Ex-Rabbi of Makhachkala
Rabbi of Makhachkala synagogue embraced Islam.
Every person has a different way of coming to the Truth. For
Moisha Krivitsky this way led through a faculty of law, a synagogue and
a prison. The lawyer-to-be becomes a Rabbi, then he converts into Islam
and finds himself in prison.
Today Musa (this is the name he has adopted when he became a Muslim)
lives in a small mosque in Al-Burikent, a mountain area of Makhachkala,
and works as a watchman in the Central Juma mosque. - Musa, before we
began talking, you asked what we were going to talk about. I said: About
you.What's so interesting about me?
If you wondered. then I live in the mosque.. How did you come to live in
- Well, I just dropped in... and stayed. - Did you find the way easily?
- With great difficulty. It was hard then, and it isn't much easier now.
When you go deeply into Islam its inner meaning, you understand that
this religion is very simple, but the way that leads to it may be
extremely difficult. Often, people don't understand how a person could
be converted into Islam from the other side, as it were.
But there are no other sideshere:
Islam is everything there is, both what we imagine and what we don't
Musa, as a matter of fact, we were given this fact as a certain
sensation: a Rabbi has turned Muslim. -
Well, it has been no sensation for quite a long while already - it's
more than a year that I did this. It was strange for me at first, too.
But it wasn't an off-the-cuff decision. When I came into Islam, I had
read books about it, I had been interested. - Did you finish any high
school before coming to the synagogue? -
Yes, I finished a clerical high school. After graduation, I came to
Makhachkala, and became the local Rabbi. -
And where did you come from? -
Oh, from far away. But Ive already become a true Daghestani, Ive got a
lot of friends here - both among Muslims and people who are far from
- Let's return to your work in the synagogue.
- It was quite a paradoxical situation: there was a mosque near my
synagogue, the town mosque. Sometimes my fiends who were its
parishioners would come to me - just to chat. I sometimes would come to
the mosque myself, to see how the services were carried out. I was very
interested. So we lived like good neighbours. And once, during Ramadan,
a woman came to me - as I now understand, she belonged to a people that
was historically Muslim - and she asked me to comment the Russian
translation of the Quran made by Krachkovsky.
- She brought the Quran to you - a Rabbi?!
- Yes, and she asked me to give her the Torah to read in return. So I
tried to read the Quran - about ten times.
It was really hard, but gradually I began to understand, and to get a
basic notion of Islam. (Here, Musa looked at my friends son, the
six-year old Ahmed, who had fallen asleep in the mosque courtyard.
Should we probably take him inside the mosque?
asked Musa.) And that woman had brought back the Torah.
It turned out to be very difficult for her to read and understand it,
because religious literature requires extreme concentration and
- Musa, and when you were reading the translation, you must have begun
to compare it with the Torah?
- I had found answers to many questions in the Quran. Not to all of
them, of course, because it wasnt the Arabic original, but the
But I had begun to understand things.
- Does it mean that you couldnt find some answers in Judaism?
- I dont know, theres Allahs will in everything.
Apparently, those Jews who became Muslims in the times of the Prophet
(let Allah bless and greet him), couldnt find some answers in Judaism,
but found them in Islam.
Perhaps, they were attracted by the personality of the Prophet (let
Allah bless him!), his behaviour, his way of communicating with people.
Its an important topic.
- And what exactly were the questions that you couldnt find answers to
- Before I came into contact with Islam, there were questions which I
had never even tried to find answers to. Probably, an important part
here had been played by a book written by Ahmad Didat, a South African
scholar, comparing the Quran and the Bible.
There is a key phrase, well-known to those who are familiar with
religious issues: e g Follow the Prophet who is yet to cometh. And when
I studied Islam, I understood that the Prophet Muhammad (let Allah bless
him!) is the very Prophet to be followed. Both the Bible and the Torah
tell us to do it.
I havent invented anything here.
- And what does the Torah say about the Prophet (let Allah bless him!)?
- We wont be able to find this name in the Torah. But we can figure it
out using a special key. For example, we can understand what god this or
that particular person in history worships. The formula describing the
last Prophet (let Allah bless and greet him) is that he would worship
One God, the Sole Creator of the world. The Prophet Muhammad (let Allah
bless him!) matches this description exactly.
When I read this, I got very interested. I hadnt known anything about
Islam before that. Then I decided to look deeper into the matter and see
whether there were any miracles and signs connected with the name of the
Prophet (let Allah bless him!).
The Bible tells us that the Lord sends miracles to the prophets to
confirm their special mission in peoples eyes.
I asked the alims about this, and they said: Heres a collection of true
hadiths which describe the miracles connected with the Prophet (let
Allah bless him!) Then I read that the Prophet (let Allah bless him) had
always said that there had been prophets and messengers before him
We can find their names both in the Torah and in the Bible. When I was
only starting to get interested, it sounded somewhat strange for me. And
Well, my own actions led to what happened to me. Sometimes I get to
thinking: why did I read all this? Perhaps, I should say the tauba (a
prayer of repenting) right now for having thoughts like that.
- Should I understand you, Musa, that you now feel a great
responsibility for becoming a Muslim, or do you have some other
Yes, responsibility, but something else as well. I cant put my finger on
it now. When a person knows Islam well, hes got both his feet firmly on
the ground. Islam helps a person I would be insincere if I said that the
all the Daghestani are such knowing Muslims.
We sometimes talk about it in the mosque and I like to say that there
are not so many real Muslims in Daghestan - only the ustaths (learned
theologians) and their students, and the rest of us are just candidates.
I cant say that we do what the sunna requires, were only trying to. And
when we dont do what we should, were trying to invent some clever
These efforts should have better been applied to doing our duty. Its
hard for me to watch this. Sometimes, Im distracted by what is happening
around me, as well. I havent got strength enough to fight this, and the
weakness of my nature shows clearly here. I cant say Im totally
helpless, but I have no right to say that Ive achieved anything in
Islam. Ive only got torments. When I understood that I had to become a
Muslim, I thought that Islam was a single whole - one common road, or a
huge indivisible ocean. Then I saw that there were a lot of trends in
Islam, and new questions appeared.
All these trends are like whirlpools, they whirl and whirl... itfs very
hard! If a person tells you: Look, we fulfil all the hadiths, only we
Quran correctly then you
follow this person, because you think that he speaks true things, and
because you want to please Allah.
But then, after a couple of months, you understand that these claims
were false. Allah controls us. And you think: if this way is the right
way, then why is there something that goes the wrong way?.
. - Musa, and what brought you into the prison?
- A good question, this, isnt it?
- Who welcomed you there? -
If theres Allahs will to everything, then this was His will as well.
Regarding life from behind the barbed wire, going through all of this,
that was a certain school for me
. - How did it happen?
- Ive recently seen a programme on the TV, and a representative of the
Chechen republic in Moscow - I forget his name now, I believe he had
some beautiful, French-sounding name, something like Binaud - he said
that if the authorities were going to carry on like they had done before
- barging into homes, planting drugs and weapons on people
- then the people would be out in the streets protesting. This has
happened to many here. So there was something planted on me.
Then they came and took me away at night. Before that, I had had a
certain notion about he forces of the law here...
well, I couldnt think they would use such, well, not very polite
methods. Islam doesnt let me use a stronger word.
Allah knows what every man does, and those people will have to answer
for what they have done.
But the three months I spent in prison, they probably helped me to make
my faith stronger.
I saw how people behaved under the extreme circumstances, both Muslims
and non-Muslims, how I behaved. It would be good, of course, if the
people in power would pay their attention to this problem. They shouldnt
be trying to eradicate Islam with such unsavoury methods.
- Musa, why were the authorities frightened by you?
- No idea. Even children arent afraid of me.
At this moment, our conversation was interrupted by a stunningly
- Is there a muezzin in your mosque?
- Yes, his name is Muamat Tarif, it was him that weve just heard.
- And theres only you and him who works in this mosque?
- Well, as a matter of fact, only he works. He allows me... I still cant
get used to things after prison. He allows me to live here.
Its hard to recall this. I had a certain trouble with the people whose
flat I was living in, the understanding between us somehow failed. I
started perceiving them in a different way.
But its probably bad to be looking for other peoples drawbacks, Ive
probably got more. People started arriving to the mosque. We rose and
hastened for the prayer, too.