Balkans: The influence of Sufi Islam

Balkans: The influence of Sufi Islam

Via EU Observer:
When Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, newspapers carried headlines such as "The birth of the first Islamic state in Europe" and "Muslim fundamentalist mafia obtain a state in Kosovo".

In fact, Islam did not play a role in the Albanian march to independence, either in Kosovo or in Albania when it became independent from the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Contrary to some claims, Islam was not involved in the Kosovar pursuit of liberty because the branch of the religion in Kosovo, as in most of the Balkan region, belongs historically to the tolerant, mystical branch called Sufism. Sufism is still the main form of Islam practised in many parts of the Balkans, especially in Kosovo and Macedonia.

The majority of Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia are Muslim, but a sizeable number of practising believers belong to Sufi brotherhoods. This is a contemplative brand of Islam based on collectives in which the members, called dervishes, practice mystical exercises through which they reach a communal trance.