Get Educated and Survive
Every year hundreds of Russians and Caucasians leave for Egypt to get religious education, expand their cultural horizons and learn Arabic.
Al-Azhar is an Islamic religious
university in Cairo with more than thousand years of history, the foundry of
divines for the whole Islamic world. Students from more than a hundred
countries study here.
Al-Azhar is not just a university, it is a whole system of institutions and institutes. A madrasah for boys, an Islamic research Academy, a huge mosque, an extremely well-stocked library with tens of thousands Arabic handwritten and printed books, newspaper and journal editorial offices, nine religious and secular faculties, and even a women’s college.
It is all Free
That is why eyes of the
cigins of faith are fixed on this
To put it more exactly, you do not have to pay money for the educational process and attending the lectures. However, the situation inside Egypt has been very tense for the recent months, and the risk of being arrested with your family, expelled from the country or disappeared in Cairo detention facilities is quite high for a foreigner. Instead of a careless student life, the Dagestanis, Ingushes and Chechens studying in Egypt face an unpleasant quest. Constant ID inspections, attempts to get their friends, caught for having no visa or just ‘by mistake’, from police departments.
Why Egypt, after all?— Why are you coming to Egy cou’ve been deported?
— For many of us that is the oatcts. As for me, I studied in an Ingush village, and my parents didn’t have funds to pay for my education in a university. I wasn’t too well-prepared to enter a university by myself. Besides, I wanted to study religions and languages. My friends told me to join them in Cairo. Al-Azhar has no admission exams. Candidates are just enrolled under their documents. So I came and studied for four years. I have only one year to go now.
— Life was quite easy in Egypt. Softatere. Two or three years ago, when we were just entering the university, it was much calmer here.
— Where else could we go? Jordan is toa?ok the risk. It’s bare soil and sand. You can sleep tight, though. But you can’t go there with your family, the conditions are truly Spartan. Turkey? Too expensive and non-Arabic. Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia? The visa requirements are too tough.
Delete my Number!
After the meeting with the students they strongly asked me to delete their numbers and messages from my phone. Otherwise, they said, my safety could be compromised as well.
Salafy youth, oppressed and persecuted in their homeland, the Caucasus region, are now targeted by security service agents in Egypt. They are often suspected of ties with ISIS terrorists, raising funds for militants, or being supporters of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ banned in Egypt.
Previous months’ terrorist attacks in the country have definitely not brought more peace to the people, police or visitors.
Among their own KindOne of such flats is inhabited by a Chechen and an Ingush. I asked them how they rubbed through the recent period of the nationwide debates over the established border between Chechnya and Ingushetia – did they quarrel?
“Oh, not at all! – the two friends assured me, – we respect other people’s opinions and didn’t even have any argument with radicals over the border matter”. And then the kitchen duty man (on that day it was the Chechen’s turn) brought us some tea.
The indispensable interior
features in students’ flats are a desk thuranic sciences, science of hadith, Arabic and English – all of
these subjects are thoroughly studied by Al-Azhar students.
Some practice graphic arts and plan to go into manual writing of Quranic verses on mosques.
After classes the students gather inside a big university mosque and, sitting on soft carpets, discuss theology matters among themselves or with their mentor. In the evening, here and there you may see ‘hobby clubs’ sitting between the pillars – those are students and simple Islam believers of various religious schools talking amicably or doing revisions for their exams.
Caucasian women and Russian
wives of Russian Muslims in Egypt wear black niqabs when outside the house. The
women say that no one is going to persecute you for religioue
protects them from street dust and unwanted attention and
shameless (to put it mildly) glances and questions from immodest men around
This is especially important for Russian women. Light facial skin stirs Egyptian men’s intense interest and wish to flirt.
Once I saw some fully
covered women in a store. Apart from hidden face and loose clothing that even
covered their heels, they were wearing black gloves and black narre re speaking Russian with no accent and
calling each other Nastya and Olesya.
Tamara, the wife of a Chechen student, told me about their life in the strange land. About how they have to pinch and scrape. For example, she makes bread at home.