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Articles > Islam in mass media > Moscow Muslims, Muslims in Moscow

Do we need new mosques in the capital?

Modern Moscow, as well as any European metropolis, is quite the multi-ethnic formation. First of all, especially in recent years, the attention is paid to the increase in  the proportion of representatives of Asian nations. Looking around, it is easy to see that the Muslim East has now become a part of the metropolitan reality and our everyday life. Retail, food service, small business and service facilities, even without mentioning the Moscow yards are now an area of activities performed by ??mostly immigrants from Central Asia, the Caucasus or the Muslim regions of Russia. Among the 160 nationalities living in the capital, 30 are Muslim, that is, people who ethnically, culturally or spiritually identify  themselves in connection with the religion of Islam, the city-forming Tatar people,  who live here since Moscow erection, and the fastest growing community of Azerbaijanis of the North Caucasus, the Central - Asian - Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Kazakhs, and also Turks, Arabs, Persians, Afghans, Bosnians. According to rough estimates their number ranges from 1.5 to 2 million people. The Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin during a meeting with reporters in early June, said that in Moscow there are areas where the number of Russian-speaking population is only 25%. This was mentioned about labor migrants from the southern CIS countries, who often experience a language barrier and need to adapt to modern realities of Moscow life, social acclimation to the conditions of a new multiethnic and multi-confessional environment. It should be noted that Moscow is not an exception, and similar processes with varying degrees of severity and intensity occur in all major European capitals - Berlin, London and Paris. Mono-ethnic and monoconfessional cities - reserves either in Europe or elsewhere in the world today are almost gone.

Besides, Moscow as a capital of the multi-national state was a multinational city initially. Fino - Ugric peoples, eastern Slavic tribes - the polyans and drevlyans, natives of the Volga Bulgars (present-day Tatarstan), and later the Greeks, Poles, Germans and other foreigners from Western countries make up the population of this region from the early Middle Ages. For example, in "The Tale of the beginning of Moscow" - a work dating from the late 16th - early 17th centuries. there is a link to one of the first inhabitants of the capital Stepan Kuchyuk, presumably Russianized Volga Bulgarin, who lived at the same time with the official capital founder Yuri Dolgoruky. Unaccustomed to hearing "kuchka" can throw back to the words of Turkic root "kuchyuk" - "small", or, as the name Kuchum, "kuchu" - "move, movement, nomadic." This version looks quite plausible, given that by this time between Vladimir - Suzdal principality, which included Moscow and Volga Bulgars by geographical proximity and growing trade ties an active migration took place. The consequences of this was the formation of mixed marriages and mixed Russian - Bulgar population. And it is very likely that Stepan (Stefan) Kuchka was from such population. The Golden Horde brought new colors to the eastern face of medieval Moscow. Inside the Kremlin until the early 16th century there was a Tatar yard - the official residence of the Baskak Horde. In the "Tatar Muscovy" (as in Europe, Moscow Russia was called sometimes because of the strong position of Tatar political elite – the murz and beks) the social prestige of the whole Horde, as noted by many historians, has an absolute character. On this occasion, N. Karamzin "In the history of the Russian state” wrote: " Moscow owes its greatness to the khans." And the author of "Eugene Onegin", describing the Moscow life of the early 19th century, mentions the "Bukharians" - today's immigrants from Central Asia. The traces of the eastern presence are found, when studying the history of the Tatar settlement - perhaps the very first settlement in Moscow, where the Historic mosque, built in the early 19th century, is situated now. All the place names of the historical center of the capital associated with Tatar names, including the Kremlin - the word from the Tartar "korylma" - construction. The ancient

Moscow street
Baltschug comes from the Tatar word "clay." Let’s recall Arbat, Ostozhenka Ordynka Taganka, Basmannaya Cherkizovsky streets and alleys, Kadashevskaya embankment and Krimsky Bridge, village Tatarov, which today has become a part of Krylatskoe area. All of this suggests that the Tatars permanently lived in Moscow, or often came here. Only this can explain why these names, entrenched in the historical memory of Muscovites came into use in the Russian language, without triggering rejection. It is no accident that this period of Russian history, according to the classification of the famous Russian philosopher N. Berdyaev called "Tatar."

In Moscow today, there are five mosques. The Mosque at Vypolzov lane next to the

Mir Avenue
is called the Cathedral. This Muslim temple is 107 years old. In contrast to the thousands of Russian mosques which were destroyed or abandoned during the Soviet or pre-Soviet times, the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, which is popularly called "Tartar" has always been and remains open to its congregation. It is from here, from the mid 90s of last century the whole country is being broadcast a major religious holiday Eid al-Fitr and Eid al – Fitr ceremony held by the Chairman of the Russian Muftis Council Ravil Hazrat Gaynutdin. The Moscow Cathedral Mosque for more than its centenary history saw many leaders of the Arab-Muslim world - first President of Indonesia Sukarno (1956), Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1958), the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami (2001), Prime - Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohammad (2002), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (2003), the Secretary General "of the Islamic Conference" (OIC) Ekmeletdin Ihsanoglu (2005, 2008), Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri (2005) . Maybe that's why it is called "the main mosque of Russia."

A house Asadullayev, built in 1913 by means of the Baku oil businessman Shamsi Asadullayev, which now has a national - cultural autonomy of Tatars in Moscow, can be called as another Muslim site in the capital. The presence of 32 embassies of the Arab-Muslim states and the CIS countries in Moscow also stressed the importance of Islam in the life of the capital.

After Russia's entry into OIC in 2005 as an observer, the intensity of contacts betwen the Russian Federation and the Arab - Muslim world has grown considerably, which is objectively poses the question of expansion of modern Islamic infrastructure in Moscow - halal shops, centers, funeral services, prayer rooms and buildings. The construction of the new Muslim temples is now an urgent need for a complete organization of the religious life of Muslims in Moscow with regard to their quantitative growth and government attention to the development of relations with Muslim countries. Their solution requires deliberate and concerted efforts of the government and the Muslim community, which could contribute to the preservation of interreligious and interethnic peace in the capital and the country as a whole.

Farid AsadullinMember of the Public Chamber of RussiaCandidate of Historical SciencesPublished in the newspaper "Moskovskaya Pravda" 26.08.2011

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