Staunton, Nov. 21 – Talgat Tajuddin, the longtime head of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate in Ufa and known for his extravagant behavior, alcoholism, and slavish devotion to whatever the Kremlin wants, can best be understood as “the Zhirinovsky of Russian Islam,” according to Islam Tokhlu and Ruslan Aysin.
The two specialists on the Muslim community say that as offensive as Tajuddin’s behavior may be to Muslims and even people of good sense, there is method to his madness because it along with his undoubted behind the scenes managerial skills to remain at the top of one of the four super MSDs in Russia for so long (idelreal.org/a/32630802.html).
The Russian authorities see Tajuddin as exemplifying what has been their policy toward Muslims since the MSDs were established in the 18th century: Having concluded that there is little chance that Russia’s Muslims will convert to orthodoxy, the Russian authorities hope that they can control them by nominally Muslim structures that are nowhere authorized by Islam.
The comparison with Zhirinovsky is especially apt. On the one hand, Tajuddin’s outrageous behavior entertains and distracts attention from his effort to gut the meaning of Islam by reducing Islam to a church with its own hierarchy and thus promoting the rapprochement of Islam and Russian Orthodoxy.
And on the other, Tajuddin’s willingness to back anything the Kremlin does also recalls the late LDPR leader who inevitably did the same thing but did so in his own outrageous way, something that suggested there was more debate at the top of the Russian political pyramid than in fact has been the case.