18 December 2007

26,000 Russian pilgrims go on Hajj

A record 26,000 pilgrims from Russia have gone on Hajj this year, after Saudi Arabia raised Russia's quota from 20,000. Chechnya alone accounts for 3,000 pilgrims.

Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, head of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Russia, observed that
This year, because of religious consciousness, the end of violence in the North Caucasus and in Chechnya in particular and the current growth of people's well-being, people can just allow themselves to do this.
Russia currently has 4,000 mosques, up from the 90 it had at the end of the Soviet era, and Islam is undergoing something of a revival there.

Rushan Abbyasov, director of international relations for the Russian Council of Muftis, observed that Hajjis from other parts of the world are still getting used to the presence of Russian pilgrims. According to him,
"A good many people are surprised that there are Muslims in Russia" (International Herald Tribune).

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