A new survey has revealed that most Muslims in Croatia do not subscribe to a single religion, although they do not believe in any one of the major world religions.
The report by the Croatian Federation of Islamic Communities (Kosmos) has also revealed that a small minority of Muslims do subscribe to one particular religion.
The survey found that only 4% of Muslims surveyed in the republic were believers in the religion of Islam, but that only a minority of them said they believed in the teachings of Islam.
However, the majority of Muslims believe in a number of other religious traditions, including the Hinduism of the Hindu god Vishnu, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The findings are a reminder that Islam has been largely marginalised by Western culture for centuries, and it is only in recent years that the spread of Islamic doctrines is becoming increasingly popular.
“We are seeing a growing Muslim population, a large number of Muslims living in Croatia, that has not been in the past,” said Karel Sibis, the head of Kosmos.
“The majority of people do not know what Islam is, they don’t even know that it is a religion.”
According to the study, Muslims in the country have been under the influence of a number the more radical elements of the Islamic world for the past 10 to 15 years, including Wahhabi fundamentalists who have taken over the country’s universities and mosques, and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
The poll also found that the majority, or 71%, of Muslims in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have been practicing Islam for some time, but they do so for different reasons.
According to Sibs, some Muslims in Bosnia-herzegowina have converted to Islam because of pressure from the radical Wahhabi group, while Muslims in Kosovo, which shares a border with Bosnia-Shezego, have also been influenced by radical Islam.
“There are two main reasons for this: either they wanted to convert or they wanted the freedom to be Muslim in their own country, Sibes said.”
Some have been very violent and they have even attacked and killed people.
“I do not see any connection between these two reasons, but in general there are a number who are very influenced by the Wahhabi, Al-Shabaab and other groups.”
However, Muslims also tend to hold moderate views on the topic of Islam and Islamism, with a large majority of them saying that Islam is not the religion they believe it to be.
“This is why there is a huge diversity of opinions among Muslims in Europe, in the Muslim world, and the world at large,” said Sib.
“The fact that we do not understand the whole spectrum of Islam is a big problem.”
“It is important for Muslims in Western countries to learn about this,” Sib added.
“Because they will be much more open to Islam and the religion, especially when it comes to politics.”