The Islamic Heritage Center of Bolgar Islamic Academy was established in 2018 and it carries out research in the field of studying Russian Islamic heritage.
The center’s main areas of activity:
There are 750 pieces in the collection of rare books and early printed editions, including works in mathematics, pharmacology, medicine, botany, astronomy, music, and philosophy. They are essentially the writings of Arab-Muslim scholars translated into European languages.
The highlight of the collection is undoubtedly the incunabula – the first printed books published in the 15th century. For example, they include the famous medical treatise The Canon of Medicine by Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna), which describes specific diseases in Latin, published in Venice in 1490. They also include the Treatise of Abu Mashar on astronomy, published in 1495.
The laboratory for restoration and digitization of old books and manuscripts operating within the walls of the Academy carries out a series of projects to preserve rare books and manuscript heritage:
The center works on producing academic editions of the written heritage in its original language through research, textual analysis, and scientific preparation. The Academy’s Islamic Heritage Center works closely with the Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Ural Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Language, Literature and Art of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan in the implementation of research projects. Two academic projects were completed in this short period of time.
The Academy’s first research project carried out in collaboration with the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was the preparation of an academic edition of the book “Islam Dine” by the Soviet Union’s Mufti Riza Fakhreddinov (1859–1936). This book remained unpublished for a number of reasons and was preserved in the form of a manuscript (the original versions of the manuscripts are currently in the archive of Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences). According to the working group members, it was decided to prepare the original full form of the work for publication, complete with several author comments. The academic version of the essay is currently being prepared for publication by a joint working group of Kazan and Ufa researchers.
Riza Fakhreddinov began working on “Islam Dine” in the summer of 1924 by directives from the Ulema Council, which was part of the Central Spiritual Boards of Soviet Muslims. The mufti presented his manuscript to the Ulema Council in September 1925, which was approved by the members of the Council, who suggested that the author make minor changes to the book and condense the notes. Moreover, a brief edition of “Islam Dine” was written between 1926 and 1928. As a result, only half of the original version’s text with notes remained. In general, “Islam Dine” provides information about the essence of Islam, the moral traits of a real Muslim, the ideal model of Muslim society, and its relationship with the outside world, written in a style that is easy to read by most readers at the time.
The first joint project between the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan and Bolgar Islamic Academy under the cooperation agreement signed in 2019 is the preparation of an academic edition of the book “Zuhrat al-Riyad wa Nuzhat al-Qulub al-Mirad” (“The beauty of gardens and the consolation for suffering hearts”) by the Bulgar scholar Suleiman bin Daud al-Saksini.
Suleiman bin Daud (al-Suvari) al-Saksini is a medieval scholar of the first half of the 12th century, a student of the qadi of the city of Bulgar Abu-l-‘Ala Hamid ibn Idris al-Bulgari. Many medieval scholars were familiar with al-Saksini’s writings and made references to them. The precise years of al-Saksini’s life are unknown. At the beginning of each chapter, before mentioning the series of hadith narrators, al-Saksini mentions the name of his teacher. According to Shihabutdin Marjani, Hamid al-Bulgari was alive in 1106, therefore, al-Saksini must have lived and worked in the second half of the 12th century. His nisbas al-Suvari and al-Saksini indicate that he was born or lived in the Bulgarian cities of the pre-Mongolian period.
“Zuhrat al-Riyad wa Nuzhat al-Qulub al-Mirad” is a book on religious and philosophical issues written in Arabic. According to the Turkish scholar of the 17th century, author of “Kashf al-Zunun” Haji Khalifa and the author of the book “Tuhfat al-Salawat” Hussein bin Ali al-Kashifi, the book of al-Saksini is an augmented and expanded version of his other book “Bahjat al-Anwar min Haqyqat al-Asrar” (“The beauty of rays from the truth of secrets”) written in Persian.
The book of Suleiman bin Daud al-Saksini consists of 66 parts called majālis, they include comments on Quranic texts, hadiths, Sufi parables and stories. There is speculation that “Zuhrat al-Riyad” could serve as a plot basis for many works of medieval Tatar literature since it contains plots typical of Eastern Muslim literature. The book of Suleiman bin Daud al-Saksini is valuable and is the most ancient of the discovered works from the Volga Bulgaria period, prior to it “al-Tiryaq al-Kabir” from the 13th century was regarded as the oldest book. This work makes it possible to better grasp the Islamic religious and philosophical thought of the Bulgar period, as well as how the Middle Volga region’s inhabitants formed ideological interrelations with the Arab-Muslim world. Suleiman bin Daud al-Saksini’s work is of high scientific significance given the fact that there is hardly any texts preserved from the Bulgarian period.
The first known copy of the Bulgarian scholar’s work dates back to June 1329 and was authored in Tabriz (the original of this manuscript is now preserved in the Suleymaniya library in Istanbul). The list indicates 526 sheets (25 lines each). Short comments and translations of particular phrases into Turkic are frequently written between the lines of the text in the same handwriting. This list became the primary source of information for research and textual work, as well as for the creation of a consolidated, critical text of the book.
1A Kul Gali St., Bolgar, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation
Phone, fax: +7 (843) 590 24 29
Work hours: from 8:00 to 17:00.