Zakabannaya Mosque (also known as the Thousandth Anniversary of Islam Mosque) was built during the years of Soviet militant atheism and became a place that united the Tatar people during the Soviet era.
Zakabannaya Mosque is a very unique place.
First of all, the mosque is located where Kazan’s very first mosque, the legendary wooden Kulmametovskaya Mosque, allegedly once stood.
Second, unlike most mosques, it is located on the right bank of Lake Kaban. While currently surrounded by modern buildings, at the time of its construction, the mosque was located in the Russian part of Kazan.
Third, it is the only mosque to be built under Soviet rule. In 1912, religious leaders and Islamic scholars gathered to adopt a plan for the 1,000-year anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria, to be celebrated in 1922.
It was proposed to build a mosque and madrassa on the opposite side of Lake Kaban. Evgenii Pechnikov was chosen as the architect of the project. He designed a three-tiered minaret to reflect the three periods of history for Bulgars and Tatars: pre-Islamic, medieval, and contemporary.
By 1914, a madrassa had been built and opened. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, however, the construction of the mosque, which had been prolonged because of World War I, was in jeopardy. In 1922, the official year of the 1,000th anniversary, a group of Kazan Muslims went to Moscow and met with Joseph Stalin, the People’s Commissar of Nationalities. They secured Stalin’s personal approval to complete construction on the mosque, which was finished by 1926. However, in 1930, local authorities ordered the mosque to be closed. The crescent moon was removed from the minaret and replaced with a red Soviet flag.
After the Great Patriotic War, the mosque was used as a school and kindergarten. Its last “secular” occupant was DOSAAF, the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Air Force, and Navy.
The mosque’s revival is attributed to Iskhak Lutfullin, a fierce advocate for Tatar national self-determination, as well as for the return of Tatar statehood, language, and faith. In 1991, thanks to the efforts of Ikhak khazrata, the mosque was returned to the Muslim community.
The mosque retained its former name, and in September 1990, the Thousandth Anniversary of Islam Madrassa opened here as well, in addition to a Sunday school for women and children, as well as evening courses.