Muslims in Poland

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Brief Introduction

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Polish Rzeczpospolita Polska) is a country in Central Europe. Communists ruled Poland from 1945 until 1989. When political and economic unrest among Poles resulted in the collapse of the regime it was  replaced by a non-Communist coalition.

Poland’s capital and largest city is Warsaw, Poland has a total land area of 312,684 sq km (120,728 sq mi). It is bordered on the north by the Baltic Sea and Russia; on the east by Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine; on the south by the Czech Republic and Slovakia; and on the west by Germany.

Poland’s varied mineral deposits are concentrated mainly in the southern upland regions and adjacent areas. The most important mineral resource is hard coal, most of which is located in Upper Silesia. Poland also has significant deposits of lignite (another variety of coal), located mainly in the basins surrounding the cities of Turoszów, Konin, and Bełchatów. Sulfur and copper are the most important of the country’s nonfuel mineral resources. Some of the world’s largest sulfur deposits are found near the city of Tarnobrzeg in the southeast, and large reserves of copper are located in Lower Silesia. Important reserves of zinc and lead are found in Upper Silesia. Other minerals of economic importance are rock salt, potash, iron ore, and gypsum. The country has only small reserves of petroleum and natural gas.

Muslims in Poland:

Islam came to Poland about 600 years ago, when the Tatars came to the country, fleeing from the civil wars in their own country. They settled in both Poland and Lithuania. Some of them were recruited into the Polish military establishment, and they were allowed to set up mosques. At that time they numbered about 200,000, and they therefore built around 260 mosques.

By the sixteenth century of the Gregorian calendar, many of them were already speaking the local languages, and gradually they were absorbed into the mainstream Polish society, with the result that many of them started to ignore their religion. In fact, many also embraced Christianity, intermarried with Christian Polish women, and their offspring, naturally, became Christians.

However, those who stuck to their religion, Islam, formed an organization called the Federation of Polish Muslims, in 1917. But when World War I came to end, the borders of Poland were changed, and thus the number of Muslims was reduced, as was the number of mosques. At the same time the position of Mufti came to an end.

When the Communist regime took over the reigns of power in the country, it not only confiscated their mosques and properties, but also sent many of them to Siberia, as slave laborers.

Today, what remains of those Tatars who immigrated to Poland is just 5,000 descendants, and there remains only two of the historical mosques, one in Bhuniki, and the other in Kruziani. At the same time their knowledge of Islam and its principles and practices is a very circumscribed one, because there is no one to guide them and give them direction in their faith.

Their mosques are usually visited only during the ‘Eed Festivities, and sometimes used as cultural meeting places.

However, Islamic activity began anew with the arrival of Muslim students in Poland, mostly from the Arab countries. They set up the Muslim Students Association of Poland in 1989, and they initiated some primary schools for children.

Currently, the total number of Muslims in Poland is estimated at 31,000, of whom 5,000 are of Tatar extraction, plus 25,000 made up of immigrants and students, while another 1,000 are indigenous Polish people who had accepted Islam.

In view of their numerical inferiority, the Muslims of Poland do not have any economic or political influence in the affairs of the country. Among their problems is the lack of Islamic activities, plus the fact that the Polish people know little or nothing about Islam. Even the mosques are few and far apart.

As for the lack of Islamic activities, this is mainly due to the lack of resources, while the contact between the Polish Muslims and Islamic organizations in other parts of the world is negligible. Even the few who are involved in Islamic activities, they are not full time in it, and devote only part of their time for Islamic work.

As if that was not enough, the Polish people, in general, have a very dim view of Islam and Muslims, mainly due to the anti-Islam propaganda that has been feeding their minds. At the same time there are no Islamic books that are written in the local languages that would give them at least an adequate understanding about this religion. Even the few books on Islam that are available in the market have been written by non-Muslims.

One organization that is busying itself with Islamic work in Poland now is the Islamic Circle of Poland, whose activities include the publication of books and booklets in the local languages, and also has a presence on the Internet. Additionally, it organizes lectures from time to time and from one place to another, aimed at introducing Islam to the Polish people and reinforcing the Islamic faith in those who already are Muslims.

Other Islamic organizations that are active in the field is the Muslim Students Association of Poland, and one or two others. There are also a number of Islamic schools in such places as Pjalstuka and its environs.

The Muslim students association has published about 21 books in Polish.

As for translations of the Holy Quran and Hadeeth (Prophetic traditions), there is a partial translation that was rendered into Polish by one of the Tatar scholars in Poland, but it was not completed. Another translation was made by an orientalist by the name Joseph Pjaluski, but this one contains so many errors. Then there is another one rendered by the Qadiyani sect which, naturally, is a distorted one.

As for the Hadeeth, there is a translation of “The Forty Hadeeth of An-Nawawy” that was done by the Muslim Students Association.

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