Between Old Traditions and New Diversities: Islamic Religious Education in Poland
Agata S. Nalborczyk [+]
University of Warsaw, Department for European Islam Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies
Konrad Pędziwiatr [+]
Krakow University of Economics
Poland is one of the most religiously homogenous European countries (with 88 per cent of the total population belonging to the Catholic Church – GUS 2015) and at the same time it is home to one of the oldest Muslim communities in the European Union. Muslims have been living within the Polish-Lithuanian state borders since the 14th century and till the second half of 20th century their community was made up predominantly of Tatars. The arrival of Muslim students, immigrants and refugees and increasing numbers of Poles embracing Islam in recent decades resulted in the situation that Tatars (approx. 5,000) are now only one of the groups within a wider community comprising approximately 35,000 members (Nalborczyk 2015, Pędziwiatr 2010, GUS 2013). This community is very diverse not only in ethnic and national terms but also religious ones with a majority of Sunnis of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence as well as a minority of followers of other madhabs and people inspired by Sufism, Shi’ism and even a few dozen members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The two major providers of Islamic religious education in Poland are the Tatar led Muslim Religious Union (MZR) set up before the Second World War and registered in 2004 as denominational organization and the Muslim League (LM) that looks after approximately 300 students. This paper analyzes various dimensions of Islamic religious education provision in Poland from practicalities of State-Muslim organizational structures to the content of the education provided. In particular it will examine the experiences of the religious education provision by the two aforementioned organizations (MZR and LM) in the last decade.