ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN RUSSIA

      

General Information

Russian Federation

National name: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya

Land area: 6,592,812 sq mi (17,075,400 sq km); total area: 6,592,735 sq mi (17,075,200 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 141,377,752

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Moscow, 10,672,000 (metro. area), 10,101,500 (city proper)

Other large cities: St. Petersburg, 4,582,300; Novosibirsk, 1,395,500; Nizhny Novgorod, 1,340,900; Yekaterinburg, 1,256,600; Samara, 1,146,800; Kazan, 1,113,600; Ufa, 1,096,600; Chelyabinsk, 1,080,000; Perm, 998,800; Volgograd, 984,200

Monetary unit: Russian ruble (RUR)

Languages: Russian, many minority languages

Ethnicity/race: Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2002)

Religions: Russian Orthodox 15%–20%, other Christian 2%, Islam 10%–15% (2006 est.; includes practicing worshippers only)

Literacy rate: 100% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $2.088 trillion; per capita $14,700. Real growth rate: 8.1%. Inflation: 11.9%.

The Russian Federation is the largest of the 21 republics that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States. It occupies most of eastern Europe and north Asia, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south. It is bordered by Norway and Finland in the northwest; Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania in the west; Georgia and Azerbaijan in the southwest; and Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea along the southern border.

Tradition says the Viking Rurik came to Russia in 862 and founded the first Russian dynasty in Novgorod. The various tribes were united by the spread of Christianity in the 10th and 11th centuries; Vladimir “the Saint” was converted in 988. During the 11th century, the grand dukes of Kiev held such centralizing power as existed. In 1240, Kiev was destroyed by the Mongols, and the Russian territory was split into numerous smaller dukedoms. Early dukes of Moscow extended their dominion over other Russian cities through their office of tribute collector for the Mongols and because of Moscow's role as an administrative and trade center.

In the late 15th century, Duke Ivan III acquired Novgorod and Tver and threw off the Mongol yoke. Ivan IV—the Terrible (1533–1584), first Muscovite czar—is considered to have founded the Russian state. He crushed the power of rival princes and boyars (great landowners), but Russia remained largely medieval until the reign of Peter the Great (1689–1725), grandson of the first Romanov czar, Michael (1613–1645). Peter made extensive reforms aimed at westernization and, through his defeat of Charles XII of Sweden at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, he extended Russia's boundaries to the west. Catherine the Great (1762–1796) continued Peter's westernization program and also expanded Russian territory, acquiring the Crimea, Ukraine, and part of Poland. During the reign of Alexander I (1801–1825), Napoléon's attempt to subdue Russia was defeated (1812–1813), and new territory was gained, including Finland (1809) and Bessarabia (1812). Alexander originated the Holy Alliance, which for a time crushed Europe's rising liberal movement.

Alexander II (1855–1881) pushed Russia's borders to the Pacific and into central Asia. Serfdom was abolished in 1861, but heavy restrictions were imposed on the emancipated class. Revolutionary strikes, following Russia's defeat in the war with Japan, forced Nicholas II (1894–1917) to grant a representative national body (Duma), elected by narrowly limited suffrage. It met for the first time in 1906 but had little influence on Nicholas.

World War I demonstrated czarist corruption and inefficiency, and only patriotism held the poorly equipped army together for a time. Disorders broke out in Petrograd (renamed Leningrad and now St. Petersburg) in March 1917, and defection of the Petrograd garrison launched the revolution. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate on March 15, 1917, and he and his family were killed by revolutionaries on July 16, 1918. A provisional government under the successive prime ministerships of Prince Lvov and a moderate, Alexander Kerensky, lost ground to the radical, or Bolshevik, wing of the Socialist Democratic Labor Party. On Nov. 7, 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution, engineered by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, overthrew the Kerensky government, and authority was vested in a Council of People's Commissars, with Lenin as prime minister.

The humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918) concluded the war with Germany, but civil war and foreign intervention delayed Communist control of all Russia until 1920. A brief war with Poland in 1920 resulted in Russian defeat.

Emergence of the USSR

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established as a federation on Dec. 30, 1922. The death of Lenin on Jan. 21, 1924, precipitated an intraparty struggle between Joseph Stalin, general secretary of the party, and Trotsky, who favored swifter socialization at home and fomentation of revolution abroad. Trotsky was dismissed as commissar of war in 1925 and banished from the Soviet Union in 1929. He was murdered in Mexico City on Aug. 21, 1940, by a political agent. Stalin further consolidated his power by a series of purges in the late 1930s, liquidating prominent party leaders and military officers. Stalin assumed the prime ministership on May 6, 1941.

The term Stalinism has become defined as an inhumane, draconian socialism. Stalin sent millions of Soviets who did not conform to the Stalinist ideal to forced-labor camps, and he persecuted his country's vast number of ethnic groups—reserving particular vitriol for Jews and Ukrainians. Soviet historian Roy Medvedev estimated that about 20 million died from starvation, executions, forced collectivization, and life in the labor camps under Stalin's rule.

Soviet foreign policy, at first friendly toward Germany and antagonistic toward Britain and France and then, after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, becoming anti-Fascist and pro–League of Nations, took an abrupt turn on Aug. 24, 1939, with the signing of a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany. The next month, Moscow joined in the German attack on Poland, seizing territory later incorporated into the Ukrainian and Belorussian SSRs. The Russo-Finnish War (1939–1940) added territory to the Karelian SSR set up on March 31, 1940; the annexation of Bessarabia and Bukovina from Romania became part of the new Moldavian SSR on Aug. 2, 1940; and the annexation of the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in September 1940 created the 14th, 15th, and 16th Soviet republics. The Soviet-German collaboration ended abruptly with a lightning attack by Hitler on September 22, 1941, which seized 500,000 sq mi of Russian territory before Soviet defenses, aided by U.S. and British arms, could halt it. The Soviet resurgence at Stalingrad from Nov. 1942 to Feb. 1943 marked the turning point in a long battle, ending in the final offensive of Jan. 1945. Then, after denouncing a 1941 nonaggression pact with Japan in April 1945, when Allied forces were nearing victory in the Pacific, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. 8, 1945, and quickly occupied Manchuria, Karafuto, and the Kuril Islands.

After the war, the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France divided Berlin and Germany into four zones of occupation, which led to immediate antagonism between the Soviet and Western powers, culminating in the Berlin blockade in 1948. The USSR's tightening control over a cordon of Communist states, running from Poland in the north to Albania in the south, was dubbed the “iron curtain” by Churchill and would later lead to the Warsaw Pact. It marked the beginning of the cold war, the simmering hostility that pitted the world's two superpowers, the U.S. and the USSR—and their competing political ideologies—against each other for the next 45 years. Stalin died on March 6, 1953.

The new power emerging in the Kremlin was Nikita S. Khrushchev (1958–1964), first secretary of the party. Khrushchev formalized the eastern European system into a Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and a Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization as a counterweight to NATO. The Soviet Union exploded a hydrogen bomb in 1953, developed an intercontinental ballistic missile by 1957, sent the first satellite into space (Sputnik I) in 1957, and put Yuri Gagarin in the first orbital flight around Earth in 1961. Khrushchev's downfall stemmed from his decision to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and then, when challenged by the U.S., backing down and removing the weapons. He was also blamed for the ideological break with China after 1963. Khrushchev was forced into retirement on Oct. 15, 1964, and was replaced by Leonid I. Brezhnev as first secretary of the party and Aleksei N. Kosygin as premier.

U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Brezhnev signed the SALT II treaty in Vienna on September 18, 1979, setting ceilings on each nation's arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because of the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops on Dec. 27, 1979. On Nov. 10, 1982, Leonid Brezhnev died. Yuri V. Andropov, who had formerly headed the KGB, became his successor but died less than two years later, in Feb. 1984. Konstantin U. Chernenko, a 72-year-old party stalwart who had been close to Brezhnev, succeeded him. After 13 months in office, Chernenko died on March 10, 1985. Chosen to succeed him as Soviet leader was Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union in its long-awaited shift to a new generation of leadership. Unlike his immediate predecessors, Gorbachev did not also assume the title of president but wielded power from the post of party general secretary.

Gorbachev introduced sweeping political and economic reforms, bringing glasnost and perestroika, “openness” and “restructuring,” to the Soviet system. He established much warmer relations with the West, ended the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and announced that the Warsaw Pact countries were free to pursue their own political agendas. Gorbachev's revolutionary steps ushered in the end of the cold war, and in 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to ending the 45-year conflict between East and West.

The Soviet Union took much criticism in early 1986 over the April 24 meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant and its reluctance to give out any information on the accident.

Dissolution of the USSR

Gorbachev's promised reforms began to falter, and he soon had a formidable political opponent agitating for even more radical restructuring. Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian SSR, began challenging the authority of the federal government and resigned from the Communist Party along with other dissenters in 1990. On Aug. 29, 1991, an attempted coup d'état against Gorbachev was orchestrated by a group of hard-liners. Yeltsin's defiant actions during the coup—he barricaded himself in the Russian parliament and called for national strikes—resulted in Gorbachev's reinstatement. But from then on, power had effectively shifted from Gorbachev to Yeltsin and away from centralized power to greater power for the individual Soviet republics. In his last months as the head of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev dissolved the Communist Party and proposed the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which, when implemented, gave most of the Soviet Socialist Republics their independence, binding them together in a loose, primarily economic federation. Russia and ten other former Soviet republics joined the CIS on Dec. 21, 1991. Gorbachev resigned on Dec. 25, and Yeltsin, who had been the driving force behind the Soviet dissolution, became president of the newly established Russian Republic.

Islamic History and Muslims

Islam in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was a state comprised of fifteen communist republics which existed from 1922 till its dissolution into a series of separate nation states in 1991. Of these fifteen republics, six had a Muslim majority, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. There was also a large Muslim presence in the Volga-Ural region and most of the population of North Caucasus of Russian Federation were Muslims and a large number of Tatar Muslims lived in Siberia and other regions.

The Bolsheviks wanted to include as much as possible of the former Russian Empire within the Soviet Union. This meant they were faced with a number of contradictions as they set out to establish the Soviet Union in regions with strong Islamic influences. On the one hand there were strong Great Russian Chauvinist attitudes amongst some Bolsheviks. On the other hand, groups like the Muslim Socialist Committee of Kazan, with whom the Bolshevik leadership (particularly Lenin and Stalin) quickly allied, wished to return to native Muslims land taken by Russians over the previous two hundred years.

Since the early 1920s, the Soviet regime, fearful of a pan-Islamic movement, sought to divide Soviet Muslims into smaller, separate entities. This separation was accomplished by creating six separate Muslim republics and by fostering the development of a separate culture and language in each of them. Although actively encouraging atheism, Soviet authorities permitted limited religious activity in all the Muslim republics.

Mosques functioned in most large cities of the Central Asian republics and the Azerbaijan Republic; however, their number decreased from 25,000 in 1917 to 500 in the 1970s. In 1989, as part of the general relaxation of restrictions on religions, some additional Muslim religious associations were registered, and some of the mosques that had been closed by the government were returned to Muslim communities. The government also announced plans to permit training of limited numbers of Muslim religious leaders in courses of two- and five-year duration in Ufa and Baku, respectively.

Unlike the Russian Orthodox Christian church, the Muslims of the Soviet Union originally encountered a larger degree of religious freedom under the new Bolshevik rule. Vladimir Lenin oversaw the return of religious artifacts, such as the Uthman Quran, the foundations of court systems using principles of Islamic law which ran alongside the Communist legal system, Jadids and other "Islamic socialists" were given positions of power, an affirmative action system called "korenizatsiya" (nativisation) was implemented which helped the local Muslim populace, while Friday, the day of Muslim religious celebration, was declared the legal day of rest throughout Central Asia.  Under the Tsars, Muslims were brutally repressed and the Eastern Orthodox Church was the official religion. On 24 November 1917 Lenin declared;

Muslims of Russia…all you whose mosques and prayer houses have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled upon by the tsars and oppressors of Russia: your beliefs and practices, your national and cultural institutions are forever free and inviolate. Know that your rights, like those of all the peoples of Russia, are under the mighty protection of the revolution.

However, when Joseph Stalin consolidated power in the second half of 1920s, his religion policy changed. Mosques were closed or turned into warehouses throughout Central Asia. Religious leaders were persecuted, religious schools were closed down and Waqf's were outlawed. The Soviet government took the Paranji veil that the women wore (as part of the Islamic Hijab interpretation of Modesty) as evidence that the Muslim women were oppressed, and began the Hujum to try and forcefully remove it. This backfired, and the veil became more popular than ever among the workers, whereas prior to this was mostly used by the middle, wealthier classes. Stalin's Cult of personality, left virtually no place for any religious sentiment.

Stalin also forcibly moved Chechens and several other small nationalities residing primarily in southwestern Russia (Crimean Tatars, Balkars, Karachais, Meshketian Turks, and others), who happen to be Muslim, from their homelands during World War II, lest they rise up against him in favour of Nazi Germany.

During the Second World War, Stalin partially backed away from his open hostility against religion and established four Muftiates to garner support from Muslims of the Soviet Union: The Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (in Tashkent), the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of the European Soviet Union and Siberia (in Orenburg), the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of the Northern Caucasus and Dagestan (in Ufa) and the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Transcaucasia (in Baku).
 

Islam in Russia

Islam is currently the second most widely professed religion in the Russian Federation. According to the most recent estimates by the R&F Agency, there are more than 20 million officially self-identified Muslims in Russia, a number that has risen by 40% in the last 15 years, though no more than 6 million are truly orthodox. Roman Silantyev, a Russian Islamologist has estimated that there are only between 7 and 9 million people who practise Islam in Russia, and that the rest are only Muslims by ethnicity.[2] Muslim communities are concentrated among minority nationalities residing between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea: Adyghe, Balkars, Chechens, Circassians, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani peoples. Also, in the middle of the Volga Basin reside populations of Tatars and Bashkirs, the majority of whom are Muslims.

The first Muslims within current Russian territory were the Dagestani people (region of Derbent) after the Arab conquests in the 8th century. The first Muslim state in Russia was Volga Bulgaria (922). The Tatars inherited the religion from that state. Later the most of European and Caucasian Turkic peoples also became followers of Islam. Islam in Russia has had a long presence, extending at least as far back as the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in 1552, which brought the Tatars and Bashkirs on the Middle Volga into Russia. The lower Volga Muslim Astrakhan Khanate was conquered by the Russian empire in 1556. The Siberia Khanate was conquered by the Russian empire in 16th century by defeating the Siberian Tatars which opened Siberia for Russian conquest. The Crimean Khanate was conquered in 1739 by the Russian Empire. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Russian conquests in the North Caucasus brought the Muslim peoples of this region—Dagestanis, Chechens, Ingush, and others—into the Russian state. The conquest of the Circassians and the Ubykhs turned this peoples to muhajirs. Further afield, the independent states of Central Asia and Azerbaijan were brought into the Russian state as part of the same imperialist push that incorporated the North Caucasus. Most Muslims living in Russia were the indigenous people of lands long ago seized by the expanding Russian empire.

Just after the incorporation of the Tatar khanates, the Christianization of the Muslims took place until the reign of Catherine the Great.

The first printed Qur'an was published in Kazan, Russia in 1801.

Another event in the Islam history of Russia was Wäisi movement, which began in the turn of the 20th century. The Ittifaq al-Muslimin party represented the Muslim minority in the State Duma.

Under Communist rule, Islam was oppressed and suppressed, as was any other religion. Many mosques—much like their Christian counterparts, the churches—were closed at that time. For example, the Marcani mosque was the only one acting mosque in Kazan at that time.


Islam today

There was much evidence of official conciliation toward Islam in Russia in the 1990s. The number of Muslims allowed to make pilgrimages to Mecca increased sharply after the embargo of the Soviet era ended in 1990. In 1995 the newly established Union of Muslims of Russia, led by Imam Khatyb Mukaddas of Tatarstan, began organizing a movement aimed at improving inter-ethnic understanding and ending Russians' lingering misconception of Islam. The Union of Muslims of Russia is the direct successor to the pre-World War I Union of Muslims, which had its own faction in the Russian Duma. The post-Communist union has formed a political party, the Nur All-Russia Muslim Public Movement, which acts in close coordination with Muslim imams to defend the political, economic, and cultural rights of Muslims and other minorities. The Islamic Cultural Center of Russia, which includes a madrassa (religious school), opened in Moscow in 1991. In the 1990s, the number of Islamic publications has increased. Among them are two magazines in Russian, "Эхо Кавказа" (transliteration: Ekho Kavkaza) and "Исламский вестник" (Islamsky Vestnik), and the Russian-language newspaper "Исламские новости" (Islamskiye Novosti), which is published in Makhachkala, Dagestan.

Kazan has a large Muslim population (probably the second after Moscow urban group of the Muslims and the biggest indigenous group in Russia) and is home to the Russian Islam University at Tatarstan. Education is in Russian and Tatar.

Copies of the Qur'an are readily available, and many mosques are being built in regions with large Muslim populations.

The majority of Muslims in Russia adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 2% are Shi'a Muslims. In a few areas, notably Chechnya, there is a tradition of Sunni Sufism. The Azeris have also historically and still currently been nominally followers of Shi'a Islam, as their republic split off from the Soviet Union, significant number of Azeris immigrated to Russia in search of work.

Many Muslim citizens, in particular Muslim clerics, often cite instances of arrest and harassment by authorities, as well as occasional confiscation of Islamic educational sources. The problems have been exacerbated by terrorist attacks linked with Islamic extremism and Chechen independence. Many ordinary Muslims in Russia fear that they have become the victims of a violent backlash.

The rise in the Russian Muslim population, terrorist attacks and the steep decline of the ethnic Russian population have given rise to a greater degree of Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Russia. Violent racist attacks by ethnic Russians, particularly Neo-Nazi skinheads, which used to be mainly conducted against Jews, are becoming increasingly frequent towards Muslims. As such, Muslims bear the brunt of the escalating racist violence in Russia. Racist attacks struck 539 people in 2006, a 17 percent rise over 2005, the Sova analytical center said in a report. Nearly half of the 56 people killed in the attacks were from the overwhelmingly North Caucasus and Central Asia.
General consensus amongst most observers is that Islam is currently the most rapidly growing religion within the borders of Russia. Renowned historian and Islamic critic Daniel Pipes in his blog makes note of the increasing scholarly view that Islam is growing more rapidly than Orthodox Christianity. However, he states that this is due to the higher birth rate among Muslims as compared to ethnic Russians, and not because of any mass conversions to Islam. Furthermore, Daniel Pipes highlights that Moscow now has a Muslim population second only to Istanbul amongst European nations. Paul Globe, who served the United States government as a specialist on the Soviet Union, has gone so far as to predict a Muslim majority in Russia by mid century.

The Orthodox Church of Russia is said to be concerned with the growing estimates that Islam is poised to become a rapidly growing minority and potentially a majority by the year 2050.
However, in a BBC interview, Russian demographer, Viktor Perevedentsev, dismisses the notion that Russia could become a majority Muslim nation, and says this is a spectre being deliberately whipped up by politicians with little understanding of demography. He acknowledges that there are very high birth-rates among these population groups, but insists they merely reflect an earlier stage of development and will ultimately fall. In 50 years' time, he says, Muslims will still be a small part of Russia's overall population.

While various Muslim sources claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Russia and that ethnic Russians are converting to Islam in large numbers, Roman Silantyev, the executive secretary of the Interreligious Council of Russia denounces this as a myth.
Silantyev states that in recent years more than two million people from various ethnic Muslim backgrounds including Tatar, Azeri, Ingush, Kazakh, etc have converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity in Russia, while the number of ethnic Russians who have been converted to Islam is between two thousand and five thousand. Silantyev stated most of the converts are Muslims by birth who were non-practicing, while Muslims who regularly attend mosque rarely convert. He said that the conversions happen not so much due to proselytization, but instead due to the influence of the dominant Russian culture, which is Orthodox Christian.
Silantyev also claimed that that as confirmed by many sources including Muslim sources, after every major terrorist incident conducted by Islamic extremists in Russia, thousands, or possibly even tens of thousands of Muslims convert to Christianity. For example, Silantyev noted that after the Beslan School Massacre in North Ossetia, the proportion of Muslims in North Ossetia decreased by 30%, while in Beslan itself, where Muslims had comprised between 30 to 40% of the population, their number has decreased at least by half.
According to an official estimate conducted by the Russian Interreligious Council, approximately 400 Russian Orthodox clergy belong to traditionally Muslim ethnic groups, 20 percent of Tatars are Christian, and 70 percent of interfaith marriages result in the Muslim spouse conversion to Christianity. At the same time, the expert accounts for the small number of ethnic Orthodox people who have adopted Islam since 1990, among other things, by the fact that ‘for some reason Russians seem to be more willing to join sects than Islam’.
In the years since the Beslan tragedy, North Ossetian security officials have sought to close down all independent Muslim organizations there. Towards this end, the Authorities in Beslan and across North Ossetia arrested numerous independent Muslim leaders, sometimes even planting evidence on them and sentencing them to confinement in prison camps. And fearing arrest, other Muslim leaders either stopped preaching in public or fled the republic.

Also, many members of historically Muslim nationalities are having themselves baptized, either as a result of their horror at what the Islamic terrorists did at the school or more likely, in order to avoid persecution from the state. According to the Russian newspaper "Nasha Versiya", "Many children who survived the terrorist act and the parents of those who did not have been baptized, despite the fact that earlier they considered themselves Muslims. And those residents of Beslan who died, including Muslims, have been buried according to Orthodox custom, and none of their relatives has complained."

Moreover, most observers believe that the majority of conversions to Christianity are insincere, and that some of those who convert quickly fall away from the faith.

Russian Muslims and the Hajj

A record 18,000 Russian Muslim pilgrims from all over the country attended the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2006.

Language controversies

For many centuries, the Tatars remained the only Muslim ethnic group in European Russia and Tatar language was the only used in mosques. However, in the late 20th century the situation changed rapidly. More and more Muslims have migrated from Central Asia and Caucasus to the major cities in Central Russia. However, it the mosques they visit, the majority of imams are ethnic Tatars, preferring to speak Tatar. So, the language conflict appears, as imams should shift to the Russian language. This problem is actual even in Tatarstan, where Tatars comprise an overwhelming majority.
 

Islam in the USSR

by A. Kalaam

The Republic of Uzbekistan

The Republic of Tajikistan

The Republic of Turkmenia

The Republic of Kirghizia

The Republic of Kazakhstan

The Republic of Azerbaijan

Caucasia (Kaukaz)

Georgia and Armenia

Cremia

Muslims in European Russia


There are about 80 million Muslims in what was Soviet Union. In spite of their number, the outside world seems to know little about them. Of the 16 states that comprised the Soviet Union, Muslims were in majority in eight of them when the Communists took over in 1917. The Muslim majority areas in what was the Soviet Union were: 1. Uzbekistan, 2. Tajikistan, 3. Azerbaijan, 4. Georgia and Armenia, 5. Kazakhstan, 6. Kirghizia, 7. Tatar and Bashkar, 8. Caucasia and 9. Cremia

.
Islam was introduced in Uzbekistan in the 8th century during the time of the Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan. For twelve hundred years, the entire area remained under Muslim rule. Uzbekistan has produced several renowned scholars of Hadith and Fiqh, besides leading Muslim philosophers, physicians and mathematicians. It was also in the early 8th century, the entire population of Tajikistan embraced Islam, even before the message of Islam reached Afghanistan. The message of Islam reached Azerbaijan in 14 AH (636 CE), and it became a part of the Islamic world in the year 113 AH during the period of Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin Abdul Malik.
Muslim merchants introduced Islam to the European Russia in the beginning of 10th century. There are about 10 million Muslims in the Tatar, Bashkar, Kazan, the Ural and in the Volga river valley.


The December 4, 1917 declaration jointly signed by Lenin and Stalin said: "To the Muslims in Russia, be they Tartars of Volga, the inhabitants of Cremia, the Kaukaz of Siberia or Turkistan, the Turks of Kaukaz, the Charks, the dwellers of Kaukaz mountains, to all those whose mosques and worship places and whose faith and traditions were trampled upon by the Tsars of Russia or the other tyrants; Be assured that your traditions and faith and your national and cultural institutions shall be free from this day and nobody will object to these in future. You are free to organize your national life without any interference and obstacles from outside." The Russians, however, knew that the only power which could pose a threat to their revolution were the Muslim states. Within a year they changed their tune and occupied the Muslim states.
Over 74 years of colonization and exploitation has devastated their lands, siphoned off their resources, and dilapidated their spirit of freedom. The demon of Socialism had swallowed around fifty thousand ulema and religious leaders by 1940 and, according to Russian estimates, the Communists closed down 14,000 mosques in Turkistan by 1941. In the Republic of Turkmenia, during 1954 alone, 700 anti-religion speeches were arranged. The Muslims were labeled as 'Balmeek' which implied fundamentalists and regionalists. Any Muslim could be killed after being declared a Balmeek.]


The Soviet Union is in a state of convulsion. It has lost at least six of its states. The question remains as to the future of the Muslims living in that unstable country. There are about 80 million Muslims in what was Soviet Union. In spite of their number, the outside world seems to know little about them. The former Communist Party and KGB had such terrible noose around them that most Muslims did little to even think about liberation. Over 74 years of colonization and exploitation has dilapidated their spirit of freedom, devastated their lands, and siphoned off their resources.
Of the 16 states that comprised the Soviet Union, Muslims were in majority in eight of them when the Communists took over in 1917. They posed themselves as sympathizers of Muslims. Even the December 4, 1917 declaration jointly signed by Lenin and Stalin said: "To the Muslims in Russia, be they Tartars of Volga, the inhabitants of Cremia, the Kaukaz of Siberia or Turkistan, the Turks of Kaukaz, the Charks, the dwellers of Kaukaz mountains, to all those whose mosques and worship places and whose faith and traditions were trampled upon by the Tsars of Russia or the other tyrants; Be assured that your traditions and faith and your national and cultural institutions shall be free from this day and nobody will object to these in future. You are free to organize your national life without any interference and obstacles from outside."
An earlier declaration of Nov. 15, 1917, jointly signed by Lenin and Stalin said: "Nations in Soviet Russia are entitled to decide about their future any time. They have the right to secede from the Union and pronounce complete freedom, and also have the right to forsake all national and religious bindings and discrimination." (Communist government Gazette of Nov. 3, 24,1917).
The Russians, however, knew that the only power which could pose a threat to their revolution were the Muslim states. Within a year they changed their tune and occupied the Muslim states. The Muslim majority areas in what was the Soviet Union were: 1. Uzbekistan, 2. Tajikistan, 3. Azerbaijan, 4. Georgia and Armenia, 5. Kazakhstan, 6. Kirghizia, 7. Tatar and Bashkar, 8. Caucasia and 9. Cremia.

The Republic of Uzbekistan  
Uzbekistan (173,600 sq. miles) has a population of 20 million of which 80 percent are Uzbek Muslims. Tashkent is the state capital while Samarkand is the second largest city. Bukhara, Farghana, Kashkadarya and Sorekhan, are some of its provinces. It has produced several renowned scholars of Hadith and Fiqh, besides leading Muslim philosophers, physicians, mathematicians and astrologers. [Cities of Muslim Scientists]. About 60 percent of Russia's cotton is produced in Uzbekistan. Bukhara is the center of quality carpets, while Khiva is known for sheep/goat breeding and wool.
Islam was introduced in Uzbekistan in the 8th century during the time of the Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan. The renowned Muslim mujahid Quataiba bin Muslim Bahli made this region part of the Muslim world in 706 after a jihad of nine years. Soon after Arabic was adopted as the official language. For twelve hundred years, the entire area remained under Muslim rule, and the Islamic states of Bukhara, Khewa, Oazaq and Khoqand were established in this area. The Russian Tsar annexed Uzbekistan in the 19th century.

In 1917 when the Tsar's rule came to an end, the Muslims set up their independent states in Samarkand, Khoqand and Bukhara. These states fought against the Communists for five years.
In April 1922, an all Turkistan Islamic Conference held in Samarkand unanimously declared Turkistan as an independent republic. The communists sent in the Red Army, under M. Feroze who started the mass killing of the Muslims. After the failure of this attempt, an anti-Islam propaganda campaign was started. The ulema became the foremost target of this campaign and efforts were made to win over unscrupulous people by bribery Religious institutions were closed and congregational prayers were prohibited. Any one found praying were fined heavily. The madrasas were closed and the ulema were handed out severe punishment. Different methods were devised for their liquidation. For instance, they were pushed into work camps from where there was no escape. At the start of this campaign there were nearly 7,000 madrasas in Turkistan of which hardly any can be found now. A breed of Socialist 'Ulema' was produced. There were organized attempts to steer the younger generation toward permissiveness and liquor was supplied in abundance in the Muslim areas.
In order to distance Muslims from the Qur'an and Hadith, Arabic script was first replaced by the Latin script which was subsequently switched over to Cryllic.
During the Second World War, when the Germans invaded Russia, the Communists softened their policy toward religion because they needed Muslims for their military. The Moscow National Museum collection includes Muslim banners inscribed with the Kalima. After the World War, the policy was reversed and a new period of hardships began for the Muslims.

The Republic of Tajikistan  
Tajikistan (area: 55250 sq. mi.) borders Afghanistan and some of its area is in Afghanistan as well. Out of a total population of five million, 98 percent are Muslims of Tajik and Uzbek origin. The Soviets renamed its historic capital Dushanbe to Stalinabad. Leninabad and Khoruj are major cities. Shaikh Yaqub Charkhi, a talented disciple of Shaikh Khwaja Bahauddin Naqhshband, is buried in Dushanbe and the entire area is under the strong influence of Muslim saints.

With the advent of Islam in this part of the world in the early 8th century, the entire population of Tajikistan embraced Islam, even before the message of Islam reached Afghanistan. The Russians occupied the republic in the 19th century.

The Tsars' rule ended in 1917 and Muslims assumed control of these areas. The Communists did not show any hostility towards the Muslims but as soon as they got entrenched in power, they invaded Tajikistan like other parts of Turkistan. By the time the republic was formally annexed into the Soviet Union, most mosques and ulema had been wiped out. The River Amu (Darya) cuts through the Tajek-speaking people living in Russia and Afghanistan. During the Afghan Jihad, the Tajek-speaking Russian soldiers came into contact with the Afghan Muslims which created a stir among them. When the Russians came to know of this development, they recalled the Tajek soldiers and replaced them with Europeans who did not even know the local language.



The Republic of Turkmenia  
Turkmenia (186,400 sq. mi.) has a Population of 3.5 million of which 90 percent are Muslims. Ishabad is the capital of the republic while Chiajo, Poltek and Maru whose present name is Mari, has been the center of Muslim civilization. Some of the world famous Muhadditheen (compilers of Hadith) also lived here. The Hamadani mosque in Mari is a historic monument which was named after Shaikh Yusuf Hamdani who took a leading part in defending Turkistan from outside invasions.
In the 18th century, Turkmenia became a part of the Muslim world and remained under Muslim rule till the 19th century when the Tsar's armies invaded it.
After the Communist revolution, an independent Turkistan came into being but the Red Army soon occupied it and made it a part of the Soviet Union. Later, it was declared as the Republic of Turkmenia and a Communist government was set up there. Its ulema were sent to labor camps and people were employed to preach atheism. During 1954 alone, 700 anti-religion speeches were arranged. The Muslims were labeled as 'Balmeek' which implied fundamentalists and regionalists. Any Muslim could be killed after being declared a Balmeek.



The Republic of Kirghizia 
This is the fourth republic set up by the Soviets in the former Turkistan. It has an area of 76,460 sq. miles and a population of over four million of which 92 percent are Muslims. Farmand is the republic's capital. Islam reached here in the 18th century and soon the majority of the population came into the fold of Islam, and Muslim governments were set up here. Ultimately, the Tsar's army ransacked the area in the 19th century.
After the fall of the Tsar, the Muslims were overrun by the Communists. According to the Christian writers, the demon of Socialism had swallowed around fifty thousand ulema and religious leaders by 1940 and, according to Russian estimates, the Communists closed down 14,000 mosques in Turkistan by 1941.



The Republic of Kazakhstan 
The republic of Kazakhstan, fifth republic carved out in Russian Turkistan, is spread over 1,048,310 sq. miles and has a population of 16.5 million. Seventy percent of them are Muslims.
Islam was introduced here in early eighth century. Today the Kazakh Turks are known for their religiosity. The Kazakh tribes also embraced Islam in the early 17th century. They were the last idol-worshipping people in Turkistan to come into the fold of Islam. But in the 19th century, a period of Islam's decline, the Tsar's armies started attacks on Kazakhstan.


The Kazakh Turks founded their independent republic in 1920 at the end of the Tsar's dominance but the Soviets annexed the republic by force in 1936. The Kazakh language which had been the official language of the republic till 1921, was later replaced by Russian and Kazakh national songs and Islamic songs were banned. A large number of ulema were exiled and mosques converted into clubs and schools. Some of the mosques were even converted into prostitution houses. The Muslims were barred from going to Hajj. A Russian General Tober writes in one of his books that 200 Turkistani Muslims applied for permission to perform Hajj, but only 17 applications were forwarded to Moscow for approval.



The Republic of Azerbaijan 
Azerbaijan (area 33,450 sq. mi.), situated west of the Caspian Sea and north of Iran, has a population of about 7 million of which 80 percent are Muslims: 77 percent are Turks and 10 percent Arabs and Iranians. To its west are Armenia, Turkey and Iraq. So, it is directly linked with the Muslim world through Iran and Turkey. This oil-rich republic is the main source of oil for the Soviet Union.
The message of Islam reached Azerbaijan in 14 A.H. when the Islamic army arrived under the command of Bakr bin Abdullah. However, it became a part of the Islamic world in the year 113 Hijra during the period of Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin Abdul Malik. By this time, thousands of Arab Muslims had settled down in Azerbaijan and spread Islamic teachings all around.
The first Russian invasion of Azerbaijan was in the 13th century which led to the Russia-Iran war for the control of this republic. At the end of the war, the Tsar's army captured the north Azerbaijan and perpetrated all kinds of atrocities on the Muslims of the area which forced a large scale exodus to Iran and Turkey.


After the Bolshevik revolution, Azerbaijan's Muslims proclaimed independence on May 28, 1918, and the Russia's Communist government too extended its recognition. The first Azerbaijan parliament included 84 Muslims, 2 Armenians and 11 Russians.
But after only two years, the Red Army invaded Azerbaijan from one side and the Armenian armies swarmed into Azerbaijan from opposite directions and finally it fell into the Soviets' hold on August 17, 1939. The Russian dream of capturing the Azerbaijan's oil reserves was realized. Soon after, mosques, religious schools and ulema were eliminated and the Russians were successful in thrusting an atheistic system with the support of some ulema, who became their stooges.



Caucasia (Kaukaz)  
The southern Kaukaz comprises Azerbaijan, while its northern area is traditionally a Muslim majority area comprising Daghastan and Charkas. The north Kaukaz (area: 166,177 sq. mi.) has a population of 10.25 million. Daghastan, which came under the Caliphate as early as 24 Hijri (AH), was among the first areas to be introduced to Islam. Later, the Shashanis and Ankosh tribes embraced Islam. The Charkas and Qarabadin tribes also came into the fold of Islam under the influence of the Turks. This land gave birth to several great warriors. The Russians launched a series of attacks on this land in the 16th century and captured the entire area in the 19th century.


The tribes living in the hills of Kaukaz declared open war against Russia under the command of Shaikh Mansoor. He was succeeded by Qazi Mullah, Hamza Bak, Mohammasud-Din and Imam Shamil. Imam Shamil continued the jihad for 30 years and won many battles against the Russians. At last, the Russians were able to capture him in 1859. His detention spread a wave of unrest all over Kaukaz and the next year, the Russian government was constrained to announce that the Kaukazis would be given full freedom.
After the 1917 Revolution, the Kaukaz Muslims also established an independent government called Turk Daghastan. Turkey and Germany recognized the state. Later the Communists also recognized it.


In 1921, a conference in the Kaukaz capital attended by Stalin himself, adopted a resolution that the Republic to be set up in the Kaukaz hills will be formed in accordance with the Islamic Shariah and the traditions of the Kaukaz people. Imam Shamil's photographs were installed in government offices. However, after only a few years, the Communists showed their true colors and under a phased program, the mosques, religious schools, ulema and the Muslim traders were gradually wiped out. In 1937, the remaining traces of Islam were wiped out in the name of "the 'peoples' movement." According to a Kaukaz author, about one million Muslims were martyred in Kaukaz.



Georgia and Armenia 
The Muslim majority in these republics was converted into a minority after the Communist revolution and the Christians got an upper hand in the area. The Islamic Movement has started here and in March this year, there has been a major revolt in Georgia in which 18 persons lost their lives. Clashes with the armed forces were also reported. This was the first large scale and organized revolt after Gorbachev's announcement of perestroika.



Cremia 
This fertile and lush green island is situated in the Black Sea towards the north of Turkey and has an area of 27,000 sq miles. In the 13th centuty, Cremian ruler Barkah Khan embraced Islam and urged the Abbaside Caliphs to send Muslim da'wah missions to his state. On his invitation, Ulema, Muslim traders, scholars of Fiqh and preachers reached Cremia from different Islamic countries and busied themselves in the work of dawah. In 1482, an independent, sovereign government was established in this area which was headed by Alhaj Manglee Karai. Sixty nine members of his dynasty became rulers of Cremia one after the other. Towards the end of their period, the Tsar's forces started skirmishes with the Cremian army. In 1475, Cremia came under the influence of the Ottoman empire. This state lasted for 300 years when in 1774, it was declared independent following negotiations between the Russian and Ottoman governments. But in 1783, the Russians captured the island after a large scale massacre of the Muslims.
After the Russian revolution, the Cremian Muslims proclaimed their independence and the Grand Mufti of Cremia was elected its president. Some countries recognized its independence. However, the Communists invaded Cremia in 1918 and set up their government there after two years. A Communist leader, Wali Ibrahim was appointed its Governor. In this process the Russians massacred thousands of Muslims.



Muslims in European Russia 
There are about 10.25 million Muslims in the Tatar, Bashkar, Kazan, the Ural and in the Volga river valley. The Muslims are in majority in Tatar and Bashkar but instead of establishing a separate republic, these areas were merged with the Soviet Union.
Muslim merchants introduced Islam to this area in the 10th century. In 921, Muslim ruler Ajmas Khan bin Silki sent his emissary to the Abbaside Caliph Muqtadir Billah requesting the teams of Ulema and Fiqh scholars for paving the way for the dissemination of the Islamic Shariah in this area He also invited Muslim engineers to set the direction of Qiblah (Kaaba) and for the construction of mosques. Several eminent ulema and reformers were born in these areas, including the renowned writer and historian Qazi Yaqub Nauman.


The Russians invaded these areas in 962, and Kazan became a part of the Russian empire in 1552, and Muslims here were subjected to untold hardships. At a later stage, hundreds of thousands of Muslims were forced to declare themselves Christian.
After the Communist Revolution, these areas became free and the Muslims started constructing new mosques. But in 1918 the Red Army invaded and occupied Kazan. Subsequently thousands of ulema took refuge in Manchuria and Japan. In 1919, a socialist republic of the Tatar and Bashkar nation were established. Thereafter, the Arabic script was discarded, mosques were converted into clubs and brothels. Those who tried to resist, were deprived of their land. In 1931, there was an uprising in Tatar and Bashkar which was ruthlessly crushed by the Red Army.


Over 70 years of Russian domination did not stifle the Muslim passion for independence. This passion was aroused anew in the 1990's with the failure of Communism.
The Soviets' humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan had ended their facade of invincibility and superiority and the people became bold enough to stand against the tanks. The Afghan war also provided an opportunity to Russian soldiers to smuggle in Islamic literature, including the Qur'an.


Several Afghan mujahideen groups even attacked Russian territory across River Amu which raised the morale of the local Muslims.
The Iranian revolution also inspired freedom movements in Azerbaijan. The late Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq was the first to raise the voice for the liberation of Russian Muslims. After the failed coup by so called hardliners of the Communist Party, new hopes and prospects are emerging for Muslims of the Soviet Union.
 

 

A. Kalaam

 The Message International, 1991

 Web version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.

Present situation of Soviet Muslims

THE PRESENT SITUATION OF THE SOVIET MUSLIMS:

THE EXAMPLE OF KAZAN TATARS

by

Dr. N. Devlet



Islam arrived in the Volga-Ural region a little over a thousand years ago. The Bulgars of Chan Almas had officially accepted Islam on 16 Muharram 310 (16 May 922). Approximately 70 years before the Russians adopted Christianity as their official religion, Islam had been recognized as the state religion by the then Turkic Bulgar state. The Tatars and Bashkirs, the Muslim people of the Volga-Ural region, were the first to fall under Russian domination 433 years ago [1552 C.E.] and were heavily suppressed by the Orthodox Russians. Mosques were destroyed or converted into Orthodox churches, and the Russian Orthodox church forcibly baptized Muslims. In the year 1756, eighty percent of all mosques in the province (gubirna) of Kazan were destroyed.
After Catherine II's reforms in 1780, the Muslims began reproducing mainly religious literature and distributing it among the population. During the first year of the Bolshevik revolution (1917), the Soviet government promised the Muslim workers freedom of religion and practice of their manners and customs without restrictions. However, after gaining power, the Soviet government broke all promises - religious leaders were persecuted, religious institutions were closed, religious education was not permitted. This was followed by anti-religious propaganda by the "Union of Militant Atheists." During World War II, the Soviet government revised its policy of persecution against religion and Islam. But after the war in 1953 Chrushvhov continued with administrative and psychological attacks under the motto "back to Lenin."
The Muslim population of the Soviet Union is between 45 and 50 million, making it the sixth largest in the world (1980 data). The majority of the Soviet Muslims are of Turkic ethnic origin. They live in the Volga-Ural region, Northern Caucasus, Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union. There are approximately 6.5 million Tartar and Bashkir Muslims in the Volga-Ural region. In 1982, only 17 mosques were operating in Tataristan and there is no madrasah in Kazan today.
Anti-Islamic, atheistic propaganda and measures taken by the state, which have lasted more than 70 years, have made the observance of Islam impossible and the number of practicing Muslims has decreased. In the Soviet Union, a religious person is not popular and has minimum chances for a promotion. And to propagate Islam is strictly forbidden while atheistic propaganda is an obligation for all. In one form or other, all public organizations and mass media promote the doctrine of atheism. The Soviet regime preserves the officials of religious capacity purely for propaganda purposes. Of the 28,000 mosques from the Russian Empire period only about 400 mosques remain today.]


The Muslim population of the Soviet Union is between 45 and 50 million, making it the sixth largest in the world after Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Turkey, far ahead of Egypt or Iran. In the USSR the term "Muslim" is generally used to describe a people who before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution belonged to the Muslim [Islam] religion and culture. It has, therefore, a national and cultural significance beyond the purely religious one [1].
The majority of the Soviet Muslims are of Turkic ethnic origin. They live in the Volga-Ural region, Northern Caucasus, Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union. Nowadays in this region there are approximately 6.5 million [Tartar and Bashkir] Muslims [RSFSR, 2].



Total War Against All Religions
The policies of the Soviet state toward Muslims are characterised by the same lack of uniformity and coherence which were once the mark of tsarist policies. To be sure, the main goal of the new regime has remained unchanged since 1917. The bolshevik leaders launched a "total war" against all religions as soon as they came to power but the policies which they employed to achieve this goal varied, reflecting at all times their tactical flexibility.
Consequently, after the fragile modus vivendi of the first decade of Bolshevik rule, the Muslims had to contend with a very aggressive anti-Islam campaign, a frontal attack on Islam which subsided only with the coming of the war. The modus vivendi of the post-war period has been shaped, among other factors, by the awareness of the Soviet leadership that the "Muslim face" of the Soviet Union could become an asset in its relations with the Islamic revival in the Middle East from "contaminating" its Muslim regions. The intensification of the anti-Islamic campaign in the press in the past four years, and the proliferation of scholarly studies of Islam which focus on Russian Islam reflect in particular some of the efforts of the Soviet leadership aimed at discrediting Islam and underlining its backward nature and antisocial character [3]. Initial measures taken under Chernenko suggest that the anti-Muslim campaign will be pursued with a vengeance.
There is nothing to indicate a fundamental change in the Soviet attitude, either in the near future or at some more distant time. Any such change would be tantamount to coming to terms with a rival ideology whose capacity to mobilize outstrips that of Communism; ultimately, it might lead to abandoning Marxism-Leninism.
In the eyes of the authorities, moreover, Islam as a religion is still what it was 50 years ago, not just an anachronistic legacy of a pre-socialist past, but also and above all a major obstacle to the advent of home sovieticus, the final stage of the biological and cultural symbiosis of Russians and Muslims [4].


Unfortunate as it is, we observe that the Soviet regime preserves the officials of religious capacity purely for propaganda purposes. For example the imam-hatyp of the Moscow mosque, Ahmedjan Mustafin, who had his religious education in a Kazan madrasah, said recently in an interview that there are a hundred mosques, and about a thousand mahalla and village masjids. And all are open for praying [5]. But we know that of the 28,000 mosques from the Russian Empire period today remains only about 400 mosques [6]. A further point, it is a fact that there is no madrasah in Kazan, therefore the above mentioned imam-hatyp could not have had his religious education in Kazan.



The Model Atheist Teacher
Although the Soviet constitution does not forbid being religious, a religious person is not popular and has minimum chances for a promotion. And to propagate Islam is strictly forbidden while atheistic propaganda is an obligation for all.
Atheistic propaganda in the Soviet Union is systematically conducted on a far reaching scale. It is an essential function, for example, of all educational institutions (from kindergarten to university).
Atheist propaganda already begins in the nursery school. Scientific atheism is an obligatory part of the curriculum of universities in the USSR. Training and retraining teachers in scientific atheism is one of the primary tasks of the atheist propaganda. No effort is spared in trying to create "the model atheist teacher." Seminars on teaching scientific atheism have been incorporated into the system of political training for teachers at secondary schools. For workers, the departments of propaganda and agitation of the Communist Parties in the different republics have developed a special system of atheist indoctrination. The primary Party and Komsomol organizations are obliged to oversee the effectiveness of atheist propaganda among workers. Large enterprises have special Soviets for the purpose of conducting atheist propaganda. Many factories also have atheist schools. As in urban enterprises, primary Party and social organizations in the countryside are obliged to conduct atheist propaganda on Sovkhozes and Kolkhozes, In one form or other, all public organizations and mass media promote the doctrine of atheism.


Professional agitators are not only obliged to wage antireligious propaganda at places of business and learning but are also responsible for going to people's homes to reeducate believers and awaken interest among those who are indifferent towards the religious elements among the population. The authorities try to augment the ranks of professional agitators by recruiting ordinary teachers, students, pupils, blue- and white-collar workers, and Kolkhozniks for such work. Some of these persons are charged with combating vestiges of religion while on the job; others are supposed to take up the cause of fighting religion in their free time. A generally accepted estimate of the number of persons engaged in such activities is six million [7].



Obstacle: Islam
As we see from these examples the Soviet state is trying very hard to annihilate this obstacle: Islam. But with little success. For example according to the April 1984 issue of "Nauka i Religiya" (Science and Religion), the antireligious effort against Islam in Daghestan is running into difficulties among both the young and the old. S. Muslimov, a specialist on antireligious questions, reports that many Daghestani students believe either that religion serves a positive function in society or that it at least is not harmful and need not be combated." [8]


Until quite recently, the Soviet Muslim republics were protected from outside contamination by the iron curtain. Today, under the impact of many different factors, including the Iranian revolution, the war in Afghanistan, Arab fundamentalism, this iron curtain has ceased to be impenetrable, the contacts between Soviet Muslims and their fellow Muslims abroad, which were broken off around 1920, are now becoming more frequent. For the Soviet authorities, the new situation is both positive and dangerous. The resumption of contacts may indeed help them in their penetration and psychological conquest of the Muslim world; but if they were to lose control of these same contacts, then the latter could serve as a "transmission belt" through which subversive ideas could find their way into Muslim republics and help destabilize them [9].
In our time of modern communications the Soviet rulers are challenged by foreign broadcasts, especially those in Turkic languages; namely by VOA (Voice of America) in Uzbek, Azeri, RI (Radio Liberty) in Tatar, Turkmen, Uzbek, Kirghiz, Kazakh, Azeri, Tajik and Saudi Arabia in Uighur, Radio Iran in Azeri and Persian. Therefore such broadcasts are heavily jammed. Besides, more recent Soviet reports tell of finding audio-cassettes with an Islamic message appearing throughout Soviet Central Asia in all kinds of institutions, including officers' clubs. Some contain speeches of Ayatullah Khomeini and other religious figures, recorded from Radio Iran and other religious speeches from Saudi Arabia [10]. But this positive development from the viewpoint of Islam doesn't imply that there is a new Islamic revival in the USSR.



The Tatars
Every group of Muslims in the Soviet Union has its own characteristics and differences and all need separate and special attention. But for a closer investigation of Soviet Muslims I choose a particular, may be a radical, example: The Tarters and Bashkirs, the Muslim people of the Volga-Ural region. They are an extreme example because they were the first to fall under Russian domination 433 years ago and hence are more suppressed. When we examine their case we observe that a bare majority of these Muslims still uphold their religious belief. Their case, may be, is not a common example for the other Muslim peoples of the Soviet Union, but in any case it provides us with an approximate idea of the actual state of Islam in the USSR.
When in 1552, with the decline of the Chanate [Khanate] of Kazan, the peoples of the Volga-Ural region, particularly the Turkic Tatars and Bashkirs, passed under the Russian yoke and were heavily suppressed by the Orthodox Russians, Islam alone enabled these Turks to keep their national identity. Islam had had a long tradition in the Volga-Ural region. Already approximately 70 years before the Russians adopted Christianity as their official religion, Islam had been recognized as the state religion by the then Turkic Bulgar state." Mufti Talgat Tajeddin, Chairman of the "Muslim Religious Board for the European Part of the USR and Serbia," confirms that the Bulgars of Chan Almas had officially accepted Islam on 16 Muharram 310 (16 May 922) [12].



Mosques Converted into Churches
In 1552 following the conquest of Chanate [Khanate] of Kazan (1473-1552) the mosques were destroyed or converted into Orthodox churches. The state supported the arbitrary dealings of the Russian Orthodox church which lasted for more than 200 years and, among other things, forced Muslims to be baptized. [similar to Muslims in Spain] In the year 1756 in the province (gubirna) of Kazan 418 out of the existing 536 mosques were destroyed [13]. Until 1759 Volga Tatars were not permitted to build mosques and madrasahs [14].


Catherine II started a more liberal policy towards her Muslim subjects. "The Religious Administration" was founded in Ufa on December 4, 1780 [15]. Its main duty was to examine and appoint the religious leaders requested by the Muslim congregation. This religious administration in a way functioned as a controlling organ of the state. The Russian Orthodox church, in the meantime, had done missionary work among the native, non-Russian population under the protection of the state. The results, however, did not live up to the expectations; particularly the Tatars rejected these conversion attempts. At the fifth census taken in 1794 103,050 male and 108, 290 female Tatars lived in Muslims. This was even acknowledged the province of Kazan, of these only 13,384 men and 13,922 women were baptized [16].
After Catherine II's reforms, printing in Arabic writing had become possible, the Muslims began reproducing mainly religious literature and distributing it among the population. In 1868 already 729 mosques existed in Kazan province and the number rose from year to year [17]. The spiritual work of the mullas had good results. In Nijni-Novgorod, in 1802 the first Tatar Christians openly apostatized from Christianity [18]. The Orthodox church was extremely alarmed at this act and missionaries like the famous Ilminskij (1822-1891) started diverse actions to keep christened Tatars in the church [19].
The Muslims were not discouraged by limited success; on the contrary, new ideas and initiatives were added. The "Jadid" (renovation) movement, inspired by Ismail Gaspirali (1851-1914), was met with great enthusiasm in the Volga-Ural region. The idea of this movement was to create unity among the Turkic peoples of Russia - unity in language, ideals and action - and reformation of religious schools was begun so that, in addition to religious subjects, worldly subjects were taught as well. Due to the "Jadidism" the Turks of the Volga-Ural region succeeded in using Islam also as a political power.


When the manifesto guaranteeing religious freedom became effective on November 17, 1905, the Turkic peoples were permitted to practise their religion and profess Islam, masses of those who had converted left the church. In the eparchy of Kazan alone 23,860 of the native population turned their backs on the church and converted to Islam [20]. At the same time, the first political endeavors were made. On April 8, 1905, the Muslim intellectuals of the various parts of the country gathered for the first time in Nijni-Novgorod [21]. According to official statements the religious administration in 1907 cared for 6 thousand mahalle in which 5 million Muslims were included [22].



Islam as a Political Movement
During the first year of the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet communists were forced to consider Islam not only as a religion but also as a politically potent movement representing millions of Muslims. This was even acknowledged in the newly adopted policy by Moscow and announced in the famous declaration of December 20, 1917, addressing the Muslim workers. The Soviet government then promised the Muslim workers freedom of religion and practice of their manners and customs without restrictions [23]. [The December 4, 1917 declaration jointly signed by Lenin and Stalin said: “To the Muslims in Russia, be they Tartars of Volga, the inhabitants of Cremia, the Kaukaz of Siberia or Turkistan, the Turks of Kaukaz, the Charks, the dwellers of Kaukaz mountains, to all those whose mosques and worship places and whose faith and traditions were trampled upon by the Tsars of Russia or the other tyrants; Be assured that your traditions and faith and your national and cultural institutions shall be free from this day and nobody will object to these in future. You are free to organize your national life without any interference and obstacles from outside.” The declaration of Nov. 15, 1917, jointly signed by Lenin and Stalin said: “Nations in Soviet Russia are entitled to decide about their future any time. They have the right to secede from the Union and pronounce complete freedom, and also have the right to forsake all national and religious bindings and discrimination.” (Communist government Gazette, November1917)]. After having come to power, the Soviet government, however, broke all these promises: religious leaders were persecuted, religious institutions were closed, religious education was not permitted and churches and mosques still "working" were highly taxed. As these administrative measures did not prove sufficient for the Soviet leaders, they started organizing anti-religious propaganda, in which the "Union of Militant Atheists" played an important role.


To boost the morale of the Soviet peoples during World War II, the Soviet government revised its policy of persecution against religion and Islam. The Soviet government managed to take advantage of this new political situation [24]. The mufti of Ufa, Abdurrahman Resuleve, one of the few survivors of the religious persecutions from 1932-1938, proposed normalization of relations between the Soviet government and Islam to Stalin in 1942. Stalin accepted Resuleve's proposal, a treaty was concluded as a result of which an end was put to antireligious propaganda, at least, for the most part. After 34 years Islam regained its "legal" status and Ufa became the seat of the Islamic administration [25]. But after the war in 1953 Chrushvhov continued with administrative and psychological attacks under the motto "back to Lenin." The number of "working" mosques in the entire Soviet Union was reduced to approximately 400 and that of "registered" religious leaders to 2,000 [26]. According to later information in the year 1982 there are 17 mosques in Tataristan [27].
In actuality, the religious administration in Ufa does not possess any religious authority. For instance, in Ufa only a calendar in Arabic, which can be read only by a generation older than 60 years, is being printed. This religious administration in Ufa, which is responsible for the European part of the USSR and Siberia, is not permitted to print further publications and educate religious leaders. In the Soviet Union children in general do not receive a religious education. Also the ulema are not allowed to do any work outside of the mosque, such as in the field of welfare, maintenance of hospitals and religious institutions or in lectures or publications [28].
One of the four religious administrations. "The Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia and Kazakhstan," has the privilege to educate religious leaders and to publish. The Uzbeks and their capital Tashkent are being used by the Soviet Union with the same aim in mind as were the Tatars by Tsarist Russia for their expansionist aims. Since 1965, the four Muslim religious administrations have been controlled more severely and directed more tightly by Moscow. By decree of the USSR Council of Ministers of December 8, 1965, the "Council for Religious Affairs" was created. Officially, this council has the duty to coordinate the relations with the Muslims outside the USSR. Further, this council and its representatives in the republics and administrative regions (kray, rayon) is responsible for the cooperation with the local councils [29].



Anti-Islamic Measures
Anti-Islamic, atheistic propaganda and measures taken by the state, which have lasted more than 70 years, have made the observance and expansion of Islam impossible and the number of believers, or more correctly, of practising Muslims has decreased. That does not necessarily mean, however, that Islam has entirely disappeared in Tataristan and Bashkiria. Since the measures applied so far did not bring the results hoped for, the Soviet leadership during the last years decided to carry out atheistic, and particularly anti-Islamic propaganda on an intellectual basis.
As a consequence, in Kazan alone more than 25 anti-Islamic works were published between 1960 and 1981 [30]. In this way, the authors of these works and various articles were given the opportunity, without being criticized, to insult and abuse Islam and the believers and to create insecurity among the latter. Garif Gobej, a Tatar atheist, writes in the third edition of his book "The Mysteries of the Qur'an," among other things: "There are 225 contradictions in the Quran, 225 contradictions in the book of Allah, who created the world out of nothing! Now look at unbelieving Lenin. He could not even create a fly. In his work consisting of 55 volumes there is not one single contradiction. This even the religious leaders of today cannot deny [31]. Arguments of this kind are easily made since it is known that the contrary in written or oral form cannot be maintained under a totalitarian regime. The Soviet Muslims have no opportunity either to repel these arguments or to let their interpretation of these reproaches be known.
Religious rituals as, for instance, circumcision, deeply rooted in the people as a national custom, is declared unhealthy and unhygienic [32]. Fasting is questioned. In 1961, Mufti Shakirjan Chayaleddin was forced to publish a fatwa in which he declared that those working, including the Kolhoz workers, did not have to fast. His fatwa, however, did not meet the approval of the mullas and was not further circulated [33].
When in 1917, the city of Kazan counted only 206 thousand inhabitants, of whom only 22% were Muslim, the city could boast of 13 mosques [34]. Today Kazan has a million inhabitants; half of them are Tatars, This number of Tatars - certainly a great part of them are Muslim - has only one mosque at their disposal. According to Imam Zeki Safiullin more than two thousand believers attend the Friday prayers in the Merjani Mosque, which was constructed more than 200 years ago [35]. Only six young men from Kazan are permitted to study in Bukhara and yearly soley two Muslims from the Volga-Ural region are allowed to make pilgrimage to Makka [Hajj] [36].



Three Categories of Muslims
Scarce sociological research results and statistics show that the atheistic policy of almost 70 years has brought positive results for the Soviet leadership and negative ones for the Muslims. In Tataristan the percentage of those who consider themselves believers is, according to official figures, not very high. A sociological study performed by the Atheistic Institute in Penza Oblast shows that among the Russians 28.4% are believers, among the Tatars, who are believing Muslims, the percentage is 31.5%; in Gorkov Oblast the percentage of believing Muslims is 61 among the Tatar women and 40 among the men [37]. Belief in Islam is stronger among the rural population and older people than the urban population. 73.9% of the retirees in the Bashkir ASSR questioned stated that they observed the Islamic tradition [38]. In 1965, in various Tatar villages, 40-50% of the parents named their children according to Muslim tradition and had their sons circumcised, 55-60% had a mulla perform the marriage ceremony and 90% had their dead buried according to religious ritual [39].
The believing Muslims of the Volga-Ural region can be divided into three categories. The first one consists of strictly believing Muslims; they attempt to observe closely Islamic commandments and bans; their number, however, is small. The second category includes mostly elderly people who had had a religious education and for this reason carry on Islamic tradition; their number is also not high. The third category - in it a multitude of intellectuals can be found - is by far the biggest. They are not particularly religious, most of them attend mosques only on high religious holidays, yet they deem it correct to preserve Islamic manners and customs as part of their national and cultural heritage [40].


Islam as a National Identity
As a summary and conclusion, the following is to be said about Islam among the Soviet Muslims: Islam was and has remained a part of the national identity. If today the national, non-religious consciousness is even stronger, this fact is nevertheless due to Islam. The Volga-Ural Muslims have succeeded in keeping their religion through a period of missionary work and reprisals by the state lasting longer than 200 years. Religious freedom subsequently declared by the state gave them the opportunity to expand their religious institutions extensively.
The following Soviet rule having lasted almost 70 years again made it extremely difficult for the Soviet Muslims to practise their religion; the Soviets even succeeded in reducing the number of believing Muslims considerably, but they could not exterminate the influence of Islam as an important part of their national identity. Were the Soviet Muslims given the opportunity to practise their religion without pressure from the state, as in 1905, certainly the number of Muslim believers would rise in the USSR.

 

by

Dr. N. Devlet

Muslim Reader, 1986

Web version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.

 

Islam in Russia
by Abdur Rauf

What is the present position of Islam in contemporary Russia and China? In order to provide a perspective answer to this vital question this article presents a summary of an up to date history of Islam in these two famed states of the world.
 

History of Islam in Russia

The long history of Islam in Russia is grand and glorious as well as doleful and dreadful. Many stringent steps were taken against Islam and the Muslims during and after the Russian Revolution. Those tough and tight measures, however, failed to wipe out the Muslims and their rich cultural heritage. On the contrary, the present position rather confirms the fact beyond doubt that like all other Muslim regions of the world the Russian Muslim areas are also in the grips of a rising wave of awakening. Despite strict Russian censure of the media the entire world has known by now how vigorously the people of the Muslim majority areas of Russia have asserted their separate political identity and revitalized their distinctive cultural heritage. The more recent upsurges in all the Muslim states of Russia are simply eye-opening for everyone. All awakening movements among the Russian Muslims have always been distinctly Islamic in letter and spirit.
 

Islam and Muslims in Russia

Islam entered on the Russian scene in the seventh century A.D. (first century A.H.). Even during the Rightly Guided Caliphate at Madinah, the Muslim armies had started making penetrations into Russian soil. In 642, Azerbaijan came under Muslim control. The Muslims also occupied the extreme border town of Darbund in 658. After the conquest of eastern Caucasia (Qafqaz) Islam began to spread in these areas without any resistance. The Muslim armies crossed river Oxus in 673. Bukhara fell to the Muslims in 674.

The series of such conquests went on up to the tenth century when Islam became the most popular religion in the entire central Asia. With the passage of time these very areas began to be considered as the main centres of Islamic civilization and culture. Thereafter Islam’s popularity went on increasing in the whole of Russia. Such developments inspired and encouraged missionary activities of the Sufi saints of central Asia Qafqaz.

Unfortunately, however, Russia had a tight grip over the Muslim territories from the middle of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. But despite her oppressive operations there was never any decline in the spread and popularity of Islam in Russia. The pace of Islam’s dissemination maintained a high momentum in eastern Russia. The Russian Muslims of these areas maintained their brotherly links with the rest of the Muslims world for quite a long span of time. Central Asia and Qafqaz played a vital role in promoting the Islamic civilization and its culture for full one thousand years. These areas enjoyed the same honours in the rise and glory of Islam as have gone to the lot of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and the indo-Pak subcontinent. Taimur’s capital was Samarqand. From the literary point of view, Persian became popular in Bukhara for the first time. Khawarizam was the ancestral city of the renowned Muslim physician-cum-philosopher, Avicenna.
 

Movements for Autonomy

After the Russain Revolution of 1917, the Russian Muslims faced a highly hazardous situation. The leaders of the communist revolution were determined to impose such on authoritarian system over the entire Russia as was totally hostile to the religion and traditions, civilization and culture, politics and polity of the Muslims. Around 1924, a tight iron curtain was imposed on the Muslim areas. Consequently, the Russian Muslims got dissociated from the rest of the Muslims world.

Immediately after the start of the regular official moves against Christianity in Russia, a series of organized onslaughts started against the Muslims in 1928. In Spain, the inimical efforts to eliminate Islam and the Muslims after their downfall had yielded great success. But it was quite different in Russia. All Soviet attempts at uprooting Islam and the Muslims failed flatly. The period of the Russian Iron Curtain from 1928 to 1968 was the most painful tragedy of the Russian Muslim history. During that perilous period attempts to lure Muslims away from Islam and their forcible conversion to communism became a recurring routine with those in power.

Tyranny and oppressive measures gave birth to a wave of new awakening among the Muslims. Movements for independence and self-determination erupted all over the Muslim areas. Among these freedom movements, the guerilla organization called the "Basmachi Movement" is quite well-known. Unfortunately, however, the Russian Muslims got entangled into the wilderness of mutual differences and dissensions, rifts and conflicts. They were then unable to defend themselves as a united block. Consequently, all Muslim areas were forcibly annexed to the Russian territory one after the other.

Ever since Russian occupation of the Muslim territories the Soviet Union had utilized all possible devices to put an end to the distinct spiritual, moral, cultural and political identity of the Muslims. All sorts of traps of atheism, baits of modernization and lures of lewd recreations had been tried in quick succession. These dirty devices, however, failed in toto to dissociate the Muslims from the main stream of their religion and traditions and to get them merged into the blind ocean of communism.

It now appears that no power on earth can diminish or destroy the Russian Muslims’ inherent commitment to their religion and civilization. An illustrative example is the recent upsurge in Azerbaijan which erupted in 1989. It was backed by the most popular political organization of the Soviet Azris, the "Jamiat-i-Watan" (Patriotic Front). Even the most savage ‘Tank Diplomacy’ of the tumbling Russian empire failed rather miserably to quell this historic uprising. In Uzbekistan, a new underground organization, "Islamic Party" had been formed. It called for a federation of all Islamic Central Asian republic independent of Moscow. In 1990, even Tajikistan joined the great upheaval. Its capital, Doshambe, was the scene of the most violent political demonstrations against Russian communism. Thus republic after republic came under the powerful grip of the Islamic awakening. The eagerly-awaited day dawned at last. The year 1991 saw the disintegration of the Soviet Union and complete collapse of world communism. With this, started a new era in the history of the Russian Muslims. The famed Muslim states of Central Asia declared their independence. They are now cementing their broken ties with the rest of the Muslim world. They have been admitted as members of the Organization of Islamic Conference.
 

Asia’s Muslim Heartland

The independence of these six Central Asian Muslim republics is a great land mark in the contemporary history of Islam. Some of their basic facts are given below:
 

Name of the State 

Capital 

Population

1.  Azerbaijan 
2.  Kazakhistan 
3.  Kirghizia 
4.  Tajikistan 
5.  Turkmenistan 
6.  Uzbekistan 

Baku 
Alma-Ata 
Biskhek 
Dushanbe 
Ashkhabad 
Tashkent 

7,146,600 
16,690,000 
4,372,000 
5,400,000 
3,621,700 
20,322,000

In addition to these Muslim majority areas, a large chunk of the population in Kremia is also Muslim. They are Tartars. Apart from touching Kazakhistan, Russain Muslims resemble more their co-religionists in the neighbouring Muslim countries rather than the Soviet communists.

All of these sovereign Muslim States enjoy some God-given distinctive advantages as compared to the rest of Russia. Some such unique boons are:

(1) Significant Strategic Setting: By virtue of their close location to Iran, Afghanistan, the Persian gulf and Pakistan the special political and military significance of these areas look quite manifest. Russia in particular and the rest of the world in general can never overlook this significant strategic setting of these territories.

(2) Mineral and Agricultural Wealth: These areas have been blessed with valuable natural resources. World’s largest gold mines lie in Uzbekistan. Azerbaijan’s Baku has the biggest oil fields. Similarly desert areas of several Muslim territories have huge reservoirs of minerals, gas and oil. From the agricultural point of view these areas are not only self-sufficient but also the major sources of good supply to the rest of Russia. Unfortunately, however, it is these very areas where the Muslims had been subjected to a pathetic state of utter economic deprivation.

(3) Population Growth Factor: Since the movement of family planning has met with little success in the Muslim areas, their population growth rate was five times higher than the average Russians. The unusually high rate of population growth has also generated apprehensions that in times to come the Muslims may form majority in the entire Russian set up. This basic demographic factor was a unique advantage favouring the Russian Muslims.

According to the 1918 Constitution, all Russian nationals are guaranteed complete religious freedom. Yet religious preaching had been banned. All sorts of anti-religious propaganda was encouraged. Under flimsy pretexts, Islam was commonly subjected to the worst possible criticisms. In spite of all that, however, the Russian government always remained highly suspicious and apprehensive of its Muslim population. The Muslim areas have a network of mosques, religious education institutions and cultural centres. But extremely subtle and severe restrictions had been imposed on the religious festivals and gathering of the Muslims. All sorts of wicked devices were employed to keep the Muslims aloof and even estranged from the rest of the ummah. One of the mysterious anomalies marring the past Russian foreign policy baffled all understanding. On the one hand, Russia desired to win sympathies of the Middle-East Muslims as a part of her anti-American measures. Simultaneously, however, it never refrained from a repressive and even barbarous policy towards its own Russian Muslims of Central Asia as it had done with the Muslims of Afghanistan during the recent past.
 

Accusations of Foreign Intervention

The tempo of the growing Muslim awakening proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the situation was slipping fast beyond the Russian control. It is really unfortunate that instead of understanding the dynamics of these upsurges Russia was all along resorting to play up ‘the foreign hand scenario’. At one time it put the blame on a triangle of conspiracy against the Soviet Union. It alleged that a trio comprising the following foreign powers was instigating the upsurge in the troubled Muslim state: (1) Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), (2) the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), (3) the Afghan Mujahidin’s organization, "Hizb-i-Islami", headed by Gulbadin Hikmatyar.

The accusation of foreign intervention looked utterly absurd in the face of real facts. It is Russia and Russia alone which was actually responsible for all that was happening within the Muslim states. The two major factors responsible for the more recent unrest and uprising were as follows:-

(i) Economic Exploitation of the Russian Muslims: Despite their rich natural resources all the Soviet Muslim republics had been purposely kept backward. They looked like typical colonies of the vast-Russian empire. They were obliged to export their raw materials to the developed Russian republics for paltry returns. They were constrained to import everyday consumer goods from them at exorbitant prices. This unjust and unbalanced situation has sown the seeds of poverty, deprivation, frustration and unrest in these states.

(ii) Systematic Suppression of Muslim Culture: The other main factor was the constant cultural suppression of the Muslim population. All sorts of the alien Russo-European cultural patterns and practices were being imposed on them rather unthinkingly. The Muslims felt like living in a foreign land.
 

Rising Strength of Renaissance

The most painful aspect of this cultural suppression was the fact that a variety of shrewd and irrational measures were being constantly adopted to alienate the Muslims of these republics from the rest of the Muslim world. However, like the Chinese Muslims, the Russian Muslims were becoming increasingly fond of cementing their fraternal bonds with the Muslim world. To fulfil this dream they had constituted a strong Islamic organization. The mounting wave of autonomy gripping the Muslim state of Azerbaijan and other Muslim states had upset the Russian plans. The Russian Muslims remained more resolute than ever before they regained religious, political and territorial independence from the iron curtain.

The other concrete proofs of the growing strength of the rising wave of renaissance among the Russian Muslim republics were:

1.  increasing interest in the reading of the Holy Qur’an;
2.  rising attendance at the mosques for prayers and other religious programs and construction of new mosques;
3.  increasing projection of Islamic features in the radio and television programs;
4.  growing demand for the restoration of the original Arabic scripts in their languages, etc.

Unfortunately, however, the Soviet Union failed to realize the futility of putting impediments in the way of this mounting wave of renaissance and autonomy. Such an undemocratic stand was neither reasonable nor even favourable for Russia’s own interests. Freed from the Russian dominance these strategic Central Asian states are now destined to play their vital roles as sovereign Muslim states.
 

http://www.themodernreligion.com/convert/russia.html

 

Masjid In Moscow

Green and white mosque in Perm, Permskiy Kray

 

 

Saint Petersburg Mosque

Qolsharif Mosque  in Kazan, Tatarstan 

 

Masjid In Dagestan
 

    Four Minaret Mosque - Russia

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

 

Insurance Broker, Moscow, Russia
Phone: +7495-4899695

FARUK MEDRESE, Kazan
Phone: +7-567970

Islamic organization of Kostomuksha, Kostomuksha


Islamic books and halal food, Ekaterinburg


AGENCY OF THE SOCIETY OF MOSLEMS, Dimitrovgrad
Phone: 8423-26660

HISTORICAL MOSQUE, Moscow
Phone: 9518448

KAZAN MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
Phone: +7-783196

Masjid off Durova St., Mira Prospect, Moscow
Phone: 281-4904

BRANCH OF THE ISLAMIC CENTRE OF RUSSIA, Leningrad


Al-Kauthar, Leningrad, St.Petersburg
URL: www.islamnaneve.com  
 

  'Gali' Mosque, Bavly
  'Umet' Mosque, Bavly
  AGENCY OF THE SOCIETY OF MOSLEMS, Dimitrovgrad
  AL FURKAN, Baksan
  Al-Kauthar, Leningrad
  Al-Masjed Al-Kabeer, Maykop
  An-nur mosque, Ul'yanovsk
  BAITH ALLAH, Samara
  Big Mosque and islamic studies in Gimry, Gimry
  BRANCH OF THE ISLAMIC CENTRE OF RUSSIA, Leningrad
  Bulgar Metsheat (Masjed Bulgar), Cheboksary
  Burnay Mosque, Kazan
  CARAVAN - SHED MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Orenburg
  Central Juma Masjid of the city, Makhach-Kala
  CLAIM TASH MOSQUE, Kazan
  Engelskaya sobornaya mechet, Engels An Der Wolga
  GABDESSAMAT - MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  GALIYA ISLAMIC INSTITUTE, Ufa
  Grozny Central Mosque, Groznyy
  HAIR-IHSAN THE RELIGIOUS MUSLIM COMMUNITY, Omsk
  HALJAL MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Tatarstan
  HISTORICAL MOSQUE, Moscow
  Historical mosque of Moscow, Moscow
  HUSAINIJA MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, Orenburg
  HUZEJFA MOSQUE, Kazan
  HUZEJFATU NBN ULJAMONY MOSQUE, Kazan
  Ihlas mosque in Ufa, Ufa
  Iman Nuri Machete(Masjid)& Madrasase, Sterlitamak
  IMAN NURY MOSQUE, Kazan
  ISKETAZH SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  ISLAM MOSQUE, Kazan
  ISLAMIC CENTRE OF VOLGOGRAD, Volgograd
  ISLAMIC CENTRE, Moscow
  Islamic Cultural Center of NORA, Vladikavkaz
  ISLAMIC INSTITUTE, Ufa
  ISLAMIC INTERNATIONAL MISSION, Moscow
  Islamic Organization of Petrozavodsk, Petrozavodsk
  Islamic religions organization of Langepas, Ur'yevskiye
  IUDEJSKOJ RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY SOCIETIES, Kazan
  Juma Masjid, Makhachkala
  KAZAN NURY MOSQUE, Kazan
  Kudiyab akhada mesjid, Orota
  KUL SHARIF MOSQUE, Kazan
  Latifa Muslims Society Organization, Krasnoyarsk
  MANAGEMENTS OF THE SOCIETY CITY MOSLEMS, Orenburg
  MARDZHANI MOSQUE, Kazan
  Masjid, Volgograd
  Masjid, Nizhnevartovsk
  Masjid, Ivanovo Oblast
  Masjid in Cherkessk, Cherkessk
 

Masjid off Durova St., Mira Prospect, Moscow
  Masque, Pestretsy
  MAULID MOSQUE, Kazan
  MEDINA MOSQUE, Kazan
  Medrese, Gorky
  Memorial Moscow masjid, Moscow
  Mestnaya musulmanskaya religioznaya organizaciya , Magadan
  Mestnaya religioznaya organizaziya musulman Nakhodka, Nakhodka
  MIGRAZH MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  Mohamed Alaa El Dien, Nogliki
  Mohammed shukri ahmedin, Nizhni Novgorod
  MOSLEMS OF THE EUROPEAN PART OF RUSSIA SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT, Moscow
  Mosqe and cultural islamic organization, Vladimir
  mosqu djamig, Kogalym
  Mosque, Mirnyy
  MOSQUE, Leningrad
  Mosque, Strezhevoye
  Mosque, Kangly
  MOSQUE, Leningrad
  Mosque, Chelyabinskaya Oblast'
  MOSQUE, Perm'
  Mosque, Noyabr'sk
  Mosque, Urus-Martan
  Mosque, Pit-yakh
  Mosque, Langepas
  Mosque, Tyumen'
  Mosque #1, Astrakhan'
  Mosque #23, Astrakhan'
  Mosque (Jami), Noyabr'sk
  Mosque of Kuysun, Magaramkentskiy Rayon
  Mosque of Surgut city, Surgut
  Mosque of Surgut city, Stantsiya Surgut
  MOSQUE OF THE MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION KIROV R-on, Perm'
  Mosque Rahman, Ekaterinburg
  Mosques, Tver'
  Mosques in Titova, Machatsch-Kala
  Muslim Mosque, Pyatigorsk
  MUSLIM MOSQUE, Kostroma
  MUSLIM MOSQUE, Irkutsk
  MUSLIM MOSQUE, Omsk
  MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Murmansk
  MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Saransk
  MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  Muslims Tirniauz, Tirniauz
  Mutawalliat of Meleuz, Meleuz
  nizhnekamsk mosgue, Nizhnekamsk
  Novosibirsk Regional Muslims religions organization Sibirian Clerical Department (Omsk Muftiyat)., Novosibirsk
  NURISLAM the MOSQUE, Kazan
  NURULLA MOSQUE, Kazan
  PINK MOSQUE, Kazan
 

  RADZHAB MOSQUE, Kazan
  RAMAZAN MOSQUE, Kazan
  RAMIS MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  Red Mosque, Chelyabinsk
  Red mosque, Tomsk
  REGIONAL ASSOCIATION of MOSLEMS SPB, Saint Petersburg
  REGIONAL SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENTS OF MOSLEMS OF THE SAMARA AREA, Samara
  Religious association Muslim Nefteyugansk, Nefteyugansk
  RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION OF MOSLEMS SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Yaroslavl
  RELIGIOUS BOARD OF MOSLEMS, Moscow
  RIZVAN MOSQUE, Kazan
  Saint Petersburg Mosque, Leningrad
  SHAMIL MOSQUE, Kazan
  SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Kirov
  SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF NIZHNI NOVGOROD, Nizhni Novgorod
  SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF REPUBLIC BASHKORTOSTAN, Ufa
  SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT of MOSLEMS of the ORENBURG AREA, Orenburg
  SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF THE PERM AREA, Perm'
  SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS SARATOV SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Saratov
  SULEJMANIJA MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Orenburg
  SULTANOVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  Taubah, Naberezhnyye Chelny
  THE MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS of RUSSIA, SUPREME COORDINATION CENTRE, Moscow
  THE APANAEVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  THE AZIMOVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  THE BULGAR MOSQUE, Kazan
  The Burnaev mosque, Kazan
  THE BURNAEVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  The centralized religious organization and management of moslems of the Perm region, Permskiy Rayon
  The centralized religious organization and management of moslems of the Perm region, Perm'
  THE DYNES -ISLAM MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  THE GADEL MOSQUE, Kazan
  THE MOSCOW ISLAMIC CENTRE, Moscow
  THE MOSCOW ISLAMIC CULTURAL CENTER, Moscow
  THE MOSLEMS SOCIETY, Kurgan
  THE MOSQUE - MEDRESE COMPLEX, Ufa
  THE MOSQUE SOBORNAJA, Ufa
  THE ZAKABANNAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
  THE ZANGAR MOSQUE, Kazan
  Union muslims in Pokachi, Pokacha
  White mosque, Tomsk
  ZENGER MOSQUE, Kazan
 
المسجد الجامع, Penza

  ADIGEYAISLAM.COM, Maykop
  Central Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia, Ufa
  Central religious organization of Astrakhan Regional Muslim Board, Astrakhan'
  Fund, Kazan
  I.IslamicOrganization, Makhach-Kala
  Islamic Congress of Russia, Moscow
  Islamic organization of Kostomuksha, Kostomuksha
  ISLAMinKBR.COM, Nal'chik
  JSC TURAS ISLAMIC CENTER, Kazan
  KAZAN MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
  KUL-SHARIF FUND OF FINANCIAL SUPPOR, Kazan
  Local Islamic organization, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
  Local religious moslem organization of the city Kurgan, Kurgan
  MUHAMMADIJA KAZAN MAXIMUM MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
  Muslim community of Khabarosk, Khabarovsk
  Muslim regional organization, Arkhangel'sk
  Muslim Religious Board of the Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan
  MUSLIM RELIGIOUS MANAGEMENT, Kazan
  MUSLIM YOUTH ASSOCIATION, Moscow
  RAFIK MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
  Religious Association of Moslems of the Kamchatka Area, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
  Russia Muftis Council, Moscow
  The Chelyabinsk Qazyat, Chelyabinskiy
  The Muslim religious organization Muhtasibat, Pestretsy
  The muslims religious community of Kursk & Kursk region, Kursk Oblast
 
TV-Chirkey, Chirkey

  Almet`evsk Islamic Center a name Ridautdin Fakhrutdin, Al'met'yevsk
  FARUK MEDRESE, Kazan
  I.School, Makhach-Kala
  Islamic Institute, Chirkey
  Islamic Institute, Cherkessk
  Islamic Institute Hajji-Tarkhan, Astrakhan'
  Islamic institute of Orota, Orota
  Islamic Medical Association Malaysia (IMAM) Moscow Student Chapter, Moscow
  Islamic School, Khabarovsk
  Kabardino-Balkarian Institute of Islamic Researches, Nal'chik
  Medrese, Kakhib
  Medrese RAHMAN, Ekaterinburg, Ekaterinburg
  Medrese Risala, Nizhnekamsk
  Moscow Islamic University, Moscow
 
Muhammadia medrasa, Kazan'

   Muslim Owned Business

Al-Barakat, Moscow
  Gandhara, Moscow
  HAYAT, Moscow
  I.Business, Makhach-Kala
  Insurance Broker, Moscow
  ISLAMDIGITAL creative media studio, Nizhnekamsk
  Islamic books and halal food, Ekaterinburg
  Islamic Matrimony agency Love.Islam.ru, Moscow
  Islamskiy inet magazin, Moscow
  JSC TURAS ISLAMIC PRODUCT, Moscow
  karavan-online.ru, Irkutsk
  shop 786 halal, Moscow
  Ultra-Translation, Izhevsk
 
مؤسسة العالم الإسلامي للمرئيات والسمعيات TV publishing company (ISLAMIC WORLD), Moscow

References
Islam in Russia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Russia ,  September, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107909.html   September, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=russia  , September, 2008).
World Religions Statistics ( http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/xx , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Russia, September 2008.
Islam in the Soviet Union ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_Soviet_Union  , September, 2008).