In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent,
Muslims in Poland: Strength in Character
An exhibition on the lives of Muslims in Poland is being
held during 1-10 December at the Yemeni Center for Strategic
Studies and Research in Sanaa. Part of the Exhibition of the
Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw, the event also included
several lectures on this topic.
Polish Muslims are tartars who are mainly Sunni Muslims.
They number about 5,000 to 7,000, out of 40 million - Poland's
population. Many elements of the older beliefs common among
Turkish nomadic people could be found in the customs of the
Polish Muslims. Through the centuries, however, they have
also adopted Russian and Polish habits.
The tartars were not from freely practicing and teaching
their religion. In the areas where they lived, mosques can
be found the oldest of which are in the Bohoniki and Kruszyniany
villages. A new mosque has been built in Gdansk, and in Warsaw
and Bilystok there are prayer houses.
Tartars constitute the most numerous and consolidated group
of Polish Muslims with a tradition of a few hundred years.
Tartars is the name of one of the Turkish-Mongol tribe. They
were given the name tartars by the Slavs whom they attacked
during the 13th century A.D. The Lithuanian kings granted
the tartar refugees, who escaped the persecution of one of
Genghis Khan's descendants, lands on which they settled.
The tartar population grew and prospered. They started to
live in and around the major political and economic centers
in Poland. The tartars living in Poland today are the descendants
of those who arrived there in the second half of the 17th
century and were under the protection of the Polish King Jan
The tartars who lived in urban areas worked mainly in trade
and leather tanning. Some of them were part of the landed
gentry and the nobility. They showed great bravery in the
wars fought by Poland with other countries until the end of
the 18th century when the Polish Empire disintegrated.
After Poland gained its independence - in which the tartars
played a major role - from Germany, Russia, and Austria, they
participated in establishing several cultural and social societies.
Books and magazines were published in the tartar language.
In 1935, the tartar knight legion was established as part
of the Polish army. They were led by the Imam of Warsaw. During
the Second World War, the tartar Muslims, like all other Polish
people, took part in the fight against Germany and the former
Soviet Union. Many Muslims went to Warsaw to escapee religious
persecution in Russia.
The Muslim Religion Association and the Association of the
Polish Tartars were founded. Both organizations have been
active in social, religious, and cultural life. They publish
some popular and science magazines, arrange exhibitions, and