On 21 May 2012, a memorial sign in honour of the official adoption of Islam by the Volga Boulgars in 922 was officially opened in Bolgar at a ceremony held with the participation of Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, State Counsellor of the Republic of Tatarstan, Ildar Khalikov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan, Farid Mukhametshin, Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, Talgad Tajuddin, Chairman of the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims and Supreme Mufty of Russia.
The idea was initiated by Ildar Galyaoutdinov, Chairman of the Board of OAO Akibank. The investors in the construction of the memorial sign are OAO Tatenergo and OAO Akibank. The project was developed by GUP Tatinvestgrazhdanproyekt. The general contractor of the project is OAO Gran. The sign represents an octagonal building, 25 metres-high, with a round cupola made of titanite topped by Muslim crescent and styled as an ancient Boulgar architecture. Trim stone was brought from Italy. The classical calligraphy of sayings and surahs from the Koran that decorate the cupola hall was made by hottat (calligrapher) Ramil Nasyboullin.
In the central hall there has been installed, on a special stand, the Koran that was made by Italian masters on the initiative of Ildar Galyaoutdinov. This unique book, owing to its high level of artistic execution, was recognised by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation as a cultural valuable. The Koran installed in the memorial sign is the world’s largest printed edition of the Holy Scripture of Muslims, which is confirmed by the certificate of the Guinness Book of Records. It has the record-breaking dimensions: length – 2 metres, width – 1.5 metres, weight – 800 kg.
It is decorated with precious and semi-precious stones. The Koran was made with the use of malachite plates, leaf gold, silver, turquoise, corals, dark-green aventurine, amethyst, zircon, lasurite, red jade, and topaz. The hall also contains a three-dimensional map of the route of the ambassade sent by Al-Muqtadir, the Abbasid caliph, which was made by architect Rustam Gabbasov from dolomite, shell stone, marble, and metal. The basement store houses a picture gallery consisting over one hundred works made by artists from Tatarstan, and a museum and exhibition complex intended for exhibitions and conferences.
Represented in the exposition of the complex are the archaeological findings, originals and copies of written sources, numismatics and jewellery articles, as well as the specimens of figurative art, including a mosaic panel designed by Farit Valioullin, who was also the head of a group of the artists who created it. The panel narrates about the day on which the Volga Boulgars adopted Islam as the official religion of the state (922) and the ceremony of the meeting between Bolgar’s Almush Khan and the delegation of the Baghdad caliph.
The main and the most important historical evidence of this event is the “Note” about the trip to the Volga of Ahmed Ibn Fadlan who visited the Volga Boulgaria as a member of the ambassade of Al-Muqtadir, the Abbasid caliph. The ambassade left Baghdad in 921 and arrived in the Volga Boulgaria in May 922. Ibn Fadlan made a detailed report in which he gave the unique information of historical and ethnographic nature. The publications of the text of the “Note” in Arabic, Tatar, Russian, and German are also represented in the expositions of the Memorial Sign.