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History

First documented visit of a person with knowledge of Islam was made (964-965) by Íbrahím ibn Jaqúb, a Jewish merchant from then Muslim Spain. His memoirs were later published to become one of the first accounts about Central Europe in Islamic world. Occasionally, Muslim mercenaries were part of armies ravaging the country during its history (for example Cumans during Hussite Wars). During both sieges of Vienna reconnaissance groups of Ottoman armies reached Moravia. Strong trade links between Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire emerged during 19th century.

 Influence on culture

 

Traditionally, influence of Islam on culture of Czech lands was and is small. Alois Musil and Bedrich Hrozný represented Czech Arabists.

Modern era

A law from 1912 recognized Islam as "state religion" and officially allowed its presence in the region. The first community (Moslimské náboženské obce pro Ceskoslovensko) was established in 1934. In 1949, previous registration was abolished. An attempt to set up new community in 1968 failed. In 1991, Center of Muslim communities (Ústredí muslimských náboženských obcí) was established. In 1998, a mosque was opened in Brno and a year later in Prague. Attempt to open mosques in a couple of other cities was stopped by local citizens. In 2004, Islam was officially registered: the community is thus eligible to obtain funds from the state.

 The estimated number of Muslims (almost all of them Sunni) today in the Czech Republic is over 10,000. The number rose sharply during the 1990s and has remained stable since.

 

Most of the Muslims are refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovinian (early 1990s) and former countries of Soviet Union (mostly from Caucasus region, from the late 1990s until the present). A significant and influential part is the Middle-class people of Egyptian, Syrian and other Middle Eastern ancestries (typically those who studied in Czechoslovakia and decided to stay). A few hundred Muslims are Czech converts.

 

Until recently, the mosques in the cities of Brno and Prague were the only official bodies representing Muslims in the Czech Republic.

 Now new organizations are appearing to meet the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse Muslim community.

 

Mohamed Abbas is a well-known media figure and publisher of Islamic literature, including the Quran and a translation of Riyad us Saaliheen, the only book of hadith so far published in the Czech language.

 Abbas is now also one of the founders of a new organization called the Islamic Community, whose aim is to provide more activities for Muslims.

 Currently the Islamic Community is in the process of securing 300 signatures needed to become officially recognized, which will make it the second Muslim body in the Czech Republic eligible for state funding.

Another completely new organization, which is quite different from the ones already being set-up, is a new Facebook Group called Muslims from Czech Republic, created by 21-year-old fresh convert Jitka Cervinkova. When Jitka first embraced Islam in September of last year, she searched Facebook for a group of Muslims in her country. When she did not find any, she decided to create one.

 

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