by A. B. Kopanski









Ethno-topographic portrait of medieval Albania.


The Albanians (Shqeptaris) are one of the oldest Aryan race of Europe and since the majority of them are now at least nominally Muslims, comprising a very conscious and politically dynamic European nation with far-reaching correlations in the Islamic world (Ummah al-Islamiyya), it is obviously vital to try to comprehend their turbulent history, predicaments, ambitions and aspirations.

The early medieval 'Albanians' emerged from the chaos of collapsing western Roman empire as the descendants of the obscure ancient tribes of Dardanes and Paeones who inhabited the Upper Illyria and Thrace until the massive invasions of the German Goths. Later, in the end of the six century CE, they were displaced by the raiding Avars, Slavs and Bulgars. The Illyrians found their last refuge in the barren hills of Epirus, Thessaly, western Macedonia and 'Albania' of the Adriatic coast.

The Muslim ethnographers and chroniclers of the 'European' Middle Ages tried to explain the ethnogenesis of Albanian 'Al-Arna'uts' according to their own knowledge. They identified the ancestors of these Al-Arnauts with the Christian Arab tribes who migrated to the heartland of Byzantine empire. The Arab writers of the classic ages of Islam knew the geographical treatises of cosmographos Ptolemy from Alexandria ( the 2nd century CE), who described the Illyrian tribe 'Albanoi' as the bellicose inhabitants who lived between the Roman-controlled Dyrrachion and Albanopolis. The Muslims of al-Andalus and Sicily also knew very well the Sakaliba, or the Alanic-origin Slavicized Croats and Serbs who as the 'mamluks' of the Altaic Avars invaded the Illyrian part of the Balkans in the first years of Hijrah. The Slovenians and the Slavicized Croats and Serbs forced the native Albanoi herdmen to desert their ancient cradle Arbanon, north of the lake Ohrid. Known to the medieval Europeans as Arber or Arben, these Albanian fiset (clans) fortified themselves in the hills of south-western Illyricum. Probably some Arab Christian emigrants from Syria lived in Macedonia in the seventh century CE. It is possible that they joined the expelled Illyrian Albanians on their trek to a new settlement inside the Shqeptaria. The Byzantine sources indicate that the Christianized Arab tribe Banu Ghassan led by Jabal bin al-Ayhan called Arna'ut, fled from Syria during Muslim al- futuhat and received from the emperor Constantine II a fief in Macedonia. Some historians speculate that the emperor Nicephorus I who ruled in Constantinople between 802 and 811 CE, was himself a scion of of Jabal, the last Ghassanid chieftain. During the reign of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, even the serious Muslim scholars believed that the Arnauts of Albania are Arab Ghassanids from Syria or the Berbers from Afrikiyya who 'being blinded by the Jahiliyya (pre-Islamic ignorance) became Nasara (Christians). They crossed the Mediterranean Sea and settled down in the land of Rum.' (1)

In the high Middle Ages, both the Muslim Osmanlis and the Christian Habsburgs recruited to their armies the vicious dark-skinned Morovlachi from the Bosnian and Montenegrin hills. Those nominal Orthodox Christians were completely Serbicized in the end of seixteen century.

There are plenty numismatic and paleographic evidences that the Arab and Berber Muslims from Sicily and Maghreb explored the Dalmatian coast and established several trade posts in Albania.

After the collapse of Islamic state in Sicily, many Muslim Arab and Berber muhajereen could crossed the narrow Adriatic Sea and took refuge in the Albanian hills . How many survivors of the massacre of the Muslim deportees from the Apulian city of Lucera (1300CE) escaped the Christian sword and found asylum in Albania is a subject of historical supposition. Apparently, some of the Crne Arapi (Black Arabs) of the medieval Hum, Bosnia and Albania were the descendants of the mujaheddin of the last Muslim intifadah in Sicily led by the legendary Al-Mirabetto ('Amir Abad'). (2)

Undoubtedly, some Muslim survivors from 'safe haven' of Lucera reached the self-reliant Ragusian merchant republic which had in the past a very good trade relations with the Islamic Sicily, Spain and Levant. If these Muslims refugees from Sicily and Apulia were among the Albanians, certainly, they were those people who enthusiastically welcomed the Osmanli troops led by Yakut Pasha and Hodja Firouz. These Osmanli generals who captured Kroia (Ak Hisar) in 1396 CE, liberated Albanians from the heavy yoke of Catholic church's tax imposition.

Like the medieval Christian humanists who identified the Turks with the ancient mythical 'Teucros' described by Homer, or the Muslims with the ancient 'Musulami'(the warlike people of African Numidia), the Muslim writers of the classic ages of Islam tried to 'Arabize' origin of many peoples with the mythical nations known to them from the pre-Islamic Arab legends. For example, the medieval Arabs believed that the Caucassian peoples are descendants of Banu Kureish, and the Nordic Sakaliba (Slavs), as well as the Turkic Bashgurd (Bashkirs) and Bulgars were descendants of the giant Yemenites of Ad. (3)

Before the Osmanli conquest of the eastern coast of Adriatic Sea, no army representing centralized government has ever penetrated the Albanian heartland. The Roman legions ignored the rocky hills, reducing their own presence to the fortified posts alongside the famous Via Egnatia. The majestic remotness of 'White Hills' reinforced the cultural isolation of its people. This outlying mountains of Albania acted always as a natural bulwark and the Adriatic coast below them as a rampart against any foreign invasion. Albanians are the last and the most virile European nation of clans. They preserved their doughty love of patriarchal freedom and the extraordinary degree of masculine dignity.

The mountainous eastern Mediterranean realm in which the Albanians live has had a major impact on their history and traditions. Since the Albanian passes and valleys have played such a great role in history of the Muslim-Christian rivalry over the rest Balkan Peninsula, and were so essential to the Roman, Byzantine and Osmanli communication between Europe and Asia, they are worthly of remark. The oldest land passage from Asia Minor to Central Europe is ancient Roman road via Egnatia which cut through the Albanian Alps on an almost direct line between the Adriatic port of Dures (ancient Dyrrachos-Dyrrachium, medieval Durazzo) and the Aegean port of Thesalonica (Salonica). Via Egnatia has always been the most important junction between Rome and Constantinople, between the West and East. In the Middle Ages, the Albanian and Dalmatian coastline gained even higher strategic value for the western world of commerce, due to the Venetian hegemony over the Adriatic Sea. Today, because of its strategic location, history, and religious frontier between Islam and Christianity, Albania still may rightfully claim to be the axis of the Mediterranean world. (4)

Albania is not extraordinary fertile land. With the exeption of a narrow 'Green Belt' between Pristina in Kosova and Bitola (Monastir) in Macedonia, the Western Albania is barren and windswept wilderness inhabited by two main lingual groups of Dinaric race: Ghegs (Gege, Gegeri ) and Tosks ( Toske, Toskeri). The former names are applied to the Northern Albanians, and the latter to the Southerners. Ghegs are highlanders living in the region of Skoder (Scutari),in Kosova, as well as in Dibr, Elbasan and Uskub (Skopje). They are probably descendants of the ancient Illyrian Penesti and Lynkesti tribes. Their southern borderland is the river Shkumb. Some of the Ghegian tribes like Miridita, Klementi and Kastrati, remained nominally Roman Catholic, however, the majority of Ghegs embraced Islam in the 15th century. Klementi and Grudi are semi-nomadic shepherds, spending the summer in the high valleys and the winter on the Adriatic shores. The Muslim and Christian Ghegs have a long tradition of tribal vendetta, the old ritual blood-vengeance which demands gjak (blood) for the slaying, abduction of woman and the insult. The blood-vengence is sanctioned by the pre-Islamic Canon of legendary Leka Dukagjin called 'The Old Law'. According to the Law of Leka, the Albanian (Shqiptar) man is totally responsible of security for his guest. Besa or 'assurance' is a sacred word for the true Albanian. A slaying a man in defence of honor according to the Law of Leka cannot be confused with murder, which starts a feud. The Old Law authorizes only two forms of punishment for murder; money compensation and burning of murder's house. Gjaksori or murderer is usually penalize by a seting a zjarr (fire) in his shpi (house).

The urban Ghegs are mostly Muslims and Christianity dominates rather among the sylvan tribes. All other Ghegs comprising both Muslim and Christian clans. Among the Christian Ghegs, the pre-Islamic pagan rituals surived in their folklore, it may be surmised that their Christianization was very superficial. A mass turn to Islam among the Christianized Ghegs took place at two ages, firstly, after the Muslim victories over the Aragonian king Alfonso V's proxies in Croia (Kroya,Kruje, after Islamization: Ak Hisar), and secondly, during the period of supremcy of Kuprulu, the Albanian-origin family of wise Grand Viziers in Istanbul. Islamization of culturally advanced and largely Greek Orthodox Tosks was faster than a similar change of faith among the barbaric, and largely Catholic Ghegs. The Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian churches in Albania denounced the Protestant version of Bible as a 'dissemination of works contrary to the teaching of the Holy and Orthodox Church'.(5)


The western travellers who explored the Northern Albania wrote that the only profession of Ghegs in their own country was fighting with one another.(6) Edward Lear, English painter and voyager wrote in 1888, that 'in the wildest part of Ghegeria, a rugged set of men are poveretti, paurosi, desperati, spaventati, fuor di loro, fuor di tutti. (7)

Edith Durham recorded that one Christian man from Kastrati tribe asked how many people he killed, answered: 'Eight - up till today...I've killed men though, Christians and Muslims, and God willing, I will shoot some more. Now I am going to pray to St.Nikola ( Santa Claus)'.(8)

In the begining of the twentieth century, more than 75 percent of the Ghegs were Sunni Muslims, and about 10 percent of them were followers of Bektashi cult. Ghegian Roman Catholic small clans of Jubani and Vraka and mostly Muslim tribes of Hoti, Gruda, Kastrati Shkreli and Klementi live in the barren, gray wasteland north of Scutari called Karst, which forms a bulk of Malsiya e madhe, 'the Great Highland'. Malsiya e madhe is the old frontier between Serbian Montenegro and the Shqiperia.

The Southern Tosks are mentally closer to Italian Tuscanians than to their racial kinsmen from the Northern Frontier of 'Maltsya e madhe'. Tosks live in Janina(ancient Epirus) and Prevesa, where they are called Chams. In the region of Permeti, they are known as Liaps. Tosks abandoned their tribal structure a long before the Turkish intervention in the Balkans, and they quickly adopted Osmanli system of beyliks. The southern Albania and pashalik Janina are fertile lands with green pastures and oak forests. In the Osmanli ages, Toskian beys had vast estates and manors, and their mansions built in the style of a lovely Turkish konak, or famous shtepe (a long houses) were better furnished than many western nobleman's palaces.

In the middle fourteenth century, the Shqeptari mercenaries of the Latin seigneurs in Greece migrated to Epirus and infiltrated Thessaly, Morea and several Aegean islands where they settled down and established their colonies (katunes). These settlements of highly hellenized Albanians called armatols, received a special privileges from the Osmanlis, however many of them emigrated to Apulia, Calabria and Sicily where they joined the fanatically Catholic Arbereshet, who left the central Albania after the fall of Skanderbeg's rebellion.

The majority of Tosks accepted Islam in the early 15th century, however, many of them embraced Islam before the Turkish conquest of the High Albania. Average Albanian Tosk or Gheg, who embraced Islam attained a far higher and more prestigious position in the pluralistic and multi-ethnic Osmanli Caliphate than he could ever hoped to reach in European Christendom. In the medieval Christian Europe, the change of religion was not a great theological dilemma for the majority of common people, who did not regard Islam and Christianity as two totally disparate religious doctrines. For the mass of the Christianized Europeans, Islam and Christianity, like Orthodoxy and Catholicism, or later the 'Papism' and Protestantism were rather two different systems of religious observance. In the Christian part of Europe the only men and sometimes women taught to read and write were monks, nuns and bishops. Many kings and dukes were able only to sign their names on charters, and at the end of fourteenth century ability to read the Bible was restricted exclusively to the tonsured clerical orders and scholares.

Most Christianized Europeans were serfs, poor craftsmen and plebeians. In 1400, more than ninety-nine percent of the Christian population of Europe was illiterate.

Many academic heterodoxies popular among European scholars in Italy, Provence, Bosnia, Bohemia and England were influnced by Islamic teaching. One of them was 'Averroism' which had a powerful following among better educated Christians in Sicily, Spain, France and Italy. The influence of Islamic philosophy and spread of Ibn Rushd's thought in the western universities seriously threatened the theological foundations of Christianity. In 1231, the pope Gregory IX prohibited the reading of Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina and Aristotle's works 'corrupted by Saracens'. Additionally, the popularity of para-Manichean and semi-Christian 'heresies' which radiated from the Balkans inspired many charismatic heriesiarchs who renounced the papal tyranny and degeneracy of Christendom. The Cathari and Paterens were widespread in the Mediterranean borderland between the Pyrenees and Rhodope mountains. It is hard to believe that Albania was not affected by these anti-Catholic movements, but we can only speculate about the influence of Theophiles (Bogomilci) and Paterenes in Albania. Probably, some Albanians were motivated by the dissident Balkan churchmen who rejected the religious authority of Catholic bishops as well as the Orthodox patriarchs. The Albanian hills were excellent sanctuary for many Christian dissidents condemned by the papal inquisitors to die at stakes. Certainly, in Durazzo, Preveza and Shkodra, where theologically correct Catholicism was much stronger than in Langue d'oc of the southern France, swarms of Flagellants marched and scourged themselves savagely by flogs in annus horibilis 1348. Hordes of fanatics marching from Hungary to the Latin-occupied Epir and Thessaly, 'filled with the Holy Ghost' and chanting litanies with rhythmical convulsions called the sylvan Albanian clansmen to 'Christ the Redeemer' and 'healed the smitten by God and afflicted' lepers. (Leprosy was unknown in Albania before the Latin Crusades against Islam,but it was very frequent in the Albanian ports between 1200 and 1300. After the Turkish conquest, it was very rare and in the end of sixteenth century it almost extinct). The Spiritual Franciscans and followers of Joachim of Flora from Calabria - disobedient to the papal bull of John XXII - established their own communes in the Albanian towns. In the Albanian mountains many hermits dwelt in caves.

Tosks were Christianized by the Greek Orthodox Church in the 13th century. Under the Islamic law, Toskian followers of the Orthodox Church, called Shkyars, remained in jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarch, who held a privileged position in the Osmanli Caliphate. The Greek clergy were able to keep a closer hold upon the Christian Tosks than the Pope was able to do upon the Roman Catholic tribesmen of the Northern Albania.

The geographic spread of the two antagonistic Christian Churches is rooted in Albania's ancient history. According to the early Christian sacred scritpures, Paul (Saul of Tarsus), preached his newly founded Christian religion in Durrachium (9) The cities of Shkoder (Scodra), Vlore (Aulon, Avlonya) and Preveza (Nicopolis), became diceses of the first Christian bishops of Illyrium. But the Illyrians were very hostile to Christianity and the 'Albanian'-origin emperors Decius and Diocletian ruthlessly persecuted the followers of St.Paul from Tarsus. In 311, extinto nomene Christianorum, the 'name of Christianity vanished' from Epirus and Dalmatia. However, after Constantine's declaration of Christian belief as the imperial religion of Romans, the Catholic bishops established their churches in Praevalis (High Albania) and Macedonia. St.Jerome (Hieronumus) from Dalmatian city of Stridon, translated the Greek Christian scriptures into vulgar Latin. The German Ostrogoths converted to the Arian Christianity by Ulfilas were not good preachers, thus, after the restoration of Byzantinian order by emperor Justinian, Illyricum was again only nominally Catholic province. In the nineth century, after devastating invasion of Avars and Slavs, Albania was overun by the Turkic Bulgars who were completely Slavicized and Christianized in 865. Their khan Samuel invaded Albania twenty-six times but in 1018, the Byzantine emperor Basil II 'Bulgar-slayer' defeated them and revitalized the Roman rule over the Balkans. Under the Bulgarian occupation, the Catholicized Albanians were confused by theological war between pope Nicolas I and patriarch Photius. The word filoque divided the Christendom into two factions, but the illiterate Albanians were not influenced profoundly by the mutual excomunications of Nicholaus I and Photius, rather they were silent object of the Latin and Byzantine political intrigues intelligently played by Constantinople against Rome and vice versa. When the Eastern Schism finally splited the Christianity into the Roman and the Greek Churches (1054), the Albanian Christians of Praevalis were declared the Latin Catholics and their kinsmen in Epirus remained under the religious authority of the Greek patriarchs.

But the Albanian Christians until today preserved in their creed a lot of Illyrian pagan beliefs. Sykeq or the Evil Eye is one of the most powerful curses of the Northern Ghegs. Against Sykeq and oras (devils) the Albanian Christians wear special amulets and talismans. The Catholics protect themselves against it by blue glass beads, tattooed crosses, sacred hearts, Latin texts in trinagular cases, Italian medals and coins. Silver medal of St.George, a piece of meteorite and dry head of snake blessed by a priest were very good amulets (djakova) against Muslim firearms and Turkish yataghans. Church services have no meaning for many of them, and therefore no influence'.(10)

The Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic mehallas were always strictly segregated. Muslims did not mix themselves with the Christians called in usu vulgi :'qen bir qeni ('dogs' and 'sons of dogs'). Many Christian clans were very demoralized indeed, for example, the entire Christian Shala fis suffered from inherited syphillis.

Groups of Albanian households which had a common ancestry formed a vellazeri or 'brotherhood', and the Muslim villages which made up a larger territorial unit formed a bayrak led by bayraktar, the local chief of Muslim militia. The position of bayraktar was a hereditary function recognized by the Osmanli Bab-i Ali (Sublime Porte).A members of the local Islamic council were called krye t'malit or in Turkish bilikh-basha.



Islamization of Albanians.


Islam expanded in the Southeast Europe on the base of genuine religious passion, which produced a forceful and vibrant culture stimulated by a conquering spirit of the Osmanlis. During the centuries of its initial Arabo-Berber burst into the Mediterranean Christian world, a second powerful race, centered in the Eurasian Dasht-i Kipchak, began its own march westward. Shaking off shamanist religion, the Turkic tribes embarked their amazing trek from the slopes of Altay Mountains in the heartland of Asia to the ridges of Alps in the Central Europe. The twin leitmotifs of Western Christendom's military revolution and 'Turkish Islamic Threat' describe the patterns of clash of religions in the Mediterranean realm between 1360 and 1700. These currents may not yet have ceased. The medieval Muslim Turks and 'Saracens' shared some expansionist factors with the medieval Christian 'Rumis' and 'Firangis'. Both looked back to the First Caliphate and the First Church, as an example of what believers could do when they are truly pious and dedicated. Religion passion as a spiritus movens and the prospect of spolia opima (a rich war spoils) may help explain a common desire to reach out for new frontiers of Islam and Christianity. The Osmanli Islamic State's emergence as a new superpower, first in western Asia and later on a still larger scale in Eastern Europe and North Africa, dependend on its multi-ethnic character and above all, on its Islamic spirit of religious tolerance. Many Christian Europeans adopted Turkish styles of dress and social habits, but most of them remained Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. Moreover, many Christian despots, princes,'voivodas' and 'vladikas' under the so-called 'Turkish Yoke' had continued to rule, paying tribute and jiziyah to their Muslim overlords. In 1330s, the Frankish and Byzantine petty feudal lords of the Aegean islands became vassals of the Turkic emirs (illik kafirler) and the nefarious Catalan mercenaries from Aragon closely collaborated with the Muslim freebooters in Morea. (11)

According to Marino Sanudo Torsello, the Venetian propagandist of the anti-Muslim crusades, in 1332, three hundred fifty Latin and Greek 'perfidious Christians' (perfidi Christiani) joined the Osmanli navy and invaded the Christian-occupied part of the Ionian Sea. Sanudo, a relative of Dukes of Naxos and author of Istoria del Regno di Romania, wrote his Secreta fidelium Crucis to Avignonian pope John XXII, the French king Philip VI and the emperor Andronikos III, in which he incited the Christian rulers to crusade aganist the 'Turkish Peril', but not to many of the Latin Christians shared his anti-Islamic hatred. (12)

In the beginning of the fifteenth century thousands of impoverished Byzantine sailors and ship-bilders from Crete and Constantinople ran away to the Muslim emirates in Asia Minor, where they embraced Islam and led by the Turkish sea-ghazis attacked the Venetian colonies.(13) Paroikoi, the oppressed Byzantine serfs migrated to the Muslim territories in such large number that many rural regions of Thessaly and Thrace were completely depopulated in the end of 1340s. The Christian peasants preferred to live under the rule of Muslim timar-holders instead of being mercilessly exploited by their Christian feudal lords. Not only Christian vulgus and petty feudal warlords accepted the supremacy of Islam without theological vacillation. The Byzantine emperor Andronicus III paid homage to the powerful and pious emir-ghazi Umur of Aydin and recognized his Islamic devlet as a superior regional power. The Byzantine basileus paid an annual tribute to him and gave the island of Chios as an endowment to the Muslim 'brother'. Later, the emir Umur was invited by the emperors Andronicus III and John Cantacuzenus to military intervention in his vassal Christian lands divided by the civil war. The first Osmanli sultans had a legal right to intervene in the Balkan civil war which threatened the political and economical stability in the land of their Christian vassals. The Greek historian Elizabeth Zachariadou writes that it was a responsibility of the Muslim overlord to intervene in a quarrel between his warring Christian subjects in 'full agreement with the principles of Islam'. (14) Several Christian warlords did not hesitate to invite the Muslim Turks to armed intervention in other Christian states. Sigimonto Pandolfo Malateste (1417-1468), a ruler of Rimini, sent to the sultan Muhammad II Fatih a letter written by his adviser and humanist Roberto Valturio, with open invitation to invasion of Rome and very accurate map of Italy. In April 1486, Boccolino Guzzoni(Gazonio), the Italian condottieri seized the papal city of Osimo near Ancona, and wrote a letter to the sultan with a proposition of coalition against the Church State. When the Muslim marines from Durres captured port of Otranto in Italy, the Catholic inhabitants in Piceno expressed their readiness to accept the religion and jurisdiction of the Gran Turco, "quod eo impensius tunc fecimus cum hostis idem Turcus Italie inhians in Picenum missis trieremibus predabundus sepius impetum fecisset quedam mediterranea loca expugnare conatus subditis etiam nostris ad defectionem solicitatis".(15)

In the 15th century, Hungarians and Slavs of Carinthia threatened the Roman Catholic bishops that they will emigrate to the lands under the Turkish control, because 'vestra facilis Hungaris et Sclavis ad Turchos est transitio' ('moving to the Turks is easly for Hungarians and Slavs').(16) In 25 September 1453, four months after the Muslim triumph over Constantinople, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (the pope Pious II) wrote to his confidant Leonardo de Benvoglienti from Siene, that the Christian Europeans were themselves preparing the way for Turkish victories. The age of Italian domination was over and the Turkish empire ascended, "fuerunt Itali rerum domini,nunc Turchorum inchoatur imperium".(17)

When the conversion of Christian Europeans to Islam became a component of European reality and bothersome challenge to the medieval Christian mind, the Papacy has responded with several anti-Islamic crusades on all three fronts of Mediterranean Christendom, what in result paved the way for the new imbalance between Roman Catholic trembling oikumene and Islamic Ummah. The history of Albanians is one of the great paradoxes in the chronicles of European civilization.

A millenium of political oblivion ended abruptly as the Turks intervened in the Balkans. In the 16th century, Albania along with Bosnia and Macedonia represented the cutting edge of Osmanli Caliphate engaged in the counter-crusade against the Militant Church, and its Adriatic harbors offered the best prospect for the Osmanli naval strategy of Jihad against the infidels in Italy, Sicily and Malta. Yet the emergence of Muslim Albania as a first-class regional aegis of Osmanli systematic march into the heartland of Christendom would remain unclear if evaluated exclusively in terms of Osmanli military supremacy over their Christian foes. Albania was also a part of the Islamic civilization where a constant resistance of Muslim tribes against the Osmanli authority created an autonomous Islamic administration. The evolution of the formerly Roman Catholic, viciously independent Albania, from a client state of Republic of Venice to an Islamic frontier country inevitably transformed both, Albanian ruling elite and people. The process of noncompulsory Islamization was accelerated by fashionable 'Turkization' of Albanian lifestyle. Albania, in Turkish language; Arnavtluk, was well known to Christians and Muslims as the land for the introduction of Turkish customs, dress and traditions into Christian Orthodox Rumelia, Greece, Serbia,and even Muslim Bosnia. The evidence of historical documents, of diplomatic reports, and of travel stories confirm the strong cultural and religious allegiance of the Muslim Albanians to the Osmanli Devlet. The victorious march of the Osmanlis into the European heartland brought to medieval Albania (Arberiya,Arbniya) an economic and cultural advancement, yet its basic ancient Aryan kinship never changed. Only the Muslim Turks successfuly introduced 'alien' religious culture to this proud and often xenophobic people. Greeks and Romans attempted to hellenize and latinize the Illyrian Shqiptaris but they failed.(18) The ferocious Ostrogoths who sacked Rome in 410 CE, under the command of Alaric, and who established in the Balkans a powerful state, also were not successful in Germanization of the stubborn Illyrians.

Invading Bulgars and Serbs inaugurated Slavonic supremacy in ex-Byzantine Illyricum vi et armis, iure caduco, but Albanians rejected their aggresive Slavonization and counter-attacked when Bulgarian and Serbian armies were crushed by the Byzantines. From the eleventh to the fifteenth century, the north-eastern lands of the medieval Arbereshi remained under the rule of Serbian warlords of Zeta and Rasha who ceaselessly expanded their power over Shqeptaria until the fall of Serbian kingdom in the second half of the fourteenth century. The Serbian chrysobulls of the fief of Decan from 1330, as well as the charters for the Orthodox monasteries of St.Michael and Gabriel in Prizen (from 1348 and 1353), clearly indicate the presence of large Shqeptari population in all villages of western Macedonia, Kosova and Metohjia. They were shephards, mercenaires and farmers. Under the Serbian yoke, the Albanian Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Christians of the Greek rite were forcibly baptized in the Serbian Church established during the oppressive rule of Stjepan Dushan. According his draconic 'Zakonik' (law), only the Serbian Church was a pravoslavnij, or the 'true' Christian denomination. All other religions were banned. Those who refused to be baptize by the Serbian priests were branded on the face by the hot iron and expelled, and their properties were confiscated by the Serbian tsar. Many Albanian Catholic feudals and their serfs who resisted the policy of Serbization were executed. (19)

Before the Serbian occupation of Albania, the Norman soldiers of fortune dominated the Adriatic realm. They conquered Muslim Sicily and southern Italy helping the pope and Lombard princes to regain Apulia and Calabria. In 1078, the bishop of Devoll (Diabolis) in central Albania call the Norman troops from Italy to support the Arberian Roman Catholics against the Byzantines. The Normans came with the Muslim mercenaries from Sicily and with a small contingent of Bulgars and Greeks led by Nicephorus Basilicus. But their multi-ethnic and multi-religious troops were defeated by the autocrator Alexius Comnenus in 1079, near Durres (Durazzo, Dyrrachion).

The Byzantine army was supported by the Muslim Seldjuk troops of the sultan Suleiman and eskubites led by 'very brave primikerios' Tatikios, the leader of Turkish mercenaries from Macedonia. The Macedonian Muslim soldiers were Turkish prisoners captured by John Comnenus during Seldjuk-Byzantine war in Asia Minor. (20)

Two years later the Normans, led by Robert Guiscard 'The Wily' and his son Boemund, returned to Albania from Otranto (Hidrunt) and captured Durres and Vlore (Avlona). Several months later the Normans swiftly seized Skopje (Scopia) and Ohrid, where they executed their own baron called 'Saracen',probably a Muslim emir from Sicily who was involved in anti-Boemund conspiracy. (21)

Emperor Alexis disappointed by the military setback in Albania asked the Seljuk sultan Sulaiman for immediate help. The Muslim ruler of Rum (Konya) sent him 7000 'experienced warriors' led by Kamir-khan(Kamires). The new Byzantine army led personally by autocrator Alexis and his Muslim allies attacked the Normans near Larissa in southern Macedonia, but Boemund's troops survived the ferocious assault of the Byzantines, Muslim Turks and Oguz bowmen.

After the collapse of Byzantine order in Albania, the Normans established their own regnum Albaniae stretched from Durres to the Vardar river, where the nomadic Turkic Pechenegs and Oguzes (Og Oz) camped during the summer season. Those horsemen from the Kipchak Steppe constantly crossed the Danube river near Dobruja and pillaged the Balkans as far west as Ohrid Lake.

The anti-Islamic Crusades initiated by the Cluniac pope Urban II were a catastrophic plague not only for the Muslims of Palestine but also for the Albanian Christianized population. The swarms of Norman, Latin, Burgundian and Frankish religious fanatics, bloodthirsty knights, and ignorant peasants - inebriated by vision of salvation, racial hatred and dream about the Muslim gold - had pillaged and massacred Hungarians, Slavs, Bulgars and Albanians on their way to Constantinople. Throughout two centuries, the Albanian ports of Durres and Vlore became the western crusaders' sea-gates of entry to Outremer via Egnatia. During the Four Crusade (1202-1204),some of the western Militae Christi occupied Albania before their savage pillage of Constantinople, and they incorporated it into their anarchic Latin kingdom under the rule of Baldwin of Flanders. The life of Albanian population in this period is very little-known. The Latins governed the 'Albanian kingdom' with the iron gauntlet of western feudals, like in southern Italy. The Albanians did not participate in a power struggle between Frankish-Norman 'dukes' and the Venetian dodges. During this Dark Age of Albania, the only known native semi-independent entity was that of Kruje, where a chiftain called Progon, possessed a small citadel. In 1208, his grandson Dimitri challenged the power of Serbian despotate of Zeta, ruled by 'Great Prince' George, and the Venetians who controlled many Adriatic ports.

When the western crusaders established the Latin kingdom in Constantinople, the Comneni prince Michael I escaped to Albania, where his loyal forces were able to drove the Venetians out from several Adriatic strongholds. In Yanina, he declared a formation of the sovereign Despotate of Epirus, stretched as far north as Shkoder. After his death in 1215, Theodore Engjelli and later Michael Comnenus's son Michael II Paleologus (1230-1267) restored the supremacy of Orthodox church over Albania. In 1258, he gave his daughter Helen to Manfred, the Hohenstaufen king of Two Sicilies. Her dowry was the Albanian land from Corfu Island to Berat. Eight years later, after the violent death of Manfred, Albania was in hands of Charles I d'Anjou(Angevin) from Burgundy. In 1274, the nineteen tribal elders from central Albania recognized him as the rex Arberiae. Epirus went to the last two Comnens, Nicephor (1267-93), then to his son Thomais (1293-1318), who was murdered by his sister's son Nicolaus Orsini. Nicolaus was murdered by his brother John, who was poisoned by his own wife Anna Paleologus, mother of Nicephor II, killed during the invasion of the Albanian tribes from the north in 1358. Charles I Angevin was succeeded by his handicaped son Charles II, who ordered in 1300, the final extermination of the Sicilian Muslims deported to Apulian town of Lucera. Charles II the Lame gave the 'kingdom of Albania' to his son son Philip, duke of Taranto. After his death in 1333, Albania was ruled by Philip's brother John of Gravina, and two years later by John's son Charles, who was beheaded in Aversa in 1347 by his cousin Louis, king of Hungary. In 1368, the new Andegavin ruler Philip II was displaced by the native Albanian clan Topia. In these turbulent times, the Despotate of Epirus was seized by Gjin Bua Shpata, Albanian worlord from Delvina. Gjin Bua Shpata also invaded the Frankish state in Thessaly. In 1380 and 1382, the Serbian despot in Yanina called the Turkish Muslim troops to drive back Gjin Shpata's pillaging bands. In 1381 and 1384, the Latin feudals of Arta asked the Muslim troops for protection against the invading Albanian Zenebishi clan from Gjirokastra. The Muslim Turkish mercenaires routed the Albanian raiders and restored short-lived order in Epirus. But in the central Albania, the Andegavin vassals established three petty Albanian despotates ruled by the local clans of Muzaka from Berat (1280-1389), Topia from Durres (1338-1460) and Balsha from Shkoder (1360-1421). Tanush Topia married a misbegotten daughter of Robert, the Angevin king of Naples, but later, the infuriated king Robert killed both, Tanush and his wife. In 1385, their son Karlo Topise (Topia) asked the sultan Murad I for military intervention against his cousin Gjorgi Balsha II. The Osmanli sultan sent him 40 000 Janissaries from Macedonia, who defeated Balsha II's army in the battle of Savra near the Vijose river on 12 Sha'ban 787H/18 September 1385CE/. Gjorgi Balsha was killed during his escape from the battlefield. The Osmanli annalists described this skirmish as 'the expedition to Karli-ili' or the land of Karl. (22)

Immediately after disintegration of Serbia, the northern Albanian feudal clans of Balsha, Topia, Dushman, Spanaj and Dukagjin emerged as the independent tribal rulers of Arbania. Only the Shqeptaris of Kosova remained under the Serbian subjugation until 1455, when the Osmanli emancipated them from the prince Brankovic's feudal yoke.

'The very existence of Islam, which was autonomous but nonetheless invoked a common tradition, thus appeared as a challenge to Christian totalitarianism, with its distinctive awareness of ancient legitimacy and its unfamiliarity with religious pluralism'.(23)

The date conversion to Islam in medieval Albania and Macedonia is debatable, but the diocessial reports sent by Albanian bishops of Durazzo to the popes and their Congregatio de Propaganda Fide allows for an estimate of the rate of the early Islamization of Albanians. The sources indicate that most of early converts originated in the ruling tribal elite of power, as well as the lower stratum of Albanian populace aspiring to improve their social and spiritual position.(24)

In the 18th century,the majority of Christian Albanians in Antivari who did not emigrate to Italy and Austria embraced Islam. When the conversion to Islam escalated, the abandoned churches were converted into mosques. In 1610, only two cathedrals served for a thousand Roman Catholics.(25)

The pope's legate Marino Bizzi wrote in the same year that in face of the lethargic and illiterated Catholic clergymen, the spreading of Islam in Albania by the 'zealous Hodjas and sincere Mullahs' is lively and exuberant.(26) Only the clans of Mirdita (in Albanian: 'Good day') and Klmenti, fanatically clinged to the primitive form of Roman Catholicism, due to the Osmanli recognition of their tribes as a dhimmis. Several clans of the southern Toskas remained in the Greek Orthodox Church. The massive conversion of Albanian Christians to Islam took place between 1620 and 1650. Within three decades, 300 000 Albanian Roman Catholics embraced Islam. (27)

After the fall of the Serbian kingdom and the gradual desintegration of the Byzantine empire in the mid-fourteenth century, the Albanian cattle-breeding highlanders regained their lost lands in the ancient Illyria, Macedonia and Epirus. In the first decade of the fourteenth century still under the pressure of Slavs and Bulgars, the Albanian clans spread over the Greek-controlled ancient Boetia, Attica, Tessaly and Morea(Peloponnese), where they clashed with the Franko-Norman warlords and prepared these territories for the coming Islamization. After the devastating pillage of Constantinople by the western crusaders in 1204, the Greek lands were occupied by the greedy and ruthless Roman Catholic dukes who openly discriminated the Orthodox population. The Albanian petty warlords and chieftains divided the desolated 'Greek' lands of the southern Illyria among themselves and transformed them into almost independent duches. Struggling with each other and resisting the Serbian occupation, these Albanian feudal mini-states supplied bellicose mercenaires to the regional Latin powers which fought for supremacy over the Adriatic trade routes to Levant and Muslim Africa. The southern Tosks recognized nominally the Byzantine emperors as their overlords, but the Catholic Gegs favored the suzerainty of the Frankish-Norman dukes,the Venetian dodges and the popes of Rome. In 1417,the sultan Muhammad I expanded the Islamic state over all Albanian-dominated lands,by transforming the Southern Albania and Epirus into the new sandjak Arvanit-ili,with Agryrokastro (Gjirokaster,Ergiri) as its capital city.(28)

The first generation of these Albanian petty warlords in Arvanit-li maintained their Christian faith but most of their heirs became Muslims. The Turkish sultans never forced Albanians to accept Islam, in contrary, the Catholic bishops and Orthodox patriarchs received rich timars and armed Christian tribesmen served in the Osmanli army as the auxiliaries. Christian soldiers were tax-exempted and well-paid by the Muslim authorities. The Catholic warlike Klementi tribe paid only 1000 akca of ispendje to the sandjak-beg and they were released from levies of ushr and awarid-i divani as the derbenddji or 'the protectors of the strategic passes on the highways Shkoder-Petrishban and Altunili-Medun-Kuca-Plava'. (29)

When the Osmanli ghazis expanded the Islamic new order over the Balkans, the Latin Europe plunged into anarchy. Political violence, private wars, tyranny of popes and terror of the royal armies ruled over Italy, France and Hungary. The peasant revolts, urban riots, bankruptcies, assassinations and religious persecutions converted the Christendom into a huge battlefield contested by several war parties. The North was overshadowed by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the South was tormented by the papal crusades. Guelfs and Ghibellines clashed with Teutonic fury in the cities dominated by the urban patricians. Fanatical monks agitated the plebeian vulgus in the Italian cities that lost their republican liberties. Imperial and papal armies marched and countermarched from Bohemia to Sicily forming confederations and alliances which melted like candles. Italy was used as the coliseum of a lethal encounter between the Pope and the Emperor. Emerging and quickly vanishing duches succumbed like a fumes or clouds over the ruined lands of the ancient Imperium Romanum. Disorder and desolation, poverty of masses and gluttony of rulers dominated over the 'abyss of history, where the memoires of antique civilization blend with the growing impulses of modern life'. (30)


During the reign of Murad II, Albania became an integral part of the Islamic state, but some Catholic chieftains of the western Albania still collaborated with the Venetian Republic and the Kingdom of Naples. They pillaged the Islamized towns at the first opportunity. These Christian landlords were deeply dissatisfied with the timar system and de-feudalization of their fiefs. In 1431, the powerful clans of Araniti and Kastrioti - whose feudal empowerment had been diminished under the Shari'ah law - rebelled against the Islamic state, but their were subdued, because the great majority of the Albanian Christian timar-holders did not supported their mutiny and remained loyal ahl-al-dhimmi. Only a small bands of Christian rebels led by George Kastriota called Skanderbeg, very well-armed and paid by the king of Naples continued his anti-Muslim guerrilla war until 1468. After his death, pax Osmanica returned to the northern Albania.

In Albania, some people embraced Islam - like earlier Roman Catholicism or Greek Orthodoxy - for mundane purposes, and some because of the persuasive power of its akidah. Today, the historians cannot precisely to determine the causes for mass conversion of Albanian to Islam. New converts always have both, mundane and spiritual needs which they seek in their new religions and Islam has a great historical dynamism in accepting new converted societies from very different ethnic and cultural environments. (31)

The rapid conversion of Christian East Europeans to Islam and the pertinent integration of Christians into the Osmanli multi-ethnic commonwealth has occured largerly in response to the social agony and to the religious persecution created by the greed, political megalomania and endless war campaigns of the Catholic and Orthodox despots. It is hardly surprising that the followers of Bosnian independent church (Bosanska crkva), the ruthlessly tax-burdened Epirotes, the Orthodox Greeks of Morea tyrannized by the Roman Catholic Frankish warlords, the Bulgarian serfs of Byzantine feudals, and the the savagely persecuted Hungarian dissidents preferred the proverbial Turkish turban over the purple hat of Christian pralates. The over-exeggerated Christianization of the medieval Slavs, Albanians and the Salvicized Turkic Bulgars by the 'apostles' from Byzantium and the 'saints' from Regnum Francorum has been surpassed by an apparently spontanenous gravitation toward Islam in so many places. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the medieval societies in Europe were often Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim because their rulers supported religious establishment affiliated with their own faith. Cuius regio eius religio.

Definitely, Islam enjoyed a special socio-political status in the Osmanli commonwealth because its ruling elite of power was Muslim.

But the most powerful agent of Islmization in the Osmanli-dominated Europe was neither the victorious scimitar of Turks, nor the decadency of Christian churches, but the missionary stimulus of the sufi dervishes and hodjas who preached tirelessly the words of God to the Christianized Balkanians. (32)

Albanian Christianity was not annihilated by the Muslim conquerors because in the Islamic teaching is the legal foundation for the protection of Christian dhimmis. Even during the anti-Islamic rebellion of Skanderbeg's Catholic followers the Turkish military authorities did not forced the Albanian Christian to embrace Islam. The mixed marriages between Muslims and Christians also did not facilitated the historical process of Islamization of Albanians, because according to Islamic law of Shari'ah, the non-Muslim wife of believer could retain her Christianity, Judaism or Sabeian belief. Even if we accept the favored argument of the anti-Turkish propaganda that the Turkish pashas and agas 'enslaved' in their harems thousands of young Christian virgins, they were not forced to embraced Islam because even Osmanli sultans did not Islamized their own Serbian, Byzantine or the western Christian wives.The Shi'ite tradition of concubinage (mu'tah,kepin) practiced by some Turkish rich and powerful men in the Balkans was also not a significant factor of de-Christianization of the Catholic and Orthodox Albanians. However, many Christian Albanians, Serbs, Greeks and Bulgars leased their own daughters to the Muslim landlords (derebeys) for a fixed period. The Muslim masters paid a cash to the father of the 'rented' woman. (33)

This Shi'ite custom was relentlessly condemned by the ulama of the Osmanli Devlet. But in pre-Islamic ages, the serfs of Christian feudal lords were even more degraded by the European tradition of prima noctae, which gave the Christian overlord a right to rape a new married serf's wife in the first night of nuptials. The Christian knights did not pay for it.


During the reign of sultan Bayezid I, the Muslim administrators of Albanian sandjaks inaugurated a timar system of landholding. The disastrous Osmanli-Timurid war in Anatolia halted the rapid expansion of Islamic state in Europe, but after the hiatus of 1402- 1417, under the rule of Muhammad I, the Osmanli power was able to extend Islamic law over the entire Albania. It was a very arduous process,because no central power had existed in Albania since the fall of Serbian kingdom which occupied the eastern Shqeptaria. The Osmanli sultans had to establish a friendly bonds with every single Albanian warlord. Some of them were appointed as the heads of vilayet(district) and other became the leaders of Christian auxiliary troops in the Osmanli army. The peaceful and gradual Islamization of Albanians was disrupted by the feudal rebellion of Araniti and Kastrioti clans which was suppressed in 1468. The rebels led by George(Gergi) Kastriot called Skanderbeg were well paid by the Venetians, pope and king of Naples, but they failed to unite the Albanians against the Turks. After the defeat of Skanderbeg's guerrillas, many Kastriotis and Aranitis accepted Islam. Ali Beg, a grandson of Gergi Araniti received from the sultan Selim I a large fief in districts of Gjirokaster (Agryrokastro-Ergiri), Delvine and Kanina liberated from the Venetian occupation. Skanderbeg's stronghold Kruja renamed Akca Hisar was captured in 1478,and Christian defenders of Lesh(Alessio) capitulated without a siege. The heavily fortified port Shkoder(Skutari) was incorporated to the Osmanli state in 1479.Two years later, the port Durres (Durazzo, Dyrachium), and other Venetian-occupied citadels of the Adriatic coast like Bar (Antivari) and Ulcinj(Dulcino) surrendered to the Muslims.

In 1571, the whole Albania was liberated from the Latins, who occupied the western Shqeptaria since the Norman conquest of Dalmatia in the last decade of the eleventh century. The early Islamization of Albania is well described by the Osmanli chronicler Tursun beg. (34)

During the sultan Muhammad II's anti-guerrilla campaign against Skanderbeg's bands in the central Albania, the Turks built a big city of Elbasan which became the most important urban midpoint of Islamization in Albania since 1466. Three decades later from the land of the Islamic foundation (vakf) in a small village of Korce arised a booming trade town. Sultan Bayezid II initiated the urbanization of several villages in the southern Albania. In the sixteenth century Tepelene and Kavaje was developed into very well-designed Muslim cities. Elbasan was made a governmental seat of a new sandjak which merged several kaza or areas expanded from the port of Durres(Durac,) to Isbat(Shpat) and Cermenika. After the end of violence, the Osmanli rulers divided the Arvanit-ili into several vilayets and sandjaks. In the southern and eastern Albania, Vlore and Ohrid were made the capitals of two important sandjaks, and in the northern Albania a new sandjak of Shkoder(Iskenderiye) established in 1479 was divided into five kazas (Podgorica, Pec, Karadag or Montenegro, Bihor and Prizren). Later, Prizren in Kosova was detached from Shkoder(Skadar) and it became a separate sandjak in the Albanian Kosova. Until 1479, Pec (Ipek) was a capital of a tiny sandjak ruled by the powerful Dukagjin clan Islamized before the Skanderbeg's mutiny. In 1533, the sultan Sulaiman the Magnificient ordered to set up a new sandjak of Delvine which defended the frontier of Himara highland against the Venetian invasions.In the sixteenth century Berat was also declared a capital of separate sandjak. (35)

Islamization changed totally the landscape of pastoral Albania,and the dynamic urbanization under guidance of skilled Muslim architects brought the impoverished bellicose tribesmen into the new world of multi-ethnic Dar-ul-Islam. The Turks built completely new cities of Tirana, Peqin, and Djakovo around the official registered Islamic foundations and the 'unofficial' sufi tekkes. Hundreds of newly constructed bridges and roads connected the civilizational hubs of Islamic Asia with the previously peripherial dominions of the Venetian merchants and the Norman dukes. Some of the new Albanian Muslims vigorously supported the urbanization and Islamic education inaugurated by the Osmanli conquest of their country. Hadim Sulaiman Effendi, an Albanian peasant who after his conversion to Islam had risen from an obscure hamlet near Djakovo to the post of high-rank sultan's official in Istanbul, established his own religious scholarship and endowment for talented young Muslim Albanians. He founded in Djakovo a large mosque (djamia), Islamic college (medresah), primary school (mekteb),libraries, bazaar (charshiye), public steam-bath (hamam), and clock-tower (muvekkitkhane). (36)

After the defeat of Skanderbeg's rebels, the growth of the urban population in Albania transformed the inhospitable hills into the fastest growing economy of the Eastern Europe, however, the Islamization of Arnauts (Albanians) was still sluggish in comparison with a curve of conversion of Bosniaks and Greeks to the Islamic faith. According to the Osmanli census of 1520, in the Albanian sandjaks lived 15 000 indigenous Muslims, 2500 Jewish refugees from re-Christianized Spain and Portugal (cifuts), and 495 000 Christians. Between 1506 and 1520 there were 5850 Turkish Muslims in Albania (1.01 percent of the total population). The Turkish timar-holders did not exceed 800 military troops, imams, ulama and their families. A very small number of the Anatolian surguns (the forcibly deported Turkish settlers) from Konya and Yuruk nomads from Kodja-ili, Sarukhan and Djanik protected the strategic routes near Dibra against the unruled Malj-i-sor (mountaineers) from the northern Albania.(37)


Almost all 528 Jewish families from Spain (Sefardim) were settled down in the port of Vlore.The majority of Muslim city-dwellers lived in Elbasan,Berat(the ancient Roman Antipatreia,Byzantine Pulcheiropolis called by the Turks 'Arnavud Beograd' or Velarde) and Tirana. (38)

According to Evliya Celebi, Islamization of Berat was stimulated by the sultan Bayezid II, Uzguroglu Ahmed-beg, and Sheikh Aziz of Helvetiye order, the pious men who built a djamiah, an imaret or the public kitchen for poor people, a medresah and takke for the Helvetiye sufi fraternity, and kulliye (Islamic academy). In 991H (1583CE), in Berat were 650 Muslim households and 400 Christian families. Muslims and Christians lived in segregated mahallas. The Hunkar Djamia or Fethiye Djamia built in 1417, after the conquest of the city is probably the oldest djamia in Albania. In tahrir of 835AH (1431/2CE) a Hadji Fakih is registered as the imam of Ic Kale Mesjid (The Inner Castle Mosque).

In 1520, in the sandjaks of Elbasan, Ohrid, Avlonya and Shkoder were 3000 Muslim peasant families (raya). The Muslim and Christian raya in the Osmanli Albania were well-protected under the Islamic law against the feudal exploitation and abuses. The Kanun-name of 1583 states that the timar-holders cannot force their serfs to additional toil, seize their hay or land and pay in cash the ushr(tributes in goods). (39)

The Osmanli census of 1455 authenticates the phenomenon of mass conversion of the Albanian peasants to Islam in Kosova, Metohjia and Macedonia, particularly in region of Kustendil and Kratova. (40)

Hundreds of Albanian Muslims reached the highest positions in the Osmanli state, among them were the finest Grand Vezirs of the Sublime Porte (Gedik Ahmed, Davud-pasha, Ahmed Dukagjinzade, Kara Ahmed, Koca Sinan-pasha, Lutfi-pasha, Kara Murad, Tarhuncu Ahmed-pasha, Ayas-pasha, the famous dynasty of Kupruli Grand Viziers, and others). The Albanian Yenicheri agas led the Osmanli storm-troopers during the Hungarian, Moldavian and Persian war campaigns. Yahya-beg Dukagjin wrote the most popular poems in Istanbul of the sixteenth century. The cultural and military contribution of these Albanian Muslims to the Islamic civilization of the late Middle Ages cannot be ignored.

Islamization brought the almost illiterate Albania the Arabic script in which the great works of Albanian 'Aljamiado' literature had been written.(41)

The Albanian everyday life in the Islamic state ruled by the Sublime Porte became cosmopolitan and urbane. In the 16th century Albanian peasants like the Bosniaks and Bulgars migrated to the lovely kasabas or the small towns built by the Turkish urbanists who transformed the Albanian wilderness into a European realm of the Islamic civilization. On its previously desolated

pastures emerged the graceful 'little Bursas, Damascuses, Konyas and Edirnes', where the former cattle-herders, who in the pre-Islamic past ate a half-roasted wild pig in the weald, were now accustomed to drink cahve from Mocca and to eat twenty kinds of Turkish bakalava (sweet cakes). Albanian women covered by sheep fleece and daily scourged with a pine cane, became the Muslim kadinlar veiled by the silk feredje and brocade apparels. The Turkish urbanization, education and job oportunites attracted the Albanian poor Christians to Islam and in the end of 17th century majority of them abandoned their religion. The conversion of Albanians to Islam took place, first, in the urbanized areas and later in the rural areas. Christianity was reduced to a religion of inhabitants of remote mountainous areas. The Islamization of Albanians had proceeded more rapidly in the higher urbanized sandjaks of Elbasan, Shkoder, Prizen, Vlora, Delvina and Ohri than in the isolated regions of the Albanian Alpes. In the ancient dominions of Macedonia the Albanian Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants accepted Islam faster than the local serfs of the Slavic landlords. Similarly in Kosova and Metohja, where the power of Orthodox Serbian church was very strong and its religious autonomy was recognized by the Osmanli Islamic state as the spiritual authority of the Christian Slavs. (42)

Peter Mazreku, an Albanian-origin legate of the pope, who investigated the rapid decline of Catholicism in sandjaks Prizren, Shkoder, Shkup and Vuciterna wrote in his reports that in 1624 absolute majority of the Albanians in these areas were Muslims. His account was confirmed in 1638 by Gregory Bardhi, an archbishop of Tivar.In Peja, Gjakova (Djakovo), Viciterna and Pristina 90 percent of the urbanized Albanians were Muslims. In Janjeva, Novobrda and Trepca, the number of Muslim households was still smaller than the number of Christian families. (43)

Many Christian Albanians and Serbs fleed from the Islamized Rumelia to Italy and Hungary. More than 150 000 Arberian Catholics migrated to Apulia after the failure of Skanderbeg's rebellion. The Serbian collaborators of Habsburgs were expelled and settled in Hungary after the repulsion of Austrian troops by the Osmanli army in 1699.The modern Serbian nationalists lament this events as the so-called Velika Seoba Srba or the 'Great Exodus of Serbs'. The emperor Leopold I's army led by General Piccolomini invaded Bosnia, Servia and Kosova in 1689 and occupied the northern Rumelia for several years. In the end of 17th century ,the Albanian nobility from Kosova region was almost totally Islamized. Such formerly Christian powerful warlords as Hadhi Beg, a son of Theodor Muzaka, famous Grand Vezirs Hadji Sinan Pasha and his brother Ajas Pasha, Muhammad Beg Kuka, Dukagjin Zade, Ahmed Beg and Sinan Pasha from Lumi, Suzi Celebi Prizreni, Kukli Beg were excellent ghazis of the Islamic state.

Marino Bizzi,the papal legate who visited Albania in (16?) did not exeggerated when he stated that Albanians of the western sandjaks are already lost for the Catholic Church. (44)

Christianity in the pre-Islamic Albania was never strong. The Albanian Catholics and Orthodox Christians deeply divided by the fierce theological war between the western 'Latin heresy' and the eastern 'schismatics', developed a healthy sense of political survival. Under the Islamic law, the only one in the medieval Europe which protected the religious liberty, the Albanians rejected both the Catholic faith called by the Serbian czar Stjepan Dushan 'the latin heresy', and the Byzantine rite called by the popes of Rome 'the oriental schism '. The Serbian occupation of Albanian lands and tsar Dushan's policy of forcible Serbization of the Latin heretics, who were baptized contra formam ecclesie Servi, greatly subverted the missionary work of the Catholic monks, a long before the Turkish troops arrived in Durres. (45)

Some Albanian Catholics believe that Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) on returning from his failed missionary journey to the Muslim Egypt founded the first Franciscan abbey in Albanian town of Lezhe in 1220. (46)

That is apparently one more hagiographic legend of vitae sancti Francisci written by his devotees. But there are many historical evidences that Francis's Fratres Minores along with the Dominicans were brought to Albania by the pope's agent Giovanni del Carpine between 1248 and 1252. The Pope Alexander IV demanded protection for his monks in the letter to Archbishop of Zadar(Zara).


THe Sufi Orders and the Bektashi heresy in Albania.


Sufi fraternities (turuq) in Albania and Albanian Macedonia emerged under the impact of esoteric ideas of the Central Asian and Iranian mysticism. Albanian heterodox and orthodox Muslim sages who interpreted the rules of mystical gnosis (tasawwuf) were deeply inspired in matters of the sufi doctrine by the Persian and Turkic pirs, sheikhs, fakihs and babas. The Sufism from Khurasan and Balkh moved westward to the Balkans, where it found a feritle and congenial cultural niche. The bands of wandering dervishes, often excomunicated by the Sunni orthodox ulama because of their outrageous practices and ignorance of the Islamic creed, play significant role in conversion of many Christian peasants the so-called 'popular Islam' in the Bosnian and Albanian mountains.

The first dervish order fully adapted among the Albanian Catholic and Orthodox Christian population was the tariqat Bektashiyya. The Bektashi order of the thirteenth century was rather a loose 'confederation' of other members of the heterodox Shi'ite gnostics than a highly disciplined sufi fraternity. There are suggestions of several historians of the Balkans that they infiltrated the remote areas of Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia three of four decades before the Osmanli conquest of Serbia and Bulgaria. The Bektashi dervishes used a Shi'ite principle of takiyya (the concealing of their religious belief in hostile milieu). Disguised as the Christian Armenian refugees and persecuted by the Sunni Seljuks in Asia Minor they were able to preach their heterogenous, eccletic religion resembling oriental Christianity to the Slavs, Bulgars and Albanians. It is quite possible that their preaching influenced the local Christian heterodox Christian 'Manichean' churches of Patarens, Babuns and Theophiles (Bogomils), who vigorously rejected the cult of cross and emphasize a personal mystical love. During the earliest period of the Osmanli state, the Bektashism was considered as the militant ideology of the Janissaries recruited from the Christian youth.But the early Bektashiyya was never a coherent religious doctrine. Many Bektashis were members of nihilist and communist Shi'ite sects like the Qalandariyya, Haydariyya, Nurbakhshiyya, Ali-Illahiyya, Alawiyya, Qaramatiyya and Kizil-Bashis.

The rise of the Bektashi sect in the fourtheenth century CE is closely correlated with the emergence of the famous corps of Yeni cheri (Janissaries), the shock-troops of the Osmanli Devlet. Bektashi tales recognize the Osmanli sultan Orkhan as the military founder and the Baba Haji Bektash as the spiritual father of the valiant Islamic forces.(47)

However, the fifteenth-century Osmanli chronicler Oruc Bey ibn Adil relates that the Yeni cheri (New Army) were created by the sultan Murad I (martyred in the Battle of Kosovo Polye, 1389), through the institution called devshirme, or compulsory draft among the Christian youth of Rumelia, Bosnia, Serbia and Albania. (48)

forces.(X,A forces.( In the thirteenth century CE, the Bektashiyah order was one of the numerous sufi fraternities active in the rapidly Islamized post-Byzantine Asia Minor. The Bektashis dervied their name from an obscure Haji Bektash,who according to Shams-al-Deen Ahmad al-Arifi al-Aflaq (d. circa 1360) may have been the murid of the blasphemous Turkoman agitator Baba Ishaq from Kafarsad, near Haleb (Aleppo), the founder of the Babaiyya heretical extremist(ghulat) sect. (49)

But many historians reject such allegation. Baba Ishaq declared himself a last prophet of God and ordered his followers to revolt against the Seljuk sultan Ghiyath-al-Deen Kai-Khusrow in 1241 CE. The Babaiyya revolt was crushed and the killers of Sunni Muslims were executed. After the eradication of Baba Ishaq's heresy, two sufi orders of Mevlevis (Mawlawiyya) founded by Jalal-ed-Deen Rumi (d.1273) and the tariqa al-Bektashiyya were destined to spread the gnostic Islam in Europe throughout the Osmanli centuries. (50)

Effendi Evliya Chelebi, the Osmanli chronicler from the seventeenth century describes Haji Bektash as a son of Sayyed Ibrahim Mukarrem from Khurasan, born in Nishapur and educated by Luqman Pirenda, who was a follower of Ahmad Yassavi (d.circa 1167), the founder of powerful Turkoman sufi tariqah Yassawiyya. (51)

Some early Bektashi dervishes were probably still Sunnah-abided Muslim ghazis who waged Jihad against the Byzantine and Armenian infidels. They were valuable warriors and builders of Osmanli Ghazi state in the western Anatolia. The militant orders of Udj (Turkish; Frontier, Arabic: Thughr) defended the Islamic Far West against the crusading bands of Roman Catholic militia Christi and the Byzantine mercenaries. Zuhd or austerity was a preeminent attribute of these mendicant fraternities of wandering dervishes. As Islam spread into the Balkans and the Osmanli state was expanded to Adriatic coast of Albania, the Sufi missionary movement arised as an anarchic and grass-root Islamic activism. Its adherents were mostly the city dwellers educated in Qur'anic schools, usually literated and charismatic. Some of them were orthodox Sunni believers who enthusiastically preached Islam to the Christians, others were Shiites and some were the non-conformists who defying the ulama-sponsored formalism and preached a mystical or esoteric (batin, dahile olan, brendes) knowledge of Almighty Allah's (SWT) secrets.

The real originator of Bektashiyya missionary activism was probably not a semi-legendary Haji Bektash but Fadl-Allah al-Astrabadi (killed by Timurlenk's son in 1394), a preacher of Hurufi cryptic doctrine in the Bektashi tekke of Kirshehir. The Hurufi apocryphic teaching about the Prophet Isa's (Jesus) may have been a major reason of popularity of the Bektashi Shi'ism among the Janissaries recruited mainly from the Christian families. (52)


In the Eastern Europe, the heretical Hurufiya teaching of pir Astrabadi was blended with the cult of Balim Sultan, the Bektashi vali (in Albanian: plak) who died in 1516 CE. He preached a doctrine of trinity (thaluth) consisting of Allah ('The Divine Essence'), Muhammad ('the Light') and Ali ('the Shah of all Saints'), who are according to the Bektashis one and the same person. (53)

The Bektashi legend maintains that pir Balim was born to a Bulgar Christian princess of Demotika who was converted to Shi'a by Sayyed Ali and Mursal Baba,two Bektashi preachers.She became miraculously pregnant, when Mursal Baba dipped his finger into a jar of honey and put it in the mouth of virgin princess. Of course, such para-Christian eclectic theology totally contradicts the authentic akidah of the Islamic faith. In the new form of Balimism, the Bektashi cult survived until the present times in Albania and Kurdistan. (54)

In the sixteenth century CE,the Balimist Bektashi dervishes founded in Albania several monasteries-lodges of mujereed and varfes, or the ascetics who observed celibate like the Christian monks, but the majority of Albanian Bektashis lived in a religious communes guided by hereditary leaders(babas),where women and men (muhibs), or 'the friends', freely participated in sexual orgies. The Bektashis did not build mosques, they prayed their namaz in a special rooms of their lodges (teqes, dargas) called ibadet khane. They observe the fast of Ramadan. Their women did not cover their faces. In the seventeenth century the Bektashis of Albania and Epiros venerated a tribal vali Baba Sari Saltik identified with the Christian saint Nicolaus (Santa Claus), whose corpse, according to the Bektashi myth, was transformed after his death into seven or even fourty bodies burried later in Thrace, Rumelia (Bulgaria), Bogdan (Moldavia), Krim (Crimea), Bohemia, Lehistan (Poland) and Sweden.(55)

Sari Saltik's cult was spread by means of numerous tombs believed to be his own. One of his 'tombs' is found at the Bektashi tekke in Kruia, Albania. THe Bosnian Sufis venerated his tomb in picturesque tekiya at the spring of the Buna river in Blagaj, Hercegovina. There is another tomb of Sari Saltik in Baba Dag near Silitria in Rumunia. According the Bosnian sufi legend, in the cave above the source of the Buna river lived a dragon (zmay) to whom each year a young girl had to be offered as a tribute. One day it was Milica, a beatiful daugther of Styepan, Duke of Zahumlye (Hercegovina). But dobri (saint) Sari Saltyk who arrived from Syria, rescued her from a horror of death and married her later. After many years of marriage he had turned ghayib, i.e, invisible. The story is an interesting amalgamate of the popular Slavic legend and the eastern Anatolian Sufi tale. According to the medieval Polish legend, in the early medieval Cracov, a Sarmatian (Croatian) ruler Krak defeated a local dragon in the similar way.

Sari Saltuk is a half historical and a half mythical person. Evliya Chelebi identified him as Muhammad Bukhara, a disciple of Sheikh Ahmad Yasawi. According to other Muslim sources he was an Oguz sheikh-ghazi from Yasu (Turkiestan), who settled in 1261 in Paravadi, Dobrudja, with his forty Turkoman warriors. He was a beg of the Mongol emir Nogay who ruled the Steppe north of the Black Sea (Rus). According to the Tatar legend from Lithuania, he converted to Islam many Christian people in Poland, Hungary and Vallachia. Disguised as a Christian monk he explored Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where he established several tekkes under facade of hermitages.In these isolated places the new converted crypto-Muslims were recognized by the Christian clergymen as a heretical sect of 'Babuns'. The Bektashis of Albania and Bosnia venerated him as the dede and kryegjysh (Chief Grandfather) (56)

and the Balkan sufi murids collected his huge hagiography called 'Saltuk-nama' written in the second half of the fifteenth century. The 'Saltuk-nama' presents him as the apostle of Islam to Eastern European. In this legend, related by Evliya Effendi Chelebi, Sari Saltyk also killed a dragon in Dobrudja, who terrorized the local non-Muslim population. After his heroic gesta, 40 000 Christians embraced Islam in his Danubian state. Later he went to Poland, where he brought the Tatar settlers in Prussia to the true religion of Islam. One hundred fifty thousand of new converted Muslim Tatars colonized the Baltic principality near the city of Danzig (Gdansk). Near Moscow, Sari Saltyk converted to Islam 600 000 Hashdek(?) Tatars. In the end of his life, Sari Saltyk ordered to made seven coffins (tabut) for him. When he died his body was put into one of them,and burried by his followers in the unknown place in the non-Islamic country. (57)

The other coffins were also burried in different places. In such way he protected himself, he belived, from the worship of his Turkic followers, who still adhered to the shamanist pre-Islamic Eurasian tradition of veneration of dead person in kurhans. In fact, his turbes are venerated in more than forty places.

In the eastern Albania (Kosova, Macedonia), Baba Sari Saltik was identified by the local people with the Orthodox apostles to the Slavs, St. Naum Okhridzky and St. Spyridion of Corfu.

Despite the veneration of Sari Saltik by the Bektashi dervishes, there is no a single historical evidence that he was Bektashi dede. Probably he was a sheikh of sufi tariqat who preached Islam to Kuman, Pecheneg, Tartar and Oguz heathens, but we cannot identify him as the Bektashi preacher. The Bektashi myth-makers 'adopted' several other anonymous Muslim apostles who preached to the barbarian Slavs, Vlachs, Shqeptares and Bulgars in the pre-Islamic Eastern Europe. The local superficially Christianized folks identified those Muslim preaching frontiersmen with Catholic or Orthodox saints. In course of time, the new secretly converted 'proto-Muslims' became linked up in a native heterodox 'churches' which inclined to grow more hierarchical, with several degrees of ecclesiastical acumen and spiritual power. When the Osmanli troops established pax Islamica in the Balkans, these crypto-Muslim Bosnian and Albanian 'Lovers of God' (in Slavic,'bogomiltzy') accepted Islam en masse with astonished rapidity and easiness.

The utmost purpose of the Bektashi veneration of the Christian saints, or their identification of the legendary pirs and plaks with the Christian evangelists was certainly not a blending Christianity with amalgamated Shiism, but to assimilate Christian saints in the Bektashi theology. The process of concoction of Albanian Christianity and Bektashi pseudo-Islam was arrested by the missionary action of the Muslim preachers (hojas, sheikhs) of genuine Islam in the end of the seventeeth century CE.

Angered by the anti-ghulat purges, the militant Bektashis became violent. In 1578, the Bosnian-origin Sokolovic (Sokollu) Pasha was assassinated by a Bektashi hit man. Several hours before the murder, Sokollu Pasha - who was born a Christian in Serbia - had been reading a story about the perfidious stabbing of the sultan Murad I by a Serbian fanatic at the end of battle of Kosovo Polye. Sokollu Pasha cried out: 'May Allah grant me similar death'.

He was burried outside the old Roman walls of Istanbul near the turbe of Sahib Ayyub, the Companion of the Prophet martyred in 634 during the first Muslim siege of Constantiniya al-Qubra. After his death of shahid (martyr of Islam),a sudden influx of the Indian gold from the Spanish colonies in America led to the depreciation of the formerly strong Osmanli silver currency and the high degree of inflation ruined thousands of Muslim urbanites in European and Afroasian parts of the Osmanli Caliphate. The Muslim and Christian peasants had to pay a higher taxes. Impoverished Muslims and Christians were forced to borrow money from the Jewish usurers called in Albania chifut, who were mostly the rich Jewish Sefardim emmigrants (Marranos) expelled by the new Catholic rulers of Spain and Portugal. Some of them,like Salomon Abenayish (Alvaro Mendes) or Joseph Nasi (Joao Miguez) were appointed by the Osmanli sultans as the 'princes of wine'. Nasi was a 'duke of Naxos' and Abenayish was appointed as the master of Lesbos island. Usury rates high as 50 percent and huge debts made the Muslim craftsman a virtual financial slave of the Jewish bankers. Deprived and bankrupt Muslim villagers organized armed bands of brigands and freebooters called 'Jelalis', who had thrown Anatolia - the always dangerous birthplace of heretical sects - into a total religious and political anarchy. The jobless sekhans (musketeers) and firaris (fugitives) led by the 'communist' dervishes terrorized every part of the Caliphate. The Christian raya (low class vulgus) had formed their own gangs of rural thugs and thiefs, called in Greek-speaking Rumelia; klephtai or lestai. In Bosnia and Serbia they were called haiduks and uskoki.

During the so-called 'Time of Great Misery'(1596-1603), the hordes of Anatolian 'Jelalis' and the Bektashi Janissari deserters under command of Deli Hassan (Hassan the Mad), an allegedly Alawi or Bektashi outlaw, invaded Bosnia, Albania, Rumelia and Hungaria (Madjarstan). Those half-naked, long-haired dervishes and common criminals pillaged the Eastern Europe and slaughtered thousands of the new Muslims. The weak and decadent sultan Mehmed III made Hassan the Mad a governor of Bosnia.

Many Bektashi logdes were destroyed by the salafi puritans led by Kadi-zadeli ulemas who restored the pristine Islamic traditions during the fundamentalist revolution which took place under the rule of wise Albanian viziers Kuprulu and the reign of sultan-caliph Mehmed IV Avci. The Kadi-zadeli movement against adulteration of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SWAS) by the gnostic sects was named for their founder Kadizadeh Muhammad (1582-1635), an imam from Balikesir near Istanbul. Being a charismatic and very popular preacher (da'i), Kadi-zadeh declared a spirtual Jihad against the perverted and decadent practices in the sufi tekkes. During his public ceremons and lectures (ders-i am) he condemned the doctrine of the spiritual self-annihilation within the divine essence (fana'), existential pantheism, barbaric customs of howling, wailing, dancing, shrieking, body-piercing, self-mutilation and other eccentric acts of manifestation of 'love'(hubb). On his path of preaching and warning (tariq-i waz wa nasihat) against odd innovations(bid'a),Kadi-zadeh - who was in his youth a disciple of the famous Omar Effendi, sheikh of Helvetiya order - ferociously attacked the decadent sufi cults. He proclaimed that those sufi dervishes who violated the Prophet Muhammad's denunciation of celibacy and monkhood must reaffirm their faith (iman) by their immediate rejection of forbidden practices. Kadi-zadelis censured tabacco and hashish smoking, chanting and musical ceremonies (raks,sema) for the recollection of Allah's name (dhikr). The cult of the tombs( turbe) of 'saints', shaking hands in greeting, and bowing down before the rulers were also targets of Kadi-zadeli reformation. They outlawed drinking of wine and fermented inebriants (boza). Transgressors were executed. The most prominent anti-Bektashi vaizans like Birigli Muhammad and Ustuvani issued fetwas against immoral behavior of women and homosexuals. The anti-corruption movements of Kadizadelis ended in 1656, after the appointment of Albanian-origin Mehmed Kuprulu as the Grand Vezir of the Sublime Porte(Bab-i Ali). The last great Kadizadeli preacher, Vani Mehmed ibn Bistam (d.1685) supported by the grand vizier's son Fazil Ahmed Kuprulu-zade ordered to destroy many Bektashi tekkes,where the forbidden consumtion of wine was ignored. (58)

Movements like the Bektashis were a global religious phenomena of the thirteenth century plagued by the exhausting regional wars, change of climate, pestilences and petty despotism. In Christendom and in Dar-ul-Islam emerged a powerful heretical cults which challenged both, the ruling religious establishment of the Catholic Church divided by schism and rivalry between popes of Rome and emperors over Dominium Mundi or investiture, and the Sunni Caliphate troubled by fragmentation,secessions, tribal separtism, invasions of the western crusaders and expansionism of the eastern Mongol nomads. The decisive Islamization of the Euroasian realm of the post-Byzantine world was a heroic spectacle. The Turkic ghazi states and the sufi movements were wedded to intellectual as-Sahwah al-Islamiyya and the growth of new wealth in the Muslim world was demonstrated in a sublime art of Seljuk architecture. There was a great popular enthusiasm for Jihad against the Christian crusaders of the West and the Mongol nomads of the East. When in the Western Europe the Grey and Black Friars provide a counterweight to the episcopal power of Catholic Church, the new Sufi orders of Naqshbandiyah and Qadiriya propagated a life directed towards the imitation of the Last Prophet's poverty and simplicity. In the begining the new Muslim fraternities of dervishes maintained strict obedience to the Sunnah and Shari'ah Law. Like the Humiliati, Arnoldists,Cathars and Pauperes Spiritu or Waldenses of the Christian West, the Muslim disciples of tasawwuf were mendicants vowed to privation, and like the Franciscans, Dominicans and the Third Order in the Christendom, they threw themselves zealously into da'wah and tabligh missionary work. The early Bektashis, Shurwardis, Kabrawis, Shazilis, Badawis and Rufais came to provide many of their murids to combat the infidels. Many of them were certainly influenced by Shiite doctrines of martyrdom and excessive love of the Family of the Prophet Muhammad and Ali, and many of their beliefs indicate influence of doctrines of the ancient pre-Islamic cultures of Balkh and Persia, but there is a some doubt whether they should be regarded as the ahl-al-bid'a at least in their early period of activity. Their heretical deviations were rather evidences of religious frustration of the 'middle class' with the corruption and worldliness of the 'official' Islam preached by the Muslim scholastics. The rise of Islamic mysticism of the fourteenth century CE and the emergence of movements like the Bektashis expressed the great contradiction of the Islamic civilization in the era of the Turkish supremacy. The identification of splendor and military victories of the Osmanli sultans with the triumph of true faith had given the dominant Sunni Islam an increasingly 'ecclesiastical' image among the Muslim 'spirtual paupers'. When the Franciscan Fratres Minores preached that Avignon was the Whore of Babylon and when Savonarola and Hus were burned at stakes, the militant dervishes rebelled against the orthodoxy of Islam wrongly identified with the lifestyle of corrupted Muslim officials. The Bektashi movement was a clear by-product of rapid Islamization of the oriental Christianity in post-Byzantine Asia Minor and the Balkans. Under the strong inuflence of relics of Nestorian Christianity, infiltrated by the ghulat of Alawiyah and Kizilbashis from Persia and eastern Anatolia, the disciple of Haji Bektash Khurasani reached the shores of Albanian Adriatic as the pseudo-Islamic degenerated cult. Some non-Muslim historians try to present the Bektashi cult in Albania as a grass-root spirtual self-defence of the Christian converts to Islam against 'the Sunni dogmatism of the Osmanli conquerors'. It was unlikely. Rather it was a desperate attemption of the minority of the pre-Islamic religious milleu to preserve their old Christian beliefs by adoption of some basic Islamic rituals. The Bektashi cult was never popular among the majority of Albanians and Bosnians. It was always a perypherial phenomenon. We have to remember that the Bektashi order like other fraternities of dervishes and hermits was a magnetic cultural asylum for many mentally unstable persons, charlatans, villains and escapists. These Bektashis who successfully penetrated the Janissaries never threatened the Sunni Islam of the Osmanli Devlet. Unlike the Dominicans and Franciscans, the Bektashis were never absorbed by the Sunni absolute majority. They created a small close-knit communities. Many Bektashis disenchanted by the erroneous and primitive teachings of babas joined other strictly Sunni sufi tarikats like Naqshbandiya and Qadiriya. Like many fanatical Franciscan and Dominican preachers who led the crusading armies against the Muslims, the Bektashis and Rufais led the Islamic troops against the Christian armies in Hungary and Vallachia. The turbes or venerated tombs of many Bektashi sheikhs and babas mark the path of Islam from the remote areas of Central Asia to the banks of Danube river in Central Europe. Many of them still demarcate the old religious Frontier between the medieval worlds of John Capistrano and Baba Balim.

The second heretical Shiite sect which penetrated Albania were the Kizilbashis (Red Heads) who presented themselves as the Bektashis or even as the orthodox Sunni Muslims to the Shqeptaris. Like the Bektashis, they deified Hazrat Ali and venerated Hasan and Hussein. They also ignored the five compulsory daily prayers and the fast of Ramadan. But unlike the Bektashis, the Kizilbashis worshiped Mariam Umm Isa as the mother of God, and believed that Ali was reincarnated God Father. In their trinitarian concept of God, Jesus (Isa) was God-Ali's son, and the Prophet Muhammad was the Paracletos or the Comforter who appointed the twelve naqibs or the ministers of Alavites (Nusairiyya) as the apostles of Ali-Father. They observed Christian feasts of Easter and Christmas.

The orthodox Sunni derwishes and saints came to Albania before the Turkish military conquest. Sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of murids. Their triumph was different than the victory of the Men of Sword. But both, the warriors and the preachers propagated Islam among the Albanian infidels with a genuine passion and fortitude.

Most of the Turks who came into Albanian were members of the ghazi orders and sufi brotherhoods.They were ardent upholders of the Sunni orthodoxy but their faith had little with the official appointed ulema and fuqaha. They were champions of Islam of the Frontier( thugur,udj), the guardians of militant religion ruled by a special code of conduct. These para-military and semi-secret fraternities called futuwwah established a close contact with the natives and organized social or economical activities of the new converted to Islam. Their rules of chivalry was derived from a code of war ethic developed during Jihad against the western crusaders (as-salabiyyin, Farangis) and the Byzantine Christian 'holy warriors' (akritoi). The western knowledge about these religious Muslim orders engaged in ghazawat against the 'Farangi' and 'Rumi' infidels is very poor,like the eastern knowledge about the true nature of the medieval Christian Knights of Temple and Hospital (Militia Templi et Militia Hospitali) who crusaded against Islam in the eastern Mediterranean realm. A powerful Islamic movement or the mysterious organization of warriors-preachers called akhi was described by Ibn Battuta who travelled across the Byzantine Eastern Europe,the Tatar Kipchak and the Turkic Anatolia between 1332 and 1333. The akhi were Muslim frontiersmen who maintained a network of hospices and lodges(zawiyyes and tekkes) all over Dar-ul-Islam and secretly inside the lands of 'Rumis'(Byzantines). They have their own 'inns' for the Muslim mustazafer or travelling pilgrims and missionaries even in pre-Islamic Constantinople and Macedonia. 'Traveling constantly, performing not only religious duties but often also practising the trade of the guild with which they were associated, fraternal memebers performed numerous duties including the very important one of disseminating news'. (59)


The 'news' and descriptions of the Christian lands were very crucial for the Muslim emirs of Asia Minor who wished to reach the land of legendary Kizyl Alma('Red Apple), identified sometimes with the copper-covered dome of the Church of Hagia Sofia in Constantinople, and sometimes with the 'apple' over the basilic of St.Peter in Vatican. Gregory von Muhlebach (Gregory of Hungary), a Septemcastrensian prisoner of war captured by the Turks and freed after 32 years of captivity, wrote in his Prognoma sive praesagium Mehemetanarum published in 1545, that every Turkish sultan dreamt about the capture of Kizil Elma. Evlija Chelebi verified Georgevic's testimony.(60)

Both, Osman, the founder of Osmanli dynasty and his son Orhan closely collaborated with an influential futuwwah order led by Sheikh Edibali,who recruited ghazis for them and financed their anti-Serbian campaigns. Edibali's daughter was Osman's wife. Akhis moved with the Turkish armies to Europe where they were supported by sultans and pashas. Their hospices and tekkes became the centers of new urban settlements and the nucleuses of rural branches of well-known sufi taruq. In the Albanian new kasabas the preaching orders established Islamic foundations or vakfs which patronaged construction of karavan-serays, hamams (baths), bridges, medresas (schools), mosques, clock-towers, wells and water fountains (su sebilleri). These sufi-ghazis or akhis were able to establish their hospices and even mosques in pre-Islamic Constantinople and Venice.

Nicetas Choniates wrote that the emperor Manuel Comnenos protected the religious rights of 'Saracens'(Arabs) and Turks in the capital of eastern Roman empire.(61)

The Roman-Catholic crusaders who pillaged the New Rome in 1204,were outraged that the Byzantine emperors tolerated a construction of small mosques and Muslim lodges in Constantinople.

Geoffrey of Vinsauf wrote in his 'Chronicle of Crusades' that 'It would have been even right to have razed the city to ground because it was corrupted by new mosques, which its perfidious emperor allowed to be built that he might strengthen the alliance with the Turks'. (62)

After the peace treaty between Republic of St. Mark and the Osmanli Caliphate (1573), the Muslim colony of Albanians and Bosnians in Venice built a new funduq (inn) for the Turkish and Arab merchants

called by the Italians 'Fondaco dei Turchi'. (63)

Many Muslim merchants who travelled in the Christian Europe were members of the powerful futuwah.

Ibn Batutta was a guest of such hospices in Asia Minor and Europe. He found that in every district, town, and village, there are disciples of Akhiya (Ihwan).

'Nowhere in the world will you find men so eager to welcome Muslim sojourner, so quick to serve food,and so ready to fight injustice (zulm) and to kill spies of oppressive tyrant and his villains. A youthful Brother or akhi is one who is selected by all the other followers of his organization, or by other young bachelors as their superior. This brotherhood is known as the Futuwwah, or the Order of Young Men. The superior Akhi builds a lodge and provides it with carpets, lanterns and other provisions. The disciples (fityan) of his circle work during the day...After the sunset prayer (salat-ul maghreb) we moved to a pleasant lodge carpeted with fine Turcoman rugs and illuminated by many Iraqi-made glass chandeliers. A large number of young men stood in rows in the assembly lobby, wearing long cloaks and boots, and each of them had a long dagger attached to a belt. Their heads were covered by a white wollen caps, with a piece of short cloth attached to the pinnacle of these caps...'(64)


The Futuwah fraternities strictly observed the Islamic Law of Shari'ah, Sunnah, Islamic savoir-vivre(adab), and a code of male chastity. A great Muslim sage Sufian al-Thawri was asked what is futuwa and he answered; 'It is compassion(rahmah) for the transgression of brother'. Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir defined futuwah as 'doing good for people'(muruwah). (65)

Certainly, the akhis or the Lovers of God captivated souls of the Albanians for Islam. They were able to Islamize the most barbaric and bellicose Turcoman tribes of Central Asia and Iran, who fought against the Arab Muslim ghazis in Khurasan. Many of them were murids of Qadiriyya tariqat founded by the Hanbali sheikh Abd al-Qadir bin Abu Salih ('Al-Ghawth al-Azam'), (470H/10077CE-561\1166) from Jilan in Iran. He preached in Baghdad. The Albanian branch of the Qadiriyya Order was founded in Kosova and Macedonia by Shaikh Hassan al-Khurasani who established his tekkes in Gjakova, Prizren and Skopje.

The Mevlevi(Mawlawiyya) sufi order of the 'Whirling Dervishes' founded in Konya by the famous poet Maulana Jalaleddin Rumi from Khurasan became a prominent tariqat in Albania in the end of seventeenth century. The Albanian followers of Khalwatiyya tariqat founded by Umar al-Khalwati from Tabriz (d.800H\1397CE) were very active in Macedonia, specially in region of Skopje and Ohrid, where they established several asitanes or centers of three new branches of the order, the Karabashiyya, the Jerrahiyya and the Hayatiyya.

The Karabashiyya was founded in Prizren, in the end of seventeenth century by Sheikh Osman Baba Serezi. The Jerrahiyya was led by the Turkish Sheikh Nur-al-Din Jerrahi (1673-1720) from Istanbul. Sheikh Myhammad Hayati from Bukhara established his Qadiri branch in Kicevo,Macedonia,in 1667.(66)

All Sufi orders - the Sunni orthodox murids, the Shi'ite heterodox fakirs as well as the heretical ghulat cultists - successfully thwarted the desperate military and missionary crusades organized by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches against Islam and the Osmanli Devlet. They were probably the most effective Muslim preachers to the Christian population of the medieval and modern Albania.




Footnotes and references:


1.Vide; Al-Sayyid Ahmad bin al-Sayyid Zayni Dahlan, Al-futuhat al-islamiyya ba'ad mudiyi al-futuhat al-nabawiyya, Cairo: Maktaba al-Islami, 1323 H/1905 CE, pp.80-83.


2. 'Kara Arapi' (in Turkish: 'Black Arabs') from Arnavut-ili (Albania), and Rum-ili ( Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia) are described by the famous pious Turkish traveller Evliya Chelebi, vide; E. Chelebi, Ptepis, Bulgarian tr. and ed. by S. Dimitrov, Sofia; Institut za Balkanstika pri Bulgarskoi Akademii Nauk, 1972, p. 223, Macedonian tr. and ed. by A. Matkowski, Makedoniya vo delata na stanskite patopistzy, Skopje: Misla 1991, p.561.


3. Vide; G. Ferrand, 'La Futuhat al-Albab de Abu Hamid al-Andalusi al-Gharnati, edite d'apres les Mass 2167, 2168, 2170 de la Bibliotheque Nationale et le Ms d'Algier, in; Journal Asiatique, no.3, (July-Sept. 1925), p.131.


4. More about geopolitical and historical implications of Albanian culture in the context of Mediterranean civilization; F. Braudel, La mediterrantee et le monde mediterraneen a la l'epoque de Philippe II, Paris: Libraire Armand Colin, 1966, vol.I, pp.39-45, 55, 205-210.


5. Odysseus (Ch. Elliot),Turkey in Europe,London: Edward Arnold Publisher, 1900, p.394.


6. W. Tramczynski, Albania i Macedonia. Kraj i ludzie, Warsaw: Biblioteka dziel wyborowych, 1903,p.13-56. Also; E. Lear, Journals of a landscape painter in Greece and Albania, London:The Century Travellers, 1988, p.49.


7. E. Lear, op. cit, pp.48-49.


8. E. Durham, High Albania, London: E. Arnold Publisher, 1909, p.45.


9. Paul (Saul) of Tarsus, (New Testament), Romans 15:19.


10. Durham, op. cit, p.99, 211.


11. E. Zachariadou, Holy War in the Aegean during the Fourteenth Century, in: Latins and Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204, ed. by B. Arbel, B. Hamilton, D. Jacoby, London 1989, p. 214, Idem, 'The Catalans of Athens and the beginning of the Turkish Expansion in Aegean Area', in: Studi Mediaeveli, vol.31, (1980), pp.821-838.


12. A.E. Laiou, 'Marino Sanudo Torsello, Byzantium and the Turks: the background to the Anti-Turkish League of 1332-1334, in: Speculum, XLV, (1970), pp.374-392.


13. H. Inalcik, Gelibolu, EI (NE).


14. Zachariadou, Holy War...op. cit, pp. 220-222.


15. Copia brevis Domini Innocentii ad Principes et Potentatus Christianos super cansa expeditionis contra Turcum. (A copy of the pope's note of 12 April 1489), Arch. Segr. Vaticano, Miscellanea, II, vol.56, fol.373.


16. ASV, Misc. II, vol. 56, fol.185.


17. Vide, R. Wolkan, ed., Der Briefwechsel des Eneas Silvius Piccolomini, in; Fontes rerum austriacarum, Vienna 1918, II, vol.68, epistolae 153,pp.281.


18. Albanians are descendants of the earliest Thraco-Illyrian and Pelasgian tribes who originally inhabited the whole Balkan Peninsula before the invasion of Hellenic (Greek) Dorians, Ionians and Achaeans. Strabo wrote that Macedonians, Illyrians and Epirians spoke the same language and had similar traditions. In Albanian (Shqeptarian) language; 'liria' = 'freedom'. Albanians call themselves 'Shqeptari'.German ethnologist G. Meyer maintained that the name 'Shqep' was derived from Latin escipio; 'I comprehend'. Vide; G. Meyer, Reisbucher: Turkeri, Rumanien, Serbien, Bulgarien, Berlin 1895, pp.34-35. The Illyrian troops played a prominent role in their kinsman Alexander the Great's troops in his expedition against Persian Empire. About 300 ante Christum natum, the Illyrians were invaded by the Celts. After the Illyrian Wars (229, 219, and 168 BC), Albania became Roman province, however, Roman rule in Dalmatia, Illyria and Epirus was never accepted. The Romans found some of their best soldiers among the bellicose Illyrian tribesmen, who served as the Pretorians, and five Roman emperors; Diocletian, Claudius II, Aurelian,Probus and Constantine were of Illyrian origin. Some historians of Albania claim that from a comment of Pyrrhus, the famous king of Epirus, on his warriors described as the 'sons of the Eagle' - originated the name 'Shqeptare'. Vide; J. Swire, Albania. The Rise of A Kingdom, London: Williams & Norgate Ltd, 1929, p.7.


19. L. Thalloczy, K. Jiricek, M. Sufflay, Acta et Diplomatares Albaniae Mediae Aetatis Illustrantia, Vienna 1913, p. 798, also see; M. Ternava, 'The Albanians in the feudal estate of Decan in the 30's of the 14th century according to the chrysobulls of Decan', in: Zbornik Filosofskog Fakulteta u Pristini, no.9, (1974), pp. 257-269, and S. Novakovic, Zakonik Stefana Dusana tsara srpsogu 1349-1354, Beograd 1898, pp. 153-155.


20. Anna Comnena, Aleksjada, Polish tr. and ed. by O. Jurewicz, Wroclaw-Warsaw-Cracow: Ossolineum 1969, vol.1, IV, 1, p.103.


21. Ibid.,V,1, p.130.


22. H. Inalcik, Arnavutluk, EI (NE), Leiden 1979, p.653.


23. H. Djait, Europe and Islam. Cultures and Modernity, Berkeley: University of California, 1985, p.15.


24. D. Farlati, Illyricum Sacrum, Venice 1769, vol. VII, pp.104-107. A. Comuleo, Instruttioni al Reverendi Don Alessandro Comuleo Archiprete di S.Girolamo di Roma mandat da Papa Clemente Ottavo al Gran Duca di Moscovia, et altri Principi, et Potentati delle Patri Settentrionali. Con una Relatione del Medesimo Comuleo fatta a S.Santita sopra le cose del Turco, Rome: Bibliotheca Barberina, 1593, No. LVIII, 33, passim. M. Crisio, Summario della Relatione della Visita di Albania, fatta per ordine della Sacri Congregatione da Marco C. Sacerdote Albanese, Rome: Bibliotheca Chigiana, 1651, No. G. 3, 94, passim. M.Bizzi, Relatione della visita fatta da me,Marino Bizzi, Arcivescovo d'Antivari, nelle parti della Turchia, Antivari, Albania e Servia, alla Santita di Nostro Signore Paolo Quinto, Rome: Bibliotheca Barberina, 1610, No.LXIII, 13, passim. Cf. F. Racki, 'Izvjestaj Barskoga Nadbiskupa Marino Bizzi o svojem putovanju god.1610 po Arbanskoj i Staroj Srbji,' in: Starnie, vol. XX, (1888), Zagreb, pp. 46-67. B. di S. Antonio, Informatione di Fra Bonaventura di S. Antonio, Reformato di S.Francesco, Missionario d'Albania, Rome: Bibliotheca Chigiana, 1652, No. G. 3, 94, passim. V. Zmaievich, Notizie universali dello stato di Albania e dell' operato da Monsigniore Vincenzo Zmaievich, arcivescovo di Antivari, esaminate nelle Congreationi Generali di Propaganda Fide, 1703-1712, Rome: Bibliotheca Barberina, 1704, No. L 126, passim. Informatione del Segretario de Propaganda Fide circa la missione d'Albania de fratri Riformati di S.Francesco, Rome: Bibliotheca Chigiana, absque nota, No. G. 3, 94, passim.


25. M. Bizzi, Relatione, op.cit, fol.9.

26. Ibid, fol. 12-13.


27. P. Della Valle, Voyages de Pietro Della Valle, Rouen: R. Machuel 1745, vol.1, p.37, also; V. Zmajevich, Notizie universali dello stato di Albania e dell' operato da Monsigniore Vincenzo Zmaievich, arcivescovo di Antivari, esaminate nelle Congregationi Generali di Propaganda Fide di 3 Dec. 1703 - 12 Feb. 1704, Bibliotheca Barberina, Vatican-Rome, MSS, no. L.126., cf. Arnold, op.cit, p.187, see also; M.C.Zilfi, The Politics of Piety; The Ottoman Ulema in the Postclassical Age (1600-1800), Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica 1988, p. 155.


28. Inalcik, Arnavutluk, EI (NE), p.652.


29. Idem, 'Timariotes Christiens en Albanie au XVe siecle, in: Mitteilungen des osterreichische Staatsarchivs, 4 Band, Vienna 1951, pp.118-138.


30. J.A. Symonds, Renaissance in Italy. The Age of the Despots, London: Smith, Elders 1897, p.31.


31. R. W. Bulliet, Process and Status in Conversion and Continuity, in: Conversion and Continuity. Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic Lands. Eight to Eighteenth Centuries, ed. by M. Gervers and R. Jibran Bikhazi, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1990, p.5.


32. P. Bartl, Die Albanischen Muslime zur Zeit der nationalen Unabhangigkeitsbewegung, Wisbaden 1968, pp. 16-26.


33. S. Vryonis, 'The Experience of Christians under Seljuk and Ottoman Domination, Eleven to Sixteenth Century, in: Conversion and Continuity...op.cit, p. 203.


34. G. Stadtmuller, 'Die Islamisirung bei den Albanern', in: Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas, no.3, (1955), Munich, pp.405-420.


35. More information on the Albanian sandjaks, see; S. Pullaha, Le Cadastre de j'an 1485 du Sandjak Shkoder, Tirana 1974, passim, and H. Sabanovic, Upravna podjela Jugoslavenskig Zemlja pod Turskom vladavinom... in: Godisnjak Istoriskog Drustva Bosne i Hercegovine, g.IV, Sarajevo 1952, pp. 175-187, also; C. Patsch, Das Sandjak Berat in Albanien in: Schriften der Balkankomission, Ant. Bt. Heft 3, Vienna 1904, passim.


36. M. Kiel, Ottoman architecture in Albania, Istanbul 1982, p.21.


37. Inalcik, EI, NE, Leiden 1979, p. 651.


38. Ibid, pp. 654-656.


39. Evliya Chelebi, Seyahatnamesi, Istanbul 1928, vol.5, pp.555-561, cf. Kiel, op.cit, 48-82, also; G. Sratsimi, 'Aspect de l'architecture de Berat', in: Studia Albanica, no. 1, (1964), Tirana, pp. 183-213.


40. A. Stojanovski, I. Eren, Kratovskata nahija vo XVI vijek, in: Glasnik Natzionalnogo Instituta, no.1, vol.15, (1971), Skopje, pp. 60-92. Also; S. Pullaha, The Albanian population of Kosova in the 15th and 16th century, Tirana 1984, pp. 97, 552-555. Idem, 'The Town of the Dukagjin Plateau and Kosova in the Second Half of the 16th century in the Light of New Information of Ottoman Land Registers, in: Studime Historike, vol. 1, no. 4, (1980), Tirana, pp. 201-202.


41. H. Kalesi, 'Albanska Aljamiado Knizevnost', in: Prilozi za Orientalnog Filologji, no.17, (1966-1967), Sarajevo, pp. 49-61.


42. Z. Shkodra, 'Le Marche Albanais au XVIIe siecle', in: Studia Albanica, no.1, vol. 3, (1966), pp. 160-171.


43. In Janjeva; 288, Novobrda; 366 and Trepca; 447, vide; Pullaha, The Albanian population...op.cit, 550-557.


44. M. Bizzi, op.cit, passim.


45. Vide; Reports of Gillaume Adam, the archbishop of Tivar to the French king Philip VI Valois in 1332, and Guido de Padova's letters (1350), quoted by C. Jiricek, Geschichte der Serben, Gotha 1911, pp. 405-408, also; Acta et Diplomata res Albaniae... ed. Thalloczy-Jiricek-Sufflay, vol.2, 1918, no.20, 119, 552, 554, 55.


46. Vide; Albanian Catholic Bulletin, (San Francisco), Albanian Catholic Information Center, 1990, pp. 22-23.


47. Asikpashazade, Tevrih-i Al-i Osman, Istanbul: Matbaa-yi Amire, 1332 H (1913 CE), pp. 205-206. See also; A. Sirri Dede Baba, Al-risala al-ahmadiyya fi al-tariqa al-bektashiyyah, Cairo: Matba'at Abduh&Ahmad 1959, p.7.


48. Oruc ibn Adil, Tarih-i Osman, ed. by F. Babinger as Die Fruhosmanischen Jahrbucher des Urudsch, Hanover: H. Lafaire 1925, pp. 89-93.

49. S.A. al-Arifi al-Aflaq, Manaqeb al-Arifin (Admirable deeds of the Mystics), ed. T. Yazici, Ankara: Milli Egitim Basimevi 1953, vol.1, p.381.


50. J. K. Birge, The Bektashi Order of Dervishes, London: Luzac & Co., 1937, p.33.


51. Evliya Effendi Chelebi, Narrative of Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa in the seventeenth century, tr. R. von Hammer, London: Oriental Translation Fund Pub., 1846-1850, vol.2, pp. 20-22.


52. Birge, op.cit., pp.75-79.


53. Vide; the modern Albanian Bektashi preacher Baba Rexhebi's The mysticism of Islam and Bektashism, Naples: Drite 1984, vol. 1, pp. 75-123.


54. There are about 80 000 Bektashis in the contemporary Albania, vide; F.W. Hasluck, Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, new York: Octagon Books 1973, p. 161.


55. E. E. Chelebi, Narrative... op.cit., vol. 2, pp. 70-72.


56. H. Kaleshi, 'Albanische Legenden um Sari Saltik', in: Actes du Premier Congres Internationale. De Etudes Balkaniques et Sud-East Europenes, Sofia 1971, sec. 7, pp. 815-828.


57. E. Chelebi, Siyahatname, tr. by J. von Hammer, London 1835, vol. 2, pp. 19-22.


58. M. C. Zifli, op. cit., p. 131, 133, 139-152.


59. P. F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804, Seattle-London; University of Washington Press, 1977, p.12.


60. Chelebi, op. cit., vol. 1, 1, (1835) p.57. On the prophecy of the 'Red Apple' ( Kizyl-Alma) vide; Hasluck, op. cit., pp. 737-740,

Attention! Gregory from Siebenburgen, (b. 1421) a Dominican monk and author of 'Tractatus de Moribus Turcorum' is often erroneously identified with Bartholomey Georgievic, a Croatian anti-Muslim and anit-Turkish propagandist who wrote 'De Turcorum Moribus Epitome' published in 1553.


61. Nicetae Choniatae, Historia, ed. I. Bekker (Bekkerus), Bonn 1835, book 7, p. 24.


62. Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Chronicle of Crusade, cf. E. Pears, The Fall of Constantinople. The Story of the Fourth Crusade, London: Darf Publishers 1987, (the 1st ed. 1885), p.179.


63. H. McNeill, Venice, the Hinge of Europe. 1081-1797, Chicago 1974, pp. 132-140.


64. Ibn Battuta, Rihla, Osobliwosci i Dziwy Podrozy. 1325-1354, Polish tr. and ed. by T. Majda and H. Natorof, Warsaw: Ksiazka i Wiedza 1962, p.92.


65. Vide; Ibn Yazdanyar, Rawdat al-Muridin, MS. Istanbul, ed. and English tr. by J. A. Williams, Themes of Islamic Civilization, Berkeley: University of California Press 1982, p. 339.


66. D. Cehajic, Derviski Redovi u Jugoslovenskim zemlja sa posebnim osvrtom na Bosnu i Hercegovinu, Orientalni Institut u Sarajevu, vol. XIV, Sarajevo 1986, pp. 110-114.