ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN ARMENIA
REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA
11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km); total area: 11,506 sq mi (29,800 sq km)
Population (2008 est.):
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
Armenian 98%, Yezidi, Russian
Armenian 97.9%, Russian 0.5%, Kurds 1.3%, other 0.3% (2001)
Armenian Apostolic 95%, other Christian 4%, Yezidi 1%
Independence Day, September 21
99.4% (2001 est.)
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
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.
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
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
Old postcard showing the Blue Mosque in Yerevan
Entrance of the Blue Mosque in Yerevan
The Blue Mosque in Yerevan
Islamic Centers and Organizations
Zayton Mosque, Yerevan, Yerevan
Mosque, Yerevan, Yerevan
NGO, Yerevan, Armenia
Phone: +963 98 625 742
Muslim Owned Business
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 (
World Religions Statistics (
http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/xx , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Armenia,