Islam in the Balkans

Amila Buturovic

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online February 2010 | | DOI:
Islam in the Balkans

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In addition to being a region in southeastern Europe, the Balkans is a geopolitical entity that owes its existence to a turbulent relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire over several centuries, especially in the latter part of the Ottoman rule in the region. Derived from the Turkish word balkan, which means “mountain chain,” the term “Balkans” began to connote a troubled space of instability, intolerance, and impenetrability, and more particularly of perpetual wars and killings, brutal expulsions, and political machinations. In this process, Islam, as a distinctly Ottoman reality that was introduced and sustained through Ottoman administrative and religious institutions, culture, and social interaction, became an inextricable dimension of such representations. The Balkan people, in turn, represented everything that Europe was determined to march away from in the name of progress and colonial expansion. The Balkans is thus a product of broader historical and political developments that have less to do with the region and more to do with international and ideological currents, including an increasingly demeaning view of the Ottoman Empire as the “Sick Man of Europe.” As the Ottoman Empire retreated from the Balkans through the advent of the Austro-Hungarian colonizing mission and the wars of succession in the age of nationalism, Islam was perceived as a foreign and regressive force that had to be either eliminated or sufficiently contained to allow the newly formed nation-states to experience full Europeanization and modernization.

Article.  5700 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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