22 September 2003, 21:58

Central Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia and European States of CIS (CMSBR)

The CMSBR (presently renamed as the Central Islamic Spiritual Board of the Muslims of Holy Russia - trans.) was instituted by Empress Catherine II's Sep. 22, 1788, edict as the Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual Assembly (OMSA), inaugurated in Ufa on December 4, 1789. The mufti, head of the Spiritual Assembly, was elected by the Muslim community and, as advised by the minister of the interior, approved by the "imperial authority." The Spiritual Assembly was in charge of all affairs to the effect of the Muslim religion and directly governed all Muslim clergy in the country, with the exception of the Tauric and western provinces and Transcaucasia. Its jurisdiction included: a) putting persons willing to hold an ecclesiastical office to test; b) supervision of the activities of ministers of the Muslim religion; c) matters linked to building mosques and attaching clerics to them; d) vital records; e) considering, as a court of appeal, complaints against parish clergy to the effect of the procedure of divine service and administration of regular and occasional rituals; cases of marriage and divorce, private property with disputes over testimonies or division of inherited property, disobedience of children to parents, and adultery. The empress's edict established government allowance for the mufti and members of the Spiritual Assembly.

In the years of Soviet rule, the Spiritual Assembly was reorganized as the Central Muslim Spiritual Board and the number of its functions was cut down substantially.

In 1992 the VI congress of the Muslims of Russia and the European states of the CIS made a decision to set up the Central Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia and the European states of the CIS, headquartered in Ufa. Talgat Tajuddin was elected the Supreme Mufti and chairman of the Spiritual Board.

Over 3,700 Muslim religious unions operating in the corresponding areas were under the Board's canonical leadership as of March 1997. The Board's functions include direction of operations of religious unions; training and appointment of the Muslim clergy; publishing religious literature; facilitating the construction of mosques; and maintaining contacts with foreign religious organizations. The Board handles great work on the Islamic education of the population; organizes conferences, symposia, and interviews; invites leading foreign preachers and theologians; guides the activity of schools for studying the basics of Islam and Arabic language that operate at Muslim religious unions. It takes an active part in charitable and peacekeeping work and maintains permanent contacts with Muslim organizations in a lot of foreign countries. The CMSBR is funded at the expense of Muslim religious unions and voluntary donations of believers.

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