Photo: Imam Shamil (Avar: Шейх Шамил; Turkish: Şeyh Şamil; Russian: Имам Шамиль; Arabic: الشيخ شامل) (26 June 1797 – 4 February 1871) was an Avar political/ religious leader of the Muslim tribes of the Northern Caucasus. He was a leader of anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War and was the third Imam of the Caucasian Imamate (1834–1859). He was Shaykh of the Naqshbandi tariqah. At the Battle of Gimry, a Russian officer described an incident involving the Imam: "It was dark: by the light of the burning thatch we saw a man standing in the doorway of the house, which stood on raised ground, rather above us. This man, who was very tall and powerfully built, stood quite still, as if giving us time to take aim. Then, suddenly, with the spring of a wild beast, he leapt clean over the heads of the very line of soldiers about to fire on him, and landing behind them, whirling his sword in his left hand, he cut down three of them, but was bayoneted by the fourth, the steel plunging deep into his chest. His face still extraordinary in its immobility, he seized the bayonet, pulled it out of his own flesh, cut down the man and, with another superhuman leap, cleared the wall and vanished into the darkness. We were left absolutely dumbfounded."
Masters of Truth and Sincerity have said, "Bodily strength depends on food and drink, whereas spiritual strength depends on going hungry and thirsty. In God's domain, hunger is a divine food."
It has been related that one of the qualities of the Almighty is this, 'wa Huwa yutAAimu wa la yutAAamu', "He feed others but is not Himself fed." (Quran 6:14) If a servant becomes distinguished in this practice, then according to the consensus of the wise, he progresses on the carpet of proximity to God. He becomes far removed from the human conditioning. When somebody fasts in accordance with the order, "Make your actions like those of God," then he too, is able to feed others. In this manner, he will approximate the qualities of the Beloved. He will dissociate himself from human qualities and become honored and greatly enriched in Him, just as the Lord of the world has said, "The man who fasts experience a two fold joy: the breaking of the fast and seeing God."
(Makhdum al-Mulk Shaykh Sharafuddin Maneri)
'The Sabres of Paradise: Conquest and Vengeance in the Caucasus'
By Lesley Blanch (Author)
PHILIP MARSDEN: Like Tolstoy’s, Lesley Blanch’s sense of history is ultimately convincing not because of any sweeping theses, but because of its particularities, the quirks of individuals and their personal narratives, their deluded ambitions, their vanities and passions.
THE GUARDIAN: Crammed with truly fabulous stories of fighting and love and violent death . . . this profound and exhilarating book turns the struggle of the people of the Caucasus to remain independent of Russia into a universal saga . . . it is no wonder Shamyl had such a powerful influence on Tolstoy and Pushkin. Biography of supreme Muslim chieftain and military leader, Imam Shamyl, the ‘Lion of Daghestan’ fighting in the eastern Caucasus from 1834-59, by the late author and distinguished traveller, Lesley Blanch, MBE. It took six years to complete, with research done in Russia and the Caucasus, including tracing his descendants in Turkey and Egypt. Also a historical narrative, there are beautiful descriptions of the Caucasus — a region of supreme natural beauty and mighty mountain ranges — and the campaigns in which Lermontov and Tolstoy participated. During the Caucasian Wars of Independence, the warring mountain tribes of Daghestan and Chechnya united under the charismatic leadership of Imam Shamyl — strengthened only by the desire for an independent Caucasus and their religious faith. For years Shamyl defied his enemy, the Tsar, who had taken his eldest son as a hostage to St Petersburg. Shamyl captured in turn two Georgian princesses (from the Tzarina’s entourage), a French governess, and the children, and kept them in his harem until they could be exchanged for his son. Lesley Blanch’s epic account of the heroic and bloody struggles, and her vivid portrayal of the strange and magnetic rebel Imam who became a legend, is particularly relevant in light of the continuing conflict in Chechnya. The great leader and his fiercely proud warriors haunt the Russian psyche to this day.