Mosques of Crimea

Mosques of Crimea
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"1740th years were the time of a fierce persecution of Islam… In the Kazan province by June, 1744 from 536 existing mosques 418 were destroyed; they refrained from utter annihilation just because the rumors about it could reach Moslem countries and cause destruction of churches there, too". (V.V. Bartold, volume 9, page 409-410)

The biggest mosque in Crimea built in honor of sultan Selim in the town of Kefa (Feodosiya), the creation of a well-known Turkish architect Hodzha Sinan, is disassembled in 1833, and constructed by him in the town of Kezpev (Evpatoria) Khan-Dzami for a long time was used as a museum of atheism. New trading and craft centers of the peninsula of the 16-18 centuries - Bakhchisarai, Kezlev, Kara-suvbazar, Or were actively built up with public and cult constructions with the support and protection of the Crimean khans, that during the Soviet period of our history became one of the reasons of their destruction. For example, in Bakhchisarai according to the description of the Turkish traveler Evliy Chelebi, in 1666 there were 24 mosques, in 1786 there were 38 mosques, and now there are only 8. Moreover, only two of them are open, one undergoes restoration, and the other five mosques are used as a kitchen of a boarding school, a house, a cinema "START", a sausage shop, and a society of invalids. In Karasuvbazar (Belogorodsk) in 1666 there were 28 mosques, in 1786 - 21. In the 20th years to the architectural monuments which are protected by law and state by the National Commissariat of education of Crimean ASSR were attributed the buildings of two caravan-sarays of the 17th century, two baths - "Buyuk hammam" and also three mosques - "Khan Dzhami", "Shor-Dzami", "Buyuk-Dzhami". Nowadays in the Kara-suvbazar does not exist any monument of medieval architecture. In the city of Kezlev in the 17the century there were buildings of 26 mosques, in 1786 - 21, and nowadays there are only three mosques. The criminal attitude of the colonial and then Soviet administrations to the monuments of the material culture of one of native peoples of Crimea is quite explicable. For the officials Islamic cult buildings were the heritage of the people alien to them, and, hence, they did not represent any value for them.

So, the total of number of mosques built during five and a half of centuries in 6 cities and 1474 villages of Crimea by 1786 was more than 1600. Probably, the same number of them was kept by 1805 when without taking into account the Yalta district there were1556 cult buildings. But after half a century, by the beginning of the colonial war, when the most powerful states of Europe "exchanged blows" in Crimea (1853-56), the amount of mosques was reduced up to 1492.

In 1859 from Northern Caucasus began powerful emigration movement to the limits of the Ottoman empire of hundreds thousand highlanders, who suffered defeat in a long war with the Russian empire and did not want to remain subdued in the won and enslaved Motherland. In 1860-62 about two hundred thousand Crimean Tatars who were rescued from official and landowner arbitrariness also emigrated to the Balkan and Asia Minor possession of the Ottoman Port. Purposeful political action of the imperial regime was a real national tragedy for the Crimean Tatars. K.Hanatsky in "The Memorable book of Taurian province" (1867) has shown the scales of this tragedy, "In the Perekopsk district Tatars left 278 auls or villages and 41331 persons moved. New settlers occupied 34 colonies; the other 244 remain in ruins. In the Simferopol district moved 17459 people from 146 villages and auls, 18 of them became empty and remained in ruins; the other 126 remain under former names, as not all Tatars moved abroad. In the Feodosiya district emigration of Tatars occurred from 67 villages, 14 of them became completely empty. From the Evpatoriya district moved abroad 80434 people which lived in 196 villages, 39 of them became completely empty. Thus, emigration of Tatars in the Taurian province occurred from 784 tatar villages or auls, 330 of them remain in ruins, and the others are occupied by new immigrants".

In connection with significant reduction of the population and desolation of villages in the peninsula by 1864 were preserved from destruction 803 mosques, and quarter a century later, in 1890 even less - 737. The number of mosques remained at the same level up to 1914, whereas after the end of the First world and civil wars there were only 632 mosques (100 mosques for only 6 years!). Thus, one of the results of Russian colonial policy in Crimea (1783-1917) was destruction of about thousand Islamic cult constructions.

After the establishment of the Soviet authority and acceptance of the decree about separating the church from the state the mosques were given to Moslem communities. The control over the activity of religious organizations and societies was carried out by the Commission on questions of cult in Crimea. However, in the 30th years together with enforcing of atheistic propaganda and persecutions on clerics mosques were closed basically under pretext of their unsatisfactory sanitary-engineering condition, the decayed constructions were destroyed, and the rest were transferred to collective farms under warehouses, clubs, schools, reading rooms, etc.

In the following 1938 year 23 mosques were closed, and since 1944 up to the end of the eightieth began the period when everything that could remind of the Crimean people was destroyed, - cemeteries, cult constructions, villages, toponymics, etc.


On the materials of newspaper "Arraid"

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