Kazan residents restoring oldest wooden mosque in the city using their own resources

Kazan residents restoring oldest wooden mosque in the city using their own resources
Photo: Aydar Sagirov

The restoration of the oldest wooden mosque in Kazan — Rajab — in Yagodnaya Sloboda, which began in the summer, has been suspended until spring. The building will not only be renovated, but also its historical appearance will be restored. The restoration will be complex — 60% of the wooden elements are to be replaced, the foundation is completely destroyed, in addition, it is necessary to collect more than 20 million rubles, since the work is implemented through donations. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Postponed until spring

The works on the restoration of the house of worship, built by the famous merchant, industrialist and philanthropist, Ivan Alafuzov, for his Muslim workers, began at the end of August this year. Since the building is an object of cultural heritage of regional significance, the state historical and cultural examination of the project documentation was carried out before that, and on August 28, 2021, the Tatarstan Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Object issued a permit for restoration.

The imam of the mosque, Bulat khazrat Safarov, told Realnoe Vremya that the minaret was removed from the building, the “herringbone” exterior panelling, which appeared already in Soviet times, was completely dismantled, as well as the inner walls — up to the log house. At the moment, the burnt parts of the logs are being cleaned. The workers had to manually sort out every brick and every plank, starting from the foundation and ending with the roof, and put them separately for examination.

This year it was planned to underpin the foundation, but due to the long preparation of documents, including the death of the former imam of the mosque, Minnavkhat Sagirov, and the need for their re-registration and waiting for examination, these works will have to be postponed until the onset of warm weather.

Since the building is an object of cultural heritage of regional significance, the state historical and cultural examination of the project documentation was carried out before that. Photo from the examination report

“We should save the log house, which is 111 years old. Our main task is to underpin the foundation. We wanted to do this before the onset of winter, but unfortunately, it did not work out. Now we are postponing these works until spring, since it is better not to do this during the frost, the foundation should stand for six months. The old brick foundation has completely collapsed, so we will pour a new one," explained Bulat khazrat.

The restoration will not be easy — in the middle of the last century the building burned. The examination found that about 60% of the wooden elements are unusable and must be replaced. Experts also noted distortions of parts of the building's load-bearing structures, indirectly indicating uneven setting, the wear of the rubble foundation, unsatisfactory condition of the roof, windows, doors, as well as communications.

Besides, experts recommended installing a wrought-iron fence with double-leaf gates along the perimeter, removing later outbuildings and landscaping the territory by taking out a room for ablutions with a toilet outside the building.

All together

As follows from the passport of the object, the customer of the restoration of the temple is the National Islamic Charitable Foundation Yardem, the general contractor is sole proprietor Safiullin, the project was developed and supervised by Stroy Mir Rekonstruktsia company, which was engaged in the restoration of one of the buildings of the Kazan Conservatory, as well as the buildings of the Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering. The works are scheduled to be completed by October 2022.

Experts estimated the cost of recreating the Rajab mosque at 32 million rubles. But this is in the prices of 2020. Since the cost of building materials soared two or even three times in the summer, then you can safely add at least 30% to this amount, according to the leadership of the temple.

Experts estimated the cost of recreating the Rajab mosque at 32 million rubles. Photo from the examination report

As the assistant to the imam of the mosque Rajab, Aydar Sagirov, said, the restoration of the ancient temple is carried out at the expense of donations. A third of the required amount is given by sponsors who ask not to be named. Parishioners collected another 1,5 million rubles. Fundraising has been announced among the Muslim Ummah of the entire Kirovsky district, and any amount of sadaqah is welcome in the mosque.

Found old editions

During the preparation of the temple for restoration, when the documents were sorted, old books and notebooks with records of previous imams were found.

“Most were published after 1910, but there are also of 1902, 1904. More than half are newspapers and magazines of that time, the rest are books, textbooks written in the Old Tatar language. There are also old editions of the Koran, but due to that they are badly burned, it is difficult to say what year they are, especially since the date of publication was not indicated in the Korans," explains Bulat khazrat.

Despite the fact that Rajab is now closed for restoration, services do not stop here. They moved into a construction trailer, which was also provided by sponsors.

“A lot of people come to us, especially for Friday namaz. The mosque is located next to office buildings, there are few residential buildings there, so people come during the day. There are not even enough places for Friday prayer. There hardy was space for 50-60 people in a room 6 by 6 metres. Although our conditions are good, it is very cozy," says Bulat khazrat.

View of the flax-spinning manufactory of the Alafuzov trading house. Late 1860s. Photo: A.A. Ronchevsky / chronograph.livejournal.com

From Zavodskaya — to Rajab

The history of the mosque dates back to 1897, when the administration of the commercial and industrial society organised a prayer hall for Tatar workers in the factory house of the Ivan Alafuzov flax spinning factory, which existed at that time, allocating 3 thousand rubles for this. At that time, about 30-40% of Tatars worked at Kazan enterprises in Yagodnaya Sloboda. Russian-Tatar classes at the factory school were also opened for them.

The official Muslim parish at the enterprises of Alafuzov was formed by the decree of the Kazan provincial government on October 2, 1910, at the same time, the building acquired an updated look. Peasant of the village of Staraya Kulatka of the Khvalynsky district of the Saratov Governorate (now it is Ulyanovsk Oblast) Khisamutdin Yafarov was elected as mullah, who studied at the Amirkhanov madrasah at the Iske Tash mosque in the Novo-Tatarskaya Sloboda. For his service, he received a salary of 300 rubles.

A year later, a school was opened at the mosque. Initially, the temple was called differently — the mosque of Yagodnaya Sloboda, Zavodskaya, Pyativremennaya (Bishvakytly mechet).

In 1930, the mosque was closed by the decree of the Tatar Central Executive Committee's Presidium. The building was turned into a hostel-boarding house of the housing and communal services. Then it got a brick basement. After a fire in the middle of the 20th century, the log house had to be reassembled.

After the conversion of believers, with the support of the leadership of the Kazan Flax Mill, on May 24, 1993, the building was transferred to the use of the community of the Kirovsky district Rajab. Then the mosque got its new name. In 2013, it was recognised as an object of cultural heritage of regional significance.

Eleonora Rylova
Tatarstan