Introduction / History
The Ottoman Turks ruled the Balkan nation of Albania from 1480 to 1912. During that time, Turkish officials and military personnel moved to Albania to conduct affairs for the empire. The descendants of these administrators are the Turks currently living in Albania. They continue to follow Islam, the religion of their ancestors. Many are devotees of the Sufi dervish sect. The Sufis are the mystical branch of Islam whose goal is to become one with Allah through meditation and dancing. From 1945 to 1991 all religion was strongly suppressed in Albania by the communist government. Many Muslims stopped practicing Islam due to fear of persecution and their atheist education. Since 1991 and the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Muslim rituals and practice.
Today the Turks in Albania work in agriculture, as craftsmen and in trade. Albania is the only majority Muslim nation in Europe with 58% of the population claiming to be Muslim. The Muslims whose primary language is Rumelian Turkish distinguish them as Albanian Turks.
Where are they located?
As their name suggests, these Turkish people live in Albania.
What are their lives like?
Albania is one of the poorest nations in Europe. Still, the Turks living there are better off financially than many groups of Turks who live in Turkey and Central Asia. Sometimes these Turks are Muslim by custom only and lack the zeal of many followers of Islam.
Most families consist of a married couple and children. Although Islam allows a man to have up to four wives, monogamy is the general custom. Extended families tend to live near their relatives in villages. Parents arrange marriages although Albanian Turks are becoming more and more like Westerners.
What are their beliefs?
The Turks in Albania are Sunni and Sufi Muslims. Islam is a major world religion that is based on five essential duties or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited to drink alcohol, eat pork, gamble, steal, use deceit, slander, and make idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
What are their needs?
The Turks in Albania need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see biblical Christianity displayed in practical ways. The Turks must see that the Isa of the Qur'an is not the Jesus of the New Testament.
* Pray that the tiny number of believers among the Albanian Turks might grow.
* Pray for Albanian Turkish families and communities to discover and embrace the free gift of life found by trusting Christ and his finished work.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through those ministering to the Albanian Turkish people.
Text source: Keith Carey