Social Organisation “Vira” (“Faith”), Zaporizhzhya
Organisation “Vira” (Ukr. “Faith”) was initially created in 1994 and had another title — it was known as “Al-Fajr” back then. It was one of the six organisations that later created the basis of AUASO “Alraid”.
The initial nucleus of the organisation mostly consisted of Muslim students from different countries of Islamic world: they united their efforts in order to fulfill both their own and the local Muslims’ cultural and religious needs. There were many students receiving higher education at Zaporizhzhya universities; as for the locals — they were deprived of access to the religious knowledge during the Soviet period, even of that minimum of knowledge the foreign students got in their home countries when attending lessons at medrese as schoolchildren after classes.
The union functioned for five years as a circle on common interest. In 1999, willing to be able to hold different religious events officially, including lessons of Qur’an and the basics of Islam, the activists filed for registration and successfully passed the procedure.
It was the first opportunity to get at leas primary religious education for many believers from the local Muslim community, and some of them went further and entered Islamic Universities abroad, so, when “Al-Fajr” went through reincorporation in 2005, now with the name “Vira”, it consisted mostly of the local Muslims with degrees in Shariah.
Social Organisation “Vira” initially held joint Friday prayers and Eid prayers. Yet each new day brought more and more parishioners, and many of them wanted to achieve some deeper religious knowledge, so they opened a new field of work, which was cultural and educational. For that reason, free classes on basics of Islam, Qur’an recitation and Arabic languages were initiated, where the teachers worked as volunteers on free-of-charge basis. They also started holding marriage ceremonies according to Islamic tradition (the Niqah), and the funeral rituals (Janazah).
The organisation had its office granted by the local Muslims since 1995; in 2000, however, they had to move out and rent a room for prayers, rituals and lessons. IN 2006, AUASO “Alraid” helped them to buy a building for a full-scaled Islamic Cultural Centre, which became a great news for the Muslim community that reached the scale of more than 6,000 believers by then and was badly in need of a mosque, ceremonial hall and some classes.
Since then, organisation “Vira” has developed a fruitful cooperation not only with fellow-Muslims from different regions of the country, but also with other religious communities both in Zaporizhzhya and the region, as well as orphanages, schools and Universities.
Having own ICC opened new horizons for both Zaporizhzhya Muslims, who were now able to gather for prayers and different events, study religion, etc., but also for every Non-Muslim willing to learn something on Islam in order to enlarge their score or have a better understanding of the Religious studies course at their educational institution. Thus, Zaporizhzhya ICC arranged lectures on introduction to Islam for more than 10,000 High School and University students between 2006 and 1015.
Besides, for local Muslims, Islamic Cultural Centre of the Social Organisation “Vira” became the body representing their interests with the authorities.