Types of Religious Identities within Romanian Muslim Communities

Alina Isac Alak


The multiplicity of Islamic interpretations is reflected in the heterogeneous nature of the Romanian Muslim communities. The internal fragmentation and disunity of Muslim communities, intra-Islamic difficulties, ideological and sectarian rivalry, success of Salafism among certain groups, the absence of stronger and more visible Islamic alternative discourses and the lack of interest in finding adequate mechanisms to facilitate the integration of the new Muslims in society are some of the general problems of the Romanian Muslims. Local Islamic revival has an ethno-cultural dimension (Tatar-Turks community), a religious and even a political one as external disputes are imported in the Romanian context and affects the way Muslims define and practice Islam. Some Rroma and indigenous Tatar-Turkish adopted the neo-traditionalism consolidated in the second half of the last century and promoted by the most active Sunni NGOs in Romania. Some converts emancipated from the ideological control by conservative and neoconservative Islamic currents and are in search of progressive or mystical interpretations; other new Muslims found safety in the Salafi?s certitudes and rigid rules. Case study findings presented in this article may suggest that the more it depends on formal rituals, external behavior and rigid canonical displays of religiosity, the more fragile the Muslim identity becomes. A vulnerable constructed Self conceives differences and alterity as an attack against personal identity, hence the increasing aggressive and intolerant, superior Salafi attitudes. The more it is built on universal (and Islamic) values, inner experience, ethical convictions, the more open and capable of integrating alterity and fostering positive relations with people of different religions becomes Muslim identity.


Romanian Muslims; radicalism; traditionalism; fundamentalism; religiosity; Muslim identities; Islam.

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