My Century Home Page
Broadcast on Tuesday 30th November 1999
My name is Ravil Bukharaev. I was born in the city
of Kazan, on the River Volga, in 1951, to a family of mathematicians.
By birth, I am a Muslim. But the situation was that up to 1989 I
didn't have any clear idea of Islam, because I lived through the
decades of the Russian Soviet state atheism. Nowadays, I am a radio
journalist, in a way a religious scholar, a linguist, an author
and poet - and a believing |Muslim. My parents were both born before
the Second World War, during the '30s. So it means that the Soviet
state atheism was already at its height. They knew about their background,
but they never practised Islam as a religion. As for myself, it
was even less with me, because I was born in the '50s. And at that
time not only Islam as a religion but even my mother-tongue, which
is the Khazan Tatar tongue, was effectively banned, banished from
the school curriculum. Almost all Tatars of course knew about Islam.
Whosoever they were - they were party officials, or they were managers
or schoolteachers or professors of the university, for that matter
- they never did anything without saying: "In the name of God".
So in this sense, we can say that the Tatar culture - which is about
one thousand years old - was always based on Islamic values. I can't
say that I was a secret Muslim, who was always thinking about going
to the mosque and offering my prayers. That wasn't the case, of
course. I was a student. I was a young man - with everything that
comes to mind in this situation. But if a person would like to learn
something more about Islam or about his roots, his national roots,
it always looked suspicious to the authorities. And the authorities,
who were most prominent in persecuting and pursuing their ideas
were not Russian authorities. They were local Tatar authorities,
who would build their careers on it. They were very much feared.
The atmosphere in 1989 became more liberal, not only in religious
terms, but in all other terms as well. But to be a religious person
it's not enough only logically to understand what religion is. Faith
is given by God Himself. And that's why I was kind of in a jam.
Because rationally I could understand that Islam is good, because
it teaches good. But nothing was in my soul. And the only thing
which saved me from this doubt was that in London I met some people
whom I now count as true Muslims, although they are being persecuted
in the big outside Muslim world as heretics: the Achmediat Muslim
Society. The main idea of Achmediat is that you can't love God as
a creator without loving his creation and helping his creation.
Here I realised that this was my place. Because everything came
together: my education, my thirst for knowledge and rationality,
and my search for a purely religious and spiritual experience. And
now I believe very strongly that nothing disappears in this world.
You can suppress something, even ruthlessly. But you succeed only
in hiding something very deep. In fact, Islam cannot be destroyed.
Because it is not politics. It is not a culture, after all. It is
a state of mind. E N D