Muslim Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism: The Characteristics of Islamic Entrepreneurship Development in the Russian Empire between the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Author: Gadilya G. Kornoukhova
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 17, Number 2 / September 2018


This article explores the ethnic and religious values of the Muslims in the Volga-Urals region of the Russian Empire between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The author employs Max Weber's ‘Protestant Ethic’ as the primary source to perform a comprehensive analysis of religious rationalism and to examine its important elements including the displacement of mystical features and growing role of mind, the literacy level, the knowledge of sacred texts and rational understanding of the Protestant doctrine.

The article reveals the development of Islam in Russia towards its rationalization under the influence of the Russian Muslim religious reformers' activities, which were aimed at spreading the rationalization ideas. However, the analysis shows that the rational-confessional foundations of economic management were not inherent for every representative of the Muslim confession but only for the upper class while the common population and small entrepreneurs preserved traditionalist values and institutional system.