Khatam-ash ritual: research experience and perspectives in the local Islamic context of the Tyumen Region 

Cherepanov M.S.  (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


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The author uses the results of previous studies and experience of his own field research to problematize the study of the Khatam-ash ritual as a part of the local Islamic context in the Tyumen Region. A. Shahab was followed in understanding of the local Islamic context (Con-Text in loco) as a complex of meanings and practices that was formed as a result of previous hermeneutic interactions with the Revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. The Khatam-ash ritual is understood as a prescription/script (written or not) that includes sacrifice (depending on the occasion), uttering of Niyyah, recitation of Quran, collective supplication, giving of Sadaqah, and a collective meal. Fieldwork materials gathered by the author in towns and rural settlements of the Tyumen Region in the second decade of the 2000s served as the main sources for the article. The author also analyzed publications by historians, ethnographers and social anthropologists, who studied similar phenomena in Russian, Central Asian, and North African regions. We conclude that Khatam-ash is the main ritual that makes up the local Tatarian Islamic context in the Tyumen Region. This prescription underlies most of the home collective prayer meetings to commemorate one's passing away or to wish for the happiness of the living ones. The local people are familiar with this ritual since early childhood, because, through its ceremonies, they get acquainted with and constantly witness manifestations of Islam among their dear and close ones. Khatam-ash is the most affordable and comfortable way to satisfy the existential needs of the people who consider themselves Muslims, but who do not know how to behave in mosques and doubt if they have a right to attend a mosque. Through Khatam-ash, Tatars maintain and establish relations with their relatives. In the long term perspective, the author considers a detailed description and comparison of regional and local features of the performance of the ritual.

Key words: khatam-ash, ritual, Islam, Con-Text in loco, Muslims, Tatars, Tyumen Region, Siberia.


Acknowledgements. This article wouldn't have been written without the comments of the anonymous readers, who helped to improve this work. Jesko Schmoller gave timely and very valuable advice on how to conceptualize the notion of Islam. Vladimir Adaev, Vera Klyueva, and Mikhail Agapov participated in discussions of modern approaches to the concept of ritual. Igor and Svetlana Bobrov's feedback was of great support in the darkest times. The author appreciates their help.

Funding. This article has been written within the State Project No. -17-117050400150-2.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.09.2020

Article is published: 27.11.2020


Cherepanov M.S.

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation