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the head and teacher of a Muslim community, usually belonging to one of the mystical sects (Dervish or Sufi); also, the head of the religious community in the Ishmaelite sect.
The word ishan means “they” in Persian; as early as the Middle Ages, it was used instead of a name when addressing the leaders and elders of the Sufi community. Exploiting the backwardness of the population, ishans played the role of sorcerers, medicine men, and soothsayers. In Soviet Middle Asia, communities headed by an ishan are few in number, isolated from one another, and anachronistic.
REFERENCESKlimovich, L. Islam v tsarskoi Rossii. Moscow, 1936. Pages 41–44, 121–25, 357–61, 380.
Klimovich, L. Islam, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965. Pages 147–54, 172–95.