Foreign Policy and Civil Society Program
individuals with marginal religious credentials — orexample, ormer Soviet-trained propagandists o atheism —who were allowed to act as new imams. When the shortagepersisted, other Muslim countries and urkish religiousassociations oered their help. Many youngsters traveledto these Islamic countries to receive education sucient tobecome Muslim clerics.Te Muslim Religious Board (MRB) was set up in 1992. In1998, the atarstan Muslim Uniying Conerence electedmui Gosman Khazrat Iskhakov its chairman. Te maintendency o this early post-Soviet period was towardstabilizing inter-conessional relations and acilitating theinteraction o state bodies with Muslim institutes and orga-nizations. oday, atarstan, along with Dagestan and theMoscow region, is considered a leader among the regions o the Russian Federation in terms o the number o unctionalreligious communities.Te most signifcant event or the Muslims o atarstan wasthe grand opening o the Kul Shari Mosque, the largest inEastern Europe, on June 24, 2005 in Kazan. Tis projectwas acilitated by atarstan’s ormer president MintimerSheymiyev, a gesture that demonstrated the state’s debt toreligious aairs. Te mosque memorializes the independentKazan Khanate period, which was destroyed in 1552, thedate rom which all Muslims o the region were broughtunder the Russian rule.According to the Republic o atarstan’s ocial website,revivals in the Muslim
(religious society) havenot always been peaceul. Te most dicult problem isthe unveiling o various radical currents hiding under thelarger Islamic umbrella, which undermine the traditionso the region’s established Islamic practice. Te problem o
spreading in Russia is especially serious becauseit erodes both religious and national traditions, strugglesthat take place within state institutions. Te problem o spreading wahabism and other Islamist approaches is linkedto training o clergy, especially those who receive religiouseducation abroad.In the early 1990s shortly aer the Soviet Union collapsed,religious propagandists rom Saudi Arabia began arrivingin Russia to spread their conservative doctrine. So, too,did urkish imams and educators, most belonging to theFethulla Gülen movement. Tey opened private schools,which attracted the attention o parents because o thehigh quality o the Gülenist education, not unlike Chris-tian missionary schools. Students able to attend Gülenistschools learned Russian, English, and their national tongue.At the same time, the Gülenists propagated Islamic educa-tion in the dormitories. Moscow eventually identifed theseurkish schools as dangers to religious stability in atarstanand moved to close them down. Kazan at frst resistedMoscow’s decision, but on the basis o a High Court verdictin 2008, the last Gülenist schools were closed, all Gülenistreligious activities were orbidden, and a number o urkishcitizens were deported. Gülen’s movement is derived romNurcular movement, which seeks to puriy Islam, but it issome distance rom the radical conservative doctrines o the
. Moscow’s concern clearly was thatthe Gülenist pathway could lead to these radical destina-tions, and indeed some Gülenist students embarked on this journey.Authorities sought ways to put barriers in ront o theseconservative movements. One approach was to revitalizethe development o national religious traditions, which wereconsidered less susceptible to the orce o Islamic conser- vatism due to their deep historical content. Eorts werealso made to marginalize the revival o obsolete or alienreligious practices within atar Islam. But these eorts andothers have not been able to stop the inuence o
Islam, which insists on the recognition o
(religious)laws and customs rom the Prophet’s time.In an interview with Rimzil Veliev on June 7, 2012, Yakubov spoke directly about how this emerging radicalism wassurmounting impeding nationalist barriers, like theatar language. On this ront, he lamented that the atarlanguage would likely disappear rom mosques in 10 to 15years because o the inow o imams rom the Caucasuswho belong to the Shaf school o Sunni Islam (atars andBashkirs belong to Hanaf school) and use Russian in theirpreaching, not atar or Bashkir.
The problem of spreading wahabism and other Islamistapproaches is linked to training of clergy.