont (France)

Perspectives of the Islamic law culture in Caucasia, Leonid Sukiyaynen (Russia)

The Holy Quran and Islam’s peace-building function (the example of Caucasia), Yohann Rau (Germany)

Third session

The attitude of the Tsarist Government toward Muslim religious scholars according to Ottoman documents, Cezmi Eraslan (Turkey)

Islamic values and the people’s awareness, Imamverdi Hamidov (Azerbaijan)

At the closing session chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, the participants adopted a set of recommendations aimed at promoting scholarly studies in the field of Islamic civilisation in Caucasia and fostering cooperation between universities, research institutions and researchers. In particular, they recommended that this symposium be organised periodically once every three years and that an international research institute for Islamic studies be set up in Baku. It was also recommended that IRCICA cooperates with institutions in Russia and in Europe which are engaged in this field.

On 11 December, after the closing session of the symposium, H. E. President Aliyev received all the participants at the Presidential Palace. The President congratulated and thanked the participants for their contributions to the symposium. Then, IRCICA Director General Prof. İhsanoğlu expressed his gratitude to the Republic of Azerbaijan and H.E. the President for hosting this important scholarly event in Baku and graciously extending their patronage to it. President Aliyev emphasised the important role played by IRCICA and Director General Prof. İhsanoğlu in the realisation of this symposium. The President elaborated upon the theme of the symposium and also spoke of the existing issues and concerns related to Caucasia and the neighbouring regions. After the reception, President Aliyev gave an audience to Director General Prof. İhsanoğlu and Dr. Halit Eren to discuss future prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and IRCICA. It was agreed in principle that a second symposium be organised in the year 2000.

IRCICA Director General and Dr. Halit Eren were also received by H.E. Dr. Elçin Efendiyev, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan and Head of the national organising committee (10 December), H.E. Tevfik Zulfikarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs (11 December), Prof. Dr. Feramez Maksudov, President of the Azerbaijan Academy of Science, and Prof. Dr. Cemil Guliyev, Vice-President of the Academy (11 December). The symposium was followed with interest by the national and international media organs. Interviews were given by the organisers to various press and TV representatives.

It is hoped that this symposium and its follow-up activities will encourage further studies and scholarly activities relating to the history of Islamic civilisation in Caucasia and in other regions of the world.

The symposium proceedings were collected and edited by Prof. Dr. Rafik Aliyev and Halil Bal and published by IRCICA under the title Islamic Civilisation in Caucasia: proceedings of the international symposium.