Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – The Kazan Kremlin is the historic citadel, situated in the city of Kazan. It was built at the order of Moscow tsar Ivan the 4th on the ruins of the former fortress of Kazan khans. Ensemble of Kazan Kremlin was enlisted into UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000.
The Kazan Kremlin includes many old buildings, the oldest of which is the Annunciation Cathedral (1554). The most conspicuous landmark of the Kazan Kremlin is the leaning Suyumbike Tower (17th – 18th centuries). A well-known legend connects the tower with the last queen of the Khanate of Kazan. Another recognizable architectural feature is the Spasskaya (Savior) Tower, which serves as the main entrance to the Kremlin. Also of interest are snow-white towers and walls, erected in the 16th and 17th centuries but later renovated; the Kul Sharif mosque, recently rebuilt inside the citadel; and the Governor’s House (1843—53), now the Palace of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Palace is believed to be located on the site of a former Khan’s palace.
Kul Sharif Mosque
The opening of one of the biggest mosques in Europe, the Kul Sharif, was held in Kazan on June 24, 2005. Roughly 17,000 people gathered for the celebration. Delegations from forty countries attended the event. The facility was reconstructed on the site where presumably Kazan Khanate’s principal mosque had been standing before 1552. Speaking at the ceremony, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaeymiev said “the Kul Sharif mosque is a new symbol of Kazan and Tatarstan… a bridge connecting… our past and future.”
The magnificent dome and the minarets catch the view from almost anywhere in the city. The mosque was the major mosquet in the medieval Kazan. The mosque was the center of education and science, including madrasah and the library. All the complex of the mosque perished in the middle of 16th century. At the beginning of the third millennium the Kul Sharif mosque was reborn behind the walls of the ancient fortress.
Thousands of people united by idea of rebuilding made the free-will donations to the mosque construction foundation.
Its rebuilding within the walls of the Kremlin, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, embodies the modern culture explosion in Tatarstan as well as the peaceful coexistence of the two major confessions in the Republic, the Islamic and the Orthodox.
One of Kazan and Tatarstan symbols, the Kul Sharif mosque is an attraction for al of the Tatars of the world and for millions of tourists annually. Due to manifestation in the Kul Sharif mosque of the scientific and educating idea, each one coming to the mosque, opens for himself the world of history, moral values of Islam as well as the cultural traditions of the Tatar people.
The modern Kul Sharif mosque is a symbol of spiritual revival, the embodiment of the faith, the grand and deserving monument of the old city as well as the glory and decoration of the Tatarstan capital city.
The Museum of Islamic Culture
The Museum of Islamic Culture in the complex of the Kul Sharif mosque opened its doors on February 21, 2006. The museum was created as a cultural and educational center within a mosque complex.
The Museum of Islamic Culture is the only museum in Russia dedicated to the study of Muslim culture and the role of Islam in the history of the Turkic-Tatar peoples of the Volga-Ural region. The museum gives an idea of Islam as a religion of the peace, highlights the role of Islam in the history and culture of the Tatar people; gives an idea of the features of the Islamic civilization of the Volga region.
The main sections of the museum are two. In the first section, the following topics are highlighted: the Quran, Islam in the medieval states that existed on the territory of modern Russia (Volga Bulgaria, the Golden Horde, Kazan Khanate), Sufism, and Muslim traditions and holidays. The second section consists of the following topics: the history of the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly, Muslims in the Russian Empire, Tatar enlighteners, the educational system, Hajj, charity, the Muslim women’s movement, Islam and the Soviet regime, Islam and modernity.
Islam came to the shores of the Middle Volga at the beginning of the VIII century/ The adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgaria took place in 922, as is known from the Note (Risale) by Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, secretary of the embassy, equipped with the Baghdad caliph Al-Muktadir. With the penetration of Islam, the peoples developed the Arabic graphics. The window contains two important monuments of written culture: a copy of the page of Kul Gali’s poem “Kissai-Yusuf” and the treatise on medicine “Simple Medicines” by Tadjeddin al-Bulgari. Both authors lived and received a worthy education in the madrasah of the cities of the Volga Bulgaria. These works are the pinnacle of the development of the artistic word and scientific thought of Muslim scholars of the “country of cities” on the banks of the Volga.
Volga Bulgaria became part of the Golden Horde. Berke Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, was the first of the Mongol rulers to convert to Islam around 1240s. In the Golden Horde, science, literature, art, architecture, and medicine are developing. Among the inhabitants of the medieval country, such book monuments as Jum-Jumu Sultan by Husam Kyatib, Nahj al-Faradis by Mahmud Bulgari were popular. The Museum presents archaeological finds – medical instruments that were used in the medieval city of Bolgar.
The Kazan Khanate stood out in 1438 from the Golden Horde on the territory of the Volga Bulgaria. Large and significant in political, economic, cultural terms, the state existed until 1552. The windows show a portrait of Imam Kul Sharif, an outstanding scientist, diplomat. Next – a model of the Nur Ali mosque, located in the Khan’s fortress. Among the copies of the manuscripts are the poems of the Kazan khan Muhammad Emin and the poet Muhammedyar, as well as the Gospel, transcribed in Armenian in 1501. In the second half of the 16th century, the territories of the Kazan Khanate were annexed to the eastward expanding Russian state.
One of the brightest pages of the history of the Tatars is the women’s movement and women’s education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The political activity of Tatar women intensified by 1917. The All-Russian Congress of Muslim Women was held April 24-28, 1917. 71 delegates from different regions of Russia participated in its work.
At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, a new social movement, called Jadidism, was formed. The Jadids praised the human mind and its freedom, emphasized the need for its deliverance from the shackles of scholasticism. At the first stage of Jadidism, new-method madrassas were created.
The 20-30s of the 20th century were marked by dramatic events in the memory of Muslims of Russia, this time was also remembered by repressions, the closure of mosques and the destruction of the educational system, a change in writing, which cut off new generations from the more than a thousand-year-old heritage of Muslim peoples and fellow believers.
Along with permanent exhibits, the Museum of Islamic Culture holds temporary exhibition projects. The museum regularly organizes theme nights, holds Muslim holidays, hosts museum classes for children, master classes, and continuously conducts research work.