Apanaev Mosque (The Second Mosque), one of the oldest Muslim mosques and centers of Islamic education in Kazan, served as a second home to many literary and political figures. Imam Valiulla Yakupov was the driving force behind the revival of Apanaev Mosque, which marked a new stage in the development of Kazan’s religious community.
When Catherine the Great visited Kazan In 1767, the most distinguished representatives of the city’s Muslim population presented their Empress with a request, asking her permission to build stone mosques in the Tatar Sloboda. The Empress liked the gifts presented to her by the Tatar community, as well as their hospitality, so she granted the request and approved the erection of two stone mosques within the Old Tatar Sloboda.
The wealthy merchant Yakub Sultangaleev allocated money for The Second Mosque, whose construction began in 1768. The mosque was intended to meet both religious and logistical needs. Given the lack of space elsewhere, Islamic rites were often conducted on the territory of Sultangaleev’s cloth factory in Sukonnaya Sloboda. Muslims read their prayers on top of boards placed over vats in the factory. 19th-century theologian and scholar Shigabutdin Mardzhani described at least one case when a mullah fell into the vat during prayers.
Sultangaleev did not only finance the construction of the mosque. He and his wife even helped employees build a brick wall. He also recruited experts from Moscow to install the iron roof.
Such specialists could not be found in Kazan.
The building was designed in a Russian baroque style, which featured many colorful details. The architects also tried to incorporate elements of Tatar culture, for example the floral pattern and design typical of Muslim architecture. Construction of the mosque was completed in 1771.
After Yakub Sultangaleev died in 1788, the Apanaevs, a wealthy merchant family that owned several soap and tannery factories, took over care of the mosque. By then a community had formed around the mosque consisting largely of merchants and traders. They invested a lot of money in the belongings of the mosque, which subsequently acquired the nickname baiskaya, meaning “mosque of the rich.”
The Apanaev madrassa, which could afford good teachers, served as the birthplace for a new educational system that, for example, helped to promote history textbooks, which came to be valued by other educational institutions as well. The merchant Apanaev’s printing press produced thousands of copies of both religious and secular books. The intellectual intensity of the madrassa did not fade due to the new, holistically designed educational process. In fact, the institution went on to produce many prominent Tatar religious and public figures, including writer Galiaskar Kamal, politician and journalist Gayaz Iskhaki, lawyer Sadri Maksudi, sscholar, historian, and public figure Akhmat-Zaki Validi, and many others. The madrassa stopped its work only due to the arrival of Soviet power.
Apanaev Mosque remained in a dilapidated state for a long time. During the Soviet era, the mosque was partially rebuilt, though the minaret was taken down in order to add a third floor. At this time, the mosque functioned as a kindergarten. In 1995, the building of the mosque was given to the madrassa Mukhammadiya. In 2007, comprehensive restoration of the mosque began as part of the state program Miras. From surviving photographs of the early 20th century, architects were able to reproduce part of the interior. Experts attempted to recreate the original pattern on the tiles and stucco. Today, visitors can roughly imagine how the inside of the mosque looked during its heyday. The mosque was officially returned to the religious community only in 2010. The renovated mosque officially opened on December 2, 2011, at a ceremony attended by Rustam N. Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan, as well as representatives of the federal government, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan, and the Apanaev family.
Religious leader and scholar Valiulla Yakupov, who provided much of the impetus for restoring and redeveloping the mosque, served as its imam-khatib. His life was tragically cut short on July 19, 2012, when he was seriously wounded outside his home.