On 5-6 October a conference called “Waqf in Russia: present state and prospects” took place in Kazan.
This conference organized by the Russian Islamic University with the support of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan and a number of Russian and international organizations was attended by the representatives of the Islamic Development Bank, the General Secretariat of Awqaf of Kuwait, leaders of Islamic organizations, experts and members of academic community.
The Mufti of Tatarstan Kamil hazrat Samigullin, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Muftis Council Rushan hazrat Abbyasov, the head of the administration of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Chechnya Supyan Kurbanov, the chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Saint Petersburg Ravil hazrat Pancheyev, the deputy chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Crimea Asadulla hazrat Bairov and foreign guests from Kuwait and Jeddah welcomed the conference participants.
All of them emphasized that the institution of waqf played an important role in the historical development of Muslim community, and is now crucial for solving the challenges faced by Muslims in Russia. Rushan hazrat Abbyasov mentioned the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, which was built over a century ago on the land conveyed as a waqf. The mosque itself, namely its new building, is now a legacy of the whole Muslim community of Russia. The speakers also noted that the enormous legacy of the Russian Muslim community was lost after the Revolution of 1917, and so far only a small part of waqf properties has been given back to Muslims.
“The events that happened after the revolution and further antireligious reforms wiped away the issue of waqf during the Soviet period. This situation required from Muslims some serious efforts aimed at restoring the legacy left by our predecessors”, — said Rushan Abbyasov in his welcoming speech.
The mufti of Tatarstan noted that the institution of waqf in Russia is incipient and cannot be developed without consolidation of efforts of Spiritual boards of Muslims and Muslim business leaders.
Similar problems also exist in the Republic of Crimea, where the large legacy of the Muslim community does not have a waqf status. However, the muftiyat of Crimea is trying to retrieve that property by means of cooperation with the authorities.
By the way, in Russia there is a law no.327-FZ “On transferring the property intended for religious purposes in state and municipal ownership to religious organizations”, which came into effect in 2010. However, this law does not specify the procedure for transferring the property that was not intended directly for religious purposes but served as a capital for sustaining mosques, madrasas etc. This issue was raised in 2014 at the session of the commission for implementing this law headed by the chairman of the Federal Property Management Agency, deputy Minister of Economic Development, O.K. Dergunova.
The conference work was divided into four main parts: international practice for the development of the waqf institution, general rules and regulation issues of the waqf institution, history of awqaf in Russia and the modern stage of awqaf development in Russia.
One of the main results of the conference discussion was the conclusion that the institution of waqf required a special legal status, but in its absence it could still develop further, which was confirmed by the historical practice during the period of the Russian Empire. There are several possible forms for development of the waqf institution in Russia: formally establishing it as a property of religious organizations, creating charity funds, trusts, etc.