ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN MACEDONIA

      

General Information

Republic of Macedonia1

National Name: Republika Makedonija

Land area: 9,928 sq mi (25,173 sq km); total area: 9,781 sq mi (25,333 sq km)

Population (2008 est.): 2,061,315

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Skopje, 587,300 (metro. area), 452,500 (city proper)

Other large cities: Bitola, 84,400; Kumanovo, 78,900; Prilep, 56,900

Monetary unit: Denar

Languages: Macedonian 67%, Albanian 25% (both official); Turkish 4%, Roma 2%, Serbian 1% (2002)

Ethnicity/race: Macedonian 64.2%, Albanian 25.2%, Turkish 3.8%, Roma (Gypsy) 2.7%, Serb 1.8%, other 2.2% (2002)

Religions: Macedonian Orthodox 32%, Islam 17% (2002)

National Holiday: Ilinden Uprising Day, August 2

Literacy rate: 96% (2002 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $17.35 billion; per capita $8,500. Real growth rate: 5%. Inflation: 2.3%.

Macedonia is a landlocked state in the heart of the Balkans and is slightly smaller than the state of Vermont. It is a mountainous country with small basins of agricultural land. The Vardar is the largest and most important river.

The Republic of Macedonia occupies the western half of the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. Historic Macedonia was defeated by Rome and became a Roman province in 148 B.C. After the Roman Empire was divided in A.D. 395, Macedonia was intermittently ruled by the Byzantine Empire until Turkey took possession of the land in 1371. The Ottoman Turks dominated Macedonia for the next five centuries, until 1913. During the 19th and 20th centuries, there was a constant struggle by the Balkan powers to possess Macedonia for its economic wealth and its strategic military corridors. The Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, ending the Russo-Turkish War, gave the largest part of Macedonia to Bulgaria. Bulgaria lost much of its Macedonian territory when it was defeated by the Greeks and Serbs in the Second Balkan War of 1913. Most of Macedonia went to Serbia and the remainder was divided among Greece and Bulgaria.

In 1918, Serbia, which included much of Macedonia, joined in union with Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. Bulgaria joined the Axis powers in World War II and occupied parts of Yugoslavia, including Macedonia, in 1941. During the occupation of their country, Macedonian resistance fighters fought a guerrilla war against the invading troops. The Yugoslavian federation was reestablished after the defeat of Germany in 1945, and in 1946, the government removed the Vardar territory of Macedonia from Serbian control and made it an autonomous Yugoslavian republic. Later, when President Tito recognized the Macedonian people as a separate nation, Macedonia's distinct culture and language were able to flourish, no longer suppressed by outside rule.

On Sept. 8, 1991, Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia and asked for recognition from the European Union nations. It became a member of the UN in 1993 under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) because Greece vociferously protested Macedonia's right to the name, which is also the name of a large northern province of Greece. To Greece, the use of the name implies Macedonia's interest in territorial expansion into the Greek province. Greece has imposed two trade embargoes against the country as a result.

 Islamic History and Muslims

Muslims in the Republic of Macedonia form 33% of the Republic of Macedonia's total population. It has the fourth largest Muslim population in Europe by percentage after Kosovo (90%), Albania (70%), and Bosnia-Herzegovina (47%). Some northwestern and western regions of the country have Muslim majorities. With the exception of the Macedonian Muslims, many of the Muslims in the country are Albanian, Turkish or Roma.

According to the 2002 census, there are about 600,000 Muslim in Macedonia. The Albanian Muslims live mostly in the Polog and western regions of the country. The Turkish population is scattered throughout the country, but mostly in the major cities. The Macedonian Muslims can be found in Western Macedonia in the Centar Zupa, Debar, Struga and Plasnica areas.

Muslim Albanians (24.6%)
Macedonian Muslims (2-4%)
Muslim Turks (2.3%)
Muslim Egyptians (Gypsies) and other Muslim Roma (1.9%)

The Macedonian Muslims (Macedonian: Македонци-муслимани, Makedonci-muslimani), also known as Muslim Macedonians[3] or Torbeš (the latter name is slightly pejorative), are a minority religious group within the community of ethnic Macedonians who are Muslims (primarily Sunni, although Sufism is widespread among the population), although not all espouse a Macedonian national identity. They have been culturally distinct from the majority Orthodox Christian Slavic Macedonian community for centuries, and are linguistically and racially distinct from the larger Muslim ethnic groups in Macedonia: the Albanians and Turks.

Islamification
The Macedonian Muslims are largely the descendants of Orthodox Christian Slavs from the region of Macedonia who converted to Islam during the centuries when the Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkans. The main factor prompting their conversion was manifold. Non-Muslims were generally regarded by the state and Ottoman society as being of a subordinate status. They were treated differently under the legal system, were subjected to the jizya, a tax that ensured non-Muslims protection by the state and relieved them from military duties. Nevertheless, the payment of the jizya cannot be taken as the only reason for conversion. Muslims also had to pay an obligatory tax as well, called zakat every year. Converts also benefited from the prestige accorded to the religion of the ruling class of the empire - in practice, Christianity was the religion of a conquered class.[4] In addition, the various Sufi orders (like the Khalwati, Rifa'is and Bektashis) all played a role in the conversion of the Macedonian Slav population.

Areas of settlement
The largest concentration of Macedonian Muslims can be found in Western Macedonia and Eastern Albania. The Centar Župa Municipality is populated by a large number of Macedonian Muslims although for personal reasons most of the population chooses to identify as Turks. Most of the villages in the Centar Župa and Debar regions are populated by Macedonian Muslims. The Struga municipality also holds a large number of Macedonian Muslims who are primarily concentrated in the large village of Labuništa. Further North in the Debar region many of the surrounding villages are inhabited by Macedonian Muslims. The Dolna Reka region is also primarily populated by Macedonian Muslims. They form the remainder of the population which emigrated to Turkey in the 1950's and 1960's. Places such as Rostuša and Tetovo also have large Macedonian Mulsim populations. Most of the Turkish population along the Western Macedonian border are in fact Macedonian Muslims. Another large concentration of Macedonian Muslims is in the so called Torbešija which is just south of Skopje. There are also major concentrations of Macedonian Muslims in the central region of the Republic of Macedonia, surrounding the Plasnica municipality and the Dolneni municipality.

The Macedonian Muslim population of Albania and Kosovo can be primarily found along the Macedonian border. A large proportion of the Gorani population identify as Macedonians. There have been reports that Macedonian language textbooks have been distributed in Kosovo to Gorani school students.

Demographics
The exact numbers of Macedonian Muslims are not easy to establish. The writer Ivo Banac estimates that in the old Kingdom of Yugoslavia, before World War II, the Macedonian Muslim population stood at around 27,000.[5] Subsequent censuses have produced dramatically varying figures: 1,591 in 1953, 3,002 in 1961, 1,248 in 1971 and 39,355 in 1981. Commentators have suggested that the latter figure includes many who previously identified themselves as Turks. Meanwhile the Association of Macedonian Muslims has claimed that since World War II more than 70,000 Macedonian Muslims have been assimilated by other Muslim groups, most notably the Albanians[6] (see Albanization).

It can be estimated from the 43,534 Turks in Western Macedonia, the Studeničani municipality, Torbesija area and Dolneni municipality that over 75% are Macedonian Muslims. Along with 5 to 10% of both the Macedonian and Albanian populations in Western Macedonia which equates to between 23,736 and 47,472. It can be estimated that the Macedonian Muslim population in the Republic of Macedonia between 55,000 and 80,000.

Language and ethnic affiliation
Like their Christian ethnic kin, Macedonian Muslims speak the Macedonian language as their first language. Despite their common language and racial heritage, it is almost unheard of for Macedonian Muslims intermarry with Macedonian Orthodox. Macedonian ethnologists do not consider the Muslim Slavs a separate ethnic group from the Christian Macedonian Slavs, but instead a religious minority within the Macedonian Slav ethnic community. Intermarriage with the country's other Muslim groups (Albanians and Turks) much more accepted, given the bonds of a common religion and history.

Some Turkish ethnologists have claimed that the Macedonian Muslims are in fact Slavicized Turks, although this interpretation is not widely supported.[7] The Macedonian writer Jakim Sinadinovski has similarly claimed that the Macedonian Muslims are not, in fact, Slavic Macedonians; this prompted a strong reaction when his thesis was first published in 1988.[8]

When the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was established in 1944, the Yugoslav government encouraged the Macedonian Muslims to adopt an ethnic Macedonian identity.[citation needed] This has since led to some tensions with the Macedonian Christian community over the widespread association between Macedonian national identity and adherence to the Macedonian Orthodox Church.[9]

Political activities
The principal outlet for Macedonian Muslim political activities has been the Association of Macedonian Muslims. It was established in 1970 with the support of the authorities, probably as a means of keeping Macedonian Muslim aspirations in control.[10]

The fear of assimilation into the Albanian Muslim community has been a significant factor in Macedonian Muslim politics, amplified by the tendency of some Macedonian Muslims to vote for Albanian candidates. In 1990, the chairman of the Macedonian Muslims organization, Riza Memedovski, sent an open letter to the Chairman of the Party for Democratic Prosperity of Macedonia, accusing the party of using religion to promote the Albanisation of the Macedonian Muslims.[1]. A controversy broke out in 1995 when the Albanian-dominated Meshihat or council of the Islamic community in Macedonia declared that Albanian was the official language of Muslims in Macedonia. The decision prompted protests from the leaders of the Macedonian Muslim community.[9]

Occupation
Many Macedonian Muslims are involved in agriculture, and also work abroad. Macedonian Muslims are well-known as fresco-painters, wood carvers and mosaic-makers. In the past few decades large numbers of Macedonian Muslims have emigrated to Western Europe and North America.
 

   Mosque in Western Macedonia

 Mustapha Pasha Mosque

Macedonia, Totovo, Alaca Mosque
 

 

Haxhi_jonuz

k_m_celebi

  

 

 

 Islamic Centers and Organizations

AlbIslam.Com, Skopje, Macedonia
URL: http://www.albislam.com   Phone: 02-3290408
El Ihlas, Skopje, Macedonia
URL: http://www.elihlas.islambosna.com   Phone: +3892634305-+3892634
Biblioteka Khalid Efendi, Slupcane, Macedonia
Phone: 00389-031462327
Sh.q.Ikre, Prilep, Macedonia
Bashkesia Islame ne Republiken e Maqedonise, Skopje, Macedonia
URL: www.bim.org.mk   Phone: +38923117530;3117410
Muslim Youth Organization, Skopje, mk
Phone: 389-91-616738
Culture Centre BINDYA, Gostivar, Macedonia
Phone: +389-70496505
Kuranoteka Ebu-Hanife, Kumanove
URL: www.sermet.itgo.com  
Software Design Editing, Skopje, Macedonia
URL: www.SDEtime.com   Phone: 389-22 627 664
Muftiny of Tetovo, Teovo, FYROM Macedonia

  Culture Centre BINDYA, Gostivar
  Dijon masjid, Skopje
  Islamski centar Labunista, Labunista
  Organizata islame ne zajaz, Kicevo
  Sh.q.Ikre, Prilep
  Xhamia e Haracines (Mosque ), Haracine
 
Xhamia e haxhi Esatit, Llojan

  ASR, Tetovo
  Bashkesia Islame ne Republiken e Maqedonise, Skopje
  Biblioteka Khalid Efendi, Slupcane
  El Ihlas, Skopje
  IHSAN, Struga
  Islamic Youth Forum, Skopje
  Kuranoteka Ebu-Hanife, Kumanove
 
Studentski Klub, Skopje

  Madrasa Isa Beu, Skopje
 
Muftiny of Tetovo, Teovo

   Muslim Owned Business

  CAKO, Kumanova Glava
 
Software Design Editing, Skopje

References
Islam in Republic of Macedonia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_Republic_of_Macedonia  , October, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107738.html ,  October, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=macedonia , October, 2008).
Macedonian Muslims  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_Muslims  , October, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Republic of Macedonia, October 2008.