“We have many centres”: muftis dispute about the capital of Russian Islam

Ufa, Kazan, Derbent or Moscow. Muslim leaders disagree with the head of Bashkiria Radiy Khabirov

“We have many centres”: muftis dispute about the capital of Russian Islam
Photo: Roman Khasaev

Head of Bashkiria Radiy Khabirov called the city of Ufa “the official centre of Russian Islam” at the 5th meeting of the Russia — Islamic World Strategic Vision Group. Bashkir officials and religious figures have repeatedly said similar phrases. At the same time, Special Envoy of the Russian Federation to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ramazan Abdulatipov does not share the opinion of the head of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan also considers not Ufa the Russian centre of Islam but Kazan and Bolgar, Dagestan and Chechnya have their opinion. As the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya found out on the sidelines of the forum, Russian muftis also disagree with the position of Khabirov.

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  • Talgat Tadzhuddin

    Talgat Tadzhuddin Supreme Mufti, Chairman of the Central Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia

    We have many centres. As the Prophet Muhammad says, the whole Earth is God's temple, mosque, except toilets, baths and cemeteries. Therefore, the centre is everywhere — where there are believers, where a person recognizes God and lives justly. But the main centre where we turn during prayers is the Holy Mecca. And the first Qibla (the direction for prayer — editor’s note) had been Jerusalem.

  • Kamil Samigullin

    Kamil Samigullin Mufti of Tatarstan, Chairman of Muslim Spiritual Board of Tatarstan

    It is necessary to evaluate not by who says what but by deeds. Even if Bolgar and Derbent are historical centres, then there is greater activity in Kazan. It is clear that once the spiritual administration was in Ufa (Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual Assembly — editor’s note). But you should look at deeds, and the deeds will speak for themselves. You will see how Kazan is developing in this direction, and you will be able to give your own assessment.

  • Rushan Abbyasov

    Rushan Abbyasov Mufti of Moscow Oblast, First Deputy Chairman of Russian Council of Muftis

    This interesting question should be considered in several ways. If we take the historical aspect, the burials of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad are located in Derbent. We should understand that our Muslims lived in different territories — in Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Moscow. For example, in Kasimov, almost 300 km from Moscow, there is the Khan's Mosque of the 15th century. Islam is multiethnic in our country. And there are ethnic republics. In Tatarstan, there lives only half of the Tatars, it is about the same in Bashkiria. After we acquired religious freedom, each spiritual board began to develop in its own way. Moscow is the capital of our homeland — the political leadership of our country is also there, embassies and so on are located there. We managed to open a beautiful Moscow mosque not far from the Kremlin in 2015, which became a symbol of Islam. This is why it is hard to answer where the centre of Russian Islam actually is. Not to offend anybody, Caucasians, Bashkirs, Tatars, Muscovites, I will say this way: we are that unique country where Muslims live throughout its territory with representatives of other cultures. We don’t have religious conflicts.

  • Aynur Birgalin

    Aynur Birgalin Mufti of Bashkortostan, Chairman of Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Republic of Bashkortostan

    Ufa is the historical centre of Islam. Tatarstan is the research centre: it has two institutes, an academy. The neighbouring republic (Editor’s Note: Tatarstan), indeed, has a strong scientific theological approach. Yes, the centre of the Orenburg Muhammadan assembly was in Ufa. But how much time has passed since then? It is probably convenient to play the trump card with the two-century-old name only, but that’s not true in fact. To become a centre of Islam, a lot of effort, diligence are needed, it is necessary to pump big money, build universities, institutes, have an organised educational activity. But Ufa so far can be called the cultural and historical centre of Islam, not research and educational.

  • Ildar Alyautdinov

    Ildar Alyautdinov Mufti of Moscow, Chairman of Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Moscow

    As a Muscovite, mufti of Moscow, I can say that the centre of Russian Islam is in Moscow (laughing). The centre is where we are, where these is an activity, where actions are taken, events take place. And if every region claims to be the centre, it is a very good indicator. Everybody understands how great, huge Islam is. And everybody wants to be the first, this is great. Quran says: “Compete with each other in performing good deeds”. This is precisely some competition with each other in performing good deeds. The most important thing is that this competition be mutually reinforcing that helps achieve great goals, perform tasks we set to ourselves or we are given. There is a lot of events dedicated to the Islamic world anyway, quite many beautiful important words are pronounced there, a lot is explained. But at times this remains just as words, reports. While little is done in real life. We should understand what we urge people to, society must be ready for it. We could make it real together and see the results of projects even today. As for today’s projects, they have been discussed for decades, but we haven’t achieved any result in the end.

By Timur Rakhmatullin
Bashkortostan