ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN POLAND

      

General Information

Republic of Poland

National name: Rzeczpospolita Polska

Land area: 117,571 sq mi (304,509 sq km); total area: 120,728 sq mi (312,685 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 38,518,241

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Warsaw, 2,201,900 (metro. area), 1,607,600 (city proper)

Other large cities: Lodz, 778,200; Krakow, 733,100; Wroclaw, 632,200; Poznan, 581,200; Gdansk, 456,700; Szczecin, 415,700

Monetary unit: Zloty

Language: Polish 98% (2002)

Ethnicity/race: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belorussian 0.1% Ukrainian 0.1%, other 2.7% (2002)

Religions: Roman Catholic 90% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1%, Protestant and other (2002)

Literacy rate: 100% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $620.9 billion; per capita $16,300. Real growth rate: 6.5%. Inflation: 2.5%.

Poland, a country the size of New Mexico, is in north-central Europe. Most of the country is a plain with no natural boundaries except the Carpathian Mountains in the south and the Oder and Neisse rivers in the west. Other major rivers, which are important to commerce, are the Vistula, Warta, and Bug.

Great (north) Poland was founded in 966 by Mieszko I, who belonged to the Piast dynasty. The tribes of southern Poland then formed Little Poland. In 1047, both Great Poland and Little Poland united under the rule of Casimir I the Restorer. Poland merged with Lithuania by royal marriage in 1386. The Polish-Lithuanian state reached the peak of its power between the 14th and 16th centuries, scoring military successes against the (Germanic) Knights of the Teutonic Order, the Russians, and the Ottoman Turks.

Lack of a strong monarchy enabled Russia, Prussia, and Austria to carry out a first partition of the country in 1772, a second in 1792, and a third in 1795. For more than a century thereafter, there was no Polish state, just Austrian, Prussian, and Russian sectors, but the Poles never ceased their efforts to regain their independence. The Polish people revolted against foreign dominance throughout the 19th century. Poland was formally reconstituted in Nov. 1918, with Marshal Josef Pilsudski as chief of state. In 1919, Ignace Paderewski, the famous pianist and patriot, became the first prime minister. In 1926, Pilsudski seized complete power in a coup and ruled dictatorially until his death on May 12, 1935.

Despite a ten-year nonaggression pact signed in 1934, Hitler attacked Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Soviet troops invaded from the east on Sept. 17, and on Sept. 28, a German-Soviet agreement divided Poland between the USSR and Germany. Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz formed a government-in-exile in France, which moved to London after France's defeat in 1940. All of Poland was occupied by Germany after the Nazi attack on the USSR in June 1941. Nazi Germany's occupation policy in Poland was designed to eradicate Polish culture through mass executions and to exterminate the country's large Jewish minority.

The Polish government-in-exile was replaced with the Communist-dominated Polish Committee of National Liberation by the Soviet Union in 1944. Moving to Lublin after that city's liberation, it proclaimed itself the Provisional Government of Poland. Some former members of the Polish government in London joined with the Lublin government to form the Polish Government of National Unity, which Britain and the U.S. recognized. On Aug. 2, 1945, in Berlin, President Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, and Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Britain established a new de facto western frontier for Poland along the Oder and Neisse rivers. (The border was finally agreed to by West Germany in a nonaggression pact signed on Dec. 7, 1970.) On Aug. 16, 1945, the USSR and Poland signed a treaty delimiting the Soviet-Polish frontier. Under these agreements, Poland was shifted westward. In the east, it lost 69,860 sq mi (180,934 sq km); in the west, it gained (subject to final peace-conference approval) 38,986 sq mi (100,973 sq km).

A new constitution in 1952 made Poland a “people's democracy” of the Soviet type. In 1955, Poland became a member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and its foreign policy identical to that of the USSR. The government undertook persecution of the Roman Catholic Church as a remaining source of opposition. Wladyslaw Gomulka was elected leader of the United Workers (Communist) Party in 1956. He denounced the Stalinist terror, ousted many Stalinists, and improved relations with the church. Most collective farms were dissolved, and the press became freer. A strike that began in shipyards and spread to other industries in Aug. 1980 produced a stunning victory for workers when the economically hard-pressed government accepted for the first time in a Marxist state the right of workers to organize in independent unions.

Led by Solidarity, an independent union founded by an electrician, Lech Walesa, workers launched a drive for liberty and improved conditions. A national strike for a five-day workweek in Jan. 1981 led to the dismissal of Prime Minister Pinkowski and the naming of the fourth prime minister in less than a year, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. Martial law was declared on Dec. 13, when Walesa and other Solidarity leaders were arrested, and Solidarity was outlawed. Martial law formally ended in 1984 but the government retained emergency powers. Increasing opposition to the government because of the failing economy led to a new wave of strikes in 1988. Unable to quell the dissent entirely, the government relegalized Solidarity and allowed it to compete in elections.

Solidarity members won a stunning victory in 1989, taking almost all the seats in the Senate and all of the 169 seats they were allowed to contest in the Sejm. This gave them substantial influence in the new government. Tadeusz Mazowiecki was appointed prime minister. Lech Walesa won the presidential election of 1990 with 74% of the vote. In 1991, the first fully free parliamentary election since World War II resulted in representation for 29 political parties.

Islamic History and Muslims

Warsaw mosque

The first noticeable presence of Islam in Poland began in the 14th century. From this time it was primarily associated with the Tatars, many of whom settled in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth while continuing their traditions and religious beliefs. The first significant non-Tatar groups of Muslims arrived in Poland in the 1970s. Currently the total number of Muslims in Poland is estimated at around 30,000 or 0.07% of the total population.
[edit] In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (14th - 18th century)
Poland had little prolonged contact with Islam until the 14th century with the advent of the first Tatar settlers. Although Muslims were involved in earlier Mongol invasions in the 13th century, these had a purely military character and there are no traces of settlement or conversion of any parts of the Polish population.

On the other hand, the first accounts of the Polish state of Mieszko I were written by a Jewish merchant and diplomat of the Caliphate of Córdoba Ibrahim ibn Jakub and later published in an Arabic chronicle of Al-Bakri. Other Muslim merchants, arrived in Polish lands at that time, as can be seen by a large number of Arab coins found in numerous archaeological sites throughout modern Poland.

In 14th century the first Tatar tribes settled in the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Skilled warriors and great mercenaries, their settlement was promoted by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, among them Gediminas, Algirdas and Kęstutis. The Tatars who settled in Lithuania, Ruthenia and modern-day eastern Poland were allowed to preserve their Sunni religion in exchange for military service. The initial settlements were mostly temporary and most of the Tatars returned to their native lands after their service expired. However, in the late 14th century Grand Duke Vytautas (named by the Tatars Wattad, that is defender of Muslims) and his brother King Władysław Jagiełło started to settle Tatars in the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic borderlands. The Lipka Tatars, as they are known, migrated from the lands of the Golden Horde and in large part served in the Polish-Lithuanian military. The largest of such groups to arrive to the area was a tribe of Tokhtamysh, who in 1397 rebelled against his former protector Tamerlane and sought asylum in the Grand Duchy. The Tatars under his command were all granted with szlachta status, a tradition that was preserved until the end of the Commonwealth in 18th century[2]. Light Tatar cavalry, used both as skirmishers and reconnaissance troops took part in many of the battles against the foreign armies in the 15th century and afterwards, including the battle of Grunwald in which the Tatars fought commanded by their leader, Jalal ad-Din khan.

In 16th and 17th century additional Tatars found refuge in the lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, mostly of Nogay and Crimean origin. Since then until the 1980s the Muslim faith in Poland was associated primarily with the Tatars. It is estimated that in 17th century there were approximately 15,000 Tatars in the Commonwealth[1] for a total population of 8 million. Numerous royal privileges, as well as internal autonomy granted by the monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth allowed the Tatars to preserve their religion, traditions and culture throughout the ages. The most notable military clans were granted with Coats of Arms and szlachta status, while many other families melted into the rural and burgher society. The first Tatar settlements were founded near the major towns of the Commonwealth in order to allow for fast mobilization of troops. Apart from religious freedom, the Tatars were allowed to marry Polish and Ruthenian women of Catholic or Orthodox faith, uncommon in Europe of that time. Finally, the May Constitution granted the Tatars with a representation in the Polish Sejm.

Perhaps the only moment in history when the Lipka Tatars fought against the Commonwealth was during the so-called Lipka Rebellion of 1672. The "Deluge" and the ensuing period of constant wars made the szlachta of central Poland associate the Muslim Lipkas with the invading forces of the Ottoman Empire. This, combined with the Counter-Reformation promoted by the Vasa dynasty led the Sejm to gradually limit the privileges of the Polish Muslims. Although King John Casimir of Poland tried to limit the restrictions on their religious freedoms and the erosion of their ancient rights and privileges, the gentry opposed. Finally, in 1672, during the war with the Ottomans, the Lipka Tatar regiments (numbering up to 3,000 men) stationed in the Podolia region of south-east Poland abandoned the Commonwealth at the start of the Polish-Turkish wars that were to last to end of the 17th century with the Peace of Karłowice in 1699. Although the Lipkas initially fought for the victorious Turks, soon their camp was divided onto the supporters of the Turks and a large part of Tatars dissatisfied with the Ottoman rule. Although after the treaty of Buczacz the Tatars were granted lands around the fortresses of Bar and Kamieniec Podolski, the liberties enjoyed by their community within the Ottoman Empire were much less than those within the Commonwealth. Finally, in 1674, after the Polish victory at Chocim, the Lipka Tatars who held the Podolia for Turkey from the stronghold of Bar were besieged by the armies of Jan Sobieski, and a deal was struck that the Lipkas would return to the Polish side subject to their ancient rights and privileges being restored. All the Tatars were pardoned by Sobieski and most of them took part in his campaign against Turkey resulting in the brilliant victory in the battle of Vienna[3]. The Lipka Rebellion forms the background to the novel Pan Wołodyjowski, the final volume of the Nobel Prize winning historical Trylogia of Henryk Sienkiewicz. The 1969 film of Pan Wołodyjowski, directed by Jerzy Hoffman and starring Daniel Olbrychski as Azja Tuhaj-bejowicz, was one of the largest box-office success in the history of Polish cinema.

Although by 18th century most of the Tatars serving in the military had become polonized, while the lower classes of the Muslim community gradually adopted the Ruthenian language (the predecessor of the modern Belarusian language), the Sunni and tatar traditions were preserved. This led to formation of a distinctive Muslim culture of Central Europe, in which elements of Muslim orthodoxy mixed with religious tolerance and a relatively liberal society. For instance, the women in Lipka Tatar society traditionally had the same rights as men, were granted equal status and could attend common non-segregated schools.


In 20th century Poland

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Lipka Tatars had become so integrated into Polish society that they joined their Roman Catholic brethren in the mass migrations for the United States that gave rise to American Polonia and even founded their own mosque in Brooklyn, New York which is still in use today. In 1919, at the outbreak of the Polish-Bolshevik War, two of the Tatar officers serving with the Polish Army Col. Maciej Bajraszewski and Capt. Dawid Janowicz-Czaiński started forming a Tatar cavalry regiment fighting alongside the Polish Army. This unit transformed into a squadron after the war, continued the traditions of Tatar military formations of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and became one of the most notable achievements of the Polish Tatar community in 20th century[4]. With the restoration of Polish independence, the Tatar community of Poland numbered around 6,000 people (according to the 1931 national census ), mostly inhabiting the regions of Wilno, Nowogródek and Białystok Voivodeship (1919-1939)s. A large community of the Lipka Tatars remained outside of Polish borders, mostly in Lithuania and Belarus (especially in Minsk, the capital of the Belarusian SSR). Although small, the Tatar community formed one of the most vibrant national minorities of Poland. The Muslim Religious Association (est. 1917) focused on preserving the Muslim faith and religious beliefs. At the same time the Cultural and Educational Association of Polish Tatars worked on the preservation and strengthening of Tatar culture and traditions. In 1929 a Tatar National Museum was created in Wilno and in 1931 a Tatar National Archive was formed. All the Muslim people drafted into the army were sent to the Tatar Cavalry Squadron of the 13th Cavalry Regiment, which was allowed to use its own uniforms and banners. The Army Oath for Muslim soldiers was different from the one taken from soldiers of other denominations and was sworn in presence of Ali Ismail Woronowicz, the Chief Imam of the Polish Army[1].

During and after World War II, the Tatar communities of Poland suffered the fate of all the civilian populations of the new German-Soviet and later Polish-Soviet borderlands. The Tatar intelligentsia was in large part murdered in the AB Action, while much of the civilian population was targeted by post-war expulsions. After the war the majority of Tatar settlements were annexed by the Soviet Union and only three remained in Poland (Bohoniki, Kruszyniany and Sokółka). However, a considerable number of Tatars moved across to the Polish side of the border and settled in several locations in eastern Poland (esp. in Białystok and nearby towns) as well as in western and northern Poland (esp. in Gdańsk and Gorzów Wielkopolski). Nowadays not more than 400 -4,000 Muslims of Tatar origin lives in Poland and a much larger and active Tatar community lives in Belarus and also in Lithuania. In 1971 the Muslim Religious Association was reactivated and since 1991 the Society of Muslims in Poland is also active. The following year also the Association of Polish Tatars was restored.The 2002 census showed only 447 people declaring Tatar nationality.


Changes in recent years

Apart from the traditional Tatar communities, since the 1970s Poland has also been home to a small but growing immigrant Muslim community.
In the 1970s and 1980s Poland attracted a number of students from many socialist-aligned Arabic-speaking states of the Middle East and Africa. Many of them decided to stay in Poland. In the late 1980s this community became more active and better organized. They have built mosques and praying houses in Warsaw, Białystok, Gdańsk (built by the Tatar community), Wrocław, Lublin and Poznań. There are also praying rooms in Bydgoszcz, Kraków, Łódź, Olsztyn, Katowice and Opole.

Since the overthrow of Communism in 1989, other Muslim immigrants have come to Poland. A relatively prominent group are Turks and Muslims from the former Yugoslavia. There are also smaller groups of immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and from other countries, as well as a small refugee community coming from Chechnya (about 1,000 persons). The exact number of Muslims living is Poland remains unknown as the last all-national census held by the Central Statistical Office in 2002 did not ask for religion. There are two contemporary Polish Muslim religious leaders: Tomasz Miśkiewicz and Jakub Szynkiewicz.

 

  The Gdańsk masjid

The Tatarian mosque at the village of Bohoniki

Wooden Mosque in Kruszyniany, Podlasie, Poland
 

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

Islamic Centre, Warsaw, 1222
URL: centrum.muzulmanie.pl   Phone: +48-(0)22-8856276
Bialystok Islamic Centre, Bialystok

Islamic Center in Lublin, Lublin, Lublin
URL: www.islam-lublin.dzs.pl   Phone: 0048-81-5240269

Islamic Centre, Warszawa
Phone: +48-(0)22-8856276

Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Bialystok, podlaskie
URL: www.islam.org.pl   Phone: 48 85-6514021

Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Lodz, Lodzkie
URL: www.islam.org.pl   Phone: 42-2711910

Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Lublin, Lublin, Poland
URL: www.islam.org.pl   Phone: 48-815240269

Abu Ahmad Halal Meat, Warsaw


Polish Muslim Association, Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Wroclaw
URL: islam.info.pl   Phone: 0048-601247772

Aysza - Sklep - Bar, Warsaw
Phone: 48 22-621 67 23

Bialystok Islamic Centre, Bialystok
  Centrum kultury Islamu, Masjid, Katowice
  Islamic center, Wroclaw
  Islamic Center in Lublin, Lublin
  Islamic Centre, Warsaw
  Islamic Centre, Warszawa
  Local Masjid, Gliwice
  Mosque in Gdansk, Gdansk
  Muslim religious community in Chelm, Chelm
  Muzulmanskie centrum kulturalno-oswiatowe we wroclawiu, Wroclaw
  Muzułmańskie Centrum Oświatowo-Kulturalne, Poznan
  Polish Muslim Association, Bialystok
  Polish Muslim Student Association, Bialystok
  Qualification Muslism Cultural Society in Poland, Bialystok

  Al Islam w Polsce, Warsaw
  Liga Muzułmańska w RP O/ we Wrocławiu, Wiazow
  Muslim League in The Republice of Poland (Liga Muzulmanska w RP), Lublin
  Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Bialystok
  Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Lodz
  Muslim Student's Association in Poland, Lublin, Lublin
  Polish Muslim Association, Wroclaw, Wroclaw
  Polish Muslim Student Association, Warszawa
  Qualification Muslim Cultural Society, Bialystock
  الجمعية الإسلامية للتأهيل والثقافة في بولندا, Warsaw

  مدرسة الوحدة العربيه في وراسو, Warsaw

   Muslim Owned Business

  Abu Ahmad Halal Meat, Warsaw
  Aysza - Sklep - Bar, Warsaw
  BAR ALIBABA, Siedlce
  ChabielIslam, Chabielice
  Damaszek piekarnia - dystrybucja, Warsaw
  Damaszek piekarnia - sklep, Warsaw
  KEBAB ALMADINA, Wroclaw
  Le Tamaris, Warsaw
  Marwa Bar, Warsaw
  Restaurant, Lublin
  SIDRA, Warsaw
  SIDRA Information Technology, Warsaw
  Snack Bar Sindbad, Warsaw
  Tripolis, Warsaw
  Tripolis Restauracja Libijska (halal) oraz sklep orientalny i Internet cafe, Warsaw

Nazwa

Miasto

Adres

Tel.

Osoba kontaktowa

Aysza - Sklep - Bar

Warszawa

ul. Wspólna 65

+ 48 22 621 67 23
+ 48 606 61 63 13

Ismael Drawer

Habibi - Kebab and Halal Meat delivery, Catering
[ www.habibi.pl ]

Warszawa

ul. Zwycięzców 19

+48 500 311 811
+48 22 616 24 39

Amin Omer
omer@vp.pl
na haslo "dinar" 20% znizka

Kebab Lunch Time - Bosnian and Turkish Cousine, Baklawa Production, Catering

Warszawa

ul. Krucza 41/43

+48 22 621 1809

Muhammad
www.kebab.com.pl

Damaszek piekarnia - dystrybucja

Warszawa

ul. Białostocka 9

+ 48 22 625 6612

Muhammad Chikha

Damaszek piekarnia - sklep

Warszawa

ul. Wspólna 65

+ 48 22 670 10 82

Muhammad Chikha

Ahmad Halal Meat and Spices (India and Pakistan)

Warszawa

ul. Wiertnicza vis a vis Meczetu

+ 48 22 8428550

Ahmad

Dzafar Kebab Bar i Restauracja

Legionowo

ul. Piłsudskiego Błękitne Centrum

+ 48 503 782 531

Osama

Daktuś Sweet Shop

Łódź

 

+ 48 42 6795667

Muhammad Al Dabbas

Restauracja oraz sklep orientalny

Warszawa

al. Niepodległości 213 (koło biblioteki narodowej)

+ 48 22 8255984, 8256211 kom. 606 61 63 13

Ismael Drawer

Le Tamaris

Warszawa

ul. Białostocka 4

+ 48 22 6180564

Amar Kaddari

Abu Rabi`ah Sweets
(pyszne orientalne wypieki) 

Warszawa

ul. Zielna 10

+ 48 501 23 65 18

Abu Rabi`ah

 

Halal Products - Dostawy do domu

Warszawa

 

+ 48 500 282619

Amin Omer

Print and Design

Legionowo

ul. Kopernika

+ 48 503 782 531

Abu Yasmin

References
Islam in Poland ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Poland   , October, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107891.html   October, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=poland   , October, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Poland, October 2008.