Islam in Albania

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During Ottoman rule of Albania, the majority of Albanians over time converted to Islam and in particular to two of its branches: Sunni and Bektashi. Following the Albanian National Awakening (Rilindja) tenets and the deemphasizing of religioun during the 20th century, the democratic, monarchic and later the communist governments followed a systematic dereligionization of the Albanian nation and national culture. Due to this policy as with all other faiths in the country, Islam underwent radical changes. Decades of state atheism which ended in 1991 brought a decline in religious practice in all traditions. According to 2011 census, 58.79% of Albania's population adheres to Islam, making it the largest religion in the country. The majority of Albanian Muslims are Sunni with a significant Bektashi Shia minority. Christianity is practiced by 16.99% of the population, making it the 2nd largest religion in the country. The remaining population is either irreligious or belongs to other religious groups.[1]


Islam is believed to have first arrived in the 9th century to the region called Albania today.[2]

Ottoman period[edit]

Conversion and consolidation (14th-18th centuries)[edit]

Skanderbeg's Christian forces (right) battle Muslim Ottoman army (left).

Albanians began converting to Islam when they became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century.[3] The uptake of Islam at first occurred mainly amongst the Christian elite who retained some previous political and economic privileges and the emerging class of timar or estate holders of the sipahis in the new Ottoman system.[4][5] These included aristocratic figures such as George Kastrioti (Skanderbeg) who while in the service of the Ottomans was a convert to Islam and later reverted to Christianity during the late 15th century northern Albanian uprising he initiated.[3] In doing so, he also ordered others who had embraced Islam or were Muslim colonists to convert to Christianity or face death.[3] During the conflicts between Skanderbeg and Ottomans the various battles and raiding pushed Sultan Mehmet II to construct the fortress of Elbasan (1466) in the lowlands to counter resistance coming from the mountain strongholds.[6] Prior to and after Skanderbeg's death (1468) parts of the Albanian aristocracy migrated to southern Italy with some number of Albanians to escape the Ottoman conquest whose descendants still reside in many villages they settled.[7] In the early period of Ottoman rule the areas that form contemporary Albania were reorganised into an administrative unit named Sancak-i Arnavid or Sancak-i Arnavud.[8] Whereas during the onset of Ottoman rule only prominent churches with significant symbolic meaning or cultural value of an urban settlement where converted into mosques.[9] Most early mosques constructed in Albania were mainly built within fortresses for Ottoman garrisons at times by Ottoman Sultans during their military campaigns in the area like Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque in Shkodër, the Red Mosque in Berat and others.[10][11]

The Ottoman conquest of certain northern cities from the Venetians happened separately to the initial conquest of Albania from local feudal lords. Cities such as Lezhë fell in 1478, Shkodër during 1478-1479 and Durrës in 1501 with the bulk of their Christian population fleeing.[12] Over the course of the sixteenth century the urban populations of these cites became primarily Muslim.[12] In the north, the spread of Islam was slower due to resistance from the Roman Catholic Church and the mountainous terrain which contributed to curb Muslim influence in the 16th century.[13] The Ottoman conquest and territorial reorganisation of Albania though affected the Catholic church as ecclesiastical structures were decimated.[14] The Ottoman wars with Catholic powers of Venice and Austria in the seventeenth century resulted in severe reprisals against Catholic Albanians who had rebelled which accentuated conversion to Islam.[15][16][17] Steep decreases therefore occurred during the 1630s-1670s where for example the number of Catholics in the diocese of Lezhë declined by 50%, whereas in the diocese of Pult Catholics went from being 20,000 to 4,045.[15] In 1703 pope Clement XI, himself of Albanian heritage, ordered a synod of local Catholic bishops that discussed stemming conversions to Islam which also agreed to deny communion to crypto-Catholics in Albania who outwardly professed Islam.[18]

The 16th-century built Lead mosque in Berat

The official Ottoman recognition of the Orthodox church resulted in the Orthodox population being tolerated until the late 18th century and the traditionalism of the church's institutions slowed the process of conversion to Islam amongst Albanians.[19][20][17] The Orthodox population of central and south-eastern Albania was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid, while south-western Albania was under the Patriarchate of Constantinople through the Metropolis of Ioannina.[21][22] In the early 16th century the Albanian cites of Gjirokastër, Kaninë, Delvinë, Vlorë, Korçë, Këlcyrë, Përmet and Berat were still Christian and by the late 16th century Vlorë, Përmet and Himarë were still Christian, while Gjirokastër increasingly became Muslim.[21] Conversion to Islam in cities overall within Albania was slow during the 16th century as around only 38% of the urban population had become Muslim.[23][24] The city of Berat from 1670 onward became mainly Muslim and its conversion is attributed in part to a lack of Christian priests being able to provide religious services.[25] Differences between Christian Albanians of central Albania and archbishops of Ohrid led to conversions to Bektashi Islam that made an appeal to all while insisting little on ritual observance.[26] Central Albania, such as the Durrës area had by end of the 16th century become mainly Muslim.[27] Consisting of plains and being an in between area of northern and southern Albania, central Albania was a hub on the old Via Egnatia road that linked commercial, cultural and transport connections which were subject to direct Ottoman administrative control and religious Muslim influence.[28][29] The conversion to Islam of most of central Albania has thus been attributed in large part to the role its geography played in the socio-political and economic fortunes of the region.[28][29]

It was mainly during the late eighteenth century however that Orthodox Albanians converted in large numbers to Islam due overwhelmingly to the Russo-Turkish wars of the period and events like the Russian instigated Orlov revolt (1770) that made the Ottomans view the Orthodox population as allies of Russia.[19][25][29] As some Orthodox Albanians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, the Porte responded with and at times applied force to convert Orthodox Albanians to Islam while also providing economic measures to stimulate religious conversion.[19][25][30] During this time conflict between newly converted Muslim Albanians and Orthodox Albanians occurred in certain areas. Examples include the coastal villages of Borsh attacking Piqeras in 1744, making some flee abroad to places such as southern Italy.[31][32] While in other areas like in 36 villages north of the Pogoni area converted in 1760 which whereby the newly converted population followed it up with an attack on Orthodox villages of the Kolonjë, Leskovik and Përmet areas leaving many settlements sacked and ruined.[32] By the late eighteenth century socio-political and economic crises alongside nominal Ottoman government control resulted in local banditry and Muslim Albanian bands raided Greek, Vlach and Orthodox Albanian settlements located today within and outside contemporary Albania.[33][34][35][36] Within Albania those raids culminated in Vithkuq, mainly an Orthodox Albanian centre, Moscopole (Albanian: Voskopojë, Greek: Moschopolis) mainly a Vlach centre, both with Greek literary, educational and religious culture and other smaller settlements being destroyed that pushed some Vlachs and Orthodox Albanians to migrate afar to places such as Macedonia, Thrace and so on.[19][30][34][35][36][37] Some Orthodox individuals, known as neo-martyrs attempted to stem the tide of conversion to Islam amongst the Orthodox Albanian population and were executed in the process.[24] Notable among these individuals was Cosmas of Aetolia, (died 1779) a Greek monk and missionary who traveled and preached afar as Krujë, opened many Greek schools before being accused as a Russian agent and executed by Ottoman Muslim Albanian authorities.[38] Cosmas advocated for Greek education and spread of Greek language among illiterate Christian non-Greek speaking peoples so that they could understand the scriptures, liturgy and thereby remain Orthodox while his spiritual message is revered among contemporary Orthodox Albanians.[39][38][40] By 1798 a massacre perpetrated against coastal Orthodox Albanian villagers by Ali Pasha, semi-independent ruler of the Pashalik of Yanina led to another sizable wave of conversions of Orthodox Albanians to Islam.[19][29]

Prayer In The House Of An Arnaut Chief by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1857)

Other conversions such as those in the region of Labëria occurred due to ecclesiastical matters when for example during a famine the local bishop refused to grant a break in the fast to consume milk with threats of hell.[24] Conversion to Islam also was undertaken for economic reasons which offered a way out of heavy taxation such as the jizya or poll tax and other difficult Ottoman measures imposed on Christians while opening up opportunities such as wealth accumulation and so on.[24][8][17] Other multiple factors that led to conversions to Islam were the poverty of the Church, illiterate clergy, a lack of clergy in some areas and worship in a language other than Albanian.[24][25][17][29] Additionally the reliance of the bishoprics of Durrës and southern Albania upon the declining Archbishopric of Ohrid, due in part to simony weakened the ability of Orthodox Albanians in resisting conversion to Islam.[25][29] Crypto-Christianity also occurred in certain instances throughout Albania in regions such as Shpat amongst populations that had recently converted from Christian Catholicism and Orthodoxy to Islam.[15][16][24][17][28] While Gorë, a borderland region straddling contemporary north-eastern Albania and southern Kosovo, its Slavic Orthodox population converted to Islam during the latter half of the eighteenth century due to the abolition of the Patriarchate of Peć (1766) and subsequent unstable ecclesiastical structures.[41] Whereas starting from the seventeenth and increasing in the following centuries, the mainly Slavic Orthodox population of the now Albanian borderland central-eastern region of Gollobordë converted to Islam.[42] The Romani people entered Albania sometime in the fifteenth century and those that were Muslim became part of local Muslim Ottoman society.[43][44]

Bachelors' Mosque (left) and Hysen Pasha Mosque in Berat. (right).

In the center and south by the end of the seventeenth century the urban centers had largely adopted the religion of the growing Muslim Albanian elite. The existence of an Albanian Muslim class of pashas and beys, having military employment as soldiers and mercenaries while also able to join the Muslim clergy played an increasingly important role in Ottoman political and economic life that became an attractive career option for many Albanians.[32][8][10][45] Depending on their role, these people in Muslim Albanian society attained a respectable position as they preformed administrative tasks and maintained security in urban areas and sometimes were rewarded by the Ottoman state with high ranks and positions.[10] As such, Albanians were also represented in sizable numbers at the imperial Ottoman court.[46] Alongside Christians though, many Muslim Albanians were poor and partially serfs that worked on the land of the emerging landowning Ottoman Albanian elite while others found employment in business, as artisans and in other jobs.[17] Sunni Islam was promoted and protected by Ottoman governors and feudal society that resulted in support and spread of dervish Sufi orders considered more orthodox in the Balkans region.[8] Foremost of these were the Bektashi order who were considered Sunni by means of association with shared legal traditions, though viewed as Shiite by everyday Muslims due to esoteric practices such as revering Ali, Hassan, Husein and other notable Muslim figures.[47][48] During Ottoman rule the Albanian population partially and gradually began to convert to Islam through the teachings of Bektashism in part to gain advantages in the Ottoman trade networks, bureaucracy and army.[48] Many Albanians were recruited into the Ottoman Janissary and Devşirme and 42 Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire were of Albanian origin. The most prominent Albanians during Ottoman rule were Koca Davud Pasha, Hamza Kastrioti, Iljaz Hoxha, Köprülü Mehmed Pasha, Ali Pasha, Edhem Pasha, Ibrahim Pasha of Berat, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed, Muhammad Ali of Egypt, Kara Mahmud Bushati and Ahmet Kurt Pasha.

Besides those associated with Sunni Islam, the Muslims of Albania during the Ottoman period belonged to several Sufi Orders.[49] The Qadiri order spread within urban areas of the seventeenth century and was linked with guilds of urban workers while in the 18th century the Qadiri had spread into central Albania and in particular the mountainous Dibër region.[49] The Qadiri contributed to the economic, and in the Dibër area, the socio-political milieu where they were based.[49] The Halveti order who competed with the Bektashis for adherents and based in the south and northeast of Albania.[49] Other Sufi orders were the Rufai and the Melami and so on. The most prominent of these in Albania were and still are the Bektashis, a mystic Dervish order belonging to Shia Islam that came to Albania during the Ottoman period, brought first by the Janissaries in the 15th century.[25] The spread of Bektashism amongst the Albanian population though occurred during the 18th and mainly early 19th centuries, especially in the domains of Ali Pasha who is thought to have been a Bektashi himself.[25][50][8][48] Sufi dervishes from places afar like Khorasan and Anatolia arrived, proselytized, gained disciples and in time a network of tekkes was established that became centres of Sufism in regions such as Skrapar and Devoll.[8] Some of the most prominent tekkes in Albania were in settlements such as Gjirokastër, Melçan, Krujë and Frashër.[8] Of the Bektashi order by the early 20th century Albanians formed a sizable amount of its dervishes outside the Balkans, even at the tekke of Sufi saint Haji Bektash in Anatolia and in Egypt.[8] Sufi orders, in particular the Bektashis associate Christian saints and their local shrines with Sufi holy men creating a synthesis and syncretism of religious observance and presence.[51][8][45] For Albanian converts to Islam, Bektashism with its greater religious freedoms and syncretism was viewed at times as a more appealing option to adhere to.[25][51][45] The Bektashi sect is considered heretical by conservative Muslims.[24] Traditionally Bektashis are found in sizable numbers within southern Albania and to a lesser extent in central Albania, while the rest of the Muslim population belong to Sunni Islam.[25][52]

"Despite the current lack of open religious fervor among the Albanians, Islam has contributed substantially to making the Albanians what they are today. It is now an inherent feature of Albania’s national culture and to be treated and respected as such."

Robert Elsie (albanologist), 2001.[53]

The Ottoman conquest also brought social, cultural and linguistic changes into the Albanian-speaking world. From the fifteenth century onward words from Ottoman Turkish entered the Albanian language.[8] While a corpus of poets and other Muslim Albanian authors wrote in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Persian or in the Albanian language in Arabic script (aljamiado) encompassing narrative prose, poetry, reflective works on religion and socio-political situations and so on.[8][54] Prominent amongst these authors were Yahya bey Dukagjini, Haxhi Shehreti or bejtexhinj poets like Nezim Frakulla, Muhamet Kyçyku, Sulejman Naibi, Hasan Zyko Kamberi, Haxhi Ymer Kashari and others.[8] Towns and cities in Albania underwent change as they adopted Ottoman architectural and cultural elements.[55] Apart from Elbasan founded (1466) around a fortress, other settlements with the construction of buildings related to religion, education and social purposes like mosques, madrassas, imarets and so on by the Ottoman Muslim Albanian elite became new urban centres like Korçë, Tiranë and Kavajë.[10] Older urban centres for example Berat attained mosques, hamams (Ottoman bathhouses), madrasas (Muslim religious schools), coffee houses, tekes and became known for its poets, artists and scholarly pursuits.[8] Unlike Kosovo or Macedonia, architecturally Albania's Ottoman Muslim heritage was more modest in number, though prominent structures are the Mirahori Mosque in Korçë (built. 1495-1496), Murad Bey Mosque in Krujë (1533-1534), Lead Mosque in Shkodër (1773-1774), Et'hem Bey Mosque in Tiranë (begun. 1791-1794; finished. 1820-1821) and others.[8] Conversion from Christianity to Islam for Albanians also marked a transition from Rum (Christian) to Muslim confessional communities within the Ottoman millet system that collectively divided and governed peoples according to their religion.[33] The Ottomans were nonetheless aware of the existence of Muslim Albanians and used terms like Arnavud (اروانيد) extensively as an ethnic marker to address the shortcomings of the usual millet religious terminology to identify people in Ottoman state records.[33][56] While the country was referred to Arnavudluk (آرناوودلق).[56] Also a new and generalised response by Albanians based on ethnic and linguistic consciousness to this new and different Ottoman world emerging around them was a change in ethnonym.[57] The ethnic demonym Shqiptarë, derived from Latin connoting clear speech and verbal understanding gradually replaced Arbëresh/Arbënesh amongst Albanian speakers between the late 17th and early 18th centuries.[57]

Minbar within richly decorated interior of Et'hem Bey Mosque, Tiranë.

Within scholarship in contemporary times, the conversion of Albanians and the legacy of Islam within Albania is a contested topic. According to scholar Hasan Kaleshi, the Ottoman conquest and conversion to Islam by Albanians averted assimilation into Slavs the same way that the Slavic invasions of the 6th century halted the romanization process of the progenitors of the Albanians.[58] Kaleshi maintained that though recognised within the millet system as Muslims only, Albanians were able to survive and even to geographically expand their Balkan area of settlement under the Ottomans.[58] Contemporary Albanian scholars, some with nationalist leanings interpret the Ottoman period as negative and downplay the conversion to Islam as having had barely any benefits to Albanians in a socio-cultural and religious sense.[58][59]

National Awakening (19th and early 20th centuries)[edit]

Approximate distribution of religions in Albania in the early 1900s, based on the 1908 Ottoman census and the 1918 Albanian census. Muslims: Green.

By the 19th century Albanians were divided into three religious groups. Catholic Albanians who had some Albanian ethno-linguistic expression in schooling and church due to Austro-Hungarian protection and Italian clerical patronage.[50] Orthodox Albanians under the Patriarchate of Constantinople had liturgy and schooling in Greek and toward the late Ottoman period mainly identified with Greek national aspirations.[50][60][61] While Muslim Albanians during this period formed around 70% of the overall Balkan Albanian population in the Ottoman Empire with an estimated population of more than a million.[50] With the rise of the Eastern Crisis, Muslim Albanians became torn between loyalties to the Ottoman state and the emerging Albanian nationalist movement.[50] Islam, the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire were traditionally seen as synonymous in belonging to the wider Muslim community.[50] While the Albanian nationalist movement advocated self-determination and strived to achieve socio-political recognition of Albanians as a separate people and language within the state.[50]

The Russo-Ottoman war of 1878 and the threat of partition of Ottoman Albanian inhabited areas amongst neighbouring Balkan states at the Congress of Berlin led to the emergence of the League of Prizren (1878-1881) to prevent those aims.[50] The league began as an organisation advocating Islamic solidarity and restoration of the status quo (pre-1878).[50] In time it also included Albanian national demands such as the creation of a large Albanian vilayet or province which led to its demise by the Ottoman Empire.[50] The Ottoman Empire viewed Muslim Albanians as a bulwark to further encroachment by Christian Balkan states to its territory.[50] It therefore opposed emerging Albanian national sentiments and Albanian language education amongst its Muslim component that would sever Muslim Albanians from the Ottoman Empire.[50] During this time the Ottoman Empire appealed to pan-Islamic identity and attempted to console Muslim Albanians for example by employing mainly them in the Imperial Palace Guard and offering their elite socio-political and other privileges.[50][62] Of the Muslim Albanian elite of the time, though there were reservations regarding Ottoman central government control they remained dependent on state civil, military and other employment.[63] For that elite, remaining within the empire meant that Albanians were a dynamic and influential group in the Balkans, while within an independent Albania connoted being surrounded by hostile Christian neighbours and open to the dictates of other European powers.[63] Wars and socio-political instability resulting in increasing identification with the Ottoman Empire amongst some Muslims within the Balkans during the late Ottoman period made the terms Muslim and Turk synonymous.[62] In this context, Muslim Albanians of the era were conferred and received the term Turk while having preferences to distance themselves from ethnic Turks.[62][64] This practice has somewhat continued amongst Balkan Christian peoples in contemporary times who still refer to Muslim Albanians as Turks, Turco-Albanians, with often pejorative connotations and historic negative socio-political repercussions.[65][66][67][68][69][64] During this time small numbers of Slavic Muslims, Bosniaks from the Herzegovina Mostar area migrated due to the Herzegovina Uprising (1875) and Slavic Muslims expelled (1878) by Montenegrin forces from Podgorica both settled in a few settlements in north-western Albania.[70][71][72][73]

These geo-political events nonetheless pushed Albanian nationalists, many Muslim, to distance themselves from the Ottomans, Islam and the then emerging pan-Islamic Ottomanism of Sultan Abdulhamid II.[50][74] Another factor overlaying these concerns during the Albanian National Awakening (Rilindja) period were thoughts that Western powers would only favour Christian Balkan states and peoples in the anti Ottoman struggle.[74] During this time Albanian nationalists conceived of Albanians as a European people who under Skanderbeg resisted the Ottoman Turks that later subjugated and cut the Albanians off from Western European civilisation.[74] Muslim Albanians were heavily involved with the Albanian National Awakening producing many figures like Faik Konica, Ismail Qemali, Midhat Frashëri, Shahin Kolonja and others advocating for Albanian interests and self-determination.[25][50][61] Representing the complexities and interdependencies of both Ottoman and Albanians worlds, these individuals and others during this time also contributed to the Ottoman state amongst other things as statesmen, military personal, religious figures, intellectuals, journalists and being members of Union and Progress (CUP) movement.[25][50][62] Such figures were Sami Frashëri who reflecting on Islam and Albanians viewed Bektashism as a milder syncretic form of Islam with Shiite and Christian influences that could overcome Albanian religious divisions through mass conversion to it.[74] The Bektashi Sufi order during the late Ottoman period, with around 20 tekkes in Southern Albania also played a role during the Albanian National Awakening by cultivating and stimulating Albanian language and culture.[25][50]

During the late Ottoman period, Muslims inhabited compactly the entire mountainous and hilly hinterland located north of the Himarë, Tepelenë, Këlcyrë and Frashëri line that encompasses most of the Vlorë, Tepelenë, Mallakastër, Skrapar, Tomorr and Dishnicë regions.[75] There were intervening areas where Muslims lived alongside Albanian speaking Christians in mixed villages, towns and cities with either community forming a majority or minority of the population.[75] In urban settlements Muslims were almost completely a majority in Tepelenë and Vlorë, a majority in Gjirokastër with a Christian minority, whereas Berat, Përmet and Delvinë had a Muslim majority with a large Christian minority.[75] A Muslim population was also located in Konispol and some villages around the town.[75] While the Ottoman administrative sancaks or districts of Korçë and Gjirokastër in 1908 contained a Muslim population that numbered 95,000 in contrast to 128,000 Orthodox inhabitants.[76] Apart from small and spread out numbers of Muslim Romani, Muslims in these areas that eventually came to constitute contemporary southern Albania were all Albanian speaking Muslims.[77][75] In southern Albania during the late Ottoman period being Albanian was increasingly associated with Islam, while from the 1880s the emerging Albanian National Movement was viewed as an obstacle to Hellenism within the region.[75] Small numbers of Orthodox Albanians began to affiliate with the Albanian National movement causing concern for Greece and they worked together with Muslim Albanians regarding shared social and geo-political Albanian interests and aims.[63][25] In central and southern Albania, Muslim Albanian society was integrated into the Ottoman state.[50] It was organised into a small elite class owning big feudal estates worked by a large peasant class, both Christian and Muslim though few other individuals also employed in the military, business, as artisans and in other professions.[50][64] While northern Albanian society was little integrated into the Ottoman world.[50] Instead it was organised through a tribal structure of clans (fis) of whom many were Catholic with others being Muslim residing in mountainous terrain that Ottomans often had difficulty in maintaining authority and control.[50] Shkodër was inhabited by a Muslim majority with a sizable Catholic minority.[50] In testimonies of the late Ottoman period they describe the Muslim conservatism of the Albanian population in central and northern Albania which in places such as Shkodër was expressed sometimes in the form of discrimination against Catholic Albanians.[41][78][79] Other times Muslim and Catholic Albanians cooperated with each other for example forming the Shkodër committee during time of the League of Prizren.[41]

In 1908 the Young Turk revolution, in part instigated by Muslim Albanian Ottoman officials and troops with CUP leanings deposed Sultan Abdul Hamit II and installed a new government which promised reforms.[50] In 1908, an alphabet congress with some Muslim delegates agreed to adopt a Latin character based Albanian alphabet that was opposed by many Muslim Albanians.[25][41][50] They instead alongside some Muslim Albanian clerics preferred an Arabic-based Albanian alphabet, due in part to concerns that a Latin-based Albanian alphabet undermined ties with the Muslim world.[25][41][50] Toward the end of Ottoman rule, two Albanian revolts broke out. The first revolt was during 1910 in northern Albania and Kosovo reacting toward the new Ottoman government policy of centralization.[50] The other revolt in the same areas was in 1912 that sought Albanian political and linguistic self-determination under the bounds of the Ottoman Empire and with both revolts many of the leaders and fighters were Muslim Albanians.[50] These Albanian revolts were also a turning point that impacted the Young Turk government which increasingly moved from a policy direction of pan-Ottomanism and Islam toward a singular national Turkish outlook.[62] With a de-emphasis of Islam, the Albanian national movement gained the strong support of two Adriatic sea powers Austria-Hungary and Italy who were concerned about pan-Slavism in the wider Balkans and Anglo-French hegemony purportedly represented through Greece in the area.[63]


Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and World War One (1914-1918)[edit]

Ismail Qemali on the first anniversary of the session of the Assembly of Vlorë which proclaimed the independence of Albania.

On the eve of the Balkan wars and due to the Albanian revolts of 1908 and 1912, the Ottomans were unsure about whether Muslim Albanians would defend the sovereignty of the state if war with its Orthodox Balkan neighbours broke out.[50] On October 1912, with Bulgarian, Montenegrin, Serbian and Greek armies commencing hostilities with the Ottomans and entering areas populated by Muslim Albanians, apart from some desertions due to military setbacks, they sided with the Ottomans and mainly fought well.[50] Realising that the collapse of Ottoman rule through military defeat in the Balkans was imminent, Albanians represented by Ismail Qemali declared Independence from the Otttoman Empire on the 28th November 1912 in Vlorë.[50] The main motivation for independence was to prevent Balkan Albanian inhabited lands from being annexed by Greece and Serbia, while the Ottoman CUP Young Turk government felt betrayed by these actions as it considered Albanians a kindred Muslim people.[62][50] Of the Great Powers, Italy and Austria-Hungary supported Albanian independence due to concerns that Serbia with an Albanian coast would be a rival power in the Adriatic Sea and open to influence from its ally Russia.[80][81][82][83][84][85] Apart from geo-political interests, some Great powers were reluctant to include more Ottoman Balkan Albanian inhabited lands into Albania due to concerns that it would be the only Muslim dominated state in Europe.[86] During these events and World War One's aftermath, an understanding emerged between most Sunni and Bektashi Albanians that religious differences needed to be sidelined for national cohesiveness.[17] Whereas an abandonment of pan-Muslim links abroad was viewed in the context of securing support internationally for and maintaining independence, though some Muslim Albanian clergy were against disavowing ties with the wider Muslim world.[17]

Within the scope of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) the Northern Epirote movement arose in southern Albania amongst the Orthodox population calling for unification with Greece who also opposed living in an Albania under leaders composed of Muslim Albanians.[26][75] Fighting broke out in southern Albania between Greek irregulars and Muslim Albanians who opposed the Northern Epirot movement.[87] Between 1912-1913 and 1916 some areas of southern Albania were temporarily under Greek military administration and Muslims in those areas were subject to Greek law.[88] For example in 1913 the Greek administration appointed muftis in the settlements of Përmet, Libohovë, Gjirokastër, Delvinë, Leskovik, Frashër and Tepelenë and all received government salaries.[88] After recognising Albanian independence and its provisional borders in 1913, the Great powers imposed on Albania a Christian German prince Wilhelm of Wied to be its ruler in 1914.[80] In the ensuring power struggles and disquiet over having a Christian monarch, a failed Muslim uprising (1914) broke out in central Albania that sought to restore Ottoman rule while northern and southern Albania distanced themselves from those events.[80] During World War one, northern, central and south-central Albania came under Austro-Hungarian occupation. In the census of 1916-1918 conducted by Austro-Hungarian authorities the results showed that Muslims in the regions of Dibër, Lumë and Gorë were over 80% of the population.[79] In the western part of the mountainous areas, Shkodër and in the mountains east of the lake were areas that contained a large Muslim population.[79] In central Albania, the area from the Mat region to the Shkumbini river mouth toward Kavajë encompassing the districts of Tiranë, Peqin, Kavajë and Elbasan the population was mainly Muslim.[79] In the area of Berat Muslims were a majority population with an Orthodox minority, while south of Elbasan Muslims were a plurality alongside a significant Orthodox population.[79] In the region of Gramsh Muslims were a majority except for two people and in the southern Peqin area only Muslims were present.[79] Muslims also were a majority population in the Mallakastër region alongside a small Orthodox minority.[79]

Interwar period (1919-1939): State interference and reforms[edit]

From the early days of interwar Albania and due to Albania's heterogeneous religious makeup, Albania's political leadership defined Albania as without an official religion.[89] Muslim Albanians at time time formed around 70% of the total population of 800,000 and Albania was the only Muslim country in Europe.[89] In the former Ottoman districts of Korçë and Gjirokastër forming southern Albania, the share of the Muslim population increased in 1923 to 109,000 in contrast to 114,000 Orthodox and by 1927 Muslims were 116,000 to 112,000 Orthodox.[76] Yugoslavia and Greece in their state polices of the 1920s claimed that Albania was a little Turkey hostile to Orthodox populations like Greeks and others and that the Muslim majority was persecuting them.[90] Albania refuted those claims of sectarian Muslim and Christian conflict and attributed tensions in its south to the movement for an independent Albanian Orthodox church and those wanting to remain under the Patriarchate.[90]

Great Mosque of Durrës, (built 1931).

From 1920 until 1925 a four-member governing regency council from the four religious denominations (Sunni, Bektashi, Catholic, Orthodox) was appointed.[78] Albanian secularist elites pushed for a reform of Islam as the process of Islamic religious institutions were nationalised and the state increasingly imposed its will upon them.[89] For example, in 1923 at the first Islamic National Congress the criteria for delegates attending was that being clerics was not important and that instead patriots with a liberal outlook were favoured with some delegates being selected by the state.[89] Government representatives were present at the congress too.[89] Following the government program of reforms, the Albanian Islamic congress in Tirana therefore decided to deliberate and reform some Islamic traditional practices adopted from the Ottoman period with the reasoning of allowing Albanian society the opportunity to thrive.[80] The measures adopted by the congress was a break with the Ottoman Caliphate, banning polygamy (most of the Muslim Albanian population was monogamous) and the mandatory wearing of veil (hijab) by women in public.[80] A new form of prayer was also implemented (standing, instead of the traditional salat ritual).[91] As with the congress, the attitudes of Muslim clerics were during the interwar period monitored by the state who at times appointed and dismissed them at will.[89]

In 1925, Ahmet Zog, a emerging politician from a prominent Muslim Albanian family became president of Albania and by 1929 installed himself as king.[92] During the Zogist era, parliamentary representation was apportioned according to the size of the religious communities in Albania.[78] The regime lasted until Zog's ousting during the Italian invasion of 1939 and within that time implemented a series of modernising measures meant to further curb Islam's influence in Albania and reverse the legacy of the Ottoman period.[92][93] Amongst those were the abolition of Sharia law and replacement with Western law and translation of the Quran into Albanian that was criticized for its inaccuracies.[89][92] Increasing interference by the state of Islamic institutions led to Muslim clerics in 1926 to accuse the government of a propaganda campaign against the new madrasa in Shkodër, the new organisation of Jemaat (Islamic Community) and its finances.[89] Clerics that went outside state oversight and delivered sermons in mosques without permission were threatened with action by authorities of offenders.[89] As relations with the Muslim hierarchy and government officials became close, Islamic institutions were used by the state to implement social control like strengthening national unity, encouraging parents to send children to school and preventing diffusion of communist ideas.[89] By 1929 with the centralisation and reform of Islamic institutions the state funded a sizable portion of the Islamic community's budget and madrasas were closed with one remaining in Tiranë called Medreseja e Naltë to train clerics in new modern ways.[89][17] By the 1930s, intellectual trends regarding tradition and modernity had divided Muslim Albanians into three groups.[78] The Elders (Të vjetër) favouring Islam; the Young (Të rinjtë) who objected to religion, in particular Islam and the Neo-Albanians (Neoshqiptarët) who emphasized Albanian culture, were against religious sectarianism though not religion and favoured Bektashism due to its links with Albanian nationalism.[78] Muslim Albanians resisted many of these changes on the restructuring of their Islamic committees, promoted da'wah or preaching of Islam to non-Muslim Albanians with risks of persecution, while their organisation underwent improvements.[92] New mosques were also built such as the Great Mosque in Durrës while an Islamic Institute in Tiranë was in 1936 accommodating up to 240 students.[92] After prolonged debate amongst Albanian elites during the interwar era and increasing restrictions, the wearing of the veil in 1937 was banned in legislation by Zog.[89][94] Due to some Muslim Albanian clergy having trained and served in former Middle Eastern Ottoman territories like Turkey, Egypt, some throughout the interwar period maintained and others opened up new educational and literary links with the wider Muslim world even afar with British India.[95] Part of the reason was to build up a corpus of literature through translations on Islam in the Albanian language which had recently been codified and make the Muslim religion be more accessible to the people.[95]

World Headquarters of the Bektashi Community in Tiranë, Albania.

Throughout the interwar period, the Albanian intellectual elite often undermined and depreciated Sunni Islam, whereas Sufi Islam and its various orders experienced an important period of promising growth.[49] After independence, ties amongst the wider Sufi Bektashi community in former Ottoman lands waned.[48] In 1925 the Bektashi Order whose headquarters were in Turkey moved to Tiranë to escape Atatürk's secularising reforms and Albania would become the center of Bektashism where there were 260 tekes present.[92][48][96] In 1929, the Bektashi order severed its ties with Sunnism and by 1937 Bektashi adherents formed around 27% of the Muslim population in Albania.[92][97] Apart from Bektashis, there were other main Sufi orders present in Albania during the interwar period.[49] The Halvetis in the interwar period were involved in proselytizing and also opened new tekes in Leskovik and Korçë.[49] The Qadiris mainly located in urban areas and the Rufais, who spread their Tariqa order throughout Albania founding new tekes.[49] While the Tijaniyyah order, a newcomer in the early 20th century to Tiranë, Durrës and Shkodër rejected hereditary succession of the sheikhs, emphasised links with the Prophet Muhammad and played a part in the reform movement of mainstream Islam in Albania.[49][98] The sheikhs and dervishes of the various Sufi orders during the interwar period played an important role in Albanian society by often being healers to the public and Bektashi babas were at times involved in mediation of disputes and vendettas.[49] By 1936 with the existence of individual Sufi organisations and leagues of the various orders, Albanian Muslim authorities formed an association named Drita Hyjnore (Divine Light) so as to reorganise and better coordinate the activities of four of the orders.[49] While the Romani minority during the interwar period had their own mosques in Shkodër and Korçë, built a new mosque at Durrës in 1923 and some joined the Bektashi order.[43] The Romani were and are still known to be religiously syncretic often combining other elements of religions and nature in Islamic practices and pilgrimages to holy sites.[43] During the interwar period, Catholics viewed the Albanian central government as a Muslim one, while the Orthodox felt that in a political context they were dominated by Muslims.[78]

World War Two (1939-1945)[edit]

On 7 April 1939, Italy headed by Benito Mussolini after prolonged interest and overarching sphere of influence during the interwar period invaded Albania.[99] Muslim Albanians were involved in initial resistance to the Italians like major Abaz Kupi who with meagre weapons led Albanian forces and later resisted from the mountains of northern Albania, while King Zog fled abroad.[99] The Italians established a local collaborationist government and some members came from the Muslim population like the landowning prime minister Shefqet Vërlaci.[99] Albania's borders were expanded and encompassed contemporary western Macedonia, western and central Kosovo, parts of south western Montenegro which contained large Muslim Albanian populations and part of the Sandžak region that mainly had a Slavic Muslim population.[99] Due to Zog having creating a compliant leadership of all the religious groups, the arrival of the Axis forces was meet with almost no issue from them.[99] Of the Muslim Albanian population, the Italians attempted to gain their sympathies by proposing to build a large mosque in Rome, though the Vatican opposed this measure and nothing came of it in the end.[99] Other measures to gain Muslim Albanian sympathies were for proposals to raise their working wages.[99] Mussolini's son in law Count Ciano also replaced the leadership of the Sunni Muslim community and with clergy that aligned with Italian interests and some Sunni religious figures sympathized with the Italians.[99] While most of the Bektashi order and its leadership were against the Italian occupation and remained an opposition group.[99] Apart from the Bektashis, the Italians allocated money for the budgets of the three other religious communities during their time in Albania.[99]

Baba Faja Martaneshi in 1944

In Albania two main opposition forces emerged that fought against the Axis occupation of the country. The first was Balli Kombëtar an Albanian nationalist and anti-communist movement that sought the unification of Balkan Albanian inhabited lands into one state.[99] It fought the Italians though concerned with the communists rise they eventually aligned with the Germans toward the war's end and some prominent members from their movement were Muslims like Ali Këlcyra and prime minister Midhat Frashëri.[99] An Albanian resistance communist movement emerged in southern Albania and Albanian Muslims were represented among its leadership ranks such as Mustafa Gjinishi, Enver Hoxha, Mehmet Shehu and others.[99] Independent resistance çetas or groups separate from the main Albanian resistance forces also emerged and were led by Muslims such as Myslim Peza and the Bektashi Baba Faja Martaneshi of whom both eventually aligned with the communists and Muharrem Bajraktari with Balli Kombëtar.[99] Attempts to unite the two main resistance groups with the Mukje Agreement (1943) failed and protracted conflict occurred until the end of the war in which the Albanian communists prevailed over Balli Kombëtar and retreating Axis forces.[99]

Communist period and persecution (1945-1991)[edit]

Mirahori mosque of Korçë in 2002 with destroyed minaret from communist times (left) and with rebuilt minaret in 2013 (right).

In the aftermath of World War Two, the communist regime came to power and Muslims, most from southern Albania were represented from early on within the communist leadership group such as leader Enver Hoxha 1908-1985), his deputy Mehmet Shehu (1913-1981) and others.[85] Albanian society was still traditionally divided between four religious communities.[41] In the Albanian census of 1945, Muslims were 72% of the population, 17.2% were Orthodox and 10% Catholic.[100] The communist regime through Albanian Nationalism attempted to forge a national identity that transcended and eroded these religious and other differences with the aim of forming a unitary Albanian identity.[41] Albanian communists viewed religion as a societal threat that undermined the cohesiveness of the nation.[41] Within this context, religions like Islam were denounced as foreign and clergy such as Muslim muftis were criticised as being socially backward with the propensity to become agents of other states and undermine Albanian interests.[41] The Bektashi order at a congress in May 1945 reaffirmed within their statutes its independence from the Sunni community in Albania.[47] In 1949, a law was passed that required religious institutions to inculcate feelings of loyalty among their adherents to the Albanian communist party and that all religions had to have their headquarters in Albania.[101] Akin to the Orthodox, the Bektashi's entered into agreements with the communist state without difficulties which defined what was considered acceptable activities of their religious clergy and the declaration of participation in communist propaganda campaigns.[100] The communists during this time treated the Bektashi's somewhat differently as part of their clergy and adherents were casualties during fighting in World War Two while some Albanian communist elites had Bektashi heritage.[100][47] Whereas of the Sunni Muslim clergy individuals such as Mustafa efendi Varoshi (mufti of Durrës), Hafez Ibrahim Dibra (former great mufti of Albania) and Xhemal Pazari (a prominent sheikh from Tiranë) were accused by the communists of collaborating with Axis occupying powers and imprisoned.[100]

Old ruined mosque and destroyed minaret from communist times in Borsh, southern Albania.

Religious leaders were selected by and acted as proxies for the communist party and the process was violent with Sunni Muslim leaders imprisoned and killed while the Bektashi head suffered a similar fate and by 1947 the communist regime had imprisoned 44 Muslim clergy.[100][101] Unlike their Christians counterparts in Albanian jails, the Muslim clergy imprisoned by the communist regime received little to no attention internationally regarding their plight apart from diaspora Albanian organisations.[17] The Sunni Albanian community by 1949 under grand mufti Hafiz Musa Ali attempted to attain some measures and conditions from Enver Hoxha.[102] Some of those included financial assistance, the exemption of future Muslim clergy doing army service which was supported while a translation of the Quran into Albanian was rejected.[102] In 1950, the communist government implemented Act 743 that outlined measures for negotiating the status of the four religions in Albania.[102] The Sunni Community at this time was run by the Main Council and its finances came from budget subsidiaries and property donations.[102] As the Bektashi order of Albania was the worldwide headquarters of Bektashism, contact with outside communities linked to them were allowed by the communists though denied for other religions in Albania.[102] In 1955 Hafiz Suleyman Myrto became grand mufti of the Muslim community and from May 1966 to February 1967 Hafiz Esad Myftia was the last grand mufti of Albania of the communist era.[17] After 1945, material wealth, institutional properties and land such as a Muslim vakëf (wakf) of the religious communities in Albania were confiscated by the state to limit the ability of the religious communities to be economically self-reliant.[101][10][103][17] The madrasa at Tiranë was closed down in 1965.[17] While mosques had until 1965 undergone a state of dilapidation due to meagre finances for repair.[10] Muslim architectural heritage was perceived by Albanian communists to be an unwanted vestige of the Ottoman period used for converting Albanians into Muslims.[10] In 1965 the communist regime initiated a cultural revolution based on the Chinese model that saw the wide scale destruction of most mosque minarets due to them being a prominent feature of Islamic architecture.[10] By 1967 only 60 Bektashi tekes were left functioning.[102]

Inspired by Pashko Vasa's late 19th century poem for the need to overcome religious differences through Albanian unity, Hoxha took the stanza "the faith of the Albanians is Albanianism" and implemented it literally as state policy.[41][104] In 1967 therefore the communist regime declared Albania the only non-religious country in the world, banning all forms of religious practice in public.[41][105] The Muslim Sunni and Bektashi clergy alongside their Catholic and Orthodox counterparts suffered severe persecution and to prevent a decentralisation of authority in Albania, many of their leaders were killed.[105] Jumu'ah or communal Friday prayers in a mosque that involves a sermon afterwards were banned in Albania due to their revolutionary associations that posed a threat to the communist regime.[106] People who still preformed religious practices did so in secret, while others found out were persecuted and personal possession of religious literature such as the Quran forbidden.[41][103][105] Amongst Bektashi adherents transmission of knowledge became limited to within few family circles that mainly resided in the countryside.[49] Mosques became a target for Albanian communists who saw their continued existence as exerting an ideological presence in the minds of people.[10] Through the demise of mosques and religion in general within Albania, the regime sought to alter and sever the social basis of religion that lay with traditional religious structures amongst the people and replace it with communism.[10][103][107] Islamic buildings were hence appropriated by the communist state who often turned into them into gathering places, sports halls, warehouses, barns, restaurants, cultural centres and cinemas in an attempt to erase those links between religious buildings and people.[41][102][10][105]

Kubelie Mosque in Kavajë, circa 1939 (left) and rebuilt mosque after communist destruction in 1967 with original colonnade, 2007 (right).

In 1967 within the space of seven months the communist regime destroyed 2,169 religious buildings and other monuments.[10] Of those were some 530 tekes, turbes and dergah saint shrines that belonged mainly to the Bektashi order.[10] Pilgrimage thereafter amongst Bektashi adherents to those shrines became limited occurring only in certain locations and indirectly through gatherings like picnics near those sites such as the Sari Salltëk tyrbe in Krujë.[49] While 740 mosques were destroyed, some of which were prominent and architecturally important like the Kubelie Mosque in Kavajë, the Clock Mosque in Peqin and the two domed mosques in Elbasan dating from the 17th century.[10] Of the roughly 1,127 Islamic buildings existing in Albania prior to the communists coming to power, only 50 mosques remained thereafter with most being in a state of disrepair.[108] Some number of mosques that were deemed structures of cultural importance and historic value by the communists did survive such as the Muradiye mosque in Vlorë, the Lead mosque in Shkodër, Naziresha Mosque in Elbasan, the Lead, Beqar, Hynkar and Hysen Pasha mosques of Berat, Fatih mosque in Durrës, Bazar mosque of Krujë, Allajbegi mosque of the Dibër area, Mirahor mosque in Korçë, Teke mosque in Gjirokastër and the Gjin Aleksi mosque of the Sarandë area.[10] Declared also a monument of culture, the Ethem Bey mosque of Tiranë was allowed to function as a place of prayer and Islamic ritual, though only for foreign Muslim diplomats.[102] In Tiranë during 1991, only two mosques were in a position to be used for worship.[108] Some Albanian Muslims from southern Albania became quickly urbanised alongside the Orthodox and integrated into the state after the war.[78] The Sunni Muslim Albanian population of central and northern Albania though was mainly marginalised and little integrated by the Albanian state that in the 1970s and 1980s experienced overpopulation and economic hardship.[78] Due to the deemphasizing of religion, some mixed marriages of Muslims with the Orthodox or with Catholics occurred in the late communist period and mainly among the elite.[78][109][110]

Republic of Albania (1992 onward)[edit]

Lead Mosque with minaret in Shkodër, circa late 1800s (left) and without minaret in dilapidated state and prone to flooding, 2013 (right).

Following the wider trends for socio-political pluralism and freedom in Eastern Europe from communism, a series of fierce protests by Albanian society culminated with the communist regime collapsing after allowing two elections in 1991 and then 1992. Toward the end of the regime's collapse, it had reluctantly allowed for limited religious expression to reemerge.[105] In 1990 along with a Catholic church, the Lead mosque in Shkodër were both the first religious buildings reopened in Albania.[49][78][17] Muslims, this time mainly from northern Albania such as Azem Hajdari (1963-1998) and Sali Berisha, who later served multiple terms as president and prime minister were prominent leaders in the movement for democratic change. Areas that had been traditionally Muslim in Albania prior to 1967 reemerged in a post-communist context once again mainly as Muslim with its various internal complexities.[49][78] Due in part to the deprivation and persecution experienced during the communist period, Muslims in Albania have showed strong support for democracy and its institutions in Albania including official Muslim religious organisations.[111][112] Today Albania is a parliamentary secular state and with no official religion.[113][47]

Headquarters of the Muslim Community of Albania, Tiranë.

In the 1990s, Muslim Albanians placed their focus on restoring institutions, religious buildings and Islam as a faith in Albania that had overall been decimated by the communists.[105][114] Hafiz Sabri Koçi, (1921-2004) an imam imprisoned by the communist regime and who led the first prayer service in Shkodër 1990 became the grand mufti of the Muslim Community of Albania.[17] During this time the restoration of Islam in Albania appealed to older generations of Muslim Albanian adherents, those families with traditional clerical heredity and limited numbers of young school age people who wished to qualify and study abroad in Muslim countries.[115][114] Most mosques and some madrassas destroyed and damaged during the communist era had by 1996 been either reconstructed or restored in former locations where they once stood before 1967 and in contemporary times there are 555 mosques.[52][114] Muslim religious teachers and prayer leaders were also retrained abroad in Muslim states or in Albania.[114] The Muslim Community of Albania is the main organisation overseeing Sunni Islam in Albania and during the 1990s it received funding and technical support from abroad to reconstitute its influence within the country.[114] Due to interwar and communist era legacies of weakening Islam within Albania and secularisation of the population, the revival of the faith has been somewhat difficult due to people in Albania knowing little about Islam and other religions.[78][113][47] Emigration in a post-communist environment of Albanians, many Muslim, has also hindered the recovery of religion, its socio-religious structures and organisation in Albania.[47] In contemporary times the Muslim community has found itself being a majority population that is within a socio-political and intellectual minority position with often being on the defensive.[78] Political links also emerged in the 1990s from parts of the Sunni Albanian community with the then new Albanian political establishment of whom some themselves were Muslim Albanians.[78] The Sunni community is recognised by the Albanian state and it administers most of the mosques while also viewed as the main representative of Muslims in the country.[113] There are a few prayer houses located throughout Albania and one masjid (mosque without a minaret) run by the Sufi Rifai order.[52]

The Albanian Sunni Community has over time established links with oversees Muslims.[105] Due to funding shortages in Albania these ties have been locally beneficial as they have mobilised resources of several well funded international Muslim organisations like the OIC which has allowed for the reestablishment of Muslim ritual and spiritual practices in Albania.[105] Particular efforts have been directed toward spreading information about Islam in Albania through media, education and local community centres.[105] Around 90% of the budget of the Albanian Muslim community came from foreign sources in the 1990s, though in recent times the Albanian state also allocates funding from the budget to the four main religions to cover administrative and other costs.[78][113] Some of these oversees Muslim organisations and charities coming from Arab countries, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and also the Muslim diaspora in Europe and America have at times exerted sway over the Muslim Albanian community resulting in competition between groups.[78][113][47] The Gülen movement based on Muslim values of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen also is present from 1992 onward and its institutions are viewed as a counterweight to more conservative Muslim organisations from Arab countries in Albania, especially in the early 1990s.[116][47] Some 7 madrasas (Muslim colleges containing complementary religious instruction) were opened up in Albania by Arab NGO's, although now 2 are administered by the Muslim Community and the Gülen movement runs 5 madrassas and other schools that are known for their high quality and mainly secular education based on Islamic ethics and principles.[52][78][116] In April 2011, Bedër University, Albania's first Muslim university was opened in Tiranë and is administered by the Gülen movement.[113][117] The main state run Turkish Muslim organisation Diyanet has funded and started construction of the Great Mosque of Tiranë in 2015.[118][119] The mosque will be the Balkans largest with minarets 50 meters high and a dome of 30 meters built on a 10,000-square-meter parcel of land near Albania's parliament building able to accommodate up to 4,500 worshipers.[118][120][121] International assistance from oversees organisations such as the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) have also helped finance the restoration of Ottoman era mosques.[113] In a post-communist environment the Muslim Community of Albania has been seeking from successive Albanian governments a return and restitution of properties and land confiscated by the communist regime though without much progress.[47]

The Muslim Community of Albania in its statutes claims authority over all Muslim groups in Albania.[47] The Bektashi however have reaffirmed in their statutes and kept their post-communist era independence as a separate Muslim movement of a worldwide Sufi order.[47] While a traditional reliance on hierarchy and internal structures the restoration of Sufi Islam, akin to Sunni Islam, has faced organisational problems in reestablishing and stabilising former systems of authority.[105] That stood in contrast with the activities of local people who were quick to rebuild the destroyed tyrbes and other mausoleums of Sufi saints by the end of 1991.[49] As Albanian migrants went abroad financial resources were sent back to fund other reconstruction projects of various Sufi shrines and tekkes.[49][78] While the Bektashi order in the 1990s was only able to reopen 6 of its tekkes.[102] Other Sufi orders are also present in Albania such as the Rifais, Saidis, Halvetis, Qadiris and the Tijaniyah and combined they have 384 turbes, tekes, maqams and zawiyas.[113] In post communist Albania competition between the Sufi orders has reemerged, though the Bektashi remain the largest, most dominant, have 138 tekes[113] and have on occasion laid claims to Sufi shrines of other orders.[78] The Bektashi as the main Sufi order within Albania have attempted to appeal to a younger, urban and also intellectual demographic and placing itself within the wider socio-political space.[49]

Bektashi teqe in Vlorë.

The Bektashi order in Albania views themselves as the centre of a worldwide movement and have reconnected with various Turkish educational and Iran religious organisations emphasising their common links, something that other Sufi orders in Albania have done.[49][78] Prominent among these have been Iranian Saadi Shriazi foundation who has funded numerous Bektashi cultural programs, while dervishes from the Bektashi have received educational training at the Theological faculty in Qom.[122] The Bektashi though are selective of outside influence, with sometimes for example editing texts of Iranian Shia thinkers in Bektashi literature or borrowing from others.[78] The Bektashi during most of the 1990s had no privileged links with the political establishment until 1997 when the Socialists came to power.[78] Members from the then Albanian government, some with Bektashi heritage in the late 1990s onward have favoured Bektashism as a milder form of Islam for Albanian Islam and it playing a role as a conduit between Islam and Christianity.[49][78] Bektashis also highlight and celebrate figures such as Naim Frashëri who was made an honorary baba because he was involved in the Albanian National Awakening and often referred to his Bektashi roots.[78] Bektashis also use Shiite related iconography of Ali, the Battle of Karbala and other revered Muslim figures of the prophet Muhammad's family that adorn the interiors of turbes and tekkes.[78] The Bektashis have a few clerical training centres though no schools for religious instruction.[113] The Ahmadiyya movement has also established recently a presence in Albania and owns one mosque in Tiranë, the Bejtyl Evel Mosque.[52]


(2011 census)[123]

A recent Pew Research Center demographic study put the percentage of Muslims in Albania at 79.9%.[124] However, a recent Gallup poll gives percentages of religious affiliations with only 43% Muslim, 19% Eastern Orthodox, 15% Catholic and 23% atheist or nonreligious.[125] In the 2011 census the declared religious affiliation of the population was: 56.70% (1,587,608) Sunni Muslims, 2.09% (58,628) Bektashis, 10.03% (280,921) Catholics, 6.75% (188,992) Orthodox, 0.14% (3,797) Evangelists, 0.07% (1,919) other Christians, 5.49% (153,630) believers without denomination, 2.05% (69,995) Atheists, 13.79% (386,024) undeclared.[126] Controversies surrounded the Albanian census (2011) over whether a religious affiliation option should be part of the count as people like some intellectuals in Albania feared that the results may make Albania appear "too Muslim" to Europe.[127] From previous pre-communist highs of 69.3% (1937) and 72% (1947) the official census of 2011 was the first to count religious affiliation after an absence of many decades that showed the Albanian Muslim population to have deceased to 56.70%.[113] The Muslim community of Albania objected to having the generic Muslim option split according to internal differentiation into categories such as Bektashi.[127][113] The census results overall have been criticized by the Muslim community of Albania and they have estimated the number of all Muslims in Albania to be 70%.[113] Due to the large amount of people in Albania not having declared a religion the census figures leave scope for other explanations and analyses of what is the actual religious composition of Albania.[47] 65% of Albanian Muslims are non-denominational Muslims.[128]

Ethno-linguistic composition[edit]

Most Muslims in Albania are ethnic Albanians. There are however small though significant clusters of non-Albanian (speaking) Muslims in the country. The Romani minority in Albania are mostly Muslims and estimated to number some 50,000 to 95,000 located throughout Albania and often residing in major urban centres forming a significant minority population.[43][105] The Romani community is often economically disadvantaged with at times facing socio-political discrimination and distance from wider Albanian society like for example little intermarriage or neighbourhood segregation.[43][105] Within the Romani community there exist two main divisions: the Romani who speak the Romani language and those who self identify as Egyptians that consider themselves separate from the Romani, speak Albanian and are somewhat integrated in Albania.[43] Other Muslim communities are of a Slavic linguistic background. In the north-eastern borderland region of Gorë, the Gorani community inhabits the villages of Zapod, Pakisht, Orçikël, Kosharisht, Cernalevë, Orgjost, Orshekë, Borje, Novosej and Shishtavec.[129] In the central-eastern borderland region of Gollobordë, a Muslim Macedonian speaking community known as Gollobordas inhabits the villages of Ostren i Madh, Kojavec, Lejçan, Lladomericë, Ostren i Vogël, Orzhanovë, Radovesh, Tuçep, Pasinkë, Trebisht, Gjinovec, Klenjë, Vërnicë, Steblevë and three families in Sebisht.[130][131] In Albania people from the Gollobordas community are considered Albanians instead of Macedonians, even by the Albanian state, and they are known to intermarry with Muslim Albanians and not with Orthodox Macedonians.[130][132] Until the 1990s an Orthodox Macedonian minority who have since migrated used to live in some villages alongside the Gollobordas and the latter community in recent times numbers some roughly 3,000 people.[132] The Bosniak community of the Shijak area whose presence dates back to 1875 inhabits almost entirely the village of Borakaj and in the neighbouring village Koxhas they live alongside Albanians and form a minority.[72] Bosniaks from these settlements have also settled in Durrës, Shijak and in 1924 some went and settled in the village of Libofshë where they have mostly become linguistically assimilated.[72] There is a small Muslim Montenegrin speaking community near Shkodër whose presence dates back to 1878 and are known as Podgoriçani, due to their origins from Podgorica in Montenegro.[70][71] Podgoriçani inhabit the villages of Boriç i Madh were they form a majority alongside few Orthodox Montengrins and some Albanians, while they live compactly in both Shtoj i Vjetër with 30 families and in Shtoj i Ri with 17 families and some families in Shkodër city.[70][71][73]

Identity and interreligious relations[edit]

Prominent representatives of Albania's four main denominations in 2015. From left to right: Sunni, Orthodox, Bektashi, and Catholic

Throughout the duration of the Communist regime, national Albanian identity was constructed as being irreligious and based upon a common unitary Albanian nationality.[133] This widely spread ideal is still present, though challenged by religious differentiation between Muslim Albanians and Christians which exists at a local level.[133] In a post communist environment, religious affiliation to either Muslim and Christian groups is viewed within the context of historical belonging (mainly patrilineal) and contemporary social organisation as cultural communities with religious practice playing a somewhat secondary to limited role.[134][103] Contemporary Muslim Albanians in Albania see themselves as being the purest Albanians.[135] This view is based on the large contribution Muslim Albanians made to the National Awakening (Rilindja) and resistance to the geo-political aims of the Serbs.[135] While Muslim Albanians view Islam as a force that maintained Albanian independence, united Albanians and prevented them from being assimilated by the Serbs, Greeks or even Italians.[78][136]

Albanian Muslims also hold the view that unlike them, Christian Albanian communities of the Orthodox historically identified with the Greeks and Catholics with the Italians.[135] Muslim Albanians often refer to Orthodox Albanians as Greeks and attribute to them pro-Greek sentiments, while Orthodox Albanians view Muslim Albanians as having historically collaborated and identified with the Ottomans thereby earning the epithet Turk.[135] In northern Albania and southern Albania relations between Muslim Albanians and Catholic Albanians or Muslims with Orthodox Albanians vary and are often distant with both Muslim and Christian communities traditionally living in separate villages and or neighbourhoods, even within cities.[136][137][138] Various pejoratives are in use today for different religious groups in Albanian, some of them based on the Ottoman system of classification: turk, tourko-alvanoi/Turco-Albanians (in Greek), muhamedan/followers of Muhammad for Muslim Albanians, kaur/infidel, kaur i derit/infidel pigs, for Orthodox Albanians, Catholic Albanians, Greeks, Vlachs and Orthodox Macedonians.[130][135][136][139] Among Muslims in Albania the term used for their religious community is myslyman and the word turk is also used in a strictly religious sense to connote Muslim and not ethnic affiliation, while Christians also use the word kaur to at times refer to themselves.[130] Over the years minor incidents between Muslim Albanians with Catholic and Orthodox Albanians have occurred such as pig heads thrown into mosque courtyards, Catholic tombstones being knocked down, an Orthodox church in Shkodër being bombed and damage done to frescoes in a church in Voskopojë.[53] An interreligious organisation called the Interreligious Council of Albania was created in 2009 by the four main faiths to foster religious coexistence in Albania.[113]

In southern Albania, urban centres of central Albania and partially in northern Albania, the status of Christianity dominates in contrast to Islam which is viewed by some Muslim Albanians as a historic accident.[78] A rejection of Islam has also been attributed to a divide that has opened up between older city dwellers and rural Muslim Albanian and somewhat conservative newcomers from the north-east to cities like Tiranë, where the latter are referred to pejoratively as "Chechens".[78] Some young Muslim Albanians educated in Islamic Universities abroad have viewed their role as defending Islam in the public sphere over issues such as wearing of the veil, organising themselves socially and criticised the Muslim Albanian establishment.[78] Following the lead mainly of Albanian Christians obtaining visas for work into Greece there have been instances where Muslim Albanian migrants in Greece converted to Orthodoxy and changed their names into Christian Greek forms in order to be accepted into Greek society.[78][134][140][141] While some other Muslim Albanians when emigrating have also converted to Catholicism and conversions in general to Christianity within Albania are associated with belonging and interpreted as being part of the West, its values and culture.[78][142][47] Among the young, religion is increasingly not seen as important.[136] In a Pew research centre survey of Muslim Albanians in 2012, religion was important for only 15%, while 7% prayed, around 5% went to a mosque, 43% gave zakat (alms), 44% fasted during Ramadan and 72% expressed a belief in God and Muhammed.[113]

Religious observances, customs and culture[edit]


In Albania a series of religious celebrations are held by the Muslim community. Two recognised by the state as official holidays are: Bajrami i Madh (Big Bayram, Eid al-Fitr) celebrated at the conclusion of Ramadan and Kurban Bajram (Bayram of the sacrifice) or Bajrami i Vogël (Small Bayram, Eid al-Adha) celebrated on 10 Dhu al-Hijjah.[52] During the month of Ramadan practicing Sunni Muslims in Albania fast and 5 nights are held sacred and celebrated.[52] These dates change per year as they follow the Muslim lunar calendar. In recent times during April the prophet Muhammad's birthday is commemorated and the Muslim Community of Albania holds a concert in Tiranë attended by Albanian political and Muslim religious establishment representatives and Albanian citizens, many non-practising Muslims.[52] Other than the Sunni related celebrations, the Sufis such as the Bektashi have a series of holidays and observances. The Day of Sultan Novruz (Nowruz) on March 22 is an official holiday that celebrates the birth of Imam Ali.[113] While Ashura, a day commemorating the massacre at Karbala is also held and multiple local festivals in various areas, some also observed as pilgrimages are held throughout the year at Sufi saints tombs and shrines like that of Sari Salltëk in Krujë.[113][39][143] Most prominent of these is the pilgrimage on 20-25 August to Mount Tomorr to commemorate and celebrate the Shi'ite saint Abbas Ali.[113]

Food, Dress, Law and Burials[edit]

In Albania Halal slaughter of animals and food is permitted, mainly available in the eateries of large urban centres and becoming popular among people who are practicing Sunni Muslims.[52] No centralised organisation exists for Halal certification of food which is unavailable in Albanian state institutions like schools, army, hospitals and so on and people requesting Halal food in those places are usually sidelined. Muslim dress is not prohibited in Albania in public areas.[52] Unofficial restrictions and regulations on religious clothing worn within public institutions in order to maintain the secular status of the state were upheld by principals of schools and others.[52] Examples included within schools and universities whereby some young women wearing the hijab were expelled or told to remove it.[52] These have eased especially after the Albanian government in 2011 backed away from proposed legislation that would have officially banned displays of religious symbols in schools.[52] Religious Muslim law as with other religious law is not recognised by the Albanian courts.[52] The Sunni Muslim Community of Albania however recognises nikah or religious Muslim marriage although not many people undertake marriage in this form.[52] While chaplaincy though not officially recognised within state institutions, access to, religious advice and preaching in prisons is allowed to inmates while chaplains are banned in state schools.[52] During the communist period Muslim Albanians were buried alongside Albanians of other faiths and due to that legacy in contemporary times separate Muslim graveyards are uncommon.[52]

Contemporary Issues[edit]

Debates about Islam and contemporary Albanian identity[edit]

Within the Balkans apart from the ethno-linguistic component of Albanian identity, Albania's Orthodox neighbours also view it through religious terms.[41] They refer to Albanians as a Muslim nation and as Muslim fundamentalists which has placed the secular part of Albanian identity under strain.[41] Among Albanian intellectuals and other notable Albanians, many Muslim, this has generated much discussions and at times debates about Islam and its role within Albania and amongst Albanians as a whole in the Balkans.[144] Within these discourses, controversial Orientalist, racist and biological terminology has been used by some Albanian intellectuals when discussing Islam and Albanians.[145] Prominent in those discussions were written exchanges in newspaper articles and books between novelist Ismail Kadare of Gjirokastër and literary critic Rexhep Qosja, an Albanian from the former Yugoslavia in the mid-2000s.[144] Kadare asserted that Albania's future lay with Europe due to its ancient European roots, Christian traditions and being a white people, while Qosja contended that Albanian identity was both a blend of Western (Christian) and Eastern (Islam) cultures and often adaptable to historical contexts.[144] In a 2005 speech given in Britain by president Alfred Moisiu of Orthodox heritage, he referred to Islam in Albania as having a "European face", it being "shallow" and that "if you dig a bit in every Albanian, he can discover his Christian core".[144] The Muslim Forum of Albania responded to those and Kadare's comments and referred to them as "racist" containing "Islamophobia" and being "deeply offensive".[144] Islam and the Ottoman legacy has also been a topic of conversation among wider Albanian society. Islam and the Ottomans are viewed by many Albanians as the outcome of jihad, anti-Christian violence, Turkification and within those discourses Albania's sociopolitical problems are attributed as the outcome of that legacy.[74] Some members from the Muslim community while deemphasizing the Ottoman past have responded to these views by criticizing what they perceive as prejudice toward Islam.[74] Others like academic Olsi Jazexhi have added that contemporary Albanian politicians akin to the communists perceive "modernisation" to mean "de-islamisation" making Muslim Albanians feel alienated from their Muslim traditions instead of celebrating them and embracing their Ottoman heritage.[74] Muslim Albanians deemphasize the (Christian) religious heritage of two famous Albanian figures by viewing Skanderbeg as a defender of the nation while Mother Teresa is acknowledged for her charitable works and both individuals are promoted as Albanian symbols of Europe and the West.[146] Other debates, at times heated and often in the media have been about public displays of Muslim practices, mosque construction in Albania or local and international violent incidents and its relationship to Islam.[147] Issues have also arisen over school textbooks and their inaccurate references of Islam such as describing the prophet Muhammad as God's "son", while other matters have been concerns over administrative delays for mosque construction and so on.[147]

Conservative Islam and Muslim fundamentalism[edit]

The Muslim Albanian community has also contended with increasing numbers of Christian charities and missionaries proselytizing (especially those of the Orthodox working often in tandem with official Greek polices) which has made some of the Sunni Albanian leadership become more assertive and calling for Islam to be declared the official religion of Albania.[105][47][17] These calls within the scope of political Islam have greatly waned after non-Muslim Albanians objected to those suggestions.[105] The Muslim Community of Albania opposes the legalisation of same-sex marriages for LGBT communities in Albania.[148] Islamic fundamentalism has though become a concern for Albania and its backers amongst the international community.[149] In the 1990s, small groups of militant Muslims took advantage of dysfunctional government, porous borders, corruption, weak laws and illegal activities occurring during Albania's transition to democracy.[149] These Muslim militants used Albania as a base for money laundering and as a transit route into the West with at times the assistance of corrupt government employees.[149] There were claims by critics of the Albanian government that high profile militants like Osama Bin Laden passed through Albania while president Sali Berisha and head of Albanian intelligence Bashkim Gazidede had knowledge and assisted militants, though no credible evidence has emerged.[149] Salafi and Wahhabi forms of Islam have also entered Albania and adherents have come mainly from among the young.[78] As of October 2015, some 90 Albanians so far have left Albania to become foreign fighters by joining various fundamentalist Salafi jihadist groups involved in the ongoing civil wars of Syria and Iraq.[150] In response to these events the Albanian government has crackdown with arrests of people associated with the few mosques suspected of radicalisation and recruitment.[147]

Islam and Albanian geo-political orientation[edit]

With the collapse of the isolationist communist regime, Albania's geopolitical orientation between West and East and the role of Christianity and Islam became debated among Albanian intellectuals and its politicians.[41][145] In 1992 Albania became the only entirely European member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and generated intense controversy within Albania due to concerns that Albania might drift from a secular European future.[41] Berisha refuted those claims and viewed membership for Albania in acting as a bridge between the Muslim-Christian worlds.[144] By 1998-1999 Albania's OIC membership was suspended and temporarily withdrawn by prime-minister Fatos Nano who viewed it as inhibiting Albania's European aspirations.[41][78][151][152] In the post communist period different socio-political reactions have occurred by regional neighbours and international powers toward Albania and Muslim Albanians. For example, in the 1990s, Greece preferred and assisted Orthodox Albanian leaders like Fatos Nano in Albania over Muslim Albanian ones like Sali Berisha as they were seen as being friendlier to Greek interests.[153] Though generally supportive of the USA, in 1999 due to the Kosovo war and ethnic cleansing of mostly Muslim Albanians by Orthodox Serbs and subsequent refugee influx into the country, Albania's status as an ally of the USA was confirmed.[103] Support for the USA has remained high at 95% in Muslim majority Albania in contrast to the rest of the Muslim world.[103] Albania joined the NATO military alliance in 2009 which remains popular in the country especially due to its intervention in the Kosovo war and Albania has contributed troops to NATO led operations in Afghanistan.[154] Within the wider Balkans Albania is considered to be the most pro-EU and pro-Western country in the region and unlike its neighbours except Kosovo are both countries that have little to negligible support for Russia.[119] Albania is an aspirant for European Union membership after formally submitting its application to join in 2009.[122] While state relations of Albania with Turkey are friendly and close, due to the Albanian diaspora of Turkey maintaining close links with Albanians of the Balkans and vice versa while also Turkey maintaining close socio-political, cultural, economic and military ties with Albania.[119][155][156][157][158][159] Turkey has been supportive of Albanian geopolitical interests within the Balkans.[157][159][122] In Gallup polls conducted in recent times Turkey is viewed as a friendly country by 73% of people in Albania.[157] Albania has established political and economic ties with Arab countries, in particular with Arab Persian Gulf states who have heavily invested in religious, transport and other infrastructure alongside other facets of the economy in addition to the somewhat limited societal links they share.[122] Albania is also working to develop socio-political and economic ties with Israel.[122]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

  1. ^ Nurja, Ines (2011). "Fjala e Drejtorit të Përgjithshëm të INSTAT, Ines Nurja gjatë prezantimit të rezultateve kryesore të Censusit të Popullsisë dhe Banesave 2011." [Speech of the Director General of the Institute of Statistics, Ines Nurja, during the presentation of the results of the Main Census of Population and Housing 2011.] (PDF) (Press release) (in Albanian). The Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Jørgen Nielsen; Samim Akgönül; Ahmet Alibašić; Egdunas Racius (2013). "Albania". Yearbook of Muslims in Europe 5. Leiden, Boston: Brill. p. 23. Retrieved 2016-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c Ramet, Sabrina (1998). Nihil obstat: religion, politics, and social change in East-Central Europe and Russia. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822320708. p. 209. "The Ottomans first invaded Albania in 1385. A second Ottoman force was sent to Albania 1394-96, occupying the country. Given both the Ottoman disposition to tolerate religious diversity among loyal subjects and the generally bellicose traditions of the Albanians, Ottoman authorities adopted a conciliatory policy toward Albanian Christians in the early decades of occupation. Still, although conversion to Islam was not required, a Christian Albanian lord could count on winning favor if he converted. If the Ottomans did not believe that religious reasons could compel a Christian to convert to Islam, they nonetheless looked askance when a Muslim converted (or reconverted) to Christianity. This happened in 1443 when Gjergj Kastrioti (called Skenderbeg), who had been reared as a Muslim in the sultan’s palace, abandoned the Islamic faith and publicly reverted to the creed of his forefathers. But this conversion was not merely a public gesture of defiance. It was the first act in a revolutionary drama. For, after changing his religious allegiance, Skenderbeg demanded that Muslim colonists and converts alike embrace Christianity on pain of death, declaring a kind of holy war against the sultan/caliph."
  4. ^ Ergo, Dritan (2010). "Islam in the Albanian lands (XVth-XVIIth Century)". In Jens Schmitt, Oliver & Andreas Rathberger (eds). [Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa [Religion and culture in Albanian-speaking southeastern Europe]]. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-631-60295-9. p. 22.
  5. ^ Giakoumis, Konstantinos (2010). "The Orthodox Church in Albania Under the Ottoman Rule 15th-19th Century". In Schmitt, Oliver Jens & Andreas Rathberger (eds). Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa [Religion and culture in Albanian-speaking southeastern Europe]]. Peter Lang. p. 6, 8.
  6. ^ Inalcik, Halil (1989). "The Ottoman Turks and the Crusades, 1451-1522". In Hazard, Harry & Norman Zacour (eds). A History of the Crusades: The Impact of the Crusades on Europe. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 327.
  7. ^ Nasse, George Nicholas (1964). The Italo-Albanian Villages of Southern Italy. National Academies. pp.24-26.
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  9. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 18.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Nurja, Ermal (2012). "The rise and destruction of Ottoman Architecture in Albania: A brief history focused on the mosques". Furat, A., & Er, Hamit (eds.). In Balkans and Islam Encounter, Transformation, Discontinuity, Continuity. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 193, 197-198, 204-205.
  11. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 34.
  12. ^ a b Malcolm, Noel (2015). Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-century Mediterranean World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190262785. pp. 12-13.
  13. ^ Ramet. Nihil obstat. 1998. pp. 209-210.
  14. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 8.
  15. ^ a b c Ramet. Nihil obstat. 1998. p. 210. "Then, in 1644, war broke out between Venice and the Ottoman empire. At the urging of the clergy, many Albanian Catholics sided with Venice. The Ottomans responded with severe repressions, which in turn drove many Catholics to embrace Islam (although a few elected to join the Orthodox Church instead)… Within the span of twenty-two years (1649-71) the number of Catholics in the diocese of Alessio fell by more than 50 percent, while in the diocese of Pulati (1634-71) the number of Catholics declined from more than 20,000 to just 4,045. In general, Albanian insurrections during the Ottoman-Venetian wars of 1644-69 resulted in stiff Ottoman reprisals against Catholics in northern Albania and significantly accelerated Islamization… In general, a pattern emerged. When the Ottoman empire was attacked by Catholic powers, local Catholics were pressured to convert, and when the attack on the Ottoman empire came from Orthodox Russia, the pressure was on local Orthodox to change faith. In some cases Islamization was only superficial, however, and in the nineteenth century many villages and some entire districts remained “crypto-Catholic” in spite of the adopting the externals of Islamic culture."
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  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Lederer, Gyorgy (1994). "Islam in Albania". Central Asian Survey. 13. (3): 333-334, 337. "Most Muslims and Bektashis understood that religious differences had to be played down in the name of common ethnicity and that pan-Islamic ideas had to be rejected and fought, even if some so-called 'fanatical' (Sunni) Muslim leaders in Shkoder and elsewhere preferred solidarity with the rest of the Islamic world. Such an attitude was not conducive to Albanian independence to which the international situation was favourable in 1912 and even after World War I."; pp. 338-341; p. 344. "In the Western press, Amnesty International, and other accounts on the horrors of the Albanian Gulag and religious persecution, there are many more mentions of Catholic and 'Greek' clergymen prisoners than Muslims who represent the overwhelming majority of the population. (Actually, I could find, after 1947, the name of only one imprisoned Muslim 'cleric' to whom I will return later.) The fact that Catholicism was considered by Hoxha, in the early period, as his main enemy is only one of the reasons. While Muslim leaders suffered probably as much as Christians their names were barely recorded by others than the Albanian emigrant organizations. Only the Muslim origin of certain detainees was referred to in a few Amnesty publications. The Western world has always been inclined to forget Muslim East Europeans. Religious persecution meant that of the Christians whose coreligionists in the free world could speak up for them. During those decades of oppression, even the Islamic world did little for its brothers tortured by Enver Hoxha."; pp. 346-348; p.355. "This relative tolerance is tested daily by the anti-Islamic attitude of Western-minded laic democrats,various foreign Christian proselytizers, and especially by a section of the Greek Orthodox whose aggressive campaigns are often coordinated with official Greek policies."
  18. ^ Frazee, Charles (2006). Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923. Cambridge University Press. pp. 167-168.
  19. ^ a b c d e Ramet. Nihil obstat. 1998. p.203. "The Ottoman conquest between the end of the fourteenth century and the mid-fifteenth century introduced a third religion – Islam - but the Turks did not at first use force in its expansion, and it was only in the 1600s that large-scale conversion to Islam began – chiefly, at first, among Albanian Catholics."; p.204. "The Orthodox community enjoyed broad toleration at the hands of the Sublime Porte until the late eighteenth century."; p. 204. "In the late eighteenth century Russian agents began stirring up the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman empire against the Sublime Porte. In the Russo-Turkish wars of 1768-74 and 1787-91 Orthodox Albanians rose against the Turks. In the course of the second revolt the “New Academy” in Voskopoje was destroyed (1789), and at the end of the second Russo-Turkish war more than a thousand Orthodox fled to Russia on Russian warships. As a result of these revolts, the Porte now applied force to Islamicize the Albanian Orthodox population, adding economic incentives to provide positive stimulus. In 1798 Ali Pasha of Janina led Ottoman forces against Christian believers assembled in their churches to celebrate Easter in the villages of Shen Vasil and Nivica e Bubarit. The bloodbath unleashed against these believers frightened Albanian Christians in other districts and inspired a new wave of mass conversions to Islam."
  20. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 26.
  21. ^ a b Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 37.
  22. ^ Giakoumis. The Orthodox Church in Albania. 2010. p. 5.
  23. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. p. 38.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Giakoumis. The Orthodox Church in Albania. 2010. p. 8.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening. Princeton University Press. pp. 10-13, 143, 181-189, 370-378.
  26. ^ a b Winnifrith, Tom (2002). Badlands-borderlands: a history of Northern Epirus/Southern Albania. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-3201-9. p. 107. "But the difficult archbishops of Ohrid must have produced some difference in their flocks. Less contentious faiths were available. It so happens that converting to Islam in central Albania was eased by the strength there of the Bektashi cult, a mystical faith, designed to appeal to all, demanding little in the way of strict rules of observance."; 130 "It is true that most of its inhabitants, though not all, spoke Albanian rather than Greek as their first language at home, and it is clear that it was the factor which principally influenced the Boundary Commission. On the other hand Greeks naturally made much of this fact, and it is true that in Northern Epirus loyalty to an Albania with a variety of Muslim leaders competing in anarchy cannot have been strong."
  27. ^ Giakoumis. The Orthodox Church in Albania. 2010. p. 6.
  28. ^ a b c Pistrick, Eckehard (2013). "Interreligious Cultural Practice as Lived Reality: The Case of Muslim and Orthodox Shepherds in Middle Albania". Anthropological Journal of European Cultures. 22. (2): 78-81.
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  31. ^ Kallivretakis, Leonidas (2003). "Νέα Πικέρνη Δήμου Βουπρασίων: το χρονικό ενός οικισμού της Πελοποννήσου τον 19ο αιώνα (και η περιπέτεια ενός πληθυσμού) [Nea Pikerni of Demos Vouprassion: The chronicle of a 19th century Peloponnesian settlement (and the adventures of a population)]". In Panagiotopoulos, Vasilis, et al (eds). Πληθυσμοί και οικισμοί του ελληνικού χώρου: ιστορικά μελετήματα [Populations and settlements of the Greek villages: historical essays]. Institute for Neohellenic Research. p.233.
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  33. ^ a b c Anscombe, Frederick (2006). "Albanians and "mountain bandits"". In Frederick Anscombe (ed.), The Ottoman Balkans, 1750-1830 Markus Wiener Publishers. p.88: "This Albanian participation in brigandage is easier to track than for many other social groups in Ottoman lands, because Albanian (Arnavud) was one of the relatively few ethnic markers regularly added to the usual religious (Muslim-Zimmi) tags used to identify people in state records. These records show that the magnitude of banditry involving Albanians grew through the 1770s and 1780s to reach crisis proportions in the 1790s and 1800s."; p.107. "In light of the recent violent troubles in Kosovo and Macedonia and the strong emotions tied to them, readers are urged most emphatically not to draw either of two unwarranted conclusions from this article: that Albanians are somehow inherently inclined to banditry, or that the extent of Ottoman "Albania" or Arnavudluk (which included parts of present-day northern Greece, western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, Kosovo, and southern Serbia) gives any historical “justification" for the creation of a "Greater Albania" today."
  34. ^ a b Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1976). Migrations and invasions in Greece and adjacent areas. Noyes Press. p. 62.
  35. ^ a b Koukoudis, Asterios (2003). The Vlachs: Metropolis and Diaspora. Zitros. pp. 321-322. "Particularly interesting is the case of Vithkuq, south of Moschopolis, which seems to have shared closely in the town’s evolution, though it is far from clear whether it was inhabited by Vlachs in the glory days before 1769. It may well have had Vlach inhabitants before 1769, though the Arvanites were certainly far more numerous, if not the largest population group. This is further supported by the linguistic identity of the refugees who fled Vithkuq and accompanied the waves of departing Vlachs. Today it is inhabited by Arvanites and Vlachs, though the forebears of the modern Vlach residents arrived after the village had been abandoned by its previous inhabitants and are mainly of Arvanitovlach descent. They are former pastoral nomads who settled permanently in Vithkuq."; p. 339. "As the same time as, or possibly shortly before or after, these events in Moschopolis, unruly Arnauts also attacked the smaller Vlach and Arvanitic communities round about. The Vlach inhabitants of Llengë, Niçë, Grabovë, Shipckë, and the Vlach villages on Grammos, such as Nikolicë, Linotopi, and Grammousta, and the inhabitants of Vithkuq and even the last Albanian speaking Christian villages on Opar found themselves at the mercy of the predatory Arnauts, whom no-one could withstand. For them too, the only solution was to flee... During this period, Vlach and Arvanite families from the surrounding ruined market towns and villages settled alongside the few Moscopolitans who had returned. Refugee families came from Dushar and other villages in Opar, from Vithkuq, Grabovë, Nikolicë, Niçë, and Llengë and from Kolonjë."
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  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Gawrych, George (2006). The crescent and the eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913. IB Tauris. pp. 21-24, 28-34, 43-53, 60-70, 72-105, 140-169, 177-179, 182, 190-200.
  51. ^ a b Hasluck, Frederick. (1913). "Ambiguous Sanctuaries and Bektashi Propaganda". The Annual of the British School at Athens. 20: 97, 106-119.
  52. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Jazexhi, Olsi (2014). "Albania". In Nielsen Jørgen, et al (eds). Yearbook of Muslims in Europe: Volume 6. Brill. pp. 19-20, 22-23, 26-29, 34.
  53. ^ a b Elsie, Robert (2001). A dictionary of Albanian religion, mythology, and folk culture. NYU Press. p.126.
  54. ^ Elsie, Robert (1992). "Albanian literature in the Moslem tradition: Eighteenth and early nineteenth century Albanian writing in Arabic script". Oriens. 33: 289-305.
  55. ^ Ergo. Islam in the Albanian lands. 2010. pp. 34-35.
  56. ^ a b Anscombe, Frederic (2006). "The Ottoman Empire in Recent International Politics - II: The Case of Kosovo". The International History Review. 28.(4): 772. "In this case, however, Ottoman records contain useful information about the ethnicities of the leading actors in the story. In comparison with ‘Serbs’, who were not a meaningful category to the Ottoman state, its records refer to ‘Albanians’ more frequently than to many other cultural or linguistic groups. The term ‘Arnavud’ was used to denote persons who spoke one of the dialects of Albanian, came from mountainous country in the western Balkans (referred to as ‘Arnavudluk’, and including not only the area now forming the state of Albania but also neighbouring parts of Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro), organized society on the strength of blood ties (family, clan, tribe), engaged predominantly in a mix of settled agriculture and livestock herding, and were notable fighters — a group, in short, difficult to control. Other peoples, such as Georgians, Ahkhaz, Circassians, Tatars, Kurds, and Bedouin Arabs who were frequently identified by their ethnicity, shared similar cultural traits."; pp. 95-101.
  57. ^ a b Lloshi, Xhevat (1999). "Albanian". In Hinrichs, Uwe, & Uwe Büttner (eds). Handbuch der Südosteuropa-Linguistik. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 277. "They called themselves arbënesh, arbëresh, the country Arbëni, Arbëri, and the language arbëneshe, arbëreshe. In the foreign languages, the Middle Ages denominations of these names survived, but for the Albanians they were substituted by shqiptarë, Shqipëri and shqipe. The primary root is the adverb shqip, meaning "clearly, intelligibly". There is a very close semantic parallel to this in the German noun Deutsche, "the Germans" and "the German language" (Lloshi 1984) Shqip spread out from the north to the south, and Shqipni/Shqipëri is probably a collective noun, following the common pattern of Arbëni, Arbëri. The change happened after the Ottoman conquest because of the conflict in the whole line of the political, social, economic, religious, and cultural spheres with a totally alien world of the Oriental type. A new and more generalised ethnic and linguistic consciousness of all these people responded to this."
  58. ^ a b c Elsie, Robert (2005). Albanian literature: A short history. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781845110314. p.34. "Modern Albanian scholars tend to view the consequences of these centuries of Turkish rule as completely negative, in terms of wild Asiatic hordes ravaging and plundering a country which might otherwise have flourished in the cradle of European civilization… Scholar Hasan Kaleshi (1922-1976) has convincingly suggested that the Turkish occupation of the Balkans had at least the one positive consequence. It saved the Albanians from ethnic assimilation by the Slavs, just as the Slavic invasion of the Balkans in the sixth century had put an end to the process of Romanization which had threatened to assimilate the non-Latin-speaking ancestors of the Albanians a thousand years earlier. Although not recognized by the Turks as an ethnic minority (the population of the Ottoman Empire was divided according to religion, not according to nationality), the Albanians managed to survive as a people and indeed substantially expand their areas of settlement under Turkish rule."
  59. ^ Kopanski, Atuallah Bogdan (1997). "Islamization of Albanians in the Middle Ages: The primary sources and the predicament of the modern historiography". Islamic studies. 36. (2/3): 192. "The sophisticated culture, literature and art of Islam were ignored by the generality of historians who hardly even tried to conceal their anti-Muslim bias. Their ferociously anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish attitude not only obscured and distorted the amazing process of mass conversion of entire Christian communities to Islam, but also provided an intellectual prop for the ultra nationalist policy of ethnic and religious cleansing in Bosnia, Hum (Herzegovina), Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. For against the backdrop of the history of the Balkans, as generally portrayed, what appeared as a kind of historical exoneration and an act of retaliation for the 'betrayal' of Christianity in the Middle Ages. The policy of destroying Islamic culture and way of life in Albania after the World War II is the primary reason why the history of medieval Islam in this land has not been properly studied. And when it was studied, it was studied within the parameters of the Stalinist ideology which emphasized only the mythical image of medieval Albanians as the 'heroic Illyrian proletariat'. The handful of Muslim scholars in the Communist Eastern Europe who resisted the anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish propaganda were ostracized and often penalized. Albanian nationalist historians like Ramadan Marmallaku, Kristo Frashëri Skender Anamali, Stefanaq Pollo, Skender Rizaj and Arben Puto in their books deliberately emphasized ad nauseam only 'the Turkish savagery' and the 'heroic' Christian resistance against the Osmanli state in Albania."
  60. ^ Nitsiakos, Vassilis (2010). On the border: Transborder mobility, ethnic groups and boundaries along the Albanian-Greek frontier. LIT Verlag. p. 56. "The Orthodox Christian Albanians, who belonged to the rum millet, identified themselves to a large degree with the rest of the Orthodox, while under the roof of the patriarchate and later the influence of Greek education they started to form Greek national consciousness, a process that was interrupted by the Albanian national movement in the of the 19th century and subsequently by the Albanian state."; p. 153. "The influence of Hellenism on the Albanian Orthodox was such that, when the Albanian national idea developed, in the three last decades of the 19th century, they were greatly confused regarding their national identity."
  61. ^ a b Skoulidas, Elias G. (2014). The Albanian Greek-Orthodox Intellectuals: Aspects of their Discourse between Albanian and Greek National Narratives (late 19th - early 20th centuries). Hronos. 07. para. 2, 19, 26-27.
  62. ^ a b c d e f Karpat, Kemal H. (2001). The politicization of Islam: reconstructing identity, state, faith, and community in the late Ottoman state. Oxford University Press. p. 342. “After 1856, and especially after 1878, the terms Turk and Muslim became practically synonymous in the Balkans. An Albanian who did not know one word of Turkish thus was given the ethnic name of Turk and accepted it, no matter how much he might have preferred to distance himself from the ethnic Turks.”; 369-370.
  63. ^ a b c d Kokolakis. Το ύστερο Γιαννιώτικο Πασαλίκι [The late Pashalik of Ioannina]. 2003. p.90. "Άσχετα από τις επιφυλάξεις που διατηρούσε απέναντι στην κεντρική εξουσία, η ηγετική μερίδα των Τουρκαλβανών παρέμενε εξαρτημένη από τους κρατικούς «λουφέδες» που αποκόμιζαν οι εκπρόσωποι της στελεχώνοντας τις πολιτικές και στρατιωτικές θέσεις της Αυτοκρατορίας• γνώριζε άλλωστε καλά ότι το αλβανικό στοιχείο θα έπαιζε πολύ σημαντικότερο ρόλο στα Βαλκάνια στα πλαίσια μιας ενιαίας Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας, παρά ως πυρήνας ενός κράτους χωριστού, τριγυρισμένου από εχθρικά χριστιανικά βασίλεια και εκτεθειμένου στις μηχανορραφίες των ευρωπαϊκών δυνάμεων." "[Regardless of the reservations maintained against the central power, the leading portion of Muslim Albanians remained dependent on the state "lufedes" realized by being the representatives recruited in the civil and military posts of the Empire, they also knew well that the Albanian element would play a very important role in the Balkans in a single Ottoman Empire, rather than in a core of a separate state, surrounded by hostile Christian kingdoms and exposed to the machinations of the European powers]." p. 91. "Περιορίζοντας τις αρχικές του ισλαμιστικές εξάρσεις, το αλβανικό εθνικιστικό κίνημα εξασφάλισε την πολιτική προστασία των δύο ισχυρών δυνάμεων της Αδριατικής, της Ιταλίας και της Αυστρίας, που δήλωναν έτοιμες να κάνουν ό,τι μπορούσαν για να σώσουν τα Βαλκάνια από την απειλή του Πανσλαβισμού και από την αγγλογαλλική κηδεμονία που υποτίθεται ότι θα αντιπροσώπευε η επέκταση της Ελλάδας. Η διάδοση των αλβανικών ιδεών στο χριστιανικό πληθυσμό άρχισε να γίνεται ορατή και να ανησυχεί ιδιαίτερα την Ελλάδα." "[By limiting the Islamic character, the Albanian nationalist movement secured civil protection from two powerful forces in the Adriatic, Italy and Austria, which was ready to do what they could to save the Balkans from the threat of Pan-Slavism and the Anglo French tutelage that is supposed to represent its extension through Greece. The dissemination of ideas in Albanian Christian population started to become visible and very concerning to Greece]."
  64. ^ a b c Hart, Laurie Kain (1999). "Culture, Civilization, and Demarcation at the Northwest Borders of Greece". American Ethnologist. 26. (1): 197. "Christians in ex-Ottoman domains have frequently and strategically conflated the terms Muslim and Turk to ostracize Muslim or Muslim-descended populations as alien (as in the current Serb-Bosnian conflict; see Sells 1996), and Albanians, though of several religions, have been so labeled."; p. 199.
  65. ^ Megalommatis, M. Cosmas (1994). Turkish-Greek Relations and the Balkans: A Historian's Evaluation of Today's Problems. Cyprus Foundation. p. 28. “Muslim Albanians have been called “Turkalvanoi” in Greek, and this is pejorative.
  66. ^ Nikolopoulou, Kalliopi (2013). Tragically Speaking: On the Use and Abuse of Theory for Life. University of Nebraska Press. p. 299. “Instead of the term “Muslim Albanians”, nationalist Greek histories use the more known, but pejorative, term “Turkalbanians”.
  67. ^ League of Nations (October 1921). "Albania". League of Nations –Official Journal. 8: 893. "The memorandum of the Albanian government… The memorandum complains that the Pan-Epirotic Union misnames the Moslem Albanians as “Turco-Albanians”"
  68. ^ Mentzel, Peter (2000). "Introduction: Identity, confessionalism, and nationalism." Nationalities Papers. 28. (1): 8. "The attitude of non Muslim Balkan peoples was similar. In most of the Balkans, Muslims were “Turks” regardless of their ethno-linguistic background. This attitude changed significantly, but not completely, over time."
  69. ^ Blumi, Isa (2011). Reinstating the Ottomans, Alternative Balkan Modernities: 1800-1912. Palgrave MacMillan. New York. p. 32. "As state policy, post- Ottoman “nations” continue to sever most of their cultural, socioeconomic, and institutional links to the Ottoman period. At times, this requires denying a multicultural history, inevitably leading to orgies of cultural destruction (Kiel 1990; Riedlmayer 2002). As a result of this strategic removal of the Ottoman past—the expulsion of the “Turks” (i.e., Muslims); the destruction of buildings; the changing of names of towns, families, and monuments; and the “purification” of languages—many in the region have accepted the conclusion that the Ottoman cultural, political, and economic infrastructure was indeed an “occupying,” and thus foreign, entity (Jazexhi 2009). Such logic has powerful intuitive consequences on the way we write about the region’s history: If Ottoman Muslims were “Turks” and thus “foreigners” by default, it becomes necessary to differentiate the indigenous from the alien, a deadly calculation made in the twentieth century with terrifying consequences for millions."
  70. ^ a b c Tošić, Jelena (2015). "City of the ‘calm’: vernacular mobility and genealogies of urbanity in a southeast European borderland." Southeast European and Black Sea Studies. 15. (3): 394–395. "As noted above, the vernacular mobility term ‘Podgoriçani’ (literally meaning ‘people that came from Podgoriça’, the present-day capital of Montenegro) refers to the progeny of Balkan Muslims, who migrated to Shkodra in four historical periods and in highest numbers after the Congress of Berlin 1878. Like the Ulqinak, the Podgoriçani thus personify the mass forced displacement of the Muslim population from the Balkans and the ‘unmixing of peoples’ (see e.g. Brubaker 1996, 153) at the time of the retreat of the Ottoman Empire, which has only recently sparked renewed scholarly interest (e.g. Blumi 2013; Chatty 2013)." ; p. 406.
  71. ^ a b c Gruber, Siegfried (2008). "Household structures in urban Albania in 1918." The History of the Family. 13.(2): 142. "Migration to Shkodra was mostly from the villages to the south-east of the city and from the cities of Podgorica and Ulcinj in Montenegro. This was connected to the independence of Montenegro from the Ottoman Empire in the year 1878 and the acquisition of additional territories, e.g. Ulcinj in 1881 (Ippen, 1907, p. 3)."
  72. ^ a b c Steinke, Klaus, & Xhelal Ylli (2013). Die slavischen Minderheiten in Albanien (SMA). 4. Teil: Vraka - Borakaj. Verlag Otto Sagner. p. 137. "Das Dorf Borakaj (Borak/Borake), zwischen Durrës und Tirana in der Nähe der Kleinstadt Shijak gelegen, wird fast vollständig von Bosniaken bewohnt. Zu dieser Gruppe gehören auch die Bosniaken im Nachbarort Koxhas."; p. 137. "Die Bosniaken sind wahrschlich nach 1875 aus der Umgebung von Mostar, und zwar aus Dörfern zwischen Mostar und Čapljina, nach Albanien gekommen... Einzelne bosnische Familien wohnen in verschiedenen Städten, vie in Shijak, Durrës. Die 1924 nach Libofsha in der Nähe von Fier eingewanderte Gruppe ist inzwischen sprachlich fast vollständig assimiliert, SHEHU-DIZDARI-DUKA (2001: 33) bezeichnet sie ehenfalls als bosniakisch."; p. 139. "Die von den österreichisch-ungarischen Truppen 1916 durchgeführte Volkszählung in Albanien verzeichnet für Borakaj 73 Häuser mit 305 muslimischen Einwohnern. Von ihnen werden 184 als Albaner und 121 als Serbokroaten bezeichnet. In Koxhas werden 109 Häuser mit 462 muslimischen Einwohnern erfasst, von denen 232 Albaner und 230 Serbokroaten waren, Ferner werden in Shijak 17 Serbokroaten und einer in Sukth registriert (SENER 1922: 35, 36), Für Borakaj sind die Angaben zur ethnischen Zusammensetzung problematisch. Es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass innerhalb von vierzig Jahren die Hälfte der Einwohner in Borakaj albanisiert wurde. Dem widerspricht vor allem auch die ethnische Homo-genität des Ortes bis zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre. Andererseits gibt es keine Hinweise, dass die fraglichen Albaner zwischenzeitlich wieder weggezogen sind oder von den Bosniaken assimiliert wurden. Wahrscheinlich hat sich ein Teil aus irgendwelchen Gründen nur falsch deklariert."; p. 139. "Anders stellt sich die Situation in Koxhas dar. Die Albaner dort bilden bis heute die Mehrheit, d.h. der Anteil der Bosniaken war immer kleiner und hat weiter abgenommen, sodass dieses Dorf in der unmittelbaren Nachbarschaft nicht bosniakisch geprägt ist. Weiterhin dubios bleibt jedoch für beide Ortschaften die Beizeichnung der Einwohner als ,,Serbokroaten”, weil die muslimischen Slavophonen von Seiner sonst immer in die Rubrik ,,Sonstige” eingeordnet werden."
  73. ^ a b Steinke, Klaus, & Xhelal Ylli (2013). Die slavischen Minderheiten in Albanien (SMA). 4. Teil: Vraka - Borakaj. Verlag Otto Sagner. p.9. "Am östlichen Ufer des Shkodrasees gibt es heute auf dem Gebiet von Vraka vier Dörfer, in denen ein Teil der Bewohner eine montenegrinische Mundart spricht. Es handelt sich dabei um die Ortschaften Boriçi i Madh (Borić Veli), Boriçi i Vogël (Borić Mali/Borić Stari/Borić Vezirov), Gril (Grilj) und Omaraj (Omara), die verwaltungstechnisch Teil der Gemeinde Gruemira in der Region Malësia e Madhe sind. Ferner zählen zu dieser Gruppe noch die Dörfer Shtoji i Ri und Shtoji i Vjetër in der Gemeinde Rrethinat und weiter nordwestlich von Koplik das Dorf Kamica (Kamenica), das zur Gemeinde Qendër in der Region Malësia e Madhe gehört. Desgleichen wohnen vereinzelt in der Stadt sowie im Kreis Shkodra weitere Sprecher der montenegrinischen Mundart. Nach ihrer Konfession unterscheidet man zwei Gruppen, d.h. orthodoxe mid muslimische Slavophone. Die erste, kleinere Gruppe wohnt in Boriçi i Vogël, Gril, Omaraj und Kamica, die zweite, größere Gruppe in Boriçi i Madh und in Shtoj. Unter den in Shkodra wohnenden Slavophonen sind beide Konfessionen vertreten... Die Muslime bezeichnen sich gemeinhin als Podgoričani ‘Zuwanderer aus Podgorica’ und kommen aus Zeta, Podgorica, Tuzi usw."; p. 19. "Ohne genaue Quellenangabe bringt ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (1991: 716-717) folgende ,,aktuelle” Zahlen:... Veliki (Mladi) Borić 112 Familien, davon 86 podgoričanski, 6 crnogorski und 20 albanische Familien. STOPPEL (2012: 28) sagt Folgendes über die Montenegriner in Albanien: ,,hierbei handelt es sich um (nach Erhebungen des Helsinki-Komitees von 1999 geschätzt,, etwa 1800-2000 serbisch-sprachige Personen in Raum des Shkodra-Sees und im nördlichen Berggrenzland zu Montenegro, die 1989 eher symbolisch mit ca. 100 Personen angegeben und nach 1991 zunächst überwiegend nach Jugoslawien übergewechselt waren”. p. 20. "Außer in Boriçi i Madh und auch in Shtoj, wo die Slavophonen eine kompakte Gruppe innerhalb des jeweiligen Ortes bilden, sind sie in anderen Dorfern zahlenmäßig bedeutunglos geworden."; p. 131. "In Shtoj i Vjetër leben heute ungefähr 30 und in Shtoj i Ri 17 muslimische Familien, d.h Podgoričaner."
  74. ^ a b c d e f g Endersen, Cecile (2011). "Diverging images of the Ottoman legacy in Albania". In Hartmuth, Maximilian, (ed.) Images of imperial legacy: Modern discourses on the social and cultural impact of Ottoman and Habsburg rule in Southeast Europe. Lit Verlag Münster. pp. 40-43, 47-48.
  75. ^ a b c d e f g Kokolakis, Mihalis (2003). Το ύστερο Γιαννιώτικο Πασαλίκι: χώρος, διοίκηση και πληθυσμός στην τουρκοκρατούμενη Ηπειρο (1820-1913) [The late Pashalik of Ioannina: Space, administration and population in Ottoman ruled Epirus (1820-1913). EIE-ΚΝΕ. p.53. "Με εξαίρεση τις ολιγομελείς κοινότητες των παλιών Ρωμανιωτών Εβραίων της Αρτας και των Ιωαννίνων, και την ακόμη ολιγομελέστερη ομάδα των Καθολικών της Αυλώνας, οι κάτοικοι της Ηπείρου χωρίζονται με το κριτήριο της θρησκείας σε δύο μεγάλες ομάδες, σε Ορθόδοξους και σε Μουσουλμάνους. [With the exception of a few members of the old communities such as Romaniote Jews of Arta and Ioannina, and even small groups of Catholics in Vlora, the residents of Epirus were separated by the criterion of religion into two major groups, the Orthodox and Muslims.]"; p. 54. "Η μουσουλμανική κοινότητα της Ηπείρου, με εξαίρεση τους μικρούς αστικούς πληθυσμούς των νότιων ελληνόφωνων περιοχών, τους οποίους προαναφέραμε, και τις δύο με τρεις χιλιάδες διεσπαρμένους «Τουρκόγυφτους», απαρτιζόταν ολοκληρωτικά από αλβανόφωνους, και στα τέλη της Τουρκοκρατίας κάλυπτε τα 3/4 περίπου του πληθυσμού των αλβανόφωνων περιοχών και περισσότερο από το 40% του συνόλου. [The Muslim community in Epirus, with the exception of small urban populations of the southern Greek-speaking areas, which we mentioned, and 2-3000 dispersed "Muslim Romani", consisted entirely of Albanian speakers, and in the late Ottoman period covered approximately 3/4 of population ethnic Albanian speaking areas and more than 40% of the total area."; pp.55-56.; p. 92.; p. 84.; p.374.
  76. ^ a b Nußberger, Angelika & Wolfgang Stoppel (2001). Minderheitenschutz im östlichen Europa (Albanien). (PDF) (in German). Cologne: Universität Köln. pp.9-10. "In den südlichen Landesteilen hielten sich Muslime und Orthodoxe stets in etwa die Waage: So standen sich zB 1908 in den Bezirken (damals türkischen Sandschaks) Korca und Gjirokastro 95.000 Muslime und 128.000 Orthodoxe gegenüber, während 1923 das Verhältnis 109.000 zu 114.000 und 1927 116.000 zu 112.000 betrug. [In the southern parts of the country, Muslims and Orthodox were broadly always balanced: Thus, for example in 1908 were in the districts (then Turkish Sanjaks) Korca and Gjirokastro 95,000 Muslims and in contrast to 128,000 Orthodox, while in 1923 the ratio of 109,000 to 114,000 and 1927 116,000 to 112,000 it had amounted too.]"
  77. ^ Baltsiotis, Lambros (2011). The Muslim Chams of Northwestern Greece: The grounds for the expulsion of a "non-existent" minority community. European Journal of Turkish Studies. para 14 "The fact that the Christian communities within the territory which was claimed by Greece from the mid 19th century until the year 1946, known after 1913 as Northern Epirus, spoke Albanian, Greek and Aromanian (Vlach), was dealt with by the adoption of two different policies by Greek state institutions. The first policy was to take measures to hide the language(s) the population spoke, as we have seen in the case of “Southern Epirus”. The second was to put forth the argument that the language used by the population had no relation to their national affiliation... As we will discuss below, under the prevalent ideology in Greece at the time every Orthodox Christian was considered Greek, and conversely after 1913, when the territory which from then onwards was called “Northern Epirus” in Greece was ceded to Albania, every Muslim of that area was considered Albanian."
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  102. ^ a b c d e f g h i Czekalski. The shining beacon. 2013. p.124. "In June 1949 there was a meeting between Enver Hoxha and the leader of the Albanian Sunni Muslims – Hafis Musa Ali, who presented his requests to the Albanian government. The mufti’s main postulates were to financial aid for the Muslim community, and to make those who wished in the future to become hodjas or mullahs exempt from military service. Hoxha reacted positively to the exemption of clergymen from military service, but did not support the idea of translating the Koran into Albanian, which the mufti requested."; p. 124. "Act 743 became the basis for negotiations concerning the legal status of religious communities. On May 4, 1950... On the same day, statutes concerning the Muslim communities were also approved. The highest power in the Sunni Muslim community was the Main Council, and the budget was to consist of income from property donations and budget subsidiaries. The statute also regulated the activity of the Community of Albanian Bektashi’s (Komuniteti Bektashian I Shqipërisë). Owing to the fact that the leader of the community in Albania controlled the world community of Bektashi’s, he obtained the right to maintain contact with communities active outside the country (other community leaders did not obtain such rights)."; p. 129. "The capital’s Et’hem Bey Mosque was recognized as a monument. This place later served as a place of prayer for diplomats working in Tirana, but Albanians were forbidden from praying in this place. A few Bektashi temples, including the sacral buildings were changed into cultural centres, warehouses and restaurants."; p.133. "Out of the 60 Bektashi temples (tekke) open before 1967, at the beginning of the 1990s only six were successfully reopened."
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  129. ^ Steinke, Klaus, & Xhelal Ylli (2010). Die slavischen Minderheiten in Albanien:(SMA). 3. Gora. Verlag Otto Sagner. p. 11. "In den 17 Dörfern des Kosovo wird Našinski/Goranče gesprochen, und sie gehören zu einer Gemeinde mit dem Verwaltungszentrum in Dragaš. Die 19 Dörfer in Albanien sind hingegen auf drei Gemeinden des Bezirks Kukës aufgeteilt, und zwar auf Shishtavec, Zapod und Topojan. Slavophone findet man freilich nur in den ersten beiden Gemeinden. Zur Gemeinde Shishtavec gehören sieben Dörfer und in den folgenden vier wird Našinski/Goranče gesprochen: Shishtavec (Šištaec/Šišteec), Borja (Borje), Cërnaleva (Cărnolevo/Cărneleve) und Oreshka (Orešek). Zur Gemeinde Zapod gehören ebenfalls sieben Dörfer, und in den folgenden fünf wird Našinski/Goranče gesprochen: Orgjost (Orgosta), Kosharisht (Košarišta), Pakisht (Pakiša/Pakišča) Zapod (Zapod) und Orçikla (Orčikl’e/Očikl’e)’. In der Gemeinde Topojan gibt es inzwischen keine slavophone Bevölkerung mehr. Die Einwohner selbst bezeichnen sich gewöhnlich als Goranen ‘Einwohner von Gora oder Našinci Unsrige, und ihre Sprache wird von ihnen als Našinski und von den Albanern als Gorançe bezeichnet."
  130. ^ a b c d De Rapper, Gilles (2001). The son of three fathers has no hat on his head. Life and social representations in a Macedonian village of Albania. Academic paper. Macedonia, Macedonias. p. 3-4, 6.
  131. ^ Steinke, Klaus, & Xhelal Ylli (2008). Die Slavischen Minderheiten in Albanien (SMA). 2. Teil: Golloborda-Herbel-Kërçishti I Epërm. Verlag Otto Sagner. p. 10. "Heute umfaßt das Gebiet von Golloborda in Albanien 22 Dörfer, die verwaltungstechnisch auf drei verschiedene Gemeinden aufgeteilt sind: 1. Die Gemeinde Ostren besteht aus dreizehn Dörfern, und Südslavisch wird in den folgenden neun Dörfern gesprochen: Ostreni i Madh (Golemo Ostreni/Ostreni Golemo), Kojavec (Kojovci), Lejçan Lešničani), Lladomerica (Ladomerica/Ladimerica/Vlademerica), Ostreni i Vogël (Malo Ostreni/Malastreni/Ostreni Malo), Orzhanova (Oržanova), Radovesh (Radoveš/Radoeš/Radoešt), Tuçep (Tučepi) und Pasinka (Pasinki). 2. Die Gemeinde von Trebisht umfaßt die vier Dörfer Trebisht (Trebišta), Gjinovec (G'inovec/G'inec), Kienja (Klen'e) und Vërnica (Vărnica), und in allen wird Südslavisch gesprochen. 3. Die übrigen Dörfer von Golloborda gehören zur Gemeinde Stebleva, und zwar Stebleva, Zabzun, Borova, Sebisht, Llanga. Südslavisch wird in Stebleva (Steblo) sowie von drei Familien in Sebisht (Sebišta) gesprochen. Wie aus den bisherigen Ausführungen und den Erhebungen vor Ort hervorgeht, gibt es nur noch in fünfzehn der insgesamt Dörfer, die heute zu Golloborda gehören, slavophone Einwohner. Die Zahl der Dörfer in Golloborda wird manchmal auch mit 24 angegeben. Dann zählt man die Viertel des Dorfes Trebisht, und zwar Trebisht-Bala, Trebisht-Çelebia und Trebisht-Muçina separat. Zu Golloborda rechnete man traditionell ferner die Dörfer Hotišan, Žepišt, Manastirec, Drenok, Modrič und Lakaica, die heute in Makedonien liegen."
  132. ^ a b Pieroni, Andrea, et al (2014). "Resilience at the border: traditional botanical knowledge among Macedonians and Albanians living in Gollobordo, Eastern Albania." Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine. 10. (31): 2.
  133. ^ a b De Rapper, Gilles (2002). "Culture and the Reinvention of Myths in a Border Area." In Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie, & Bernd Jürgen Fischer (eds). Albanian Identities. Myth and History. Indiana University Press. p. 191. “It is common in Albania to say that all Albanians, whether Christian or Muslim, are brothers, and that their only religion is their common Albanian nationality. The dogma of national unity as against religious differentiation is at the core of the most widely-spread Albanian national rhetoric. However, this rhetoric is challenged when local society is underpinned by, and conceptualised in terms of, religious differentiation."
  134. ^ a b Kokkali, Ifigeneia (2015). "Albanian Immigrants in the Greek City: Spatial ‘Invisibility’ and Identity Management as a Strategy of Adaptation". In Vermeulen, Hans, Baldwin-Edwards, Martin, & Riki van Boeschoten (eds.). Migration in the Southern Balkans.From Ottoman Territory to Globalized Nation States. Springer Open. pp. 129, 134-135.
  135. ^ a b c d e Nitsiakos, Vassilis (2010). On the border: Transborder mobility, ethnic groups and boundaries along the Albanian-Greek frontier. LIT Verlag. p. 209. "On their part, the Muslims believe that they are the purest Albanians, because they constituted the nucleus of the national renaissance and as great patriots resisted the Serbs, who tried to penetrate and conquer Albanian territories. In reference to Christians, they claim that the Orthodox identified with the Greeks and the Catholic with the Italians."; pp. 200-201. "Traces of this historical differentiation are still evident in South Albania today between Christian and Muslim Albanians. Very often on hears Christians call Muslim Albanians “Turks”; they, in their turn, often attribute pro-Greek sentiments to Orthodox Christian Albanians."
  136. ^ a b c d Saltmarshe, Douglas (2001). Identity in a post-communist Balkan state: An Albanian village study. Ashgate. p. 115. "It is frequently said that how there is no difference between the religions in Albania. While it is true that there is a considerable degree of toleration, indications deriving from this study suggest that religious affiliations plays a significant part in identity formation and therefore in social relations... However the story from the Catholics was very different... there was varying mistrust of the Muslims. Many Catholics expressed resentment of the dominant position of the Muslims during communism and subsequently. Some expressed and underlying dislike of Islam and what they perceived to be its philosophy."; p. 116. "However the Muslim position was that Islam had proved to be a vital force in uniting and maintaining the independence of Albania. Without it they would have been subsumed by the Greeks, Serbs or Italians. From this perspective, they believed, Islam formed the basis of Albanian national identity and should provide the foundation upon which its state was constructed… Yet not far below the surface there was a degree of disdain for the Catholics. In Gura, Catholic migrants reported that Muslims called them kaur, a most unpleasant derogatory term used by the Turks to describe Christians."; pp. 166-117. "So whatever might be said to the contrary, tensions were observable between Catholics and Muslims. At most basic of levels Gura was segregated into Muslim and Catholics areas. The same situation existed in Shkodër where the city was broadly split into neighbourhoods defined by faith with the Roma living on the southern outskirts of town. Yet there were many in the younger generation who did not see religion as being important."
  137. ^ De Rapper, Gilles (2002). "Culture and the Reinvention of Myths in a Border Area. In Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie & Bernd J. Fischer (eds). Albanian Identities. Myth and History. Indiana University Press. p. 191. "This is the case in mixed areas, where Muslims and Christians live in separate villages (or in separate neighbourhoods), and both have strong identities as religious communities – as in Devoll. In this specific context, religion cannot consist of just being Albanian. On the contrary, people are very well aware of their belonging to a specific religious community, and national identity is rarely thought of outside the basic opposition between Muslims and Christians.”
  138. ^ De Rapper, Gilles (2005). "Better than Muslims, Not as Good as Greeks: Emigration as Experienced and Imagined by the Albanian Christians of Lunxhëri". In King, Russell; Mai, Nicola; Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (eds). The New Albanian Migration. Brighton-Portland: Sussex Academic. p. 181. "The Muslims from Erind – the only village in Lunxhëri to be Muslim in majority – are not perceived as the descendants of migrants from other Muslim areas, but they are nonetheless definitely different, and the relations between Erind and the neighbouring villages are marked by the same stereotypes as the relations between Muslims and Christians usually are: people from Erind are said to be violent and dirty, to have no culture, and to be responsible for anything bad happening in the area."
  139. ^ Bon, Nataša Gregorič (2008). Contested spaces and negotiated identities in Dhërmi/Drimades of Himarë/Himara area, southern Albania (Thesis). University of Nova Gorica. p. 33. " According to the mainstream public opinion in Greece the Greek speaking people of Orthodox religion living in Southern Albania are called Northern Epirots (Vorioepirotes) (see Triandafyllidou and Veikou 2002: 191). According to the public opinion in Albania they are often referred to by Greeks or Greku or pejoratively Kaure (non-believers) or Kaur i derit (non-believer-pigs, i.e. Greek pigs)."
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