RUSSIA Tatarstan celebrates 1100 years of Islam
In 2022, the conversion of the former Volga Bulgarian population will be remembered. The most important initiative is the construction of a mosque-cathedral in Kazan. Russian Islam has always lived in harmony with Orthodox Christianity.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, Marat Khusnullin, has approved plans for the celebration of 1,100 years since the conversion to Islam of the Volga Bulgarians, an ancient population of the region from the Urals in the times of Kievan Rus’.
In 2022, 71 events are planned. The most important is the construction in Kazan – capital of the Tatar republic – of a huge complex called the “Sobornaja” Mosque or “Cathedral” (see photo model): the sacred building will include a museum, a library and several exhibitions and chamber readings (madrassas). There will also be important initiatives in the neighboring regions of Ulyanovsk and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as in Moscow.
A scientific center for the study and dissemination of manuscripts from Islamic sources will be opened in Kazan. It will be made accessible to researchers and the public, promoting all the documents kept by the various libraries and scientific institutions.
A series of lectures on “Russia and the Islamic World” is also planned, with the participation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Center for Economic Studies of the Kazan Summit and UNESCO, which will hold the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Kazan.
The Volga Bulgarians were the original population of the eastern part of present-day European Russia. In 988, during the Christian baptism of the Rus’, the prince of Kiev Vladimir had questioned them, uncertain about the religion to adopt. According to the ancient Chronicle of Nestor, their poor hygiene in prayer meetings and the rejection of alcoholic beverages made the Russians lean towards Byzantine Christianity, which captivated the envoys from Kiev with the splendor of the rites of Saint Sophia in Constantinople. .
The invasion of Kyiv Rus’ by the Tatar-Mongol hordes at the beginning of the 13th century, just after the death of Genghis Khan, was preceded by the annihilation of the Eastern Bulgarians, who thus disappeared from the story. The Tatars had no official religion and admitted local cults, thus assimilating to the Islam of Kazan, while the Khanates of Asia and the Middle East only converted to the Muslim religion at the late 1300s.
Later conquered by the Russians under the leadership of the first Tsar Ivan the Terrible in the mid-1500s, Kazan became part of the Moscow court. Due to this historical dynamic, the Islam of the Russian Tatars has always lived in harmony with Orthodox Christianity as the second traditional religion of the Russian state.
Kazan holidays are considered a kind of accompaniment to the exaltation of Christian Russia, and are not a reason for interreligious conflict. On the contrary, they testify to the specificity of Russia as a country capable of achieving the harmony of major religions, in contrast to the historical Western conflict between Christianity and Islam.