Kamianske: Opening the Mosque – Muslims’ Centre for Spiritual and Cultural Life



October 20, the Almighty presented a warm and sunny day. It was a real blessed time for Ukrainian Muslims to hold a great event – the grand opening of the mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in the city of Kamianske, Dnipropetrovsk region!

Representatives of Muslim communities from all cities came to share the joy with their fellow-believers: imam-Khatibs, leaders of the Ukrainian ICC, All-Ukrainian Association "Alraid", Oleh Huzik RAMU Ummah Chairman of the Management Board, and ordinary believers. Said Ismagilov, the RAMU Ummah mufti, also participated in the opening ceremony, as a new mosque belongs to this institution.

The festivities began with the performance of the national anthem and recitation of the Koran verses.

On behalf of the Muslims of Ukraine, Sheikh Said congratulated the Kamianske community and Imam Ali (Vitalii) Overko on this important event.

– The Muslim community of Kamianske has constructed this building, raised funds, repairing it by their own forces, for several years. So, this October day, we have a wonderful festive occasion to open the mosque by cutting this ribbon and enter there to pray ... The Most High says: "Truly, the mosques belong to Allah. Therefore, do not pray to anyone, but God” (72:18). The mosque is the centre of spiritual life of Muslims; the mosque is a place of prayer, a place for a gathering, for a meeting. And when a Muslim is born, they bring him to the mosque to give him a name. When a Muslim dies, they bring him to the mosque to pray for him, for his soul, and send him to the journey beyond. Thus, this house of worship will play a main part in the spiritual life of Kamianske Muslim community”, – said Sheikh Said.

Mufti noted that Ali (Vitalii) Overko, the imam of the mosque, has done a great and hard work to open it today:

– We know about his actions, how he attracted and raised funds, how he personally took part in construction and restoration works, – said Said Ismagilov before reading the RAMU Ummah order № 31 on rewarding Imam Vitalii Overko, the head of Kamianske Muslim community, with the medal “Service for the benefit of Islam and Ukraine”: “For many years of selfless work for the benefit of Ukraine and Muslims of Ukraine, for the significant contribution to the revival and establishment of Islam in the Dnipropetrovsk region, and also on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the RAMU Ummah founding.

Sheikh Said also presented a gift to the mosque – a woven painting (tapestry) with the illustration of holy al-Aqsa.

The government representatives and local government officials expressed their greetings to the Muslims of Kamianske. Andrii Bilousov, the city mayor, congratulated Muslims on this happy occasion, and Natalia Pershina, head of the Department of Religions at the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, had sent a greeting letter that was read out at the ceremony.

Mr. Bilousov noted that the mosque opening is a historic event indeed, because it happened for the first time since the town has been established:

– First of all, it will contribute to our inter-religious, inter-denominational and intercultural communication, – said the mayor and wished prosperity to the community.

Dmytro Povorotnyi, the priest of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the military chaplain, addressed his welcoming speech to Muslims:

– Peace be with you, with all of us! This commandment is of particular importance in our time, while the war is going on in our country, while the inhabitants of Donbas, the Muslims and Christians in the Crimea and all people are suffering. And showing the people of different religious beliefs are living in peace is what God has commanded us, it means peace. The prophet David wrote in his psalm, "It’s very good and great when brothers live in harmony!" And the people of faith – who we are - must show how to live in harmony. And our difference of confessions is like the difference between the brothers of one father. Therefore, we need to demonstrate this peace. In our secular times, when despair, non-religiosity prevail in the world, we, the people of faith, must show that faith is the guarantee; of peace, development, non-conflict coexistence of all people. Here (among Muslims, Imams. - Ed.) I have many people whom I not only consider friends, but colleagues in many common projects – I mean the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Muslims, inhabitants of Dnipro and the region. This proves once again that the most important thing is friendship, peace and harmony, said Father Dmytro.

He also conveyed the greetings His Grace Simeon, the head of the OCU Eparchy of Dnipro city to "brothers – Muslims, Ukrainians, countrymen, fellowmen on this great festive occasion":

– The house of God is the centre of every person's religious life, indeed. If community has a house of God, they have a religious life, and development. We still have something to strive for and to achieve. And together with you, we thank God for the joy you have, because your joy is our joy! Thank God!

– Islam in Ukraine has a thousand years of history, – said the event presenter, Pavlo Fedosov, chairman of the “Vidrodzennya” Dnipro community, reminding the audience that before Rus adopted Christianity, they had been offered other monotheistic religions – Judaism and Islam. – This confirmed that there was no compulsion in religion, that this historical event testifies the peaceful intentions of the representatives of Islam.

He noted that the history had different periods, "but justice and freedom were the main factors and values of Islam". However, in order for these principles to be fully implemented, Ukraine needed to gain the independence:

– Since obtaining the independence, Ukraine has implemented the principles of freedom and justice - both political and economic freedoms. And for us, believers of different faiths, these freedoms include also religious one. And only after Ukraine had gained independence, people began to freely confess to their religious beliefs, not afraid to be punished. Ukraine has become a refuge for many nationalities that have recognized Islam. They found their home here and together with the locals began to manifest their religion and build mosques. And today, we are opening the first Muslim mosque ever in Kamianske, ”said Pavlo Fedosov, giving the floor to the Imam of Al-Basir mosque, the head of the “Yednist’” religious community of Kamianske, Mr. Overko.

Vitalii Overko, wishing peace to all Muslims and non-Muslims, said that day was blessing for all followers of Islam, especially for the local Muslims and Muslims from surrounding towns and cities, as Muslims had religious needs they could satisfy only in a mosque. And for a long time the local Muslims were deprived of this opportunity, but, by the will of the Most High, they built this mosque, founded the community that had the right to perform certain religious rites:

– And when we started to do this, when we started to lay ourselves out, to give our time, capacities, the Almighty showed us the way and brought the people to us, who helped to build this mosque. And when one person had run out of road, the Almighty gave us another person. Therefore, neither I, nor someone else is building a mosque – it is the Supreme Lord, who builds this mosque so that Muslims can manifest their religion in full. The mosque also lets us tell people about our religion, dismantle stereotypes, bad perception of Islam. Everyone can come here and see Muslims as they are. Yes, we are not angels and we will never, like any human being, be angels. But we are trying and will do our best to bring the understanding of Islam to all people. We hope that when we leave – each of us will leave! "The Almighty will continue this work, and replace us by people who will do it even better than we do," said the Imam at the end of his speech.

The community received many gifts that day, including one from the Azerbaijanis’ League of Dnipro region, headed by Sarhosh Ismailov. They presented the translations of the Holy Quran to the mosque imam and the head of “Yednist” community.

The representatives of different Diasporas contributed a lot to the organisation of celebration on the occasion of the mosque opening and other events. According to the event presenter, one of the largest Muslim diasporas - the Azerbaijan one, expresses a significant support:

– They did a lot to officiate in rituals, to celebrate holidays.

The community is grateful to all benefactors, to all people of good will who help the mosque and the centre to develop.

The RAMU Ummah Mufti, Said Ismagilov, and Andrii Bilousov, Mayor of Kamianske, were given the honorary right to cut the ribbon before entering the mosque.

After the official ceremony, all participants were invited to a tour of the new centre. The guests were acquainted with the arrangement of the mosque, saw book and photo exhibitions on the history and life of the “Yednist” community, and after a prayer of Muslims, they had a joint meal.