Islam in Albania

Islam in Albania

During the Ottoman occupation, according to Ottoman data, the majority of Albanians were of Muslim affiliation (Sunni and Bektashi). However, after Independence, decades of State Atheism which ended in 1991, brought a radical decline in religious practice in all traditions. Today in Albania there are twice more churches than mosques and the majority of the population are either atheist or agnostic. [L'Albanie en 2005 - [] ] [Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns ", chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005) [] ] [Goring, Rosemary (ed). Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs & Religions (Larousse: 1994); pg. 581-584. Table: "Population Distribution of Major Beliefs" [] ]


Ottoman occupation

Islam came to Albania through the Ottoman invasion in the 14th century and had to confront with Christianity and native Paganism. In the North, the spread of Islam was slower due to Roman Catholic Church's resistance and the mountainous terrain which contributed to curb Muslim influence and also preserve Pagan practices. In the center and south, however, by the end of the seventeenth century the urban centers had largely adopted the religion of the growing Albanian Muslim elite. The existence of an Albanian Muslim class of pashas and beys who played an increasingly important role in Ottoman political and economic life became an attractive option career for most Albanians.

The Muslims of Albania during were divided into two main communities: those associated with Sunni Islam and those associated with the Bektashi, a mystic Dervish order that came to Albania through the Albanian Janissaries that served in the Ottoman army and who practiced Albanian pagan rites under a nominal Islamic cover. Sunni Muslims have historically lived in the cities of Albania, while Bektashis mainly in the country.


The country won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. Following the National Renaissance tenets and the general lack of religious convictions [John Hutchinson, Anthony D. Smith, "Nationalism: Critical Concepts in Political Science"] , during the 20th century, the democratic, monarchic and later the totalitarian regimes followed a systematic dereligionization of the nation and the national culture. Due to this policy, as all other faiths in the country, Islam underwent radical changes.

In 1923, following the government program, the Albanian Muslim congress convened at Tirana decided to break with the Caliphate, established a new form of prayer (standing, instead of the traditional salah ritual), banished polygamy and the mandatory use of veil (hijab) by women in public, practices forced on the urban population by the Ottomans. [ [,9171,727115,00.html Albania dispatch, Time magazine, April 14, 1923]

The Muslim clergy, following suit with the Catholic and Orthodox clergy, was totally eradicated during totalitarism, under the state policy of obliterating all organized religion from Albanian territories.

Albania is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. [ [ Official website of the OIC] ]


ee also

*Religion in Albania
*Islam by country

External links

* [ The Muslim Forum of Albania]
* [ Albanian Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization]
* [ The Bektashi Community]

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