On December 28, the lecture “Transformation of the identity of the Muslim community of Belarus (late XIV - early XXI centuries)” by Zorina Kanapatska, PhD in History, associate professor of the Belarusian State University, was held as a part of the IIIT lectures series for CIS countries, organized by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the Institute of Knowledge Integration (IKI).

During the lecture, Zorina Kanapatska outlined the main periods in the history and development of the Muslim community of Belarus, which is more than 620 years old and played the important role in the history of Belarus. At the end of the 16th century, about 100 thousand Tatars lived on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Belarus had been part of it since 1569), where they had about 400 mosques. The first generations of Belarusian Tatars retained knowledge of their native language, many of them then served in the offices of the Grand Dukes as interpreters and “Tatar scribes”, traveled as ambassadors to the Great Horde and Crimea, and carried out important assignments of the Lithuanian government. Belarusian Tatars retained their specific features, they did not dissolve in the general mass of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, because they continued to profess Islam. It was religious exclusiveness that to a certain extent determined their position in the society.

The lecturer also noted that the revival of Islam in Belarus, having started in the late 1980s, was accompanied by the national and cultural revival of the Tatars. The reigned in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania religious tolerance allowed the Tatars to build mosques on the lands assigned to them and to open Muslim madrasahs.

The second part of the lecture was dedicated to questions from the participants, asking about the origin of the Belarusian Tatars and their connections with the Crimean and Turkish Tatars, and about specifics of the modern studies of the Muslim community history.

More than 20 participants from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, attended the lecture.

The next lecture is planned for January, it will be delivered by Ramil Adigamov, the chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan. Its announcement will be posted soon on the IIIT CIS lectures and the Institute of Knowledge Integration Facebook pages.