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Crafting mosque-state relations through community-service work: the case of Yardam mosque in Kazan, Tatarstan

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This contribution examines a symbiotic relationship between the state, represented by local government officials, and a mosque through a case study of the Yardam mosque in the central Russian region of Tatarstan. What in 2002 began as a community service-based project at a small mosque in the outskirts of Tatarstan’s capital Kazan, grew into a charitable foundation and a rehabilitation centre for the blind and disabled, housed under a newly-built mosque. The foundation is able to maintain its large-scale operations by forging strategic partnerships with local elites – local government officials and entrepreneurs – and by ensuring that the mosque’s leadership supports ‘traditional Islam.’ In turn, the local government showcases the mosque as a positive example of traditional Islam in Tatarstan: peaceful, community-service-oriented, and loyal to the state. As such, Yardam serves as a ‘desirable norm’ for the state and a real-life lesson for religious organisations: to be successful, their vision, mission, and work must be aligned with those of the state. Ultimately, the case of Yardam illustrates how Russia’s religious policy with the focus on ‘tradition’ can shape ‘mosque-state’ relations at the local level.
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Keywords: Islam; Russia; Tatarstan; charity; mosque; the state

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA

Publication date: March 15, 2019

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