Irreligion in Azerbaijan

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Irreligion in Azerbaijan is open to interpretation according to differing censuses and polls.[1] Although Islam is the predominant faith in Azerbaijan, religious affiliation is nominal in Azerbaijan and percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower. It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists or agnostics in Azerbaijan as they are not officially counted in the census of the country. [2] Azerbaijan is the most secular state in the Muslim world.[3]

Research and statistics[edit]

According to a study conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers, in 2010, approximately 2,000 people were interviewed, of which 28% answered that religion is "an extremely important" part of their life. Two years later, the survey was conducted again, but only about 1800 people were interviewed, of which 33% reported that religion is an extremely important part of their life. In addition, another 44% claimed that religion is a "fairly important" part of their daily lives. The remaining 23% claimed that religion is a relatively important or completely insignificant part of their daily lives. Despite the fact that 77% of respondents noted that religion is an extremely important or rather important part of their life, only 2% of them attend religious services every day, 3% from once a week and more, twenty percent occasionally fast, and about half never follows it. [4]

Mirza Fatali Akhundov, 19th century Azeri modernist and father of the atheist movement in Azerbaijan.[5]

According to a recent Gallup Poll, Azerbaijan is one of the most irreligious countries in the Muslim world, with about 53% of respondents indicating the importance of religion in their life as little or none.[6][7] The same poll indicates that only 20% of the respondents has attended on religious services.[8] Gallup International indicated that only 34% of Azerbaijanis adhere to religious practices, and ranked Azerbaijan the 13th least religious country from data compiled in 2005, 2008 and 2015.[9]

In 2012, as part of the World Value Survey, there was conducted a comparative analysis of countries on the importance of religion in people's lives. The poll was conducted on a scale from zero to one, where the zero mark meant that religion is "not at all important", and the one mark was "extremely important". According to the results of this survey, the index of Azerbaijan was 0.52 and took 33rd place out of 80 participating countries.[10][11]

According to the journal named "Caucasus & Globalization", the number of religious people participating in the survey was 62.7%, and very religious - 6.4%. 10.6% of the respondents found it difficult to answer. The poll also asked about the importance of religion in everyday life, which was answered by the respondents as follows: for 11% it plays a very important role, for 25.7% - an important role, for 41% - moderate, for others it either plays an insignificant role, or does not play any role at all.

In 2005 another poll was conducted, which revealed that 87% of the population of 12 regions of Azerbaijan consider themselves religious, while about 10% believe that they are religious rather than atheists, and only 1% say that they are atheists.[12]

According to the Pew Research Center, according to the results of the study, 99.4% of the population are Muslims. The same research center reported in 2010 that 96.9% of the population is Muslim, and less than 1% of people do not consider themselves as affiliated to any of the religions. [13][14][15]

According to Crabtree, Pelham (2009), Azerbaijan is in the list of 11 least religious countries in the world with only 21% people saying that religion is an important part of their life.[16]

20th century[edit]

In 1920 the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic disintegrated and in 1922 became part of the USSR. Since in the USSR atheism was an important part of the state ideology, Azerbaijan was also subjected to the influence of the authorities in relation to religion. At that time mosques were being destroyed - thus, by 1933 only 33 mosques were functioning. In 1967 the Museum of the History of Atheism was created, which after the collapse of the USSR was renamed the State Museum of the History of Religion.[17]

The population of Azerbaijan due to persecution and the threat of life had to hide its religious views. This "prudent concealment of faith" is permitted in the Qur'an and is only a temporary and formal denial of faith. However, the period of temporary rejection of faith lasted from 1922 until 1991, when Azerbaijan regained its independence. 70 years of forced abandonment of faith played a role in the further perception of religiosity on the part of the population.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Agadjanian, Alexander; Jödicke, Ansgar; Zweerde, Evert van der (10 October 2014). "Religion, Nation and Democracy in the South Caucasus". Routledge. Retrieved 15 December 2016 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Azerbaijan: Islam Comes with a Secular Face". Eurasianet. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  3. ^ "Islam and Secularism: the Azerbaijani experience and its reflection in France". PR Web. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  4. ^ "Azerbaijan: Islam Comes with a Secular Face". August 15, 2013.
  5. ^ M. Iovchuk (ed.) et el. [The Philosophical and Sociological Thought of the Peoples of the USSR in the 19th Century]. Moscow: Mysl, 1971.
  6. ^ "What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common". Gallup. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  7. ^ GALLUP WorldView - data accessed on 16 August 2013
  8. ^ "Gallup: "Azerbaijan is ranking 5th in the list of most atheistic countries of the world"". Today. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "WVS Wave 6 (2010-2014)".
  11. ^ "Религиозность в странах современного мира: сравнительный анализ".
  12. ^ "Возрождение Иислама в Азербайджане: Процесс и политические импликации".
  13. ^ "Mapped: The world's most (and least) religious countries". The Telegraph.
  14. ^ "Map: These are the world's least religious countries". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ "Religious Beliefs In Azerbaijan".
  16. ^ "Measuring Muslims: The problems of religiosity and intra-religious diversity" (PDF). Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion.
  17. ^ "General information". The Museum Center of the Ministry of Culture of the Azerbaijan Republic.
  18. ^ Yunusov, Arif. "Исламская палитра Азербайджана" (PDF). Institution of Peace and Democracy.