Wednesday 7 June 2023 \


The history of Islam in Russia

Official history not only does not disclose for the masses the origin of Rus and the Slavs, but also for a long time tried to hide the influence of other faiths on the formation of the culture of our country. We bring to the attention of readers the material testifying to the acceptance and existence of Islam in Russia.
Islam, first adopted on the territory of our country originally by the inhabitants of Dagestan, probably soon after this spread to the Bulgarian cities. Islam penetrates into the territory of the central regions of the future Russia and through the liberated Volga Bulgaria.
Thus, Ibn Fadlan, who came to introduce Islam to the Bulgars, was forced to note the presence of mosques and schools there as early as the beginning of the tenth century (note that at that time the territory of the future Muscovy was, in all probability, still part of the Bulgarian state). 
There are also grounds to assume that as early as the pre-Mongol period, a certain part of the population of Russian principalities became attached to Islam. This is evidenced by the presence in the orthodox terminology of not only Bulgarian but also Arabic terms.
Church or mosque?
The existence of terms other than Tatar and Arabic, to indicate the attributes of the Islamic faith, also indirectly indicates that. A well-known mention of V.N. Tatischev that the Bulgars built temples in the Vladimir-Suzdal land can be interpreted in this context in a different way: but did they build churches?
The architectural features of some churches of the pre-Mongol period (Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, for example) are very different from Christian standards, even Orthodox ones. Famous "poppy" domes have analogies in the architecture of the Arab world and do not have - in Christian.
At the same time, we note that in some cities there are temples built following the Greek (from plinth and with conical roofs) and Bulgarian (white stone, weak foundation, "makovki", ornament) samples. The presence of Islamic rituals is evidenced by discovery of some graves committed on Muslim patterns.
Propagation of Islam
Certain successes, apparently, Islamic missionary work has reached among the Finno-Ugric peoples. Traces of the former Muslim rituals were prominently revealed in them at the end of the nineteenth century (Marjani Sh., 1993), and at the beginning of the 20th century there was a mass return (or legalization?) of Finno-Ugrians to Islam.
The most significant stage of Islamization, apparently, occurred during the Golden Horde, the leadership of which recognized Islam soon after the capture of the Khorezm and Bulgarian territories - during the reign of Berke.
Russian supporters of Islam lived in the very ancient cities themselves. So, for example, in describing the rebellion in Yaroslavl (1262), it was noted that an active follower of Islam, the former monk Izosima, "was killed by the mob, who will be rejected from the Christian faith and be a Beserman of evil and welcome from the Tsar ambassador Titjak ..." (Tatischev V.N. "The History of the Russia." Moscow: AN SSSR, vol.5, p.44.).
Prominent Soviet historian A.N. Nassonov pointed out that the uprising in the 60s of the 13th century in Russian cities was directed against the Beserman-Basqaq who collected taxes. He also notes the presence of Russians in the Basqaq detachments (A.N. Nassonov "Mongols and Rus." Moscow: AN SSSR, 1940. p. 17, 53).
In this regard, the question becomes natural: following what rites were marriages in Islamic Sarai concluded between the Horde princesses and numerous Russian prince-pretenders? At the same time, we know from the chronicles that these princesses received Christian names later in Russia (we even admit that, possibly in absentia and posthumously).
So, Uzbek, in whose reign Islamic culture flourished in Eastern Europe, in 1317 married his daughter (niece) Konchak to Yury Danilovich Moskovsky. Later, in baptism, she was named Agafia.
It seems to us quite natural that the son-in-law of a Muslim khan should have been Muslim. In this respect, pictures of Moscow princes with their braids, robes and khansky hats, coins minted in Arabic are noteworthy. Among the founders of their dynasty Moscow princes pointed Tatar princes. There is an obvious orientation towards the eastern cultural world (Izmailov I. Rodina, 1997 №2, p.89).
This is evidenced by the well-known fact that the Moscow boyars blinded their suzerain - the Grand Duke Vasily the Dark, imputing to him the excessive preference for Tatar customs and language. Boyars looked no less Asian in European miniatures. Muscovites look in Tatar-style - in the white felt hats and robes in the works of S. Gerberstein and M. Lytvyn.
These and other facts indicate that Moscow was much oriented in cultural issues toward the Eastern world until the middle of the sixteenth century. The orientation of the Russian nobility to Eastern and Turkic culture, in itself, does not mean the automatic acceptance of Muslim dogmas (especially since a large part of the Tatars who came to Muscovy professed Christianity.) In particular, many "ancient Russian" monasteries of the 13th-15th centuries were founded by Tatars). 
The Muslim Nobility
However, this situation did not prevent, as in later times, the spread of Islam in Russian Zalessye. We have reason to believe that a significant part of Rus's elite, Red and White, adhered to Islam during the Golden Horde period.
Thus, the famous traveler of the XIV century Athanasius Nikitin used to point out in his work his Muslim name - Khoja Yusuf Khorasani (by the way, tverichi he called "the Russian heads", and not the Muscovites) (Nikitin "Journey Beyond Three Seas" M.: Soviet Russia, 1980. p. 57). And one of the Russian chroniclers Nestor (who wrote, in particular, the story of the fall of Constantinople) indicated at once two of his names: Nestor and Iskander.
However, even in later times - in the XVI-XVII centuries. - in the list of clerks and military ranks of Muscovy, a significant part of names - were derived from Muslim names, and on the contrary, according to research by Nosovskiy and A. Fomenko, in the lists of Muscovites they found only one Christian name. We believe that the investigated scribe books reflected information about the privileged urban strata.
At the same time, the taxable population was better restrained by Christianity. Probably that is   why Christianization of the Ughro-Finns (then constituted the majority of the population of Russia Zalessye) and the Slavs in the Golden Horde period not only reduced, but also magnified under the domination of Jochids (Vernadsky G.V. "The Mongols and Russia." Tver. 2000. pp.137.385).
Probably, during this period there was an opposition of the Islamic nobility and the Christian lower class of Muscovy. Apparently, at this time, the contemptuous attitude towards the "black people" was expressed in the form of the term "Christian", preserved by the Russians to this day.
S. Gerberstein, for example, in the middle of the XVI century already, as an old custom, notes that noble persons and soldiers "in a sign of contempt" used to call the villagers "Christians." (Heberstein S. Notes on Moscow Affairs, St. Petersburg: 1908. p.85). In Russian documents, this attitude was first manifested in 1391 (Vernadsky, G.V., Ibid.).
Transformation of Orthodoxy
Apparently, Islam had a definite influence on the ritual of the Orthodox Church, as well. Attendants of Constantinople Church (e.g., Maximilian, messenger of Constantinople patriarch), coming to Moscovia, noted that the local service does not comply with the tenets of the Greek and Latin churches, and called the Tzar - schismatic (i.e. heretic) (Gerbershtein C. S., op.. .65).
M.G. Khudyakov in his famous monograph cites the remark of Maxim the Greek about the strong adherence of the Muscovites to the eastern fashion, that, in his opinion, they will soon put on a turban. Indeed, Western contemporaries repeatedly noted such features of the Muscovites, who probably took over the remnants of the Muslim customs, such as the mass refusal of alcohol, and the prosecution of its use and distribution.
In this respect, it is significant that Catholics did not consider the Slavic Orthodox Church as a Christian church and directed the crusades of their orders against it. Western contemporaries testify that in Muscovy "holy Catholics are persecuted with stronger hatred than the Mohammedans themselves".
G.V. Vernadsky also noted the change in church singing during the Golden Horde period (Vernadsky G.V. ukaz.soch, ibid.).
Russian Muslims
Many contemporaries note a large number of Tatars in medieval Moscow. They formed a significant part of the Moscow and Moscow suburbs of Turkic toponymy. Probably, for some of them, mosques were needed to observe the rites of Islam. In any case, similar precedents were in Muscovy: mosques in Kasimov, Romanov etc...
The largest number of Russian Muslims, of course, should eventually flock to the Kazan Khanate. Thus, in one of the unrecognized sources of "Jagfar Tarihi" it is noted that up to 30,000 "Kara Muslims" lived in Kazan, i.е. "Western Muslims."
In a sense, this figure is confirmed by information from "Kazan chronicler" (incidentally, he himself, coming from Moscow nobility, converted to Islam and had a successful career in Kazan), who pointed out that Ivan IV's troops in Kazan freed about 100 000 people from slavery. Given the fact that slavery in Kazan was not even in the form as in Moscow, it can be assumed that most of them lived in the Kazan land freely.
A huge number of captives simply could not be kept in a relatively small (at that time) state without changing the demographic picture substantially. Therefore, the captives, in the main, were deported to the south, leaving, as a rule, in Kazan only those who accepted Islam. Thus, the figure of 100,000 people - family members approximately corresponds to 30,000 masters of Kara Muslims (Western Muslims).
Noteworthy is the fact that, having a real choice, Russia and the Slavs took Islam consciously. On the territory of modern Russia, as is known, Islam was not enforced by force (Fuchs, K. 1996). 
Perhaps, therefore, the author of Kazan history noted that many of them preferred to stay in Kazan and practice Islam even in the conditions of the soon-apparent destruction of the city in the middle of the 16th century. Moreover, the captured Russian (as far as this term is applicable in this case) Muslims refused to report themselves and return to Muscovy (Khudyakov MG 1992).
This fact, along with the presence of significant Tatar units, commanders and the Kazan Khan in the Moscow army, allows us to unequivocally deny the previously imposed and entrenched thesis about the ethnic nature of the contradictions between Moscow and Kazan. The main conclusion that can be drawn from the above material is the conclusion about the indisputable past presence of the Muslim religion in the Proto-Russian and Russian states, as well as the very significant influence that Islam had on the emerging culture of the Russian people and the Orthodox Church.
R. Nabiev

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