N 1, 28.02.2001


An interview by Marat Salimov taken from Nail-khazrat Fahrutdinov, the Chairman of the Muslim Religious Board of the Republic of Mordovia (MRB RM).

– Peace to you, Nail-khazrat.

– Peace to you, the grace of Allah and his blessing.

– First of all, let me congratulate you on your being elected to the post of the chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for the Republic of Mordovia.

– Thank you, this is a very important and responsible post. I beg God to give me the strength to carry out the mission for which I have been chosen.

– How would you characterize the state of Islam in Mordovia today?

– Islam in Mordovia is like a sapling which breaks through all the obstacles towards the light of faith.

– The history of Islam here counts over one thousand years, doesn’t it?

– Yes, it does, but unfortunately as Islam was spreading wider and wider, more and more local traditions and beliefs, which had nothing in common with Islam, added to it. And after the muslims of Russia got isolated from the Islam world, this process quickened and as a result we have very few real believers and people who know Islam.

– Is the situation the same all over Russia or is it like this only in Mordovia?

– It is the same both in Russia and in all the countries of the Council Independent States (CIS, most part of the former USSR). The revival of Islam, as the religion of our Lord on the territory of the former USSR is a very complicated but still a necessary process.

– What’s needed for that?

– Education, first of all. Many people simply don’t know how to worship our Lord in the right way. Such people should be helped in gaining the true knowledge. Others think that it is enough to be a Tatar and go to mosque twice a year. We should explain them that their behaviour has nothing to do with Islam. Tha faith can’t be separated from the deeds of faith.

– Recently Islam has often been associated with extremism. Are there any religious extremists in Mordovia?

– There are no extremists in Mordovia but there is a myth about wahhabits which was made up by unconscientious journalists which collect rumors and gossips from irresponsible people instead of contacting respected clergymen and clarifying the situation.

– The Russian Federation (RF) law “About the freedom of conscience and religious communities” allows any three legally registered muslim communities to organize their own Muslim Religious Boards (MRBs, or muftiats). What do you think, will there be more muftiats in Mordovia?

– Allah knows. I won’t try to guess, I can only say that with the help of Allah we were able to unite the most part of the muslims of the republic and we are ready to work hard. We think that the quality of our communities is more important than the quantity. You can trick, deceive anyone but Allah sees everything. If Allah wants it, we shall unite all the muslims. Anyway, we are ready to cooperate with any muslim communities whose aim is worshiping Allah.

– By the way, some articles discussing the supposed dissidence among the muslims of the republic have appeared recently. The Belozerye Muftiat has passed the registration, hasn’t it?

– Thank you for your question. It is very important to clarify the situation and to eliminate all the fantasies about this. It’s true that they have established their own muftiat in Belozerye (a big Tatar village in Mordovia. – Editor.) which gathered all the muslim communities of Mordovia registered in Ufa. They had made their Constituent Assembly and their muftiat was registered on December 9 in the Ministery of Justice of RF Board for the Republic of Mordovia. They were registered under the name of “The Centralized Religious Organization of the Muslim Religious Board of the Republic of Mordovia (the Mordovian Muftiat)”. I can only congratulate them. As you might have noticed, their muftiat is the Mordovian department of the Central Muslim Religious Board headed by Talgat Tadjutdin.

The communities of our MRB are registered in Moscow and we closely cooperate with the Moscow muftiat and its chairman Ravil Gainutdin, though our muftiat is absolutely independent and we obey to Allah only and act according to the laws of the Russian Federation. There can be no dissidence among the muslims of the republic. Moreover, Islam prescribes muslims to compete each other in making good deeds. Thus the existence of two muftiats, with the grace of Allah, will favour their activities in spreading the religion of Allah. We are ready to cooperate with the Belozerye muftiat. And we shall response to the provocations of those willing to destabilize the situation in the republic.

– Some representatives of the government of the republic attended your Constituent Assembly. What impression did they have of the assembly? And how are you planning your work with the government?

– Yes, some representatives of the government did attend the Constituent Assembly, and I think that the fruitful dialogue with the government will continue. We are not a sect. We have nothing to hide or to be afraid of. We are interested in the objective and true treatment of the actions of the muslim community. And we are ready to cooperate with the government of the republic in solving urgent problems.

P.S. At the moment Nail-khazrat, with a group of pilgrims makes hadj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Let us wish them successfull accomplishment of all the demands of hadj and a safe way back home.

E-mail: irek@moris.ru