Euro-Islam: key points

Rafael Khakimov (Kazan)

Social roots of Islamic reform in the Tatar world

The Bulgar Khanate was officially converted to Islam in 922. The Tatars have became its active missionaries ever since.

Ever since the 16th century, after the inclusion of the Kazan Khanate in the Moscow state, Islam suffered from repression and persecution, and only Catherine the Us Edict on Religious Tolerance adopted in response to mass uprisings gave official permission to construct mosques and the freedom to carry out Islamic rituals in Russia.

The mosque was the main institution of Tatar spirituality, and until early in the 20th century, the medrese was the only officially recognized educational establishment. All the intellectual life of the Tatars took place in the mosque and the medrese - this was the focal point of the people's intellectual resources. This was also the birthplace of the most progressive ideas. Islam was the Tatars' means for self-preservation.

The Russian state did not interfere in Muslims' internal affairs, allowing independent and free development of Islamic thought. The Tatar need for ethnic survival forced them to adapt Islam to the ever-changing Russian environment.

In the 19th century, Tatar theologians Kursavi and Marjani introduced the idea of free thinking, according to which everyone had the right to free personal, interpretation of the suras of the Quran. Islam was gradually becoming "a private Issue unrelated to the affairs of the community. Islamic reform (Jadidism) affected the educational system, ethical norms and gave more dynamism to all social processes among the Tatars. By the beginning of the 20th century, Jadidism became the dominant version of Islam among the Volga and Crimean Tatars.

Islam and Modern Social Dynamics in the Tatar world

In the coming years we should expect the growth of tile Islamic and Turkic factors in Russia and in the rest of the world. There are 20 million Muslims in Russia today. According to demographic calculations, in three decades this number may reach 30-40 million. In many Russian regions the number of Muslim and Orthodox inhabitants will gradually equalize.

The revival of Islamic traditions in Tatar society today is also a process of further Islamic reform. This is explained by tile need for modem technology, a modem education system, as well as for new ideas, including those coming from the West. Islam in Tatarstan does not interfere in the affairs of the state. It is in strict accordance with the Constitution, it supports individualism, the development of personal creativity, it welcomes all social activity load stimulates the transition to a market economy. The Tatar version of Islam is very pragmatic without being superficial. It brings together Islamic values and the ideas of liberalism and democracy; this is why we use the term Euro-Islam.

The West and the East: a clink of a dialogue of civilizations?

The European Union stopped at the borders of Islam. Orthodox and Muslim states are not part of the EU, even though Orthodox Greece and Islamic Turkey are members of NATO. Catholicism and Protestantism form the cultural basis for the unification of Europe.

The unification of all European countries, including Russia, in the framework of the Council of Europe, seems to lead to a new situation. No real integration, however, is taking place yet.

Islam is gradually entering European life - not only through outside contacts, but also through internal demographic processes as is the case in France and Germany. One day the EU will have to make a historic step and offer its hand to the Islamic world as it has already happened once in the case of Bosnian Muslims.

Euro-lslam with its flexibility and pragmatism can become the bridge between the Orthodox Islam of the East and Western liberal democracies.

Oriental studies in the 20th Century: achievments and prospects. Vol. 1; Moscow 1997; p. 174-175.