INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ISLAMIC CIVILISATION IN VOLGA-URAL REGION, 2001

International Symposium on Islamic Civilisation in Volga-Ural Region under the patronage of H.E. Mintimer Shaimiev, President of Tatarstan, organised by IRCICA, the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences (Kazan), the State University of Kazan, the Oriental Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), the Union of Orientalists of the Russian Federation (St. Petersburg), the Foundation for Research on Islamic History, Art and Culture (Istanbul), in Kazan (Tatarstan), 8-11 June 2001.


The historical, multicultural scenery of Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan, offered a venue perfectly concordant with the general theme of this international symposium: "Islamic Civilisation in Volga-Ural Region". The symposium took place under the patronage of H.E. Mintimer Shaimiev, President of Tatarstan, on 8-11 June 2001. It was organised jointly by IRCICA and the following academic institutions: the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences (Kazan); the State University of Kazan; the Oriental Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow); the Union of Orientalists of the Russian Federation (St. Petersburg); the Foundation for Research on Islamic History, Art and Culture (Istanbul). Thirty-seven papers were presented, and over sixty scholars, researchers, authors and representatives of cultural and academic journals participated in the symposium, from various countries in Asia, Europe and the USA and the region itself. The symposium was held at the National Cultural Centre 'Kazan'.

H.E. Mintimer Shaimiev, President of Tatarstan, inaugurated the symposium with a comprehensive and instructive address. The President evoked the introduction and spread of Islam in Russia in general and the Volga-Ural region in particular, the development of Islamic culture over the centuries, and some contemporary issues which, more than ever, call for a universal dissemination of thorough knowledge and learning on the Islamic civilisation. H.E. the President said that Islam spread in the territory of Russia about 1400 years ago and that it appeared on the bank of Volga River at the beginning of the 10th century; therefore, Russia has strong traditions related to the co-existence of two great faiths. Referring particularly to the Volga-Ural region, the President said that by adopting Islam as its official religion (in 922) the State of Bulgar, whose people were the ancestors of Tatars, joined the most advanced civilisation of that time. President Shaimiev spoke of the reforms which were implemented in the region from the end of 19th century. Then, he drew attention to the need for a renewed effort to study and make better known the Islamic culture and civilisation all over the world.

H.E. Dr. Abdelouahed Belkéziz, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, was represented by Prof. E. İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA. In his message addressed to the symposium, the Secretary General underlined that the holding of this meeting under the patronage of President Shaimiev and in cooperation with the academic establishments of the Russian Federation was a manifestation of the care being devoted by Tatarstan to culture and scholarship and that it represented at the same time an important step towards strengthening the traditionally good relations and cooperation between the region and the whole of the Russian Federation on one hand and the OIC as representative of the Muslim World on the other. IRCICA Director General Prof. İhsanoğlu then delivered his address, in which he outlined IRCICA’s activities related to this field of study. He emphasised that the importance of this meeting was enhanced by the fact that it was a concrete result of the fruitful cooperation established between IRCICA and the academic institutions of the Russian Federation in general and Volga-Ural in particular.

The opening ceremony then heard the addresses of Mr. Kamil Iskhakov, Mayor of Kazan City, Chairman of Kazan Council of People’s Deputies; Dr. Rafael Khakimov, State Advisor to the President, Director of the Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan; Prof. Dr. Mansur Khasanov, President of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan; Prof. Dr. Anatoly Egorin, Deputy Director of the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Russian Federation; Mr. Gousman-Hazrat Ishakov, Mufti of Tatarstan. The available texts of the addresses are quoted in this section in the order of presentation.

The Volga-Ural region historically includes the territories of the Modern Republic of Tatarstan, Republic of Bashcortostan, Republic of Chuvashia, Republic of Mari El, Republic of Udmurtia, Republic of Mordovia, the areas situated on Volga and in Ural. A number of important cities of Islamic culture and learning, such as Kazan, Astrakhan, Ufa, Orenburg and Trotsk are located in this region. A particular feature of this region is its historical experience in the multicultural coexistence of peoples from different religions and ethnic origins.

This symposium comes under IRCICA’s series of international symposia relating to the history of Islamic Civilisation in the various regions of the world. The previous ones were devoted to the study of Islamic Civilisation in South Asia, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Caucasia, and the Balkans and were held in Pakistan, Brunei, Senegal, Azerbaijan and Sofia over the period from 1986 to 2000.