Jakarta, MINA – Russia is a multicultural country consisting of around 193 nationalities with a variety of religions, languages and cultures.
Although the majority are Orthodox Christians, around 14% or around 24 million people are Muslims, perhaps the largest on the European mainland.
Some states such as Tatarstan, Dagestan, Chechnya, and Bashkortostan are predominantly Muslim.
Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Lyudmila Vorobieva shows evidence of harmony in religious relations in the Federal Republic of Tatarstan which can be seen with many activities held jointly by Muslims, Christians and Jews to knit a spirit of peace between religious communities.
The Republic of Tatarstan is one of 83 federal regions of Russia. The majority of Tatarstan residents are Muslims and Orthodox Christians. So, there are many mosques and churches here.
In the Travel Guide of the Republic of Tatarstan, there are around 700 mosques and 200 churches.
According to her, Tatarstan, located about 500 km east of Moscow, can be used as a model of community unity that upholds interfaith and ethnic tolerance.
“Tatarstan is inhabited by Tatars and they are a good example of how Muslims, Christians and members of other religions can coexist very well for centuries,” Ambassador Lyudmila said in a special interview with a MINA journalist team, in his official residence, in South Jakarta, Tuesday July 14.
She also revealed how the majority of the Muslim population in Russia is not of migrants. They are people who lived in Russia for centuries because Islam came to Russia earlier than it came to Southeast Asia, especially to Indonesia.
According to the MINA search, Islam actually entered Russia about 10 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. In 734 during the Ummayah Caliphate, a mosque was called the Juma Mosque in the old city of Derbent, entering the current Dagestan region.
Ambassador Lyudmila stressed Tartastan has the capital of Kazan which is one of the most dynamic regions in Russia and is currently a tourist destination for Indonesian tourists.
Kazan has a population of around 1.2 million. They use two languages, namely Russian and Tatar. Kazan is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“Actually, there are many Tatars who live in Moscow too. Even at our Embassy (in Indonesia). We have a native Tatar diplomat and he is a Muslim. So this (Religious Harmony) is a tradition in our country and also this is the mentality of our people, ” she concluded.
More than 450 years ago, Tatarstan is a country that stood alone under the banner of the Khanate of Kazan. However, when Tsar Ivan IV conquered the region in October 1522, Tatarstan was finally annexed by Russia completely.
Despite years of communist Soviet control, Islamic and Christian historical sites in the region are preserved. Old buildings that have been lost were rebuilt and used as a tourist destination.
The mosque that is believed to have existed in this region before 1552 was also rebuilt and named the Kul Sharif mosque (the name of the last leader of the Muslim Khanate). The mosque which is claimed to be the largest in Europe was opened in June 2005.
Meanwhile, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, around 8,000 mosques have been erected and make Islam the fastest growing religion in Russia. (L/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)