This article examines post-Soviet Muslim revival among the Volga Tatars, historically Sunni (Hanafi) Muslims, in the central Russian Republic of Tatarstan. Drawing on ethnographic research among practicing Muslim Tatar women and discourse analysis of their piety stories, I argue that at the heart of the revival is the Tatars’ debate over the extent and nature of Islam that should be part of Tatar identity. In this debate, sources of Islamic knowledge and physical manifestations of Muslim piety function as the primary, if inaccurate, indicators of one’s Muslim identity. I conclude that practicing Muslim Tatars are aware of the role their religious education and physical practices play in others’ (often stereotypical) perceptions of them, and they deal with such perceptions by (re)negotiating their religious identities in personal narratives.
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