Mawlid in Bolgar: no high-profile guests but with new tafsir and Turkish headliner

Tatarstan has commemorated the birth of the Prophet for the seventh time

Mawlid in Bolgar: no high-profile guests but with new tafsir and Turkish headliner Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

The seventh republican celebration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad — Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif — took place in Tatarstan on 8 November. According to the tradition of recent years, the Bolgar Islamic Academy has become the centre of the celebration. More than 250 people have gathered there this time — Muslim theologians, imams, shakirds and academics of Islamic educational institutions of the republic, as well as religious figures from other regions of Russia. However, distinguished guests could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The republican Mawlid is becoming less large-scale, this conclusion has been made by the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, who is one of the few media representatives who attended the event in Bolgar.

“Everyone had their reasons”

The congratulations from the secular authorities of Tatarstan were limited to the speech of Deputy of the Tatarstan State Council Kamil Nugaev, who until recently has worked as the head of the Spassky district. In his speech, he sent regards from President Rustam Minnikhanov, State Counsellor Mintimer Shaimiev and Chairperson of the State Council Farid Mukhametshin.

The greeting on behalf of Supreme Mufti, Chairman of the Central Muslim Spiritual Board Talgat Tadzhuddin was read by his assistant.

On the question of Realnoe Vremya why the celebration is becoming more and more local from year to year, Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin answered that many invited distinguished guests who did not come to Bolgar had their reasons for this.

“Ravil Gaynutdin (Chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis — editor’s note) is visiting Mecca. Mintimer Shaimiev — abroad, Rustam Minnikhanov — on vacation. Talgat Tadzhiddin had his own reason,” Kamil khazrat explained. “We cannot move this day, it's tied to the lunar calendar. No sedition here, everyone who could — they have come. The mufti of Bashkiria is being with us here, Mufti of Moscow Albir Krganov is also here…”

Kamil Samigullin said that many invited distinguished guests who did not come to Bolgar had reasons for this

“I treat Mawlid positively, I just do not condemn those who do not celebrate it…”

Aynur Birgalin, the mufti of neighbouring Bashkortostan, Chairman of the Bashkorstostan Muslim Spiritual Board, was seen among the guests of Mawlid in Tatarstan. Taking the opportunity, the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya decided to find out the position of the guest from Ufa on the celebration of Mawlid.

“I've heard you didn't welcome the tradition of celebrating Mawlid. Is that true?” our correspondent asked Birgalin.

“What makes you think that?! I have no negative attitude to this event, I myself celebrated Mawlid,” Ainur khazrat hastened to refute the rumours. “I have a positive attitude to Mawlid, only with the proviso that I do not condemn those who do not celebrate it. In Bashkortostan, our Dagestan citizens will celebrate it, the mosques. And the Bashkortostan Muslim Spiritual Board, too, I think. Most importantly, we had the time to install the scene. Inshallah (if God wills — editor’s note) — we will have the time.”

Presenting a new tafsir

The presentation of the book Kelem Sherif was also timed to the Mawlid this year. Megnevi Terzheme — the new translation of the meanings of the Koran (tafsir), prepared by the Muslim Spiritual Board of Tatarstan.

According to Bulat Mubarakov, the translation of meanings is more valuable than the usual translation because it allows us to understand not only what is written in the Holy book of the Muslims but also the beauty of the language inherent in the original text

Bulat Mubarakov, the head of the Department for Sharia Issues of the Tatarstan Muslim Spiritual Board, told Realnoe Vremya about the significance of the new edition. According to him, the translation of meanings is more valuable than the usual translation because it allows us to understand not only what is written in the Holy book of the Muslims but also the incredible beauty of the language inherent in the original text.

“We took several tafsirs — Arabic and Tatar — as a basis, and this tafsir has appeared,” said Bulat khazrat. “We also call it the translation of meanings. It differs from literal translations of the Koran in that a literal translation cannot convey the beauty of the Arabic language. Neither can we, but at least we tried to express exactly what the Almighty wanted to say. As you know, there are such concepts as phraseological units, synonyms, homonyms. It is necessary to convey the written exactly as it was understood by scientists, people of knowledge, not as it seems to a certain person who just translates the Koran. Therefore, we took the opinion of the scientist, the opinion of the companions of the messenger of Allah, how they once understood a certain word, phrase or phraseology. For example, in the Koran, there is a verse, the direct translation of which sounds like ‘the Day the shin will be uncovered’. But the Arabs understood this phrase as ‘the day when it becomes unbearable’, that is, we are talking about the Day of Judgment, not about the shin. There are many similar examples. And this wonderfulness of the Koran we tried, as far as we could, to convey. So it is a translation of meanings, not a literal translation.”

Mehmet Bey, the headliner of Mawlid

Among the guests who visited Mawlid in Bolgar, it is impossible not to mention representatives of Turkey: Consul General of Turkey in Kazan Ismet Erikan (one of the few VIP-participants) and the famous Koran reader in the Islamic world, nasheed performer, Professor, ex-mufti of the city of Bursa, Mehmet Emin Ay, whom the organizers of Mawlid called “the headliner” of the event. However, deservedly so. Mehmet Bey read passages from the Koran and nasheeds with incredible insight and talent. Representatives of Tatarstan Ilyas Khalikov, Ilgiz Shaykhraziyev and Saf ensemble, whose creative performances interspersed with the speeches of the guests of the holiday, were not inferior to him.

Creative performances of Saf ensemble were interspersed with speeches of the guests of the festival

MP Kamil Nugaev drew the attention of the audience to how much in recent years Bolgar has changed.

“A lot has been done in Bolgar. The world's largest Koran is stored here, Ak-Mosque (White Mosque — editor’s note) has been built, the academy has been built. How could we have dreamed of such a thing before? Now Bolgar is known throughout the world,” the parliamentarian reminded.

A hospitable host of the evening — rector of the Bolgar Islamic Academy Daniyar Abdrakhmanov — shared a significant event, which marked the current year for the institution.

“The first meeting of the dissertation council was held, at which six people successfully defended the dissertations of doctors of Islamic Sciences. Four of them represent Tatarstan, Dagestan and Uzbekistan — one each,” said Abdrakhmanov. “Muslim science, especially medicine, astronomy, mathematics, has rich traditions. And we continue these initiatives, developing Islamic science here, within the walls of the academy.”

The celebrations on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad's birth will continue in mosques and madrassas of Tatarstan throughout the month of Rabi' al-awwal, which began on October 28. The celebration events are accompanied by stories about the life of the prophet and his companions, religious chants and readings of the Koran.

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By Vitaly Akhmerov. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov
BashkortostanTatarstan