Verbatim report of the beginning of the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with muftis of religiousdepartmentsof Muslims in Ufa

Verbatim report of the beginning of the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with muftis of religiousdepartmentsof Muslims in Ufa 10.22.2013

V.V.PUTIN: Good afternoon, dear priests,dear muftis!

I think it is important that we meet regularly to discuss issues that are of interest for the Muslims of Russia, and other faiths, in general, for all citizens of our country.

Today, here in Ufa, the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the imperial decree Spiritual Assembly of the Mohammedan law is celebrated. Then, at the end of the XVIII century, Islam was officially recognized as the traditional religion of Russia, what helped, of course, becoming Muslims as true patriots of our country.

Islam has become a significant factor in the socio-political life and has made an invaluable contribution to the spiritual and cultural development of our society. Once again I congratulate you on this historic date.

I would like to thank you for your work and to talk to you about modern global trends, including religious life. Today in the world there is an active, not always a positive process of politicization of religion, and in different directions and different religions, but including Islam. In these circumstances, the authorities and the Russian Muslim community face new problems and new challenges. Of course, as we saidit many times,these problems can be solved only jointly.

Some political forces use Islam, or rather its radical movements, incidentally, which are not historically typical for Russian Muslims, in order to ease our state, to create zones of externally managed conflictsin the Russian territory, making the schism between the different ethnic groups within the Muslim community itself, to foment separatist sentiments in the regions.

I am convinced that such attempts ofseparation must be opposedby faithfulness of Russian Muslims to their historical traditions, partnerships with other religions, especially with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Yes, of course, for Islam, but frankly, as well as for other world religions, characterized by a variety of different schools and movements,hierarchical unificationis alien to it. However, Russian Muslims have always been united in the service of society and its state,they protected it from both external enemies and from all manifestations of extremism. Sure, this unity can be maintained and strengthened, even today.

New socialization of Islam should be seen as a development of the traditional Muslim way of life, thinking and attitudes in accordance with contemporary social reality, as opposed to the ideology of radical putting believers in the Middle Ages.

New forms of work are important - using Muslim cultural centers, Islamic science and education centers, youth,women's clubs.

I am convinced that your contribution to social adaptation of people who come to live and work in Russiamay be significant also. Many of them are your co-religionists. They need to hear your voice, feel your participation, otherwise they become the object of various fundamentalist propaganda structures.

I also believe that the voice of Russian Muslim leaders should sound louder in the international arena and in the global Islamic community. Today tensions between the West and the Islamic worldare amplified. Some people try to playusing these tensions,throwing fuel to this fire. I want to tell you right away that we are not interested in it.

But at the same time, today demand in the Russian presence is growing inthe Middle East and in the Islamic world as a whole. And we need to be more proactive, debunking disastrous for humanity projects of manipulating countries and peoples, information and public awareness.

Russia is not interested in the split or redrawing of the Islamic world, but, on the contrary, maintains consistent, solid line to strengthen its unity.

It is necessary, first of all, to provide the highest authority of the domestic Muslim clergy and the Russian Islamic theological school in order to meet successfully the challenges of our time is.

Dear friends! That's what I would like to be treated separately.

There are 82 registered Islamic centralized religious organizations today in Russia. Muslims are well aware of the sura of the Koran, according to which there is no other prophet on earth, except Muhammad. But we understandat the same time: we must not forget that the clergy themselves - are people with the moral authority which should be used in the most beneficial purposes. Priests should be educated and enlightened people,with ability to give clear and sharp canonically impeccable assessment of modern challenges and threats.

The initiative should go to you, you can not give it in the hands of informal leaders that are actively involved among believers. These individuals areusually representatives of alien to our country theological schools and supporters of extremist ideas, seek to undermine the position of traditional Islam in our country, to undermine the unity of the Russian society and ultimately the collapse of our country.

Russian Islam has all the features, based on centuries of experience in the domestic system of religious education and the rich theological heritage have their say in the development, so one of the most important tasks is reconstruction of its own Islamic theological school, which will ensure the sovereignty of the Russian spiritual space and, most importantly, will be recognized by the majority of Muslim scholars in the world. The school must respond to the most current events in Russia and in the world in general, to give its assessments, which will be understood and respected by believers. I am sure if we'll do it, it will help you to give a clearmoral assessment to good and criminal acts.

All this will allow to solve the problems associated with translation of theological and popular publications of foreign authors into Russian, to provide scientific translation of Muslim doctrinal textsinto Russian.

It is also necessary to create religious-legal public institutions, which will be able to provide competent assessment of different texts. These structures must be opened for Islamic spiritual leaders, for experts in matters of law and linguistics. I think that we can and should attract the world's experts in this field for this job. Thus the Russian Islamic community itself will be able to prevent the spread of publications having destructive, extremist nature.

Today, you also know about it, mainly the state is forced to apply restrictive measures in respect of such literature, that actually is not always effectively, and often quite the contrary. Bans work poorly or have the opposite effect. You need to convince people, to explain to them what is true and good, and what is falsehood and hatred.

I also believe that priority in public activities of Muslim organizations should be the development of a positive image of traditional Islam as an important spiritual component of Russian national identity, butnot internal discussions and debates on the rule.

It is crucial for the education of youth, which is extremely important for both Muslims and for the whole country, it is crucial for the Russian Muslim Youth, which has, unfortunately, become the target audience for our detractors.

The Russian Muslim religious organizations have all possibilities for its broad positioning in today's media. And, dear friends, I ask you to use these opportunities to solve many problems which were announced, which you know well and which we repeatedly discussed at these or even larger meetings.


Tajuddin: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

We heartily thank you that you have found the opportunity to meet with us today and to take an active part in our celebrations. Heartfelt thanks. All Muslims perceive it as a significant event in our lives.

225 years ago Islam was recognized as an officially recognized religion in Russia by the decree of Empress Catherine II, and today our country is already with your direct participation and efforts is recognized by the entire Islamic world and accepted as member-observer in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

For centuries we are together, side by side. And we show a good example of relationship of followers of traditional religions in Russia, primarily with the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional faiths. This is core unit of our relations. Today, we are not talking about a dialogue. Dialogue we have already passed through the ages. Today it is fraternal cooperation, because future generations, our children and grandchildren need our help, because the spiritual and moral revival is based on the spiritual values ​​that were elaborated centuries and which are based on the teachings of God's messengers, which are given from one God for all.

We proceed from the principle that God gave us homeland,God gave neighbours. It's fate,it has united us. And in the last century, and today, and, God forbid,in the future we will be only together. Therefore, we are proud and confident to take your word that you have said in Valdai  «Independence, sovereignty and unity of Russia are unconditional». And we are part of Russia, we are for centuries here,we have not come for bread, forcenturies our ancestors, grandparents, fathers defended it, and therefore we should leave it to our children.

Thanks God, and thanks to your efforts, and the changes that occur in the last decades in our lives,it is not so easy to find an audience for and extremists and radical movements.Central Muslim Spiritual Board, as well as other Religious Departments, does everything possible to prevent the propagation of totalitarian sects, radical movements in our communities. We as far as possible use the media in Ufa, we open sites,developstate-confessional relations. In some republics, Bashkortostan,Tatarstan, the Council for Religious Affairs has never been dissolved, and it also contributes share in Islamic life.

Issues of consolidation, joint efforts in countering extremism, terrorism and radical movements today have real incarnation with the support of your authorized representative Mikhail VictorovichBabichin the Volga Federal District. We have passed the point when, in different regions were created five or six centralized organizations called “religious department”.

33 years ago, when I was elected, some officials told me «Mufti Hazrat, probably you will be the last Mufti, we will construct communism - and that’s all.»

Today, you said 82 [Islamic organizations]. But this is nonsense, it should not be. There is variety, but in such matters when we have both Scripture and the tradition of the prophet, we must keep unity in full compliance. Now some people try to use any distortion and compromise the integrity of both the society and the state, to disturb the peace.

And here staff has great potential. We prepare as much as we can, but prepare only the last 15 years. Only in 1989 in the entire Russiawas openedfirst madrasah here, the students slept on the floor in a mosque, and now there are 600 people, but this is still not enough.There are more than 20 million Muslims in Russia, and personnel should be prepared in the Fatherland above all, only a part of them should be sent abroad, after they learned here the basics of religious sciences. We have plans, work is under way (allotment of land is now being implemented), and institutions have worked onthe creation of Ufa Muslim Academy of Sciences for 2000 people, so we can invite, as you said, eminent scientists from abroad who adhere to the true Islam, which for centuries has established in our country.

What is Traditional Islam? It can notbe different. Traditional is one that is more than 14 centuriesunderstoodour ancestors, and this understanding they tried to convey. We suffered a break for 70 years. And now we have built in the last 15 years, more than 7000 mosques,3500 mosques in the territory of the CMSB .They are still together. Co-working is fully equipped. And with traditional religions we have dialogue and co-operation. We especially need it. We hope for your support and the support of the Government of Bashkortostan,the President of Bashkortostan and the Federal District. We are deeply grateful for that.

There is help, which is carried the last five to seven years through partner universities.It is very efficient, the funds are allocated. We had some questions,we will tell after, because sometimes it turns out that funds for manuals and other are sometimes not entirely justified. Due to the budget, students are sent to study at universities, after that they return to serve in religious organizations. But when they receive state diplomas, then they look for career growth, and do not always come back to us. We will tell about it, we consulted about this.

We sincerely thank you. Thank you. God bless you. It is a great honour.

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