Interview with Abid Ullah Jan

Q: What do Muslims in the West and in the Islamic world think about Russia? What can they say about the prospects of collaboration with 20-million strong Muslim Ummah of this country?

A: Among the masses I have yet to hear about Russian Muslims. In the intellectual discourse, too, Russian Muslims are out of the radar screen. The common perception is that some groups are engaged in struggle against Russian for independence in Chechnya, where as all over the rest of former Soviet Republics and Russia, Muslims are contended to deal with the issue of bread and butter.

In a world where heavy doses are administered to Muslims to make them believe that the concept of Ummah is dead and redundant, it is very difficult to expect that they would constructively think of the prospects of collaboration with Russian Muslims. In is a world, where Muslims tell Muslims through the pages of New York Times that Muslims should put interest of their sons and daughters in the US first and forget about their brothers and sisters in Palestine, Chechnya, and Iraq.

Majority of Muslims, who have limited themselves to make a living for their families and enjoying their lives in relative peace and tranquillity, can hardly think in terms of collaboration and success of the Ummah as a whole.

As for the Muslims of Russia, they traditionally live in their own land, they are not immigrants. On the other hand, they are living in non-Muslim environment during several centuries. In other words, they have something in common with both Muslims in Western countries and those living in the Islamic world.

Q: What do You think: do Muslims of Russia have more common features with their brothers and sisters in Europe and America or with those Muslims who live in the Middle East, in Africa, South Asia and other countries? Maybe they occupy some intermediate position?

A: Broadly speaking, Muslims everywhere are living under governments that cannot be called Islamic. In Muslim countries, there is not a single state that can claim to be Islamic in the real sense. By that standard Russian Muslims are not missing out that much.

For example, there is hardly any difference of living in Pakistan, a country established in the name of Islam, and any Western country. Riba is legalised both in Pakistan and in the West. Liquor is openly available with the only difference of in the shelf and behind the shelf. Prostitution and sex industry is blooming in both places without any problem. Implementing Shari’ah is considered impracticable both in Pakistan and the West. There mere label of “Islamic” republic for Pakistan makes little difference, when its diplomats feel embarrassed to even use this word. Last year, staff of Pakistan’s embassy sent invitation cards for a party with the word “dominion of Pakistan” instead of the official title “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.

It shows that Muslims in Russia are not much different from the point of view of what they are going through on all levels. The prescription for their success is the same as for others.

“Muslims in Russia are not much different from others”