Islam in Ukraine

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Islam has a long history in Ukraine dating back to the establishment of Crimean Khanate in the 15th century.The majority of followers of Islam in Ukraine are Crimean Tatars who live in Crimea, a peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea. As of 2012 an estimated 500,000 Muslims lived in Ukraine and about 300,000 of them were Crimean Tatars.[1] Today, Sunni Islam of Hanafi school of jurisprudence is the largest minority religion in Ukraine after various forms of Christianity.

History of Muslims in Ukraine[edit]

While ethnic Ukrainians are predominantly Orthodox and Uniate Christians, Muslims have lived in the territory that makes up modern Ukraine for centuries. Muslim settlements are concentrated in the country's southern half, particularly in Crimea, although colonies of Lipka Tatars are in other regions such as Volhynia and Podolia.

The Crimean Khanate was established by the Crimean Tatars in the 15th century. These people were formed from the Turkic speaking descendants of both Turkic and non-Turkic peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century.

The Khanate soon lost its sovereignty and fell under the influence of the Ottoman Empire and was controlled by the local tributary rulers with a significant degree of autonomy. From the 15th century to the 18th century, Crimean Tatars frequently raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture their inhabitants, enslaving an estimated three million people, predominantly Ukrainians.[2][3][4][5] The influence of Russia in the area, initially small, was gaining momentum, and in the late 18th century, after the series of Russo-Turkish Wars, the territory was annexed by the Russian Empire.

The Crimean Tatars were Sunnis, and the mufti was regarded as the highest religious figure. All communities were led by and represented before others by local imams.

The Crimean Khanate had Bakhchysarai as its capital. In the 18th century, when it was conquered by Russia, at least 18 mosques were in the capital along with several madrassas. The Russian Empire began persecuting the Muslim population, and nearly 160,000 Tatars were forced to leave Crimea.

Muslims who stayed faced conflicts in ideology among those who adhered to a conservative form of religion, the moderates, and those who subscribed to liberal and Western ideology.

20th century[edit]

At the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Muslims constituted one-third of Crimea's population. Nearly all major cities in Crimea had a significant Muslim population.

Crimean Muslims were subjected to mass deportation in 1944 when Joseph Stalin accused them of collaborating with Nazi Germany. Nearly 200,000 Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia, mainly Uzbekistan but also to Kazakhstan and some regions of Russian SFSR. The main deportation occurred on May 18, 1944. It is estimated that about 45% of all Crimean Muslims died in 1944–1945 from hunger and disease.[citation needed] The property and territory abandoned by Crimean Tatars were appropriated by the mostly ethnic Russians who were resettled by the Soviet authorities. This led to demographic changes in Ukraine with huge impact in the future. Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea or to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. The repatriation of Crimean Tatars to their homeland began only in 1989.

Ukrainian Muslims today[edit]

Since the Ukrainian independence in 1991, more Crimean Tatars have returned to Crimea than during the Soviet era. The Muslims are divided into various ethnic groups but the majority are of Tatar origin, of one particular clan or other. There has also been settlement by Chechen refugees in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine but the proportion is not significant by comparison.

Muslims in Ukraine have 445 communities, 433 ministers, and 160 mosques, with many more mosques being built.[6]

In Crimea, the Ukrainian Muslims make up to 12% of the population. At least 30 Ukrainian Muslim communities work without official registration (there are nearly 360 registered communities or organizations).

According to the 2000 census Ukraine was home to 248,193 Crimean Tatars, 73,304 Volga Tatars, 45,176 Azeris, 12,353 Uzbeks, 8,844 Turks, 6,575 Arabs and 5,526 Kazakhs.[7]

According to a Pew Forum study, the Muslim population in Ukraine is 393,000,[8] According to the Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims there were two million Muslims in Ukraine as of 2009.[9]

As of 2012, there are an estimated 500,000 Muslims in Ukraine and about 300,000 of them are Crimean Tatars.[1]

Muslims have formed three structures for running their affairs. These are:

Most Ukrainian Muslims affiliate to these organizations, which help them join mainstream Islamic and Ukrainian daily life. Most Muslims have been trying to form a party to have a united voice in politics, a 'Muslim Congress' in some regards, but so far this has not been achieved; the registration certificate of a Party of Muslims of Ukraine was canceled in November 2011 because it had not nominated candidates in elections since the parliamentary elections of 1998.[10] Muslims have formed several charitable organizations which have helped both Muslim and non-Muslim communities. These mainly include CAAR Foundation, Al-Bushra, and Life after Chornobyl. There are also the Interregional Association of Public Organizations, Arraid which has gained notable attention due to its efforts.Template:Facr

Advance copy of first complete translation of Quran in Ukrainian released in Saudi Arabia in 2012. [11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2012 Report on International Religious Freedom - Ukraine". United States Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Crimean Tatars and their Russian-Captive Slaves" (PDF). Eizo Matsuki, Mediterranean Studies Group at Hitotsubashi University.
  3. ^ Mikhail Kizilov. "Slave Trade in the Early Modern Crimea From the Perspective of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources". Oxford University. pp. 2–7. 
  4. ^ Andrew G. Boston (18 April 2005). "Black Slaves, Arab Masters". Frontpage Magazine. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Alan Fisher, Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade – Canadian American Slavic Studies, 1972, Vol. 6, pp. 575–594
  6. ^ Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Lavrynovych: Court cancels registration certificates of five Ukrainian parties, Kyiv Post (29 November 2011)
  11. ^ [3]].KYIV, February 17 /UKRINFORM/
  12. ^ Johnstone, Sarah. Ukraine. Lonely Planet, 2005. ISBN 1-86450-336-X

External links[edit]