ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN ARMENIA

      

General Information

REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

National Name: Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun

Land area: 11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km); total area: 11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km)

Population (2008 est.): 2,968,586

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Yerevan, 1,462,700 (metro. area), 1,267,600 (city proper)

Other large cities: Vanadzor, 147,400; Gyumri (Leninakan), 125,300; Abovian, 59,300

Monetary unit: Dram

Languages: Armenian 98%, Yezidi, Russian

Ethnicity/race: Armenian 97.9%, Russian 0.5%, Kurds 1.3%, other 0.3% (2001)

Religion: Armenian Apostolic 95%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi 1%

National Holiday: Independence Day, September 21

Literacy rate: 99.4% (2001 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $16.83 billion; per capita $5,700. Real growth rate: 13.7%. Inflation: 6.6%.

Armenia is located in the southern Caucasus and is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It is bounded by Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Iran on the south, and Turkey on the west. Contemporary Armenia is a fraction of the size of ancient Armenia. A land of rugged mountains and extinct volcanoes, its highest point is Mount Aragats, 13,435 ft (4,095 m).

One of the world's oldest civilizations, Armenia once included Mount Ararat, which biblical tradition identifies as the mountain that Noah's ark rested on after the flood. It was the first country in the world to officially embrace Christianity as its religion (c. A.D. 300).

In the 6th century B.C., Armenians settled in the kingdom of Urartu (the Assyrian name for Ararat), which was in decline. Under Tigrane the Great (fl. 95–55 B.C.) the Armenian empire reached its height and became one of the most powerful in Asia, stretching from the Caspian to the Mediterranean seas. Throughout most of its long history, however, Armenia has been invaded by a succession of empires. Under constant threat of domination by foreign forces, Armenians became both cosmopolitan as well as fierce protectors of their culture and tradition. Over the centuries Armenia was conquered by Greeks, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and Russians.

The independent Republic of Armenia was established on May 28, 1918, but survived only until Nov. 29, 1920, when it was annexed by the Soviet army. On March 12, 1922, the Soviets joined Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became part of the USSR. In 1936, after a reorganization, Armenia became a separate constituent republic of the USSR. Armenia declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on Sept. 23, 1991.

Islamic History and Muslims


    Islam in Armenia has generally been avoided throughout the centuries. During the Arabic invasion, Islam came to the Armenians however, most Armenians never converted to Islam. The story was similar in the Ottoman Empire.

During 1988-1991 the overwhelming majority of Muslim population consisting of Azeris and Muslim Kurds fled the country as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War and the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There is also a significant community of Yazidi Kurds (50-70,000 people), who were not affected by this conflict. Since the early 1990s, Armenia has also attracted diverse esoteric and sectarian groups.

Arab invasions and Armenian revolts

The Muslim Arabs first invaded Armenia in 640. Prince Theodoros Rshtuni led the Armenian defense. In about 652, a peace agreement was made, allowing Armenians freedom of religion. Prince Theodoros traveled to Damascus, where he was recognized by the Arabs as the ruler of Armenia, Georgia and Albania. By the end of the seventh century, the Caliphate's policy toward Armenia and the Christian faith hardened because of various reasons. Special representatives of Caliph called ostigans were sent to govern Armenia. The ostigans made the city of Dvin their residence. Before Dvin was the residence of Armenian Catholicos.

Although declared domain of Caliph, most of Armenia though not all remained faithful to the Christian religion. The Arabs failed in several attempts to convert the Armenians to Islam. The Armenian obstinacy exasperated caliph Abd al-Malik. In 705, he gave to one of the ostikans an unprecedented order to murder all Armenian Nakharars. More than 400 Armenian noblemen were entrapped to one of Nakhichevan churches, then the doors were closed and the church was set in fire. Later, the Arab historians termed that time as The Year of Great Burning. Quoting Pope John VI, "...ocean of tears flooded Armenia". A number of unsuccessful insurrections followed that tragic event during the 8th century.

The Qur'an

There were Qur'an (Armenian: Ղուրան, Ghuran) manuscripts translated into Classical Armenian, Grabar. However first printed version of Qur'an translated into Armenian language from Arabic appeared in 1910. In 1912 a translation from a French version was published. Both of them were in the Western Armenian dialect. A new translation of the Qur'an in Eastern Armenian dialect was started with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran embassy in Yerevan. The translation was done by Edvard Hakhverdyan from Persian in three years. A group of Arabologists have been helping with the translation. Each of the 30 parts of Qur'an have been read and approved by the Tehran Center of Qur'anic Studies. The publication of 1000 copies of the translated work was done in 2007. The big interest towards the volume pushed the embassy to order another 3000 additional copies.

The "Blue Mosque", also known as the "Gyok Jami" (Armenian: Կապույտ Մզկիթ, Kapuyt Mzkit or Գյոյ Մզկիթ, Gyoy Mzkit; Turkish: Gök Camii, Gyok Jami; Persian: مسجد کبود, Masjed-i Kabud), is a mosque in Yerevan, Armenia. It was built in 1766 during the reign of Hussein Ali, the khan of Erivan (and is therefore sometimes referred to as "the mosque of Hussein Ali"). It was the largest of eight functioning mosques in Yerevan when the city was captured by Russia in 1827. The complex consisted of a main prayer room, a library, a medresse with 28 cells, all organised around a courtyard, with the overall complex occupying 7,000 square metres of land. It originally had four 24-metre high minarets - however, three of them were later demolished.

Due to the secularist policies of the Soviet government, religious services at the Blue Mosque were stopped, and in 1931 the building was turned into the Museum of the City of Yerevan.

In the second half of the 1990s, the mosque underwent a heavy and aesthetically damaging restoration funded by Iran, and Islamic religious services have now resumed.

Old postcard showing the Blue Mosque in Yerevan

Entrance of the Blue Mosque in Yerevan

The Blue Mosque in Yerevan

 

More Mosques in Armenia

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

Zayton Mosque, Yerevan, Yerevan
Phone: 00963988625742

Alfurqan Mosque, Yerevan, Yerevan
Phone: 00963988625742

Assalaam NGO, Yerevan, Armenia
Phone: +963 98 625 742
 

   Muslim Owned Business

Pita House, Schaumburg, Schaumburg:
Phone: 847-3524750

References
Islam in Armenia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Armenia   , September, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/xx,  September, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=armenia  , September, 2008).
World Religions Statistics ( http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/xx , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Armenia, September 2008.