‘Miracle’ Baby Gives Hope to Russian Muslims

KIZLYAR, Dagestan — A “miracle” baby has brought a kind of mystical hope to people in Dagestan who are increasingly desperate in the face of Islamist violence.

From hunchbacked grandmas to schoolboys, hundreds of pilgrims lined up this week in blazing sunshine to get a glimpse of 9-month-old baby Ali Yakubov, on whose body they say verses from the Quran appear and fade every few days.

Pinkish in color and several centimeters high, the Quranic verse “Be thankful or grateful to Allah” was printed on the infant’s right leg in clearly legible Arabic script this week, religious leaders said. Visiting foreign journalists later saw a single letter after the rest had vanished.
“The fact that this miracle happened here is a signal to us to take the lead and help our brothers and sisters find peace,” said Sagid Murtazaliyev, head of the Kizlyar district about 150 kilometers north of Makhachkala, the Dagestani capital.

“We must not forget there is a war going on here,” he told Muslim leaders who had invited journalists to witness what they unequivocally claim is a sign from God.

Islam in Russia is widely believed to have originated in ethnically rich Dagestan, where 3 million people speak more than 30 languages and whose ancient walled city of Derbent claims to be the country’s oldest city.

Up to 2,000 pilgrims from Russia’s 20 million Muslim population come daily to see the docile, blue-eyed baby, whose pink brick house has become a shrine.

Vladimir Zakharov, deputy director of the Caucasus Research Center at the Moscow State University of International Relations, said he was not in a position to judge the veracity of the claims, but that it was clear that they were born out of desperation.

“Islam and fear of terrorism now totally dominate the North Caucasus, and they are perhaps using this to escape from a certain reality,” he said by telephone.

A spate of recent suicide bombings and armed attacks on police and security services in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya has shattered a few years of relative calm in the North Caucasus.

Local leaders have told President Dmitry Medvedev that they are struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency pervading all spheres of society in the North Caucasus.

Moscow Times for more

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