Head of the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims of Mordovia Fagim Shafiyev told Interfax-Religion what challenges Russian Muslims face today and how to oppose them.
- Dear Mufti, Russian ummah has many problems of its own. Why even regional Russian leaders are so concerned with the situation in the Middle East?
- Because they better than ordinary Muslims understand that threats are coming from there and stabilization of situation in the Middle East influences domestic political life in Russia. Thus making certain statements they want to remind Muslims abroad about their position so that no one is mistaken what and in what circumstances Russian ummah will support. In frames of Islamic dialogue we try to make them understand that as millions of Russian citizens are traditionally Muslims and spiritual mood of our foreign brothers sometimes unpredictably penetrate in minds of our Muslims and influence spiritual atmosphere in the country, sometimes in not the best way, and we see it, we fight against it and we are not going to put up with it.
- Isn't it considered as limitation of freedom to express religious views, freedom of conscience?
- We have to choose between unrestrained freedom and spiritual security. We didn't initiate such a situation. Such is the situation and we have to take it into account. Freedom of conscience and religion resulted in growing threats of religious radicalism and schism. In other words, everyone got freedom, but many of them didn't get more conscience. I mean that spiritual environment of traditional religions is grasped by various destructive trends that destroy centuries-old traditions, national identity of peoples, testaments of our forefathers.
- In what way is it displayed?
- By all possible means mosques are occupied, new orders are set in them, orders of "new believers." Their morals differ from centuries-old norms, morals and traditions of Russians and, first of all, Muslim part of Russians. Honest and pious hearts of our not sophisticated parishioners are attracted with the fact that these preachers sometimes come from sacred places - Medina and Mecca. "New Muslims" say they are guided by spiritual values of sacred for Muslims places and first cradle of Islam, but in fact using the slogan "For the purity of faith!" they enhance arabization of Muslims. Muslims don't even suspect it as they can't always tell whether certain things are connected with Islamic traditions and rites or with peculiarities of Arabic lifestyle. Our Muslims consider every Arab or natives of the East a true Muslim though there are Christians, representatives of various sects and trends of Islam among them, there are non-believers, absolutely secular people. They preserve their identity even here in Russia. Then why we, Russian Muslims, representatives of various nationalities should lose our unique national identity to please the newcomers? It is unacceptable!
- Why does it happen?
- It is a result of intended propaganda that was launched to destabilize spiritual life of Muslims, to divide them. Aggressive religious war is led against Muslims of Russia. Discussions that we have never had are imposed on us and they lead to schism and division. We can't coordinate and celebrate together even great religious feasts Uraza Bairam and Kurban Bairam. Divided and separated Muslims ardently argue and insist on various attitudes to setting up the dates of Ramadan and the feast crowning the month of fast: some natives of the Middle Asia prefer to stick to the opinions adopted in their country, others follow authorities of the Saudi Arabia. Such situation really separate Muslims of Russia. I believe in these questions we should strive to reach canonical unity at least in every country as so far there is no hope to achieve the unity of world ummah on the question. It is absolutely unacceptable that adherents of Islam in every city are divided in opinions when to start and end the fast.
I am sure that distinct position of our brothers in the Russian Orthodox Church to Muslims of Russia and their struggle against evil they face will be fruitful and will form a new stage in respectful spiritual dialogue between main country's religions.