“Every person has a different way of coming to the Truth. For Moisha Krivitsky this way led through a faculty of law, a synagogue and a prison. The lawyer-to-be becomes a Rabbi, then he converts into Islam and finds himself in prison. Today Musa (this is the name he has adopted when he became a Muslim) lives in a small mosque in Al-Burikent, a mountain area of Makhachkala (Daghestan, Caucasus), and works as a watchman in the Central Juma mosque.”

Q: Did you find the way easily?

A: With great difficulty. It was hard then, and it isn’t much easier now. When you go deeply into Islam’s inner meaning, you understand that this religion is very simple, but the way that leads to it may be extremely difficult. Often, people don’t understand how a person could be converted into Islam “from the other side”, as it were. But there are no “sides” here: Islam is everything there is, both what we imagine and what we don’t imagine.

– It was quite a paradoxical situation: there was a mosque near my synagogue, the town mosque. Sometimes my fiends who were its parishioners would come to me – just to chat. I sometimes would come to the mosque myself, to see how the services were carried out. I was very interested. So we lived like good neighbours. And once, during Ramadan, a woman came to me – as I now understand, she belonged to a people that was historically Muslim – and she asked me to comment the Russian translation of the Qur´an made by Krachkovsky.

Q: She brought the Qur´an to you – a Rabbi?!

A: Yes, and she asked me to give her the Torah to read in return. So I tried to read the Qur´an – about ten times. It was really hard, but gradually I began to understand, and to get a basic notion of Islam. (Here, Musa looked at my friend’s son, the six-year old Ahmed, who had fallen asleep in the mosque courtyard. “Should we probably take him inside the mosque?” asked Musa.) And that woman had brought back the Torah. It turned out to be very difficult for her to read and understand it, because religious literature requires extreme concentration and attention.

Q: Musa, and when you were reading the translation, you must have begun to compare it with the Torah?

A: I had found answers to many questions in the Qur´an. Not to all of them, of course, because it wasn’t the Arabic original, but the translation. But I had begun to understand things.

Q: Musa, and what brought you into the prison?

A: … …I’ve recently seen a programme on the TV, and a representative of the Chechen republic in Moscow – I forget his name now, I believe he had some beautiful, French-sounding name, something like Binaud – he said that if the authorities were going to carry on like they had done before – barging into homes, planting drugs and weapons on people – then the people would be out in the streets protesting. This has happened to many here. So there was something planted on me. Then they came and took me away at night.

Before that, I had had a certain notion about he forces of the law here… well, I couldn’t think they would use such, well, not very polite methods. Islam doesn’t let me use a stronger word. Allah estimates what every man does, and those people will have to answer for what they have done.

But the three months I spent in prison, they probably helped me to make my faith stronger. I saw how people behaved under the extreme circumstances, both Muslims and non-Muslims, how I behaved.

It would be good, of course, if the people in power would pay their attention to this problem. They shouldn’t be trying to eradicate Islam with such unsavoury methods.

Q: Musa, why were the authorities frightened by you?

A: No idea. Even children aren’t afraid of me.
Rabbi of Makhachkala synagogue embraced Islam

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