RIA Novosti reported Ibagrim Dudarov was found dead in his car in Vladikavkaz. Officials said he was shot at close range five times, possibly with a machine gun.
A spokesman for the local Investigative Committee said Dudarov was killed about 11 p.m. Wednesday while driving home.
Investigators are considering possible motives for the crime, including a family conflict, but there is also concern the attack was motivated by Dudarov's religious work.
"The murder was linked with his religious activities," deputy chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis Damir Gizatullin said.
A spokesman for the regional investigative department said a criminal investigation was opened.
ITAR-Tass reported the incident marks this year's seventh assassination attempt on Muslim religious leaders.
Millions of Getty images now available for free via embed tool
Boston schools pull out free condoms over wrapping complaints