Muslims in Russia
The disappearance of the communist system at the beginning of
the 1990s ushered in a new period for Russia. The communist system,
founded upon materialist philosophy, established a social order
based upon the view that human beings were no more than matter
and claims that the human conscience is the product of matter
in motion. According to this claim, human intelligence, thought,
feelings, judgments, tendencies, and will are the result of chemical
reactions within the body, which is a kind of machine. Therefore
Marxism, which is an interpretation of materialism, views all
human culture, civilization, religion, concepts of government,
law, family, and morality as dependent upon material factors.
According to Marx, all of these things arise from differences
in the manner of their production and change over time.
In rejecting religion's values and espousing such thinking, materialism
is in serious error. People are not only material creatures, for
each one of them has a spirit that is not, as materialists claim,
a product of matter. On the contrary, what we call "material creatures"
are the things seen, heard, and sensed by spirit. It is impossible
to define the workings of the human spirit in terms of material
conditions. God created it and inspired special qualities in it,
and every individual lives his or her life according to these
special qualities. In the Qur'an, God commands:
He Who has created all things in the best possible
way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then produced
his seed from an extract of base fluid; then formed him and breathed
His Spirit into him and gave you hearing, sight, and hearts. What
little thanks you show! (Qur'an, 32:7-9)
Under its communist government, Russia adopted this materialist
bias and made it the base of its social life and social order.
The communist regime, which viewed human beings as tools of production
and believed that Social Darwinism could be applicable to human
relationships, left behind immense destruction in its wake, for
Social Darwinism came out of Charles Darwin's unscientific theory
of evolution, which proposes that human beings are developed animals
whose relationships could be governed by the same laws that govern
animals. In this order, from which faith in God and religious
morality were removed, such basic human needs as love, respect,
compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and fidelity had no
place. So a herd-psychology developed. People lived uneasily and
in constant fear. They lost the human qualities of love, compassion,
and mercy, and committed every kind of crime in the belief that
they would not be punished.
But God turned this society toward true religion. Russia's spiritual
collapse and moral degeneration later became the means by which
human beings, as a society, would approach religion and spirituality.
Years ago, the Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi announced
the good news to Muslims that they would become powerful in Russia,
and that the Russian people would come to Islam. Shortly after
Russia's 1917 revolution, Said Nursi who was captured by Russian
soldiers, said that communism would one day collapse and that
Islam would spread throughout Russia. In a conversation with a
Russian soldier, he said: "Three lights will be revealed one after
another in the Islamic world of Asia. Three shadows from your
side on top of each other will be revealed. The despotic curtain
will be torn and puckered, and I will come and build my school
here." With these words, he indicated the advantages that Muslims
would have in Russia. Elsewhere, he said:
As a result of two dreadful world wars, with the total awakening
of the people, a nation without religion cannot survive. Russia
cannot live without religion. They cannot also go back to Christianity.
They can be at the most dependent on the Qur'an that breaks the
unbelief and that is based on right and truth and that convinces
As Said Nursi said, the Russian people have
grasped that there cannot be a nation without religion, and this
understanding has guided them to the true religion of Islam. Today,
20 million Muslims live in Russia-roughly 15% of the population.
The majority of them are not immigrants or foreign residents,
but people who have lived there for more than 1,000 years. Under
communism, mosques were closed and turned into warehouses, religious
officials were arrested and sent into exile, and great pressure
was exerted on Muslims to abandon their religion. Now there is
a great current of people approaching Islam, one that cannot be
ignored. The founding of the Russian Islamic University in 1998,
the county's first Islamic university, and the increase in the
number of mosques in Tataristan from 18 in the Soviet period to
more than 1,000 today, are examples of the rise of Islam in Russia.78
These are only two examples, and there is no doubt that they
are very good and important developments. In Russia, the birthplace
of communism, the voice of Islam is being heard and, God willing,
this growth will become more rapid.
|(Above) Russia turns to religion,
(Middle) The growing turn to religion in Russia, (Below) Russian
youth now in search of faith. After the spiritual collapse
caused by communism, the Russian people became aware that
real salvation was possible only through religion.
||(Above) The New York Times reports on the
opening of the Russian Islamic University in an article entitled
"Shackles Off, Russia's Muslims are Still Chafing." (Middle)
In an article entitled "Islam on the Rise,"Newsday reports
that dozens of new mosques have been opened in Moscow, and
that there is great interest in special courses on Islam.
The Internet site below contains a historical account of Russia's
famous St. Petersburg mosque.
(Left) Crowded Eid prayers in Moscow,
The growth of Islam in Russia attracts the West's interest
and, from time to time, there are articles about it. In
a report entitled "Moscow Courts Its Million Muslims,"
the BBC follows the visit of Moscow's mayor Yuriy Luzhkov
to a mosque on the Ramadan Eid. A photograph shows him
standing beside the mosque's imam. Today in Russia, where
just 20 years ago people could not admit that they were
religious, the interest of the Russian people in religion
is indeed a significant development.(Middle) This report
about Russians turning to Islam mentions the conversion
of a former rabbi.