Islamizdat Literature on the Notions of Jihad, Shahid, Mujahid, and Death

  • Sophie Roche
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


In this chapter, we will deal with a specific textual phenomenon of the (late) Soviet period: samizdat literature, self-published pamphlets that appeared and circulated outside state control. Islamizdat literature, as the grey literature on Islam came to be called, played an important role in reactivating religious ideas in the 1980s after Gorbachev introduced the political reforms known as perestroika and during the first decade of independence. The little pamphlets were easily reproduced and distributed.

In the textual analysis of jihad, I attempt to outline the content of selected books, which I contrast to the interpretations of jihad by ordinary people. One pamphlet in particular will play a central role in the discussion: The Mujahid’s Handbook; this pamphlet was distributed amongst opposition fighters during the civil war in Tajikistan and contains an introduction explaining the terms “jihad,” “mujahid,” and “shahid” for its intended readership. The present chapter differs from previous ones by virtue of its textual analysis, which provides an insight into the way Central Asian Muslims tried to reconnect to the Muslim world.

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Titles Without Authors

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie Roche
    • 1
  1. 1.Social AnthropologyKarl Jaspers Center for Advanced Transcultural StudiesHeidelbergGermany

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