Staunton, August 11 – Fearful that the enormous number of Muslims coming to mosques on the occasion of the Kurban-Bayram holiday might get out of hand, the Moscow police deployed the same bus with equipment capable of jamming smart phones just as they did against the election rights protest, Antono Razmakhin of Moskovsky komsomolets reports.
But there was no need for that. Indeed, the thousands of Muslims who came to pray were hardly the threatening group many Russians have viewed them in the past, the journalist says. Instead, they were remarkably secular in appearance and overwhelmingly Russian speaking (mk.ru/social/2019/08/11/kurbanbayram-v-moskve-lico-stolichnogo-islama-izmenilos.html).
Indeed, Razmakhin entitles his article “Kurban-Bayram in Moscow: The Face of Islam in the Capital has Changed,” becoming less that of outsiders dressed differently and speaking foreign languages than that of people who dress as other Muscovites do, speak the same language, and treat religious holidays the same, mostly as an occasion for socializing.
Of course, the journalist says there were many deeply religious people and the language of prayer was Arabic; but most seemed to treat the event as an occasion for getting together and talking about their lives – and for them, the language most often used, one that bridges the gaps between other languages, was Russian.
Kurban-Bayram recalls the willingness of Ibragim (Abraham) to sacrifice his own son if God required it, Razmakhin says. “In the Torah and the Bible, the son is called Isaac; in the Koran, Ismail. But the story and its message are the same.
One Uzbek with whom the journalist spoke, who has been driving a taxi in Moscow for ten years, made exactly that point. “I’m a Muslim,” he said; “there is nothing separating me from Christians. We even have a common holy book.” It was originally written “in three languages – Imran [Hebrew], Yunan [Greek] and Latin,” and “everything in it is the truth!”
Later in history, the Uzbek said, governments had translated the holy text into various languages in order to confuse people and make them easier to control and rule.
This positive message about interreligious relations stands in stark contrast to the fear-mongering Moscow media have displayed at the time of Kurban-Bayram in the past; and it suggests that as Muslims in Moscow have become less different than other Russians so too other Russians have become less hostile to them.
If that is the case, Razmakhin concludes, it won’t be a bad thing.