Islam in Norway in 5 Questions

Translator: Zeynep Öncül

We are back with another article from Islam Around the World series! This time, let’s talk about Islam in Norway: home to 200.000 Muslims. You will find answers to certain questions, such as “How did Islam arrive in Norway?, How many Muslims live there?, What are some popular mosques? Who are the important figures and institutions in the country?” and “What are some of the challenges Muslims face in Norway?”.

How large is the Muslim population in Norway?

How large is the Muslim population in Norway
Oslo Opera House, Norway

According to data by the Statistical Institute of Norway (SSB), the resident population is 5.205.400 as of October 2015. The term “resident population” refers to those with residence permits, therefore refugees are not included. Many Muslims are left out as a result, and their precise number remains unknown. According to data on the number of Muslim refugees in 2012, however, a total of 200.000 Muslims are estimated to reside in Norway.

How and when did Islam arrive in Norway?

Norway first encountered Islam in the 1260s through an ambassador sent to Tunisia by the king of the time. Local Norwegians, on the other hand, became acquainted with Islam and Muslims after the first Muslim immigrants arrived in Norway in the 1960s. Other vast tides of migration took place in the 1970s and 1990s, increasing the Muslim population. Today, more Muslims are migrating to Norway due to job opportunities and high standards of living.

What are some popular mosques in Norway
Jam-E Central Mosque, Oslo, Norway

Beytun Nasr Mosque is the largest mosque in the country with a capacity of 5.000. The Mosque is distinguished by its grand minaret and modern architecture. The magnificent Norway Central Mosque is another famous destination for Muslims to practice. In addition to being the affiliate of the World Islamic Centre in Norway, it is the greatest Sunni mosque in the country. Islamic Cultural Centre in Oslo, lastly, is among the oldest mosques of Norway. It also functions as an educational center where Islamic values are thought.

Who are the most significant Islamic figures and institutions in the country?

Significant Islamic figures are present in Norway for sure. However, they often act by the agency of associations rather than individually. In Norway, more than 90 associations belonging to Muslims are currently recorded. The main reason for such abundance is ethnic and denominational differences. However, the differences are celebrated as diversity, let alone leading to conflict. Islamic Council Norway, for instance, sets a great example as to how Muslims stand as one. The Council gathers all the associations under a single roof, protects Muslims’ rights, and helps them socialize with the rest of the society.

What are the challenges Muslims face in Norway?

What are the challenges Muslims face in Norway

For a proper understanding, there are some important points to be mentioned before the challenges. First of all, Norway is a country where different ethnicities coexist. Due to this multicultural texture, unifying methods are used to avoid conflict. In fact, Muslim-only educational institutions have been allowed only since 2014.

Despite the integrative methods, discrimination against Muslims has increased after the 9/11 attacks. The biased media channels drastically affect the integration of Muslims as well. According to the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi), most news published by the Norwegian media on Muslims and Islam is negative. In other words, media hinders the effectiveness of integration.

All in all, Norway remains a great option for Muslims to settle in despite all these, especially compared to other Western countries. Fortunately, Muslims here are doing reasonably well. 

This article was originally written in Turkish. Click here to read it! 5 Soruda Norveç’te İslam

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