Voices from Russia

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Putin Met with Muftis of Russia’s Muslim Spiritual Administrations

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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/

Saturday, 25 November 2017

HH’s Condolences on the Recent Terrorist Attack on a Mosque in Egypt

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On 24 November 2017, terrorists attacked a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed (North Sinai Governorate) in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt during Friday prayers. The extremists arrived at the mosque in cars, detonated an explosive device inside the building, and then shot people running out onto the street from the mosque. After ambulances appeared on the scene, they began to shoot at the doctors. As of 25 November, at least 300 people are dead and more than 100 injured, including many children. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias sent his condolences to the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and to the Head Mufti of Egypt.

His Excellency Abdul-Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

My Right Honourable President!

Accept my condolences in connection with the tragedy that occurred in the mosque near El Arish that claimed many human lives. This mayhem towards believers during prayers testifies that these extremists (who call themselves “Muslims”) had no real faith in the Most High. This fact exposes as myth the idea that terrorists protect Islam and fight for its purity. They use the most insidious and cruel means to intimidate people, to force them to fulfil their vicious will, to destroy the principles of good-neighbourliness and tolerance, which are important in creating a dignified and prosperous life in our modern society. In such circumstances, as never before, it’s important for believers in traditional religions to show solidarity and cohesion to uphold the ideals of goodness and justice in the modern world. I hope that the perpetrators of this attack won’t escape justice. In these sorrowful days, I wish the wounded a speedy recovery and that the relatives and friends of the dead will bravely overcome the grief that has saddened them. I wish strength and resolution to those who are working today to overcome the consequences of this event and I hope that all of the people of Egypt would show solidarity and determination in the fight against extremism.

With sincere sympathy,

+ KIRILL

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

24 November 2017

Patriarchia.ru

MP official website      

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5068979.html

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Sheikh Shauki Ibrahim Abd al-Karim Alam

The Supreme Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt  

Honoured Mufti!

With deep sorrow, I received the news of the terrorist attack on the Sinai Peninsula that killed and injured hundreds of innocent people. Please, accept my sincere condolences. The terrorists committed this terrible crime during Friday prayers in a mosque to try to disrupt peaceful life in your country and to spread panic and fear amongst the people. Clearly, this in itself shows that for extremists there’s nothing sacred, and their beliefs have nothing in common with the values and norms of Islam. My conviction is that such actions won’t achieve their goals and that criminals won’t intimidate peaceful people who want to build the life of their society on the solid foundation of good-neighbourliness and mutual understanding with people confessing other traditional religions. I ask you to convey my words of consolation and support to the relatives and friends of the dead and injured. I wish to you, and to all the people of Egypt, courage and strength in confronting evil and violence.

With condolences,

+ KIRILL

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

25 November 2017

Patriarchia.ru      

MP official website

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5069520.html

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Hizbullah Condemned the ISIS Massacre of Egyptian Christians

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Hizbullah urged Muslims to unite in order to protect Christians from violence. Hizbullah, which the USA considers a terrorist organisation, released a statement condemning yesterday’s terrorist atrocities in Egypt that slaughtered scores of Christians on Palm Sunday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. The statement read (and here):

The continuous and escalating killing carried out by criminal gangs in the name of religion is one of the greatest catastrophes our Ummah (global Islamic world community) has seen. This crime is part of a large scheme to displace Christians from the Sinai Peninsula and other areas across Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, paving the way for sectarian and ethnic federalisation in favour of the Zionist entity.

Hizbullah forms part of the so-called 4+1 coalition fighting Salafi/Wahhabi terrorism. Other members of the coalition include Russia, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. It remains a source of shock for many that the USA condemns Hizbullah in spite of its role in the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda as well as their support of Christians throughout the wider Arab and Islamic world.

10 April 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/hezbollah-condemns-the-isis-massacre-of-egyptian-christians/

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Russia’s Orthodoxy Makes It Natural Defender of Mainstream Islam

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The West’s liberal crusade is anathema to both Russian traditions and Russia’s legally stringent views on foreign policy. One can characterise the contemporary foreign policy of the Russian Federation as a pragmatic defence of self-interests along with the interests of its allies. It tends to conduct all of these policies within the framework of international law. In fact, Russia often finds herself having to define the precepts of international law to other nations who frequently violent it. Most frequently, Russia uses the UN as a forum to accomplish this. The long-serving and recently-deceased Russian Ambassador to the UN, V I Churkin was emblematic of Russia in holding others to account, at least in terms of rhetoric and voting record.

By contrast, Western foreign policy often shows a flagrant disregard for international law. Israel’s recent illegal attack on Syria, as well as the illegal presence of US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, British, Dutch, Belgian, German, and Jordanian soldiers, airmen, and terrorist proxies in Syria, is just one example of the West and her allies using extralegal means to paint the world map in their particular shade of blood. One could equally point to the illegal wars in Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia as other relatively recent examples. However, beyond the illegality of much of Western foreign policy, there’s another way in which it diverges sharply from that of Russia. Of course, a quest for profit underpins Western policy, but beyond this universal reality, it’s crucial to understand how the West attempts to sell its foreign policy. Even more important is the fact that many Western political figures actually believe what they say when promoting their policies (although some clearly don’t).

Western foreign policy is a latter-day version of a crusade. It’s an open endorsement of violence in order to attain what they define as a worthy goal. It’s war justified neither by law nor ethics but by ideology. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, the Medieval Crusades were an attempt to conquer and pacify the lands of “non-believers”, forcing them to submit to their own view of worship and holiness. The Fourth Crusade (1202-4) demonstrated that the holy warriors targeted not only Muslims and Jews but also Christians. The Latin conquerors severely weakened the Greek Orthodox Roman Empire during the Fourth Crusade, paving the way for full Turkish conquest three centuries later and the beginning of Greek captivity to the Ottoman Empire.

Although they typically confine the concept of zealotry to debates on religious wars, the West implements a similar ideological strategy in selling the policy of “régime change, anytime, anywhere, with or without legal authority”. Nevertheless, in their zealous destruction of legitimate Arab régimes, the West did something even more insidious than their crusading forbearers did. They not only attacked peaceful Muslim nations, nations whose populations live side by side with Christians, but they made these countries dangerous places to live for moderate Sunni Muslims (the majority of the global Muslim population), all Shi’ite Muslims, and all Christians. Iraq and Libya are now hotbeds of Wahhabi/Salafi Islam and the terrorism that almost inevitably flows from it. This was never the case prior to Western wars upon these states. Currently, Syria is engaged in a life and death struggle against the same Wahhabi forces representing what many would justifiably call heretical Islam.

Although Russia doesn’t form its alliances and foreign policy strategy on a religious basis, Russia paradoxically acts as a defender of faith by omission. Because Russia refuses to engage in zealous quests for resources based on the creed of liberal imperial zeal, Russia is de facto acting to preserve the peaceful religious status quos of the modern Arab world in states where secularism is best defined as a freedom to pursue religious activities as one wishes irrespective of one’s faith or how committed one is to that faith. As an Orthodox Christian state, Russia’s religious tradition had no part in any crusading activities or the later imperial expansion of various Catholic states, the most prominent example being Spain whose interpretation of Catholicism led Conquistadors to view the pagan natives as underlings to be conquered. I don’t intend this historical reality to offend nor shame modern Catholics, whose contemporary religious practice is as peaceful as any other mainstream Christian denomination. However, liberals took the worst parts of Roman Catholic history and applied them to wars of conquest and exploitation, carrying on a tradition that’s part of Western culture.

Interestingly, one doesn’t need to be religious in order to internalise and adopt this particular feature of Western history. The humanistic/secular French the pretext of liberal revolutionary zeal for their wars on fellow European states in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Likewise, Leon Trotsky, a Marxist atheist, sought to apply the same creed to his view of world revolution. It’s little wonder that many of the born-again neoliberals in Tony Blair’s Warhawk government spent their school days as members of Trotskyist organisations.

Russia suffered a profound spiritual crisis in the 1990s at every level, both theoretically and practically. The internal stability and prosperity afforded by the Putin years gave Russia a sense of peace and allowed Russia to return to its heritage as the largest Orthodox Christian state in the world. As such, some would say Russia has a duty to defend fellow Christians. However, Russia articulates its foreign policy differently. Russia defends its allies against aggression, but the fact remains that in doing so, Russia is by default, living up to its tradition as a defender of the faith. Nevertheless, Russia it defends not just the Orthodox faith. Russia defends Muslims throughout the world at a time when Western wars of aggression target Islamic populations and when Western politicians like Geert Wilders lambaste Islam in the most disparaging terms. Russia must make it clear to a Muslim world bombarded by Western and Saudi propaganda, that it’s a more honest defender of Islam than any major power on earth. It’s able to say so because of its record of legality in foreign affairs and because of a Christian tradition that Europe (and largely, America) has entirely forsaken.

20 March 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/russias-christian-tradition-natural-defender-mainstream-islam/

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