The exhibition has two main goals. The first one is aimed to show the unique character and originality of the culture of the peoples of Russia, who profess Islam, and to demonstrate the fact of diversity of the Moslem world. The second aim is to reveal, founded on the artifacts, the syncretism of the norms of folk life, in which Islam plays the role of structural basis, interacting with local customs. The main principle of this exhibition is to represent the sets of male and female clothing, which could be the markers of ethic specifics of the peoples of these regions. These costumes can be used as the elements of the scene, recreating some daily life situation, as well as the independent exhibits. It is supposed to reflect at the exhibition some aspects of Islamic and Islamized cultures in their relation to regional specifics.
The exhibition is organized according to regional principle and consists of three thematic sections: “Volga region and Western Siberia”, “Central Asia and Kazakhstan”, “Caucasus and Crimea”
The first section is dedicated to Islamic traditions of the Turkic peoples of the Volga region and Siberian Tartars. Historically the Volga region up to the end of the 20th century had been the most northern region of spreading Islam in Eurasia. The history of Islam in the Volga region numbers about millennium. On the one side it is bound up with the activity of the Volga transport route, and, on the other hand, with the processes of ethnogenesis of Turkic peoples of the Volga region and Siberia. In the end of the 19th century the Volga region, especially its main cultural center the city of Kazan appeared at the role of the center of disseminating the doctrine of reformed Islam and of the hearth of Moslem indoctrination for Caucasus and Central Asia. Therefore in this section the exhibition represents ethnographic materials belonged to the Tartars and Bashkirs. They are supplemented by the artifacts, which characterize the culture of ethnic groups of Siberian Tartars. A special attention is given to family ceremonies and festivals which are represented by such scenes as “Reading the Koran”, and “Dispensing the alms among poor men at wedding”, “Name giving rite”, “Girls are learning the Koran in the mullah’s house”, “Walking round the houses with good wishes during Nauruz festival”. These scenes are made on the base of ethnographic objects of various Tartar ethnic groups (Kasimov Tartars, Misharies, Tobolsk, etc.). Here also one can see an interior of traditional Bashkir house which demonstrates the distribution of roles in family according to age and gender.
Central Asia and Kazakhstan (Mavaranakhr and Turkestan) are the regions with deeply routed Islamic tradition, penetrating all spheres of spiritual and material culture. Main cultural specific features of life of the peoples of Central Asian and Kazakhstan peoples are determined by their sedentary agricultural or nomadic way of life and, as a result, by specific forms of absorbing Islamic norms concerning a social and family life. The influence of Islamic code had decisive significance among sedentary, especially urban population, and in the 19th–20th centuries the region was a stronghold of the orthodox Islam. One of the regional cities Bukhara was among Islamic shrines, second only to Mecca In relation to Volga region and Caucasus, Central Asian region is a center of spreading Sufi ideology and practice, in the first place, of its trend nakhsbandia. Among Bashkirs Sufism manifested itself in the form of ishanism, and in the north-west of Caucasus (in Chechnya and Dagestan) as muridism.
Main attention in this section is paid to the Islamic norms, which are structure shaping principles in respect to regional particulars of daily life culture. Compositions are united in two groups “The blessed Bukhara” and “The world of Moslem nomads” The first group includes such complexes as “Islamic traditions in clothing and craftsmanship of towndwellers”, “Moslem education”, “Attributes of dervishes - wandering Islamic mystics” “Military culture of Central Asian society”, and complex “Craft as a prayer and service to Allah”, which consists of tools, crafted objects and their details, accompanied with quotations and prayers, corresponding to different stages of manufacturing. The second group embraces complexes, representing part of nomadic dwelling interior combined with folk costumes and other objects such as harness, weapons, carpets, etc. These complexes would be prepared on the base of Kirghiz and Turkmen ethnographic materials. A model of the shrine on the tomb of Moslem saint (mazar) is also reconstructed here. This section includes prayer rugs of different materials and design.
The final part of the exhibition is the section, dedicated to Islam in culture of the Caucasus and Crimean peoples. In Islamic mythology the Caucasus plays the role of a border of Islam spreading, and it is really a contact zone between Christians and Moslems. The process of Islamizing of this region included two stages. The earlier stage is associated with Arabic conquests in the 8th century, and the later one with the resistance to the Russian colonial expansion in the 18th-19th centuries. There are two main Moslem branches (Sunnism and Shiism) in the region: the Sunni in Northern Caucasus and Dagestan (of hanifit mazhab on the west and Shafiit in the East), and Shiite in Azerbaijan. Specific feature of the first trend is that it spread among highland population, where norms of customary law and community life were remarkably strong. Shiism in Azerbaijan is a clear manifestation of its close relations with neighbor Iran. In northwestern Caucasus Sufi orders such as Nakshbanlya, Kadiriya, and Shaziliya exist as zikrist societies. Alongside Caucasian materials there are ethnographic objects of Crimean Tartars on display at the exhibition. Sunni Islam in their daily life had more established forms than in Northern Caucasus, with whom the Crimea had strong ethnocultural ties.
Exhibition objects for this section are selected in such a way that they give a possibility to reflect such phenomenon as contamination of folk customs and Islamic norms of behavior. It is supposed to recreate the interior of guest room in mountain Dagestan house, the set of attributes used in festive ceremonies, that were carried out by the members of young men union in order that to show the theme «Rituals of the Union of men as a precondition of spreading of Sufi orders ideology”. It is also planned to represent the theme “Pilgrimage” as manifestation of the links between Western Caucasus population and Istanbul as well as a way of pilgrim’s acquisition of higher status in the society, by comparison with a person of elder age. Taking into consideration an important role of representatives of Adyg peoples in Mediterranean region, this section includes the sets of items “Symbolic elements of Circassian culture”. These artifacts which mainly include some samples of weapons, are supposed to reflect specific features of men’s culture.
The scenes “Woman and water” and “Woman and household utensils” are aimed to demonstrate the role of a woman in Islamized societies of highland Caucasus. The display of jewelry, carpets, felts and copper utensils, permeated with folk and Islamic symbols, is also possible in order to reflect the role of religious principles in the activity of folk craftsmen. One can also see at the exhibition two groups of objects which represent the themes: “Traditional clothing and household utensils in Azerbaijani-Shiite’s dwelling” and “Islamic components in the culture of Crimean Tartars”.
Number of exhibits can vary from 150 to 300.
Exhibition area is about 200 square meters.