Islamic education in Russia is waiting for serious reform
24 Oct 2013, 16:31
Text: Alexey Bukarenko,
“Before the revolution, Tatar, Dagestan and the Central Asian school was honored throughout the Islamic world and even beyond,” – said the newspaper VIEW head of Moscow Islamic University Damir Khairetdinov. He told about why the state considers it necessary to train imams in Russia, not abroad.
As reported by the newspaper VIEW, Russian President Vladimir Putin, participating in the celebrations on the occasion of the 225th anniversary of the Central spiritual administration of Russian Muslims, called Islam striking element of the Russian cultural code.
Putin recalled the decree that 225 years ago was established the Spiritual administration of Muslims. According to the President, this “then showed the world an example of tolerance and wisdom.” Putin is sure that this decision was based on the Russian national history, which has never known religious wars and conflicts. This was dictated by the experience of building a unique civilization, connecting East and West, Asia and Europe. “Each ethnic group retained its own identity,” he said.
Putin urged to re-create Russia’s own Islamic theological school. In his opinion, Russian Islam has all the capabilities relying on the centuries-old national experience, have your say in the development of a rich theological heritage.
How and why to improve Russian Muslim education, in an interview with the newspaper look told the rector of Moscow Islamic University Damir-Hazrat Khairetdinov.
OPINION: Damir-Hazrat, what exactly is different Islamic education in Saudi Arabia or Egypt, for example, Russian or what it should be? Why there are more likely to fundamentalists-fanatics?
Damir Khairetdinov (photo: miu.su)
Damir Khairetdinov: the Key point is that this education is not controlled. Imagine: a man to study at the famous Cairo al-Azhar sends Spiritual administration, or he decided to go on their own. Upon arrival, he discovers that he lacks knowledge for admission, and then he goes to a local school to learn the language. Here is not the fact that she was somehow connected with al-Azhar. Even if it is institutionally, internally it could be something completely different, for example, coupled with the language can teach the basics of Sharia. Such lessons are not controlled by anyone neither in Egypt nor in other countries.
It may look like a teaching in the circles at some of the sheikhs, however, it is unclear to whom they obey what they preach. As a result, people may gain strange ideas unacceptable even for the Arab States, not to mention Russia, for which it is alien.
OPINION: so the main threat is the lack of control of even the governments of the Arab countries? And how many now, young Muslims from Russia studying there?
JH: We know that in Egypt, learn about five thousand students from the CIS, including half–two thousand from Russia, mostly from Dagestan. Who sent them there? I seriously doubt that it was the initiative of the Spiritual administration of Muslims of Dagestan.
Another point is that people are going to obtain a full religious education should take account of traditional, medieval learning. People should do it for 10-12 years. First Arabic, then some elements of the Sharia, then the story of the differences and so on. The one who studied, learned the whole program and got the document may already understand all these intricacies.
And the one who superficially picked up over the year and a half, knows nothing, but after returning here, he is considered a master, actually being an apprentice, do not understand what and how he preaches. Picked up top, not having its own base, he thinks he can solve all the problems of society, for this purpose it is necessary only – and then begin options like the Jihad, the hanging of flags and other things.
Key question: why do they go abroad? There is need to study those who have already received basic education in Russia, people went there only to increase their level. This is the difference between the approach of the 90-ies of our time.
Honors, our graduates we are ready to send on internships under our control, but each individually and time specified. And the fact that someone is going unchecked and typed a variety of bad ideas, it’s because Islamic countries are different from the mirror of our society. The girls dress differently, there are in the mosques praying five times a day, and not as we do, when sometimes the city has no mosque, no Church, but a great many low places. All of this torments him because he was formed in a different environment. And here first he catches the words, and then he can go to. Of course, not all came to study to become such, but to create precedent enough for one person.
OPINION: what are the theological arguments about Jihad?
JH: the very interpretation of the word “Jihad” has many meanings. The famous hadith in which the word “Jihad” means a struggle with Shaytan with his own ego. The prophet after returning from a military campaign said that this fight with the devil inside is the greater Jihad.
In the opinion of the Ulema (scholars), who now live outside the Arab countries, Jihad is allowed only if it is defensive, corresponding to many conditions. If we consider this topic more broadly, interpretations as much as the Ulema. And today Islamic scholar can be anyone who themselves to this position was appointed. In Islam there is no centralized institution of the Church, it is quite difficult to assess how this Sheikh, mufti or Imam has some knowledge and proper authority.
SIGHT: in spring 2005, the Russian government and the Council of Muftis announced a program to reduce the flow of young Muslims abroad to convince them to study in Russia. How was it successful?
JH: At the first stage it was quite successful. Documented was only an action plan, which was implemented through the MoE. It was attended by Islamic and Russian universities, and state universities.
Under this plan, in the secular universities were preparing culturologists, political scientists, regional experts and lawyers who are familiar with Islam. This work can be, and it was important, but our society is increasingly in need of educated preachers, the priests, who might administer the parishes.
The program was very specific and complex because it involved different universities. And to some point it started to slip. In Ufa all this was discussed. The program requires adjustment, as Islamic education has frozen in its development.
OPINION: Vladimir Putin has called you to restore their own theological school. What is required for this? Can such a school to achieve authority, comparable with the current school of Egypt?
JH: Before the revolution, Tatar, Dagestan and the Central Asian school was honored throughout the Islamic world and even beyond. They were recognized by the Ottoman Empire, which included the vast majority of Sunni Muslim territories, they accepted and Iran.
When one of Tatar imams Hamidullah Almashev – went to Hajj, he went through the Crimea, where he was seen off at the station, the consuls of Germany and France. Imagine what glory ran ahead of the Imam from a simple village? Theologian Shihabutdin Marjani was widely known in the Ottoman state, he was accepted at the level of Sheikh-ul-Islam. With scientists Musa Believin debated Ottoman, Bukhara, the Indian Ulema, but recognized his authority.
The current head of the Department of religious Affairs of Turkey Mehmet Hermes even defended his thesis on studying the heritage Bigiev and claims that his ideas were ahead of their time for a hundred years. For example, the idea of divine forgiveness for people of all faiths who believe in one God. Only today, his ideas can lie on fruitful soil, whereas 100 years ago they simply could not accept.
To restore the school very difficult, 70 years of destruction could not pass unnoticed. Now not only the restoration of the mosques, you have to invest in the educational process. The glory of Russian theology and its power was based on the authoritative school. It’s time to invest not only in “brick”, but in “brains”.
OPINION: Volgograd blast has drawn renewed attention to Islamic education, as a terrorist became a Russian young man, who studied at one of Moscow’s madrassa – according to some sources, the mosque in Otradnoye. The extent to which teachers in such schools are able to keep track of supporters of radical ideas?
JH: it’s Hard to say what’s in the mind of these people… If he has brains, then he can learn, at least at MSU, and then try to prove that the teaching staff is correctly educated… the Time is very ticklish to put the blame on the curriculum and teachers we can: if originally he was sick in the head, then how are we supposed to track? We can’t all come to demand help from the mental hospital.
On the other hand, in Russia in General nobody was engaged in the standardization work of the madrasah. Plan 2005 attention towards the madrasas should be given, but to even state universities Islamic universities was something amorphous and obscure. What to say about the madrasah? The universities had neither the legal mechanisms nor the specialists who could go and lead the curriculum in madrassas in some order.
You want to give serious consideration to harmonization of curricula at this level, the coordination of their work, teachers must pass the conventional “face-control”. Yet nobody in our country was not engaged. It started only in Tatarstan, but only a couple of months ago.
OPINION: against Islamophobic rhetoric in different countries increases or decreases in average tolerance among Muslims themselves?
JH: In some Muslim societies, the tolerance may be shaky, it is there and we need to send educated imams who can remind these people of what they forgot or overlooked. For example, I will quote them a verse of the Quran: “And most close to you in spirit to those who call themselves Christians, because among them are monks and priests and they are proud”. There is another Quranic verse which says: “If not to protect Allah’s people, it would have destroyed churches, synagogues, monasteries and mosques in which is remembered the very name of God.
If a community is going through the roof radicalized, it is necessary to ask people out, you are for the execution of orders of the Supreme or against them? If Yes, then you have to accept the idea that to you is entrusted the role of conditional vigilantes, guardians of other religions. This is the real Islam, it comes from the Koran. Everything else that they have in their heads that they inspired political movements and the media, have to dismiss.
Rushan Abbyasov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia
We have a great heritage. Today there is a revival. We are restoring those works, which in Soviet times was lost. These books are popular among young people. It is necessary with the Russian government to communicate to our religious and educational centers had the necessary infrastructure to the Russian Muslims did not go abroad, and could obtain the fundamental knowledge of Islamic doctrine.
This is the premise. In any process there are certain difficulties, after which comes relief. There are already certain successes. Increasingly, we see that the Russian Muslims are striving to receive religious education in their country.
Islamic universities need substantial financing. Funds are allocated, but do not always reach the actual perpetrator. Sometimes, there is a mediation, we do not see from the intermediaries the necessary result. // LOOK.<URL>
Shafig pshihachev , the member of the Public chamber, Chairman of the International Islamic mission
In Ufa we returned to the topic of creating a single strong theological school. Now comes the formation of a unified standard of the Islamic educational system, a common theological standard. You need to improve the spiritual-moral education of youth, but the order of the President in this area are not as rapidly as we would like. // LOOK.<URL>