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Published by Oleg Yarosh

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Published by: Oleg Yarosh on Jan 09, 2012
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Oleg Yarosh, Denys Brylov 
Muslim communities and Islamic networkinstitutions in Ukraine: contesting authoritiesin shaping of Islamic localities
Over past two decades Ukraine experiences a steady growth of Islamic religiousactivity. The present day “Islamic revival” in Ukraine shares many similarities with itsneighbors in Central and South Europe. In the first place, Islam in Ukraine is devel-oping in a “minority situation”, when Muslim ethnic groups constitute only a very small part of the overall population of the country. Secondly, Ukraine has (as Bulgariaand Poland) a significant indigenous Muslim population. At the same time, the uniqueness of the Islamic revival in Ukraine stems from thefact of dramatic experiences of the Crimean Tatar’s deportation and repatriation.Therefore, despite the presence of a huge indigenous Muslim ethnic group in Ukraine, we should perceive Islamic revival in terms of “construction” rather than reconstruc-tion. Islam in Ukraine does not develop in a monolithic form; more likely we shouldspeak about recently emerged heterogeneous Islamic localities based on ethnicgroups and institutional structures. Meanwhile, international network-structuredIslamic institutions have a huge impact on emergence of transnational Muslim com-munities in Ukraine. These network institutions represent different traditions, mis-sions and organizational structures found among Muslim organizations in Ukraine. All of the network institutions referred to in this paper have global connections andinfluence across Europe. We should mention that this study does not attempt to cover the full spectrum of Islamic institutions in Ukraine. For example, we do not refer to such an influentialnetwork Islamist movement as Hizb ut-Tahrir due to the secrecy and conspiracy sur-rounding this organization and its activities in Ukraine; instead, the primary focus of this paper is on major transnational network movements and local Islamic authoritieson which we have reliable and verifiable data. Other Muslim communities and insti-tutions are discussed in terms of their relations with the major ones.Following the notion by Talal Asad, we understand Islam as a concept for organ-izing historical narratives, not the name for a self-contained collective agent (1986:10). Therefore, Islamic discursive tradition is a tradition that relates itself to the found-ing texts of the Qur’an and the hadith, to conceptions of the Islamic past and future, with reference to a particular Islamic practice in the present (Asad 1986: 14). At thesame time, we understand “Islamic authority”’ as the power to define what belongs to
Islamic tradition and what does not. Islamic authority is always socially organized anddistributed among Muslim communities starting from its most simple and basic formsof parental authority to the most learned authority of 
. According to Asad, prac-tice is Islamic if “it is authorized by the discursive tradition of Islam, and is so taughtto Muslims – whether by an
, a
, a Sufi
, or an untutored parent”(1986: 15).Martin van Bruinessen, while describing the processes of dissemination of Islamictradition and production of Islamic knowledge in Western Europe, refers to dualtrends of universalization and localization (2001: 3). Thus, universalization, as the firststep of dissemination of Islamic tradition beyond the Arab cultural context, means“the separation of what was considered as universal in the Islamic message from what was contingent” and the second one, namely localization, consists of “adapting theuniversalized message to local customs and needs” (van Bruinessen 2001: 3).The present-day situation within Muslim communities in Ukraine to a largeextend is shaped by the local Islamic authorities’ dispute about the “Islamic tradition”.The disputed matters belongs to the universalization and localization levels both, inother words, first line of the conflict lies between two main transnational networkorganizations and the second one stuck between one of the major network organiza-tion and ethnic Islamic institution.
Islamic communities and institutions in Ukraine
 According to the data provided by Larysa Vladychenko (2011), the overall numberof Muslim communities in Ukraine at the beginning of 2010 amounted to 1,208(including 598 registered as legal entities and 610 unregistered), which constituted3.4% of the total number of religious organizations in Ukraine. Vladychenko also indi-cates a 2.2% absolute increase of Muslim communities in comparison with the previ-ous year. When we approach the problem of the number of the Muslim population inUkraine we should notice, that there is no direct data on quantitative composition of particular Islamic communities, because their membership is impermanent and fluc-tuating. The only reliable method of counting is based on the data of the Ukrainiangeneral population census. Thus, according to the last such census held in 2001, thenumber of Muslims by birth (ethnic Muslims) is 436 thousand, or about 0.9% of theoverall population. The ethnic composition of Ukrainian umma looks as in table 1. Among other Muslim ethnic groups we should mention Turks 8,844; Arabs –6,575, Kazakhs – 5,526; Tajiks – 4,255; Bashkirs – 4,253; Turkmens – 3,709. Also a largenumber among the 48 thousand foreign students in Ukraine came from Muslim coun-tries, including Turkmenistan – 3,823 and Jordan – 2,566.Obviously, these data does not give the full picture of quantitative and ethniccomposition of Ukrainian
. For example, it does not include data on the numberof Ukrainian and Russian converts. Nevertheless, it allows us to conclude thatUkrainian Muslim population is composed predominantly of Turkic ethnic groups.Oleg Yarosh, Denys Brylov 
 Muslim communities...
Thus, Islam in Ukraine is represented by mono-ethnic communities in Crimea, Southand South-East, and multi-ethnic communities at other parts of Ukraine.
Table 9.
Main Muslim ethnic groups in Ukraine
Source: Государственный комитет статистики Украины (2001), http://2001.ukrcensus.gov.ua/rus/results/nationality_population/nationality_popul1/.
The most important Islamic institutions consolidating a huge part of Muslimcommunities, are: the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Ukraine (DUMU) inKiev, the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Crimea (DUMC) in Simferopol,the Spiritual Center of Muslims of Ukraine (DCMU) in Donetsk, the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Ukraine “Umma” (DUMU “Umma”) in Kiev, theSpiritual Center of Muslims of Crimea (DCMK) in Eupatoria, Religious Admi-nistration of Independent Islamic Communities “Kiev Muftiat” (RANIO) in Kiev.
Table 10.
Islamic institutions in Ukraine We should also mention independent Salafi communities in Kiev and Crimea andShi‘a communities in Kiev, Kharkov and Lugansk.
The total number of Muslim clergy in Ukraine is 528 (Vladychenko 2011). Of these, DUMC has 349, DUMU – 64, DCMU – 24, and other – 91. The significant partof Muslim clergy in Ukraine get their training abroad: in Turkish Islamic educationalinstitutions, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Islamic University of Medina, and IslamicUniversity of Moscow, Lebanon. Some of Ukrainian religious schools student (
)254Muslims in Poland and Eastern Europe
Ethnic groupNumber of people
Crimean Tatars248 200 Volga Tatars73 300 Azeris45 200North Caucasian ethnic groups13 903Uzbeks12 353
InstitutionCommunities(% of total)Ethnicity 
DUMU9,1multi-ethnicDUMC80,1Crimean TatarsDCMU1,9Volga TatarsDUMU “Umma”8,3multi-ethnicDCMKCrimean TatarsRANIOVolga Tatars
Восточноукраинский центр мусульман-шиитов, http://www.baitalzahra.org/in-dex.php?razdel=1.

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