Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 9: Soyembika of Kazan (Russia)

Today's story is perhaps someone I know least about. It was actually really fun to read about a Muslim ruler from Russia and in my fascination to know more about her, I have decided to include her in this Ramadan challenge list in case her story tingles your curiosity. 
Söyembikä (1516 – after 1554) was a Tatar ruler, and the last queen and the last ruler of Khanate of Kazan, a medieval Tatar state in current Russia. The Khanate covered current Tatarstan which is a federal subject of Russia today. The capital of current Tatarstan is Kazan, which happens to be one of the most prosperous cities of Russia.
Soyembika is a name of Turkish origin and means "Lovely Queen." Daughter of Nogay nobleman Yosif Bak, she was the regent of her son Kazan Khan Utamesgaray between 1549 and 1551. Previous to this, she had been married twice, first to Kazan Khans Cangali (1533-35) and later to Safagaray (1536-49). In 1551, Khanate of Kazan was partially conquered by Ivan the Terrible who had her forcibly married to Sahgali (after 1553). 

Soyembika is the national hero of Tatarstan. Her name is associated with the famous Soyembika Tower, a landmark of Tarastan. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible, struck by her beauty, wanted to marry Soyembika who knew that if she refused, he would kill her people in anger. Instead to gain time, she challenged him to build her a tower with seven tiers, one representing each day of the week. She said she would marry him if he was successful.

Apparently, Ivan the Terrible, managed to overcome this challenge and the Tower was built in a week's time. Legend says that Soyembika asked Ivan's permission to climb the Tower and say goodbye to her people before leaving Kazan with the Tsar. But from the Tower, seeing the beauty of Kazan and her people from there, she was so filled with sorrow and love for Kazan and its people, that she decided she couldn't bear to marry the horrible Tsar Ivan and instead jumped from the same tower and died.

The view of the tower in 2007.

It is interesting that the people of Kazan always believed the Soyembike Tower is the national sacred place.  In Kazan everybody can tell a legend about the tower.

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