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24 I SPECIAL FEATURE Passion Islam I August 2009
Islam in
The majority of Muslims in Ukraine Russian Empire. 200,000 Crimean Tatars were
are of Crimean Tatars in ethnicity and The Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia, mainly
live in the Crimean peninsula. Sunnis and the Mufti was regarded Uzbekistan but also to Kazakhstan
as the highest religious figure. and some regions of Russian SFSR.
History of Muslims in Ukraine All communities were led by and The main deportation occurred on
In 1676 the Zaporozhian represented before others by local May 18, 1944. It is estimated that
Cossacks still rejected the Turkish imams. about 45% of all Crimean Muslims
Sultan’s claims for suzerainty but in The Crimean Khan’s palace in died in 1944–1945 from hunger
1711 one of their starshinas, Pylyp Bakhchisaray was the center of Islam and disease.[citation needed] The
Orlyk, became a Muslim.[1]While in Ukraine for more than 300 yearsThe property and territory abandoned by
ethnic Ukrainians are predominantly Crimean Khanate had Bakhchisaray Crimean Tatars were appropriated by
Orthodox Christians, Muslims have as its capital. In the 18th century, the mostly ethnic Russians who were
lived primarily in the southern regions when it was conquered by Russia, resettled by the Soviet authorities.
of the modern territory of the country, there were at least 18 mosques in the This led to demographic changes
especially in Crimea. capital and several madrassas. The in Ukraine with huge impact in the
In the 15th century a state known Russian Empire began persecuting future. Although a 1967 Soviet decree
as Crimean Khanate was established the Muslim population and nearly removed the charges against Crimean
by the Crimean Tatars, Turkic- 160,000 Tatars were forced to leave Tatars, the Soviet government did
speaking descendants of both Turkic Crimea. nothing to facilitate their resettlement
and non-Turkic peoples who had For the Muslims who stayed, there in Crimea and to make reparations
settled in Eastern Europe as early as were conflicts in ideology among for lost lives and confiscated property.
the 7th century. those who adhered to conservative The repatriation of Crimean tatars to
The Khanate soon lost its form of religion, the moderates, and their homeland began only in 1989.
sovereignty and fell under the those who subscribed to liberal and
influence of the Ottoman Empire on Western ideology. Ukrainian Muslims today
behalf of which it was ruled by the Since Ukrainian independence
local tributary rulers with significant Ukrainian Muslims in the 20th (1991), more Crimean Tatars have
degree of autonomy. In 15th-18th century returned to Crimea than during Soviet
centuries, Crimean Tatars frequently At the time of the Russian era. The Muslims are divided into
raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture Revolution, Muslims were one third of various ethnic groups but the majority
slaves, enslaving an estimated population of Crimea. Nearly all major are of Tatar origin, of one particular
3 million people, predominantly cities in Crimea had a significant clan or other. There have also been
Ukrainians. The influence of Russia in Muslim population settlement by Chechen refugees in
the area, initially small, was growing Crimean Muslims were subjected Crimea and other parts of Ukraine but
slowly and in the late 18th century to mass deportation in 1944 when the proportion is not significant.
after the series of the Russo-Turkish Stalin accused them of collaborating Most Ukrainian Muslims affiliate
Wars the territory was annexed by the with the Nazi Germany. Nearly to these organizations which help
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