The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Hadji Murad). Born in the late 1790’s in Khun-zakh, now in the Dagestan ASSR; died Mar. 23 (Apr. 4), 1852, near Nukha, now Sheki, Azerbaijan SSR. A leading chieftain of the Dagestan and Chechen mountain peoples in their liberation movement against both tsarist colonialists and local feudal lords—a movement that fought under the banner of Muridism.

Haji-Murat was raised in a family of Avar khans. In 1834 he joined his brother Osman in a plot against the imam Gamzat-Bek (Hamzat-Bey). After the latter’s assassination, Haji-Murat was joint ruler of the Avar khanate with the Russian authorities’ protégé Akhmedkhan Mekhtulinskii. Accused of being secretly connected with Shamil, Haji-Murat was arrested in 1836, but escaped and established his base in the aul (village) of Tsel’mes (Dagestan). From that time on, he was one of Shamil’s closest associates.

In 1843, when Avaria was made part of Shamil’s imamate, Haji-Murat became naib (vicegerent) of the Avar tribes. He broke with Shamil, however, as a result of disagreements over the conduct of the war and questions of internal rule in the imamate, because of his own ambition, and because of his fear of persecution by Shamil for his own military failures—particularly his unsuccessful march into Tabasaran’ Principality in 1851. On Nov. 23 (Dec. 5), 1851, Haji-Murat fled into Chechnia and went over to the Russian side. The Russians planned to win the mountaineers over to their own side by exploiting Haji-Murat’s popularity; but in April 1852, Haji-Murat fled from the Russians into the mountains and was killed in an exchange of fire.

Various legends about Haji-Murat have been preserved in Caucasian folklore. L. N. Tolstoy’s novella Hadji-Murad tells about the last phase of his life and about his death.


Zisserman, A. A. “Khadzhi-Murat.” Russkaia starina, March 1881.
Khadzhi-Murat Gulla and Khadzhi-Murat Kazanbii. Khadzhi-Murat: Memuary. Makhachkala, 1927. (Translated from Avar.)
D’iakov, V. I. “Istoricheskie realii Khadzhi-Murata.” Voprosy istorii, 1973, no. 5.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.