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Religious Board of Muslims for the Nizhny Novgorod Region

14.01.2009 12:18

For several centuries Islam has been one of the most widespread religions in the Nizhny Novgorod region. First Muslims came here back in the 10th century having inherited Islam from the state of Volga Bulgaria. In the 15–16th centuries Muslim Tatars founded first settlements on the territory of today Nizhny Novgorod area.

For several centuries Islam has been one of the most widespread religions in the Nizhny Novgorod region. First Muslims came here back in the 10th century having inherited Islam from the state of Volga Bulgaria. In the 15–16th centuries Muslim Tatars founded first settlements on the territory of today Nizhny Novgorod area.

Throughout these centuries Muslim entity in the Nizhny Novgorod Region has developed several cultural and educational centres in Tatar settlements with mosques, maktabs (Muslim elementary schools) and madrasahs (Koran schools); Nizhny Novgorod imams and theologians have always been the religious teachers for Muslims in the region and all over the country and even far beyond its bounds.

After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 Muslims suffered a hard fate under the Communist regime. Anti¬religion, and especially anti¬Muslim campaigns of the Soviet leadership destroying mosques and subjecting the clergymen to repressions decimated Muslims’ religious, educational, and cultural institutions, and led to their intellectual stagnation.

The revival of Islam in Nizhny Novgorod didn’t begin until 1988 when Muslims regained the building of Nizhny Novgorod Cathedral mosque on the basis of which 3 years later, in 1991, the Nizhny Novgorod muhtasibat — a provincial structure of the Religious Board of Muslims of the USSR — was formed.

A new period in the history of Nizhny Novgorod Muslim ummah (community) began in 1993 when the Religious Board of Muslims for the Nizhny Novgorod region (DUMNO) with 57 member mosques and religious congregations was officially formed. It became the most powerful organization coordinating the work of five Nizhny Novgorod Region muhtasibats, supervising religious and educational institutions and uniting all the Muslims in the region. From its very first days DUMNO was headed by imam¬khatyb of the Nizhny Novgorod Cathedral mosque Umar¬khazrat Idrisov.

For over 13 years DUMNO has been successfully maintaining its educational activity along with reconstructing mosques and reviving system of educational institutions destroyed during the Soviet period, promoting Islam and moral principles of Islam adherents. Throughout these years Nizhny Novgorod Muslims have been the active part of Russian community and World Muslim entity.

The machinery of DUMNO headed by Damir¬khazrat Mukhetdinov ensures DUMNO’s effective work through activities of Education and Scholar Department, Department of Information and Popularization of Islam, Charity Department, Department of Building and Architecture and Department of Registration.

Department of Registration is responsible for registration of new congregations and supervises their work. Department of Building and Architecture carries out reconstruction of old mosques and building of new ones, assignment of land and maintains work on architectural projects.

Education and Scholar Department supervises the system of Muslim religious educational institutions in the Nizhny Novgorod region including educational summer camps for kids, maktabs, 5 branch madrasahs in the villages of the region, madrasah Mahinur and its branch madrasah Medina in the village of Medyany (Krasnooktyabrsky district of the Nizhny Novgorod region). Over 10,000 Muslims received their religious education in these institutions. Throughout the years summer camps, maktabs and madrasahs became a source of elementary and secondary Islamic education for hundreds of Nizhny Novgorod region Muslims. In madrasahs students study both religious and secular subjects acquiring the qualification of imam¬khatybs. The teachers of these institutions share their knowledge with adherents of other confessions longing to bring young people to cherish morality preventing them from following the path of vice and helping to find the true way — the way of faith. The Department works in close cooperation with the leading institutions of higher education in the region. During the past 8 years Nizhny Novgorod State University has been carrying out Islamic researches project giving a fairly profound Islamic knowledge to the students of the International Relations Department. Close contacts have been established with several state schools both in Nizhny Novgorod and in the region. The Department of Information and popularization of Islam coordinates the work of mass media owned by DUMNO and cooperates with regional and central mass media.

One of the oldest DUMNO media is a television program Minaret covering the life of Muslim community in Nizhny Novgorod and giving an insight into Islamic history and culture. It has been on the local channel NNTV for over 10 years.

DUMNO’s official web site Islam in Nizhny Novgorod — www.islamnn.ru — is one of the most visited Islamic news resources in Russian Internet. Due to prompt covering of current events and activities of DUMNO, publishing of acute interviews with the leading religious, political leaders and scientists and prompt reaction to the burning issues of the world events with deep analytical articles it has won the reputation of one of the most profound websites.

Since 2004 DUMNO has been issuing a newspaper Medina al¬Islam integrating former bulletin Nur al’Ilm and some other newspapers issued in the Russian and Tatar languages. The electronic version of the newspaper can be found on the official DUMNO’s web pages.

DUMNO carries out numerous publishing activities coordinated by the Education and Scholar Department and the Department of Information and Popularization of Islam. Every year DUMNO issues dozens of books on the history of Islam in the Nizhny Novgorod region, educational textbooks, theological books, works of local authors, materials of academic conferences held by DUMNO. The number of books issued by DUMNO in the past years counts over 150 editions.

The DUMNO library plays an important part in gaining Islamic knowledge for both Muslims and followers of other confessions providing them with over 20,000 books. Among them there are true antiquated rarities dated back to the 19th century, books in Arabic, Persian, and Tatar, books on Philosophy, Political Science, Fine Arts, and History.

Charity makes an important part of all DUMNO activities for good deeds and helping to those in need is an important part of life of every Muslim. The Charity Department of DUMNO sets helping people irrespective of their faith for one of its basic objectives. During the 11 years of its existence the Charity Department managed to provide help to several thousands of people. It organizes charity tours to Islam¬related sites in the Nizhny Novgorod region, raises money with the help on the part of mosque¬goers of Nizhny Novgorod and sponsors for poor people, orphans, abandoned old people, the disabled and others in need. During the Ramadan fast the Department organizes charity iftars (fast¬breakings) for the mosques¬goers and invites all the indigent to visit charity dinners on the occasion of main Muslim holidays. Yet the greatest impact the Charity Department has on people is its bringing them back hope and faith in the help of God. The Department provides help with equal readiness to both Tatars and Russians, Muslims and Christians for trouble knows not either nationalities or religions. It is important to mention that with the years the number of those longing to help has grown significantly meaning that more people now realise the importance and the pleasure of sharing.

DUMNO and Charity Department in particular wouldn’t make it without the donations of the mosque¬goers and sponsors. Maintenance of mosques and educational institutions, publishing activities and charity events are fully enabled due to their generosity.

We thank everybody who renders help to DUMNO, who is responsive to our needs and prays for us.

May peace and the mercy of the Almighty Allah be upon you!

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<a href="http://www.islamrf.ru//engnews/eheritage/emuslims/6606/">ISLAMRF.RU: Religious Board of Muslims for the Nizhny Novgorod Region</a>