Staunton, Nov. 25 – Euro-Islam arose as a result of efforts by Muslim minorities in European countries to find a modus vivendi with the majority, Kirill Semyonov says; but now it has become a tool Western governments have deployed against Islam and all countries like Russia which are attempting to protect traditional values.
The specialist on Islam at the Russian Council on International Affairs argues that those Muslims who promoted Euro-Islam initially came to believe that “only the Western system of values and the Western political system would be able to provide Muslims dignity, progress and development” (milliard.tatar/news/evroislam-cto-eto-takoe-i-pricem-tut-rossiiskie-musulmane-2447).
In fact, Semyonov says, those who accepted Euro-Islam “became promoters of European values and European views and in essence are a segment of European society much like the greens, the left, the right or the LGBTs.”
Those Muslims in Russia who accept Euro-Islam are thus simultaneously damaging their faith and threatening Russia because they are promoting Western values at odds with both, the Moscow expert says. According to him, “Euro-Islam is a trap” the West has laid for Muslims, and Russia’s Muslims together with all other of the truly faithful must avoid it.
Many Muslims in Europe and most in Russia understand this threat and can see that Euro-Islam is being supported by Ukraine and NATO as part of their struggle against Russia, Semyonov says. Those who have fallen into this “trap” need to be rescued and brought back to the true faith and to the defense of traditional values.
This may seem a marginal issue, one that has arisen because of the conflict between Russia and the West over Putin’s war in Ukraine; but in fact, it recalls something earlier and from the point of view of many Muslims in the Russian Federation even more fateful to their survival.
At the end of the Russian empire, some Muslims, especially in Tatarstan, sought to modernize Islam. They were the so-called Jadids, and they gained many followers throughout the country. But after the Bolsheviks seized power, they attacked the Jadids and did everything they could to destroy the modernizers and elevate the reactionaries within Islam.
The Bolshevik calculation was simple: if religion was made to look archaic and reactionary, it would lose support even more rapidly. As a result, the Soviet state repressed the modernizers at an even greater rate than it did Muslim leaders more generally. And to a certain extent, the strategy worked.
More recently, Tatar historian Rafael Khakimov sought to promote the revival of Jadidism in the form of Euro-Islam, an effort that drew the fire of conservative Muslims and some in the post-Russian state (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/06/window-on-eurasia-tatar-scholars-call.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/03/tatar-historian-hasnt-changed-but-islam.html).
The appearance of Semyonov’s article suggests that some in Moscow want to revive the practice of the first years of Soviet power, attacking and then repressing any modernists in the Russian umma in the hope of making Islam less attractive to young people among the ever more numerous Muslim nationalities of that country.