The Historical Mosque of Moscow
The Historical Mosque of Moscow
Mosques in Moscow were built and were in operation for a number of centuries. For a long time Russian State was part of the Golden Horde whose official religion was Islam. On medieval engravings (miniatures) of Moscow one can see mosque minarets with crescents next to Christian churches.
The first documented mention of the mosque in the Tatar Settlement is from 1712. The same mosque is mentioned in 1744 Census. In the result of the plague in Moscow in the 1770s, the majority of the parishioners of the mosque itself and the land plot owner (translator of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Prince Sulmamit-Murza Simenei) in whose courtyard the mosque was situated died, and his heirs sold the house to a merchant Schukin. The Mosque - already in a state of utmost dilapidation at the time - was demolished. Subsequently, prayer meetings were held in the homes of local merchants.
Because of the disappearance of a mosque in Zamoskvorechye district, Muslims of Moscow had repeatedly tried to get permissions from the authorities for the construction of a mosque in stone since 1805. Only in 1823, the Muslim community received permission from Moscow’s Governor-General Prince D. V. Golitsyn for the construction of a stone mosque.
Construction of the mosque was carried out on the land plot owned by the First Guild merchant Nazarbay Hoshalov, which was specifically bought for possession by Muslims on Bolshaya Tatarskaya Street (current address: Building 28, Bolshaya Tatarskaya Street). Merchant Hoshalov then handed it to the community as a waqf (mortmain property). The initial view of the structure bore a little resemblance to a mosque and did not stand out from the neighboring mansions.
In 1858, the worship house was repaired.
In 1882, the restructuring of the mosque was carried out; the project draft was completed by architect Dmitriy Pevnitsky. This was preceded by a petition from senior akhun Khairetdin Ageev, worship house’s headman Ibrahim Devishev, and Salih Erzin (the main financier of the project) to the Governor-General Prince Dolgoruky, which stated: “The number of our Mohammedan society and military officials of the aforesaid has increased significantly, and the Moscow Mosque cannot accommodate more than 300 people on Fridays and holidays, and because of that we have to conduct prayer services outside the mosque, which is quite unpleasant for us, especially during the cold season”. Accordingly, the authors of this letter petition you to allow them to increase “the mosque on the facade”. As a result of such restructuring of the building, it has been extended on the east and west facades, and on both porches and over the roof of the mosque new minarets were built. Capacity of the mosque (including basement, yard and a neighboring madrasa) had increased to host up to 1 500 people.
During the XIX century, this mosque had the status of Cathedral (from the XX century the Mosque built in 1904 in Vypolzov Alley is called Cathedral). Today this Mosque is called “the Historical” (in Tatar “Tarihi mechet”, in Arabic “Al-Masdzhidat Tarihi”. The term was in use since early 1990s).
In September 1915 Sadeq Salikhovich Erzin financed the construction of a stone building of madrasa near the mosque, which today hosts the administrative offices.
In 1923-1925, internationally renowned theologian Musa Bigiyev worked here and taught foundations of Islam.
In 1937, the mosque was closed down. In Soviet times, the building was used by a printing house and served as civil defense headquarters, military office and DOSAAF (Volunteer Society for Cooperation with Army, Fleet and Aviation). In 1967, minarets were demolished.
In 1944-1947 Moscow Moslems under the leadership of General Yakub Chanishev had tried to return the building of the mosque but did not succeed. Since the late 1980s, the elders of the Tatar community: Akhmedzhanov Gayar Abdullovich, Akhmedzhanov Haidar Abdullovich, Kikichev Abdullah Shakerovich and Mustafin Ahyat Meryakubovich repeatedly petitioned for the return of the mosque to the believers. In November 1990, Moscow authorities decided to transfer the building to Moslems’ Religious Society. However, because of protests since the beginning of the 1980s from “Hudojestvennya Gravyura” printing house, located in the building of the mosque at the time, the transfer process has been delayed. Finally, the Historical Mosque was returned to Muslim community in January 1991.
In 1992, at the expense of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Moscow and with personal participation of Ambassador Dr. Abdel-Aziz Khoja and Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ankari, the reconstruction of the mosque was carried out. In 1993, the mosque was reopened after long years of neglect and oblivion.
In 1998, Bayazitov R.D. fully covered another reconstruction of the mosque building. Since 1999, the mosque is led by “The Historical Mosque” Religious Society of Muslims.
Imams of the Historical Mosque
In 1826, Imam of the Mosque was Seiful-Muluk Askhapov.
From 1833 to 1867 Rafek Bekbulatovich Ageev (? -1873) served as Imam of the Mosque. Thanks to him, Moscow Muslim community gradually acquired the characteristics of organizational structure. During that time Moscow Mosque had the status of a separate muhtasibat (territorial division) within the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly. The apartment of Imam Ageev housed the mosque’s madrasa before the construction of a separate building.
From 1867 Hairettin Rafekovich Ageev (1827-1913), eldest son of Mullah Rafek, became the imam. He finished Apanaevskiy madrasa in Kazan; then taught the foundations of Islam and Arabic for several years in him alma mater. He was fluent in eight Eastern and European languages, for many years he taught Sharia Law and Tatar language in the cadet corps. He was listed as a permanent interpreter at the Armory (Orujeynaya Palata), and translated several monuments of Arab culture; in particular, the inscription on the sword of Zulfiqar, which is attributed to Imam Ali (in reality it is a trophy of Polish origin from the XVII century), for which he was awarded a diamond ring on the orders of Emperor Alexander II. Hairettin Ageev accompanied Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, King of Persia, in the Armory during his visit to Moscow in May 1873. He was one of the consultants for the last edition of Russian translation of Qur'an from French, made by Nikolaev K. When he passed away in February 1913, many newspapers in Moscow and St. Petersburg wrote about the death of an honorary citizen of Moscow Imam H. Ageev. His funeral was attended by about 3 thousand people, including the mayor of Moscow Andrianov A., Acting Governor of Moscow Kondoidi I., Chairman of Rural Council, and others.
Abdulla Hasanovich Shamsutdinov (1878-1937), married the eldest daughter of Imam H. Ageev became the next Imam. He was of Kasimov Tatars origin, studied at a madrasa in Bukhara, worked as an imam in Ghulja in northwest China. In 1908 he became assistant imam of Moscow, and married Imam’s daughter. In 1914, under his direct supervision a new building of madrasa was opened. With his assistance, Moscow Muslim Charity Society had become more involved in the life of the community, and the Muslim community of the city had become more united and organized. Since the beginning of the 1920s, Imam began work on the translation of Quran into Tatar language. On 29 April 1936, A. Shamsutdinov and his wife were arrested on charges of anti-Soviet activities (as part of the case of conspiracy of leaders of Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims”) that were inspired by the Soviet authorities. On February 10, 1937, he was executed on charges of treason, his wife Magirya was also killed in the dungeons of the NKVD (People’s Komissariat for Internal Affairs). Soon after this, the Historical Mosque was closed down. A. Shamsutdinov was posthumously rehabilitated in March 1956.
In 1991-1999, Mahmut Abdulhakovich Velitov (born in 1951) served as Imam-Khatib.
The current Imams of the Historical Mosque are:
Khasyan Fattahetdinovich Fakhretdinov was Imam-Khatib of the Mosque from 1999 to 2013. Born in 1936, he is native of the village Endovischi of Nizhny Novgorod region. One of the oldest employees of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the European part of Russia, who was awarded “Al-Fakhr” Order of second degree for his many years of service to Islam;
Ramil Salehovich Sadekov has served as Chief Imam and Chairman of Local Religious Organization of Muslims “Historical Mosques” from 2013 to the present; he is also a member of Presidium of Spiritual Authority of Muslims of Russia. Born in 1972, he was raised in Moscow, the son of the natives from the village Urga of Nizhny Novgorod region. A graduate of the Faculty of Sharia of Al-Karaouine University (Morocco), Chairman of Charitable Fund “The Historical Mosque”, he is the author of numerous interviews in Moscow and federal mass media on topical issues of development of the Islamic community of Russia and the world.
Rufat Safaevich Akhmetzhanov was born in 1976, a Muscovite, the son of the natives of village Kochki-Pozharki of Nizhny Novgorod region. He is a graduate of Sharia Faculty of Al-Karaouine University (Morocco), author of publications on topical issues on Islamic theology, author of translations from Arabic of several works on Sharia in the Imamate, ablutions, and sacrifices.
Saleh Hamzinovich Seyfetdinov was born in 1984, native of Endovischi Village of Nizhny Novgorod region. He is a graduate of Kazan Higher Muslim Madrasa “Muhammadiya”.
The Historical Mosque’s Muezzin is Rais Hanafeev, born in 1959, native of the village Andreevka in Nizhny Novgorod region.
Madrasa in Zamoskvorechye
In the first half of the XIX century, titulature of Imam Ageev includes the title of “Mudarris” (teacher of main Islamic sciences (Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, History, Arabic) in madrasa - elementary school. Moscow madrasa started its operations in a separate wooden construction in 1871; before that, it was hosted in the apartment of Ageev R.B, Imam of the Historical Mosque.
A one-storey wooden building of madrasa was rebuilt in 1873. Due to the sharp increase in the number of Moscow's Muslim community in the early twentieth century, a small madrasa could no longer accommodate everyone. In November 1913 at the initiative of the trustee of the Historical Mosque Sadek Salihovich Erzin, Construction Department of Moscow City Government was petitioned with a request “to allow building a new two-storey stone building with a basement on the grounds of the Mosque”. As a response to this request was not followed, Sadek Erzin filed another petition for restructuring madrasa: a different, substantially redesigned draft by Architect Antonov A. This project was approved in December 1914.
Opening of madrasa took place only in September 1915 with the direct participation of the Imam of Historical Mosque Shamsutdinov A.H. Religious subjects were taught here.
In addition, there was a school of secular sciences in the house of Asadullaev (which was then called “Asadullaev School”) since 1914. Right after Russian revolution of 1917, “Asadullaev School” was headed by a Sorbonne graduate Sarah Kasimovna Shakulova. By 1926, Asadullaev’s House hosted a seven-year School №27 named after Narimanov with 210 students in 7 groups (Principal Yusupov); after a few years the number of students increased to 302. In the same building two Tatar homes for the orphans and the poor functioned; the first one consisted of three groups with 90 students (Head Timerbulatov), the second one consisted of three groups with 450 students (Head Khabibullina).
Shortly after the October Revolution of 1917, the madrasa at the Historical Mosque was closed in 1920 and was transferred to the children's home. In the postwar years different institutions were placed here. Along with the Historical Mosque, it was returned to believers only in 1992, and today serves as the administrative premises of Religious Society of Muslims “The Historical Mosque”. As for the presently operating madrasa, it holds its sessions for interested persons in special rooms in the building of the mosque.
According to archival documents, Moscow’s Historical Mosque, located in building 28 on Bolshaya Tatarskaya Street, was founded by Tatar prayer community in 1823 and is the oldest of the existing mosques in Moscow. Currently, the mosque carries out its religious activities under the canonical and legal guidance of Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia.
The main functions of the Historical Mosque include:
- Five-time prayer (namaz);
- Friday (Jum’ah) sermons;
- Courses of Arabic language and foundations of Islam in Russian and Tatar languages;
- Religious ritual services;
- Conclusion of Muslim weddings, namings;
- Advice on religious matters;
- Charity work: a one-time assistance to orphans, the disabled, the sick, the poor, and the needy.