Moscow Becoming Muslim-friendly

After decades of not being able to regularly attend prayers in Moscow's five mosques, life is becoming easier for the sizable Muslim community in the capital, the English-speaking Moscow Times reported on Tuesday, November 14.

Moscow Becoming Muslim-friendly

"We can see a revival of spirituality," said Gulnur Gaziyeva, Press Secretary of the Muftis' Council in Russia.

"More people are coming to the mosques, because earlier it was forbidden -- from the '30s to the '50s, until Stalin's death just keeping at home religious books written in Arabic could get you a gulag sentence," Gaziyeva said.

On Fridays, usually there is not enough room in mosques and worshipers spill out into corridors and anterooms, some praying on newspaper outside.

The capital's largest mosque, to accommodate 5,000 worshipers, is being built in the shadow of Moscow's Olympic stadium.

Set to open in September 2008, it will be second in Russia only to a mosque in Makhachkala, Dagestan, and the religion's headquarters in the country.

Although they are no official figures, Moscow is estimated to be home to a sizable Muslim community of two million, including 700,000 Tatars.

Although there are nearly 7,000 mosques across Russia, Muslim Muscovites are served by just five.

The Otradnoye suburb is home to Yadryam Mosque, opened in 1997, and a mosque financed by late Azeri president Heydar Aliyev, opened in 1999.

Near the site of the new mosque is the Sobornaya Mosque, which opened in 1904.

It is the longest continually operating mosque and was the only one that remained open throughout the Soviet period.

The oldest is the Historical Mosque which was built in 1813 to reward the Tatars living in Moscow for their contribution to the victory over Napoleon.


Moscow's two million Muslims are being served by only five mosques.

Muslim Muscovites are being offered new services in stores, patronized by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For those who want to learn Arabic, the language of the holy Q'uran, lessons are offered at the Moscow Islamic University.

Muslim women can find long denim skirts, full-length jackets and scarves with blocky bronze patterns, reminiscent of Versace designs.

White caps inlaid with gold, which many men prefer to wear, and velour prayer rugs can be bought at stalls set up by mosques on Fridays.

There are also two factories in the Moscow region that produce halal meat from animals slaughtered according to Shari`ah.

The booming business is attracting non-Muslims as well.

"Here we have not only Muslims, but Orthodox and Jews," said Idris, the owner of a two-year-old butcher shop selling halal meat. He sells meat at a comparable price to non-halal meat.

Muslims also have their own choice of entertainments.

The Tatar Cultural Center runs language and painting classes while some Muslims sometimes hire out swimming pools so they can be used with genders segregated.

Nonetheless, life in Moscow is particularly difficult for Muslim women.

"It is more difficult for women, of course, because of our clothes," said Elmira Gainutdinova, a 23-year-old law student who works as a secretary at the Sobornaya mosque.

"Sometimes people cry shakhidka [a female martyr]. It's the most famous word in all of Moscow."

Moscow Duma is making some effort to combat racisms, setting up a new Committee on Interethnic and Interfaith Relations in February.

Russia's major Islamic associations have launched the National Association of Russian Muslims, a pan-Muslim body to help spread Islam nationwide and clear any stereotypes about Muslims.

Muslims in Russia also have a right group to defend their economic, political and religious rights and clear stereotypes tarnishing their image.

There are some 23 million Muslims in the Russian Federation concentrated in north of the Caucasus, representing roughly 15 percent of Russia's 145 million population.

Islam is the country's second-largest religion, behind the Russian Orthodoxy.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16