On March 14, 2024, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with a delegation of Muslim leaders headed by the head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Mufti of Moscow Albir Krganov, at the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow.

The Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate was represented by Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairperson of the DECR, and Priest Ilia Kashitsyn, Secretary of the DECR.

The Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia (SAMR) was represented by: First Deputy Leader of SAMR, Mufti of St. Petersburg and North-West Region Ravil Pancheev, Head of the Department of Affairs of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Moscow and Central Region "Moscow Muftiyat" Imam-hatib D.D. Mustafin.

Addressing the guest, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted the many years of sincere and fruitful cooperation with the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia.

"We greatly appreciate the stance - both yours personally and that of the community you lead - aimed at strengthening inter-religious harmony in our country and good relations with Orthodoxy. I believe that the existing relations can serve as an example. First of all, they are sincere - it is always very simple and easy to talk to you, for when you feel the sincerity of a person, it is easy to understand each other, and we have good relations. Besides, we speak with one mind on different platforms. A very important factor for us is love for the Motherland, support of our many nations, patriotic stance. And, of course, loyalty to our traditions, sincere faith in God and the desire to live by God's law. And God's law requires love towards people," His Holiness Patriarch Kirill emphasized.

The meeting of religious pastors took more than an hour and a half and was marked by a cordial atmosphere, imbued with the spirit of mutual respect and unanimity.

His Holiness ascertained: "We appreciate all this and consider it a contribution to interreligious peace and harmony throughout our country, but also in a sense, if I may say so, an example for other communities, because sincere fraternal relations between Orthodox and Muslims, especially in Russia, are a guarantee, among other things, of peace and harmony between peoples".

For his part, Mufti Albir Krganov expressed his gratitude for the well-organized meeting with Patriarch Kirill, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. He mentioned the life trials that His Holiness the Patriarch had endured during the years of militant atheism, noting that the present time also brings serious challenges for believers.

"Historically, there have always been very good relations between Orthodox and Muslims, and we know many examples of how, for instance, in the hard years of atheism, bishops and imams supported each other," said the head of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia. - For the last 30 years various sectarian organizations have been trying to split us, to discord us. But, thank God Almighty, the immunity developed over the millennium, the wisdom of our peoples, the balanced policy of our country's leadership, especially in recent decades, helped to preserve and strengthen these relations. And today, amidst a special military operation, we see unity, cohesion and understanding of not only religions, but also unity of the people around the leadership of our country.

In particular, the Mufti cited as an example the situation in Chuvashia, where women weave camouflage nets for fighters at both churches and mosques and help each other in this work.

He also dwelt on His Holiness Patriarch Kirill's speech in 2023 at the meeting of the Strategic Vision Group "Russia - Islamic World" in Kazan, emphasizing its program significance: "It outlines the position regarding different historical moments and states how we look at the future". In addition, Mufti Albir Krganov emphasized the Patriarch's words about the importance of protecting traditional spiritual values and the role of Orthodox and Muslims in this endeavor.

The Mufti also talked about the activities of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, which operates in 27 Russian regions, and about the constructive contacts with local dioceses: "We find mutual understanding in all places, people are open and ready to cooperate for the benefit of our Motherland".

He also emphasized the importance of the work of the Russian Orthodox Church in protecting the spiritual sovereignty of the people, stressing that the tendencies observed in the world to replace and substitute fundamental values cause serious concern.

The meeting also discussed issues related to the escalation of tension and xenophobia, activation of various unfriendly elements seeking to destabilize peaceful coexistence in Russia. The need to strengthen the interaction of traditional religions to prevent any attempts to undermine the foundations of the unity of the Russian people and shake the traditional Russian spiritual and moral values that unite all confessions was emphasized.

His Holiness and Mufti Albir Krganov, underscored the effectiveness of friendly relations between Orthodoxy and Islam, which serve as an example of interfaith interaction. Both sides recognized the effective multilevel support of authorities in strengthening inter-ethnic harmony and developing effective inter-religious dialogue. One of the unique initiatives of such dialog is the creation of the Interreligious Spiritual-Educational Cultural Center in the settlement of Kommunarka in New Moscow, supported by the President of Russia in late 2023.

Special attention was paid to Russia's role in international relations. Ways to counteract the spread of the ideology of permissiveness and denial of God were discussed. Against the background of these challenges, the need to revive and affirm the traditional spiritual and moral values that serve as a basis for building a harmonious society was emphasized. Today, there is an increasing demand for this throughout the world. In this context, the religious leaders were unanimous in the opinion that Russia, with its unique historical experience of interreligious and interethnic harmony, can make a significant contribution to the formation of such an ideology.

The prospects for realization of many initiatives aimed at promoting traditional values both inside the country and in the international arena were noted as the most important factor in strengthening the authority of Russia as a country where harmony and friendship between different religions contribute to the creation of a unique model of a multinational society.

SAMR Press Office

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