Kazan Cathedral Mosque and Kazan Cathedral to become symbol of peaceful coexistence of two traditions

Kazan Cathedral Mosque and Kazan Cathedral to become symbol of peaceful coexistence of two traditions
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

After the solemn opening of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in Tatarstan, the necessity of the construction of a cathedral mosque in Kazan started to be discussed again. Talks about its necessity have been lasting for a long time, and its construction is a done deal, so to speak, since the topic has been repeatedly discussed in the republic’s administration. However, there aren’t any accurate deadlines and parameters for the future facility. In another article for our newspaper, Realnoe Vremya’s columnist Karim Gaynullin explains why it is now important to go back to the construction of the Kazan Cathedral Mosque.

Symbol of two traditions

The construction of Tatarstan’s biggest mosque that would accommodate believers on Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr holidays has been discussed for a long time. Now Muslims celebrate the two key Muslim holidays at stadiums and at other venues.

Mufti Hazrat Kamil Samigullin officially announced the construction of the mosque for the first time in the last years as early as 2018. A petition was created in the same year asking Rustam Minnikhanov to build the main Muslim cathedral of the republic.

The probability of construction of the big mosque increases because of the construction of the big Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral. The opening of such a church logically makes Muslims hope for the opening of a big mosque for them. A Muslim Telegram channel writes about this: “It is important to balance the restoration of the cathedral with a mirror-like event. It will likely be a cathedral mosque.” The Kazan Cathedral Mosque and Kazan Cathedral will be a symbol of the peaceful coexistence of the two traditions in the republic.

The opening of such a church logically makes Muslims hope for the opening of a big mosque for them. Photo: Vasily Ivanov

Public activists offer not to limit to a mosque but also build a library, kindergarten, museum at the mosque (probably a branch of Bulgarian Academy). The mufti hazrat confirmed this necessity in one of his interviews. It is assumed that on holidays the whole complex will be a mosque for festive prayers.

The approximation of the construction was linked with Russia Vice Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin’s statement who offered to lay a foundation stone in honour of the 1,100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria (Bulgarian Wilayah), the first Muslim political region in the Russian Federation besides the Caucasus that existed on the territory of the modern-day Ural and Volga area.

The vice premier himself was appointed as chairman of an organising committee preparing the celebration of this memorable date. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the order of celebration.

At a meeting of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate in April, Tatarstan Mufti Hazrat Kamil Samigullin also said that the construction was expected to begin in 2022. Even if the first stone was laid this year, they anyway would not have the time to finish the construction. The mosque is going to be built with philanthropists’ money.

Jama Masjid built in the Mughal period in Delhi, India, accommodates 25,000 people. Photo: gumlet.assettype.com

What a mosque is?

From a perspective of the Hanafi school the Tatars stick with, a mosque is first of all a place designed to worship Allah. A mosque will always be a mosque even without a building: a mosque is a place, not the walls and the building. For instance, toilets cannot be placed inside the building above the place that is considered a mosque and beneath. Therefore the Hanafis were very careful about choosing a suitable location for a mosque.

The worship of God at mosques exceeds the worship outside them many times. It is supposed that a five-time prayer at the mosque is a communal obligation (Fard al-Kifayah), and mosques shouldn’t be empty. This is why it is important to build them in places that need them.

Besides mosques, there are musallas, that’s to say, prayer rooms or temporary rented buildings. Rules followed at mosques don’t apply to them — worship there will be equal to worship at home, while in case of disregard the community won’t commit a sin.

Mosques differ according to their social importance. A simple masjid is used for everyday five-time prayers, al-Jami' is for a Friday prayer, and al-Jami' al-Kabir is a city’s main mosque. In our case, the latter is a case in point.

The Admiralty Settlement is situated far but it is planned to be rapidly developed: wikipedia.org

Mosque’s site

There were three probable sites in the mufti’s speech: the area near the Cup (Kazan Family Centre), Kyrlay Park (former Shurale) or the Admiralty Settlement. Some Muslim public figures also fear the construction of the mosque at Kyrlay Park will lead to the destruction of the park zone and leisure site for families. The construction next to Riviera is also complicated by environmental issues. There is a lack of parks in Kazan. I think it is necessary to consider the construction in these areas very carefully, environmentally friendly, listening to the locals’ needs. Constructors and ecologists should answer how to do this.

The Admiralty Settlement is situated far but it is planned to be rapidly developed. The mosque can be a point to start this development. Before the revolution, the settlement had a lot of mosques but they didn’t survive in the Soviet Union. A big shortage of worship houses in dormitory areas — in Azino or on the other side of the Kazanka River. Though many want to give the building a symbolic meaning, to build it in the historical centre, a mosque in these districts will highly likely have its own mosque-goers and be a big adornment among blocks of flats for citizens. These places don’t have an excess of cultural facilities.

Karim Gaynullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.