The article discusses the institutional complexities and policy discourses of Muslim governance and representation in Britain and Russia in light of the distinct national narratives of state-Muslim relations. Religious governance is not only determined by the patterns of state-religion relations but is also influenced by the level of state involvement. The article focuses on a series of interactions between state officials and Muslim representative institutions to highlight individual patterns and discourses of the two approaches to religious accommodation: ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’. The British horizontal approach focuses on liberal multiculturalism and its communitarian preference for resolving internal tensions within local communities. Russia’s increasingly conservative policy of consolidating Muslim institutions and building strong relations with official Muslim representatives is typical of the vertical approach. Over the last 10 to 15 years, state policies on Muslim integration and representation have revealed a similar desire to promote moderate forms of Islam. This is evident from extended programmes of state-funding for Muslim communities and stronger cooperation with Muslim representative institutions. A close analysis of state engagement with Muslim Councils brings to light the internal dynamics of horizontal and vertical state-Muslim relations in the two countries.