A good brief article on Chechens and their history. Mashallah Chechens are the worlds bravest people hands down... I remember a chechen commander named omar khataab (jordanian mujahid who was allegedly killed by posion a while back) mentioned in an interview that Afghanistan was nothing compared to Chechnya and that the jihad in Chechnya made Afghanistan look like pre-k. However, he still credited afghanistan jihad, he didn't diss it. he just said it wasn't as notorious as the 94-96 war and the 1999-present war..Anyhow check the article....
Memories of Chechnya
To the south of Russia, in the north of the Caucasus mountains, spread on rich fertile land is the home of two noble brotherly nations – the Chechens and the Ingush, who together call themselves the "Vainakh." How much is known about the life of these two small nations? Too often images of war and destruction are called to mind whenever we think about them. Chechens have this sad fame throughout the world.
The first historical reference to the Vainakh was in the 7th century. In the 11th century, the Georgian historical tome, the Krtlis Jhovreba, referred to the Vainakh as Dzurzuki. Between the 11th and the 13th century, Christianity arrived from neighboring Georgia and spread among the Vainakh, who used to be sun-worshippers. Many of our monuments and temples still portray those phases of our history.
Towards the end of the 18th century, the Chechens and Ingush became Muslims, mostly due to the efforts of the neighboring Dagestanis, who turned to Islam long before us.
This country, with its natural beauty, fertile lands, dense forests, and mineral wealth (mainly oil), was always a temptation for various empires, which usually need access to all forms of wealth and ways to divert their people's attention from their own problems. The wealth of Chechnya and Ingushetia has been sought after for centuries. The only real problem the colonizers faced was that the people were "too proud" and refused to accept gestures of "friendship" from greedy growing empires.
The Russians called us barbarians; in their opinion we did not know how to live, and so should be directed and controlled. The so-called barbarians witnessed their own destruction at the hands of those who professed to guide them to what is better. Our historic identity was shattered. Many of our best people were murdered, as their existence stood as a silent threat to a mind-set that could tolerate no contradiction or individuality. As a nation, we were humiliated and constantly threatened, forced to live a miserable life. Any resistance was crushed without deference for heart or soul. Peace could only be attained through submission, but submission was never an option for the Vainakh. When the Russian version of "peace through submission" was wrung from the nation, it was always followed by chaos. Since the days of the Russian Tsars, the Russian Empire has refused to leave the northern Caucasus in peace.
Sheikh Mansur, one of our most famous historical leaders, fought the Russian Empire for more than twenty years. Abrek Zelimkhan, whose name inspired fear in Russian soldiers, struggled for many years until he was betrayed and killed. Many other heroes refused to submit to colonization.
In 1917, Tsar Nikolai was dethroned and later killed with his family by the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks started the bloody era of Communism, their own religion, which they forced onto everyone in their power.
Even during the time of the Russian Tsars and constant conflict with Russia, there were many Islamic schools in both Chechnya and Ingushetia, where the children would study the Arabic language and Islamic fields of knowledge. Islam flourished, and a lot of Islamic scholars appeared. People started to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. However, the Communists did their very best to put an end to Islam throughout the entire northern Caucasus. The best scholars were either killed or sent to Siberia. Schools were forcibly closed. It was totally forbidden to practice Islam. But many people, mostly in the villages, continued to secretly learn the Qur'an, despite the threat of horrific consequences if they were caught.
With the coming of blood-thirsty Stalin, the suffering of the Vainakh increased. However, the Russians themselves had started to live in terror as well. Stalin initiated a campaign of mass-killings and deportations to concentration camps. People could be put in prison for no reason at all. It was the bloodiest period in Russia. People lived in terror and under great pressures. It is difficult to count just how many of his own people Stalin killed or sent to concentration camps in Siberia. However, it is known that the number of victims was more than the number of Russians killed by Nazi Germany in World War II.
In 1934, Stalin ordered that the Chechen and Ingush republics be united into one republic: Checheno-Ingushetia, with Grozny as the capital. The previous capital of the Ingush people, Vladikavkaz, was give to the Ossetians, a predominantly Christian North Caucasian nation, who were Stalin's favorites at that time. As a result, the Ingush lost their lands and much of their identity. But still, the worst was yet to come.
February 23, 1944 was the most terrible day in the history of the Vainakh. Stalin labeled the Vainakh as traitors, and accused them of collaborating with the Nazis, ordering the nations to be collectively punished. The two nations were forcibly loaded onto trains and simply sent to Kazakhstan. In one day, both nations were sent into forced exile. One million Russian soldiers participated in this operation. Many people who were incapable of undergoing the arduous journey, the old, the sick, and children, were gathered in far off mountainous areas and burned alive.
How could such a thing happen?
Until today, if you look at the passport of any Chechen-Ingush person roughly over 45 years of age, you will find Kazakhstan written as the place of birth. One whole generation was born in Kazakhstan. They lived separately from the other nations Stalin had exiled, in special isolated camps. The penalty for leaving the camp for any reason without permission was twenty years hard labor in a Siberian gulag.
Many people died in the trains on their way to Kazakhstan. Their bodies were just thrown out of the trains. They had been labeled traitors even though 32,000 of their sons fought in rows with the Soviet Army defending Russia from the fascists.
In 1944, those Vainakh soldiers returned home from fighting against the Nazi invasion of Russia and were shocked to see other people settled in their homes. In fear, helplessness, and dismay, they left to Kazakhstan to search for their loved ones.
In 1955, the Chechen-Ingush Diaspora living in the US presented a plea to the United Nations, requesting that their people be allowed to return to the Caucasus. In 1957, the government of the USSR issued a law allowing our people to return to their motherland. It was then that the Chechen-Ingush republic slowly started to develop. Many of our people became Communists; religion was forbidden and not practiced by many.
I still vividly remember one day in my school in Grozny. Our teacher was telling us how much we owe our Communist Party, which had made us happy. She then asked me to tell my class that God does not exist and explain why—exactly as the Party had taught us. Standing and looking at the faces of all my classmates, I decided not to tell a lie, because although I was not from a religious family at all, I knew that Allah was always near to me. I could not understand why I believed in Allah, but just the idea of His existence brought such a warm, sweet feeling to my heart that I could not lie. So I said that I believed in Allah and that Allah exists.
I was very small at that time, but I still remember how my parents were called to the school; how they tried to explain my behavior to the teachers, how I was humiliated in front of my classmates. I was told never to talk about it again.
War with Russia
In November 1994, the first war in Grozny somehow opened our eyes, and we started to ask ourselves what it means to be Muslim; what is Islam, and what should we do?
Grozny, by then the capital of Chechnya only, was the most beautiful city in the Northern Caucasus. It had a university, several institutions, and factories. It was agriculturally and industrially developed. The people enjoyed a comfortable life. But it was an empty life without Islam. We Muslims had abandoned our religion, partly due to the regime of that time, and partly due to our own weakness. In the wars of 1994 and 1999, we lost our sons and our homes. Grozny became an ugly city, full of ruins.
Visiting Grozny in 1997, just before the second war, I could not recognize any place in the city where I was born and had spent most of my life. I asked people for directions. When I saw all the destruction that had befallen us, I could not help crying. The Grozny that I had known before the war was just a memory.
We lost everything, but we became more aware of our religion. I never saw so many people in my country interested in Islam. The mosques were filled with worshippers. Filled with sadness, the people started to realize that they were Muslims. There are, of course, many people who do not practice their religion, but the Islamic awakening is there. You can feel it in the air.
**Umm Malika is a Chechen medical practitioner and social activist, and can be contacted at email@example.com