FEBRUARY 1998 - Updated 02/06/98

Minister celebrates Ramadan
conclusion with Moscow Muslims

RUSSIA

'Except for on English-language Internet sites--there was no media attention whatsoever paid to the warm greeting for Min. Farrakhan.'

by Askia Muhammad
Washington Bureau Chief

MOSCOW--The temperature was 20 degrees. Icy winds blew a fresh dusting of snow among the 15,000 men and women who were standing tightly in ranks outside of the Central Mosque in this Russian capital city, listening to the proceedings inside over loudspeakers. Many of the faithful had removed their coats to use them as prayer rugs so they could perform the Sajdah (prostration) at this, the holiest Islamic celebration of the year.

"Takbeer!" The emam shouted three times. "Allahu Akbar! (God is Great)" The congregates shouted in turn each time.

"La-ilaha illa-Allah (there is none worthy of worship except Allah)," they all sang melodically, concluding their prayers in celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, the conclusion of the Holy Month of Ramadan, when all the world’s Muslims abstained from eating and drinking from daybreak to sunset.

Following the prayers among another 3,000 worshipers inside, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan---visiting Russia as a part of an historic World Friendship Tour III--urged "steadfastness" among "our Islamic family."

"I understand that there are one million Muslims in Moscow," he said, speaking through a translator. "This means that Moscow has the largest population of Muslims of any major non-Islamic city in the world. Here we are, celebrating the fast of Ramadan, in which the Holy Qur'an was revealed.

"Allah brought us the Qur'an, that we many transform the entire earth into the worship of God," the Nation of Islam leader said.

Unlike the days when Communist rulers suppressed some religious practice---particularly Islam---in Russia and the republics which made up what was then the Soviet Union, the Russian future and its new destiny with Islam, Min.

Farrakhan said, "is very great." And while official estimates of the total Muslim population in Russia vary widely, from 20 million to less than 10 million, Islam is second only to the Russian Orthodox Church in the total number of adherents. The large Islamic presence in Russia remains a "well-kept secret" to most outsiders.

"If Russia is to return to her great position in the world Russia must come to Islam," the Muslim leader from the United States said, and the Russians believers cheered: "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!"

"How can Russia become great again, if we as Muslims do not rise up and take our proper and rightful place?" The duty of the one million Muslims in Moscow is to convert the other 10 million Muscovites to Islam, Min. Farrakhan continued.

"Allah says in the Qur'an: If there be one of you steadfast, he will put to flight 10. This is why the West fears the rise of Islam," he said, urging the Muslims throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics to "rise up and become a revolutionary force that will transform this society, and from this society, transform the whole earth."

Reiterating his prediction that Islam will also become the dominant force in the United States, the Minister promised that one day the Muslim leaders of Russia and the Muslim leaders in America would one day link hands across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

"If you go to work in Russia and make Russia Muslim, and we go to work in America and make America Muslim, then East and West will embrace each other , and Islam will be the force in the world," Min. Farrakhan said.

Russian Muslims cheered Min. Farrakhan's visit, describing him in a press release as the world's most popular Muslim leader. "As a writer he surpasses Norman Mailer; as a diplomat, Henry Kissinger; as an orator, Martin Luther King," said the statement from the Muslim Union of Russia. Moscow's Grand Mufti Ravil Gainutkin and the Grand Mufti of Siberia joined Min. Farrakhan at the Eid prayers.

The Nation of Islam leader's visit was intended to "convey via the media a message of peace and goodwill to all of Russia's citizens, to its Orthodox and Muslim peoples, with some reflections on the course of humanity in the 21st Century," the statement said.

Media coverage was widespread throughout Russia. The English-language Moscow Times featured a front-page article with a large four-column photograph of Min. Farrakhan and others in prayer. Russian-language newspapers also featured coverage of the Minister. Russian television broadcast a five-minute feature on Min. Farrakhan's visit, which was shown on Channel 1, the most popular station across the vast nation which spans 11 time zones, from the European region all the way to the Pacific region, bordering Japan and Alaska.

This was the first time, in fact, that national media attention had ever been focused on an Islamic holiday, Muslim Union officials reported, acknowledging that they had received phone calls from all over the country from exited Muslims who had seen the telecast.

"He's a wise man," said Intiyr Akramov, a 31-year-old Muslim from Uzbekistan, who attended the Eid prayers, according to a published report. "The idea of unification of Russian and American Muslims is quite possible. We share the same faith, so a strong brotherhood exists between us already."

But in the United States where the corporate news media "line" is to portray him as a hater of white people---except for on English-language Internet sites---there was no media attention whatsoever paid to the warm greeting for Min. Farrakhan, by the white Muslims in the capital city of Russia, or to the cordial relations established on this visit between Blacks and whites in Islam, that despite the fact that the Associated Press (AP) dispatched stories and photographs to its subscribers around the world.

Photo: Min. Farrakhan in Moscow's Central Mosque

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