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Zdorovtseva O. Question on the dominant religion in modern Abkhazia / annotation
Zdorovtseva Olga – extern student. Institute of philosophy and social-political science. Southern federal university. Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation.
This study aims to show that Christianity is neither traditional nor dominant religion of Abkhazia in spite of the current official position of the state power and religious identity of the population in this issue. Objectives: 1) to show on the basis of historical and statistical data that in Abkhazia at the beginning of the twentieth century the Orthodoxy prevailed nominally and not really because of the actual Islamization of the population; 2) to show that modern statistics in relation to Orthodoxy as formal as in the early twentieth century due to the fact that the Abkhazians follow the Abkhaz traditional religion. According to the Statistical Yearbook of Russia of 1913 the Orthodox Christians in Abkhazia were in the majority - 85,14 %, Muslims - 11,12 %. Archival data only thirty-two years ago suggests the opposite: in Sukhumi, the Bzyb and Anguish administrative districts the proportion of Mohammedans was 85,48% of the entire population, that exceeded the number of Orthodox more than 70%, and in the whole province persons of the Muslim faith were in dominate. The data of the Statistical Yearbook, probably, have been achieved in the short time due to the quantitative extension of the number of formally baptized residents, essentially remaining “in their opinion” religion. According to the 1897 census the majority of the population in Abkhazia were peasants - 848 persons per 1000 (for comparison students consisted of 64,1 people per 1000 people), the clergy - 23 281, 3 people in the whole province (+10 582,41 people engaged in worship and service in the liturgical buildings). A large part of the population of the province was the local peoples - Kartveli (Abkhazians, Mergels) - 82,1 % - the adherents of the Abkhaz traditional religion. The national and the social composition of the territory, the status of the literacy of the population show the formality of the statistical data of the Orthodox in the prerevolutionary period.
Key words: Abkhazia, Orthodoxy, Christianity, the traditional religion of Abkhazians, Abkhazian monotheism, the religiosity self-identification.