The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation and the Moscow Cathedral Mosque

Updated: Mar 15, 2018

The goal of this website is to showcase the activities that is being done by the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation, including some of their recent donations and projects. For those who are interested in learning more about the Foundation’s activities, stay tuned for further articles in our series or click here to see the list of grants they have given to important organizations.

The first article in this series will consider a project that is very close to the heart of Suleyman Kerimov, the eponymous founder of the Foundation. A Russian Senator from Dagestan, which is a predominantly Muslim region, Kerimov strongly believes in supporting projects which will help strengthen all communities, whether they be Muslim, Orthodox, or otherwise. As part of this dedication to strengthening communities around the world, the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation provided around $170 million over several years to the reconstruction project of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque.

The original mosque, built in 1904 and known locally as the “Tatar mosque” after the ethnic origin of many of its regular worshipers, was demolished in 2011 after local Muslim religious leaders noted that the wooden-framed building was collapsing due to water damage. There was some controversy over the decision to demolish the building, with some accusing the local Muftis of destroying religious and cultural heritage. However, the demolition was sadly necessary, due to the extensive structural damage the building had sustained over the previous century. It was determined that the new mosque would be bigger and better than ever, in order to cater to Moscow’s growing population of over 2 million Muslims.

While the previous mosque could only house a thousand worshipers, its new incarnation has space for ten times that number, over three stories, as well as being a safer environment due to the high quality of its design and materials. The new mosque, which was inaugurated in 2015, is one of the biggest in Russia, and may be the largest mosque in Europe. With a central dome of 46 meters in height, overlooked by graceful minarets standing 72 meters tall, the mosque is over twenty times the size of the previous mosque to stand on the site, and is fully accessible to the disabled. In order for it to blend in with the Moscow skyline, dominated by the golden domes of its churches, the mosque’s architects decided to cover its domes and pavilions with gold. In total, more that 12 kg of gold leaf adorns the mosque’s exterior, while on the interior, its walls and ceilings were carved by Turkish craftsmen with traditional Russian ornamental inscriptions. The effect, as can be seen in the photos and video above, is extraordinarily beautiful.

While the majority of the funding for the rebuilding of the mosque came from the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation, certain foreign governments also donated, including Turkey, Kazakhstan, and the Palestinian Authority. In the photograph above, from the inauguration ceremony in 2015, from left to right we can see the Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, Suleyman Kerimov himself, representing his Foundation as the major donor for the project, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin, and Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

It is the genuine hope of the Suleyman Kerimov Foundation that this beautiful new mosque near the center of Moscow will not only strengthen the city’s Muslim community by providing a venue for religious, cultural, and social activities, but will bring the city’s communities together in interfaith, intercultural endeavors that will enrich the people of Moscow as a whole.

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