Saint Petersburg grand mosque construction
One of the characteristic features of the Russian State history is that there has always been a mixture of various cultures and lifestyles in it. Multicultural traditions based on the mutual respect and rights observance among representatives of different communities have a long lasting background in Russia.
One of the examples of peaceful co-existence and tolerant relations between people is a Tatar community living in Saint-Petersburg. The city was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two centuries. The Tatar community in Saint Petersburg was formed due to workers’ migration to a greater extent. The Tatars arrived from different provinces of the empire. They did not have to renounce their religion for the sake of some social mobility. They followed their religion and managed to move up the career ladder.
Life was not that easy. The construction of Saint Petersburg grand mosque turned into a great challenge. The permission for the mosque construction was granted in 1908 when the emperor Nicholas II signed all the required papers. The Muslim community initiative (to be more precise, the initiative of the community leader Gataulla Bayazitov) was launched thirty years ago before the permission in 1881. The funds were raised across all the country during this time. Gataulla Bayazitov showed himself as an excellent manager. He also managed to implement some projects which played an important part on the way of developing Islam. They were educating. The opening ceremony of the mosque took place on the 22nd of February, 1914. The construction works lasted up to 1920. Gataulla Bayazitov died in 1911 before the mosque opening. Yet, he took part in the brick laying ceremony on the 3rd of February 1910. Interestingly enough, representatives of other religions took an active part in the mosque construction. The architects were Nikolai Vasilyev, Alexander von Guggen and Stepan Krichinkiy. Despite its innovative architectural style, within a short period of time, the grand mosque has become one of the symbols of the city.
The history of the mosque construction as well as the history of the Russian empire clearly shows to us that to peacefully co-exist we need to understand each other. This skill is essential in our country as different groups of the nation are infected with the virus of zero tolerance and xenophobia.