Everyone knows that Christianity, Orthodox and Catholic, is the main religion of most Slavs.
However, there are many Slavs who profess Islam. Basically, these are the Slavic peoples inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula – the land, almost half a millennium in the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
It should be noted right away that the reasons for the transition of the Slavs to Sunni Islam in the Balkans were very different. Someone did not want to pay the mandatory jizya tax, which non-Muslims are required to pay. Someone just wanted to carry weapons legally (it was forbidden to non-Muslims under the Turks), wanted to hold important posts in the Ottoman bureaucracy.
Bosniaks or, as they are often called, Bosnians – the largest Slavic ethnic group, now practicing Islam. There are over 6 million people in the world.
Before the arrival of the Turks, Bosniaks lived at the very junction of the Catholic and Orthodox worlds, often changing their faith back and forth depending on the authorities. As a result, they completely lost confidence in Christianity.
Many Bosnians were also heretical bohumilas, who were inherited from both the Orthodox and Catholics. It is interesting that the Bohumili did not honor the icons and prayed five times a day – here you have the ready-made Muslims. It is not surprising that the Bosniaks quickly converted to Islam with the advent of the Turks.
Now Bosnians consider themselves a separate people. And the Serbs themselves say that the Bosnians are the same Serbs, only every low people, deceived into Islam by the Turks.
The community of Muslim Serbs should be distinguished from Bosniaks. They could be Bosnians. But they do not recognize themselves as a separate nation, but are called the same Serbs, only of a different faith. The most famous example is director Emir Kusturica. The community of Muslim Serbs is small – only a few thousand people.
Pomaki or Pomaclar
These are Muslim Bulgarians. The word “pomak” in Bulgarian means “assistant”. Countrymen called them so contemptuously – “they say they help the Turks.” Pomaks themselves often speak of themselves as a separate people who speak Bulgarian.
There are an impressive number of pomaks in the world – about a million. Moreover, half live in Turkey, where most of them were expelled by fellow Christians at the beginning of the 20th century, with the final independence. Bulgarian Christians do not like Pomaks, they consider them cunning and deceitful people. But the Turks, in contrast, are always welcome in their country.
Many pomaks live in Greece, Kosovo, and Albania. Interestingly, in Muslim countries, pomaks quickly assimilate with their neighbors. But in Christian states they keep a closed community, remaining as a separate people.
Torbeshs are Macedonians who practice Islam, related to the Bulgarians. Some Torbesh consider themselves Albanians or Turks, although they speak the purest Macedonian language, even if they live in Kosovo and Albania. By the way, there are a lot of Torbeshes in the Balkans – two hundred thousand were counted recently.
Gorans are Muslims from the Slavic village of Gora who have converted to Islam. By origin – something between Serbs and Macedonians. They lived formerly compactly in southern Kosovo.
After the military conflict in the 90s, many Gorans from sin moved away to neighboring Serbia. There are fifteen thousand of them in the world.
So called the few Montenegrins who converted to Islam. Another name for this small nation is the poturechenites. There are about 20 thousand people. Together with other Islamic peoples, from Albanians to Turks, Muslims account for more than a quarter of the total population of Montenegro. In Montenegro, they do not stand out for anything – they are accepted as their own.