Metropolitan Feofan: ‘The weapon of peace and harmony is made in Tatarstan’

Examples of ethical attitude to running a business were found in the past and present of Tatarstan

Metropolitan Feofan: ‘The weapon of peace and harmony is made in Tatarstan’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Three representatives of Tatarstan at once gave a speech during a discussion about the cooperation of authorities, businesses and religion at Ethical Business Leaders Forum on 21 February organised by the International Association of Islamic Business in Moscow. Taliya Minullina and Hazrat Kamil Samigullin showed examples of such entrepreneurship in the past and present of Tatarstan, while Metropolitan Feofan claimed that an unethical business was banditry. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Taliya Minullina on Renascence fund: “It will be something significant and important for future generations”

The Cooperation of Authorities, Businesses and Spirituality — this was the theme of the Ethical Business Leaders Forum that organisers, representatives of the International Association of Islamic Business (IAIB) defined. Head of the IAIB Marat Kabayev named Islamic business as one of the models of such a business but stressed that the association was open for cooperation — both with other religions and representatives of regions of Russia and other countries.

Three representatives of Tatarstan at once — head of the Investment Development Agency Taliya Minullina, Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan and Mufti of Tatarstan Hazrat Kamil Samigullin delivered speeches at the plenary session. They, in fact, became experts in the cooperation of businesses with authorities and spirituality. For instance, Minullina found an example of such cooperation in Tatarstan’s current agenda. The Republican Historical and Cultural Sites Revival Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan, which has been operating for 10 years already, became such an example.

Minullina told the participants in the forum that the fund was created by first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev and worked with the support of current President Rustam Minnikhanov. The biggest enterprises of the republic are the benefactors of this fund: TAIF Group of Companies, Tatneft and many others.

“Sites from the UNESCO List were restored with this fund’s money — the ancient city of Bolgar, the island city of Sviyazhsk and many other projects. It is history whose significance we probably don’t fully realise, but it will be something significant and important for future generations,” Minullina said.

Minullina told the participants in the forum that the fund was created by first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev and worked with the support of current President Rustam Minnikhanov. Photo: tida.tatarstan.ru

“We have never had such a heavenly attitude to religions”

Kamil Samigullin told them a story from the republic’s recent past: businesses and the spirituality were intertwined, while entrepreneurs asked moral questions.

“There was a community of businessmen before the revolution, they competed in good deeds: who opened more mosques, madrasahs, sent imams to study. And once the owner of a soap factory in Kazan invited a sheikh. He headed to welcome the sheikh in a carriage to bring him to Kazan, gather his mate businessmen and give a sermon there. And he asked in the carriage: “How many mosques, madrasahs I have opened, isn’t the people changing?” It was a rainy day, and they saw a little boy playing in the mud. The hazrat asked in reply: “Do you make soap? Did your both father and grandfather make soap? Why is it still dirty? He won’t get cleaner until he comes and buys soap. Madrasahs and mosques are clean sources, but a person won’t become cleaner until he goes there”.

Chief Rabbi of Russia Adolf Shayevich described the mechanics of trilateral relationships иуецуут authorities, businesses and religion putting an example of the Jewish community.

“Based on the experience of living in the Soviet Union, I can say we have never had such a heavenly attitude to religions. The Jewish community of Russia survived thanks to businesses’ help. Everything was dying, everything was in complete decline. If these people (Editor’s Note: businessmen) hadn’t helped us, I would not have done anything. The state changes policy on religious organisations in an absolutely contrary direction, today we, indeed, have partnership relations with it. The state does its best today.”

Kamil Samigullin told them a story from the republic’s recent past: businesses and the spirituality were intertwined, while entrepreneurs asked moral questions. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

Metropolitan Feofan: “Our Shaimiyev is an amazing person”

The time limit at the plenary session was two minutes of speech per person, but Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan’s these two minutes turned out quite long. During this time, he managed to cover ethical (or, more precisely, unethical) businesses, terrorism, the coronavirus and amendments to the Constitution of Russia.

“Ethics and ethical business is our topic of the forum. There can’t be a different business. If it is different, it isn’t business any more, it is something close to banditry. It is quite a serious issue, joking apart,” Feofan claimed categorically.

As an example of serious consequences of running a business without looking at ethic, the Kazan metropolitan talked about those entrepreneurs who finance terrorist organisations. Then he smoothly switched to Tatarstan as an extremely good example of relationships between the authorities and religion. Moreover, he called the republic a “laboratory” in making a “peace and harmony” weapon:

“Russia is an example of cooperation between religious organisations and authorities. There is an amazing laboratory — everybody is pricking one’s ears when I am talking about the laboratory — this laboratory is located in Tatarstan. And the main weapon manufactured there is a weapon of peace and harmony between religions, nations, governments. It had been said about Renascence fund. Our Shaimiyev is an amazing person, he founded the greatness of Tatarstan nowadays, he managed to save peace and harmony in Tatarstan and largely in Russia.”

The regulation of speeches at the plenary session had two minutes of speech per person

After that, the metropolitan discussed the coronavirus (he is tasking everybody with standing together) and supported changes to the Constitution offered by Putin:

“It has been said that social issues should be raised and fixed in the main law of our country, the Constitution, for the first time. Ultimately, it has been said about the superiority of Russian state laws over international laws that contradict, I would say, harm Russia. We should praise the president, not because he is Putin but because who else has dared to say: ‘There won’t be a parent number one and parent number two until I am the president, there will be a mum and a dad’. It is fundamental values of human relationships given by God.”

Hazrat Talgat Tadzhuddin with original Biblical story

Head of the Russian Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Hazrat Talgat Radzhuddin drew an analogy with the violation of divine prohibition by Adam and Eve when he talked about ethical business. It is quite an original view on this story.

“They ate the fruit of knowledge, and their hands that were to do a job, move something forwards immediately hid their private parts. And there was no room for them in paradise. They used to enjoy heavenly fruits — this did happen, don’t grin. Then they tasted the forbidden fruit, and they immediately wanted to relieve themselves and hid in the bushes. And God asked: “Where is Adam? Is he with his wife? Has he violated anything?” And they immediately turn out on the ground to relieve themselves.”

Head of the Russian Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Hazrat Talgat Radzhuddin drew an analogy with the violation of divine prohibition by Adam and Eva when he talked about ethical business. Photo: Timur Rakhmatullin

Russian Fairs without Steven Seagal with Muslim quarter

Head of the council of the Federation of Mountain Jews Communities of Russia Akif Gilalov reminded them about this big project named Russian Fairs when speaking about businesses. The project aims to create 170 fair sites in Russian regions. Their total area is to be 12 million square metres.

The project appeared as early as 2016 and was mentioned in the federal mass media for two reasons. Firstly, Vladimir Putin publicly supported Russian Fairs, while once Anton Siluanov tasked ministries and regions with helping the project as the first vice premier. Secondly, famous actor, Russian citizens Steven Seagal was among the shareholders of the project for several months (with 20%).

“We will have a separate Muslim quarter where halal food will be sold,” Gilalov said. “Apart from halal food, there will be Orthodox good, kosher food, consumer goods, farmers’ produce.”

By Aleksandr Artemyev
Tatarstan