The following article appeared in an edition of the Russian magazine Ogonyok featuring a series of pieces on Russians who convert to Islam. (My translation).

12130.jpg  “The fashion for Islam has spread from Europe and the USA to Russia. Among the ranks of our native Russian Muslims everyone can be found, from nationalist radicals to members of the liberal intelligentsia.

“Recent sociological research has shown that Islam has become the most dynamic world religion. In the USA, for example, millions of Afro-Americans whose ancestors knew nothing of the Prophet Muhammad [s.a.w.s.] call themselves the “Nation of Islam”, whereas in Germany the native German Muslim community already numbers hundreds of thousands. The remarkable phenomenon of Euro-Islam has sprung up. The contemporary mode for Islam resembles the hippy fashion for Buddhism or Krishnaism of the sixties and seventies: this exotic culture with its spiritual practices has great allure, especially when its followers are you compatriots and can tell you about it in your own language. Sooner or later Euro-Islam will be preached in our land — and most likely it will be accepted as the latest height of European fashion in the style of “ethno-techno”. Today we can already speak of how our own native “Russian Islam” is establishing itself as a cultural-political phenomenon.

“The main bulk of Russian Muslims, prosaic as it may sound, is made up of Russian girls who marry Muslims. As a rule, prior to marriage, they were indifferent to religion, therefore they accepted the faith of their husbands without any great difficulty; moreover, “traditional Islam” in Russia is extremely liberal and does not demand rejection of the usual way of life. The second noticeable group of Russian Muslims is made up of nationalist radicals. They come to worship Allah in two ways — either through political extremism or through a religious quest based on the soil of fervent anti-Semitism. For example, in Eduard Limonov’s National Bolshevik Party thirty Russian warriors have already entered Islam. They say that the leader of the NBP is himself not far from officially converting to Islam. Less involved in the political struggle are the followers of the National Organisation of Russian Muslims (NORM) — some of them have come to the faith of the Prophet through a rejection of Judaic Christianity and after wandering through the labyrinths of Slavonic neo-paganism. As is characteristic of neophytes, radical Russian Muslims try to follow their new religion with full commitment — genuine Russian Wahhabi jamaats with over two hundred Russian adherents have already been created.

“Lastly, the smallest in number but the most striking group of Russian Muslims is composed of liberal members of the intelligentsia who have rejected Christianity at a mature age and even under the influence of liberal ideas. Here we must mention first of all Vyacheslav Polosin, the former archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has taken the Islamic name Ali. His sensational conversion to Islam was accompanied by a whole P.R. campaign, which roused the benevolent interest of the Russian intelligentsia int he religion of the Prophet. Arty connoisseurs of the Orient — underground poets and artists — are more drawn to the esoteric Sufi tarikats — the Nimatullahi or Tijaniyya.

“Broadly speaking, if those who call our epoch post-Christian are right, then intellectuals and politicians would do well to take a closer look at Russian Islam. And the main thing is to understand how to build it in such a way so that the Russians, prone as they are to wild self-sacrifice, should not pick themselves as their “guides and leaders” some new “Taliban”…”

Russian-Style Islam, written by Alexander Soldatov

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