Islam in Albania

Islam in Albania is the religion with the most followers and split in two directions: Sunni Islam and the Sufi Order of the Bektashi.

The data on the number of Muslims today are contradictory. Neither the Islamic communities nor the Albanian authorities perform a denominational statistics. Various estimates and studies go from 40 to 45 percent, 60 percent or even 70bis 79.9 percent of the total population. After the European part of Turkey and Kosovo, Albania is thus the European country with the third highest Muslim population: among the Albanians of Kosovo and neighboring Macedonia, the proportion of Muslims 95-98 percent. The majority of Albanian Muslims are Sunni, a significant minority Bektashi. But it must also be mentioned that many Albanians, regardless of denomination, faith no longer practice even after the removal of religious prohibition of 1968.


Muslims live in all parts of Albania. In the center, in the south and in the north east of the country they form almost everywhere the majority among the religions. The Bektashi are mainly represented in the country's center and south and have their strongholds in the regions Bulqiza, Gramsh, Skrapar and Tepelenë.

2002 17 various Islamic associations were registered with the state authorities, mosques, madrasas were talking etc.. Some of them are run by foreign missionaries from Arab countries, Turkey and Iran. There are some run by Muslims in general education schools whose curricula as that of the Christian schools are reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Education.

The Muslim festivals both Bajram mentioned are present in Albania as well as the Christian Christmas state holidays.

Chairman of the ( Sunni ) Muslim Council since 2004 Muça Selim, who was re- elected by the Council in 2009. The Bektashi is facing since 2011 Baba Edmond Brahimaj.


Islam has arrived in Albania

At the beginning of Ottoman rule in Albania - in the south at the beginning, in the north end of the 15th century - were almost exclusively Turkish immigrants in the cities (especially merchants, craftsmen and soldiers) followers of Islam. There were scattered over the country Timarioten, which accounted for a significant proportion of new land-owning elite. So among others the King Mosque of Elbasan, the king Mosque of Berat, the Mirahor Mosque in Korca, the Fatih Mosque in Durres - - For these immigrant Muslims handsome mosques were built at the time included or converted to such churches. The Islamic religious and urban architecture of the Ottoman Empire ( Ottoman architecture) already coined the beginning of the 16th century, the image of almost all Albanian cities.

Reasons of Islamization

The Islamization of parts of the population began in the early 16th century, again in the south and by inter- rather than the north. There were several reasons for the success of the new faith among the Albanians: The favoring of livestock by the Ottoman Celeb system came towards those parts of the population that lived as semi-nomadic herdsmen. The best you could participate as a Muslim in this system. As in Bosnia and many nobles were converted to Islam in order to as Timarioten and Spahis further belong to landowning upper class can. The blooming under Ottoman rule cities, such as Elbasan, Berat, Delvina and others were targets of internal migration. The messages from the country new residents soon took on faith and culture of the Muslim upper class. An important reason for the conversion to Islam was that you had to pay as a Muslim no head control. Finally, the strong Islamization of Albania also had to do with the fact that many men sought their fortune from the poor country in the Ottoman military, where they immediately accepted the new faith. The social and economic reasons, often motivation to change one's religion, meant that many converts were crypto- Christians who continue to secretly celebrated the old religion. Often initially converted only the head of the family and its members were Christians. Were formed out also forms an Islamic-Christian syncretism. It is, for example, in the north common for Muslim peasants ask for the Catholic cattle blessing for their herds and the priests donate it.

The historical research assumes that the church affiliation of the Albanians has been the time of the Turkish conquest lower than other Balkan peoples, because the country between east and west church was split and because the Church in the rival principalities few institutions, low ownership and thus had little impact on the population. This should have favored the Islamization of Albania.

End of the 16th century the vast majority of urban residents was Muslim, while in the villages were still 80 per cent Christian. During the 17th century, the force exerted on the pressure increased Christians for conversion. This led to a political causes - the Ottomans came increasingly on the defensive against the Christian powers, on the other hand, there were economic reasons - the decline of Timarsystems led to intensified exploitation, especially of the Christian peasants by the landowners. To avoid at least the poll tax, so often entire village communities converted to Islam in the 17th century. Since that time, Albania is a Muslim-majority country.

First half of the 20th century

When Albania became independent in 1912, the Muslims were involved as the largest religious group leader at the founding of the state. Unlike in the Christian-dominated Balkans, the Muslim upper class not migrated to Turkey. The Muslim institutions remained. The Albanian King Ahmet Zogu, of Albania from 1925 to 1939 was ruled, Muslim, did not practice his faith but at least in public. Always a balance between the religions aiming and sometimes dependent on the favor of the Catholic tribes and the Italians, he married a Catholic countess from Hungary.

1925 all dervish orders were closed ( Tekke ) in Turkey under Atatürk and the world center of the influential in the Ottoman Empire Bektashi was settled in the Albanian capital Tirana, where it was re-established in 1990 after the abolition of the religious prohibition in Albania. In the interwar period the reform movement of the Ahmadiyya unfolded from North India in Albania her missionary activity. The only European country with a Muslim majority should be the starting point for the mission in Europe. The success was modest.

In the People's Socialist Republic of Albania and the time after

It was under communist rule, in August 1945, the Islamic foundations ( Vakuf ), which formed the basis for the maintenance of mosques and madrasas, expropriated. The Muslim clergy was, like the Christian a strong pressure of persecution exposed. With the religion ban 1967 all mosques were closed, the minarets demolished, converted the building into warehouses or completely destroyed. Only a few historically significant mosques escaped this fate as museums. Most Muslim cleric were sentenced to forced labor. Dozens died in prisons.

In a survey held secret communist regime realized in the late 1980s that the young generation born after 1960 did even 95 percent, which religious denomination 's own family had listened. It had not been able to wipe out the religious- cultural memory of the Albanians in this short period of time.

After the fall of the communist regime, the resurgence of Islam began in Albania. Hafiz Sabri Koçi initiated in November 1990 in the Mosque of Shkodra, the first public prayer since 1967. He soon became chairman of the Council of Muslims elected.

As for the Christians of the religious reconstruction was accomplished very much with foreign aid (donations and missionaries ). Among others, thereby the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia and the mullahs of Iran have a strong commitment. Your strict form of Islam has remained many Albanian Muslims strange. Neither the one nor the other could gain a decisive influence on the Muslim community.

Interreligious Relations

As before, the two dominant directions in Albania of Islam ( Sunni and Bektashi ) are characterized by great tolerance towards other faiths. The shared experience of persecution under Enver Hoxha causes until today that ( Catholic and Orthodox ) Christians and Muslims meet with a lot of mutual respect. Triggered by the situation in the communist era inter-religious marriages in Albania today are not uncommon, while it is in the other Balkan countries with Muslim population hardly the case, then. Well among the Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia

Irritation between the faith communities are rare. 2003 Kastriot Myftari, author of a book entitled Islamizmi Kombëtar was Shqiptar ( The National Albanian Islamism), arrested by the police for religious discord Foundation. He had called Islam unalbanisch and called to convert to Catholicism.