Although their names are Fatma and Roukaya and Heidar tens of Tartars from Kazan embrace the Islamic faith every year, even though they come from Muslim origins and inhabited the Donbas region in the south of the Ukraine. Some of them embrace Islam to turn over a new page in their lives which was spent alienated from religion, while most of them embrace Islam because they practiced the Christian faith in ignorance of their Islamic origins. The revival and preservation of their identity is considered to be a primary concern for the Muslim Tartars inhabiting the Donbas region, due to the effects of the past century which broke the ties between them and their Tartar Islamic identity and culture. Sheikh Saeed Ismailov the mufti of the Religious Department for Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” said that the existence of Kazan Tartars in Donbas goes back to the 19th century, when they moved there from central Russia to work in the mines and factories and their numbers reached approximately 400 thousand at the time. He pointed out that the Tartars had their own schools and mosques, but the Soviet regime destroyed the mosques and closed the schools, and they were unable to practice or teach their religion and preserve their culture. He said that the Soviet regime had a policy to separate citizens from their ethnic and religious roots, and they encouraged the marriages of Tartars to others especially non-Muslims, which led to a negative integration in society and a decrease in their numbers to approximately 100 thousand. The hope of preserving what is left of their identity and culture returned to the Tartars of Donbas with the opening of the first mosque in Lugansk and the largest mosque in the region, which includes many divisions and educational and cultural facilities, such as a school and library and auditorium. The Federation of Social Organizations Al Raed built the mosque which can accommodate 500 worshipers, over a period of the last three years, with the support of Mabarret Khair Al Kuwait, as well as the support of local business men. The event held to celebrate the opening of the mosque was attended by Sheikh Gamal Al Hadad the executive manager of the Kuwaiti charity foundation and the Kuwaiti Consul in the Ukraine Talal Hazaa as well as representatives from the department of religions and the municipality and governorate in Lugansk. The celebration was attended by more than 1000 Muslims from the city and around the Ukraine. Dr.Ismail Al Kady the President of the Federation said that he hoped that the mosque would help returning Tartars to their faith and preserving their identity and culture in society, as well as stopping their negative integration in society and pave the way to activating their role in society.
ARRAID is the Ukrainian member organization of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the EU-level umbrella group for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. A Canadian scholar has reported that an ARRAID fundraising brochure stated that the organization:
… aims at the increase of ‘the cultural, social and educational level of Ukraine’s Muslims,’ the spread of Islamic culture among, and financial assistance for them, and Islamic proselytism (da’wa) in the country, …. ‘By this, Ar-Raid will become an important breach (thughra) in confronting Christian missionary attacks and Jewish expansion, so assist and help it to be able to follow the way it began..’
The organization claims anywhere from 9-13 chapters throughout Ukraine. A recent post indicated that ARRAID has received funding from the Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia.