Islam in Sweden


Islam in Sweden

Sweden has today, almost exclusively due to immigration, a significant Muslim population.

History

During the eighteenth century, Sweden formed an alliance with the Ottoman Empire. This, coupled with the fact that the Swedish king Carl XII lived under Ottoman protection from 1709 to 1714, made the Swedes interested in Islam. Soon, Sweden granted freedom of worship to Muslims. During the eighteenth century, many dissertations about Islam were written at Swedish universities. [Anne Sofie Roald (2004). "New Muslims in the European Context: The Experience of Scandinavian Converts ". Brill Academic Publishers. pg.27]

The Baltic Tatars were the first Muslim group in modern Sweden. The faith arrived in the country primarily through immigration from countries with large Muslim populations (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Morocco, Iraq, Iran and Somalia) in the late 20th century. Most Muslims in Sweden are either immigrants or descendants of those immigrants. The majority of them are from the Middle East, especially Iraq and Iran. The second largest Muslim group consists of immigrants or refugees from former Yugoslavia, most of them Bosniaks and Kosovo Albanians. There is also a sizeable community of Somalis. The second largest Arab group are Moroccans, but not all Muslims from Iraq or Morocco are Arabs; among them are Kurds and Berbers, too.

There are several mosques in Sweden with notable ones in Malmö and Stockholm.

In recent years Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, has come to play an important role among Swedish Muslims, especially among the younger generation. The major Sufi orders exist in Sweden, such as the Shadhiliyya, the Naqshbandiyya and the Nimatullahi.

Demography

Although there are no official statistics of Muslims in Sweden, estimates counts 300 000 – 350 000 ethnic Muslims in the year 2000 [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; pp.218-224 ] (i.e. anyone who fits the broad definition of someone who «belongs to a Muslim people by birth, has Muslim origin, has a name that belongs in the Muslim tradition, etc. » [Åke Sander (1990), "Islam and Muslims in Sweden", Göteborg : Centre for the Study of Cultural Contact and International Migration, Gothenburg University, pp. 16-17] ), roughly estimated close to 100 000 of which are of second-generation [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; p.224] . Of the first-generation Muslims, 255 000 are supposed to be Sunni, 5 000 Shi’ites, no more than 1 000 Ahmadiya, Alevi and other groups, and probably no more than 5 000 converts, mainly women married to Muslim men. [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; pp.223-4]

Such numbers does not imply religious beliefs or participation; Åke Sander claimed in 1992 that «40-50% of the ethnic Muslims in Sweden could reasonably be considered to be religious» [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; p.217 ] , and in 2004, based on discussions and interviews with Muslim leaders, concerning second-generation Muslims born and raised in Sweden that «it does not seem that the percentage they consider to be religious Muslims in a more qualified sense exceeds fifteen percent, or perhaps even less» [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; pp.216-7] . Sander re-stated in 2004 that «we do not think it unreasonable to put the figure of religious Muslims in Sweden at the time of writing at close to 150 000» [Åke Sander (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities: Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; p.218 ] .

Conversion

There are no official statistics on the exact number of Swedish converts to Islam, but Dr. Anne Sofie Roald, a historian of religions at Malmö University, estimates the number of converts from the Church of Sweden to Islam to be 3,500 people since the 1960s, with an increase in recent years due to increased Muslim immigration. Dr. Roald further states that conversions are also occurring from Islam to the Church of Sweden, most noticeably by Iranians, but also by Arabs and Pakistanis, who have fled totalitarian regimes with strong religious oppression.Svenska Dagbladet (SvD), " [http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_607319.svd Fler kristna väljer att bli muslimer] ", November 19, 2007 (Accessed November 19, 2007)]

The first known convert to Islam was the famous painter Ivan Aguéli who was initiated into the Shadhiliyya order in Egypt in 1909. It was Aguéli who introduced the French metaphysician René Guénon to Sufism. Aguéli is more known among Sufis by his Muslim name Abdul-Hadi al-Maghribi. Other well-known Swedish converts to Islam are Tage Lindbom, Kurt Almqvist, Mohammed Knut Bernström and Tord Olsson. Lindbom, Almqvist and Olsson are also initiates into various Sufi orders. Bernström translated the Quran into Swedish in 1998.

Places of worship

The following are some of the places of Islamic worship that can be found today in Sweden ("See also the list of mosques in Sweden):

Islamic associations in Sweden

The beginning of national Islamic (Sunni) institutions in Sweden dates back to the creation of FIFS ("Förenade Islamiska Församlingar i Sverige") in 1973-1974. In 1982 and 1984 two splits, due to internal rivalries, cultural differences, personal conflicts and funding, brought to the creation of SMF ("Svenska Muslimska Förbundet") and ICUS, today IKUS ("Islamska Kulturcenterunionen i Sverige"). Others national institutions are BHIRF ("Bosnien-Hercegovinas Islamiska riksförbund"), founded in 1995 by Bosnian refugees, IRFS ("Islamiska Riksförbundet"), also since 1995, and SIA (Svenska Islamiska Akademin), founded in the year 2000 by the former ambassador Mohammed Knut Bernström, with the task of establishing in the future an Islamic university in Sweden, charged with imam education. SIA also publishes since February 2001 the periodical "Minaret" in Swedish. The present editor-in-chief of "Minaret" is Mohamed Omar.

On a lower level, specific Islamic organizations targeting specific groups have been created as well. SMUF, today SUM ("Sveriges Unga Muslimer"), is the greatest youth Muslim organization since 1986, but there exist also the women association IKF ("Islamiska Kvinnoförbund i Sverige"), the youth association IUF ("Islamiska Ungdomförbundet i Sverige") and the imam association SIR ("Sveriges Imamråd"). IIF ("Islamiska Informationföreningen") is a member association of FIFS aiming at providing information about Islam in Sweden; 1986-2000 it published "Salaam", whose editorial board has always been dominated by women, mainly Swedish converts.

National and target organization have also created umbrella organizations in order to simplify their relationships to the state. FIFS and SMF have created in 1990 SMR ("Sveriges Muslimska Råd"), of which SUM is also member. The IKUS umbrella organization is named IRIS ("Islamiska Rådet i Sverige") and includes also IKF, IUF and SIR. Above all, IS ("Islamiska samarbetsrådet") deals with financial issues with the Commission for state grants to religious communities (SST); it includes FIFS, SMF, IKUS, ISS and SIF.

The following are some of the Islamic associations in Sweden:

* Islamic Association in Stockholm
* Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF)
* Muslim Council of Sweden (SMR)

Political controversies

The Muslim Council of Sweden (SMR), an umbrella organization for Swedish Muslim organizations, has been involved in several controversies. In 2006 Mahmoud Aldebe, one of the Board members of SMR, sent letters to each of the major political parties in Sweden demanding special legislation for Muslims in Sweden, including the right to specific Islamic holidays, special public financing for the building of Mosques, that all divorces between Muslim couples be approved by an Imam, and that Imams should be allowed to teach Islam to Muslim children in public schools. The request was condemned by all political parties and the government and the Swedish Liberal Party requested that an investigation be started by the Office of the Exchequer into the use of public funding of SMR. The Chairman of the Board of SMR subsequently stated that it supported the demands made by Aldebe but that it did not think that the letter had been a good idea to communicate them in a list of demands. [ [http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/ekot/artikel.asp?artikel=847120 Sveriges muslimska råd i krismöte] Swedish Radio, Friday 28 April 2006 (in Swedish). A copy of the letter sent by Aldebe can be found [http://www.sr.se/Diverse/AppData/Isidor/files/83/2113.pdf here] (in Swedish)]

Although the Board of SMR did not condemn Aldebe the letter has caused conflict within the organization. [ [http://sydsvenskan.se/malmo/article156076.ece Sydsvenska dagbladet] , "Krav på muslimska lagar i Sverige skapar maktkamp" , 28 April 2006. [http://www.folkbladet.se/%5CGEN_Utmatning.asp?ArticleID=1173168 Folkbladet i Norrköping] , "Imam: Vi vill ha egna lagar - men muslimska rådets krav möter hårt motstånd", 29 April 2006]

SMR has also been accused of being closely allied to the Swedish Social Democrat Party, which has been criticised both inside and outside the party. [ [http://svt.se/svt/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=6107&a=582062&printerfriendly=true&&shortVersion=true&kopiera=false Swedish Television] , Granskningen av islam och integrationen, del II: Socialdemokraternas oheliga röstfiske, 2 May 2006 (DEAD LINK?)]

Swedish social anthropologist Aje Carlbom and parliamentarian Abderisak Aden, who has founded the Islamic Democratic Institute (Islamiska demokratiska institutet), have both stated that they believe that at least part of the leading members of SMR support Islamist ideologies and are influenced by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. [ [http://svt.se/svt/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=6107&a=582062&printerfriendly=true&&shortVersion=true&kopiera=false Swedish Television] , Granskningen av islam och integrationen, del II: Socialdemokraternas oheliga röstfiske, 2 May 2006 (DEAD LINK?)]

The Brandbergen Mosque has been described by the FBI terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann as a propaganda central for the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). According to Kohlmann, people connected to the mosque also participated in the financing of GIA:s bombing campaign in France in 1995.Fact|date=August 2008

In 2004 an Arabic-language manual, which carried the logo and address of the Brandbergen Mosque, was spread on the internet. The manual described the construction of simple chemical weapons, including how to build a chemical munition from an ordinary artillery round.Fact|date=August 2008

On December 7, 2006, the Swedish citizen Mohamed Moumou, who is described by the United States Department of the Treasury as an "uncontested leader of an extremist group centered around the Brandbergen Mosque in Stockholm", was put on the United Nations Security Council Committee 1267 list of foreign terrorists.Fact|date=August 2008

Popular perceptions on Islamic fundamentalism

In a survey conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres on behalf of the UK-based think tank Open Europe in March 2007, 56% of the Swedish respondents agreed with the statement that "Islamic fundamentalism is a serious threat for our country". [cite press release |title=European poll findings on globalisation and foreign policy: Majority of UK and EU citizens would back military action against Iran |publisher=Open Europe |date=2007-04-04 |url=http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=36 |accessdate=2007-04-05 (see the [http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/globalisation.xls table] linked at the bottom of the press release)]

References

Bibliography

* Alwall, Jonas (1998), "Muslim rights and plights : the religious liberty situation of a minority in Sweden", Lund : Lund University Press, pp. 145-238
* cite journal
quotes =
last = Carlbom
first = Aje
authorlink =
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date =
year = 2006
month = August
title = An Empty Signifier: The Blue-and-Yellow Islam of Sweden
journal = Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
volume = 26
issue = 2
pages = 245–261
issn =
pmid =
doi =
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* Carlbom, Aje (2003), "The Imagined versus the Real Other : Multiculturalism and the Representation of Muslims in Sweden", Lund: Lund Monographs in Social Anthropology, pp. 63-163
* Nielsen, Jørgen S. (1992), "Muslims in Western Europe", Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, pp. 80-84
* Sander, Åke (1990), "Islam and Muslims in Sweden", Göteborg : Centre for the Study of Cultural Contact and International Migration, Gothenburg University, pp. 1-54
* Sander, Åke (1993), "Islam and Muslims in Sweden and Norway : a partially annotated bibliography 1980-1992 with short presentations of research centres and research projects", Göteborg : Centre for the Study of Cultural Contact and International Migration, Gothenburg University
* Sander, Åke (1997), “To what extent is the Swedish Muslim religious?”, in Steven Vertovec and Ceri Peach (eds.), "Islam in Europe : The politics of religion and community", London : Macmillan and New York : St.Martin’s, pp. 179-210
* Sander, Åke (2004), “Muslims in Sweden”, in Muhammad Anwar, Jochen Blaschke and Åke Sander, [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte/pdf/MusPol_Buch.pdf "State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities : Sweden, Great Britain and Germany"] , Berlin : Parabolis; pp. 203-374 (2007-03-24)

See also

* Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy

External links

* [http://www.euro-islam.info/spip Euro-Islam] breaking news on Islam in Europe (legislation, security, opinion polls) including profiles of Islam by country
* [http://al-ghazali.org/sidan/ Al-Ghazali Institute in Stockholm]
* [http://islamonline.net/English/News/2006-02/10/article02.shtml Muslims in Sweden]
* [http://wwwuser.gwdg.de/~mriexin/euroislam.html#S Links: Islam in Western Europe: Sweden]
* [http://www.emz-berlin.de/projekte_e/pj20_1E.htm State Policies Towards Muslim Minorities. Sweden, Great Britain and Germany] European Migration Centre
* [http://www.livingislam.org/mosk_svst.html List of Mosques in Stockholm]


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