Muslim Presidency in the All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Communities

19.01.2018 14:23 15

By January, 18, during the conference “Religion as a Factor of World Unity” dedicated to the World Religion Day, Mufti of Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” Sheikh Said Ismagilov became a head of the All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Communities (ACRC). This Council, appeared in January, 2017, unites representatives of six religious organizations: Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah”, Apostolic Orthodox Church in Ukraine, National Spiritual Assembly of Bahai Faith in Ukraine, Religious Union of the Progressive Jewish communities in Ukraine, Union of Sons and Daughters of The Native Ukrainian National Faith (RUNVira) and Center of the Krishna Consciousness Communities in Ukraine.

Some observers usually consider this Council as a new alternative for the influential All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), existing since 1996 and uniting mostly greatest organizations like Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Ukrainian Catholic Church etc. However, with a regard to Islamic centralized organizations only one (among a few existing in Ukraine) is really represented in AUCCRO and the same could be said about the Jewish participation. For Muslims, this is Spiritual Administration of Ukrainian Muslims (SAUM), headed by Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Tamim. AUCCRO has a long story of relation with State officials in Ukraine, usually taking position of “the most representive” inter-religious institution, while those communities which are not represented here may doubt this status. The problem for these communities is that for the acceptation of new members AUCCRO must vote unanimously, but for the reason of the interconfessional clashes this seems to be unreal. SAUM usually suspects all other Islamic organizations in Ukraine to be potential “extremists”, while many other Islamic communities accuse SAUM in “sectarianism”, based on the Sufi Islam of “Al-Ahbash” religious group.

Nevertheless, emergence of the new interreligious institution became a significant event in the religious life of Ukraine. On this session, a special guest was Dr. Ihor Kozlovs’kyi, well-known Ukrainian scholar of religion, who spent more than two years as a hostage of Pro-Russian separatists in Donbass. Also the session gathered Ukrainian scholars (first of all, Dr. Prof. Olexander Sagan, who was one of the initiators for the creation of ACRC) and officials from the State Department of Religions and Nationalities of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.

As Mufti Said Ismagilov informed, during his presidency in the ACRC, many of the events are going to be planned. These are commemorating events for the victims of Nazi repressions towards Jews, Ukrainians and other nationalities, some ecological actions, participation in international conferences on the dialogue of religions to be held in Qatar and other countries. Most of the projects to be realized are reported to be in preliminary steps now, however, this year for the ACRC activities promises to be quite fruitful. Sheikh Said Ismagilov is elected for the presidency in ACRC for one year, and due to his reputation as one of the most active religious leaders (“Korrespondent” journal listed him among 100 most influential people in Ukraine) ACRC position could be even more strengthened. The interesting point is the development of relations between ACRC and AUCCRO, since up to now any of AUCCRO members came to be represented in a new Council. However, as Sheikh Said Ismagilov explains, the door is still opened.

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