In Great Mother. They held a lot

              In this paper we are going to
present a general view about the religion in Albania, form different period
since Illyrians until nowadays. We want to discuss the impact of the religion
in Albania that didn’t have a main role in building the Albanian state. Firstly
we are going to divide our research paper in five parts. At the beginning we
are going to overview pagan Illyrians and main cults,, secondly we are going to
talk about Christianity and Islam and religion before and after communism. 

    The first Illyrian tribe to be known is
that of Enkelejt .Some archeological finding near Kamenica village in Korca’s
field dating back at 12 century B.C.E prove it. The main cults that Illyrians
worshiped were: the Cult of Sun , the Cult of Snake and the Cult of life
-giving Great Mother.  They held a lot of
festivals to worship the Cult of Sun. The main feasts related to the cult of
sun were during spring and autumn for equinoxes and summer and winter for
solstices.   The cult of snake was
perceived as defender of the worriers and of the dead people.

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   Secondly we will extend the discussion by
some historical research for the spreading of Christianity in Albanian area.
Thee Christianity first was introduced by the Saint Paul during (5 – 67 AD).
One of his letter directed to Romans contained the following sentence “Hence,
starting from Jerusalem and going till Illyricum, I have spread the Gospel of
Christ”. Some others evidence shown by Albanian scholar Dr Zef Mirdita
mentioned that Christianity was spill over by 70  families that came to Durres in  and the first local bishopric was established
in 58 AD.   Constantine the Great
(306-337) divided the Balkans in four provinces or Bishoprics : Thrace,
Macedonia, Dacia, and Illyricum. During this time the Christianity became the
official religion in Albania in Illyricum. First Illyricum was depended on  Roman empire for two centuries. The emperor
Leon  III was the one that disjoined  the East Illyricum from the Patriarchate of
Rom. Illyricum was under jurisdiction of the patriarchal of Constantinople. In
1054 the church was deviated in two parts in Orthodox church and in Catholic
church this period is known  as a great
Schism. Some changes happened in Albania after the great Schism event. The
north part of Albania was under the influence of Catholic church and the south
part of Albania was under jurisdiction of Orthodox church. the Albanian
Orthodox church was under the influence of the Archbishop of Ohrid (1030 –
1126) who starting from the 10th century expanded his jurisdiction
over Scampa (present day Elbasan), Berat, Vlora and under the Greek influence
in the southern territory. Relation between the 
Orthodox church and Rome continued even after Great Schism.

Now we are going to talk about the conversion of
Islam in Albania during 15-16 century. The first conversion of Islam started in
1423. The churches were gradually adopted into mosques but at the 17 century we
can say that conversion started spreading Albania. At that time most of 70
percent of the Albanians became Muslims but 
it was not forced but was rather a choice.   In the writings of dr. Stavro Skendi we find the following description:

“In many places during Ottoman rule, people took two names: a Muslim one
to avoid capitation tax and to be eligible to undertake government positions
and a Christian one to avoid having to serve in the Ottoman army” . At the 18
century  the majority of the Albanian
were Muslims, so they adopted Islam as a main religion and at that time was
really important for them.  The
existence of an Albanian Muslim class of Pashas and Beys who had begun playing
an increasingly important role in Ottoman political and economic life became an
attractive “career option” for most Albanians. The Muslims were divided in two
communities the first one was named Sunni Muslims and those associated
Bektashism. This order was widespread in the Ottoman Empire and its lodges were
found all over Anatolia, in the imperial city of Istanbul and in the Balkans
where it played an important role in the islamization of many areas in Albania,
Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria. At that time Bektashism gained power over the
souther pat of Albania and the North part of Greece. The fist one that
introduced Bektashism in Albania was Ali Pash Tepelena and this he made by
Albania Janisaris that served at the Ottoman army and they practiced all the
rituals Islamic cover. Latter on before 1912, 70 percent of the population was
represented by: Sunni Muslims and Bektashism. 50 percent of the population was
Sunni Muslims and most of the part lived on the central part of Albania and the
other group Bektashism were established in the Southern part of Albania.

In the third part of
the paper we mentioned the fact that 70% of population was represented by Muslims
, and the rest 30% of population of Albania was Christian. Christian population
was divided in two groups : Chatholic and Othodox.  Chatholic church  had its 
center in the Northern Albania 
and was under the protection of the Habsburg Empire . Many missionaries
from the Habsburg Empire were sent to Albania to preach Christianity  and taught Italian and Latin language. These
missionaries helped to increase the education level in Northern part . In southern
part  Greek church wanted to spread the
Greek language and culture  but Albanian
Orthodox opposed this help. They wanted to establish their own Orthodox Church
not under the protection of  Greek. Many
educated patriots such as: Petro Nini Luarasi, Kristo Negovani , Sotir Ollani ,
Nuci Naco were murdered for their effort to build an Albanian Orthodox Church.
Only under the Ahmet Zogu Reign in 1928 Albanian Orthodox Church became  autocephalous .

In
28th November of 1912 Albania was declared as an independent
country  from the Ottoman Empire . After
the declaration of Independence  a strong
movement to build a new state began . The religious views vanished and the main
priority was working for establish the New Albania.  In 1925 Ahmet 
Zogu became the president of Albania and after 3 years he was the King
of Albania . His Kingdom began in 1928 and ended in 1941 . During this period
many reforms took places. Most of them were related with the religion. Some of
the most important reforms that was taken to build a more Western Culture in
Albania were:  1. The state declared
itself as neutral with no official religion and all the religious faiths could
enjoy free exercise.2. Religion was not
introduced in the education system. 3.All religions were allowed but not given
any importance. 4. Half of the mosques were closed and  all religious schools were closed too. 5. The
veils of women was prohibited and polygamy was banished .6. Albanian Orthodox
Church was declared as autocephalous . 7. The main slogan of that time was”
Religious separates , patriotism  unites
“. The Kingdom of Ahmet Zogu  ended  in 1941 
with the starting  of the World
War  2. After the World War 2 Albania was
governed by Communist Party until 1991 .  
They had a strange approach to the right of having a faith or believe.
As we clearly we can see that the religion was not playing an important role in
developing the Albanian society after the Declaration of Independence.  tendency toward nationalism was further
developed and taken to extremes during communist regime. The Albanian dictator
Enver Hoxha was the leader of the Communist Committee and party from 1944 until
his death 1985. He was a very powerful man and had a great impact on the people
at that time. An important aspect of that time was the Declaration of  Berat. It was signed and issued in the same
time by Communism parties and it stated that we have to defend the human
rights, the press rights and rights to religious beliefs. One of the things
that Enver hoxha was fearing most was that the church connection to Rome. At
that time he started he started closing all religious institutions, mainly
Catholic monasteries, orders and dioceses. At the other hand,  he confiscated and nationalized all
properties and land, ridiculed the clergy and sent them to hard labor camps.
Murder and punishment was the price for them whom were practicing and for them
who wanted to wear costumes. But in one way or another they tried to defend
themselves from the tyranny. They tried to defend themselves  by relying on taqiyya which means religious
dissimulation. Taqiyya, a practice emphasized by Shiite Muslims but adopted by
Sunni Muslims as well under very rare and necessary circumstances, is the
principle of the moral code which permits Muslims under threat of persecution
to hide or even reject their faith. At that time for most of the communist
people religion was seen as very regressive, for this reason the leader of the
communist part called Enver Hoxha took some major reforms called
“”revolutionarisation”. These reforms tried to help women’s at that time
including their education how they can improve it lives and their status in
society and opposition of religious dogmas and practices in everyday life
because they were considered as backward customs and beliefs. This meant that
women should break out of their confinement at home and participate in the
production process. Another thing is that the religion hostile is seen as
hostile obstructive to the development of the socialist society so they needed
to be strongly contested. At that time atheism started and was directed by the
youth. The central idea was that of the socialist state propaganda was
primarily on the need to educate “the new socialist man”, on class struggle and
on the fight against “old traditions and mentalities”.1
Albania was formally declared as an atheist country and this is thought to be
an event that occurred for the first time in the history. This fact was made
unquestionably.  The Article 37 of the
Albanian Constitution in 1976 declared: “The state recognizes no religion, and
supports and carries out atheist propaganda in order to implant a scientific
materialistic worldview in people.”2
Besides, the Article 55 of the Penal Code of 1977 stated that all religious
activities would be punished accordingly, starting will minor penalties till
death if required. The Museum of Atheism was built in Shkoder in 1972 and it
depicted the closing of all religious institutions as presumably by the will of
people. Religion in communism was easily eliminated because the people never
were implicated deeply in rituals and religion itself.

       In
1990 the system changed from communism to capitalism. The government banished
the article 37 which prohibited the free exercise of religion from the day
Albnians are free to choose their own religion group. After a lot of missions
like Mormon’s and Jehovah witnesses, Arabic Muslims are part of the religious
group. Mainly chooses to be part of this groups for persona interest like they
did in the past

 

    In conclusion we want to emphasize is still
exists a tolerance between religious group in Albania. Religion doesn’t play an
important role in our families and in our society too. On the other hand,
religions have been vastly exploited for personal benefits such as getting a
job position, or being favored in the workplace despite the lack of abilities,
for gaining financial support from foreign investors.  Our idea can be best summarized with this
ironic picture.

 

 

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