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A Different Approach to the History of Islam and Muslims in Europe: A North-Eastern Angle, or the Need to Reconsider the Research Field

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image of Journal of Religion in Europe

While the ever more strongly felt presence of Muslims in western Europe has already stimulated numerous scholars of various social sciences to embark upon research on issues related to that presence, it is apparent that just a few studies and introductory text books have so far dealt with the evolution of Muslim communities in other parts of Europe, especially in countries of central, eastern, and northern Europe. Without appreciation of and comprehensive research into the more than six-hundred-year-long Muslim presence in the eastern Baltic rim the picture of the development of Islam and Muslim-Christian relations in Europe remains incomplete and even distorted. Therefore, this article argues for the necessity of approaching the history of Islam and Muslims in Europe from a different and ultimately more encompassing angle by including the minorities of Muslim cultural background that reside in the countries of the European part of the former Soviet Union—the Baltic states and Belarus. Besides arguing that it is necessary to reconsider and expand the research field in order to develop more profound studies of Islam and Muslims in Europe, the article also outlines suggestions as to why the Muslim history in the eastern Baltic rim has been generally excluded from the history of Islam in Europe.


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