ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN RUSSIA
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:
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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. 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.
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,
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
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.
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.
in the USSR
by A. Kalaam
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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
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
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
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
Message International, 1991
version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.
situation of Soviet Muslims
PRESENT SITUATION OF THE SOVIET MUSLIMS:
EXAMPLE OF KAZAN TATARS
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 .
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 . Initial measures
taken under Chernenko suggest that the anti-Muslim campaign will be pursued with
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
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 .
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
. But we know that of the 28,000 mosques from the Russian Empire period today
remains only about 400 mosques . 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 .
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
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 .
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 .
But this positive development from the viewpoint of Islam doesn't imply that
there is a new Islamic revival in the USSR.
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) .
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 . Until 1759 Volga Tatars were not
permitted to build mosques and madrasahs .
Catherine II started a more liberal policy towards her Muslim subjects. "The
Religious Administration" was founded in Ufa on December 4, 1780 . 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 .
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 . The spiritual work of the mullas had
good results. In Nijni-Novgorod, in 1802 the first Tatar Christians openly
apostatized from Christianity . 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 .
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 . 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 . According to
official statements the religious administration in 1907 cared for 6 thousand
mahalle in which 5 million Muslims were included .
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 . [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
. 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 . 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 .
According to later information in the year 1982 there are 17 mosques in
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 .
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 .
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
As a consequence, in Kazan alone more than 25 anti-Islamic works were published
between 1960 and 1981 . 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 . 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 . 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 .
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 . 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 . 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] .
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 . 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 . 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 .
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
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
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.
version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.
by Abdur Rauf
What is the
present position of
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
in these two famed states of the world.
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
Russian Muslims have always been distinctly
in letter and spirit.
Islam and Muslims
Islam entered on the
in the seventh century A.D. (first century A.H.). Even during the
Rightly Guided Caliphate at Madinah, the Muslim armies had started making
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
in 673. Bukhara fell to the Muslims
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.
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
Russia. The pace of
Islam’s dissemination maintained a high momentum
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
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.
after the start of the regular official moves against Christianity
Russia, a series of organized onslaughts started against the Muslims
In Spain, the inimical efforts to eliminate
Islam and the Muslims after their downfall had yielded great success.
But it was quite different
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
Asia’s Muslim Heartland
independence of these six Central Asian Muslim republics is a great land
in the contemporary history of
Islam. Some of their basic facts are given below:
Name of the State
In addition to these Muslim majority areas, a large chunk of the
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
All of these
sovereign Muslim States enjoy some God-given distinctive advantages as
compared to the rest of
Russia. Some such unique boons are:
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.
in particular and the rest of the world
in general can never overlook this significant strategic setting of
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
Russia. Unfortunately, however, it is these very areas where the
Muslims had been subjected to a pathetic state of utter economic
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
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
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.
of foreign intervention looked utterly absurd
in the face of real facts. It is
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:-
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
in these states.
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
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.
concrete proofs of the growing strength of the rising wave of renaissance
Russian Muslim republics were:
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
in the radio and television programs;
4. growing demand for the restoration
of the original Arabic scripts
in their languages, etc.
however, the Soviet Union failed to realize the futility of putting
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.
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
organization of Kostomuksha, Kostomuksha
books and halal food, Ekaterinburg
THE SOCIETY OF MOSLEMS, Dimitrovgrad
MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
Durova St., Mira Prospect, Moscow
THE ISLAMIC CENTRE OF RUSSIA, Leningrad
THE SOCIETY OF MOSLEMS, Dimitrovgrad
Mosque and islamic studies in Gimry, Gimry
THE ISLAMIC CENTRE OF RUSSIA, Leningrad
Metsheat (Masjed Bulgar), Cheboksary
SHED MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Orenburg
Juma Masjid of the city, Makhach-Kala
TASH MOSQUE, Kazan
Engelskaya sobornaya mechet, Engels An Der Wolga
GABDESSAMAT - MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
ISLAMIC INSTITUTE, Ufa
Central Mosque, Groznyy
THE RELIGIOUS MUSLIM COMMUNITY, Omsk
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Tatarstan
HISTORICAL MOSQUE, Moscow
Historical mosque of Moscow, Moscow
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, Orenburg
NBN ULJAMONY MOSQUE, Kazan
mosque in Ufa, Ufa
Machete(Masjid)& Madrasase, Sterlitamak
SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
CENTRE OF VOLGOGRAD, Volgograd
Cultural Center of NORA, Vladikavkaz
INTERNATIONAL MISSION, Moscow
Organization of Petrozavodsk, Petrozavodsk
religions organization of Langepas, Ur'yevskiye
RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY SOCIETIES, Kazan
NURY MOSQUE, Kazan
akhada mesjid, Orota
SHARIF MOSQUE, Kazan
Muslims Society Organization, Krasnoyarsk
MANAGEMENTS OF THE SOCIETY CITY MOSLEMS, Orenburg
off Durova St., Mira Prospect, Moscow
Moscow masjid, Moscow
musulmanskaya religioznaya organizaciya , Magadan
religioznaya organizaziya musulman Nakhodka, Nakhodka
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
Alaa El Dien, Nogliki
shukri ahmedin, Nizhni Novgorod
OF THE EUROPEAN PART OF RUSSIA SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENT, Moscow
cultural islamic organization, Vladimir
Kuysun, Magaramkentskiy Rayon
Surgut city, Surgut
Surgut city, Stantsiya Surgut
THE MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION KIROV R-on, Perm'
in Titova, Machatsch-Kala
RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Murmansk
RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Saransk
RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
Mutawalliat of Meleuz, Meleuz
nizhnekamsk mosgue, Nizhnekamsk
Novosibirsk Regional Muslims religions organization Sibirian Clerical Department
(Omsk Muftiyat)., Novosibirsk
the MOSQUE, Kazan
RADZHAB MOSQUE, Kazan
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
ASSOCIATION of MOSLEMS SPB, Saint Petersburg
SPIRITUAL MANAGEMENTS OF MOSLEMS OF THE SAMARA AREA, Samara
association Muslim Nefteyugansk, Nefteyugansk
ASSOCIATION OF MOSLEMS SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Yaroslavl
BOARD OF MOSLEMS, Moscow
Petersburg Mosque, Leningrad
MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF NIZHNI NOVGOROD, Nizhni Novgorod
MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF REPUBLIC BASHKORTOSTAN, Ufa
MANAGEMENT of MOSLEMS of the ORENBURG AREA, Orenburg
MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS OF THE PERM AREA, Perm'
MANAGEMENT OF MOSLEMS SARATOV SOBORNAJA MOSQUE, Saratov
SULEJMANIJA MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION, Orenburg
SULTANOVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS of RUSSIA, SUPREME COORDINATION CENTRE, Moscow
APANAEVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
AZIMOVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
BULGAR MOSQUE, Kazan
Burnaev mosque, Kazan
BURNAEVSKAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
centralized religious organization and management of moslems of the Perm region,
centralized religious organization and management of moslems of the Perm region,
-ISLAM MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
MOSCOW ISLAMIC CENTRE, Moscow
MOSCOW ISLAMIC CULTURAL CENTER, Moscow
MOSLEMS SOCIETY, Kurgan
MOSQUE - MEDRESE COMPLEX, Ufa
MOSQUE SOBORNAJA, Ufa
ZAKABANNAJA MOSQUE, Kazan
ZANGAR MOSQUE, Kazan
muslims in Pokachi, Pokacha
Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia, Ufa
religious organization of Astrakhan Regional Muslim Board, Astrakhan'
Congress of Russia, Moscow
organization of Kostomuksha, Kostomuksha
ISLAMIC CENTER, Kazan
MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
KUL-SHARIF FUND OF FINANCIAL SUPPOR, Kazan
Islamic organization, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
religious moslem organization of the city Kurgan, Kurgan
MUHAMMADIJA KAZAN MAXIMUM MUSLIM MEDRESE, Kazan
community of Khabarosk, Khabarovsk
regional organization, Arkhangel'sk
Religious Board of the Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan
RELIGIOUS MANAGEMENT, Kazan
YOUTH ASSOCIATION, Moscow
MUSLIM RELIGIOUS SOCIETY, Kazan
Association of Moslems of the Kamchatka Area, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Muftis Council, Moscow
Chelyabinsk Qazyat, Chelyabinskiy
Muslim religious organization Muhtasibat, Pestretsy
muslims religious community of Kursk & Kursk region, Kursk Oblast
Almet`evsk Islamic Center a name Ridautdin Fakhrutdin, Al'met'yevsk
Institute Hajji-Tarkhan, Astrakhan'
institute of Orota, Orota
Medical Association Malaysia (IMAM) Moscow Student Chapter, Moscow
Kabardino-Balkarian Institute of Islamic Researches, Nal'chik
RAHMAN, Ekaterinburg, Ekaterinburg
Islamic University, Moscow
Muhammadia medrasa, Kazan'
Muslim Owned Business
ISLAMDIGITAL creative media studio, Nizhnekamsk
books and halal food, Ekaterinburg
Matrimony agency Love.Islam.ru, Moscow
inet magazin, Moscow
ISLAMIC PRODUCT, Moscow
العالم الإسلامي للمرئيات والسمعيات TV publishing company (ISLAMIC WORLD), Moscow
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 (
World Religions Statistics (
http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/xx , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Russia,
Islam in the Soviet Union (
, September, 2008).