Voices from Russia

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Putin Met with Muftis of Russia’s Muslim Spiritual Administrations

________________________

During a trip to Ufa, President V V Putin met with muftis from the Muslim spiritual administrations. Meeting participants discussed current problems relating to cooperation between the government and Muslim religious organisations. Putin said:

I think that it’s important that we meet regularly and discuss issues that interest Russian Muslims, holders of other faiths, and all the citizens of our country in general. Today, in Ufa, we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the foundation of the Muslim Spiritual Assembly established by imperial decree. At that time, at the end of the 18th century, Islam won official recognition as a traditional Russian religion. Naturally, this helped Muslims become true Russian patriots. Islam became a significant factor in our social and political life and made an invaluable contribution to our society’s spiritual and cultural development. Once again, I congratulate you on this historic date.

I’d like to thank you for your work and talk to you about current global trends, including in religious life. Today, an active, and not always positive, process of politicising religion is underway at the global level. This occurs in different directions and in different religions, including Islam. In these circumstances, government authorities and the Russian Muslim community have new problems and challenges. Of course, we can only resolve them together; we’ve talked about this together many times now. Some political parties use Islam, or rather its radical tendencies (which, incidentally, are historically foreign to Russian Muslims), in order to weaken our state, to create zones of so-called externally-driven conflicts in Russian territory, to encourage friction between different ethnic groups and within the Muslim community, and to fan separatist sympathies in the regions. I’m convinced that we must counter such attempts to create divisions using Russian Muslims’ faith in their historical traditions and partnerships with other religions, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church.

Of course, hierarchical command structures are alien to Islam (as, to be frank, they are to many other world religions), which has a variety of different schools and movements. However, Russian Muslims have always been united in their service to society and the state, and against external enemies and all forms of extremism. I am sure that we can maintain and strengthen this unity, even today. We should see Islam’s new “socialisation” as developing traditional Muslim lifestyles, thinking, and views in accordance with current social realities, as opposed to the ideology of radicals, bringing believers back to the Middle Ages. New forms of work… through Muslim cultural centres, Islamic science and education centres, and youth and women’s clubs… are important here. I believe that you can make an important contribution to the social adaptation of people who come to live and work in Russia. Many of them share your religion. They need to hear your voice and feel your presence; otherwise, they become victims of propaganda from various fundamentalist sects.

I also believe that the voice of Russian Muslim leaders should resonate louder in the international arena, amongst the global Islamic community. Today, tensions between the West and the Islamic world are on the rise. Some people try to mess around with this issue and throw fuel on the fire. I want to tell you straight away… we aren’t interested in this. However, at the same time, today, Russia’s presence is in increased demand in the Middle East and the Islamic world as a whole. Moreover, we need to be more proactive, debunking harmful attempts to manipulate humanity using countries and peoples, information and public consciousness. Russia isn’t interested in splitting up or redrawing the Islamic world; on the contrary, it maintains a consistent steady position in favour of strengthening its unity.

In order to meet the challenges of our time successfully, it’s necessary, firstly, to ensure the high credibility of Russia’s Muslim clergy and its Islamic theological schools. Today, there are 82 centralised registered Islamic religious organisations in Russia. Muslims are well aware of the first sura of the Quran, according to which there is no other prophet except Muhammad. However, at the same time we all understand that we mustn’t forget the spiritual leaders themselves… firstly, they’re people with moral authority that they must use for beneficial purposes. The clergy should be educated and enlightened people who can give a clear and impeccable canonical assessment of the most severe challenges and threats we face today. This initiative should be yours; we can’t pass it on to informal leaders who’re actively involved with the faithful. There are individuals who tend to support theological schools and extremist ideas alien to our country, seek to undermine traditional Islam’s position here, the unity of Russian society, and ultimately desire our country’s collapse.

Based on centuries of national experience in religious education and its rich theological heritage, Russian Islam has everything necessary to have its say in development. Therefore, one of our most important tasks is to reconstruct our own Islamic theological schools, which would ensure the sovereignty of Russia’s spiritual space. Most importantly, the majority of international Muslim scholars would recognise such a move. Such schools must respond to the most recent developments in Russia and the world, and evaluate them in ways that are both understandable and credible for believers. I’m sure that if we can achieve this, it’d help you to provide a clear moral assessment of both good and criminal acts.

27 January 2018

RMC Russian Mufti Council

https://muslim.ru/en/articles/127/4804/

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: