By Paul Goble
Five days after the sudden death of Mufti Abudrakhman Murtazanov from the coronavirus, his deputy Magomed Khastyrov has become acting mufti. The election of a new mufti will take place only after the pandemic passes and conditions permit, officials say (doshdu.com/ispolnjajushhim-objazannosti-muftija-ingushetii-stal-magomed-hashtyrov/).
Ismail Tsoroyev, the republic kady who oversees the shariat court system in Ingushetia, says that Islamic tradition establishes that a deputy takes over whenever a mufti dies unexpectedly. Normally, elections are held promptly, but the pandemic makes that impossible now.
Khastyrov, who was also deputy to Murtazanov’s predecessor, has not taken independent positions on key issues; but he has been prominent in denouncing the border deal between former republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and in appealing the Ingush court decision banning the muftiate (kavkazr.com/a/musulmane-i-evkurov/29636895.html and etokavkaz.ru/news/68390).
Somewhat ironically given his former chief’s death from the coronavirus, Khastyrov also took the lead at the muftiate in arranging for the closure of mosques and medressahs in the face of the epidemic (stav.aif.ru/society/church/v_ingushetii_zakryli_mecheti_i_medrese_iz-za_koronavirusa).