Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin: Mardzhani’s greatness lies in the fact that he has panned out both as a theoretician and as the spiritual and moral authority of his time.
December 07, 2018
Chairman of the Religious Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation and the Council of Muftis of Russia Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin spoke at the III All-Russian scientific and theological conference “Readings named after Shigabutdin Mardzhani” “Muslim Civilization of Eurasia: the concept of Ummah development”, which was held yesterday in Moscow.
“On behalf of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation, the Council of Muftis of Russia and myself personally, I cordially welcome you at the III Readings. Shigabutdin Mardzhani and express my sincere wishes of peace, the mercy of Almighty Allah and His blessings!
I express my gratitude to our partners who supported the holding of today’s conference in the person of academic centers of science and education, as well as charitable foundations with whose participation our event was organized. Our conference was honored to actually complete the commemorative events in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mardjani, under whose sign the current 2018 passed for a significant part of Russian Islam.
The efforts by the Republic of Tatarstan in the person of its authorities, scientific and religious circles, with the active participation of which many educational and scientific-theological events took place in the homeland of the great Mardjani, including exhibitions and scientific meetings, deserve high appreciation.
From the rostrum of our conference, I also want to thank and highlight the selfless work of our contemporaries, scientists who have devoted their scientific activities to studying and understanding the works and views of prominent representatives of the Russian school of Muslim theology, including Mardzhani, as one of the most fundamental and prolific thinkers of Tatar Muslims.
Shigabutdin hazrat Mardzhani, as a theorist, pointed out to contemporaries the weaknesses of their view of the world and the focus of their theological studies, suggested another – adequate paradigm of understanding the sources and key theological texts of Islam, adequate to the realities of his time. At the same time, as the imam, the leader of opinions and spiritual authority, called upon to embody the good and avoid the bad by his own example, he in practice of his own life showed a fundamentally new strategy for the development of the Muslim community regarding world civilization and the historical process.
Mardzhani’s true greatness lies in the fact that he panned out both as a theoretician, and as the spiritual and moral authority of its time, and as imam and teacher. It is hardly possible to consider Mardzhani a destroyer of fundamentals, and he himself did not even think so, in his private life while remaining a traditionalist, and in scientific work – a fundamentalist, if by the latter we mean reliance on the original layer of Islamic religious thought without later layering.
Those modernization processes, primarily mental ones, which Mardzhani made a precursor of, would be impossible and incorrect to describe in the categories of the struggle of the old and the new, the true and the distorted. The breakthrough of Mardjani lay in the fact that, going beyond the pattern that had prevailed for centuries, he pointed out the path of searching for the very essence of religion and faith.
I want to draw your attention to the following fact: – in fact, Shigabutdin Mardzhani throughout his life did not experience any significant intellectual, educational influence from outside the Muslim environment, that is, by the grace of Allah, he was entirely a product of Islamic education, upbringing, own talent and hard work.
Throughout his life, he never broke away from the environment that had nurtured him, serving precisely his community and his people.
Therefore, the views of Mardzhani, which seemed to his contemporaries to be radical and even blasphemous or heretical, were formed in him exclusively in the process of thorough study of precisely Muslim sources and an excellent knowledge of the situation about the strengths and weaknesses of his ummah.
Without any doubt, the generosity, tolerance and intellectual universalism inherent in Mardzhani were the result of the fundamental universalism of Islam itself, which was deeply adopted by the Tatar thinker. In his students, he cultivated the ability to think systematically, objectively assess the surrounding reality, because any blind and unconscious following authority over several generations will inevitably degenerate into obscurantism and idolatry. We call Mardjani a reformer, but in one he always remained conservative – throughout his life he did not change his qibla, the fundamental goal of his activity, which was to lead his ummah to salvation along the path indicated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
It is very important that modern researchers do not lose sight of this aspect of the activity by the great thinker, because in goal-setting of any theologian and spiritual figure the factor of ultimate purity, sincerity, integrity of the faith of his community as the reason for its salvation is paramount in comparison with the goodness of earthly existence. And according to Mardzhani, rationalism, breadth and freedom of thinking could not harm the faith of the individual, while obscurantism, dogmatism, inertia caused damage to human creed and moral character.
For Shihabutdin Khazrat, of course, Islam in the fullness and integrity of God’s revelation was the choice of a mature mind and a free soul.
However, the idea that a scientist was a stranger to everything worldly would be wrong. On the contrary, he was a realist, a significant part of his creative energy devoted to the development and progressing the Tatar Muslim Ummah of the Russian Empire.
And here, speaking not as a revolutionary, eager to dismantle obsolete institutions, but as a thinker who called for the transformation of the semantic content of established social and religious institutions, he advocated strengthening and developing the institute of Mahkam-i-Shargya – Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual Assembly as a single spiritual center of the Muslim Ummah of the vast territories on the Eurasian continent.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the activities of Shikhabutdin Khazrat as a historian, since it was he who laid the foundations of the Tatar national self-consciousness and the historical memory of the Tatars, literally in his works, defining the vector of the subsequent activities of venerable Tatar historians and even entire scientific institutions right up to today.
This is not an exception for the collective of scientific editors of the series of encyclopedic dictionaries “Islam in the Russian Federation”, carried out over several years.
Unfortunately, the rich legacy of the Tatar thinker has not yet been adequately mastered, not all of his works have been discovered, but not all of them have been translated.
In addition, the way of working with the ideas left to us by Mardzhani sometimes differs in an unnecessarily historical cataloging accent. Research is certainly necessary, it precedes any serious initiative in the field of independent thinking.
However, it must be remembered that we must not only explore the texts by Mardjani, but also continue the work of his life.
The matter of independent development of theology, science and philosophy, which, precisely in its independence, are capable of becoming for each other a real support; The cause of social change, educational reform and renewal of faith. Today it is our main task, the solution of which is the guarantee of the Ummah’s prosperity. ”