Sheikh Mansur

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Not to be confused with Sheikh Mansour
Sheikh Mansur (Usharma)
Sheikh Mansur 140-190 for collage.jpg
Born 1732 (1732)
Aldi, Chechnya
Died April, 1794 (1794-04-24) (aged 61)
Shlisselburg, Russian Empire

Al-Imam al-Mansur al-Mutawakil 'ala Allah,[1]:56 also known as Sheikh al-Mansur ("The-Victorious"), born Ushurma (1732–1794) was a Chechen Islamic religious and military leader who led the resistance against Catherine the Great's imperialist expansion into the Caucasus during the late 18th century. He remains a legendary national hero of the Chechen people.

Biography[edit]

Mansur was born in the aul of Aldi, near the Sunja River. He was educated in Dagestan under the Naqshbandi school of Sufism.[1]:56

In 1784, Sheikh Mansur, now an imam and back in Chechnya, became upset with the Russian encroachment in the North Caucasus. He ordered Chechen people to stop practicing many of their old pagan traditions with the cult of the dead, to stop smoking tobacco, to replace the customary laws (adat) with Islamic law (sharia) and to attempt Islamic unity. This was not easy in a land where people had lived under ancient traditions, customs and religions. Islamic tradition in Chechnya, especially in the mountains, was not as strong as it was in Dagestan. But the holy war that he declared was an attempt at unity among the teip clans.

As Mansur's message became popular with the Chechens, the Russian Empire attempted to discredit him and ultimately arrest him. In 1785, the Russians sent a punitive expedition of up to 5,000 soldiers[1]:57 to his house in Aldi-aul, only to find the village deserted. When the Russian troops plundered and burned the village, Mansur proclaimed a holy war (gazavat) against the Russians. Soon, Chechen fighters won the Battle of the Sunja, killing and capturing hundreds of Russian soldiers.[1]:57[2] After that, Sheikh Mansur rallied resistance fighters from Dagestan through Kabarda. Most of the forces were Dagestani and Chechen, numbering more than 12,000 by December 1785. However, Mansur suffered a defeat when he tried to enter Russian territory and failed to take over the fort of Kizlyar.

After this, the Russian people refortified their settlements and the Russian Empress Catherine the Great withdrew her forces from Georgia to the Terek River line. In 1786, Russian forces abandoned the new fort of Vladikavkaz, and would not occupy it again until 1803. From 1787-1791, during the Russian-Turkish War, Sheikh Mansur moved to the northwestern Caucasus region of Adygea, strengthening the Islamic traditions there. He led the Adyghe and Nogai peoples in assaults against the Russians, but they were defeated many times.

In June 1791, Sheikh Mansur was captured at the Turkish fortress of Anapa on the Black Sea. He was brought to Saint Petersburg and imprisoned for life. In April 1794, he died at the Shlisselburg fortress.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Robert W. Schaefer (2010). The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad. ABC-CLIO. 
  2. ^ Baddeley, John Frederick (1999). The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus. Curzon Press. p. 49.