Rifat is 20 years old and is in his third year at Moscow Institute of Engineering. He has three younger brothers, making him the oldest son in the family. Fortunately, the apartment where Rifat’s family lives is located in the new Moscow neighborhood, and has five rooms – which means Rifat can have his own separate room.
Rifat was born into a Tatar family where they abide by Muslim traditions. His ancestors are Tatar merchants from Nizhnygorod Oblast who settled in Moscow. Rifat maintains an active lifestyle; he has lots of friend (most of whom are also from Muslim families), he plays sports, and not too long ago won the Moscow Championship of Extreme Driving.
In his room Rifat has simple furniture, a ton of books, flowers, and a bike on the balcony. The realities of Moscow have almost erased traces of national identity: his room differs little from a typical room of an ordinary young Muscovite. There is little that strikes the eye here – except maybe the unexpected placement of Koran verses next to the Russian national flag. And if you look closely enough at the bookshelves, among the classics you can see treatises on the history of Islam and Islamic mysticism.
Translated by Chase Philpot