ABSTRACT

I was counting mosques. Cinemas, clubs, storerooms, lathe workshops, carpet factories, museums and roofless ruins were all turning back into mosques. Whenever I saw a mosque being rebuilt, I would stop and ask what was happening in neighbouring villages. Because the Andi were

specialists, they rebuilt other peoples' mosques and could tell about other regions. As soon as a new tin roof was on, matting, rugs and curtains spread in the middle of the building site, like spiritual ivy. There were 2000 mosques in Daghestan in 1928, when ten years of destruction began, leaving 17, so that the Party could claim to tolerate Islam. (There were over 800 villages and each village had one or two, with more in the larger settlements.)

The mosque is not an essential part of Islam, unlike the Christian church, and prayer can take place at home, so the mosque had current importance as the sign of a national movement against the Russians. Gagatl claimed to have re-opened the first in 1988. The rest of north Daghestan followed the Andi example: the Avars, the Dargins and the Kumyks. For instance, Gotsatl' Klub was an ex-mosque with a cinema screen and walls covered with slogans. An anti-religious cartoon showed a mullah holding up a Koran with the slogan "You can't block out the sunlight (of Socialism)" in Russian but not Avar, paraphrasing Auden's "There stood the church, blotting out the sun." Again, in Khunzakh, the kino sign from the roof lay against the wall, while the projector holes were blocked off and the tall arched windows re-opened.