Kosovo is the place of culture and religion; it is set in the space where two cultures and three great religions are met through the history, living traces since then even today to testify to the new generations about the past. Inhabited by Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Gorani, Roman and Bosnian communities, Kosovo is the mosaic of religions dominated mainly by Muslim (over 95%), followed by Catholics (2.2) and Orthodox (1.48).
Islam in Kosovo dates from the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Before that the entire Balkan regions were Christians. From 1389 until 1912, Kosovo was officially governed by the Muslim Ottoman Empire and, as such, a high level of Islamization occurred.
During the Kosovo War in 1999, 218 out of 540 mosques in Kosovo (nearly 40%) were destroyed, and many more severely damaged, in addition to destruction caused to secular monuments of Ottoman culture. On Feb. 17, Kosovo declared independence, and become the newest country in the world. For years it was administrated by internationals, who had great impact in transforming our lives, including religion. Today, Kosovo’s brand of Islam may be the most liberal in the world. We are Muslims, but act and think like Europeans. Foreigner visiting Kosovo are impressed with religious tolerance and this is mention in every book, report and articles talking about religion in Kosovo.
Lately however, there a small group of radicals inside Kosovo are trying to transform moderate Balkan Islam into more radical place. These groups become so popular, in such a short time that their influence did not pass unseen. Many Muslims have entered into their nests and hardly keep themselves inside.
However these groups have impacted only the ones that do not practice their religion properly, some of them were converted into Islam radicals, whereas others have become atheists (and very few were converted into Christians). So in one way of another, today Muslims in Kosovo generally are over-shadowed, and you don’t feel the religious spirit (and I’m not talking only about Muslims in this part)
Though, it is totally different during religious holidays, such as Eid. It is one of the days when your heart feels with peace and love, your head is turned up-high, and you feel like an eagle who is ready to fly the world… and yes you feel proud to be a Muslim, an Albanian-Muslim, a Muslim living in Kosovo. Eid al is a holiday of sacrifice which dates from the historic event when Prophet Abraham was commanded by God, in a form of a dream vision, to sacrifice his son, Ishmail. But instead God sent him the Angel Gabriel with a huge ram to sacrifice it instead. Sacrifice is an important practice in all the Abrahamic faiths. Practicing self-sacrifice, giving up things we value and hold precious, provides the opportunity to achieve that genuine goodness referred to in the quotation.
But this holiday, this value is the same in the Christianity, such as Lent Holiday and all other religions, just in other forms, because, sacrifice is a way of life; recognizing and seeing to others’ needs are part of their core values. Silent Heroes, such as Mother Teresa (which by the way was Albanian), take on a sense of personal responsibility for social issues as they attempt to alleviate the problems of the oppressed and needy. We all have the opportunity to become heroes someone, to help someone in need: donation, volunteering, or just by making someone smile.
Eid is definitely a time of happiness for Muslims, but it is also a reminder that sacrifice and giving for the pleasure of God — knowing you have done something worthwhile and meaningful — can feel good. I hope in this holiday season we all will think about others who are less fortunate and treat them with compassion and kindness.