The International Conference "Islamic Unity: Concept, Opportunities and Challenges" has been held in Abu Dabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The conference has brought together representatives of over 150 countries. It has been attended by ministers of religious affairs and spiritual leaders of the Islamic world.

With the blessing of Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, the Muslim community of Russia was represented at the event by Professor Damir Mukhetdinov, First Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Theology and Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies at St Petersburg University.

In April 2022, St Petersburg University hosted the 8th All-Russian Research and Practical Conference "The Bigiev Readings", focused on the Islamic heritage of Russia. The event was timed to coincide with the celebrations marking the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgarians.

The conference was opened with greetings from: His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence of the UAE; Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council; Dr Ali Erbaş, President of Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in Turkey; Dr Hissein Ibrahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); Dr Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council; and other prominent Muslim figures.

Damir Mukhetdinov opened the first plenary session dedicated to the semantic layers within the Quranic text. In his plenary talk ‘Semantics of the concept of "ummah" in the Quran’, Professor Mukhetdinov shared his reflections on the semantic motivation and layers of this concept in the sacred scripture of Islam. Referring to the Quranic source, he called for ‘breaking free from a mindless automatism of the routine use of this term.’

The UAE is one of the fastest-growing financial and economic centres in the world. It attracts talented and qualified workforce from all over the world. Cultural and religious diversity is becoming a reality for a region that, just a few decades ago, was an illustration of monoculturalism.

Professor Damir Mukhetdinov, Head of the Centre for Islamic Studies, First Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Theology

‘In this regard, the theological interpretation of diversity and pluralism reflected in the sources of the Islamic religion and the first-hand experience of the peaceful coexistence of peoples, especially in Russia, are becoming particularly relevant for the Gulf countries,’ said Professor Mukhetdinov, stressing the importance of holding this conference.

The Conference was organised by the World Muslim Communities Council. Its focus is Islamic unity in light of the challenges that Muslim communities are facing in the 21st century, as well as favourable opportunities for Islamic countries to take their proper place in the world. ‘Muslim states, communities, organisations and members of the Ummah need to return to the agenda of Islamic unity. Until the beginning of the 20th century, there was unity among Muslims that lasted for centuries. Civilisational, cultural, and humanitarian unity is based upon cooperation, cohesion, mutual benefit, and also on education, culture, Islamic thought, and economy. The new times require us to restore this model of cultural dialogue and exchange,’ stressed the Organising Committee.