Islam in Ukraine
|Islam by country|
Islam is the fourth-largest religion in Ukraine, representing 0.6% of the population. The religion has a long history in Ukraine dating back to the establishment of Crimean Khanate in the 15th century. The majority of Ukrainian Muslims 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, including 300,000 Crimean Tatars. Today, Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school is the largest non-Christian religion in Ukraine.
History of Muslims in Ukraine
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 there are Lipka Tatars colonies in other regions such as Volhynia and Podolia.
The history of Islam in Ukraine is associated with the Crimean Tatars, the Turkic speaking descendants of Turkic and non-Turkic peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century. They established the Crimean Khanate in southern Ukraine in the 15th century. The Khanate soon lost its sovereignty and fell under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, although its local rulers retained a significant degree of autonomy. From the 15th to the 18th centuries, Crimean Tatars frequently raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture their inhabitants, enslaving an estimated three million people, predominantly Ukrainians. The Khanate ended after growing Russian influence led to its annexation into the Russian Empire after the Russo-Turkish Wars in the late 18th century.
At the time the Khanate was annexed by Russia, its capital of Bakhchysarai had at least 18 mosques along with several madrassas. However, the Russian Empire began persecuting the Muslim population, and nearly 160,000 Tatars were forced to leave Crimea.[when?]
At the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Muslims constituted one-third of Crimea's population. Nearly all major cities in Crimea had significant Muslim populations.
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 the Uzbek SSR but also to the Kazakh SSR and some regions of the Russian SFSR. It is estimated that about 45% of all Crimean Muslims died in 1944–1945 from hunger and disease. The property and territory abandoned by Crimean Tatars was appropriated by the mostly ethnic Russians who were resettled by the Soviet authorities, leading to large demographic changes in Crimea. Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the wartime collaboration charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea, and the repatriation of Crimean Tatars to their homeland only began in 1989.
Ukrainian Muslims today
Since the Ukrainian independence in 1991, the return of Crimean Tatars to Crimea has increased compared to the Soviet era. Although Ukraine's Muslim population consists of various ethnic groups, the majority are of Tatar origin. There has also been a proportionally small settlement of Muslim Chechen refugees in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine.
Muslims make up only 0.6% of the Ukrainian population, but as much as 12% in Crimea, and as much as 21% in Donetsk and 18% in Lughansk. 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.
Estimates of the Ukrainian Muslim population vary, with the 2012 Freedom Report estimating a Muslim population of 500,000 in Ukraine, including 300,000 Crimean Tatars. A Pew Forum study estimated a Ukrainian Muslim population of 393,000, but the Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims claimed there were two million Muslims in Ukraine as of 2009.
Muslims have formed three structures for running their affairs. These are:
- Clerical Board of Ukraine's Muslims
- The Spiritual Center of the Muslim Communities
- Clerical Board of Crimea Muslims
Most Ukrainian Muslims affiliate to these organizations, which help them join mainstream Islamic and Ukrainian daily life. There are nearly 360 registered Ukrainian Muslim communities and organizations, and at least 30 communities work without official registration. Attempts to create a Ukrainian Muslim political party led to the creation of the Party of Muslims of Ukraine, but its registration certificate was canceled in November 2011 because it had not nominated candidates in elections since the 1998 parliamentary elections. Muslims have also formed several charitable organizations, including the CAAR Foundation, Al-Bushra, and Life after Chornobyl. Arraid (The Interregional Association of Public Organizations) is another Muslim organization which has gained notable attention.
Crimean Tatar patio and garden courtyard, at the Livadiya Palace, Crimea, Ukraine.
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- Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine
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- http://risu.org.ua/en/index (Religious information service of Ukraine)
- http://gazeta.arraid.org (Ukrainian Muslims Newspaper ARRAID)
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