Accepted Paper:

Redefining the Muslim identity: Tatars in Poland  


Dobroslawa Wiktor-Mach (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

The Muslim community of Tatar origin has lived in Poland for 600 years. After 1989 the Tatar religious identity has undergone significant changes mainly due to new approaches to Islam. In my presentation, I would like to examine the interactions between the Tatars and Muslim immigrants.

Paper long abstract:

Recent studies of Islam in Europe nearly neglect the old Muslim presence in Central-Eastern Europe. In Poland, the Muslim minority of Tatar origin has been living for more than 600 years. It has created a local, moderate version of Islam and in effect its religious beliefs are largely compatible with modern European culture. After 1989, an increased Muslim immigration has taken place, affecting the localized Tatar Islamic tradition. Drawing on my fieldwork conducted in January 2008 in north-eastern Poland, in a region with significant number of Muslims of varied backgrounds, the paper focuses on contemporary religious practices among Muslim Tatars in Poland. It considers the recent transformation of Tatar religious identity, the interactions and tensions between supporters of the Tatar syncretic form of Islam and the `normative' or `scriptural' version propagated by the Muslim immigrants that have come to Poland in recent decade as well as by the group of Polish converts. I will show how the global influences can be seen in the practices and articulated beliefs and concerns of the Tatar community. The current debates and events lead to divisions inside among the Tatars who, after becoming a minority inside a Muslim minority in Poland, need to find a way to handle with the Islamic diversity.

Panel W098
Islam within and across religiously diverse communities: case studies from Muslims in the Balkans and Europe