Ukrainian mufti puts a Russian one in his place over Orthodox autocephaly

Sheikh Said Ismagilov, the mufti of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Ukraine (Photo: Facebook)

Sheikh Said Ismagilov, the mufti of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Ukraine (Photo: Facebook) 

Civil Society, Russian Aggression, Ukraine

At a time when Russia’s Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) is marking its 230th anniversary and its mufti, Talgat Tajuddin, his 70th birthday and his 28th year as head of the Central MSD, a Ukrainian mufti has told the Ufa leader that he has no business commenting on the issue of autocephaly for Ukraine’s Orthodox Christians.

On Facebook, Said Ismagilov, the mufti of the MSD of Ukraine, said, in response to Tajuddin’s denunciation of autocephaly for Ukraine’s Orthodox that “Muslims must not interfere in the affairs of the Orthodox” especially when they don’t live in the same country.

According to Mufti Ismagilov, the only Muslims who have a right to give an opinion on such questions are Ukrainian ones and as for himself and his flock, “we welcome autocephaly” for Ukraine’s Orthodox. He was responding to Tajuddin’s assertion, picked by Russia’s TASS news agency, that a grant of autocephaly to Ukraine “contradicts the Divine Plan.”

Tajuddin, one of the last muftis installed in Soviet times and the head of an institution that was created by the Russian state to control Muslims despite having no basis in Muslim law, has almost invariably been an enthusiastic supporter of whatever policies the Kremlin is backing at any particular time.

Like Moscow Patriarch Kirill, the Ufa Muslim leader still thinks of the entire former Soviet space as properly within his domain, although unlike his Orthodox counterpart, Kirill has never formally articulated the idea of it as his faith’s “canonical territory.” Such a notion has no basis in Islam, but it is certainly supported by the Kremlin at least now.

Tajuddin’s declaration clearly was intended to show his loyalty to his political masters by causing as much trouble as possible in Ukraine. But Mufti Ismagilov’s response suggests the Ufa leader isn’t going to have the success in that regard that he and the Kremlin hoped for. Ukraine’s Muslims are and almost certainly will remain overwhelmingly loyal to Kyiv.

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Edited by: A. N.

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