"Is the Charter of Muslims of Ukraine a step towards the unity of the Islamic communities in the state?" - This was the title of the published article, dated November 22, 2016, on the site of the Religious Information Service of Ukraine. Its author is Mykhailo Yakubovych, famous Ukrainian scientist, historian and orientalist, head of the Centre for the Islamic Studies at the National University "Ostroh Academy".
The article talks about the effective efforts, made by the Muslim communities in our country, in order to find common solutions for the challenges facing today's society as a whole and the congregations of followers of Islam, in particular. Mykhailo Yakubovych talks about the prospects and the value of "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine", discussed by the representatives of Ukrainian Muslim Communities (the ceremonial signing of the document will be held on 5 December 2016 in Kyiv).
Here is the full text of the Charter.
Already five years ago the Ukrainian scholars have noted that, in general, the Muslim society of Ukraine had already been "institutionalized". The appropriate spiritual administrations and other organisations have already established (registered as religious or social ones). In general, the needs of mosques and prayer houses were satisfied. The madrasas also functioned, including such unique institutions as the School of Hafiz in Simferopol.
The events of 2013-2014, in particular the occupation of the Crimea, have radically changed the situation. First of all, because of the large part of the Ukrainian Muslims, namely the Crimean Tatars, who found themselves in the different legal and political reality. To a large extent, these events have forced the Ukrainian Muslims to formulate a clear answer to the question of what place they occupied in modern Ukraine, how to respond to the events of Revolution of the dignity, the occupation of the Crimea, ATO in the East of Ukraine and others.
There is no secret that the Ukrainian Muslim communities don’t have the main common centre, and the relations between them in some cases tended to be tense. Some religious communities have a particular relevance to the social and political issues, calling for active participation in the life of the secular state, while others refrain from talking about these issues, and some even offer alternative ways. Due to the growing number of newly adopted Islam Ukrainians and slow "Ukrainization" of Islam (in the terms of language and civic rights), the question of the relationship between national and religious features in Islam has increasingly raised, namely the search for the ways to bring the different ethnic and religious Muslim communities together.
One of the first and, hopefully, effective attempts to find such common responses was the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine." Now, as you know, the Charter is discussed by representatives of various Muslim communities of Ukraine, and the signing ceremony is scheduled for December 5 this year in Kyiv.
The document, the copy of which was sent to the Centre of the Islamic Studies at the National University "Ostroh Academy", contains the appropriate preamble and several chapters. It is noted that "during the crisis challenges for the country, as a whole, and for the Muslims, in particular, the question arises about the consensual Islamic position over social, political, economic, cultural and religious actual processes that occur in Ukraine or elsewhere". These positions are described in the corresponding chapters. "Understanding Islam by the Muslims of Ukraine" proclaims the devotion to Qur'an and Sunnah. "Islam in the History of Ukraine" marks the historical tradition of Islam in Ukraine since the time of the Golden Horde. "Islam and the modern Ukrainian society" states the relation of the Ukrainian Muslims to Ukrainian legislation, national differences, protection of language rights, marriage and family, legal status of religious holidays, support for the territorial integrity of the state, solidarity with coreligionists in other countries and other statements that are important for the Muslim community.
In general, indicated in the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" statements show that the representatives of Muslim communities have chosen the position of the Islamic social activism, it means the active participation of Muslims in the social life. For example, the following statement is significant: "The Muslims of Ukraine, as active citizens, are allowed to participate in the political life of the country that means the participation in the voting, as well as in the political institutions of the country." As you know, several Muslim organisations (both centralized and independent) have expressed their desire to sign the document. So, in the case of adoption of the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" in its present form it will be a significant step towards the active Islamic representation at different levels of Ukrainian social life.
However, the question is how the Muslim society and representatives of other religions will accept the document. To some extent, it can be compared with the social doctrines of the Christian Church (also implemented in Ukraine), but the nature of the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine", in this case, is somewhat different. First of all, on the basis of Islamic Law, "the Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" should be regarded as a fatwa, that is the theological-legal resolution on some important issue. Although conditions, mentioned in the fatwa, are rather general, it is believed that this resolution is limited to a certain state, place and time. If the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" is considered as a fatwa, those, who signed it, are the authors, who share the statements, claimed in the fatwa. Thus, the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" does not oblige to fulfill any specific requirements, but it rather expresses the opinion on important issues, while the specific implementation of this approach remains the priority of the religious communities, or every -Muslim individual.
The European Muslim community has already signed the similar documents, in particular, the "Charter of European Muslims" (2008). Separate declarations and collective documents have the recognized international status, such as "The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam" (1990). It is worth mentioning the tradition of collective documents which took Ukrainian Muslims, for example, the decision of the Muslim executive committee of 1917 convened the Ist Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar people. If you delve into the history, you can recall the collective documents of Volyn Tatars, in particular collective petition of Ostroh Tatars headed by Mullah Romodanov Milkomanovych, addressed to Michal, the Polish king, in 1669. In the same year, it was resulted in the "privilege of Volyn Tatars." In this prospect, the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" can be understood not only as a fatwa, relating solely to the Muslims, but as the declaration of the position of Muslims towards the secular state power and the followers of other religions.
"The Charter of Muslims of Ukraine", despite the fundamental declarative form, looks like a very comprehensive document, showing how close the relations between Muslim communities and the Ukrainian society are in general. It can be argued that the "Charter of Muslims of Ukraine" is a significant step towards not only Islam in Ukraine, but also Islam in Europe. In this case. the Islamic community of Ukraine may even be an example for organisations of European Muslims. Up to now the question of how many Muslim organisations in Ukraine (among them there are differences in the level of both doctrine and practice) will sign the document. Taking into account the previous information about the agreements, it has a very good outlook.