Muslim Publishing Houses in Russia

21 November 2023

The democratic transformations in Russia at the end of the XX century contributed to the revival of religious life in society. The awakening of spirituality could not but affect Islam – mosques, madrasahs and universities were opened in the country, state muftiates were established and ties with co-religionists abroad were revitalized. Simultaneously with these processes, the propaganda of extremist views, which regarded Islam as a primitive politicized ideology, penetrated into Russia, to some extent facilitated by the dissemination of certain foreign literature.

Valiulla Yakupov, a Russian theologian and public figure, realized the need for a printed tribune to oppose alien views and in 1990 founded the Iman Publishing House. Apart from educational activities, the publishing house was engaged in providing information support to the official muftiates. In the early years of its work, pre-revolutionary Muslim literature was republished in order to compensate for the deficit caused by the absence of Muslim book publishing in the USSR. Millions of copies of the Iman Publishing House introduced readers to the values of Islamic culture, as well as the rich heritage of the Tatar people, their centuries-old history and the works of scholars.

Thanks to the self-sufficiency of its products, the Iman Publishing House managed to implement a model of survival of Muslim communities in Russia until the beginning of the XX century, when there was no assistance from state structures. The opening of the first Muslim publishing house in Kazan is symbolic – in the XIX century the city was the centre of Muslim book printing in the Russian Empire. The Holy Qurans published in Kazan were particularly popular for their clear and legible font, beautiful and elegant design. Today on the website of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan an electronic version of the updated edition of the Kazan Basma printed Quran and the computer font of the same name are available to everyone.

Today, the Shigabutdin Marjani Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan published written monuments in Arabic, including medieval ones. The Medina Publishing House, which specializes in publishing studies on the history of Muslim communities in Russia and literature on modern Islamic theology, also studies and published written heritage in Arabic. The printing business of Damir Mukhetdinov, a Russian religious and public figure who was at the origin of Medina, began with copying machines.

In 1994 philanthropist Faiz Gilmanov, who was actively involved in the revival of his native village of Medyana in the Krasno-Oktyabrsky district of the Nizhny Novgorod region, allocated money to purchase a printing press. According to Damir Mukhetdinov, this machine became the prototype of the larger Medina Publishing House, which today promotes Islamic discourse in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual spaces of Russian society. The name goes back to the village of Medyana, while the Arabic root “madaniyya” in the word itself means “civilization”. On the official website all the books of the publishing house, including the newest ones, are available free of charge to anyone interested.

The demand for Muslim literature gave impetus to the development of book printing, but the pursuit of profit has never been the main priority of publishing houses. The Ansar Publishing House, founded in 2002 by Marat Sayfutdinov, the head of the charitable foundation of the same name, a religious figure and former editor-in-chief of the independent website, was tasked with preserving the doctrine of Islam as a religion of goodness, love and justice.

The core of the Ansar Publishing House is the Golden Fund of Islamic Thought project for publishing the works by outstanding scholars: Imams Al-Ghazali, Abu Hanifa, Ash-Shafi’i, Maturidi and many other brilliant thinkers. The book series is a real base for studying the fundamental works of theologians, thanks to whom the formation of Muslim civilization and culture has been going on since the birth of the religion.

The official website of the Chitay Publishing House (“Islamic Book”), registered by the Council of Muftis of Russia in 2009, also presents books of other publishing houses: Alif, Al Qitab, Dilya, Insan Media Group, Risalya and Ummah. The first steps of the Islamic Book Publishing House were the publication of Julia Kamaletdinova’s work, People with Hearing and Vision Impairments in Islam, and the textbook Zakyat. Practical Guide by Madina Kalimullina.

In 2017 the Islamic Book Publishing House published a unique work from the Qalandar-name medieval era. The full-fledged theological work in Persian was written in the XIV century in the Golden Horde, a state in which the ethnic and religious identity of many indigenous Muslim peoples of the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia was formed. Russian theologian Rushan Abbyasov, who initiated the formation of the Islamic Book Publishing House, considers the sacrament of reading a book in a hard copy to be healthier and better for understanding the material.

The Huzur Publishing House was launched in 2013 on the initiative of Kamil Samigullin, mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan, and publishes books of theological and historical nature. Among the publishing house’s book products one can find suitable educational literature written in both Tatar and Russian – for instance, the classic works by Ahmad Hadi Maqsudi Gyibadat Islamiyya and Eastern Logic. Also it is worth mentioning the Chitay-Ummah Publishing House in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, which prints books for adults and children and at the same acts as a wholesale and retail centre. The Ummah-Land Muslim Publishing House positions itself exclusively as a children’s publishing house.

Today, the authors of more than half of the works published by Russian Muslim publishing houses are members of the Russian ummah. The intellectual level of the Muslim community has grown considerably in the early XXI century. More and more strictly observant Muslims have higher education, including of a secular nature, which has definitely been facilitated by the increase in the number of Islamic books written in Russia. Speaking about the success of the publishing industry, it should be borne in mind that once upon a time the sending down of Islam began with the word “read”.



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"