Islam is currently the second most widely professed religion in the Russian Federation. According to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 6% of respondents considered themselves Muslims.
According to Reuters, Muslim minorities make up a seventh of Russia's population. Muslims constitute the nationalities in the North Caucasus residing between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea: Adyghe, Balkars, Chechens, Circassians, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani peoples. Also, in the middle of the Volga Basin reside populations of Tatars and Bashkirs, the vast majority of whom are Muslims. Islam is considered as one of Russia’s traditional religions, legally a part of Russian historical heritage. There are over 5,000 registered religious Muslim organizations (divided into Sunni, Shi'a and Sufi groups), which is only one sixth of the number of registered Russian Orthodox religious organizations of about 29,268.
The majority of Muslims in Russia adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 10% are Shi'a Muslims. In a few areas, notably Chechnya, there is a tradition of Sunni Sufism. The Azeris have also historically and still currently been nominally followers of Shi'a Islam, as their republic split off from the Soviet Union, significant number of Azeris immigrated to Russia in search of work.
The Orthodox Church of Russia is said to be concerned with the growing estimates that Islam is poised to become a rapidly growing minority and potentially a majority by the year 2050. While various Muslim sources claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Russia and that ethnic Russians are converting to Islam in large numbers. Notable Russian converts to Islam include Vladimir Khodov and Alexander Litvinenko, a defector from Russian intelligence, who reverted on his deathbed.
Rise in hate crimesEdit
The rise in the Russian Muslim population, terrorist attacks and the steep decline of the ethnic Russian population have given rise to a greater degree of Xenophobia and Islamophobia in Russia.
A record 18,000 Russian Muslim pilgrims from all over the country attended the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2006. In 2010, at least 20,000 Russian Muslim pilgrims attended the Hajj, as Russian Muslim leaders sent letters to the King of Saudi Arabia requesting that the Saudi visa quota be raised to at least 25,000-28,000 visas for Muslims.