‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family and his Companions! And then…’
A conference blatantly named ‘New Challenges of Maintaining Unity of the Crimean Muslim Ummah’ hosted by the Crimean Spiritual Board of Muslims (SBMC) was recently held in Crimea. The Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin and other guests from the Russian Federation attended it. The blockade of Crimea, repeatedly announced plans to form the Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Çelebicikhan, and proposals regarding a separate Muslim Spiritual Directorate aimed to manage religious life of those Crimean Muslims who do not accept the occupation and annexation of Crimea were among the main reasons to hold the conference.
According to its results both SBMC and Kamil Samigullin issued fatwas, which practically condemned those individuals who do not recognize the current status of the occupied Crimea and ready to fight for its de-occupation by all means.
What can one say about these fatwas? Of course, they are right saying that such religious verdict as ‘takfir’ (an accusation of infidelity) should be imposed only under certain conditions and stressing that appropriate qualification is needed to accuse someone of disbelief. Participants of the Crimean blockade are not the scholars of Islam. Especially someone like Kamil Samigullin – one of a few Muftis in Russia who possess the knowledge, can easily refute their arguments. However, these reasonable remarks precede the most important message to be communicated: ‘Republic of Crimea, where Muslims and their fellow citizens who hold other beliefs, live in security, enjoy religious freedom and have a real possibility to maintain all required religious duties (fardh) is not a war zone. Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city is a territory of peace!
This is definitely a lie.
Russian Federation is one of the most Islamophobic countries in the world. This fact is well known to anyone who follows an everyday life of Muslims in Russia. In addition, we should not be confused by a new grand mosque recently opened in Moscow, nor by the official holidays celebrating Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in the Muslim republics or by Ramzan Kadyrov’s (Head of the Chechen Republic) chatter. Like any empire, Russia always skillfully used the carrot and stick approach and suppressed the Muslims in Eurasia not only using the violence. However, a carrot in this country had always been a supplement to a whip; Muslims of the Russian Federation belonging to the indigenous peoples of Russia knew about this situation better than anybody else.
What kind of religious freedom in Russia muftis are talking about when Muslim books are listed in the Federal Register of the Extremist Materials on a regular basis? And it is not a modern extremist scribble of the but a classical Islamic intellectual heritage including such books as Sira (biography of the Prophet), Ibn Hisham, Forty Hadith of Imam Nawawi, Gardens of the Righteous, Mizan al-Amal (Libra acts) Imam al-Ghazali and other works. What other country in the world has banned Forty Hadith of Imam Nawawi for being the extremist literature?! Even a simple Mukhtasar Ilmihal – tutorial on how to make ablution, pray and fasting – got into the list.
What kind of religious freedom in Russia we are talking about when during the prayer times mosques are regularly raided and people are forced to lay facing to the floor? What are the other countries, which persecute members of on purpose apolitical organizations – like Nur Movement or Tablighi Jamaat – for being ‘terrorists’ while they freely operate and are considered as anti-extremism ones? What kind of the security we are talking about in a country where approximately 8000 Muslims are missing only in recent years and only in the North Caucasus region alone?
There is a lot to be said about the situation of Muslims in Russia and it should be on the agenda on a regular basis but there is one thing for sure – we were free in Ukraine from these nightmares. Yes, there was always a certain tension between the Crimean Tatars as an ethnic group and the indigenous people of Crimea and the state (i.e. a pre-Maidan Ukraine). In general, the Crimean Tatars could complain about many things. However, we must admit that a Muslim community in Ukraine has never experienced harassment and humiliation similar to what the Muslims experience in Russia. Even though relationships between Muslims and the Ukrainian state were not perfect, we had never faced the mass arrests in mosques and proscription of the hadith literature. This was achieved despite the Russian media and its Ukrainian epigones’ persistent attempts to inflate the ‘Islamic extremism’ topic in Crimea, a hunt for the Islamists training bases on the Ai-Petri plateau and the jihadist networks in each of the Crimean mosques, etc.
Currently there are no such harassments in Ukraine. Even if there are problems (and they certainly are in any secular state), the Muslims of Ukraine have all the opportunities to discuss them freely and openly. At the same time from Crimea, which muftis repeatedly call a territory of peace, we obtain news a la ‘pacification’ of the North Caucasus. The regular police raids and searches of the mosques and madrassas as well as in the homes of the Crimean Muslims, the constant checks and searches of a banned literature, Crimean Tatars being disappeared in a broad daylight when some of them being found dead – all of this does not look like ‘a peace’ at all. This is rather a real occupation and real repressions, which have already forced thousands of people to flee. In addition, no one – no mufti Ablaev nor Samigullin with Tadzhuddin and Gaynutdin – can blame these people.
We would like to remind the muftis about such Islamic term as Maqasid, i.e. the foundation principles based on which the Shariah decisions are made. There are five Maqasids or rather it is a preservation of five things: religion, life, lineage, intellect, and property. Sometimes dignity is also added to them. Our Prophet (may Allah bless and welcome him) said: ‘Whoever is killed defending his property is a shaheed’ (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Nasaa’i, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad). In another version of the hadith, it is said: ‘Whoever was fighting for his property encroached without a right and one who died for it is a shaheed’ (Abu Dawood, al-Nasaa’i, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad. Al-Nasaa’i, al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad).
So, the choice of the pro-Ukrainian Crimean Muslim is a choice made for the sake of these five (six) things in the first place: to preserve their religion in a totally Islamophobic country, especially in the region infected with chauvinism of a so called ‘Russian Spring’, is becoming more heavier. Many of us have already experienced this reality despite whatever is said by Ablaev or other depraved muftis might say. The same applies to life, property or the mind.
Moreover, do not think that what is going on in Crimea is a just temporary nuisance or that only those who can be considered as the pro-Ukrainian patriots experience problems. One may humiliate himself call himself ‘Mohammedans’ or use the ‘Tavria’ name for our Crimea. Nevertheless, the ‘Russian Spring’ was not designed for you and you have nothing good to expect there. Crimea will not become another Tatarstan especially when today even the Kazan’ Tatarstan is under a serious and large-scale pressure.
To summarize all the above listed facts: there is a number of good reasons for Ukrainian Muslims and Crimean Muslims in particular to move away from the occupied territory of Crimea where they are subjected to repressions to the country where they will be free. And there is an absolutely no reason to condemn the recently created military units consisted of Crimean Tatars – something, which is impossible in the Russian army; none of the pro-Russian Mufti will have the guts to blame them.
On a separate note, we should talk about establishment of the independent Spiritual Directorate. Actually, the current format of the spiritual administration one can see on the post-Soviet territories is an exact replica of the previous colonial structures. Undoubtedly, the Muslim community needs a new model of self-organization. However, it is unclear why SBMC condemns a possible establishment of such structure. There is no any Sharia based reason to follow the Muslim Board and personally Emirali Ablaev. The position of mufti itself never meant to mandatory follow him (even in the classical era of Islam). It is required to follow a verdict of a Qadi (judge) but not a mufti. Moreover Ablaev is not amufti in a Sharia sense, he is not qualified enough. In fact, he is just a public servant who manages a bureaucratic colonial structure. Ukrainian Muslims, Crimean Tatars and others were not obligated to follow him in the past and today when the Head of the Muslim Board sided himself with the anti-Islamic forces it is definitely not an option.
Therefore there is an urgent need for Ukrainian Muslims to educate their own scholars and spiritual leaders who will not be looking for the comfortable positions somewhere at the official mufti’s niches but who rather will do their best trying to improve life of the Muslim religious community.
(CC BY 4.0) Original article prepared by Tatars editorial office of InformNapalm.org, translated by Andrii Gryganskyi