|Imam Shamil was a political and religious leader of the Muslims of the Caucasus. He led the anti-Russian war 1817-1859 and was 3rd Imam of Daghestan and Chechnya.
He fought with a small group of Mujahideen against the mighty Russian army. He is a hero of Islam.
He was born in 1797 in Ghimri, Daghestan (next to Chechnya). He studied subjects like Arabic and logic, joined a Sufi order and went for Hajj in 1828. The Muslims of the Caucasus went to war with Russia as the Russians took control from the Ottomans. Some resistance leaders were Sheikh Mansur, and Ghazi Mullah. Shamil was a friend of Mullah, and became his disciple.
At the battle of Ghimri, Mullah was killed and Shamil took over. He was known as al-Imam al-Azam or leader of all Caucasus. He won many victories using guerrilla tactics, and resistance only ended when the Russians deployed half a million troops and reduced Shamil’s forces to hundreds. Treachery played a part in Shamil losing. In 1859 he and his family were captured.
Shamil was sent to Moscow to meet the Tsar then exiled to Kaluga. In 1869 he was given permission to go to Makkah, and travelled through Istanbul. He died in Madinah in 1871, and is buried in Jannatul Baqi graveyard.
Shamil is revered in the Caucasus as a role-model for those fighting the current war against Russia.