Islam in Russia

Paata Surguladze | Academic Essay | 2021

Needless to say, a comprehensive discussion regarding Islam itself within a single lecture or essay is impossible, especially if also it includes an analysis of the history and current situation of a country like Russia.


Before I start talking directly about Islam, I would like to briefly touch on the issue of studying the Middle East and Islam in general and of course in Russia as well.


Numerous Orientalist scholars have dedicated their works to the Middle East, Islam, and Muslim culture in general. Among them, I would first like to name those, whose books have become classics of Islamology. No scholar, who is at least slightly serious about the study (research) of Islam, can bypass the books of these scholars. In general, a great contribution to the study of the Middle East, Islam, and Muslim culture: G. Grunebaum, I. Goldziher, A. Metz, H. Massé, Ch. S. Hurgronje, H. Gibb, M. Watt - these are the authors whose books have been passed down through the generations of Orientalist scholars. Even today, the desk books of specialists in this field are G. Grunebaum's "Classical Islam", H. Massé's "Islam", I. Goldziher's "Lectures on Islam".


Now for Islamology in Russia. It is part of Russian Orientalism. In general, the study of the history, culture, and ethnography of the  Middle East and the people living in this region, also due to their foreign policy, has always received great attention. Historically, this is evidenced by the ambassadors and missions sent by the Russian government to this or that country in the region. The establishment of the Academy of Sciences in the Russian Empire by Peter I (1724) gave a new impetus to the development of Russian Oriental studies. The establishment of the Academic Scientific School of Russian Oriental Studies began. Naturally, Islam also came to the attention of Russian scholars. V. Bartold, I. Krachkovsky, A. Krimsky, W. Rosen, I. Petrushevsky, E. Beliaev, and others made a great contribution in the development of Russian Oriental Studies and Islamology. They have devoted several valuable papers to the study of the Middle East and Islam. It is sufficient to name A. Krimsky "History of Islam" and I. Petrushevsky`s"Islam in Iran" by Petrushevsky. Prominent Russian Arabist, academician I. Krachkovsky translated the Qur'an (Quran) into Russian, thus making a great contribution to the development of Russian Arabic and Quranic studies.


This was regarding the study of classical Islam. Modern Islam is also seriously studied in Russia. Among the many scholars who discuss Islam in the modern context, I would name: L.R. Gordon-Polonskaya, A. Malashenko, E. Doroshenko, M. Stepaniants, A. Ignatenko, Z. Levin, A. Ionova. Islam is studied in many aspects in such scientific centers of Russia: the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Asia and Africa of the Moscow State University (ISAA), the Faculty of Oriental Studies of St. Petersburg State University, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg division).


Some Information about Islam


The founder of Islam, Muhammad, was born in about the year 570 in Mecca to a family of low-income merchants of the Quraysh tribe of the Hashim last name. He was orphaned very young and raised by his uncle Abu Talib. The 12-year-old took part in his first caravan trip to Syria with his uncle.


Muhammad had to work with the rich Meccan widow Khadijah. He married her at the age of 25. This fact strengthened his material well-being so much, that he no longer had to travel long distances. Consequently, there was more time to think and judge on different subjects.


Muhammad began preaching Islam in Mecca in the 10s of the seventh century.


In the cave of Hira on Mount Jabal al-Nur, he had his first vision, where the archangel Jibrail (Gabriel) appeared with a book (scroll) wrapped in fabric. It was he who commanded Muhammad to recite the true word of Allah to the people. "Read in the name of your Lord who created all things." These revelations often recurred to Muhammad.


At first, this sermon of Muhammad was not successful. He was opposed by wealthy Meccans. He was forced to move to Yathrib in 622 with his supporters. It was this fact that formed the basis of the Muslim calendar called the Hijra. After Muhammad moved to Yathrib, it was called the city of the Prophet, Madīnat an-Nabī, or Madinah (Medina) for short.


Islam is based on five main pillars:


The first is the verbal acknowledgment of the Muslim faith, or "Ash-Shahadah."


Its utterance is the obligation of every Muslim. It is repeated several times during prayer. During the Holy War with the enemies, it was used as a fighting vocation. This is where the term "Shahid" ("martyr; witness") came from, meaning a warrior who died a martyr's death. I will return to the importance of the institution of martyrdom in Islam below.


The second pillar is the prayer "As-Salat". It is an expression of worship of God and a symbol of faith.


The third pillar is the obligatory fast, or "savm". Believers must observe it for 30 days during the month of Ramadan in the lunar calendar.


The fourth pillar is the almsgiving, the obligatory tax, or "zakat". Its payment is obligatory for all adult Muslim men as the payment-in-kind or in cash.


The fifth pillar - this is a pilgrimage to Mecca for religious purposes, or "Hajj". Its fulfillment is obligatory for all Muslim believers at least once in their lives.


We need to look briefly at jihad.


Jihad (Arabic: diligence, rigor, effort), [or, "Jihad fi Sabil Allah - fighting on the way to Allah] is one of the main duties of a Muslim. It originally meant military action and meant a selfless struggle against nonbelievers.


In the surahs of the Meccan period of the Quran, jihad is seen as an effort to save the soul of a believer. The "Great Jihad" meant the believer's struggle for spiritual and physical perfection, while the "Lesser Jihad" required believers to take part in armed struggle.


It is true that the obligation of jihad is not included in the 5 pillars of Islam, but it is obligatory for all Muslims who can fight.

Let us now return to the “institution of martyrdom in Islam”.

The institution of martyrdom is encouraged in every way in Islam. If a believing Muslim dies fighting for faith, that is, while performing jihad, then he becomes a martyr, or a shahid, who is met directly in paradise.


There are two types of martyrs (Shadis):


"Shuhadah’ al-ma`rakah" ("battlefield martyrs") - "martyrs in this world and the next" ("shuhadah ad dunya wa-l-Akhira") and "Shuhadah al-Akhira" – “martyrs of the next world only”.


The holy book of Muslims is the Quran (Qur'an). It is a collection of revelations revealed to Muhammad by Allah. The Qur'an consists of 114 chapters or suras. For Muslims, the Qur'an is the direct word of Allah, addressed to His Messenger, and through him to his followers.


In the Qur'an, the Suras, in turn, are divided into verses (āyāt), that are heterogeneous in size. When reciting the Qur'an, a Muslim is required to adhere to special ethical norms.


The Qur'an is the first literary monument of the classical Arabic language, and it has had a great influence on the culture of the entire Muslim world in general.


There are three different followings in Islam: Sunnism, Shi'ism (Shia Islam), and Kharijism. The first two are the most significant. A major issue on which Sunnis (Sunnites) and Shiites disagree is the question of the legacy of clerical and secular authority.


The followers of Sunnism call themselves the "Sunni people" ("Ahl as-Sunna wa-l Jama’ah"). Sunnah means road in Arabic. It is basically an addition to the Qur'an and preaches the way of life preached and established by Muhammad for Muslims. The Sunnah is the behavior and words of Muhammad which are stored in the hadiths, or narrations.


The Sunnis acknowledge:


The legitimacy of the first four orthodox caliphs, the authenticity of the six collections of hadith, the affiliation to one of the four existing theological-legal schools. For Sunnis, Hadiths are the basic guide (basis) of public and religious life for believers.


Sunnis do not recognize and believe in:


The possibility of mediation between Allah and the people after the death of Muhammad, the special nature of Ali, and the right of his descendants to lead the Muslim community (Imamate).

The rift between Sunnis and Shiites was thus politically motivated by the legitimacy of the caliphate's inheritance of religious and secular power. Then this controversy acquired a religious dimension as well.


Shiites (Arabic: "Ash-Shia" - followers, comrades, party) are a group of Muslims who, unlike Sunnis, consider the fourth orthodox caliph Ali and his descendants to be the sole successor to the Prophet Muhammad and heirs to the legitimate supreme authority. The Shiites were the firsts to form the Party of Ali ("Shiat Ali").


After Muhammad's death, a serious dispute arose over the inheritance of higher power. Shiites believed that the highest authority power should be inherited. They rejected the principle of electivity because they believed that a Muslim leader could only be a successor or relative of Muhammad since only he could pass on the holy grace radiated by the Prophet himself. According to the Shiites, only Ali, Muhammad's cousin, and at the same time, the husband of his daughter Fatima could be these people. It is also important to note that only Fatima gave her prophet father two grandchildren - Hassan and Hussein. So, the Shiites did not legally recognize the first three caliphs and declared only Ali and his direct descendants as the legal successors of Muhammad.


In general, Muslims are guided by the instructions of Sharia in matters of morality and faith. Sharia is a collection of religious-legal norms that encompass human relationships with God and other people. It is the law of the Muslim faith and defines their religious and moral-ethical norms. According to Sharia, observance of these norms is obligatory for every Muslim.


In the eighth and ninth centuries, various theological-law schools were established, which are called "madhhabs" or schools. 4 Sunni madhhabs have survived to our time. They are considered equally authoritative among Muslims.


The first of these is the Hanifites, (Hanafia). Its founder is Abu Hanifa (699-767);


The second is the Malikites (Malachi). Its founder is Malik Ibn Anas (713-795);


The third is the Shafi'is (Shafi'is), founded by Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i. (767-820);


Fourth, these are the Hanbalites (Hanbali). Its founder is the famous Baghdad theologian, jurist, and traditionalist Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 855).


Unlike other "madhhabs", Hanbalism originated from the beginning as a religious-political movement and only later developed into a dogmatic-legal school. Among the theorists of this madhhab, we should first mention Ibn Taymiyyah and his works.


In the middle of the eighteenth century, a religious-political movement was formed based on this Hanbalite madhhab -  the following of Wahhabism, about which I will talk again below.

Islam has its reformers. The fathers of this field are: Saeed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), Jamal Ad-Din Al-Afghani (1839-1909), Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1834-1905) and Muhammad Iqbal (1873-1938).


There is also a mystical following in Islam called Sufism. It implies absolute obedience to God. Sufism is represented in both Sunni and Shiite followings. Traditional Islam views Sufism and Sufis with great distrust.


Islam in Russia


Islam is the historical and traditional religion of the Russian Federation.


Today about 20 million Muslims are living in Russia and they are a religious minority. The followers of this religion live in all regions of Russia except Chukotka and belong to about 40 different ethnic groups.


These figures are named by the Muslim spiritual leaders themselves, and the same is said by Russian officials, including the country's president.


When we talk about the demographics of Islam and its spread, it should be noted that, in this country, in the twentieth century, the ratio between Christian Orthodox and Muslims was constantly changing in favor of the latter. E.g. If in 1926 it was 16: 1. In 1999 it was already 10: 1. This is an indication that the number of followers of Islam in Russia is increasing.


In Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Grozny, and other cities of the country you will see mosques built on higher ground, where Muslims living in these cities gather for Friday prayers. There are more and more fashionably dressed young people in mosques. Large crowds are observed here during the Muslim holidays. Among the mosques of Russia, the St. Petersburg Mosque is exceptionally beautiful, the opening of which was deliberately coincided in 1913 with the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.


When we talk about Islam and its demographics in Russia, we must take into account the fact that the ethnicity of its citizens does not always coincide with their confessional affiliation.

The Muslim community in Russia includes two areas: the Tatar-Bashkir and the North Caucasus.


Tatars are the largest Muslim ethnic group. Their number is 5.5 million and they live compactly in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as in some regions of the Volga, southern Urals, and Siberia. It should be noted that the Tatars are more deeply involved in Russian society.


The Bashkirs come in second place and make up 1.6 million.

The number of Muslims in the North Caucasus reaches about 6 million. The most numerous of these are Chechens. They make up 1.3 million, of whom more than 800,000 live in Chechnya.


The North Caucasus is the region of Russia where Islam is most traditional. Its eastern part -  Dagestan, Ingushetia, Chechnya is more Islamized.


Muslims make up the majority of the population in seven subjects of the Russian Federation.


The number of Muslims living in Moscow ranges from about half a million to two million. A total of 6 mosques have been opened in the country's capital, which is insufficient for a large city like Moscow. Experts estimate that their number should reach at least 15.


It should be noted that Islam in Russia is polyethnic and multicultural. It is recognized by 38 different indigenous peoples of Russia. Each area has its history and confessional traditions. According to the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin, Russian Muslims can be divided into three groups: the first is Siberia and the Far East, the second is the central regions of the country (Volga, Urals, Moscow), and the third - the North Caucasus.


History


Several stages can be outlined in the presence and development of Islam in Russia:


1). Islamization of Volga Bulgaria; 2). Islam in the Golden Horde; 3). Islam in the Moscow principality (later in the kingdom); 4). Islam in the Russian Empire; 5). Islam during the Soviet period and the state; 6). Islam in Modern Russia.


Muslims first appeared in the North Caucasus in the 40s of the 7th century. At the same time, the Arabs conquered Central Asia. Islam spread from the North Caucasus to Volga. Islam also had a great influence in the Khazar Khaganate.


Volga Bulgaria was formed at the end of the 9th century. His first ruler (emir) Almış was Muslim. In 922, Volga Bulgaria officially converted to Islam. Until the thirteenth century, this state was a recognized Muslim center. In 1236, Mongols conquered Volga Bulgaria incorporated it into the Golden Horde.


The confessional policy of the Mongols was characterized by relative tolerance. It was a peaceful coexistence of the Mongol pagan faiths, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism. However, special patronage of Islam will soon emerge in the Horde.


From 1314, during the reign of Uzbek Khan, Islam became the main religion of the Horde. From this period onwards, the majority of the Khanate population adheres to Islamic law.

From the fifteenth century onwards, the Golden Horde split into several independent khanates. The closest of them to the Russian nobility was the Khanate of Kazan. This khanate was entirely Islamized.


Territorial expansion initiated and implemented by the Moscow principality since the time of Ivan the Terrible led to the inclusion of the Astrakhan and Kazan Khanates within its borders.


The conquest of the Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan often was followed by forceful attempts of Christianization. For example, in Russia, there was an attempt to destroy Muslim mosques in the 90s of the 16th century. Persecution of Muslims continued throughout the 17th century. E.g. In 1649, during the reign of King Alexius Michael's son, Muslim lands were seized by force.


A similar policy continued during the reign of Peter the Great. His policy of centralization also affected the Muslim community in the country. E.g. In 1713, Peter the Great with his decree revoked the rights of the Tatars, who refused to convert to Christianity.


It should be noted that despite these violent acts by the state, there has been no mass conversion to Christianity of Muslims in Russia. Islam did not give up its positions and strongly defended the community of its followers.


Attitudes towards Muslims living in the country have changed fundamentally since the coming to power of Catherine II. It was she who put an end to the acts of violence against Muslims by the state. In 1788, she issued the decree (указ) to establish the “Orenburg Magomenetan (Muslim) Spiritual  Assembly”.


During the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire was able to incorporate in its territory the Caucasus and Central Asia by force. During this period it developed into a large polyethnic and poly-religious country. This created the need to establish a so-called "imperial identity". Therefore, achieving internal consolidation with the Muslim part of the country has become one of the main concerns of the government.


In 1849, 8 Muslim educational institutions were opened in Russia. The imams trained at these schools were assigned to various mosques by the state.


The Tavriya Muslim Theological Division was opened in 1832, and the Transcaucasian Shiite and Sunni Muslim Theological Division in 1872 (it also included the North Caucasus);


Despite the Christian centrism in the country at the time, the government's attitude towards Islam was still tolerant. In this regard, the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rawil Gaynutdin, said: "They tolerated Islam more than they understood and supported it."


Over time, Islam gradually merged with the political system of the empire.


In 1905, a "Muslim faction" was formed in the Russian State Duma of the first convocation, one of the main purposes of which was to protect the interests of the Muslim peoples of the empire. The faction consisted of 24 deputies, 4 of whom were representatives of the Muslim clergy.


During this period the state was trying to keep its Muslim citizens under special control and attention.


The Bolsheviks, who came to power through a coup in October 1917, saw themselves as allies of the Muslim peoples and, unlike Christianity, saw Islam as a religion of strong social protest and revolutionary motivation. In their dictionary you would often come across such expressions and phrases: "Red Imam", "Red follower of Sharia", and not infrequently you would even hear slogans such as: "For the Soviet government, for Sharia".


Until 1928, the Muslim clergy were even exempt from taxes. On its part, the Muslim clergy didn't owe anything to Kremlin, and actively supported the pursuit of Soviet foreign policy.


The situation regarding the way Muslims were treated by the Soviet state and government changed dramatically from 1929. The tolerance that was shown towards Muslims simply changed to persecution and harassment.


During Khrushchev's so-called "warming period" the situation deteriorated again for Muslims, another wave of anti-religious, atheistic propaganda broke out.


The state policy towards the Muslim community has drastically improved during the "perestroika" period. The adoption of the "Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" played an important role in this. This resulted in the lifting of the ban on religious propaganda. Religious organizations, including Muslim ones, acquired the rights of a legal entity.


In Russia, the Muslim community (umma) is not united. There are 2 relatively weakly related Muslim units. For example, Tatar Imams avoid going to mosques in the North Caucasus, while "Caucasians" do not go to Tatar mosques. The coordination of the leaders of these two units happens only when they have to solve the tasks set by the government. They do not have strong solidarity with each other, which was clearly expressed during the first and especially the second Chechen war. There are frequent cases where Muslim politicians and clerics accuse each other of Islamic extremism and "Wahhabism."


The Muslim clergy is financially dependent on the state for its support. The government often subsidizes local administrations to build mosques and training centers. Also, the Muslim priests are paid their salaries in part or in full, and so on. This is the case in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Moscow, Mordovia, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and other subjects of the federation.


Islamism


Islamism is one of the many terms used to describe a religion-led political activity. The terms political Islam, fundamentalism (neo-fundamentalism), Wahhabism (neo-Wahhabism), traditionalism, jihadism, jihadist Islamism, revivalism, "Islamic extremism", and integration are also often used to describe such activity.


The roots of Islamism date back to the distant Middle Ages. The views of its leading ideologues imply a return to the original source of Islam.


To better understand the idea of ​​Islam (Salafism), we need to look back on and delve deeper into the Hanbalist madhhab. It is one of the theological schools of Sunni Islam (we discussed this above). Its creator was the theologian and jurist (Faqih) Ahmad Abu Hanbal (783-855). He is the founder of the strictest madhhab, Hanbalism, of the 4 theological schools in Islam. It is important to realize that this madhhab acquired the character of a political movement from the very beginning, and its followers from the very beginning were unconditionally opposed to any innovation (bida) in Islam.


At the head of Salafism stands the Syrian ulema and the theologian Taqī ad-Dīn Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328); He taught in Damascus and took an active part in theological and political life. Taymiyyah was arrested twice for her views. He died in 1328 in a Damascus prison.


Taymiyyah demanded a literal understanding and comprehension of the Qur'an and the Sunnah without any interpretation and fought against any "inadmissible change" in Islam. He defended the principle of unwavering unity of religion and state. It was believed that without Sharia the state could develop in the wrong direction and eventually even form a tyranny. He unconditionally recognized the legitimacy of the "orthodox caliphs." His ideas and thought have greatly influenced various Muslim ideological followings.


It is now an indisputable fact that the conceptual basis of Islam is the ideas formulated by this Muslim theologian who lived seven centuries ago.


The follower of Ibn Taymiyyah's ideas is the eighteenth-century figure Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792). He created a doctrine in which he revived the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah. This doctrine of his is known today as Wahhabism.


Islamic reformers Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani and Muḥammad ʿAbduh also made a significant contribution to the enrichment of Islamist thought. Also, the heirs of medieval theology are the ideologues of Islam of the previous century: Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Association in Egypt) and Abul A'la Maududi  (founder of the Indo-Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami).


It can be said that Islam is the most socialized religion. It attaches great importance to social justice, to building a state where social justice is protected. This is why it is also the most politicized religion.


The main goal of the Islamist struggle is to create a just Islamic state. In such a state, the basis of law must be Islam and Sharia.

In the 80s and 90s of the 20th century, the Wahhabi movement, also known as the Salafist movement, emerged in Russia.


As I mentioned above, the main goal of the Wahhabi (Salafi) movement is to purify Islam. His followers believe that Islam should be cleansed of all innovations and should return to its original form.


The main area of this movement in Russia is the North Caucasus, in particular Dagestan and Chechnya. It is also common in the Dagestani and Chechen diasporas in the Stavropol region and the Lower Volga region.


Here the Wahhabis form the primary units, called nonformal jamaats. This is a Muslim community, a political union of Salafis.

According to 2016 data, jamaats with similar radical sentiments were already created throughout Russia.


According to a sociological poll, people from the North Caucasus are the reason for most irritation in Russia. According to specialists, migrants to Russia from the Caucasus and Central Asia are one of the main sources for the spread of radical Islam in Russia. According to experts, the self-consciousness of these arriving migrants is over-Islamized. They are actively demanding the construction of new mosques and declaring Friday a holiday. That is why it is these Muslim migrants who bring radical Islamist ideas to Russia.


Islamists control almost all mosques, which in the current situation serve as more political centers and discussion clubs. They attract people who are in difficult social situations, are disappointed by the government and its structures, have lost trust in everyone, are in a kind of political depression, and consider Islam as the only way to solve their problems.


It is well known that the most common and dangerous form of terrorism in the world is ethno-religious terrorism. The terrorist acts, which are based on religious and ethnic motives, are defined by specialists as ethno-religious. Their requirements for committing a terrorist crime may be different. Political demands may include granting new rights to any religious or national group, including the declaration of state independence.


Modern terrorism often combines both national and religious motivation, often the latter coming to the front line.


The center of ethno-religious confrontation in Russia was the North Caucasus.


The following picture is seen regarding the 50 largest terrorist acts committed in Russia from January 1, 2001, to July 12, 2005:

Injured - 4656 people, of which 1115 died, 3358 had open wounds.


The financing of terrorists by their organizers is particularly secretive. Its main source is of course foreign financial injections, although they also manage to attract funds independently.


The main source of their funding is:


Illegal arms trade, illicit drug trafficking, illegal extraction and sale of petroleum products, harassment of locals.


Conclusions


All of the facts stated above provide the grounds to conclude the following:


1). Islam is the second-largest religion in Russia after Orthodox Christianity in terms of the number of its followers. It has existed in the country since the time Russia officially became Christian. Islam is recognized by about 40 ethnic groups living in Russia. Most of the Muslims living in Russia are followers of the Shafi'i madhhab of the Sunni followers of Islam, although there are also some followers of Shiism. The followers of Islam in Russia are also migrants who are not citizens of the country and come mainly from Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries. Including them, the number of Muslims in the country reaches 20 million.


2). During its existence in Russia, Islam and Muslims have repeatedly been the object of persecution and harassment. At the same time, there were periods when the state government showed tolerance. It was more a forced expression of goodwill than a heartfelt desire to peacefully coexist. In this respect, a tolerant policy pursued by the Russian Emperor Catherine II was a turning point.


3). It should be noted that the religious policy of the state of Russia was quite contradictory and many mistakes were made in this regard.


The Russian government has been able to control the Muslim population in three main areas:


The first was direct military-political influence over them, the second was their influence through loyal clergy, and the third was the formation of a local traditional aristocracy and the inclusion of Muslims with a special spirit of loyalty towards the empire in the general Russian elite.


4). The national liberation movement of different groups of Muslim people living in Russia has repeatedly come out under the flag of Islam. We must first recall the struggle of the North Caucasian peoples for independence under the leadership of Imam Shamil. It should also be noted that during the two wars waged by the Russian federal government in Chechnya in the 1990s, Chechen warriors (fighters) perceived their confessional affiliation that along with "Chechens" they were also "Muslims" was extremely important.


5). The period from the 1930s to the 1990s was particularly difficult for the Muslim community in Russia, it was the time when they endured the horrible reality of terror, persecution, and deportation. The unfavorable situation of Muslims in the country changed radically in the 90s of the twentieth century. During the "perestroika" period. It was then that the "Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religion" was adopted.


6). There is no unified system of Muslim clergy in Russia. Several Muslim clerics have quite tense relations with each other.


Overall, the Muslim clergy has a mostly loyal attitude towards the Russian government. However, since the government is its main sponsor it still manages to maintain control over it. It should be noted that high-ranking members of the Muslim clergy have taken their place in the country's religious establishment and political elite in exchange for their loyalty to the government. They are making an appearance at different events together with the country's political leadership and the ruling elite.


7). The Russian Federation is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. This is the reason for its multiculturalism. This is to some extent its wealth and at the same time a problem. Muslim citizens living in Russia are members of this multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society. The problem, however, is whether the equality voiced by the state and given in the country's constitution is consistent with their practice of rights and situation, the freedoms granted by the constitution.


8). Islam manifests itself in Russia in two dimensions both historically and in the present. The first is ethnic and the second is confessional, meaning the common Muslim aspect. For example, when defining his identity, a young Chechen thinks that he is first and foremost a Chechen, he wants to be free and he wants to have an independent state. He puts his ethnic identity at the forefront of the struggle for state independence (meaning that he is Chechen). At the same time, he wants to live in a judicial state where there will be no corruption and other social problems. The opportunity (chance) to achieve this is given by his own confessional identity, or "Muslimness". Both of these factors push him to seek the foundations of the political arrangement of his future independent state in Islam.


9). There have always been forces in Russia distinguished by Russian nationalism and chauvinism. It is enough to remember "blacksmiths" from history. There isn't a lack of such forces in the political spectrum of today's Russia. Also, the political palette of these sentiments together with brown is mixed with neo-Bolshevik and neo-communist urchin red colors. There are so-called "alarmist" experts and journalists, who often provide an excellent chance for government officials to serve the “ace”. The country's government and special services make good use of this phobic attitude and through the media bring the "case" to the forefront,  which is needed to weaken the opposing camp at that moment. Periodic activation of such forces is often aimed at inciting Islamophobia in society and neutralizing the religious activities of Muslims.


10). Although the Russian government largely controls the country's traditional Muslim clergy, there are still some Islamist organizations or parties in the country that it has been unable to control despite efforts. In this case, the government and special services are actively using the so-called "Balancing policy" against this or that (neo) Islamist group. In this they actively use neo-Bolshevik and neo-fascist movements, groups or parties imbued with Russian chauvinist ideology.


11). Islam is an overly politicized religion. It pays great attention to social justice issues, which makes it particularly sensitive to politics. This is clearly seen in modern Islam and its radical followings. One such direction is Islamism, which, internally, remains a fairly integrated conservative phenomenon. It is seriously represented in Russia. Islamists try to monopolize Islam and even succeed. In times of religious controversy, they are almost always victorious to the authorities. Criticism of opponents from the positions of "Holy Islam" is well received. The speeches of Islamists are always religiously motivated, which presents them as defenders of truth in the eyes of devout Muslims. This puts their opponents in a rather unfavorable position of "political headlock". Therefore, the representatives of the state (often local authorities) no longer have many choices in their arsenal to neutralize them. Either engaging in a long and tedious debate with the Islamists over theology or simply not accepting and ignoring them. This does not bring good results for the state.


12). Terrorism in Russia has undergone some evolution, which for a long time led to the destabilization of the internal state security of the country. International terrorist groups have started to expand throughout the territory of the Russian Federation, which ended with the preparation and implementation of terrorist acts.


13). Russia declares itself an Islamic country. Therefore, in the implementation of its foreign policy, it has adopted the honorary mantle of defender and supporter of traditional Islam. For the same reason, it became an observer country of the "Organization of the Islamic Conference". However, depending on the situation and the needs, the mantle can also be put to the side.


14). The government must ensure that every ethnic and religious person living in the Russian Federation maintains his or her ethnic and religious affiliation without having his or her civil rights being violated. The religious and ethnic identity of Muslims is very sensitive. Consequently, the government and its officials need to show great tact and caution in resolving such issues.


15). In the current world pandemic situation in Russia, the situation in terms of jihadist activities is relatively stable, although, as experts point out, this should not be a reason for the government to be fully calm. Islamism (Salafism) remains a serious challenge for Russia today. The future will show to what extent the government of the country will be able to deal with such risks and challenges.


Attached to the essay is a list of the organizations

which under the legislation of the Russian Federation

are considered terrorist organizations.


1). Supreme Military Majlis-ul Shura of the Joint Forces of the Mujahideen of the Caucasus;

2). “Congress of the Peoples of Dagestan and Ichkeria”;

3). "the Base" ("Al-Qaeda);

4). “Asbat al-Ansar”;

5). "Holy War" ("Al-Jihad" or "Egyptian Islamic Jihad");

6). "the Islamic Group" (“Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya”);

7). "Muslim Brotherhood

8). “Islamic Liberation Party” (“Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami”);

9). “Lashkar-e-Taiba”;

10). "Islamic Group" ("Jamaat Islam");

11).  “Taliban Movement”;

12). “Islamic party of Turkestan” (Former "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan");

13). “Social Reform Association” (“Jamiat al-Islah al-Ijtimai”);

14). “Revival of Islamic Heritage Society” (“Jamiat Ihya at-Turaz al Islami”);

15). "the House of two saints" ("al-Haramain");

16). “Jund al-Sham” (Greater Syrian Army);

17). “Islamic Jihad” – „Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen“;

18). „Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb“;

19). „Imarat Kavkaz“ („The Caucasus Emirate“);

20). ,,Islamic State" (other titles: "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria", "Islamic State of the Levant and Iraq", "Islamic State of Sham and Iraq");

21). “Jabhat al-Nusra (Victory Front); (Other names: "Jabha al-Nusra Lee Ahl al-Sham", or "Front for the Support of Greater Syria");

22). "Ajr from Allah Subhanu wa Tagyal SHAM" (Blessing from Allah, the merciful and merciful SYRIYA);

23). Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (English: Organization of Monotheism and Jihad) - Jihad mujahideen

24). “Rohnamo ba sui Davlati Islomi” ('guidebook to the Islamic state');

25). “Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad”;

26). “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” ("Organization for the Liberation of the Levant" or "Levant Liberation Committee");

27). “Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a” ("Krasnoyarsk Jamaat").