Dr. N. Devlet
(Originally Published in 1986)

(This is a summary of the article developed by Dr. A. Zahoor.)

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Islam arrived in the Volga-Ural region a little over a thousand years ago. The Bulgars of Chan Almas had officially accepted Islam on 16 Muharram 310 (16 May 922). Approximately 70 years before the Russians adopted Christianity as their official religion, Islam had been recognized as the state religion by the then Turkic Bulgar state. The Tatars and Bashkirs, the Muslim people of the Volga-Ural region, were the first to fall under Russian domination 433 years ago [1552 C.E.] and were heavily suppressed by the Orthodox Russians. Mosques were destroyed or converted into Orthodox churches, and the Russian Orthodox church forcibly baptized Muslims. In the year 1756, eighty percent of all mosques in the province (gubirna) of Kazan were destroyed.

After Catherine II's reforms in 1780, the Muslims began reproducing mainly religious literature and distributing it among the population. During the first year of the Bolshevik revolution (1917), the Soviet government promised the Muslim workers freedom of religion and practice of their manners and customs without restrictions. However, after gaining power, the Soviet government broke all promises - religious leaders were persecuted, religious institutions were closed, religious education was not permitted. This was followed by anti-religious propaganda by the "Union of Militant Atheists." During World War II, the Soviet government revised its policy of persecution against religion and Islam. But after the war in 1953 Chrushvhov continued with administrative and psychological attacks under the motto "back to Lenin."

The Muslim population of the Soviet Union is between 45 and 50 million, making it the sixth largest in the world (1980 data). The majority of the Soviet Muslims are of Turkic ethnic origin. They live in the Volga-Ural region, Northern Caucasus, Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union. There are approximately 6.5 million Tartar and Bashkir Muslims in the Volga-Ural region. In 1982, only 17 mosques were operating in Tataristan and there is no madrasah in Kazan today.

Anti-Islamic, atheistic propaganda and measures taken by the state, which have lasted more than 70 years, have made the observance of Islam impossible and the number of practicing Muslims has decreased. In the Soviet Union, a religious person is not popular and has minimum chances for a promotion. And to propagate Islam is strictly forbidden while atheistic propaganda is an obligation for all. In one form or other, all public organizations and mass media promote the doctrine of atheism. The Soviet regime preserves the officials of religious capacity purely for propaganda purposes. Of the 28,000 mosques from the Russian Empire period only about 400 mosques remain today.

Allah: Allah is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and Jews for the God (Eloh-im in Hebrew; 'Allaha' in Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus, pbuh). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Allah does not have any associate or partner, and He does not beget nor was He begotten. SWT is an abbreviation of Arabic words that mean 'Glory Be To Him.'


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Copyright © Muslim Reader, 1986
Copyright © 1998 Web version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.

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