published on October 10, 2018
The Islamic Sect as a Social Problem in Russia
During the recent decade, the control of religious life and even the persecution of religious minorities has intensified in Russia. This article discusses a small Islamic group, Faizrakhmanisty. This group was named after its founder and leader, Faizrakhman Sattarov. The community lived isolated from the society in a small compound in Tatarstan. In 2012, the police conducted a raid as a part of the investigations of the murder of the Mufti of the republic of Tatarstan. Stories about this authoritarian and potentially dangerous sect were covered not only in Russian, but also in international media. Many of the stories contained exaggerated claims and relied on a few somewhat controversial “experts” of Islam in Russia. This article analyses the way in which Faizrakhmanisty were constructed as a social problem and a “totalitarian sect” and the consequent banning of the organization. In contemporary Russia, such labels as “sect” bring serious consequences for religious communities. In order to place the case of Faizrakhmanisty in context, the article discusses four other forms of Islam or Islamic organizations, Wahhabism, Hizb-ut Tahrir, Nurdzhular, and the National Organization of Russian Muslims, which are generally labelled as “sects” in the Russian context.