A saying by prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)

In August 2000 first Muslim youth summer camp took place in Mordovia.


Let the one who has ears hear.

The necessity of religious education is evident. Ignorance is the worst enemy of religion, and ignorant person cannot make objective decisions differentiating good and evil, that causes a mistakes that could be easily avoided. The absence of religious knowledge is a perfect ground for variety of extreme and cult ideas. For a long time the Muslims and the orthodox clergy have been offering to organize courses at schools where children would be taught the basics of the God's Law. Unfortunately, such offers never got proper response. Nobody wants extra trouble. Investments into the human soul are considered to be non-profitable. As a result, the believers rely solely on the help of God and of those who cares about his will. Thanks God, one of the beneficial for spiritual education actions was initiated in August, 2000.


The necessity of a camp, where children could rest and study the basics of Islam simultaneously was beyond any doubt, yet the possibility to organize one came up only recently. Muslim Religious Society of the Octyabr District of Saransk headed by Nail Fahretdinov was the initiator of the camp. The head of the Lyambir administration, Kabir Almyashev approved the idea and offered to organize it on the base of the Vocational College #14. The principal of the college, Nail Mangutov, showed great hospitality by offering everything for the camp to function properly.

Gratitude for help.

First of all, I want to thank all those people who was so kind to finance the camp. Without financial support of many ordinary Muslims the camp would be still be no more than a plan on the paper. The organization committee and the teachers of the camp put a lot of effort to make a project to come true. And I specially want to thank the head of the Lyambir district administration Kabir Almyashev, whose far-sighted policy greatly helps to handle the situation in a multicultural district such as the Lyambir. Despite the fact that not all the authorities of the district excited about novelties that camp represents, the head of the Lyambir administration not only solely approve the new ideas, but also has a real input into the project. He does not differentiate between proposals and eagerly facilitates any beneficial project for local community, no matter if it is building of a mosque or organizing a children's camp. Such an attitude towards the interests of the society is an excellent example for the other officials to follow.

Everyday Life.

The number of children alternated from 55 to 60. The children were mostly from Tatar villages of the Republic of Mordovia and from Saransk. During 11 days of the studies they got to know the basic canons of Islam, the history of religion, learned the right way to perform the prayer, attained basic skills in reading the Holy Koran. The lessons took turns with sports, games, excursions. Children were communicating with each other all the time and in a very pleasant appropriate manners, just as real Muslims ought to. Everyone was enjoying days they spent on the camp and of course everybody wanted to come back next summer. This is mostly due to the teachers' great services, who surrouned kids with attention and care. Kamil Badretdinov was a teacher for boys; who got his religious education in Tatarstan and in Saudi Arabia. The girls were taught by Sumaia Badretdinova, who also graduated from a madrasah, and by Nasima Fahretdinova, who has a secular education apart from the religious one — she graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in Saransk and has been working as a teacher for 17 years already. Haidar Grachev, the muezzin of the Muslim Society of the Octyabr district of Saransk, was also taking care of the children consistently.

A look from outside.

I decided to interview a witness of the camp's work, the head librarian of the college, Rumia Kurmaeva.

- Rumia, how did you take the fact that the Muslim camp was going to take place in your college, did your expectation prove to be right?

- To tell the truth, we were very prejudiced to in facing the fact that our college was going to be a host for a Muslim camp. Recently the federal mass media have been constantly reporting about terrorist camps, “wahhabits” and so on. Fortunately, in a few days our fears were gone. First of all I'd like to mention the initiators and the teachers of the camp; they are outstanding people. Their nobility, their love to children astonished me. Everything was always in a perfect order in the camp, everybody treated each other in a very respectful way. There was no screaming or any inappropriate words, kids had a rest and studied at the same time; moreover, they studied the Holy Scripture, which undoubtedly left an imprint on their souls.

- Muslim girls studied in the camp too, and they were dressed according to the guidelines of the Holy Koran. I don't think that the inhabitants of Lyambir had ever seen such a number of young girls wearing long dresses and hijabs (head cover).

- You're quite right. At the first moment it shocked me too. I guardedly watched the young Muslim girls. And here's the result of my observations - any mother could only dream of a daughter like that. Nobility, modesty, neatness, beautiful relations with the people, plus the dress which underlines their aspiration for chastity - all this made a good impression. Moreover, these girls made me question the belief that Lyambir is “civilized.” The claim is based on the fact that in Lyambir girls can dress in as little as possible, which is supposed to make it more civilized, but in Lyambir the respect for women is fading away, and depravity and alcohol are becoming the most popular entertainment. Even if the parents are trying to protect their children from bad company the young people, boys and girls alike, are still pining for bad company. Since they have never seen any other way, they are afraid to become lonely laughing-stocks. In my opinion, the solution is to turn to our origin and the religion of our grandfathers. And more there will be young Muslims more I would believe in a revival of the family, cultural and human values.

- The camp was closely watched by the government officials. What were their actions?

- There were lots of examiners. There were some representatives of the State Assembly of Mordovia, FSB, the Ministry of Education, the local administration and so on. At first they were looking for Arabs and terrorists, but soon they found out that there weren't any. All the documents were in order, the mission of the camp was the noblest, the examiners made sure to give the green light and wished the best to the camp. The initiators and the teachers of the camp treated these examinations with confidence, since organizers were sure that were doing a good and noble deed.

- Rumia, how did local people treat the campers?

- I think that people who had direct contacts with the teachers or the children had only the best impressions. Even I took the questions such as “Haven't those “wahhabits” moved out yet?” as a personal insult. I think that it is simply unscrupulous to denounce the real Muslims who are doing the noblest thing by educating children. I'm glad, I understood the real meaning of Islam - the religion of peace and kindness. Only 8 out of 60 participants were from Lyambir, and I hope that if the camp takes place next year, this number will increase. Those, who had been in the camp liked it very much and the memories about it were the best ones. Once more I want to thank the initiators and the participants from the bottom of my heart. We will be very glad to meet you again next year.


All the people are worried about the future of their children. Nobody wants that his or her child got killed in a drunk fight or disappeared in the deaths of some weird sect. It makes it even more gratifying that Muslims were able to unite and demonstrate what the real Islam is, that it is a religion of peace and compassion, providing one with a stable system of values, with lack of that it is so hard to get through this life. Religious education is as necessary for our society as the air, and the first step in the right direction has been made. The first spiritual and educational camp has taken place with God's help. And let us hope that it will take place in the future too.

Marat SalimovAbout the author.

Marat Salimov, born in 1979 in the village of Lyambir of the Lyambir District of the Republic of Mordovia. In 1996 he graduated from the school number 4 in Saransk and got into the Economy Department of the Mordovian State University, majoring in management. Marat participated and succeeded in many national and republican olympiads and conferences. He has been rewarded by “Russian Federation President's Scholarship” for his significant input in scientific and social work. Marat performs five times daily prayer and tries to follow the rules of Islam.

From the editor.

I had a chance to attend the ceremony dedicated to the end of the season in the camp. It was on the 18th of August in the recreation center of the Lyambir Vocational College #14. My brightest recollection is that of a boy, whose name was Ibrahim, reading one of the Sura's from Noble Koran. That was marvelous. The children were given books, posters, pens as gifts for their successful studies. Salman Ashimov was announced to be the best student. Girls were sitting in the back of the room. They already got their presents in advance, separately from men. After that the initiators and the teachers of the camp thanked the children for their good study and their obedience, also they thanked the administration for their hospitality. On behalf of the administration of the college, the deputy director, Fedor Kolesnikov wished the children health, successes, pointed out their behavior and invited them to attain degrees from their college. The workers of the college that took the floor, Rumia Kurmaeva and Valentina Dudnikova pointed out that it was pleasure to meet with such an awesome boys and girls and wished them to remain as noble and dignified as they were during the time spent in the camp, that their college hosted. Anver Nadiev, on behalf of the Tatar Culture Society “Yaktashlar” (Countrymen), congratulated children with their accomplishment of the course. The ceremony was concluded with a dinner that took place in the dining hall of the college.

E-mail: irek@moris.ru