In this article of our “Islam around the World” series, our destination is the brotherly country Azerbaijan, known for its Caucasian influences and dances. We will explore important Muslim figures in Azerbaijan and delve into questions about the arrival of Islam in the region. Let’s begin to learn new facts about Azerbaijan, where the majority of the population is Muslim.
What is the Muslim population in Azerbaijan?
With a population of nearly 10 million, the majority of people in this country are followers of Islam. Muslims make up 93% of the population, while 3% adhere to Christianity, and another 3% identify as Atheist. The remaining 0.5% does not belong to Islam, Christianity, or Atheism.
When did Islam reach Azerbaijan?
Throughout history, Azerbaijan has been in contact with various cultures and religions, allowing different beliefs and sects to find a place. Before Islam, the region was home to beliefs such as Paganism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Christianity. Let’s explore the arrival and spread of Islam in the region. The introduction of Islam to Azerbaijan started with the initiatives of Hazrat Omar (ra). Subsequently, during the rule of the Sasanian Empire and later with the Arab conquests, Islam gained prominence in the region. With the conversion of a group of Khazars to Islam, the religion became official. The appeal of Islam among different faiths caught the attention of the local population, leading to its widespread acceptance. As a result, Islam quickly became the dominant religion, embraced by the majority.
Which famous mosques are in Azerbaijan?
Azerbaijan boasts a rich array of mosques. Starting with one of the historical gems, we can mention a mosque built during the reign of the Shirvanshahs in the 13th century. The Bibi-Heybat Mosque, originally ordered by the 2nd Ferruhzad, was demolished in 1930 but later meticulously reconstructed to its original form in 1990. Another significant mosque in Azerbaijan is the Shah Abbas Mosque, also known as the Juma Mosque. Its construction began in the late 16th century and was completed in the late 17th century. Lastly, let’s look at the Juma Mosque in Quba. Completed in 1802, its dome’s intricate decorations were crafted by a female artist from Leningrad in 1950. It is worth noting that Nuri Pasha, known as the “Conqueror of Baku,” is recorded to have performed a Friday prayer at this mosque.
Who are the notable figures contributing to Islam in Azerbaijan?
In the field of Akaid (Islamic creed), significant contributions were made by figures such as Muhammad Kamil Ahmad, Resul Jafriya, Semih Dugaymen, and Muhammad Sabri Osman. These scholars have produced works in Mutezile, Shia, philosophy, and metaphysics. They have also transmitted the works of other important figures like Juvayni, Ibn Bajjah, and al-Ghazali. Another scholar, Mirza Muhammad Ahundzade, has contributed to this area with his work “Akaidul Muslimin.” In more recent times, the interest in religious topics has increased during the research process of Azerbaijan’s national and spiritual heritage since gaining independence. Universities have established departments of Religion and Social Thought History. In this process, Memmedov, Murselov, and Hesenov have made significant contributions by publishing important books.
What are the challenges faced by Muslims in Azerbaijan?
Currently, there are no major challenges or difficulties faced by the citizens in practicing their religious beliefs freely and securely in Azerbaijan. However, in the past, during the Soviet regime, there were many hardships, impositions, and restrictions on religious practices. Since gaining independence, Azerbaijan has been working to create a comfortable environment for religious freedom, and this atmosphere continues to be preserved.