Islam in Ukraine

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Muslims in Ukraine make up about 4% of the total population. The majority of them are of Crimean Tatars in ethnicity and live in the Crimean peninsula.

While ethnic Ukrainians are predominantly Orthodox Christians, Muslims have lived primarily in the southern regions of the modern territory of the country, especially in Crimea.

In the 15th century a state known as Crimean Khanate was established by the Crimean Tatars, Turkic-speaking descendants of both Turkic and non-Turkic peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century.

The Khanate soon lost its sovereignty and fell under the influence of the Ottoman Empire on behalf of which it was ruled by the local tributary rulers with significant degree of autonomy. In 15th-18th centuries, Crimean Tatars frequently raided Eastern Slavic lands to capture slaves, enslaving an estimated 3 million people, predominantly Ukrainians. The influence of Russia in the area, initially small, was growing slowly and in the late 18th century after the series of the Russo-Turkish Wars the territory was annexed by the Russian Empire.

The Crimean Tatars were Sunnis and the Mufti was regarded as the highest religious figure. All communities were led by and represented before others by local imams.

The Crimean Khan's palace in Bakhchisaray was the center of Islam in Ukraine for more than 300 yearsThe Crimean Khanate had Bakhchisaray as its capital. In the 18th century, when it was conquered by Russia, there were at least 18 mosques in the capital and several madrassas. The Russian Empire began persecuting the Muslim population and nearly 160,000 Tatars were forced to leave Crimea.

Ukrainian Muslims in the 20th century At the time of the Russian Revolution, Muslims were one third of population of Crimea. Nearly all major cities in Crimea had a significant Muslim population.

Since Ukrainian independence (1991), more Crimean Tatars have returned to Crimea than during Soviet era. The Muslims are divided into various ethnic groups but the majority are of Tatar origin, of one particular clan or another other.

Muslims in Ukraine have 391 communities, 372 ministers, 151 mosques with 6 more mosques being built.

According to latest surveys, there are between 1 million to 1.2 million Muslims in Ukraine. This makes them 4% of total population. In Crimea the Ukrainian Muslims make up to 12% of the population. At least 30 Ukrainian Muslim communities work without official registration (there are nearly 360 registered communities or organizations). Others groups include Chechens or Caucasian immigrants or settlers, as well as a few Afghans. Major languages are Tatar, But all communities speak Russian and many also speak the Ukrainian language.

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