We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Albania - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Albania

Source:
The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Albania

    Albania, the only country within the European continent with a majority Muslim population, regained its basic freedoms in 1992 after almost 50 years of communist rule. The regime of Enver Hoxha, who seized power after World War II, had outlawed religious expression and, in 1967 , declared Albania the world's first atheistic state. When the ban on religion was lifted in 1991 , however, Albania's Muslim traditions revived. By early 1992 , the country—in which approximately 70 percent are Muslims or come from traditionally Muslim families, 20 percent are Orthodox Christian, and 10 percent are Roman Catholic—had declared its intention to join the 45-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC is an international group that promotes unity among Muslims of all nations and races.

    The Arrival of Islam.

    Albania's rugged mountain terrain has kept it remote and undeveloped. The country, with an area of about 11,100 square miles, sits on the Balkan Peninsula north of Greece, and also borders Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Settled by the ancient Illyrians, the region was later invaded by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottoman Turks.

    The Ottomans brought Islam to Albania when they conquered the region in the 1400s. To crush resistance to colonial rule and to weaken Albanian ties with neighboring Orthodox Christian countries, the Ottomans imposed a heavy tax on Albanian subjects who refused to convert to Islam. As a result, the majority of Albanians became Muslims. Some, however, converted mainly to avoid Turkish discrimination or violence and secretly clung to Christian and pre-Christian beliefs. Sometimes, different branches of the same family practiced different religions. In some areas, men held two names—a Muslim one to use in public, and a Christian one to use at home. British poet Lord Byron once wrote of the Albanians: “The Greeks hardly regard them as Christians, or the Turks as Muslims; and in fact they are a mixture of both, and sometimes neither.”

    Historically tolerant of religious differences, Albania in the 1700s welcomed the Bektashis, a Sufi order that originated in Turkey in the 1200s. In 1928 when Bektashi leader Salih Dedei was driven out of Turkey, he established himself in the Albanian capital of Tirana. The country today is home to hundreds of Bektashi shrines and an estimated 800 mosques.

    The Roots of Ethnic Conflict.

    Under Ottoman rule, Albania was relatively isolated. In 1912 , however, patriot Ismail Kemal declared Albanian independence. But freedom was short-lived. In 1913 the Great Powers of Europe—Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Italy—redrew Albania's borders, giving more than half of its land and population to neighboring states. This redistribution later contributed to bloody conflicts in the region. Through the 1990s, many Balkan states and provinces experienced civil strife rooted in ethnic divisions. In the late 1990s, Christian Serbs targeted Albanian Muslims living in the Serbian province of Kosovo for brutal forced removal, or “ethnic cleansing.” NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and United Nations troops occupied the province to protect Kosovo's Albanian population from forced deportation and violence.

    Religious Repression.

    From 1925 to the communist takeover in 1944 , kings ruled Albania. When the Nazis occupied the country during World War II, Albania refused to hand over its 300 Jews to the Germans; only five Albanian Jews perished in the Holocaust. Hoxha assumed control of the country in 1944 and imposed a strict dictatorship, closing Albania's borders and suppressing religious life. Hoxha imprisoned as many as 200 priests and Muslim clerics, several of whom disappeared and are assumed to have been executed. After Hoxha declared his country officially atheist in 1967 , some 2,169 mosques, churches, monasteries, and other places of worship were closed, destroyed, or converted to other uses. Individuals caught wearing religious symbols could be imprisoned for up to ten years.

    Return to Religious Freedom.

    After Hoxha's death in 1985 , Albania struggled to achieve democratic reforms. In 1990 massive student demonstrations forced Hoxha's handpicked successor, Ramiz Alia , to reverse the country's ban on religion. The following year, more than 15,000 people in Tirana attended Albania's first legal Muslim service in 24 years at the Ethem Bey Mosque. Since then, crowds have celebrated the rededication of mosques and the restoration of precious Islamic artworks. Much of the interest in Albanian Islamic revival has come from the country's youth, who have grown up without much religious instruction but who are eager to embrace their traditions. To this end, several Islamic countries have sent religious teachers to Albania—which, in the 1990s, had only about 200 practicing imams. They have established charities in the country. Christian evangelical sects have also established Albanian missions. The new Albanian constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

    Islamic countries have also begun investing in Albania's economy, which remains the poorest in Europe. The Arab-Albanian Islamic Bank, established in 1993 with the help of investors from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, promotes investment within the guidelines of Islamic banking principles. See also Art; Banks and Banking; Christianity and Islam; Imam; Kosovo; Ottoman Empire; Saudi Arabia; Sufism; Sunni Islam.

    • Previous Result
    • Results
    • Highlight On / Off
    • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
    • Next Result
    Oxford University Press

    © 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice