Muslims mark the 1,095th anniversary of Islam in Russia


by Irina Durnitsyna

RIA Novosti, 20 May 2017


More than 40,000 Muslims from throughout Russia and also guests from Muslim countries gathered in the ancient city of Bolgar for a holiday devoted to the day of the official adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria, the press service of the president of Tatarstan reports.


The holiday "Izge Bolgar Zhyeny" ("Gathering in Holy Bolgar") has been held in the Spassky district of Tatarstan since 1989, in memory of the day of the adoption of Islam as the state religion in 922 by Volga Bulgars and the ceremony of the meeting of the Bulgar Khan Almush with a delegation from the caliph of Bagdad. Every year the celebration draws numerous pilgrims from regions of Russia and foreign countries. Since 2005 the holiday has been conducted with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Tatarstan, the executive committee of the World Congress of Tatars, and the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Tatarstan.


"Our ancestors selected this land and this religion, and we should preserve traditions and customs piously, which they established. In recent years, thanks to the Regeneration foundation and the first president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, enormous work has been done. This is a splendid place where every person may sit and view the development of this territory in the land of our ancestors," the press service quotes [President Rustam] Minnikhanov.


The president of Tatarstan said that the ancient city of Bolgar has become ever more popular among tourists. He especially noted the project of the Bulgarian Islamic Academy, whose creation was supported by the president of Russia. With the support of the Regeneration republican foundation, the complex of the Bulgarian Islamic Academy was erected in a year and in the new academic year, the academy will receive its first students.


"This will be a center of theologians. Training of highly qualified imams is our common task. I am sure that we will be able to assemble a collective of professors and teachers and ensure the quality of the work of the educational center. I sincerely hope that graduates of the academy will become worthy successors of our rich theological traditions," he said.


The president of Tatarstan signed an order for the creation of the Bulgarian Islamic Academy in November 2015. The academy was founded on the initiative of the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Russia, the Central Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Russia, and the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Tatarstan. The main goal of its creation was the formation of a national Muslim theological school. Within the framework of the Bulgarian academy it is planned for there to function a council of ulemas (academic theologians), a scientific educational center, centers for the study of the Tatar theological heritage and inter-religious dialogue, and an All-Russian Library of Islam. The Bulgarian academy, as the highest link of religious education in the Russian federation, should consolidate the potential of Muslim clergy in the RF and authoritative foreign scholars for strengthening the positions of trends of Islam that are traditional for Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 May 2017)

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