Two important events took place at UkrInform National Agency on 18 January, namely roundtable Religion as a Uniting Factor for the World dedicated to World Religions Day, and an election conference of All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Unions (AUCRU), which was created a year before.
On the election session, there gathered Ukrainian scholars, namely one of the initiators of AUCRU Professor Oleksandr Sahan (who chaired the Union during the previous year), as well as state officials from State Department of Religions and Nationalities at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. The gathering also had a special guest, Ihor Kozlovskyy, a prominent Ukrainian scholar and religious studies expert, who had spent over 2 years of his life held in captivity by the pro-Russian separatist forces in Donbas.
In line with the AUCRU Statutes, the Chairman is elected every year, and this time that honorary position was given to Ukrainian Muslims’ spiritual leader, Sheikh Said Ismagilov. Sheikh Said, with his reputation of one of the most active religious leaders (“Korrespondent.Ua” rated him among the Top-100 of the most influential persons in Ukraine), can only strengthen the position of the Union.
Against this background, the issue of relations between the AUCRU and the All-Ukrainian Counsil of Churches and Religious Organisations (AUCCRO) remains an interesting one, as any member of the AUCCRO can become a representative in the new Union. As explained by Said Ismagilov, “The doors are still open”.
All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Unions consolidates a number of religious organisations, among which are Religious Administration of muslims of Ukraine “Umma”, Apostle Orthodox Church in Ukraine, National Spiritual Gathering of Bahá'í Faith, Religious Union of Progressive Judaism Communities of Ukraine, Union of the Sons and Daughters of Native Ukrainian National Faith, Ukrainian Centre of Society for Krishna Consciousness, etc.
Some observers usually consider this Union as an alternative to the AUCCRO, which was created in 1996 and today unites such organisations as Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Ukrainian Catholic Church, etc. In the AUCCRO, Muslims and Jews are represented by one single community each. Other Muslims and Jewish organisations remain out of its bonds, as the rule of accepting new members demands a unanimous voting, which is unreal due to interconfessional dissents.
So initiating the All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Unions became a very important event in Ukraine’s religious life.
Mufti of RAMU “Umma” Said Ismagilov expressed his hopes that the AUCRU will promote interconfessional and interfaith dialogue. On the roadmap, there are many joint events, including the commemorial events of paying tribute to the victims of the Nazi repressions, participation in International conferences on interfaith dialogue in Qatar and other countries, etc.