Ataulla Bajazitov (1846–1911) fulfilled a social double role by serving his Tatar community in St. Petersburg as imam and the Russian state as military Muslim ‘cleric’, translator, and teacher. By founding Russia’s first monolingual Tatar newspaper, initiating St. Petersburg’s first Friday mosque, and presenting scriptural and rational arguments for the compatibility of Islam and the modern Civilization to a Russian-speaking public as early as 1883, he has been a pioneer among the Muslims in Russia in several respects. In contrast though to similar activities of his Russian contemporary, the Krim Tatar Ismail Gasprinskii (1851–1914), Bajazitov’s endeavours have remained almost unnoticed in Western scholarship. Also in Tatarstan, his books have been only recently reprinted. The present study analyzes Bajazitov’s three monographs written in Russian, namely A Response to Ernest Renan’s lecture “Islam and Science” (1883), The Relationship of Islam towards Science and People of Different Faith (1887) and Islam and Progress (1898). There, he exposes many positions that around that time started to become key arguments of Muslim reformers in the Near East for the progressivness of Islam. The study takes also into account reactions to Bajazitov’s monographs by Russian officers in Tashkent who tried to demonstrate the backwardness of Islam, especially Nikolai Petrovič Ostroumov’s (1846–1930) response in his book entitled Quran and Progress – On the intellectual awakening of today’s Russian Muslims (1901/1903).