In Reply To "Tolstoy's Muslim Hero"
The WALL STREET JOURNAL, published an article in the title of “Tolstoy's Muslim Hero”, “'Hadji Murad' Explores the Struggle Between East and West”, by William Amelia, dated, 8th of March, 2008; which indicates a quick glance and an over-look, that do not fulfill the importance and significance of the intended human aspirations and intentions that Leo Tolstoy had intended to convey.
The writer mentioned that the novella "Hadji Murad” by Leo Tolstoy was the great writer's final story. He also illustrated that Tolstoy had revealed that in a letter to his brother Sergei, writing that Murad "was the leading daredevil and 'brave' in all Circassia." The writer added: The “Hadji Murad” of the title was an important leader during the mid-19th century Chechen resistance against the incorporation of the region into the Russian empire.
The writer imposed: In "Hadji Murad", Tolstoy, more than a century ago, depicted with his art the struggle between a Europeanized Russia and Muslim Chechnya. It is an imagined, fictionalized account of the real struggle made as though we, the readers, were witnesses. Most important, this classic, timeless novella explores the battle of East versus West -- one that, in the light of continuing events in the region, is sharply pertinent today. As Ezra Pound said, "Literature is news that remains news".
Before replying to the way that the Tolstoy’s thoughts were interpreted and presented, it is appropriate to read what Leo Tolstoy had said: “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” He also said: “Violence produces something only resembling justice, but it distances people from the possibility of living justly, without violence”.
Analyses came as jumping to the conclusion, while unfortunately assuming ignorance of others, and trying to change the symbols of humanity that Tolstoy tried to incorporate in his novelties!
The religious image and/or comment or the struggle between cultures and religions that the article’s writer had tried to impose, did not even assume that fiction that could have been be the reason for imagination in the narrow sense, and short-sighting, with all due respect.
The writer mentioned Circassians, Chechens, and Caucasians without knowing that “Hadji Murad” himself is from Dagestan, who was involved in defending the North Caucasus Region against Tsarist Russian imperial aggression, occupation and greed, regardless of the religious factor, because normally the religion is not necessarily a factor to defend homeland against foreign aggression, beside the fact that there are many North Caucasians who believe in other faiths other than Islam; but Mr. William Amelia had summarized the whole issue as Islam against Russia (Russia being Christian) “Europeanized Russia and Muslim Chechnya”, but the article’s writer again neglected that, the Tsarist war against the North Caucasus had started since “Evan the Terrible”, when the Muscovites were residing in the current Moscow area, then they went on occupying and colonizing all the territories of their neighbors and even further beyond.
That imperial initiative had started more than 450 years ago, for the pure colonialism and control of the territories and regions, which was even before some of the nations and/or individuals of the North Caucasus had embraced Islam as such. It seems that the writer didn’t bother to find out whether some of the nations and/or individuals of the North Caucasus embrace Christianity and other faiths or not; but still they are occupied, and colonized by the Russian state, which gives pure indication of greed, imperialism and excessive desire for controlling the fate of others, no matter what the consequences are.
Tolstoy’s novel book was nothing of prejudice, discrimination, narrow-mindedness, fanaticism, chauvinism, ignorance, or adulteration.
It is worth mentioning that the Tsarist Russian aggressors had presented the head of “Hadji Murad” after killing him, to the Tsar and his government, which was kept in St. Petersburg until now, as a Tsar’s trophy, and still confiscated and withheld by the present Russian state in the St. Petersburg Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, also known as the Kunstkamera. It was refused to hand over the Tsar’s trophy because the Russians claimed that a special order was needed. After three years of hearings the court eventually decided that the skull is a Federal property and therefore cannot be handed over to a private individual. The court also found that Gajiyev’s kinsmen had failed to prove their relationship to the warlord, in order to be able to bury the head in a human dignified way!
It is nice to read the following pleasant and meaningful statements:
.. True religion is that relationship, in accordance with reason and knowledge, which man establishes with the infinite world around him, and which binds his life to that infinity and guides his actions... and leads to the practical rules of the law: do to others as you would have them do unto you. (Leo Tolstoy, Confessions)