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A Look at Islam in Armenia

Although a minority, Muslims have become an inseparable part of the history and unity of the country of Armenia.

Armenia, a small country in Europe, was once part of the Ottoman Empire. Its location close to the Middle East means that Armenia has known Islam since the seventh century. Currently, Muslims still exist in this border country of Asia and Europe, although only as a minority group.

According to data from the Library of Congress , Muslims make up about four percent of the population. However, this figure is calculated from the number of ethnic Kurds and Azeris in Armenia. Meanwhile, according to the Muslim Population page , Muslims in Armenia occupy three percent of the total population. Meanwhile, based on the PEW Forum , Armenian Muslims are under 0.1 percent, or only a thousand people in 2009.

In history, Armenia is indeed one of the areas that became the early Christian preaching. The country covering an area of ​​29,743 square kilometers has the traditions of the Armenian Church which were born from the first century AD. No wonder that currently more than 93 percent of its citizens adhere to Christianity, more specifically the Armenian Apostolic Church. Even today, Armenians (Armenians) are always identified with Christianity.

Islam entered Armenia during the era of the opening of this religious message in the western Asian region, namely around the seventh century. At that time, the Arabs succeeded in entering Armenia, but the government was still in the hands of the local rulers. Until then a Muslim governor was sent to rule there. There was no religious coercion, the Muslim government provided a peace agreement.

In the eighth century, many Arabs and ethnic Kurds settled in Armenia. They are scattered in the main cities. Until then around the 11th century, the Seljuks succeeded in controlling Armenia. Under the Seljuks many Armenians converted to Islam.

When the Ottoman Turks took over, the position of Muslims in Armenia strengthened even more. The area officially became part of the Islamic territory. There is a dark history whose truth cannot be ascertained, namely the bloody events of the Armenian genocide. However, this history has been rejected by the Turkish government until now. Only some Western countries accuse of genocide in the history of the Ottoman Empire in Armenia.

Around 1900, many Muslims left Armenia. Kurds and Azerbaijanis who still survive there although they also gradually left the country that was once part of the Soviet Union. Then, when Armenia became independent, Muslims were dominated from Iran, which is located next door to Armenia. Currently, the number of Muslims is very small, dominated by Kurds and Azeris.

Talking about the Muslim community in Armenia, Hemshin’s discussion certainly cannot be missed. The term Hemshin refers to the Muslim community of native Armenian origin. They are native Armenians who chose Islam as their faith.

Azbarez Armenian News said that nowadays many people hear about Armenian Muslims. In fact, almost all Armenians insist that Christianity is their identity. The existence of “The Hemshin” also answers it all.

Hemshin, which is also called Hemshinli, has a long, complicated history. They live in isolation from the general public because of their dual identity, namely Armenian (which is synonymous with Christianity), but they are also Muslims. Many of them then move on to neighboring countries, for example choosing to live in Turkey.

Muslims have a very long history in Armenia. Today, they are a very minority group. Not much news is written about their current condition. But in general, their rights are still limited to minority rights.

However, at this time many parties are beginning to voice Muslim rights amidst the majority of church traditions. In armenianweekly, for example, an intellectual who defends Armenian rights, Dr. Henry Astarjian, tries to open the eyes of Armenians and invites them to think about some questions about what is Armenian and Christian identity. According to him, Muslims are also brothers for Armenian citizens in general.

Regardless of the position of Muslims in Armenia, the da’wah movement is still trying to be encouraged. There is an Armenian translation of the Koran which makes it easier for local residents to get to know Islam. There is also a mosque where they worship and forge religious knowledge. As a neighbor of Armenia, Iran is also actively spreading Shiaism. The Iranian embassy also actively participates in preaching in Armenia.

One mosque

The Blue Mosque is apparently not only in the Turkish capital, Istanbul. In the capital of Armenia, Yereven, there is also a mosque called the Blue Mosque ( Blue Mosque ). The architecture is no less beautiful than the mosques in Türkiye. Blue in color, the Yereven Blue Mosque looks majestic with domes and minarets.

This mosque is the only remaining mosque and still survives today. In fact, in the long history of Islam in Armenia, many mosques stood there. In fact, there is also a church that was converted into a mosque. However, only the Blue Mosque remains. The Blue Mosque was also closed when Armenia was under Soviet rule. Until when Armenia became independent, this mosque was reopened.