Statements, interview

Welcome speech by President of Republic Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev at the international conference "Islamic culture in the Volga -Ural region", June, 8, 2001

Welcome speech by President of Republic Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev at the international conference "Islamic culture in the Volga -Ural region", June, 8, 2001

Mehtyarem conferentzyada katnashuchylar!

Kaderele kunaklar!

Dear participants of conference!

Dear visitors!

Today the scientists, diplomats, politicians from Russia and other countries have gathered to discuss the problems facing Islamic culture of the Volga -Ural region, to exchange opinions on a role of Islam in the past and the present. Opening conference, let me wish all of you successes in a noble business of studying bright pages of history of Islam in Tatarstan and Russia. You know, the Prophet has told once: If someone follows the path of a science God will open for him a road to paradise". Let our scientific conference become one more step to the peace and mutual understanding of different peoples, cultures and religions.

Russia - a multinational country where Moslems make more than 20 million persons. The Islam in territory of Russia has appeared about 1400 back, and on the bank of the Volga river - in the beginning of X century. Therefore with confidence it is possible to speak, that Russia had been forming not only as the Orthodox, but also as the Muslim country, it is a State having strong traditions of joint residing of two great Faiths.

Ancestors of Tatars - Bulgars have adopted Islam as official religion in 922 year when the embassy of the Baghdad caliph arrived to capital of State of Bulgar. Simultaneously this event became the act of the international recognition of Volga Bulgaria as independent state. In a such way, the ancestors of Tatars have joined the most advanced civilization at that time. Acceptance of Islam has given a push to rapid development of education, culture, science and society as a whole. Growth of cities began on the Kama and the Volga. The Bulgar state has become one of the most influential in the East Europe.

Formation of the Mongolian empire, and then Golden Horde has not changed the position of Islam in the Volga Region. According to "Yassa" ( Code of laws) of Chingis khan all religions were admitted as equal, exempted from taxes, and oppression of any existing church and the clergy was considered as a crime subject to punishment. Therefore both the Islam and Christianity freely developed in epoch of Golden Horde. Even, when in year 1312, Uzbek - khan has declared an Islam the state religion, it has not touched Russian princedoms that remained Orthodox. As we see, already in Middle Ages in culture of Tatars toleration was implanted that found continuation in the next centuries.

Epoch of baptizing Kazan territory in XVI-XVIII centuries was the most difficult period in a history of Tatars. It was accompanied by continuous revolts of the Muslim population while Kathrine II in 1773 issued the "Decree on tolerance of all confessions"... The Rights of Moslems were recognized officially and since that moment revival of Islam and all Tatar culture begins.

Development of Islam in the Volga -Ural region has reached the bloom in XIX and the beginning of XX centuries. At that time the Mosques were under construction, the religious and secular literature were issued in huge amounts, education becomes practically total, vigorous activity of the Tatar businessmen enables to sponsor many public structures. Due to development of a network of medrese appear a number of the advanced centres of Islamic idea in Kazan, Ufa, Orenburg, other cities of Russia which offer reformatory ideas. Kursavi,Shigabeddin Mardjani, Ismail Gasprinsky, Galimzhan Barudi, Riza Fahretdin , Musa Bigiev and others have designated a new current in Islamic theology and system of the education, that received name Djadism We today and tomorrow shall hear many reports on features of development of Islam in the Volga -Ural region, but I would like to pay attention to one important moment. Djadism on behalf of the outstanding theologians on a boundary of centuries searched for answers to the questions put by time. You see prophet Muhammad has told: "Truly, Allah in the beginning of each century will send umma a man for updating religion". Such people, really, have appeared. They in the centre of the activity have brought attention to the questions of education and enlightenment of peoples, openly having proclaimed necessity of studying not only the East, but also the western culture.

Today in the beginning of XXI century for us the fortune destinies the similar task of searching answers to complex problems of epoch of democracy and the market, informational technical and technological revolutions. Globalization, openness of borders, modern means of the communications make the world closer and at the same time more vulnerable. Today any idea due to mass media becomes more accessible and effective. This is the good, but it demands increased responsibility. Presently, it is extremely important to have traditions that might resist destabilizations of a society but at the same time would give answers to burning problems. The Islam is dynamical, it is deep in the contents and flexible enough to take into account the changes taking place in the world.

The task of the Tatarstan society, in my opinion is to preserve and continue those traditions which had already developed in republic and Russia. Creation of the Russian Islamic University can be considered as an important step in direction of ideas of Djadism of XXI century.

2001 is a significant year that it was declared by the United Nations Organization a Year of International dialogue between civilizations. We from our part may and should bring in a worthy contribution to this a really holy affair.

Kazan, whose thousand-year anniversary will be marked in 2005, is located on a joint of civilizations - Islamic and Christian. In the Kazan Kremlin, alongside with restoration of the Blagoveshchensky cathedral, there is a restoration of Kul Sharif Mosque, thus creating in the Kremlin an original symbol of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence of two religions on the land of Tatarstan.

Islam in essence is a peaceful, tolerant religion. In the Koran it is said, that not only those who believed in Islam, but also those who follow Judaism, and Christianity, those who believe in Lord, Doomsday and make the good, the generous award at Allah waits for him. It is difficult to pick up more convincing words for the proof of tolerance of Islam to other religions.

Today in the world developed a negative image of Islam. To some extent it was provoked by extreme political organizations cloaked under a name of Islam but actually discrediting it. And not the less the spreading of such image is promoted also by some political circles frightened by influence of Islam. I see our task in saying people the truth on essence of Islam, in forming new image of Islam as religion of peace, modern, tolerant, capable to react positively to calls of time. I am convinced, that our conference will manage to make the feasible contribution to this noble matter.

I wish all of you success.