I kindly greet the readers of our new “Islam in CIS” series and feel privileged to say several words about this initiative.

This almanac along with a website islamsng.com which was launched earlier this year is a part of our new media-project. It is aimed at building connections with Muslim states of the CIS, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Having visited these countries several times, I was surprised to see how eager people out there are to communicate—and these not only include high officials, but also scholars, religious leaders, and common people. Currently we have news offices in Tashkent, Astana, Baku and Bishkek, and we hope to have them soon in Kyiev and Dushanbe.

Our mutual interest has a centuries-long history starting from the times of the Great Silk Road that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, as well as North and Northeast Africa and Europe, and the Great Volga Road connecting Baltic and Kaspian seas. Back than Russian and Turkic states basicly moderated the communication between the West and the East. The role of the contemporary states hasn’t changed in its principal except for that we now have long-distance oil and gas pipelines going all the way through Russia and Europe to China and Iran.

Migration processes in CIS are fairly hard to follow. For one thing, no visas are required for member states enabling millions of people going from one state to another for doezns of reasons. Some of them go on tour or to visit their relatives or friends, others go for education or to find a job, some of them seek a better living and settle at new places to never return to their homelands. For another thing, Russia currently experiences severe population decline, and so the need in new migrants today would be hard to overestimate. And migrants from these former Soviet republics we are speaking about are most welcome here for quite a number of reasons: they don’t have a long way to go, they have so much in common with Russian Muslims in terms of their language and religion, and finally, we have a great experience of co-existance within the borders of Russian Empire and then Soviet Union in the past.

One should bear in mind, however, that migration processes isn’t the only aspect worth attention here. The natural resourses and peculiarities of geographical location make the CI-states the subject of international politics and global economics. And we simply can’t afford another conflict over resourses and land mass. We can only afford cooperation that subsequently requires mutual understanding. I believe the quarterly almanac “Islam in CIS” could serve as a linking device between our countries and people. And I hope this first issue is giving a start to a really long series for the good of people.

Damir Mukhetdinov,
editor in chief, special representative of Council of Muftis of Russia in CIS