Moscow, April 3, Interfax - The Russian Council of Muftis has opposed the initiative of the Russian Interreligious Council to declare Wahhabism an extremist ideology and Wahhabi organizations as extremist.
"While deeply aware of the vital importance of countering the ideology of intolerance and making numerous efforts to that end, we, nevertheless, believe that the introduction of the principle of persecuting believers for their beliefs rather than their specific illegal actions will have the most devastating impact on Russia's Muslim community, inter-ethnic accord and the legal culture of the Russian state," the Russian Council of Muftis said in a statement published on its website.
As reported, the Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin voiced the aforementioned proposal at a meeting of the Russian Interreligious Council in Moscow on March 27. The Russian Interreligious Council endorsed the mufti's initiative and approved the relevant request to the authorities.
"We must ban this ideology, it is misanthropic, but the law enforcement practice in our country bans specific organizations rather than ideology. Wahhabis in our country represent a set of various cultures, they are developing and evolving. After a ban of this kind, their activities would become considerably difficult and it would reduce the flow of persons to the terrorist underworld," Samigullin said on March 27.
However, the Council of Muftis said today, several days after the meeting, that this resolution is "clearly legally ambiguous" and violates the constitutional principle of the separation of the state and religious organizations.
The Council of Muftis said in the statement that the resolution draft was not distributed in advance, not all members of the Russian Interreligious Council's presidium saw it and, in addition, Damir Mukhetdinov, the envoy of the Council of Muftis to the Interreligious Council, was called off from the meeting several minutes before its beginning.
The Council of Muftis also opposed the creation of regional branches of the Russia Interfaith Council in Pyatigorsk and Kazan, saying that "it should remain a federal body."
Albir Krganov, the mufti of Moscow and the head of the Spiritual Assembly of Russian Muslims, in turn, said that he supports the idea of banning the Wahhabi movement. "The proposal of Kamil-khazrat [Samigullin] and the proposal of other distinguished religious figures were voiced not for the first time and we support it, it is our common stance," he told Interfax-Religion.
"They tried to introduce an alien Islamist idea here, which caused the radicalization of the youth. The books of renowned writers Ibn Taymiyyah and Abd al-Wahhab, which Kamil-khazrat had mentioned, eventually lead to radicalization of their readers and some religious figures and groups. [...] extremists and radicals, incomprehensive revolutions, government overthrows, death and tears always appeared everywhere in the books of those scholars, which had been circulated," the mufti said.
"On the basis of the Russian legislation and without infringing the rights of religious people, we should draft laws, which would help the Russian civil society to suppress attempts to nourish such an image of extremely religious beliefs," Krganov said.
Wahhabism is an Islamic religious and political movement established in the 18th century. Wahhabi followers perceive the struggle to, in their opinion, clean Islam from various foreign elements, as their main objective. At the same time, their belief is that only the first three generations of Prophet Muhammad's followers practiced true Islam and oppose all of its ensuing innovations.