There are more than one and a half billion Muslims in the world. Every year they build thousands of new mosques. Some of them appear in really remote areas of our planet.
The Nord Kamal mosque is an extreme example – located deep within the arctic circle in Norilsk, Russia – one of the northernmost cities in the world and my hometown.
Where is Norilsk?
Norilsk (Норильск) – one of the northernmost and ecologically polluted cities in the world, located on the Taimyr Peninsula of the Krasnoyarsk Territory in Russia. The only way to get there is by plane. In summer it is also possible to get to Dudinka river port by ferry, and from there you can take a bus to the city.
Muslims in the Arctic? From Where?
A very large Muslim diaspora lives in Norilsk. Almost a third of Norilsk are Muslims. The main representatives of which are Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Chechens and nationalities of Dagestan. As well as residents of the countries of Central Asia, such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. There are Russians who converted to Islam also. Moreover, even one Nganasan (indigenous Samoyedic people inhabiting the Taymyr Peninsula in north Siberia) was a parishioner of the mosque. Together, they form a very large diaspora of Muslims in the Arctic Circle. Due to high northern wages, every year their number only increases.
When and by whom was the mosque built?
The mosque began to be built in late 1993. The construction money was allocated by an entrepreneur Midekhat Bikmeyev, an ethnic Tatar. The name “Nurd-Kamal” is given in honor of Bikmeyev’s parents: father Nurdin and mother Gainikamal.
The mosque was solemnly opened on September 19, 1998.
Shiite or Sunni?
Having photographed the mosque, I went to the city bus station by taxi. I got a very talkative and friendly Azerbaijani driver named Ilchin (hardly in Norilsk you will meet a Russian taxi driver). Taking this opportunity, I began to ask him about this unique mosque.
This mosque is for all Muslims! It does not matter whether you are Shiite or Sunni. And even not only Muslims, but also for Christians, Jews. Everyone will be welcome there, my friend!
However, officially the mosque is still Sunni. Since the founder of the mosque was Sunni Tatar. But in Russia, in the extreme north, this fact really does not matter.
How many people go to the northernmost mosque in the world?
I asked this question to my friend, Azerbaijani taxi driver again.
I rarely go to the mosque, only on Friday. This is Juma Mosque, the mosque for the Friday collective prayer. There are a lot of people on Fridays, I can definitely say it! 400-500 I guess, sometimes even more…
After these words, the car stopped, we reached the bus station. Ilchin shook my hand and said that if I suddenly decided to return to the mosque again, he would be very pleased to see me there.
Is it worth visiting Norilsk for the sake of the mosque?
Norilsk is a very unusual and extreme city. In addition to the mosque there are many interesting places to visit. Be sure that every Muslim will be very warmly welcomed here, wherever you come from.
During my travels, I spoke with many Muslims who travel to different parts of the Earth just to visit the most beautiful and interesting mosques. Withoutseeing the world’s northernmost mosque, the mosque that is listed in the Guinness World Records, this list will never be complete.
How to come to Norilsk?
The visit of Norilsk to foreign citizens is strictly regulated. Unfortunately, just buy a plane ticket from Moscow and fly will not work.
In order to come to Norilsk, you need to issue a special permit. You can learn more about this by contacting the author, who was born here and lived most of his life.