Ukraine Muslims pray for victory, end of occupation & More News

 

KOSTIANTYNIVKA, Ukraine — By the time the Russians invaded, 43-year-old Mufti Said Ismahilov — one of the Muslim non secular leaders of Ukraine — had already resolved that he would step apart from his non secular duties to struggle for his nation.

At the end of final yr, as warnings of an imminent assault grew louder, Ismahilov started coaching with a neighborhood territorial protection battalion. By then he had served as a mufti for 13 years.

Born and raised in Donetsk in jap Ukraine, Ismahilov had already fled Russia as soon as earlier than, in 2014, when Moscow-backed separatists captured his metropolis. He ultimately moved to a quiet suburb exterior Kyiv referred to as Bucha — solely to search out himself, eight years later, on the coronary heart of Moscow’s assault on Kyiv, and the location of atrocities that shocked the world. It felt as if the menace of Russian occupation would by no means end.

“This time I made the decision that I would not run away, I would not flee but I would fight” he stated in an interview with The Associated Press in Kostiantynivka, a city near the entrance traces in jap Ukraine the place a battle for management of the area is intensifying.

Ismahilov started working as a army driver for paramedics evacuating the wounded from entrance traces or besieged cities. Tasked with driving in extremely harmful situations, but in addition emotionally supporting the critically injured, Ismahilov says he sees his new job as “a continuation of my spiritual duty before God.”

“If you are not scared and you can do this, then it is very important. The Prophet was himself a warrior,” Ismahilov says. “So I follow his example and I also will not run, or hide. I will not turn my back on others.”

Ismahilov was one of dozens of Ukrainian Muslims who gathered on the mosque in Kostiantynivka Saturday to mark Eid al-Adha — an essential non secular vacation in Islam. The mosque is now the final remaining operational mosque in Ukrainian-controlled territory in Donbas. Ismahilov advised the AP that there are round 30 mosques within the area in whole however that the majority at the moment are within the palms of the Russians.

Last week, Russia captured town of Lysychansk, the final main stronghold of Ukrainian resistance within the jap province of Luhansk. The governor of the Luhansk area stated on Saturday that Russian forces at the moment are urgent towards the border with the neighbouring Donetsk area.

Muslims make up nearly 1 % of the inhabitants in Ukraine, which is predominantly Orthodox Christian. There is a big Muslim inhabitants in Crimea — house to the Crimean Tatars and illegally annexed by Russian in 2014. Numbers there leap to 12%. There can be a sizeable Muslim neighborhood in jap Ukraine, the end result of waves of financial migration because the area industrialised and lots of Muslims immigrated to the Donbas area to work within the mines and factories.

The battle in 2014 compelled many Muslims from Crimea and Donbas to relocate to different components of the nation the place they joined long-established Tatar communities or constructed new Islamic facilities alongside Turks, Arabs and Ukrainian converts.

But the invasion has compelled many to flee as soon as once more. The mosque in Kostiantynivka used to cater for a neighborhood Muslim inhabitants of a number of hundred folks. On Saturday, few native residents had been current, having journeyed west with their households. Instead the congregation was made up of troopers or fight medics from totally different items: Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian converts from Kharkiv, Kyiv and western Ukraine.

In his sermon following the standard Eid prayers, Ismahilov advised the congregation that this yr’s Eid had a symbolic significance within the midst of the warfare, and requested them to recollect Muslims residing in occupied territories, the place many have misplaced their properties and several other mosques have been destroyed by shelling. Referencing a sequence of arrests of Crimean Tartars within the wake of the 2014 annexation, Ismahilov stated Muslims in occupied territories don’t really feel protected.

“There is a lot of fear. … The war continues and we have no idea what is happening in the occupied territories and what situation Muslims are in there” he stated.

Ismahilov advised the AP that he considers Russian Muslims invading Ukraine, together with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s notorious Chechen battalions, as “criminals”.

“They are committing sins and … they have come as murderers and occupiers, on a territory that is the home of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Muslims, without any justification. Allah did not give them that right” says Ismahilov. “They will answer for all this before God.”

Olha Bashei, 45, a lawyer turned paramedic from Kyiv who transformed to Islam in 2015, says Russia is making an attempt “erase Ukraine from the face of the earth.” Bashei started working as a frontline paramedic in Donbas in 2014. She considers this warfare her ‘jihad’, a time period to indicate a holy warfare or private battle in Islam.

“This war is my war, and I defend my jihad because I have nephews, I have a mother and I defend my home. I do not want my nephews to ever see what I, unfortunately, saw in this war” she stated.

“Islam even helps me because in Islam, in prayer, you somehow distract yourself from the war because you read the prayer and you have a connection with the Almighty. For me, Islam is a force that supports me even in war.”

As the troopers ready the customary sacrificial sheep for the Eid feast, a residential space in Kostiantynivka a number of kilometers away got here below violent shelling. The incoming artillery shook the bottom. Some troopers ran to the mosque’s bunker. Others shrugged it off and continued to drink their tea and eat dates. The shelling brought about a number of fires, injuring a number of inhabitants and burning roofs to cinders.

Ismahilov stated they’d pray for victory and the liberation of the occupied territories.

“We pray that our Muslim compatriots will be safe, that our families will be reunited, that the slain Muslims will go to heaven, and that all the Muslim soldiers who are defending their country will be accepted as shahids (martyrs) by Allah.”

 

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