Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Window on Eurasia: A Dagestani Muslim Builds a Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 18 – Gadzhi Gadzimusayev, a Daghestani Muslim who has lived in Moscow for 45 years,, has given 150 million rubles (5 million US dollars) to build a Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow because he “wanted to leave something after himself for the good of Muscovites.”

            Gadzhimusayev took this step, Archpriest Sergey Kiselev of the Trinity Church District in the Russian capital told “Vechernyaya Moskva” on Monday , when no Orthodox Christian appeared ready to do so.  The cornerstone of the new church was laid this week, and the brick church is slated to open this summer (

            Anton Elin, a journalist at that paper, asked Gadzhimusayev “why he had spent money on an Orthodox church and not on a mosque.” He responded that although born in Daghestan, he had lived “45 years in Moscow” and that he “wanted to leave after himself something for the good” of the city and “a church is better than any other monument because it will be eternal.”.

            Gadzhimusayev added that he had already contributed to the construction of two other churches but that the latest one will be special: “the cupola will be covered with gold and it will be build with red brick.” He said he was following the behavior of the Prophet Muhammed who “protected the monastery of St. Catherine” and added that in his view, “God is one.”

            Archpriest Sergey told the paper that the Orthodox Church had not in this case “seen any [Orthodx] investors so far.” They exist, he suggested, “but there aren’t any o fthem as it were.  For our Orthodox people, the Muslims are an example.” And he noted that a Muslim factory director on the outskirts of Moscow had recently opened a chapel in the yard of his firm.

            While neither Gadzhimusayev or Sergey mentioned it, there may be other reasons behind the Daghestani’s investment. On the one hand, such actions almost certainly are intended to overcome tensions between Russians and arrivals from Daghestan and other parts of the North Caucasus.

            And on the other, the unwillingness of Moscow officials to allow the construction of even a seventh mosque in a city which has more than two million people of Muslim heritage may mean that anyone who wants to build a religious facility has little choice but to contribute to the construction of a church, possibly in the hopes that Muslims will be able to pray there as well.

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