Zoltan Bolek:

The History of Islam in Hungary



I. History of Islam in Hungary from the beginnings



About the Kabar, the Bechene and other tribes

Those who wish to analyse the history of Islam in Hungary have to go back to the Levedia period, prior to the occupation of Hungary. Hungarian tribes made up part of the Kazar Empire or, perhaps better said, they were their vassals. Kazaria, had a large number of Muslim traders and Kazar notables, not taking into account the majority of Kazan soldiers of mainly Hvarezm origin. In unknown circumstances, these Hvarezmis ap­peared in the union of Hungarian tribes in the 9th century. Some sources claim that three Kabar tribes, who fled from or were, separated from Kazaria, joined as allies the association of the seven Hungarian tribes. Constantine the Purple-Born says in this respect: “It is said that these Kabar tribes are related to the Kazar family. ... an anti-government revolt broke out among them and it ended in a civil war. The previous govern­ment came back to power and some of the rebels were killed while others escaped and settled with the Turks i.e. as Hungarians on the Bechenes’ land, and they made friends and started to call themselves Kabars.” After having been marginalized in the Kazar Empire and having attained their independence, the Hungarians integrated themselves with the rebel Kazars, and the Kazar ruler, also called “Kagan”, set the Besenyő against the Hungarians. The Emperor’s statements show that, after the occupation of Hungary, the Hungarian leadership united the three Kavar or Kabar tribes into one and delegated one leader to them. This leader was respon­sible for keeping in contact with the head of the Hungarian tribes. The Kabars, as a subjugated, inferior tribe, were responsible for the front and rear defence - so they were the first to start fighting, and were the last to be withdrawn. Kabars became a bilingual language nation - they spoke Hungarian along with their own Turkish language. By 950, the Turkish lan­guage disappeared. 20-30% of the conquering Hungarians had Kabar ori­gins. Along with the Kabars, other Muslim nations, like Hvarezmi, also joined the tribal union.

According to Latin sources, "Saracens" equals to Islamic or Muslim. The Hungarian equivalent of this concept is Bechene (böszörmény) or Saracen (szaracén). The majority of the three Kabar tribes were of Islamic faith. Sámuel Aba, a king of Hungary, was also of Kabar origin. His ancestors were the heads of the three Kabar tribes. The Emperor Constantine the Purple-born, referred to the Kabars as Kavars. The Gesta Hungarorum of Anonymus says that the Kabars received lands in the area of the Má­tra-hills to settle on. 13-14th century sources affirm that the lands of the Aba clan were also located in this area (for example, the name of the village Abasár reflects this fact). Samuel Aba’s marriage to the youngest sister of King Saint Stephen goes back to this era. The natural stipulation for this marriage was that Sámuel Aba embrace Christianity. This union also im­plied a stronger alliance with the Kabar tribes. The eventual inauguration of Abasár Monastery occurred at the time of his wedding. This marriage and the embracing of Christianity happened at the end of Sámuel Aba’s reign, and he became integrated into King Saint Stephen's court and be­came a member of the advisory body responsible for Hungarian politics. As a royal relative, he must have exerted much influence over it. Based on a German model, Stephen conceded him the privilege of palace lieutenant, which later became an equivalent of palatine. Stephen was aware that Sá­muel Aba’s Christian faith was superficial so after his son’s death (Prince Emery he did not appoint Sámuel Aba as his heir but the truly Christian Peter. King Stephen obliged the Kabars or "Black Hungarians" to serve as border guardians.

Owing to the shortage of proper and secure sources, there are several opposing theories on the early presence of Islam in Hungary. However, as a Muslim and the researcher of Islam in Hungary, I shall make reference to the theory that underlines the significance of Islam.

In the period after the Foundation of Hungary, all Muslim immigrations occurred on a voluntary basis. This immigration was related to Maghrib and Hvarezm areas. Under the rule of Árpád’s dynasty, the status of Hun­garian Muslims was defined by two different legal positions - they either had the opportunity to freely practice their religion (which referred mostly to soldiers) or they were forced to embrace Christianity, though secretly practised their Islamic faith.

The reports of the Arabic traveller, Al-Masudi, state that the Hungarians recorded the number of Muslim traders in the neighbouring country of the Bechene, and they also indicate that the number of those embracing Islam was also recorded. When fighting broke out against the Bulgarians resid­ing at the River Danube, these Muslims were charged to lead the Turkish forces, instigating the ex-Muslim soldiers of the enemy to re-embrace their Islamic faith. If they asked for Turkish protection, they would be set­tled in Muslim areas.

These four groups also had members who, regardless of their Muslim origins, took part in Turkish Royal wars against the enemies of Islam. This also shows that Muslims could freely practice their original faith prior to Christian times. This freedom was also typical of nomadic states. Al-Barki writes about this fact as follows: The Turks "rescued hostage Jews and Muslims from surrounding provinces. The Hungarians treat their guests well.”  The Kaliz, of Hvarezmi origin, constituted a significant group. Based on the certificate issued by Coloman, the Booklover, the royal treasury is tax collector: "Institores autores autem regii fisci, quos hungarice caliz vo­cant".

The locality names keeping their memory alive exist on the map of Hun­gary: Káloz (Fejér county 1326: Kaluz, Kálófa, Zala county 1426 Kalozfal­va, Budakalász, Pest county, 1332-1337, Kaluz). Hungarians had contacts with the Kaliz before they occupied the Carpathian Basin, too. The Hvarez­mi spoke the Iranian language and many of them lived in Kazaria and in the city of Bulgar. The Old Iranian language was later changed via the use of Turkish. We have had more information about the Kaliz people since the 12th century. Kinnamos, a Byzantic historian, tells of the battle of 1150 between the Hungarians and Byzantine Empire, and he also refers to another ethic group, of a faith equal to that of the Besenyő but different from the Hungarians’, who fought on the Hungarians’ side. These groups were the Kaliz and the Bechenes.  The Byzantine author refers to them again as to a nation having the same fate has the Persians’. This state­ment goes back to 1165. The trade road of the Danube-Tisza region evokes their memory. ("Kaliz Road")

The documents of the 10th century allude to the Alan and Uz tribes, who arrived in Hungary along with the second wave of Bessenyő immi­grants - and they are often referred to as “Black Cumans’. The Hungarian denomination of the Alans was "Varsány". It is presumable that the origins of the locality or personal names that incorporate the word Varsány go back to the Alans of Islamic faith. The number of these localities is all to­gether 25 Varsány and 25 black Vuman. 

Bulgarians by the river Volga

Under the rule of Prince Taksony (960-972), a large number of Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga region (pertaining to the existing Russia) moved to our country with their leaders, Billa and Bulcsu. The name of Billa possi­bly derives from the Islamic name Bilal. The Bulgarians of the Volga re­gion fled to Hungary owing to an internal political conflict. They settled in the area of today's 15th March Square, located in Central Budapest. The minor group settled in other parts of Pest County (Bille and Bácsapuszta).

The Gesta Hungarorum of Anonymus relates: Due to the mercy of Tak­sony, many guests of various origins were welcomed in his court, where a large number of Ishmaelite came along with the aristocrats Bilal amd Baks. The leader granted them lands in different regions along with the Castle, Pest, which was conceded to them in perpetuity. Billa and Baks, ancestors of Etej, summoned a council and made the resolution to assign 2/3 of the population to the Castle, while 1/3 were at the service of their successors. In the meantime, a nobleman, Hetény, arrived from an identical region and he was given much land and livestock. The Etyei clan comprised their successors. In 962, Prince Taksony delegated Salek, a Muslim Bulgarian, whose name probably originates from Saleh, to Italy. In this period, an armed auxiliary nation of Muslims settled in the area of Orsova by the river Danube (in the existing Romania). Contemporary accounts speak of a Hungarian Muslim tradesman who lived and worked in Prague in 975. Ibn Rusta and Gardezia, Arabic travellers, describe the state and lifestyle of the Volga Bulgarians as follows: "Bulgarians live close to the Slavonic and Kazar tribes, along the river Atil (Volga), which flows into the Kazar (Caspian) Sea. The Bulgarian king is called Almus and is a Muslim. The majority of Bulgarians are also Muslims. They have mosques and Quranic schools as well as muezzins and imams. They dress like Muslims and their cemetries are identical to those of the Muslims." These reports date from the 10th century. Ibn Fadlan writes that the Bulgarian prince asked the Baghdadi caliph to send religious scholars to give assistance his nation. The delegate of the Bulgarian prince was a Kazar Muslim, Abdallah Ibn al-Hazari. I would also like to note here that the direct neighbours of the Kazars were the Eastern Hungarians, whom were later identified later by Julianus, a 13th century Christian monk.

The Bechen tribe (Besenyők)

Many Bechens also arrived in this country. In the period prior to the oc­cupation of the Carpathian Basin, they were regarded our ancient enemies but were defeated by the Byzantine Empire and the Princes of Kiev, so their state was weakened and they disintegrated. Under the rule of the kings of the Árpád dynasty, the Bechens were one-generation Muslims and they settled in the Pest, Moson, Fejér, and Szepes regions. Some of them worked as soldiers, but there were also some who continued their nomadic life as traders and farmers. The founders of Hungary knew this name when they arrived, for it appears as both a personal- and geographi­cal name in our certificates. All relating data comes from Bechen immigrants. The oldest known data goes back to 1086 and the 13th cen­tury. It’s worth mentioning also the Bechen Prince, Tonzuba, who came to the country with his nation during Saint Stephen's rule. Regardless of the fact that he belonged to the early Bechene migrants, most probably he did not practice the Islamic faith. Some of his dependents, however, were able to have the Islamic faith. When Tonzuba rejected it, to embrace Christianity, he was buried alive, close to the pier of Abád, along with his wife. Saint Stephen ordered that his soldiers were settled in different ar­eas. After 1100, a vaster Byzantine immigration commenced owing to their defeat by the Byzantine Empire and the Hungarian Kings welcomed them as auxiliary soldiers. In the meantime, we also fought against Byzantine hegemony. The Bechene assimilation was longest owing to, on one hand, their military services rendered to our kings and, on the other, to their lifestyle, one based on a closed social set-up that also rendered difficult their conversion to Christianity. Regardless of the fact that in the 15th century they spoke Hungarian, dressed like Hungarians and embraced Christianity, they were still aware of their origins. In the Árpád era, the number of Bechene localities was around 150.

Bechenes (Böszörmény)

According to Anonymous, the famous 13th royal notary, priest and his­torian, the Bechenes arrived in the country in the 10th century. Bechenes, known as Böszörmény, actually referred to all Muslims - and Anonymus affirms - that they were Bulgarians of the Volga region or "Black Hungari­ans". The most ancient part of our database comprises personal names and its oldest nominal appearance is Bezermen, Buzermen; the geographi­cal names of the 13-14th centuries are Buzermen, Bezermen, Bozermen. Nowadays, we still know places that incorporate their names, such as Berekböszörmény (Hajdu-Bihar region, since 1291) and Ha­jdúböszörmény (Hajdú region, since 1246).

Professor Melich regards these Muslims as descendants of the Bechene, Kuman and Palóc tribes, whilst others say that they are of Kazar or Bech­ene origin. Some scientists say they are individually or collectively of im­migrant Turkish ethnicity, of Muslim origins.
 
Prior to the Tartar invasion of Hungary, many travellers, like Carpini Plano, allege that the Bechenes are a Cuman-speaking nation which prac­tices the Saracen religion i.e. Islam. The real origin of the word "Böször­mény" is Muslim. All Turkish variants of this name such as Büsürman, Bisirman, Büsürmen and Böszörmény (Bechene) derive from a Turkish word implying Muslim.

The Muslim ethnicities aforesaid were great archers, light horsemen and traders. Their settlements usually extended along important trade routes. They lived in large numbers in the area of Mezőföld and Mátra, in the Southern part of the country and close to borders, where they had defen­sive duties. Smaller colonies were scattered all around the country, and traders lived in almost every settlement.  

The Kazar Empire and Islam

As prior to their arrival in Central Europe, Hungarians lived under Kazar Occupation and had strong ties with them later on - though this time frame will be more specifically analysed. As Constantine writes: "The Hun­garians lived together with the Kazars for three years, and they fought in all battles with them." Several researchers divert from a literal interpreta­tion of the text for contextual reasons, saying that the Hungarian-Kazar alliance was approx. between 200-300.
This leads us to the conclusion that the Hungarians depended on the Kazars. Typical of this relationship is that the Kagan, their leader, gave Levedi, the Hungarian leader, a wife of noble origins “owing to her fame and background, and so that she give birth to a child from him".
After the occupation of Derbent, on the Northern edge of the Caucasus mountains, the troops of the Muslim Caliphate moved on towards the north, where the Kazar Empire was having its golden age - the Kazar Em­pire, a typically nomadic state whose territory extended from Middle Asia to the Crimean Peninsula. Owing to the Islamization of Central-Asia, the Empire had contacts with this Islamic religion and gave place to Muslim traders, too. The first unsuccessful attacks date back to the period of 642-652. The Muslim Arab troops attacked Balanyar, the Kazar capital, in 642. Smaller battles also took place but in the same year, a larger Muslim troop attacked the Kazár capital. The fortified Kazar capital resisted; the arriving Kazar cavalry defeated the besiegers and the leader of the Muslims also died. The Kazar Empire first saw victory, but, later, it was defeated in the second Kazar-Arabic war (722-737). In 722, a Kazar troop with 30,000 members inflicted a serious defeat on the Arabs. Yet Jarah, the Arabic leader, launched another attack against Derbent. The Kazars, headed by Barcsiq, son of the Kazar, were waiting for the siege, having numerous troops there.  However, the Arabs occupied the Kazar positions and invad­ed Balanyar after fierce fighting, and the Kazar defender of the town es­caped to Semender.  Jarrah, the Arabic military leader, turned back just before Semender and launched his next military expedition only the fol­lowing year i.e. 725.

First he went against the Alans, but before anything decisive might have occurred, he was ordered to withdraw and was replaced by Maslamah. Maslamah, the legendary leader, occupied one of the main channels of the Caucasus, Dariel, in 727. After initial success, he was also told to with­draw by the Caliph. Jarrah appeared again in the Caucasus and he set off towards the new capital, Sarijin, through the Dariel channel,
but without any decisive success. In 730, the war restarted between the Kazars and Arabs. An army of 30,000 Kazar soldiers, headed by Bartchik, son of the Kagans’ leader, set off against the Arabs through the Dariel channel. On the third day of desperate fighting, the Arabs were finally de­feated. Jarrah died on the battlefield, his wives and children were taken hostage by the Kazars, who took advantage of their successful position and got close to Mould while chasing the escaping enemy. This was proba­bly the time when the Kazar military power reached its peak. The Arabs could not accept their defeat. Said began leading the fights against the Kazars, whose smaller success was coloured by Arab traditions. His role of leading the fighting against the Kazars was passed on to Malaga. He crossed over Derben, and reached Semendery without any major trouble. However, the Arabs also appointed Marwan, a new leader, to the Arab troops (732). After traditional, local battles, he began the final campaign in 732. He unexpectedly crossed the Dariel and Derbenti channels. The Kazars escaped to the north under unbearable pressure. The Arab troops destroyed everything on their way on the land of the Burtas whilst chasing them.

The Arabs caught up with the Kagan by the Volga river. The Arab leader decided to negotiate instead of a risking a decisive defeat. His hard posi­tion forced the Kazar king to accept Marwan’s conditions - which meant embracing Islam. After this, the Arab troops withdraw from the Kazar Em­pire. This happened in 737. The Kazars survived the military catastrophe that threatened their state, and they lead the lives of the nomadic nations of the area for almost 100 years. In the meantime, Islam’s popularity was growing in the region.

It must be noted, however, that the Kazar king and his most intimate friends later embraced Judaism, but that religion was restricted to this smaller group, and it was expanded only by those Jewish immigrants who left the Byzantine Empire owing to persecution. While the Hungarians lived with the Kazars, they organized the institution of a dual principality based on the Kazar set-up.

Masoudi writes about the Kazar Empire as follows:

"(The capital city) has a Grand Mosque with a minaret over the royal castle and there are also several smaller mosques completed by schools, where children learn how to read the Holy Quran. If once the Muslims agreed with the Christian, the Kazar king would not have power over them."

 
The leading class of the Kazar Empire is made up of Muslims who be­long to the king's bodyguards. They come from the region of Khvarezm and fled to the Kazar kings territory after the wars and epidemics that in­flicted the region soon after the spread of Islam. Their leader, Ahmed ben Kovaiah is also Muslim, as are their judges.

Ibn Haukal writes about them as follows:

"Their living places are felt tents and they only have some mud brick houses. They have market places and baths and half of the population is Muslim. It is said that they number approximately ten thousand and they have over 30 mosques."

From Ibn Fadhlan's writings:

"Lots of Muslims live in this city. The Kazar population is composed of Muslims, Christians and pagans; Jews are few in number, but their king is one of them, and the majority of them is Muslim or Christian."


There were Muslims even among the Hungarians, as stated in Ibn Fadlan's writings:

    "One arrives in the land of a people of Turkish origins, called Bashgurd. One of them, who embraced the Islamic faith, was with us as a servant."

    The Cumanes and Tatars settled in Hungary, mainly as an Islamized population, after the Tatar invasion in 1241.

About the Cumanes

In the East, the Cumane- Kiptchak tribes expelled by the Mongols founded a new nomadic state, one that extended from the Caspian-sea to the borders of the Hungarian Kingdom.

The Cumanes were both Christians and Muslims, yet its majority had a Shamanic faith until the Mongol invasion. The words “Satan” (Arabic Shei­tan) and “Prophet” may derive from the Arabic vocabulary of the Islamic faith. These concepts would differ from those used in Islam if they had been adopted from the Christian missionaries. We have no data regarding the conversion of the Cumanes to Islam, for they had a large number of Muslims, prior to the Mongol Era. Cumane diplomatic activity had major importance for the Mongol invasion.  The purpose of the delegation, head­ed by Kunarmys Kolcy, son of the Köncsek leader, in Bagdad might be in the creation of a defensive alliance against the Mongols and an embracing of Islam in the years prior to 1223. 
 
An identical delegation preceded the conversion of the Cumanes of Havasalföld (……) in 1223. The Cumanic areas had intense trade relations with Egypt and Syria. Living humans were the most important commercial products of this era and they were often purchased by Muslims. The Ayub­bids trained the Turkish slaves of the Northern areas as soldiers and body­guards. These slavers became the ’mameluc’ (the Arabic ’mameluc’ means purchased slaves). The Mongol appearance on the Kipchac deserts called on the Russians and Cumans to make an alliance. However, their efforts were useless. Jebe and Subotay, Mongol leaders, defeated the joined army in a battle by the city of Kalka. Upon this defeat, the Prince Kuthen withdrew to the area of Havaselve along with a significant ethnic group. As neither the geographic conditions nor the number of the Cumanic popu­lation made possible their successful defence against the Mongols, the Cumanic prince sent delegates to King Béla IV. He asked him to invite him and his nation to Hungary and grant them his protection. Meanwhile, he also offered him a military force against eventual external attacks.

I do not wish to describe the Tartaric invasion or how the Cumans left Hungary. The Prince Kuthen was murdered by furious masses and the Cumans left the country at the Southern borders, creating destruction. The Tartar invasion left the country in a disastrous condition, and Béla IV, also called the Second Founder of the country, invited settlers, so-called hospes, to the country. This brought the arrival of new Turkish immigrants of Islamic faith to the country, and the Cumanes retreated to the Balkans, returning upon the king’s invitation. The number of immigrants with Is­lamic faith was around 40,000. The king settled them in the Danube-Tisza region and by the rivers Maros and Temes. They were able to keep their nomadic lifestyle, old customs and dress in these areas. As free persons, they were obliged to join the Army in times of war, if requested by the king and, in return, they had the same rights and privileges as nobles. In return, they had to embrace Christianity - and this duty was undertaken by ten Dominican monks. Conversion, however, went slowly as the Cumanes held onto their ancient religion and the Muslims to Islam. King Béla IV gave special attention to his relations with the Cumans. He also attained for his son, and heir to the throne, a wife from the Cumans. The Cumane wife was of noble origin, and many said she was the daughter of Prince Kuthun. This noble marriage increased Cumane influence at the Royal Court. The nomadic, Cuman light horsemen played an important role in royal military campaigns. The king defeated the troops of the Aus­trian prince, Ferdinand, several times, with their help. However, the king’s and his son’s, Stephen V’s, good friendship with the Cumans angered Pa­pal delegates. The Islamization of the Cumans can also be proved by the fact of polygamy, as a Cumane soldier was able to have four wives; this is evident in the case of king Leslie IV, too.

As mentioned before, the mother of Leslie IV - or Leslie, the Cuman - was of Cuman noble origin. Leslie IV was born in 1262, and he was engaged to the daughter of Charles of the Anjous, king of Naples and Sicily, in 1269. The first years of Leslie’s rule was characterized by conflicts among Hun­garian nobles. Leslie sometimes got into difficult situations, as he was captured and imprisoned by the nobles several times.

Internal difficulties were aggravated by the conditions of the Ger­man-Roman Empire. Leslie IV supported the elected German king, Rudof Habs­burg, against the Czech Ottocar, and also fought by his side. The Cumans inflicted a defeat on Ottocar’s troops, the Czech king also died on the bat­tlefield, in Durncrut, Moravia, in 1278. Leslie the Cuman attained internal political and military support from the Cumans and he also took on Cumane traditions. He dined with them and dressed like a Cuman. He also married three Cumane women: Ayduna, Kupchech and Mandola. All of these acts were much disapproved of by the Church - and a Papal delega­tion came to the country to stop the king. The two major Cumane leaders, Uzur and Tolon, also participated at negotiations, which ended in a resolu­tion that specified that the Cumans must settle on a constant basis, embrace Christianity, stay away from violence and that all hostages (ex­cept those captured abroad) must be Rescued. The king promised every­thing - yet these promises, however, were not kept: Leslie went back to the Cumans and continued his previous lifestyle. He even had the Papal delegates captured and passed on to the Cumans. No violence occurred because the king was also captured.
After this episode, new negotiations and promises had no effect, a final decision was made. The king was compelled to attack the Cumans. The arrival of the Cuman Aldamur and his troops of Havaselve to help the Cumans against the king was useless as their defeat turned out devastat­ing in the Battle of Hód in 1280. A part of the Cumans stayed here, they were forced to settle down and embrace Christianity, however, their vast majority withdrew to Havaselve. This was the period that the Cumans were also given the name of nioger (Hungarian nyögér). Leslie the Cuman defeated the Tartar invaders who reached Pest and succeeds in settling them down. This story is part of another chapter. The behaviour of Leslie the Cuman, head of a European Christian Monarchy, indicated identity problems. Regardless that he liked the Cumans and the later settled Tar­tars and his lifestyle had similarities with their one, there is no proof that he embraced Islam. Leslie loved a Cuman woman, his mother, friends, fel­low soldiers were Cumans and even his murderers were Cumans. As usu­ally, he went to visit the Cumans even in the spring of 1290 and he was killed for unknown reasons on 10 July. The murder was revenged by Mizse, the Cuman palatine of the monarchy who became a Christian, along with his brother and the brother of Leslie’s mistress, Edua.

The Eastern trip of monk Julianus
The monk Julianus mentions the Muslim who lived close to the Hungarian as follows:

„They went to another place from here, to a Muslim’s house, who gave them and the ill monk aforesaid shelter in the name of God. This monk deceased and he was buried here. Then, Julianus, who got lonely and did not know what to do, became the servant of a sheik and his wife who were getting prepared for a journey to Great Bulgaria.”
Here he makes a hint to the location of Suvar whose population is Muslim and a city on the borderline with Great Bulgaria: „The Tartars are neigh­bours to them (the ancient Hungarians)”. So, they became fellow soldiers. This monk also met the delegate of the Tartar leader, who also spoke Hungarian, Russian, Cuman, German and Arabic, on the land of the Hun­garians. It also proves that the Eastern-Hungarians resident on the an­cient land had more information on the Islamic fait has they lived in peace with the Muslims and some of them also reverted to Islam.

The Tartars

Prior to examining the Tartars, whose vast majority was Muslim, settled down in Hungary, we give you a brief summary on the Mongol Empire and the Golden Horde.
The Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan, originally called Temujin, had already turned 40 by 1206 when he succeeded in unifying all the Mongol tribes. Temujin, then, was elected as Great Khan and took the name Genghis Khan. Genghis orga­nized his nomadic military state made up of tithe, company, regiment and set off to conquer the world. In 1219-1221 he sacked Central-Asia, broke into India and overcame the nomads of the South-Russian deserts, Alans and Cuman-Kipchak tribes. In 1223 the Mongols also defeated the troops of the Russian monarques and returned to their original residence. Genghis Khan died of the internal injuries he received when, at the age of 70, he was dropped by his horse in one of the campaigns. After his death, it was not the first-born Jochi, but the third son, Ogodey, who was elected as Great Khan. In 1236 Batu, son of Jochi, lead the Mongol troops towards the West. They balked the Cuman and the Bolgars by the river Volga. It must have been the time when also Magna Hungaria, the state of the Eastern-Hungarian who lived by the Volga, got eliminated. The Mongols invaded and destroyed Moscow and Vladimir. The Russians were again de­feated by the river Sity in 1238. They set of fin direction of Hungary under Batu and Subotay’s leadership and they also occupied Hungary for some years after Béla IV. defeat. This time, the vast majority of the Army was constituted by Turk nations and the Tartars had more prestige, for which, the invasion was called Tartar invasion. Berke, the other son of Jochi and the grandson of Genghis Khan, was the first who, as the Khan of the Gold­en Horde, embraced the Islamic faith. By this time, the majority of the Mongol aristocracy that got adapted to Turkish culture and of the Army was Muslim. The original residence of Berke khan was the Northern area of the Caucasus at time when his brother was alive. The Muslims who came from the Iranian and Minor-Asian areas could enter the territory of the Golden Horde only by passing Berke’s residential areas. However, Is­lam had contacted Berke’s area from Southern direction and there were rumours on Batu’s younger brother’s conversion of Islam when Batu was still alive. Halych and Lodomeria rebelled against the Tartaric invasion but this revolt was easily beaten by Berke Khan. After they were brought un­der, Berke khan came up with the terrible idea of a Tartaric invasion to Béla IV.
Upon the subjugation of Halych, Berke had made an offer to Béla about the marriage of their children. The condition set was that István, Béla’s son, grant military support by the forth part of the Hungarian Army to the Tartar campaigns in return, he could keep the fifth part of the booty. Berke, in return, would not have claimed tax payment, thus, he also promised peace. It is also true that he promised to annihilate Hungary int he event the Hungarian king rejects his offer. In this grave situation, Béla IV. turned for help to the Pope who, did not make any promises and, hence, granted him his moral support and forbade him to make an al­liance with the Tartars. Béla tried to delay the resolution but the attack did not occur. Berke’s attention was probably more focused ont he Southern borders, thus, he had neither time, nor energy for the Hungarians and the Polish resident ont he areas to the West of Halych. After Berke, the follow­ing khans and an emir are to be mentioned: Mengu-Timur (1267-1280) and the khan Telebuga (1281-1291) and emir Nogai. Their names are re­lated to the Muslim Tartar immigration in Hungary. In 1285-86 the Tar­tars, lead by Nogay and Telebuga, were marching towards the West. They were probably call upon by Leslie the Cuman in secret. The invasion of Nogay’s Tartars did not bring about another national catastrophe. First, they attacked Hungary and reached Pest. They invaded the country from the North, destroyed the Nothern-Eastern regions and left the country via Transilvania shocked by the fierce resistance of the Transylvanian chief of­ficer called „vajda” and the seklers. Two years later, Nogay made an al­liance with Leslie and set off towards Hungary again but turned back when informed on the king’s captivity. As several Tartaric ethnicities had immi­grated to the country who had also settled down thanks tok ing Leslie, many of Nogay’s Tartar troops were captured. Their number was estimat­ed as several thousand and most of them followed the Islamic faith. They had similar privileges as the Cumans but they got integrated to the Cumans owing to their linguistic relationship.

Notes of Abu Hamid al-Andaluszi al-Garnati on the Muslims of Hungary

Al-Garnati was born in the Andalusian city of Granada in 1080. He trav­elled around the major part of the world known in those times. He visited Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Persia, Hvarezm, Bulgaria by the Volga, Kiev and he lived 3 years (1050-1053) in Hungary at king Géza II.’s Court. He speaks about Hungary as Basgird or Unkurija in his descriptions and the Hungari­ans are referred to as Basgird. He speaks about his period in Hungary as follows: I lived among them for three years. I purchased a slave girl as mistress born in slavery. She’s a 15-year old girl, more beautiful than a flower, with black hair and eyes and her skin is as white as snow. She’s good at cooking, sewing and counting. I also purchased another girl from Rúm, she is 8-year old and cost 5 dinars. I had a baby boy from the first girl but he died. I liberated her and called her Maryam. I would have liked to take her to Sadsin where I lived on a constant basis. He writes about the Muslims resident in Hungary as follows: There are countless Magrebs here as well as Hvarezmi. Those of Hvarezm origins serve the king (note they could be kaliz and ismaelits), they pretend to be Christians and keep their Islamic faith in secret. On the contrary, those of Magreb origins serve the Christians only in wartime and they proudly profess their Islamic faith (note: it must refer to the Bechenes and other Turk peoples).” When I visited the descendents of the Maghrebis, they hosted me with much re­spect. I taught them about the science of religion.” „…and I made efforts with much persevereance that they repeat and put in practice the rules of prayer and other religious duties.”
One can make several conclusions from the above: A part of the Muslims in Hungary are baptized and they profess their original faith in secret. While others, dedicated to military duties, are openly Muslims and they probably obtained their privileges from the King.
The majority of Muslims in Hungary are not educated in the Islamic faith. There must just few of them who could have taught the followers after having attended an Islamic school.
However, Islam had taken root in their soul and, hence, Christian missionaries had a hard task with Muslims. It shall be noted that Al-Garnati also teaches the Islamic legal regulations with regard to inheritance.

Thus, we can make the conclusion that those ethnic groups who openly profess Islam has opportunity to apply the specific, legal heritage regula­tions much related to religion among themselves. Another proof of the aforesaid is: „…they did not know the prayer of Friday before, but now they have learnt it along with the Friday sermon.”
The descriptions on the royal archers and their origins i.e. the armed Mus­lims are also impressive: „ The Basgir king often destroys the Byzantine areas. I told the Muslims there: Do all you can for the holy war along with the (Basgir) king because God will take the virtue of the holy war into positive account for you on the Judgement Day. They also accompanied him to the region of Constantinople, and defeated the twelve troops of the Byzantine king and they took a large group of (Muslim) Turks as hostage (by capturing them) from the Army of Kunia. I asked some of them: Why did you come to serve the Byzantine monarch? All of us received 200 di­nars of allowance and we did not know that there were Muslim on this land i. e. Hungary-they replied.” So, I arranged that they be taken back to the Byzantine area and return to Cunia.
Cunia could be the nomadic Kipchak Empire comprised of the South-Rus­sian deserts, Havaselve and Moldavia where many Bechenes lived togeth­er with the Cumans, as well.
All this underlines that islamization was relevant in this region even prior to the Mongols.                         
Al_garnati could be much appreciated by the Hungarian king, if the cap­tured Muslim Cumans were released upon his intervention. Al-Garnati says that the Muslim in Hungary are making jihad against Byzantine and the victims of war are ’sahid”’, i.e. are dignified to go to Paradise. The Byzan­tine Emperor settled Turk nations of Islamic faith of Anatolia for armed service into the valley of the river Vardar and these Muslims also often had fights against Hungary in return of allowance, as they also played some supervising duties at the borderline. In this era, a large number of Muslim Turk ethnicities escaped to Hungary with the argument of having been forced to embrace Christianity, whilst they could practice their Is­lamic faith freely in the Kingdom of Hungary. These soldiers were settled down as boarding officers.  
Al-Garnati’s description renders it possible to compare the situation of the Muslims in Hungary with those residents in the Byzantine Empire: „The monarch of Byzantine came to ask for peace by taking numerous Muslim captives /as gifts/ with him.

One of these ex-Byzantine captives who came back /to Hungary/ told me as follows. The Byzantine Emperor asked: What’s the reason why the Basgir king invaded our country and sacked it? He had not done it before. The Basgir king possesses a large number of Muslim soldiers whom he left to keep their religion and they were the ones who convinced him to invade your country and destroy your lands. The Byzantine Emperor then replied: I also have Muslim subjects but they do not provide me any help for war. Then, he was given this reply: It is because you force them to profess Christianity. Then, the Emperor said: From now on, I will not impose my religion on any Muslims, yet, I will build them Mosques so that they fight by my side.”
Al-Garnati is partial towards his brethren. However, this description reflects that the soldiers of Islamic faith had a privileged position in Hungary; they could freely practise their faith and habits. These facts also underline that Hungary was an ideal place for the immigration of Muslim ethnicities. It further enhances that the leaders of the Muslim population had direct personal contacts with the Hungarian king.
Al-Garnati had a personal contact with king Géza II. He describes it as follows:
„…he follows the same religion as the Franks, regardless; he leads a conquering war against the Franks and takes war hostages among them. All nations fear his attack because he has lots of soldiers and much bravery.”
„When he came to know that I prohibited Muslims to drink wine and allowed them to have mistresses and four free women /as wives/, he told me: it is not reasonable because wine strengthens your body but many women weaken your body and eyes. Regulations on the Islamic faith are not in compliance with common sense. I relied to the interpreter as follows: Tell the king: the regulation of the Muslims differ from the Christian ones. Because Christians take wine instead of water when dining and they don’t get drunk, so, it really strengthens their body. A Muslim, however, only desires drunkenness when drinking wine, it dulls his mind and will be like a fool, will fornicate, kill, speak and do unrighteous things. He loses all goodness within himself, gives away his weapons and horse to anybody, wastes all his property by chasing pure pleasure.”

These Muslims are you soldiers and if you gave them the order to attack, they would have neither weapons, nor property: they would spend it all on alcohol. If you came to know about it, you should have them murdered, beaten or born them, you should eventually give them new horses and weapons that would be wasted again. With regard to mistresses and wives, polygamy is most convenient for Muslims as they are of heated nature. And do not forget that they are your soldiers and if they have many children from several wives and mistresses, you will have more soldiers. Then, the king answered: Listen to this elder man, because he is wise, get married as many times as you like and do not object him in any matters. It was Géza who, opposing the Christian priests, consented mistresses /to Muslims/, this king likes the Muslims.”
The great enemy of the Byzantine Empire was Islam but in Hungary Islam became an ally. The strength of the Muslim troops helped the king against all his internal- and external enemies as this population was exclusively subject to the king. Géza II. and his predecessors benefited from the economic professional knowledge, the military strength and competence of the Muslims in Hungary. Besides, he found the proper balance to keep the internal peace of the country. It is obvious that the kings of the Árpád-dynasty could allow the observance of the Islamic religious legal practice by separating Muslims from the legislation of the Christian Church. In the meantime, it also specified the duties they hold in terms of the king. It is sure that the Muslim nations incorporated were equal to the Hungarians and had privileges in return of some duties in the period prior to the Tartar invasion that lasted till the reign of András II.

Al-Garnati’s reports are exceptionally complemented by the notes of Yaqat, Arabic lexicographer, on the Muslim in Hungary. Yaqut met a Hungarian Muslim group that made Islamic studies, in Aleppo around 1220. When he enquired about Hungary, the Hungarian Muslims replied: „With regard to our country, it is located off Constantinople, in the Empire of one of the Frank nations called al-hunkar i.e. Hungarian. We, Muslims, are subjects to our king and we constitute around thirty villages at the edge of the country and each of them equals to a smaller country i.e. city but the king of Al-Hunkar does not allow us to pull a wall around it because he is afraid of our revolt against him. We live among Christian countries… Our language is that of the Franks, we dress like them, serve them int he Army and launch campaigns against all the tribes by their side as we wage war only to those who are enemies to the Muslims.”
Descriptions affirm that the vast majority of the Muslims in Hungary belonged to the Hanif Muslim legal school.
The clothing of the Muslims in Hungary were that of their Hungarian compatriots and they used the Hungarian language. The difference only regarded religion. It is most probably that the integration of the Muslims scattered around the country had already been finally completed.
Era of the gradual religious assimilation and decline 

Prior to the description of the facts and additional information that proves the assimilation process of the domestic Muslim population, I must give you a summary on
the golden age of Islam of this period. 5-8% of the population professed Islam openly and the rate of apparently Christians but Muslims in reality was around 3-4% compared with the whole population. The Hungarian kings intended to follow an assimilatory policy but the relative regulations were just partially observed or completely ignored. As one cannot talk about a Muslim minority settled down in one block, it was easy to assimilate the ones living within the country opposite to the borline officers. This legislative process was started under the rule of St. Stephen. It was not accidental as Christians were called on to take the cross to get hold of the Saint tomb in this era. St, Leslie, prevented from death, was to be the Papal delegate to lead the soldiers of the Crusade.
One of the regulations of St. Leslie says:  „Those who are called Uzbeks,…”
This ethnic group aforesaid must have been the Turkish military ser­vants of Islamic faith who were at the exclusive service of the king. In the event of providing private service to anybody, they were obliged to make an allegation on it to the king. Then, the king ordered the „Uzbeks” back to his own service.

The Legal Code of Saint Leslie specifies as follows:
Act no.9. On the traders called Ishmaelite:
If the traders called Ishmaelite turn out to have re-embraced their pre­vious regulations based on circumcision after their baptism, they shall be separately settled down to other villages. Those who turn out to be inno­cent under investigations shall stay at their original place of living.”
It is obvious that King Leslie’s legislation only punishes those baptized Muslims who secretly still hold on to their Islamic faith. Muslims could go on practising their faith openly.
The first Crusaders set of fin direction of Jerusalem, some of the also crossed Hungary, under the rule of king Coloman the Booklover. The king who, as an Illuminated person, declared that „there are no witches” was the first Hungarian king who intended to integrate the Muslims to the Christian majority.  
The first Crusaders set off in direction of Jerusalem, some of the also crossed Hungary, under the rule of king Coloman the Booklover. The king who, as an Illuminated person, declared that „there are no witches” was the first Hungarian king who intended to integrate the Muslims to the Christian majority.  

From the First Legal Code of Coloman the Booklover:
„On the punishment of the Ishmaelite who hold on to their religion. If any­body are caught on fasting or abstaining from pork meat while eating or doing ritual washing or any other sinful acts, these Ishmaelite shall be sent over to the king and the accuser shall participate in their property.”
Fasting referred to the fasting in Ramadan and, as we can see, the legisla­tors were aware of Islamic traditions, as they even knew the prohibition of pork meat to Muslims. They did not confuse the followers of Islam with those of Judaism. Washing implied to the ritual washing required to prayers. As we know, people of the Early-Middle Ages were not used to bathing on a regular basis; hence, it was more than striking if one washed himself several times.

„On Ishmaelite’s resettlement.
We give order to all the villages of the Ishmaelite to build a Church and provide it with donations from the area of the same village. After the con­struction of the Church, the half of the Ishmaelite shall move from the vil­lage and shall settle down somewhere else. As they will have identical tra­ditions during living together, you shall also be equal to us in terms of reli­gion.” It all shows a well-thought and planned assimilation policy with a simple message: the Catholization of Muslims by dividing Muslim villages, building Churches, forcing them to live in new environment among Chris­tians. These Muslims differed from Hungarians only in terms of traditions and religion as they spoke the same language, being Hungarian the first language and, if they used a second language, it was a linguistic combina­tion that also included Hungarian words. Naturally, all this is based on fic­tion as these ethnic groups also mixed many Arabic words in their conver­sions owing to their religion.
On Ishmaelite women’s marriage . None of the Ishmaelite should have the courage of marrying their daughters to a man among themselves but just to one from our people.”

Coloman thoughtfully intervened again int he lives of Muslims as Muslim women can only marry Muslim men, while Muslim men may get married to women of the people pf the Book. As the social setup was male-orient­ed, this regulation granted that new-born babies have a Christian educa­tion and the Ishmaelite woman will become Christian on effect of the envi­ronment and the family sooner or later.

„On the dining of the Ishmaelite. If any Ishmaelite has guests or invites you to dining, you all shall eat only pork meat.”

The king must have thought that the Ishmaelite would be morally de­structed, if forced on the consumption of pork meat and it may accelerate assimilation. Hence, it is prohibited to eat pork meat for the followers of the Islamic faith. All these rules did not apply to the Jews.

A summary of Coloman’s regulations:
He forbade the Jews to contract mixed marriages and that Jews have Christian servants. His contemporary legislation in terms of the Ish­maelite, however, reflects the policy of complete assimilation. The first en­tity to attack the Muslim privileges was the Church and exerted a continu­ous pressure on the sovereigns to stimulate the embrace of Christianity. The Church claimed the Muslims the right of collecting taxes and royal revenues and their transmission to the Christians. Consequently, Many Muslims in economic positions got baptized but held on to their previous religion in secret. The Church intended to take over the right of judgement over the Muslim and the Jews from the king. A larger conflict was formed between the king and the Church for this purpose.
One thing is striking: neither the regulations, nor any later royal documents mention any implementation or specific retaliation or punishment. It might have also implied that the strong royal power needed economic specialists and light-horsemen that were both independent from the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, this was the reason why Géza II. could send 500 Saracen warriors to help Frederic Barbarossa.

As seen above, royal power prevailed in the case of several Hungarian sovereign. However, int he decades prior to the issuance of the Golden Bull, the central power had weakened to the extent that the aristocracy and the Church forced the king to gradually reduce and, then, deprive Muslims of their economic power and positions.
Andrew II. (1205-1235) implemented a new economic policy step by step in 1208.
It was comprised of the further division of land properties and the implementation of a rental system instead of direct tax payment. So, the royal revenue was made up of the rental fees paid in cash (rent of salt, Customs and coinage). This new system deprived the Church of some of its revenues, while the non-Christian, i.e. the Muslim and Jewish renters became completely protected from the ecclesiastic threat. Andrew II. was subject to much pressure and it shall also be noted that those entitled to coinage could also apply the means of inflation. However, the majority of the country’s aristocracy and the Church forced the king to withdraw prior to his Crusade in 1217. Meanwhile, the Church gave even more attention to the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants and the Pope was also informed on the Hungarian situation. The Church also noticed a slow increase even among those of Islamic faith owing to peaceful conversion.

The national Islam always preserved religious tolerance that features the basis of Islam.
Herein, I would quote the 256 verse of the second Surat of the Holy Quran: No force in religion.
The Muslim population grew thanks to marriages, too as the contemporary royal privileges granted them polygamy. Our kings adopted regulations several times that order the punishment of those who embrace Christianity but practiced their ancient faith in secret. The first important regulation to curtail the Muslim economic power was the Golden Bull which also denied that the Ishmaelite and the Jews have office at the Chamber. The head of Administration, the money-changers, salt vendors and tax-collectors of the Chamber must be aristocrats and these duties cannot be fulfilled by the Ishmaelite or the Jews.”

This was a real attack to the king’s loyal tax-collectors and chamberlains. The Aristocrats and the Church of the 13th century, opposed to the central royal power, judged it well who represented the king’s interests and started a religious war against the Muslims by making an alliance with the Pope of Rome. They also attained the sympathy of the gentry and servants to be anti-Islamists as tax-collectors and money-changers. Christian Churches became the centre of the anti-pagan campaign. To illustrate the importance of the Hungarian Muslims’ economic influence, we cite a part of Pope Gregory IX: Saracens and Jews rule over Christians there and many Christians, overwhelmed by the unbearable burden and seeing that the Ishmaelite live in well-being and have much luck,  join them and embrace their faith. The Christians marry Ishmaelite women a vice-versa…
Andrew II did not fulfil the ecclesiastic order thoroughly and the relative provisions of the Golden Bull with regard to Muslims. Hence, Muslims ap­pear in the renewed version of the Golden Bull issued in 1231:
‘against the Jewish and Ishmaelite officials’. Neither Ishmaelite nor Jews shall fulfil duties related to the mint, salt chambers or other state offices.” 

The Golden Bull had to be proclaimed again for re-affirmation and its text has also been changed. The Archbishop of Esztergom, Róbert, of foreign origins used his disciplinary power and applied the most sever ecclesiastic punishment: he issued an ecclesiastic order all over the country. He sup­ported the cause of his procedure in his letter to the Bishop of Veszprém as follows: „ … The king, collecting his sons around himself,…issued a regu­lation on the observance of some of the articles and promise to ob­serve them by all means. It also declared that neither Jew, nor Ishmaelite will be assigned as head of the Chamber or officer. However, this regula­tion was ignored and aberration is bigger then ever… Even Christians re­vert to Islam for noticing that they have a better life than Christians, so, many souls are lost in the region…His counsels who convinced him to favour the Ishmaelite will be excommunicated. It also refers to the pala­tine Dénes for other reasons as well.”

Samuel, previous head of Chamber who was charged with heresy and also supported and protected the Muslims, had the same destiny. The prelate says about the Muslims:”We prohibit Christians to keep in contact via trade or any other ways with the Ishmaelite until all the Muslims dismiss the baptized, those willing to get baptized and the sons of baptized, may they be Hungarians, Bulgarians or Cumans or any other nations who work for them as servants or free men.”
It’s striking that the Jews, to whom the regulation applies the same as to Muslims, are not mentioned as the causes of the religious edict, whilst it decreed the complete isolation of the believers of Islam.
The breakup of all contacts with the Christians would have been equal to their total destruction and empowerment, if they had met these strict and unreasonable requirements. However, the bishops of the Hungarian Church were not satisfied with it and inflicted even more calamities onto the followers of Islam. The ageing and widowed king approves the so called Agreement of Bereg, prepared by the Papal delegate, in August of 1233. This agreement equalled to the peak of the ecclesiastic power in the history of the country.”

-Against the possession of Jewish and Ishmaelite official functions

In future, neither Jews, nor Ishmaelite can lead our Chamber, be assigned as head of coinage and offices related to salt and tax. They cannot pursue any proxy duties and do any harm or oppress via these functions the Christians.
 
-Distinction of the Jews with a symbol 
In the meantime, we will give order to differentiate the Jews and Ish­maelite from the Christians with a symbol for separation purposes. It will also be forbidden to them to possess Christian slaves. It will not be con­sented that the Jews and Saracens or Ishmaelite purchase or possess slaves in any way.
-On the annual supervision of these regulations:
thus, we promise that both we and our successors will order and send the palatine or any person assigned who devotedly follows Christianity and we will make him take an oath to fulfil our order with commitment.

On the Bishop’s request, whose ecclesiastic region has or will have Jews, Pagans and Ishmaelite inhabitants, Christians were removed from the control or the Saracens or from the cohabitation with them.
-On the punishment of the Saracens and Jews who live along with the Christians
Regardless this regulation, if there are Christians living along with Sara­cens or the Saracens have Christian slaves and the Christians of Ish­maelite origins or Saracens who live along with Christian women in form of marriage or other cohabitation form shall be punished with the confis­cation of all their properties and become the slaves of the King and the Christians for ever.”

I believe that these Draconic laws prove that the Church and king, owing to ecclesiastic pressure, favoured the complete assimilation and baptism of Muslims who had two choices: baptism or exile. The laws also suppose that the Ishmaelite had relevant properties as the informer was interested to obtain property in this way. The Church played major role in exercising control and it was excluded that any Ishmaelite could
evade the regulations. It must also be noted, though, that king Béla IV. requested the Pope to make exception and give royal offices to some Ish­maelite at the Royal Chamber. He was compelled to make use of their economic knowledge.

The first sentences of the Articles state that the king shall not assign any Jews or Ishmaelite to official duties, shall not grant them any proxy positions and shall prevent them from oppressing the Christians. He shall not consent them to purchase or possess slaves. He shall order their ex­ternal distinction. The Jews, Ishmaelite or Pagans who have Christian servants or are married to a Christian woman will lose all their properties and the king will sell them to Christian servitude. Regardless that the king grated protection to the Muslims at his service, he could not the resist the constant attacks after the implementation of the Bereg resolutions. 51 Ar­ticles out of the 61 incorporated in Bereg legislation deals with the disbe­lievers. The strict restrictions were adopted in a period when the small Christian states of the Holy land were fighting for their persistence against the Muslim states of the Middle-East.

It seems striking but the Crusaders expected the Mongols to assist them against the Muslims. It sounds strange but it’s a historical fact.
The Muslims of Hungary got integrated to the Hungarian society after cen­turies. When they had no chance to operate their religious communities, the population assimilated to the Hungarians and embraced Christianity. In 1266 the Ishmaelite Mike, lord of Tömörkény village in Arad-region, is mentioned. Transylvania also had a Muslim population in Küküllő region which had a settlement called Böszörményszancsal. (One of its inhabitants was called Bazarab.)
The Ecclesiastic Council of Buda, held in 1279, ordered that the Böször­mény must not collect ecclesiastic revenue or Custom fee. The Islamic re­ligious life must have ended forever in Hungary under the reign of Leslie I. (the Great). It is known that the last jami was destroyed int he Nyírség-region around 1350. The Muslims, who reverted to Christianity, became the devoted supporters of Protestantism when it appeared. There was a long way from Saint Stephen’s Admonitions to his son, Prince Emery, on the settlement of foreigners and their freedom to the assimilative laws. Al­though the followers of Islam had already become completely Hungarians in terms of language and dresses, only their religion was different. Cer­tainly, their wealth raised the envy of the Church and the aristocracy. Saint Stephen wanted the Pagan Hungarians get integrated to the Roman Catholic Church but Jews and Muslims were not considered. Naturally, the Crusades were not started yet. The contemporary Muslim group could per­sist and get rich thanks to this policy for centuries. Hungary was the most Western country, except Andalusia where the followers of Islam were present in large number. Hungary is at crossroads of a cultural line where Roman Christianity met the Byzantine Christianity and Islam. Here Jewish had much more freedom than in any other countries and the number of persecutions was also lower than in other, more developed Christian Euro­pean countries.

Hungarian memories of this period

There are several settlement names from the period of the kings of the Árpád-dynasty, legal texts and coins of the era which all prove Muslim presence. Let’s take a look at the settlement names I mentioned above. The majority of the Muslim population was of Turkish origins but there were also Iranian nations among the Muslims settled down here. In case of the settlement names, the expressions Kovar-Kasar, Kosar-Kasar and Kabar, Bechene, Boszormeny and Kalyzians also demonstrate ancient Muslim origins. Prior to the Tartar invasion, there were 210 known Muslim settlements. László Réthy makes a very interesting statement in his book, Hungarian Ishmaelite coiners and Bessarabia, published in 1880: The Saracens or Ishmaelite traders did not disappear from the country after the Tartar invasion but got integrated and went on with their activity until the reign of Ladislau the Great I. (1387-1437) with major splendour than in the era of the Árpád dynasty.
The statement is based on the fact that a document of 1352 mention the Saracens brothers, Jacob and John, as the chamberlains of Pécs-Szerém and Buda. As it is known, the word Saracens equals to the actual Hungarian word ’szerecsen’ that indicated those of Muslim origins. The shield of the Szerecseny dynasty of Meszteng shows a Saracens’ head which appears on many coins issued by Luis the Great. The silver coins of the 12 th century shows much Oriental influence. Thanks to the activity of the Ishmaelite coiners the old, traditional coin designs are of Oriental character: half moon delineations appear along with word „Illahi” i.e. God (Allah) is One engraved with Arabic orthography. Stephen IV.’s brazen coins also have the inscriptions as follow: the first line of the first Surat (Al-Fatiha) of the Holy Quran (Biszmillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, int he name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) can be seen. I would like to detail you the results of some excavations done in Hungary whose coins prove our relations with Islam: the cemetery finding of Szeged-Királyhalma where the Ismael ben Ahmed Balkhban’s (906) coins were found. The inscription of the coins says: „There is no God but Allah and he has no partners.” The circle inscription says: ‘…after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious, within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice, With the help of Allah.’ The finding of Galgócz where the coins of Naszr ben Ahmed (918-919), made in Samarcand, were found. These are coins of Samanid origins which were often used int he Central-Asian region. They could also be called the liquid assets of the 10th century because they were so widespread from Central-Europe to the Altai Mountains. They were called dirhem. Its inscription says: „There is no God but Allah, the Only One, He has no partners.”
The grave of Bodrogvécse cemetery also híd Sammanid coins. These dirhams were made on the order of Ismael Ahmed (892-907) and Nasr ben Ahmed (913-993) in Balk and Samarkand. Dirhams were found even close to Kecskemét. From the end of the reign of king Ladislaus the Great Muslim traders and delegates just travelled through the country for 150 years but the Osman-Turkish Empire appeared along our Southern borderline.

The names or references to the Muslims in medieval Hungary: Kavar, Kasar, Kabar, Black Hungarian, Turk, Böszörmény, Ishmaelite, Káliz, Saracenus, Bechene, Úz, Varsány, Alán, Tartar, Cuman, Bulgar, Hetény, Khvaresmi, Black Cuman.

After the new negotiations and promises had no effect, a final decision was arrived at. The king was compelled to attack the Cumans. The arrival of the Cuman Aldamur and his troops of Havaselve to help the Cumans against the king was useless - their defeat was devastating in the Battle of Hód, in 1280. A part of the Cumans stayed here, they were forced to set­tle and embrace Christianity, yet the vast majority withdrew to Havaselve. This was the period that the Cumans were also given the name Nioger (Hungarian Nyögér). Leslie the Cuman defeated the Tartar invaders; they reached Pest and settled there. (This story is within another chapter.) The behaviour of Leslie the Cuman, head of a European Christian Monarchy, indicated identity problems. Regardless of the fact that he liked the Cumans and the later-settled Tartars and that his lifestyle had similarities with theirs, there is no proof that he embraced Islam. Leslie loved a Cuman woman; his mother, friends, fellow soldiers were Cumans - even his murderers were Cumans! As was usual, he went on a visit to the Cumans (in the spring of 1290) and he was killed, for unknown reasons, on 10 July. The murder was revenged by Mizse, the Cuman palatine of the monarchy, who became a Christian (along with his brother and the broth­er of Leslie’s mistress, Edua).

The Eastern trip of monk Julianus

The monk Julianus mentions the Muslim who lived close to the Hungarians as follows: “They went to another place from here, to a Muslim’s house, who gave them and the sick monk aforesaid shelter in the name of God. The monk died and he was buried here. Then, Julianus, who was lonely and did not know what to do, became the servant of a sheik and his wife, who were preparing for a journey to Great Bulgaria.” Here, he hints at the location of Suvar, whose population is Muslim, being a city on the border of Great Bulgaria: “The Tartars are their neighbours (the ancient Hungari­ans)”. So they were fellow soldiers. This monk also met the delegate of the Tartar leader, who spoke Hungarian, Russian, Cuman, German and Arabic, on the land of the Hungarians. This proves that the Eastern-Hun­garians residing on the ancient land had more information on the Islamic fate, for they lived in peace with the Muslims and some of them reverted to Islam.

The Tartars
Prior to examining the Tartars - whose vast majority was Muslim - and their settling in Hungary, we will give you a brief summary of the Mongol Empire and the Golden Horde.

The Mongol Empire
Ghenghis Khan, originally called Temujin, had already turned 40 by 1206 when he succeeded in unifying all the Mongol tribes. Temujin, then, was elected as Great Khan and took the name Ghenghis Khan. Ghenghis orga­nized his nomadic military state - made up of tithe, company, regiment - and set off to conquer the world. In 1219-1221 he sacked Central-Asia, invaded India and overcame the nomads of the South-Russian deserts, the Alans and Cuman-Kipchak tribes. In 1223, the Mongols also defeated the troops of the Russian monarchs and returned to their original resi­dence. Ghenghis Khan died of internal injuries received when, at the age of 70, he was thrown by his horse during one of the campaigns. After his death, it was not the first-born Djochit, but the third son, Ogodey, who was elected Great Khan. In 1236, Batu, son of Jochi, led the Mongol troops towards the West. They halted the Cuman and the Bolgars by the river Volga. This must have been the time when Magna Hungaria, the state of the Eastern-Hungarians (living by the Volga), was wiped out. The Mongols invaded and destroyed Moscow and Vladimir. The Russians were again defeated by the River Sity in 1238. They set off in the direction of Hungary under Batu and Subotay’s leadership and they occupied Hungary for some years after Béla IV’s defeat. This time, the vast majority of the Army comprised Turkish nations; the Tartars had more prestige, for which reason the invasion was termed a Tartar invasion. Berke, the other son of Jochi and the grandson of Ghenghis Khan, was the first figure who, as the Khan of the Golden Horde, embraced the Islamic faith. Now, the majority of the Mongol aristocracy, adapted to Turkish culture, and of the Army, was Muslim. The original residence of Berke Khan was the Northern area of the Caucasus at the time when his brother was alive. The Muslims who had come from the Iranian and Minor-Asian areas were able to enter the territory of the Golden Horde only by passing Berke’s residential areas. However, Islam had come to Berke’s area from a Southern direction and there were rumours about Batu’s younger brother’s converting to Islam while Batu was still alive. Halych and Lodomeria rebelled against the Tar­tar invasion but this revolt was easily defeated by Berke Khan. After they were brought down, Berke Khan came up with the terrible idea of a Tartar invasion to Béla IV.
After the subjugation of Halych, Berke had made an offer to Béla about the marriage of their children. The condition set was that István, Béla’s son, grant military support via a quarter of the Hungarian Army to the Tartar campaigns – and, in return, he could keep a fifth part of the booty. Berke, in return, would not claim tax payments - and he also promised peace. It is true that he swore, nonetheless, to annihilate Hungary should the Hungarian king reject his offer. In this grave situation, Béla IV turned for help to the Pope, who did not make any promises but granted him his moral support and forbade him to make an alliance with the Tartars. Béla tried to delay any decision-making resolution, but the attack did not oc­cur. Berke’s attention was probably more focused on the Southern bor­ders, thus he had neither time nor energy for the Hungarians and the Pol­ish residing in areas to the West of Halych.
After Berke, the following khans and an emir need to be mentioned: Mengu-Timur (1267-1280) and the khan Telebuga (1281-1291) and emir Nogai. Their names are related to the Muslim Tartar immigration in Hun­gary. In 1285-86, the Tartars, led by Nogay and Telebuga, were marching towards the West. They were probably called upon by Leslie the Cuman, in secret. The invasion of Nogay’s Tartars did not cause another national catastrophe. First, they attacked Hungary, and reached Pest. They invad­ed the country from the North, destroyed the Northern-Eastern regions and left the country via Transylvania, shocked by the fierce resistance of the Transylvanian chief officer “Vajda” and the székelys. Two years later, Nogai made an alliance with Leslie and set off towards Hungary again but turned back when informed of the king’s captivity. Several Tartaric ethnici­ties had come to the country and had settled here, owing to king Leslie. Many of Nogai’s Tartar troops were captured. Their number was es­timated to be several thousand, and most of them followed the Islamic faith. They had similar privileges as the Cumans, yet they had become in­tegrated with the Cumans owing to their linguistic relationship.

Notes by Abu Hamid al-Andaluszi al-Garnati on the Muslims of Hungary:
Al-Garnati was born in the Andalusian city of Granada, in 1080. He trav­elled around the major part of the world known in those times, visiting Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Persia, Hvarezm, Bulgaria by the Volga, Kiev; he stayed 3 years (1050-1053) in Hungary at king Géza II’s court. He speaks about Hungary as Basgird or Unkurija do in his descriptions; the Hungari­ans are referred to as Basgird. He speaks of this period in Hungary as fol­lows: “I lived among them for three years. I purchased a slave girl as a mistress born in slavery. She’s a 15-year old girl, more beautiful than a flower, with black hair and eyes and her skin is as white as snow. She’s good at cooking, sewing and counting. I also purchased another girl from Rúm: she is 8-year old and cost 5 dinars. I had a baby boy from the first girl, but he died. I liberated her and called her Maryam. I would have liked to take her to Sadsin, where I lived on a constant basis.” He writes about the Muslims resident in Hungary as follows: “There are countless Magrebs here as well as Hvarezmi. Those of Hvarezm origins serve the king (note they could be Kaliz or Ismaelits); they pretend to be Christians - and keep their Islamic faith in secret. Yet those of Magreb origin serve the Chris­tians only in wartime, and they proudly profess their Islamic faith (note: this must refer to the Bechenes and other Turkish peoples).” When I visit­ed the descendents of the Maghrebis, they hosted me with much respect. I taught them about the science of religion. ... and I made efforts, with much perseverance, that they repeat and put in practice the rules of prayer and other religious duties.”

One can come to several conclusions from the above: one part of the Mus­lims in Hungary is baptized and they profess their original faith in secret. While others, dedicated to military duties, are openly Muslims and they probably obtained their privileges from the King.

The majority of Muslims in Hungary are not educated in the Islamic faith. There are a few who might teach followers after having attended an Is­lamic school. Yet Islam had taken root in their soul. Christian missionaries have a hard task with Muslims. It should be noted that Al-Garnati also teaches Islamic legal regulations with regard to inheritance.

Thus, we are able to come to the conclusion that those ethnic groups who openly profess Islam had an opportunity to apply the specific, legal heritage laws related to religion among themselves. Another proof of the aforesaid is: “…they did not know the prayer of Friday before, but now they have learnt it along with the Friday sermon.”

Descriptions of the royal archers and their origins, i.e. the armed Muslims, are also impressive: “The Basgir king often destroys the Byzantine areas. I told the Muslims there: Do all you can for the holy war along with the (Basgir) king because God will take the virtue of the holy war into positive account for you on Judgement Day. They also accompanied him to the re­gion of Constantinople, and defeated the twelve troops of the Byzantine king and they took a large group of (Muslim) Turks hostage (by capturing them) from the Army of Kunia. I asked some of them: Why did you come to serve the Byzantine monarch? All of us received 200 dinars of al­lowance and we did not know that there were Muslims on this land i.e. Hungary - they replied.” So I arranged that they be taken back to the Byzantine area and return to Cunia. (Cunia could have been the nomadic Kipchak Empire comprising the South-Russian deserts, Havaselve and Moldavia, where many Bechenes lived together with the Cumans.)

All this shows us that Islamization was relevant in this region also prior to the Mongols.   
                     
Al-Garnati was obviously much appreciated by the Hungarian king if the captured Muslim Cumans were released upon his intervention. Al-Garnati says that Muslims in Hungary were making jihad against the Byzantine, and the victims of war are ’sahid’, i.e. are dignified so will go to Paradise. The Byzantine Emperor settled the Turkish nations of Islamic faith of Ana­tolia (for armed service) in the valley of the river Vardar, and these Mus­lims fought Hungary in return for an allowance; they also had supervising duties at borders. In this era, a large number of Muslim Turk ethnicities escaped to Hungary with the argument of having been forced to embrace Christianity - but they could practice their Islamic faith freely in the King­dom of Hungary. These soldiers were settled as border officers.
  
Al-Garnati’s description renders it possible to compare the situation of the Muslims in Hungary with those who resided in the Byzantine Empire: “The monarch of Byzantine came to ask for peace by taking numerous Muslim captives (as gifts) with him. One of these captives who had come back from the Byzantine (to Hungary) said the following - The Byzantine Em­peror asked: What’s the reason why the Basgir king invaded our country and sacked it? He has not done it before. The Basgir king possesses a large number of Muslim soldiers whom he allowed to keep their religion, and they were the ones who convinced him to invade your country and destroy your lands. The Byzantine Emperor then replied: I also have Muslim subjects but they do not provide me with any help in war. He was given this reply: It is because you force them to profess Christianity. Then, the Emperor said: From now on, I will not impose my religion on any Muslims, yet I will build them Mosques so that they fight by my side.”
Al-Garnati is on the side of his brethren. However, this description reflects the idea that the soldiers of Islamic faith had a privileged position in Hungary, and they could freely practise their faith and habits. Such facts also underline the fact that Hungary was an ideal place for the immigration of Muslim ethnicities; and it further enhances the idea that the leaders of the Muslim population had direct, personal contacts with the Hungarian king.
Al-Garnati was personally in touch with king Géza II. He describes it as follows:
“…he has the same religion as the Franks, yet despite this he leads a conquering war against the Franks and takes war hostages from them. All nations fear his attacks because he has many soldiers and much bravery.”
“When he got to know that I prohibited Muslims from drinking wine and allowed them to have mistresses and four free women (as wives), he told me: it is not sensible, because wine strengthens your body but many women weaken your body and eyes. The regulations of the Islamic faith are not in compliance with common sense. I relayed to the interpreter the following: Tell the king: the regulations for Muslims differ from Christian ones. ... Christians take wine instead of water when dining, but they don’t get drunk, so it really strengthens their bodies. A Muslim, however, only desires drunkenness if drinking wine, it dulls his mind and he will be like a fool, will fornicate and kill, speak freely and do unrighteous things. He loses all goodness within himself, gives away his weapons and horse to anybody, wastes all his property by chasing pure pleasure.”

“These Muslims are your soldiers and if you give them the order to attack; they would have neither weapons, nor property - they would spend it all on alcohol. If you knew this, you would have them murdered or beaten; you would eventually give them new horses and weapons - which would be wasted again. With regard to mistresses and wives, polygamy is most convenient for Muslims as they have a heated nature. And do not forget that they are your soldiers, and if they have many children from several wives and mistresses, you will have more soldiers. Then the king answered: Listen to this elder man, because he is wise, get married as many times as you like and do not go against him in any matter. It was Géza who, opposing the Christian priests, consented to mistresses (for Muslims) - this king likes the Muslims.”
The great enemy of the Byzantine Empire was Islam, but in Hungary Islam became an ally. The strength of the Muslim troops helped the king against all his internal and external enemies, as this population was exclusively subject to the king. Géza II and his predecessors benefited from the professional economic knowledge, the military strength and the competence of the Muslims in Hungary. Besides this, he found the proper balance in keeping the internal peace of the country. It is obvious that the kings of the Árpád dynasty could allow the observance of Islamic religious and legal practices by separating Muslims from Christian Church laws. In the meantime, also specified were the duties they have in terms of the king. It is certain that the incorporated Muslim nations were equal to the Hungarians and had privileges in return for some duties to be performed in the period prior to the Tartar invasion, which lasted until the reign of András II.

Al-Garnati’s reports are complemented well by the notes of Yaqat, Arabic lexicographer, on the Muslim in Hungary. Yaqut met a Hungarian Muslim group, who undertook Islamic studies, in Aleppo around 1220. When he enquired about Hungary, the Hungarian Muslims replied: “With regard to our country, it is located off Constantinople, in the Empire of one of the Frank nations called al-hunkar (i.e. Hungarians). We, Muslims, are subjects of our king, and we constitute around thirty villages at the edge of the country; and each of them make up a smaller city yet the king of Al-Hunkar does not allow us to put a wall around it because he is afraid of our revolting against him. We live among Christian countries… Our language is that of the Franks, we dress like them, serve them in the Army and launch campaigns against all the tribes by their side, for we wage war only against those who are enemies of the Muslims.”

Descriptions affirm that the vast majority of the Muslims in Hungary be­longed to the Hanif Muslim legal school.

The clothing of the Muslims in Hungary was that of their Hungarian com­patriots; and they used the Hungarian language. A difference only existed regarding religion. It is probable that the integration of the Muslims scat­tered around the country had already been finally completed. It was an era of gradual religious assimilation and also of decline...  

Prior to giving an outlining of facts and additional information which proves the assimilation process of the domestic Muslim population, I should give you a summary of the golden age of Islam of this period. 5%-8% of the population professed Islam openly, and the rate of apparent Christians who were Muslims in reality was around 3%-4% when set against the whole population. The Hungarian kings intended to follow an assimilatory policy, though the related regulations were just partially ob­served or were completely ignored. As one cannot talk about a Muslim mi­nority settling in solely one block, it was easy to assimilate the ones living within the country, contrasting with the border officers. The legislative process began under the rule of St. Stephen. This was not accidental, as Christians were called upon to take up the Cross, to take hold of the sacred tomb in this era. St. Leslie, prevented from death, was to be the Papal delegate leading the soldiers of the Crusade.
One of the regulations of St. Leslie refers to: “Those who are called Uzbeks,…” - and the aforesaid ethnic grouping must have been the Turkish military, servants of the Islamic faith, who were at the exclusive service of the king. In the event of providing a private service to anybody, such persons were obliged to pledge allegiance to the king. Then the king ordered the “Uzbeks” back into his own service.
 
The Legal Code of Saint Leslie specifies as follows:

Act no. 9. On the traders called Ishmaelite:
If the traders called Ishmaelite will re-embrace that from previous laws on the basis of circumcision after their baptism, they shall be separately settled in other villages. Those who are deemed innocent after investiga­tion will stay at their original dwelling place.”
It is obvious that King Leslie’s legislation only punished those baptized Muslims who secretly still held on to their Islamic faith. Muslims could, however, go on practising their faith openly.
The first Crusaders set of in the direction of Jerusalem; some also crossed Hungary while under the rule of king Coloman the Booklover. The king who, as an Illuminated person, declared that “there are no witches” was the first Hungarian king who intended to integrate the Muslims in with the Christian majority.  

From the First Legal Code of Coloman the Booklover:
“On the punishment of Ismaelits who hold onto their religion. If anybody is caught eating during fasting or not abstaining from having pork meat or not doing ritual washing or any other sinful act, these Ismaelits shall be sent over to the king and the accuser shall attain part of  their property.”
Fasting referred to the fasting at the time of Ramadan and, as we can see, the legislators were aware of Islamic traditions (e.g. they knew about the prohibition of pork meat to Muslims). They did not confuse followers of Is­lam with those of Judaism. Washing implied the ritual washing as required before prayers. As we know, people of the Early-Middle Ages were not used to bathing on a regular basis, hence it was more than noticeable if one washed himself several times over.

‘About the resettlement of the Ishmaelite:
we send an order to all Ishmaelite villages that there is built a Church and that it is provided with funds from the area of the same village. After construction of the Church, half of the Ishmaelite shall move from the vil­lage and shall settle down elsewhere. As they will have the same tradi­tions while living together, you shall also be equal to us in terms of reli­gion.”
This all shows a well thought-out and planned assimilation policy, one with a simple message: the Catholization of Muslims by dividing Muslim villages, building Churches, and forcing them to live in a new environ­ment, among Christians. These Muslims differed from Hungarians only in terms of traditions and religion - as they spoke the same language (Hun­garian being the first language); and if they used a second language, it was a linguistic combination that also included Hungarian words. Natural­ly, all this is based on a form of fiction; as such ethnic groups also mixed many Arabic words in with their conversations owing to their religion.

PERIOD OF THE OTTOMAN OCCUPANCY

Before making a thorough research on this period with regard to the presence of Islam in Hungary and the other parts of Europe, first, I would like to summarize the story of the Ottoman Empire from its foundation till the partition of Hungary into three parts.

Certainly, I will also make an insight on data that do not refer to Hungari­an Muslims and their religious life in order to render the analysis more comprehensible. I believe that this kind of analysis makes the story com­plete. This period still requires much research even if the majority of the Hungarian written documentation has been processed, there still might be documents with information of much interest on this topic in Turkey.

Brief history of the Ottoman Empire till 1526

Four hundred Turkish families, lead by Ertogrul, the tribe leader, settled down in Anatolia upon the call of the relative tribe called Seljuk Turks. Their main area extended close to Eskisehir, between the Seljuk state and the Empire of Nicaea.

When the Seljuk Empire split up, the Ottoman Emirate was only one of the emirates. Osman, Ertogrul’s son was elected as head of the insignificant tribe, who added the title ‘gazi’ indicating that he supported the idea of spreading Islam on a military basis. His wars brought along radical changes to the socio-economic conditions of the era.

The immigrants contributed to the split of the tribal setup and nomad farming became insufficient to provide the increasing number of soldiers with supply. Thus, all these events gave life to the foundation of a military state whose existence could only be guaranteed via continuous acquisition of booty and expansion. Osman transformed his small tribal area into a fast spreading military state.

Osman’s name became a legend and his tribe was called Osman or Ot­toman (osmanli in Turkish). An official Army, lead by an Ottoman Beyler­bey, had to be set up to make continuous conquests. The titles of Beyler­bey of Rumelia (Europe) and Anatolia were given after the larger con­quests.

The economy was based on inherited agriculture of high level. The Greek, Armenian and Slav farmers implemented irrigation-based agriculture and developed fruit cultures where conditions were appropriate for it. When the Byzantine were defeated, farmers stayed and the aristocracy left the place. They only had to pay the tax per capita of non-Muslims, called dz­sizje, to their new landlords and it was inferior to the Byzantine taxes. The policy of expansion was continued by Orhan (1326-1360), son of Osman, as well.
The Byzentyne Empire involved in bloody inheritance fights and eco­nomic troubles could not show resistance.   The Balkans (Rumelia in Turk­ish) weakened by the interventions of Hungary, Venice and Genova and hit by constant internal fights and conflicts, was also preferred as a target of conquest.

The separatist monarchs and counter-monarchs called on the Ottoman troops to help them against each other. Orhan took advantage of it and intervened in the Byzantine fights for power, handed the throne over to one the claimers to the Byzantine thrown, his father-in-law,  and when his protégé was deprived of power, he invaded Gallipoli and the major part of the Northern coast of the Sea of Marmora in 1354. In the meantime, he successfully expanded in Central-Anatolia and occupied Ankara in 1354.

The troops of Sultan Murad I. occupied Adrianople (Edirne in Turkish), the second most important Byzantine city.  It became the centre of the new sultanate in 1356 to indicate that the central power had been transferred to Europe. The Ottomans defeated the united army of the Serb mini-states by the river Marica in 1371 and the lords of the Serb regions admitted Sultan Murad as their overload after each other. The Turks took hold of the cities of Sofia, Nis and Saloniki as well. The Ottomans overcame the Serb-Bechen-Bulgarian-Albanian troops again at the Fight of Kosovo in 1389. The troop of numeric superiority could not resist the exceptionally well-organized Ottoman Army.
The Turkish troops destroyed the Southern borderlands of Hungary on a regular basis. The Pan-European horse-man army lead by king Sigismund was badly defeated in the Battle of Nikopol. This tragedy made power re­lations clear. It demonstrated that Hungary was unable to pursuit attack­ing successful fights with her allies for long on the Balkans between these conditions and the Turkish power could not be easily cut down from Europe.

Sultan Murad II. (1451-1481) could be stopped neither by the Hungari­an feudalistic and Balkan’s buffer states system, neither by János Hun­yadi’s achievements, nor by the revolt lead by Skander beg (George of Castriot). In addition, the Ottomans made their positions stronger for cen­turies after the Battle of Kosovo.

Sultan Mohamed II. (1451-1481) inherited an Empire of 5,000 hectares at the age of 21 when he came to power in 1451. It was Mohammed II. Who transformed the Ottoman Empire a superpower and he was given the name of Conqueror (Fatih in Turkish) by posterity. Mohammed II. occu­pied the declining Constantinople in 1453. A new capital was born on the ruins of the old one with the name of Istanbul.

The occupation of Hungary was prevented by the victory of János Hunyadi in Nándorfehérvár (present Belgrade) and later, Mathias Hunyadi crossed the Ottoman conquering plans with his Black Army. From 1472, the Black-Sea became Ottoman territory as the Crimean Tartar Khanate was also in­vaded. In 1512 Selim, the Grim (Yavuz in Turkish) occupied the sacred Muslim places like Jerusalem, Medina and Mecca and the annexation of Egypt also brought along the title of Caliph. By attaining this rank, an Em­pire who sovereign possessed both the mundane and religious leadership, became the neighboring country of Hungary. In 1520 Suleiman sultan (1520-1566) of bad memories to Hungarians came to power.

Islam in Hungary in the 150 years of Ottoman occupancy

Suleiman sultan paid his first complete visit to Buda Castle in Septem­ber of 1526. He stayed here on holiday on his way to Vienna three years later and returned for a few days a month later accompanied by his escap­ing troops and driven by a painful defeat but with the image of a victori­ous captain. The Ottoman Empire was constituted by territorial units perti­nent to two types of structure: the regions with directly connected to the central administrative organization and vassal states of autonym gover­nance. He never annexed the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom to his Em­pire but he handed it over to his vassal, John Szapolyai. However, king John I. died and it was not sure that the aristocracy loyal to the baby king, Sigismund John, could protect his rights. Suleiman I. sultan, also referred to as Magnificent or Lawmaker, Kanuni in Turkish) decisively intervened the Hungarian political events. He defeated and put to flight Ferdinand’s troops close to Buda, occupied in with a trick and annexed it to the Ot­toman Empire. As it is well-known, the country was parted into three parts. The central part of the country, which is described in Hungarian his­tory books as the 150 years of Ottoman occupancy, belongs to our area of interest. After the takeover of Buda, the territory of the areas under Ottoman annexation was gradually increasing and, thus, only the areas of the first annexation could get well-integrated to the Empire. Both the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary were protected by a long chain of border fortresses.
Upon the establishment of the Turkish military presence, immigration immediately started to the occupied areas both from the internal parts of the Empire but especially from the Balkans.
Turks, Muslim Bechenes, Albanians and Balkan Christians came as craftsmen, traders and leaders of Islamic faith. There is no evidence that Muslim would have been relocated here which was common of the Balkan states previously occupied. The number of Muslim settlers was small in the Northern part of the Balkans, and there was no persons left for this purpose in Hungary. All the immigrant civilians arrived to these dangerous regions on a voluntary basis. The immigrants did not move to villages or country towns free of Turkish military station, but to localities where sol­diers of the Turkish Army had permanent residence because they needed the services they were used to such as tailors, bakers, professionals to build and operate baths, etc. Not all the immigrants were Muslims, many of them were Christians who cooperated with the Turks. This immigration also brought about the arrival of the Serbs known as ‘rác’ in Hungarian. Muslim colonies were set up fast and the construction of large number of Koranic schools, Mosques and common baths was started but just a re­stricted number of them has been preserved up to now. As additional in­formation it can be mentioned that 189 houses out of 374 houses be­longed to Muslims in Vác. The number of Hungarian inhabitants was very small in the towns under Turkish occupancy.
The Turkish-Hungarian city image reflected its people and age. The castle, the city walls with the cannons on the top of it, the barracks and arsenals did not leave any doubt that it is a war period.
The Hungarian district had maximum 2 Churches with ground floor buildings that gave shelter to poor families who lived in a very hard age. The Castle and the Muslim district gave place to clean but a bit battered mosques, large mosques, baths and the domes of Koranic schools along with a series of transformed buildings that indicated the fusion of the two cultures. The market was on one part, while the bazaar extended on the other part. Streets evoked the call of the muezzin, the bells of the belfry and the mixture of Hungarian, Slav and Turkish words. The conquerors slowly but surely transformed the city image according to their taste. The only difference between the non-occupied and the occupied areas was the presence of large mosques and minarets. Christian Churches were con­verted into mosques so that the conquerors could have place to practice their faith without delay. Thus, the pictures of saints were removed; the status, the altar and all the decorations were taken out of the building. The direction of prayer towards Mecca was indicated. The construction of the minaret was started by the side of the church already transformed into mosque. The removal of the bell from the belfry was also among the proper transformations. Benches were also removed and replaced by carpets inside the mosque. The platform used for Friday service (minbar) was built from stone or log close to the niche inside the wall of a mosque (mihrab) which indicates the direction of prayer towards Mecca i.e. the Kibla. It only referred to large mosques as this was the only building where the Friday prayer ie. Khutba could be held.
Mosques only served for the daily 5 prayers. Large mosques were usually united to libraries, primary schools and high schools (medreses). Public baths were new elements and Buda became a well-known centre of them regardless that most regional centers disposed of them. The conquerors preferred transforming houses according to their taste to constructing new ones.

The Balkan craftsmen and traders, who settled down here, used the Oriental tradition, close to the Hungarian one, founded guilds and lived in separated districts and streets. This segregation also referred to religions as the large number of Jews resident in Buda also had a separate district that gave placed to Synagogues, baths and schools. Muslims’ religious life was charged to imams and their assistants who arrived from the Empire or on voluntary basis.
Many times, the imams also played the role of the leaders (hatib) of the Friday service.
There were also muezzins, hafizes and vaizes i.e. preachers who replied to the believers’ questions based on the knowledge available in their libraries. As Friday prayers were also regarded as a kind of political statement, the hatibs always asked for the benediction onto the sultan-caliph name.   

Besides the state religious institution, there were also private religious schools, tabernacles and dervish convents. Several wealthy people such as pashas and grand vizier, made significant financial sacrifice to establish, maintain and enlarge these institutions. These entities were comprised of the dervish convent of Bektas, so called tekke, their medresses, guest houses and shrines. Gül Baba’s shrine, located on Buda’s Roses’ hill, was the most famous of all.  Eger gave place to the convent of Hizir Baba, known only from travel descriptions and Idrisz Baba’s shrine was Pécs’ point of interest. The Turkish Traveller, Evlia Cselebe, narrated about five monastery complexes also referred to as tekke of Bektas in Székesfehérvár.

A worship place or shrine, called türbe, was built above Suleiman sultan’s grave. All these constructions are known from descriptions. Pécs also had another Tekke of Bektas whose ruins are actually in Tettye.
Szokoli Musztafa (1566-1578), pasha of Buda and cousin of the great vizier, Mehmed Szokoli, made the largest economic sacrifice for the Turkish architecture and the religion of Islam. Musztafa Szokoli lead the vilayet of Buda, it was the longest period that a pasha of Buda filled this position.  Almost all the pashas of Buda left relevant memories: Rustem Pasha (1559-1563) had a mosque, medresses and baths built in Esztergom. The name of Murteza pasha of Buda shall also be noted as he ordered the construction and renovation of large mosques, baths, castle and castle walls in many regional centres besides Buda.

Turkish property system in the Ottoman era

The territorial units of the Turkish Empire belonged to two kinds of structure: provinces directly connected to the central administrative orga­nization and the feudalistic states of autonomic internal governance such as the Monarchy of Transylvania.

• Lands owned by the state or the treasury also called as khas land per­tinent to the Sultan humiyyan. These lands were areas whose revenue had significant value both in cash and in yield. These lands were also re­garded as supply sources to the garrison. These lands enjoyed a privileged status and, as the majority of the country towns of the Great Plain be­longed to this category, those deprived of this title tried to get hold of this privilege. These cities also had some kind of autonomy and the taxes were usually collected in one amount, thus, no marauding Turkish or Tartar troops could disturb the inhabitants. 12 cities belonged to the category in the area of the occupied Hungarian state.

• The other part of the land which originally was also owned by the state, preserved its status of feudalistic territory. However, it seems more logic to call this kind of land system as ’beneficium’ which was specifically typi­cal of Eastern state forms. It can also be referred to as ’Asian production method’ but this is not the topic of this book. These Turkish ’beneficiums’ were registered in three categories according to the volume e purpose of use:
for central dignities like pasha hasleri and sanjakbei hasleri, dignities of smaller rank like defter kethudasi and ziamets and to soldier, usually to spahis.

This land system reflects the hierarchy of the Ottoman Empire whose smaller model can be found in the occupied area. This territory division also affected the political-, economic- and intellectual life. The Sultan’s khas lands, that corresponded to the country towns of the Great Plain, pil­lars of Protestantism.

It is important to note even private properties usually owned by pious foundations and served especially educational Islamic purposes. A part of the public baths and the dervish convents also worked like this. Private properties were called mülk, while those financed by foundations and the religious organizations were referred to as mülk, Hungary had no mülk property, however, the ecclesiastic-vakuf system was widely spread.

The Islamization of the Turkish occupancy

Apart from the Turkish areas, the Hungarian Christian regions were much involved in the fights of Protestantism and anti-Protestantism. So, Islam was not attractive regardless that non-Muslims were not obliged to pay the poll-tax called jizye. The other reason for the lack of interest in Is­lam compared with the Balkan states was the existence of Royal Hungary constituted by a small part of the original country and the Monarchy of Transylvania was also autonomic.

The proof for the supposedly South-Slav origins of the major part of Muslims was their ignorance of the Turkish language. These Muslims did not even speak Arabic, the language of worship and most of the common people were married to Christians. This phenomenon was spread even among the soldiers of Turkish origins. Polygamy was not wildly practiced.
The children born to these couples were of Islamic faith and Hungarian language. Muslim soldiers drank wine produced in their own cellars and only the dislike of pork meat prevented them from taking hold of all the Hungarian traditions. Their way of dressing became similar to the Hungari­an one and even the Turkish nobility used Hungarian in their com­munications with the Hungarian aristocrats and the population that lived in the occupied areas. The Correspondence of the Pashas of Buda also demonstrates this fact. It can be concluded that the Muslim citizens of the Ottoman Empire were more influenced by Hungary culture as reverse.

A man of Hungarian origins could become Muslims in three ways: con­version on voluntary basis, by becoming a slave and embracing Islam in return of his freedom, or raped as a chilled and educated as a Muslim. This latter did not imply that the child was educated as janissary. Here are three historic examples to demonstrate it.

With regard to the origins of the soldiers recruited to Buda Castle, 52 per­sons out of 1558 are Hungarians i.e. 6.4% of them. 28 of the 52 Turkish soldiers of Hungarian origins embraced Islam. However, the majority of the group is made up of Balkan nations with a large number of renegades. 20% of 148 voluntary renegades were orphans and got Islamized for this reason, while 80% chose it as a way of success. In case of the 28 Hungari­ans, the soldiers’ list includes their Hungarian origins and their conversion to Islam i.e. madzsar oglan: Hungarian boy and iszlama gelip/gelmis or müszülman olmus- reverted to Islam.
At the beginning of the 1570ies, a detailed description was made on Vác properties. The name of a Hungarian boy, whose Muslim name was Per­vane Abdullah and he embraced Islam as the liberated slave a certain Memi, belonged to the fourth tenth of the müszthfiz (Turkish foot soldier). The descriptions on Vác houses say that his father’s name was János Csiszár.
 The family house, located in the district denominated from the Mosque of Hasan voivod (leader), was inherited by this reverted Muslim man after his father’s death.
Many times, people had the only opportunity of military carrier to get on in life. The orphans with no living family members, who did not even recall their childhood and whose number was of 21 in 1558, belonged to this category. The 80% of them were renegades i.e. Christian boys who took hold of the only opportunity i.e. military carrier to attain independent after losing all his close and remote family members.
Most of the time, their destiny moves researchers to compassion like the carrier of that boy from Székesfehérvár who started to serve the Army as a Turkish soldier in the Castle of his birthplace. However, it rarely oc­curred and most of the reverted Hungarians tried to stay away from the place where they spent their childhood. The life story of this boy is out­standing because, as a new renegade, he was immediately employed at the most elite group of soldiers, the müsztahfiz i.e. foot soldiers. His carri­er can be explained by a short stage of his life when he had worked as a bath assistant in the Turkish bath. Due to his enthusiasm, he found a sup­porter of high rank who attained him the highest available position. If it happened in this way, it was the reason why he stayed in his birthplace because he filled the same position the following year as well. An early data indicates that the müsztafins based in Székesfehérvár had 6 Hungari­an soldiers converted to Islam that equaled to 0.6% of all the müsztahfiz. Given that only two years had passed by since the Turkish occupancy, it seems logic that this rate increased in the following years. Even Hungarian Christian soldiers, who served the Turkish Army, appeared. Regardless of the rise of Islamization, the most optimistic estimations suggest that the number of Muslims did not exceed the 3-5% of the total population; this estimated data alludes to the Hungarian reverts. This number was in­creased by the Hungarianized Balkan Muslims that settled down here.

Christian prisoners had a more vulnerable situation than orphans. If their owner freed them either for money or for a good deed of salvation, they embraced Islam in return and became soldiers. One would think that freed prisoners regarded conversion and the military carrier as the price of free­dom and they escaped as soon as they could owing to the instable situa­tion and constant fights. However, it did not happen. In 1558, all the freed prisoners or those transported to the castles are at their place without ex­ception. Another example of getting out of slavery is shown here in the letter of a Hungarian penman: “I’m a Christian person who was captured as a child along with my father who rescued himself and I was brought up as Turkish. Then, I was educated at a Turkish school where I studied.” The education of Student John of Buda was financed by Arslan pasha of Buda to provide service at the Chancellery. The penmen and secretaries of the pashas of Buda were all educated Hungarian renegades.
The majority of the converts educated in the janissary- and seraglio schools had a more magnificent clerk carrier than the penmen of the same fate who worked in the periphery of the Empire, the Ottoman border cas­tles and garrisons.
The renegade interpreters of the Sultan were highly appreciated at the Sultan’s Court who played major roles in Ottoman diplomacy that over passed translating and interpreting duties.
The Emperor’s dragomen were regarded the clerks of Foreign Affairs of highest rank within Ottoman diplomacy. The change of religion and the service of the sultan at higher level determined their lives for ever and we do not have any information on their disloyalty to the Islamic religion or the sultan. It is interesting to note what has been preserved from their traditions, language and how it manifested in their religious debates.

Hereby, a revert interpreter and diplomat’s life of Hungarian origins and language is described and a Muslim dragoman of German mother tongue was one of his colleagues.
Murad dragoman was born in Nagybánya and his original name was Balázs Somlyai.
Apart from his diplomatic activity, Murad effendi was also a writer and a poet and he acquired reputation as the only well-known Ottoman-Turkish poet who writes in Hungarian in the history of literature. His Hymn is the only Islamic faith document in the 16th century that joins the controversial Christian debates from an Islamic viewpoint. Murad, i.e. Balázs Somlyai, was 17 years old at the time of Mohács battle, he was captured by the Turks and embraced Islam by his own will. In 1573 Stephan Gerlach, in the company of Dávid Ungnád, Ambassador to Turkey, met him and came to know Murad used to study in Vienna. Murad could often had met the members of Christian delegation whose friendship he sought on purpose. In 1551 Murad arrived in Transylvania and he was imprisoned by the Habs­burg troops for 30 months after the assassination of George Martin­uzzi. The strength of Murad’s faith is demonstrated by his insistence on his chosen faith regardless of threats or persuasion. 
He was not the only Ottoman prison of those times. Sources speak about several detained military colonels along with the Chief colonel, Mehmet. As the names Mehmed and Mahmud are often confused, it is possible that Mahmus, The Turkish Muslim dragoman of Austrian origins, and Murad were captured together by general Castaldo.

Murad was rescued by Rustem pasha himself, who introduced him to Suleiman sultan and designated him to the position of interpreter of the Court and translator of Latin-Hungarian documents. Murad worked as the interpreter of the Sultan from 1553. Murad made notes of his Hungarian works with Arabic letters. It is also known that Murad himself translated historical pieces of art as well. He was 75 when he made friends with the members of the Emperor’s delegation of 1584-’85. One of the delegates describes Murad beg as a cultured person who speaks several languages like Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Latin, Hungarian and Croatian and he only relates that Murad was dismissed from his job because of his excessive love for wine. Murad translated the Ottoman-Turkish Chronicle into Latin and it was also used by Western authors. Just a few people know that this piece of art, work of a Hungarian renegade interpreter, was the source of Western readers interested in Ottoman history and traditions for long.

Contemporary politicians came across the problems of religion both in the West and in the East. The Ottomans often had a pragmatic view on the religious fights of the conquered countries. They preferred to avoid giving their opinion on religious debates, however, when they could not, they supported the one who had better position and served their interests more.
Regardless of it, it is indubitable that the thoughts of Protestantism spread much faster under their reign and the religious tolerance of Islam extend­ed also to the most radical Protestant congregations as well. Muslims pre­ferred not to participate in Christian theological debates.
However, this general mistrust towards Christians, i.e. the statement aforesaid, did not characterize to the renegade diplomats who contacted the intellectual of their country of origins on a constant basis. It is rare though, but it was not occasional that Murad got involved in the debate among Christians.

It is well-known that some radical Protestant intellectual ended up through Transylvania in Istanbul where they set up a kind of Unitarian “lobby” by the end of 1570. The most famous anti-Trinitarian of Istanbul was Ádám Neuser, a refugee of Heidelberg, who embraced Islam as the fi­nal point of his spiritual development.

Murád’s art heritage is Islamic religious literature. His prose and poetry were destined to a Christian public ‘to raise their interest in Islam’.  His Hymn written in three languages, namely in Latin, Hungarian and Turkish, dates back to the beginning of the 1580ies.
Its central idea is the introduction of an Islamic Devine doctrine in accor­dance with Hebrew scriptures and the Gospel. The poem is free from any violence, sense of superiority or intent of conversion and it stresses the importance of a religious life style as the basis of religion.
Islam is represented as a universal religion that can be embraced even by believers of monotheism, like Christians, who reject extremist dogmatism with a free mind. It is striking how much the poem follows the Protestant argumentation: ‘ As the Scriptures say that we may not know Him until we know ourselves, yet if we knew our nothingness, because there is only Him, nothing else, and by being aware of it, we would know Him.’ Even the Transylvanian Christian custodians regarded Murad as a pious Muslim and called him as “türk papasi” i.e. “Turkish priest” who also had knowl­edge about the Jewish Scriptures and the Gospel. The universal character of Murad’s poem and his intention to render Islam popular and acceptable to other Christians was based on the Anti-Trinitarian intellectual back­ground which he made part of along with his superior, Mahmud, and the renegade Unitarian Neuser in Istanbul in the 1570ies. However, the mes­sage of the poem can also be interpreted as a reply to the Christian inten­tion of unifying religions. To Murád’s view just one religious univer­salism may prevail on this Earth: Islam.

Pijale pasha’s name who was also of Hungarian origins and a revert Muslim with notable military carrier, should also be noted. Stephan Ger­lach narrates about Pijale pasha in his travel description on Istambul writ­ten in 1554,  that he was taken away as a child after Mohács Battle and he was born in the town of Tolna. Pijale pasha was given the title of San­jak beg by Suleiman sultan in 1554 and he was also appointed as the Commanding Officer. Finished his studies at the Sultan school, and he be­came the commander of the swiss association. The first designated pasha of Buda, Vieser Suleiman pasha, was also of Hungarian origins, but little information is available on him. He was the pasha of Buda from 2nd of September, 1541 to the middle of February, 1542 when he died.

The South-Slav gypsies of Orthodox religion, who settled down in Hun­gary, should also be noted: some of them reverted to Islam and also chose a Muslim name. It is proved by the population counting and street name collection of Buda done by the Ottomans. Many Christians did not embrace Islam because the Church proclaimed the refusal of Christianity and the embrace of Islam as the greatest sin. The renegade lost all his hope to salvation and the eternal sufferings of Hell were awaiting him af­ter his death. As Christian teachings strongly stressed the punishment of the Hereafter, consequently, conversion also equaled to
an issue of conscience.

Based on the information above, it can be stated that those who em­braced Islam, the religion of their capturers, did so after much struggle of conscience and of pure conviction. The opponent parties i.e. Muslim Turks and Christian Hungarians mutually regarded each other Pagans and armed conflicts were based on the defense of the only true religion according to the parties’ belief. ‘This nation has so harsh method of negotiation that one hates them’- wrote Gáspár Tassi on the Turks at the peace negotia­tions of Szőny.
Unlike, the Turks made similar up-stage statements on the Christian faith calling it ‘meaningless’ and ‘crazy tradition’ and described churches as ‘the gathering place of the Satan of Hell’. Christians were given the name of ‘disbelievers and disbelieving beings’. However, hatred was more apparent than real. The conquered Hungarians considered Muslim Turks as oppres­sors and not as the propagator of the Islamic faith.
The Turks did not intervene in the Catholic-Protestant fights, they would rather observe them with indifference, and this friendly indifference espe­cially towards the Protestants, lead to the compilation of enthusiastic but naïve projects of converting Muslims into Protestantism in the 16th centu­ry.

Religious debates

The areas under Turkish occupancy enjoyed complete religious freedom at the times of harsh Protestant or other, non-Christian persecutions. Muslim Turks did not intervene in the ‘disbelievers’ traditions, however, it happened many times that Turkish begs or the pasha of Buda were asked to play the role of arbiter in the event of religious debates. Such debate took place between a Unitarian clergyman and a Protestant priest in the presence of Mustafa Sokollu in 1574.

Its precedence goes back to 4 years before when a theological debate had taken place in Nagyharsány with alternating success. It had also had trag­ic consequences as one of the Unitarian clergymen were hung by the audi­ence and other, called Tolnai, escaped to Pécs.
When coming to know this news, Mustafa pasha summoned on Vörösmar­ty, the Protestant Archbishop, his companions and the Unitarians. The pasha of Islamic faith agreed with the Unitarians and sentenced the Protestants to death. However, the Protestants were saved by their Uni­tarian opponents and asked the pasha of Buda to grant him mercy. This is one of the most famous religious debates whose history has been pre­served up today.

The 150 years of the Occupancy demonstrates that the Islamic faith does not intend to convert people by force. Many Muslim families stayed here after the expulsion of the Turks and they got baptized later on. One of the most outstanding Muslim cities of Hungary is Eger, when the Turk­ish military station surrendered and left it, a detailed note was made on those who wished to stay there.

These notes record 23 Muslims with family and 13 single Muslim men. All the family men were married to just one wife and they were probably Hungarians. The same data refers to the inhabitants of all bigger Sanjak centers.30% of the remaining population could be Muslim and of Hungari­an mother tongue who were all forced by the Jesuits to embrace Chris­tianity 1-2 decades after. It can be declared that almost 20% of the popu­lation of the occupied Hungarian territories was of Islamic faith and it was mainly comprised of South-Slav, Hungarian and Turkish people. Haas’ de­scription speaks about the baptism of 220 Arians and Turks between
1686 and 1688. In January of 1686 18 Turks were converted and 26 fol­lowed them later on which can be proved by family- and geographical names. These data is frequent especially in Eger and its surroundings. Large mosques, mosques and schools were destroyed as all memories on Paganism were rejected. Unfortunately, several hundreds of these build­ings were demolished and the barbaric destruction was mainly motivated by the ‘hunger for money’. These buildings included Suleiman sultan’s place of worship in Turbék, the copper, plumb or bronze cover of large mosques. After the Peace of Tarlóc was made in 1699, the Islamic religion was no more significantly represented in the Hungarian society. It is proba­ble that there were some Eastern traders or pilgrim who went to Gül Baba’s shrine.

It is interesting though that a battalion of 200 persons, made up of Crimean Tartars and lead byMiklós Andrássy, the dervish general and ex-monk of white cloth, also participated in Rákóczi’s revolution. Imre Thököly, Ilony Zrínyi and the immigrants of the Rákóczi revolution found shelter and protection on Muslim, Turkish lands, as the controversies had already ceased between the two nations. Even the person who implemented book publishing in Turkey was a revert Muslim called Ibrahim Müteferrika who got to Turkish land during the Rákóczi emigration. He was born in Cluj Napoca, called Kolozsvár in Hungarian, in 1674 and he was originally a student of Protestant theology. His press published 17 pieces of art. His original Hungarian name is unknown.


The memories of Turkish Occupancy in Hungary

Babócsa

-Turkish pond
- rests of Turkish steam bath and palace
. ceramic kiln
- houses
- the narcissi garden of the pasha of Buda that has European reputation

Buda

-Gül Baba’s shrine and place of worship (Budapest, 2nd district, Mecset str. 18-20)
-Császár (Veli bej) bath (Budapest, 2nd district, Frankel Leó str. 31.)
-Király (Kakaskapu) bath (Budapest, 1st district, Fő str. 82-86.)
-Rudas (Jesli direkli) bath (Budapest, 1st district, Döbrentei Square 9.)
-Rác (Debbagháne Ibidzsaszi) bath (Budapest, 1st district, Hadnagy str. 8-10.)
-Prayer niche (mihrab) in Downtown Parish Church  (Budapest, 5th dis­trict, Március 15. Square)
-Rests of Tojgun pasha’s great mosque (Budapest, 1st district, Fő str. 30-32.Capucine Church
-Karakas pasha’s bastion (Budapest, 1st district, Attila str.)
-Kászim pasha’s bastion (Rondella’s of Fehérvár) (Budapest, 1st district, before the tnnel)
-Savanyú leves bastion (Budapest, 1st district, Castle)
-Veli bej’s tower (Budapest, 1st district, Castle)
-Esztergom bastion Földbástya, Toprak kulesi (Budapest, 1st district, Cas­tle)
-Sziavus pasha’s bastion (Budapest, 1st district, Castle)
-Murad pasha’s bastion (Budapest, 1st district, Castle)
-House rest, house of the commander of the defensive janizarries of the Vienna gate (18 Fortuna str., "Janicsár Aga street")
-House rest (5 Tárnok str. "Orta large mosque street")
-The capital has many Museums rich of memories of the Turkish era.
-The Castle preserves the memorial tablet of the last pasha of Buda, Ar­naut Abdurrahman Abdi pasha and it indicates his heroic deathplace when Buda was occupied again.
-The Hungarian National Museum disposes of another Turkish memory of Buda Castle, Mahmud pasha’s bastion on which there is also a memory tablet which was written in Turkish but with Arabic letters. Its translation says as it follows:

’Asaf of great power, defender of Budin country, a Vieser of much praise, the honorable and great, constructed this tower as an indicator of direc­tion. This place is envied by a hundred suns and a hundred moons. It will never be destroyed till the Last Day comes. Alhamdoulillah! The tower of the Moon’s Castle has found a defender. In the year 1078.’ (written in 1668), Eger

-Ruins of Valide sultana’s Turkish bath
-The minaret of Kethüda large mosque (3 Dózsa György Square)
-Arnaut pasha’s bath (2 Fürdő str.)

Érd

-Minaret of Hamza begh’s large mosque (Érd, Ófalu, Mecset str.)

Esztergom

-Suleiman sultan’s victory tablet inside the city wall of Viziváros
-Ozicseli Hadzsi Ibrahim’s large mosque built inside a house (Eszter­gom, 18-20 Berényi Zsigmond str.)

Pécs

-Jakovali Hassan pasha’s large mosque (2 Rákóczi str.)
-Gazi Kasim’s large mosque (Széchényi Square)
-Turkish well and ritual wash basin (Rókushegy)
-Turkish well (inside the wall of 23 Vak Bottyán str.)
-Memi pasha’s bath (35 Ferencesek str.)
-Idris Baba’s shrine, Turkish shrine (8 Nyár str.)
-Southern tower gate of the Castle (Barbakán)
-Great Tower of the Castle
-Ahmed aga’s memory tablet int he South-Western tower of the Cathedral

Siklós

-Malkocs bej’s large mosque (16 Kossuth Square)

Szigetvár

-Suleiman sultan’s large mosque with incomplete minaret (Szigetvár, Cas­tle)
-Ali pasha’s large mosque (Parish Church) (Szigetvár, Zrínyi Square)
-Quranic School (Szigetvár, 3 Bástya str.)
-Some parts of the Castle
Törökkoppány

-Turkish fountain
-Tombstones with turbane
-Lavatory

Zsámbék

-Turkish fountain (Táncsics str.)

The pashas of Buda


The names of some pashas of Buda appear several times as the owner of the position. There were some who filled this vacancy for a few months and there were periods when other pashas of Hungary held the position on a temporarily basis until the new pasha of Buda was designated. It was a high position in the Empire an, thus, the great lands pertinent to it and giving the provision required for this position, were also split up year by year. The list of the pashas of Buda also demonstrates it.

The Ottoman central governance sent 70 pashas to Buda Castle over the 141 years of Turkish reign. The commission of twenty eight of them was repeated, so, personal changes to the vilajet administration were made 98 times. The average period of change was of 18 months.

The number in parenthesis refers to the times the person filled the posi­tion of pasha of Buda with omissions.

The list:

Viesir Suleiman pasha
Kucsuk Bali pasha
Jahjapasadze Muhammed pasha
Kasim pasha (2)
Chadim pasha (2)
Tojgun pasha (2)
Hadzsi Muhamed pasha
Güzeldzse Rusztem pasha
Zal Mahmud pasha
Iszkander pasha
Arslan pasha
Viesir Sokolli Mustafa pasha
Kara Oveis pasha
Viesír Kalailikoz Ali pasha (2)
Frank Jusuf pasha (2)
Ferhad pasha
Sofi Sinan pasha (2)
Sinanpasadze Muhammed pasha (2)
Muhammedpasadze Viesír Hassan pasha
Michalidzslü Ahmed pasha (3)
Ali pasha
Suleiman pasha
Viesir Teriaki Hassan pasha (3)
Lala Muhammed pasha (2)
Mankirkusi Muhammed pasha
Viesir Kadidze Ali pasha (3)
Begtas pasha
Boshnak Mustafa pasha
Sefer pasha
Viesir Sofi Muhammed pasha (5)
Viesir Nakkas Hassan pasha
Karakas Muhammed pasha
Viesir Kenán pasha
Deli Dervis pasha
Bebr Muhammed pasha
Viesir Murteza pasha
Viesir Adjem Hassan pasha
Viesir Beiam pasha (2)
Viesir Musa pasha (3)
Viesir Hussein pasha
Viesir Jafer pasha
Naszuhpasadze Vezír Husszein pasha
Vezír Tabani jaszi Muhammed pasha
Vezír Ipsír Musztafa pasha
Vezír Szilihdár Musztafa pasha
Vezír Oszmán pasha
Vezír Deli Husszein pasha (2)
Vezír Nakkás Musztafa pasa
Vezír Murteza pasa
Hamzapasadze Vezír Muhammed pasa (2)
Viesir Fasli pasha (2)
Viesir Sziiavus pasha
Viesir Murad pasha
Viesir Sari Kenan pasha
Viesir Gurji Kenan pasha (4)
Viesir Szeidi Ahmed pasha
Viesir Bosnak Ismail pasha
Viesir Sari Hussein pasha
Viesir Gurji Muhammed pasha
Viesir Jerrah Kasin pasha
Viesir Sohrab Muhammed pasha
Viesir Mahmud pasha
Viesir Arnaut Uzun Ibrahim pasha (3)
Janpuladzade Viesir Hussein pasha
Viesir Suiolji Ali pasha
Viesir Chalil pasha
Viesir Kara Muhammed pasha
Viesir Seitan Ibrahim pasha
Viesir Arnaut Abdi Abdurrahman pasha

Many of the pashas of Buda aforesaid were of Albanian origins, their ad­jective ’arnaut’ also alludes to it, but there were also Gaussians, Bech­enes, Circassian, Russian, Abkhazian and Persian. The Albanians and Bechenes represented themselves in large number; the pashas of Turkish origins are less. Ono ne hand, it reflects the Islamic concept on the sec­ondary role of origins, on the other hand, it also supports that the Balkan influence was of major significance on the European continent, as it could also be seen in the case of the ethnicity of the defenders of borderline fortresses.

It shall only be noted that many of them attained the rank of great vieser.


Evlia Chelebi, the Turkish world traveler, on his trips to Hungary
(1660-1664)

He writes on Pécs:

It has seven Muslim districts. It only has one Christian district outside the city wall. The city’s population is lack of Hungarians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greek, Armenians and Germans but there are Jews. All together, it has 2200 Islamic houses. It has 17 places of worship. Gazi Kasim pasha’s large mosque is so large and beautiful as the dome of Selim sultan’s large mosque in Istanbul. There are also ten mosques, six convents and three baths. The hussar speak inteligeble and eloquent Hungarian.”

On Szekszárd:
This town has four places of worship altogether. Its population is com­posed of Bechenes of the borderline.

On Buda:

The whole population of Buda is made up of Bosnian Bechenes who speak clear Hungarian. 


’Intermediary period’

Prior to the occupancy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ármin Vámbéry’s name must be mentioned, whose Islamic name was Rasid Efendi. The Tartar servant, Ishak, famous all over the world also was a representative of Is­lam in contemporary Hungary. Vámbéry, the lame dervish, was a member of the Academy of Science of Hungary and the Turkish teacher of ELTE University of Budapest. He received help thanks to his Ottoman-Turkish relationships to travel around Central-Asia in an Ottoman-Turkish dress.
His later student, Gyula Germanus who was also a Muslim, writes on this as follows: „his thirst of knowledge took him to Timurlenk’s grave, to the wild and uneducated Nomads of the Central-Asian deserts and his dervish cloth with the heart of a Hungarian hero.” He joined the Hajj caravan of Bokhara as Rasid Effendi in 1861. He got to Khíva and, then, to Bokhara through Erzurum, Tabriz and the Caspian-Sea. He arrived back to Hungary through Samarkand, Mesheden and Tehran in 1864. He had very signifi­cant, pioneering results related to geography, ethnography of Central-Asia and Turkish philology.
Several European scientific societies chose him as their member of hon­our. Pasha Miksa Herz of Hungarian origins embraced Islam at the end of the 19th century and founded the Arabic Museum of Cairo, today’s Muse­um of Islamic Arts, and later he became the Minister of Religious Affairs.

The islamization of the immigrants of the Revolution and War of Indepen­dence of 1848-’49

The aftermaths of the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-’49 should also be noted because many Hungarian- and Polish soldiers, who tried to escape from the gallows, prison or forced recruitment, embraced Islam. The first days 238 persons, divided by nationality, 216 Hungarians including 8 women, 7 Polish, 15 Italians, 3 generals, 3 colonels and sub colonels, 60 other Chief officers, 172 warrant officers and common sol­diers, and a delegate, János Balogh, embraced Islam. Later on, several people chose the Islamic faith along with the Turkish nationality. It’s suffi­cient to mention the names of the following generals: Joseph Bem, Richard Guyon, George Kmetty. The Hungarian- and Polish revolutionists proved their bravery and perseverance. Both the Austrian- and the Rus­sian governments strongly claimed the extradition of the immigrants and this claim was also accompanied by threats. Abdul-Medzsid, the  sultan on power, directly denied it and he declared in the Divan, the Council of the Sultan: Allahu Akbar, I trust his protection. If I have to die, I should do so honestly. I will not play away my honour by transgressing the rules of hospitality and giving out those unfortunate persons who sought shelter here from the revenge of our enemies. They will find shelter here, whatev­er happens. I won’t give them out. This is my will. May it be. Get prepared to protect them.”
General Bem was given the name of Amurat or Murad and the rank of pasha. Zemoski, Polish general, commented his conversion as follows: I understand that one makes all efforts for his country, but he should not leave his religion!” „My religion is my country”-replied Bem. Bem lead the reorganization of the Ottoman Army for a while and, then, he was sent to Aleppo. In 1850 he fought for the Syrian Christians against the Druze. He left this word with these words on 10th of December, 1850: „Poland, I will never free you again…” Bem’s ashes were transported from the Syrian city of Aleppo to his birthplace, Tarnow, in Poland. The train getting to the Railway Station of Keleba marched through Hungary in triumph. His coffin was laid out on the stairs of the National Museum. The decision of com­memorating him with a statue was made at this time. The arrival of Bem’s ashes was awaited enthusiastically. However, he was denied to rest in „Christian Polish land”. Six huge pillars raise the stone sarcophage con­taining the rests of pasha Bem-Amurat. Three generations are proud of him.
Count Maximilan Stein was given the name of Ferhad along with the rank of pasha. General George Kmetty became Ismail pasha. One can also mention Luis Tüköry, respected as a revolutionary hero in Italy. He partici­pated with the name of Selim effendi as first horse-lieutenant and partici­pated in the Crimean War as the military assistant of Guyon and Kmetty. He was given the rank of lieutenant commander and left the Army in 1858 and joined the Hungarian legion in Italy.
The life of John Pap, later retired court office director, was typical among Hungarian Muslims. After the defeat of the revolution, he embraced Islam with the name of Suleiman bei in Turkey, served Guyon pasha as captain and participated in the Crimean War as well. He also left the Turkish Army to join Garibaldi and finally got back to Hungary after the Reconciliation. Richard Guyon rests in the cemetery Haydarpasa of Turkey.
His grave is indicated with a board of Hungarian inscription that says: This grave gives place to the ashes to Richard Guyon, son of France, stu­dent of England, soldier of Hungary and Commander-in-Chief of Turkey.”

The Hungarian nation later gave obvious support to the Turks in the Turk­ish-Russian War and the relations improved between the two countries. The Hungarian University students paid a visit of honour to Constantinople in January of 1877 where a sword of honour was handed over to pasha Abdul-Karim, hero of Plevna. The Sultan gifted them 35 corvinas and the softas, Turkish students, paid a visit to Hungary in April. We can also re­call the name of Pasha Ödön Széchenyi, son of Stephen Széchenyi, the greatest Hungarian; he also embraced Islam. The Sultan invited him to Constantinople and founded the Turkish Fire Brigade in the capital. The Sultan appointed him the rank of lieutenant-general and he also became military assistant. Thus, we can say the end of the Islamic-Christian oppo­sition, the Ottoman Empire weakened, conflict started to resolve and slowly turned into friendships. The knowledge of having common origins also played an important role, as Ármin Vámbéry sought for the cradle of the Hungarians in Central-Asia in the area of Turkish-speaking peoples.

After the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (1878)

39% of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s population is of Muslim region and follows the Hanif religious school. The Monarchy had half million Muslim citizens after the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and this period coincided with the start of Muslim immigration towards Hungary. Along with the Bech­enes, Albanian and other Balkan Muslim people, Turkish emigrants also came to Hungary.

The major change to the life of Bosnia-Herzegovina came along from 1882 that accelerated the integration process of Muslims in the Monarchy and helped their settlement and emancipation in Hungary. A Hungarian diplomat-historian, Béni Kállay, Minister of Finance, was nominated as  head of the military occupied region and he favoured Muslims against the Greek-Catholic. The majority of the believers pertinent to the Greek-Ro­man Church were of Serbian origins and the Serbian intention to take hold of Bosnia was obvious by then. The operation of the vakufs (merciful Is­lamic foundations), medreses (Islamic schools) and the Sharia Courts (courts of Islamic jurisprudence also called as „nizamije’ in Bosnia) that tried to make investigation on Muslims’ matters was supported by the Au­thorities.

Béni Kállay narrates about Bosnia-Herzegovina: „The military-strategic purposes coincide with the dynastic principles as well. Bosnia-Herzegovina has a long borderline with the Monarchy and extends to the Turkish Em­pire and, thus, it is a natural defensive line against the Russians. The Monarchy may gain dominance over the Adriatic-Sea by possessing Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dalmatia together.”
Ottó Hermann tried to make a policy of negotiations in Bosnia and he did so in an intelligent and perseverant manner, as it suited the son of a ’pri­ma occupations gens’ (invaders of first generation)’. Kállay regarded it im­portant on tactical, strategic and ideological grounds, that the Bosnian oc­cupation should not be a burden on the Monarchy with ethnic groups of little loyalty.

Béni Kálly tried to rely on the aristocracy of Islamic religion. This social class would have collapsed after the elimination of the feudalistic property relations. Thus, Kállay worked out a concept based on a slow transitional process. It was Béni Kállay who started the modernization of Bosnia-Herzegovina on Western basis.
 
In 1908, Bosnia-Herzegovina was definitely annexed to the Monarchy. The Hungarian-Bechene-Herzegovina Economic Centre was set up with Leó Lánczy as chairman. The several publications of the centre provided data to the Hungarian business men who owned companies there. The 6th edition of the leaflet included an article of Géza Magyary on 'Regulation of the legal situation of Islam in Hungary’. The Austrian law had been effec­tive since July, 1912, that admitted the Hanafi school in Hungary, the Hungarian legislation, however, was not so modern to approve of it. Based on the population counting of 1910, there were 553 Muslims, 179 Turks and 319 Bechenes, the majority of these was soldier, living in Hungary without Croatia and Slavonia and the number of Muslims in Bosnia-Herze­govina was 612.137 persons. The major part of Turks settled down in Hungary at the end of the first decade of the century.
They were mainly craftsmen, pastry cook, and students whose first group arrived here in 1909 along with sheik Abdul-Latif.

The sympathy for the Turks increased in Hungary when the ashes of Ferenc Ráckóczi, Ilona Zrínyi and Imre Thököly were transported back to Hungary. In 1914 the Monarchy proclaimed war against Serbia and local fights soon lead to the breakout of World War I. Turkey officially entered the war on 29 of October on the Monarchy’s side. The Turkish units fought not just on the borders of our country but Turkish troops were sent to Galicia and Romania where they were fighting along with the Hungarian troops. The Turkish military cemetery of Kozma street gives place to the ashes of Turkish soldiers who died in World War I.

In December of 1914, Rezső Havass claimed the construction of a mosque at Budapest local government: ’Let’s build a mosque in Budapest!’
The suggestion was approved by the Council of the capital as a resolu­tion on 4 of April, 1916 and a Commission controlling the construction of a mosque was set up. The Turkish-Hungarian military alliance was so strong that the name of Múzeum Avenue was changed to Mehmed Avenue. The Hungarian nationalist and, mainly, war-supporting public had such strong influence on the Parliament that the approval of Islam as an official religion was also on agenda. The proposal was made by Béla Jankovich, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Gyula Pekár: „Ladies and Gentlemen of the Parliament! This bill whose five paragraphs relates the five long and troublesome centuries of the Eastern history of Hungary in a fraternal and peaceful manner and intends to make peace between the religious ideology of the East and the West, it can only give us satisfaction regardless of its significance. (Applause) It’s about the acceptance of the religion of 220 million Muslims. When adopting this bill, however, the Hungarian legislation also focuses on the noble and heroic Turkish nation to which we are united by the strong bonds of Turanic fraternity besides the military alliance. (approval and vivat)
Pekár went on talking about Gül-Baba’s grave, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the dominance of Islam there as main religion and the Austrian Act of 1912 aforesaid and the possibilities that the Hungarian legislation can give to Muslims resident here. Béla Barabás, one of the members of the former student delegation in Constantinople in 1877, was the spokesman of the opposition. He delivered the same message with more enthusiasm, major passion and details. History came alive in the Hall of Parliament. The ‘ku­ruc’ in exile, the immigrant soldiers and politicians of 1848-’49. Murad pasha of Aleppo i.e. József Bem, the Turkish period of Barabás, the han­dover of the confiscated Corvine (books of king Matthias), the memory of Sultan Suleiman and some jokes about the Muslim marriage-, divorce- and inheritance regulations, the Buda shrine (türbe), the heritage of Dániel Irányi and Kálmán Thaly along within the Kossuth’s saying (To the East, Hungarians!) were also narrated. Béla Barabás added: „With grow­ing age but much enthusiasm, with the memories and mentality of old times all I can do is to suggest that we, Hungarians, bow to the Turkish half moon.’ I approve of this proposal delighted.” The Act was also ap­proved by the opposition (Néppárt) with the exception of one Member of Parliament.




Act no. 17. of 1916 on the admission of the Islamic religion:

Paragraph 1: The Islamic faith is proclaimed to be an officially admitted religion.
Paragraph 2: It is not required to present the regulations on religious and moral teachings and other religious rituals for Muslims to create a re­ligious association, nor it is needed to present the organizational regula­tion that includes further dispositions on religious life and they will not be examined at the approval of the organizational regulation.
Paragraph 3.: The Hungarian organization of the Muslim religious de­nomination can be connected to the legal organization of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the approval of the Minister of Religion and Edu­cation. The role of sheik, religious magistrate or member of the upper ec­clesiastic organizational delegation can be played by a member of the con­gregation whose qualification meets the expectations of the qualifica­tion to this position in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Likewise, sheiks can be em­ployed even prior to the setup of the first religious congregation, if their costs of living are provided.
Paragraph 4.: The practice of the Islamic religion and its religious princi­ples, teachings and other institutions are under the same legal protection as the other legally admitted religions. The same legal regulations shall be binding to the Muslim religious community as the other legally admitted religions. Any further, necessary differences shall be specified by a Min­istry Order.
Paragraph 5.: This Act becomes effective on the day of its proclamation and it shall be completed by the Minister of Religion and Education, the Minister of Home Office and the Minister of Justice.”
The Act was proclaimed on 30th of March, 1916 in the National Legal Code No. 9. of 1916. This Act is effective up to now as it has never been with­drawn. The approved law, Act No. 17 on the Admission of the Islamic reli­gion differed from the Act No. 43 of 1895 on the free practise of religion. Regardless of that, in accordance with the Act No. 43 of 1895 all the orga­nizational regulations comprising the provisions on the existence of the Muslim religious congregation shall be issued to the Minister of Religion and Public Education for approval, while the previous law partially disre­garded it. The previous act prohibited that the future Islamic religious congregation cannot be headed or protected by a foreign authority or indi­vidual, i.e. sultan or caliph, while the latter absolved this prohibition. In addition, Act no.17. also disregarded the passage of Act No. 43. of 1895 which says that only a sheik or ecclesiastic person can be a member of the community who has graduated from a University of Hungary.” However, the Hungarian citizenship still stayed as a condition. The Act of 1916 ex­cluded the application of the Islamic punitive-, inheritance and family law in Hungary. The future community is entitled to set up a foundation, col­lect ecclesiastic tax, start disciplinary procedure and establish school or kindergarten. The acknowledged communities could have larger rights as the only ‘approved’ Baptists or the future Islamic community. The Act of 1916 admits the whole of Islam, while the Austrian Act of 1912 only speaks about the Hanafi School present in Bosnia. The law was adapted owing to the concept of Turkish-Hungarian military alliance and Budapest only had 2000 Muslims, comprised of Bechene soldiers, Albanian- and Balkan craftsmen, students, Turkish soldiers and craftsmen, in 1916, the Members of Parliament voted on the Islamic faith with future projects on the complete integration of Bosnia.
It evokes Kállai Béni’s dream on the Bechene Muslim ruling class as we were in war against Serbia, so, the Serbs were regarded unreliable.
The illustrated great calendar of Bosnian Hungarians, dated in 1916, demonstrates the Bechene-Turkish-Hungarian military alliance. The colonels who make part of the K. u. K. Army believe in the victory of the Monarchy and they are fully committed to the Emperor-King. In addition,
Several Albanian- and Macedonian Muslims fought in the K. u. K. against the Western alliance. When the collapse came over, they had to realize that only death sentence awaits them in the Serbian Bosnia.
Many Southern Slav or Albanian Muslim colonels followed the Hungarian troops withdrawn from Bosnia and settled down in Budapest or Vienna.
It is interesting though that many general Chief Officers stayed in Hun­gary on a permanent basis and they could return home or chose Hungary as their homeland upon the collapse of the Commune.
The Muslim presence in South-Hungary is related to the presence of French troops, so, they were here as invaders, thus, these Muslims did not want to settle down here and they were not driven by good intentions.
They were Northern-Africans and the supporters of the counter-revolu­tion had intense contacts with them. There are reports on their close friendship and on the dance of the Arab soldiers with guns which was ad­mired by the Hungarians. Another famous Hungarian Muslim should be mentioned who participated in the Anti-British fights after the Mahdi-revolt in Sudan. He embraced Islam and was known as Ignac Soliman. When the British finally occupied Sudan, he was prohibited to enter the country again, he returned to Hungary and bought a land in Transylvania. He also had the chance to meet governor, Miklós Horthy, and this meeting is recorded. His name appeared in the columns of the newspapers of 1880ies.
              
Durics Hilmi Hussein and the Muslims of Hungary

(Islam between the two World War)

After the collapse of the Monarchy, several Bechene soldiers and civil­ians stayed in the territory of present Hungary i.e. Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon. Durics Hilmi Hussein was one of them who finally moved to our country from Vienna. According to his biography, he was born 11th of November of 1887 in the city of Bosna Krupa, Durics Mah­mud Aga, his father, was the Mayor of the city and a rich land owner, too.
He finished his high school studies at Darul Muallimin with excellent re­sults and he took his degree of Isalam Theology from the University of Cairo and Constantinople. Sources say that he had an excellent command of German and Turkish besides Hungarian Bechene and he spoke fluent Arabic and Persian. From 1910 he worked as the Director of the record of­fice of Bosnia’s National Museum. In 1914 he was called in to military ser­vice after the breakout of World War I. and he was in attendance of the mixed, but mostly Muslim, Bechene regiment as their field imam. His au­tobiography relates that he was present at all the seat of war where the troops of the Monarchy fought. In 1915 his lungs were seriously injured by a shot and his left knee was also wounded at the Southern seat of war in Sabác. After getting recovered from his injury, he was called in to service again as a substitute field imam and he was given the position of ’Muslim field chief imam’ by the Ministry of war and this job was confirmed by Em­peror Francis Joseph. This position was also followed by the title of captain. He was designated as brevet by the end of the War. He also gave lessons on Islamic religion to the students of Vienna’s Cadet School. When the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed, his father was shot to death and the family lands equivalent to 1040 acres were confiscated along with the house. In 1919 he got married to the daughter of Elek Hindy-Szabó colonel guard called Ida who was older than him. They moved to Budapest in October of 1920 accepting with resignation the Bosnian situation. This is the time that Durics and his 85 fellows joined Prónay’s group. The took part in the revolt of Western Hungary and it is also the merit of the Bech­ene-Albanian rebels that Sopron had preserved its Hungarian status quo. The anniversary of the Sopron referendum that took place in 1921 is cele­brated every year in Sopron. However, only few people remember that the organization of referendum was not achieved by politicians from the En­tente countries but by some hundred voluntary warriors whose majority was comprised of Bechene-Albanian volunteers. These soldiers were also much affected by the new map of Europe, redesigned by force, and many of them became homeless and they found the ideology for which they were ready to sacrifice their lives in the Ragged Guard. Many of them fled the Serb Army by two, three and once even a division fled with complete armature regardless that the land was not their own. They sacrificed their own life to get the right to live here.              

These soldiers prevented the Austrian organized Army and Police from taking hold of the areas gained owing to the Peace Treaty of Trianon. They occupied whole Burgenland and proclaimed the state of Burgenland. Just few words could be told about these great deeds and only some people know who these heroic rebellious soldiers were. The fact that Sopron pre­served her Hungarian status owing to the battle of Ágfalva as this lead to the negotiations of Venice. The only soldier who died on the battlefield on 5th of September in defence of the Hungarian lands was a Bechene Mus­lim called Ahmed. The Albanian Muslim group was lead by Hassan beg, a deserted hodja. His courage and audacity were legendary. The Muslim sol­diers were also given one of the 3000 bronze medallions, coined by the order of Prónay, along with other soldiers. The medallions were also ac­companied by a ’Medallion Certificate of Burgenland’ that entitled them to wear the medallion. Prónay also designed a separate list of the rebels that has not been found yet but maybe it was not prepared later on. However, it would be of great help to my researches. But let’s get back to Durics who later became the prominent figure of the Hungarian Muslim life. He was also decorated with bronze medallion of the revolt of Western-Hun­gary, coined by the order of Prónay in 3000 pieces in the short lived Bur­genland, along with the other medallions of World War I.

Durics attained the Hungarian citizenship in Kecskemét in February of 1927. It might seam strange, as he lived in Molnár street, Budapest. How­ever, he could not pay the much higher fee charged in Budapest, so, he decided by Kecskemét where he also had many friends, mostly agricul­turors, in the Ragged Guard lead by Prónay and Héjjas.

He explains it as follows:

Registry made in the chief notary’s office of the city of Kecskemét on 2nd of March in 1926. Durics Hussein Hilmy, inhabitant of Budapest, was present and said as it follows: I issued a request to the city of Kecskemét to consent me to become her inhabitant as the amount of the fee request in Budapest is too high and, thus, I cannot pay it. I have chosen the city of Kecskemét because I fought side by side with its inhabitants in Western Hungary and I have many friends among them. I own 1040 acres of land in Bosnia but a death penalty would await me, if I returned back home. I wish to apply for the Hungarian citizenship on this purpose. So, I ask you with all my respect to approve my request. At the moment, I work as property guardian for regional centre and I woulf get a full job upon the receipt of the citizenship. Dated as above.’

Durics Hilmi Hussein also annexes a CV to his request. This CV and the interview given to Pál Móricz, journalist of the Buda Diary, in 1932 were my information sources. In addition, other Press releases and the Medriczky files were also among my data basis.
Durics Hilmi Hussein, the founder and leader of the modern history of Islam in Hungary, transformed from an ’effendi’, virtually an impoverished military officer, into ’a great mufti of Buda’ who travelled all around the world and whose figure appeared ont he first pages of journals. His des­tiny also defined the fate of the Hungarian Muslim community. He had the dream of setting up an Islamic centre, close to Gül Baba’s shrine, under his own leadership. Today’s Muslims of Hungary are still lack of this centre regardless that 70 years have passed by.
The estimated number of Muslims of the era was around 4000 in Hun­gary and 300 of them belonged to the Turkish colony that stayed here af­ter World War I, under the religious guidance of the Turkish imam, Abdul Latif. Germanus speaks about 30,000 Muslims. The others were Bechenes, Albanians and Macedonians. They are mainly blue-collar workers, crafts­men, gardeners and junior officers and some fence trainers. It was hard for them to get adapted and identified to the Hungarian background as many of them struggled for long with linguistic problems as well. Their culture, mind set and religion also impeded their fast assimilation. How did they become the enthusiastic supporters of the Hungarian right-side par­ty? Ono ne hand, they were also the victims of Trianon, on the other hand their patriotic feelings also granted them political equality in Hungarian society. There is no evidence that Durics had connections with the left-side party but his way to the National Front close to the fascist ideology was owing to his supporters and speechwriters. The Diary of Buda pub­lished an article of one page ont he ’Foundation of the autonomic commu­nity of Islamic religion on 3rd of August, 1931. It is titled “The Muessin calls for prayer after 250 years’. It took place at 11 o’clock in the morning, on 2nd of January when the whole community gathered together to set up the community of Islamic religion approved by the Act Nr.17 of 1916. At half past eleven Durics Hilmi Hussein lead a prayer in front of the community.

The notaries and authenticators were also elected. In addition, the Mejilis i.e. the Council of the elderly which was also referred to as a kind of presbytery by the Press, was also elected. Ismail Mehmedagics, imam of Buda and vice-mufti was elected as muezzin, Mehmed Reszulovics was conceded the title of notary and secretary, while Abdul Latif was given the role of judge of the Buda Sharía Court. Durics Hilmi Hussein was designated to the position of religious leader and mufti. Several Christians, like Tivadar Galánthay-Glock, retired general, who had sympathy for Islam were also members of the Mejlis. The legal counsel of the community was Lidértejedi dr Kiss Árpád. Dániel Gegus, retired vice-chief captain, and Dr. Siegfrid Umlauff, late Bosnian regional leader, were charged with the role of substitution. The Independent Hungarian Autonomic Islamic religious community of Buda also compiled a regulation of 12 pages that was prepared along with Christian supporters of the community. “…those who gained excellent merits regarding the religious community life, the patron of the religious community will grant him the title of patron (müfettis in Turkish). We have knowledge about two Members of Parliament, Dr. István, Bárczy and dr. Jenő Kozma, were patrons along with 3 other Hungarians, namely Dr Vilmos Henyey, late state secretary and President of Hollós Mátyás Society, editor and local patriot Béla Virág, the Vice-President and butler of the same society and György Petrichevich retired general, chief-secretary of the military Maria-Teresia Order and Vice-President of the Gül-Baba Cultural Committee. Gyula Germanus, the most famous Hungarian Muslim, had the responsibility of Chief-secretary of the Culture Committee which was an exclusively Christian organization that backed Durics and his companion and lead the work related to the community. These personalities were so prestigious and influential that the vice-mayor, Endre Liber, gave them an appointment when their Bechene-Hungarian protégés asked for admission in August of 1931.      

Abdul-Latif did not accept the title offered to him and he also questioned Durics’ title as ‘religious leader’. Durics Hilmi and Abdul-Latif, who was not a Hungarian citizen just a Turkish imam left here by the Ottomans, had debates on the columns of the local Press for years mutually accusing each other. As it is well-known, our great Islam researcher who also became a Muslim, Gyula Germanus, got in touch with the Hungarian-Bechene Muslims and, as he suggested them regarding Durics Hilmi as their leader, he attained an enemy in Abdul-Latif’s person.

He describes this period in his book, Allahu Akbar, as follows:
“…A Hungarian Muslim religious community was founded during my stay in India. Its members were mainly Bechenes who gained Hungarian citi­zenship. After the foundation of the community, one of them made the call for prayer i.e. the edhan and the news was published in the Press of the Muslim world and it filled the Muslim hearts of love.

I witnessed how the eyes of the old Muslims looked up in the sky with tears in their eyes when their companions read them the news from the journals. …these Bechene-Hungarian Muslims, all poor and hard-working blue-collar workers, came to my place and expressed their hope for my help. Upon my advice, the Hungarian Muslim Council intended to make a peaceful agreement and cooperation between Abdul-Latif and the Bech­ene-Hungarian imam but this intent failed due to the Turkish imam’s stub­born nature. He feared to lose his privileged position owing to the auto­nomic works of the Hungarian Muslim community and he wished to cross it over by all means.’

The Hungarian Muslims also celebrated the feast of St. Stephen held in the capital on 20th of August, 1931 at the address of 19 Hold street, as the contemporary reports say. Durics Hilmi Hussein told his first official reli­gious speech of the newly founded Muslim community. I prefer to quote to demonstrate the situation of the period: ‘Dear Muslims, dear celebrating audience! A millennium ago, the Hungarian race was gifted by a great king by Allah’s, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful, will:

the wise St. Stephen who founded the state of Hungary that resisted the storms of a millennium because the great king established his dream upon the one and only God… One should not be worried about this country, which we, Hungarian Muslims, also make part of, until Hungary follows her first wise king’s traditions. We will also get rid of the chains of Trianon created by human short-sightedness and wickedness, inshaAllah. Allah or­dered freedom and not prison to the Hungarian nation. We, Hungarian Muslim of Slave mother tongue but of Hungarian attachment, are also part of the ancient Turanian-Iranian family; our ancient land was an ornament of St. Stephen’s crown, so, we love our Hungarian country and, if re­quired, we’ll defend it by sacrificing our lives and blood for it. The Quran orders u to love God and our Country and we follow Allah’s command­ments. The faith of the living, Almighty, Merciful and true God is threat­ened by Satan’s hordes and they want to render people anti-religious, atheist, immoral and orphan. They prefer machines to God, immorality to morality, inequality to love for your fellow brother and special estimation. They confront rough financial interests with honesty, they split up the tra­ditions of family life, they incite children to revolt against their parents, split up the respect of authority and want to set up the country of the Daj­jal (Anti-Messiah) of Moscow. They demolish mosques, churches, houses of worship, schools and they build altars to immorality and atheism. Should this Satanic attack come from either the West or the East, Islam proclaims veto on it! We must gather around God to bring down the power of Satan and his auxiliary troops and lead people back to the way of the fear of God, respect of authority, honesty, patriotism and mercy. There is no life, no advance and no prosperity without and against God! It’s essential for Hungary to accept Islam in the future great war because, if all the believers come together, then, the St. Stephen’s Kingdom will not be only a passing phenomenon of history but it will extend again from the Carpathians to the Adriatic-Sea.

‘We, Hungarian Muslims, bow our heads with respect to Saint Stephan, the prophet of this country, and we sing together with our Hungarian Christian brother: ‘Where are you, St. Stephen, we, Hungarians, need you and wait for you in draped in black and crying in front of you. Ameen.’ 
These speeches and the leaders of the Muslim movement of the period were characterized by the will of taking the lost areas back and the Turan­ic heritage. After this speech, the Bechene-Hungarian Muslims marched to Buda “in well-organized four lines under the Mufti’s leadership’, where ‘one of the ulemas that substituted the muezzin, for the first time after 250 years, sang again the sad Arabic call for prayer in a halting voice…’ From now on, this call for prayer will be performed every Friday.’ This day, Ali Nassir Bedawi pasha came from Vienna to Buda and negotiated, among others, with Durics Hilmi, as well.

The Buda Diary reports its readers in an edition of 1931 that the Islamic catechism, written by Durics Hilmi, will also be on the list of school books.
This piece of art will be published by the press and editing company of Mátyás Hollós. It is also reported in the Buda Diary’s edition, dated on 1st of September, 1931 that many Western and Arabic papers spoke about the Muslims’ celebration of St. Stephen’s day. It also relates that a com­mission will visit the Wagner Castle built around the shrine upon the invi­tation of the Gül Baba Culture Committee which operates and supports the Muslim community. The investigation is focused on the possibilities and the method of constructing the community Mosque and Islamic education­al centres. Some of the papers of the Christian Churches started to attack Durics Hilmi (Protestant Life: Who invited the effendi to Budapest?)
The Buda Diary, the half official press representative of the community, answered these accusations on 21st of September, 1931 with the article ‘Christians in Islam’ as it follows: The cooperation between Muslims and Christians in the committee lead people ignorant of the situation to criti­cism. This cooperation contradicts neither the regulations of the Holy Quran, nor its traditions or the caliph’s provisions. The fifth Surat of the Quran makes this exception: ‘…and you will find the nearest of them in af­fection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians. (Sahih Interna­tional)
Then, it starts to explain that the Islamic religion admits Jesus (Isa) and Mary, the Virgin; gives a historical summary on the nature of the coopera­tion among Muslims and Christians.

Durics Hilmi Hussein and his congregation were received letters of con­gratulations and telegrams from the Muslim world and they intended to publish them all to gain more popularity. Their Christian supporters re­garded this small Muslim community as business opportunity. If a Muslim maharaja, a rheumatic Indian politician or an Egyptian business man spent some days in Budapest, the Buda Diary welcomed it with enthusi­asm and also reproached the official authorities why they did not use these opportunities from the Buda thermal baths to Durics.
There were also great projects and designs made on the Buda Islam bas­tion and centre. The first plans were made by Ferenc Suppinger in 1931 and four years later a large-scale project, that included a mosque, a Col­lege and an boarding school connected to it, was prepared by Lóránd Lechner in 1935. Based on the project, Durics Hilmi could imagine himself as the emir of a Muslim district or city and the chief supporter, Andor Medreczky, dreamt about becoming a wealthy man.
The Hungarian Muslim community also received an invitation letter to Jerusalem, the rampant of the Pan-Islamic movement, where Hadji Mehmet Jemaluddin travelled along with Csausevics in November of 1931.
This congress, finally delayed to the spring of the following year, also adopted resolutions with regard to Hungary. So, Durics Hilmi Hussein was conceded the title of Chief-mufti and was registered among the world’s chief-muftis of the Muslim world. The foundation of a pilgrimage site close to the Buda shrine along with a religious centre was also theoretically ap­proved.

In the meantime, the Muslims of Hungary held the fasting of Ramadan, regardless that it did not start with much celebration and grandeur. The Buda Diary narrates: ‘This time, the only symbol of the fasting, inaugurat­ed with much celebration all over the world, in Buda was a spread praying carpet, a small praying table behind which the sheik dressed in black was standing together with his assistant and the religious leader of the com­munity, named after Gül Baba, Hilmi Hussein, great mufti of Buda, and the imam, Ismail Mechmedagics, on his knees.’
‘First, the Quran was recited, then, the great mufti told a compassionate prayer for the governor and the resurrection of Hungary. The audience got moved by the frank words and the remonstrance of the chief-mufti to lead a God-fearing life, loyalty to one’s country and honest, altruist life.’
In February of 1932, István Bárczy, retired Minister of Justice and ex-Chief-Mayor who was elected as patron (mufatis) to the Hungarian-Bech­ene Muslims, met Durics Hilmi Hussein and his companions. Bárczy ac­cepted this responsibility and promised to support the community. Durics Hilmi decided to try to get the support of Zogu, king of Albania, to the Hungarian Muslims and set off towards Tirana through Vienna and Trieste.
Reports relate that local Muslims welcomed him with great respect at all the stations. King Zogu approved of the request of patronage in the Hungarian Muslims’ case. However, he did not do anything for the Bechene-Hungarian community until his dismissal. He decorated Hilmi with a medal, commander medallion of Skander Beg with diamond stars, but nothing else. Hilmi was on visitation to the King of Albania, Zogu, and a high mass was also held prior to his departure to home. This farewell party took place in the presence of the Ministers of the Alban administration along with the leaders of the economic- and religious life just to demonstrate how seriously Durics and his companions were taken. King Zogu and the Albanian Order of Bektas offered several thousand golden pengoe for the construction of the Buda mosque and the school and this amount would have been transferred after the laying of the foundation.
The leader of the Order of Bektas also gifted a decorated turban to Durics. In the meantime, it was announced that fifty Muslim Albanian students would come to do their studies to the new medress and the administration expressed its wish to make diplomatic contacts with Hungary.
Yet the Press of the Arabic world, like the ‘Sirsti Mustakim’ based in Bagdad i.e. the official and most relevant newspaper of the Kingdom of Iraq, gave special attention to the Hungarian Muslims. Its edition of 23rd of February, 1932 included three long articles on the Hungarian Muslim community. I would hereby quote the leading article: “250 years have passed by since the last Muessin called for prayer in Buda Castle. However, thanks to the efforts of Hungarian Muslims and the assistance of Imam Hussein Hilmi effendi, who has great reputation in the Eastern Muslim world, and some of his Hungarian friends, they succeeded in reviving Islam in Hungary. Hussein Hilmi effendi, who was elected as great mufti, informed all the Muslim leaders of the world who transmitted it to their nations on this significant historical event.’ “His Excellence, emir, Sektib Arslan, the personality of great relevance of the Islamic world, has accepted to be the main patronage.’ Ibrahim, his Excellence the Sultan of Johore, has promised emir Arslan the help of Indian Muslim and he accepted the charge of patron.’ King Faisal, sovereign of Iraq and Mesopotamia, also called on his subjects to participate in the Gül Baba project…’ Quotes are from the edition of 10th of April, 1932.
It is striking that all the Muslim leaders of the period were called on to provide support to the case of Islam in Hungary and regardless promises, no financial sacrifice was made to construct the Mosque. As Durics had no money, these diplomatic steps were taken to guarantee financial conditions to complete these great projects. The Islamic world and their national patrons only gave them verbal support and reassurance.
Dr. Erebara Ali Bey, Zogu king’s personal representative visited Hungary in July, 1932 and he also took part in several official meetings, had a personal discussion with Hilmi as well, but the Muslims of Hungary only got promises. The year of 1932 seemed to be outstanding from a Muslim point of view as Sekib Arslan, emir of Syria, also paid a visit to Hungary.
The emir participated in many official meetings and spent most of his time with Durics. Buda Diary reports that it was his fifth visit to Hungary. Regardless the emir’s promises, however, this visit did not have the expected results from an economic point of view. Mehmedagics Izmail writes an article for the 250th anniversary of the reoccupation of Buda  in the same edition. The last sentences draw much attention: …’It was on Friday. The Mosque has disappeared along with the bazaar and many fountains have sunk. But the two brothers might –come to find each other!’
On 22nd of November, 1932 the Mayor of Budapest charged Durics Hilmi Hussein with the supervision and the care of the graves of the Muslim dead in the point 10 of the Regulation No. 199. 550 of 1932. The great mufti of Buda had diplomatic duties: he had a negotiation with the leader of the Senusia Order in Rome, then, he went to Tirana where he met Zogu king at Christmas and gifted him a silver sword that was owned by István Bárczy. The sword had Hungarian and Arabic scriptures on it. It was a present to Hilmi from the head of the Bektash Dervish Order in occasion of Ramadan and he also asked Hilmi to joint the Order and he was given fur­ther gifts.
Ramadan was celebrated separately in Hungary as the Turks were lead by their imam, Abdul Latif. The Pest Diary narrates about it in its edition of 28th of January, 1933, as follows: ‘Hilmi Hussein held the worships of Ramadan in his flat. Abdul, Latif, the old imam, spoke about Allah’s truth in Mecset street. Only Allah knows who the real imam is.’
The division was gradually growing between the two communities and they attacked each other in un-Islamic ways in different Press releases several times and had their supporters represent them.
The general public just smiled at these arguments but Durics was more backed owing to his past and Hungarian citizenship.
In all cases, Durics and his companions referred to the laws of 1895 and 1916 in accordance with which only a Hungarian citizen can be religious leader and to the really important fact that he, himself, was unanimously elected by all the Muslims of Hungary, may they be Bechenes or Albani­ans, most of them in possess of a Hungarian citizenship.
He also rejects that the Muslims of Hungarian origins are parted into two.
However, it was a fact that the majority of Turks supported Abdul Latif.

In February of 1932, Durics and his companions celebrated the ‘Seker-Bajram’ i.e. the feast that indicates the end of Hajj in Mecca. The feast was held in Hotel Espelade, where Durics was given a suite so that he could accept his foreign friends in proper conditions. Several well-known personalities of Hungarian social life participated in the feast.
It shall be noted that Prof. Gyula Germanus, who had already embraced Islam, was also present and held a conference to the participants. Since Hilmi and his friends also sacrificed a lamb and offered a prayer together.
The journal Pest Diary narrates the event titled as ‘The Bayram feast of the Hungarian Muslim community’ illustrated with pictures.
However, the great mufti of Buda awaited the financial support promised earlier in vain, the year 1932 only had unfulfilled promises.
In 1933 the contemporary Press relates all the feasts of the Hungarian-Bechene Muslims again and the Buda Diary vividly describes the visitors of high rank. This year the conflict renewed between the Hungarian Muslims lead by Hilmi and the Turkish Muslims lead by Abdul Latif owing to the start of the month of Ramadan.
After Ramadan, Arslan emir of Syria, on his way to Geneva where a Pan-Islamic congress was held, paid another visit to Budapest in 1934 who was treated with special attention by Durics, however, the visit only kept promises. The emir was also hosted by the Hollós Mátyás Society that also supported the case of the Hungarian Muslims.
In 1935, renewed efforts were made to attain support to the case of the Islamic Centre and a letter was sent to the Prime Minister of Hungary.
The letter to Gyula Gömbös was signed by Medriczky, Bárczy and Pet­richevich and it says as follows: “…The autonomic religious community of the Hungarian Muslims has not yet been admitted by the Hungarian Au­thorities for several reasons, thus, this condition frames our actions and makes different kinds of problems. The continuous efforts made by the Embassy of one of the foreign states to oppress this movement owing to the request of the Turkish imam resident here. The specific intention of Hungarian Muslims was bidirectional in this period: they wished to make it financially possible to purchase the property around Gül Baba’s grave to set up establishments for religious purposes on one hand, on the other hand, found ritual boarding-schools and schools for Orthodox Muslim Col­lege students. In addition, it was important to construct a Mosque that fits the wonderful view of Budapest and start scientific work related to religion like publishing the Hungarian translation of the Holy Quran.
To attain all these goals, they relied on the well-known solidarity and self-abnegation of the Islamic world.
b) Meanwhile, they wish to start collecting voluntary charities after get­ting the moral support of the most prominent Muslim personalities. In oc­casion of this charity work, they also plan to organize propaganda confer­ences in most Islamic cities, publish articles on the same topic in local pa­pers and they invite Muslims whose trip might have cultural-, economic and touristic benefit to the country.
It has recently become essential to organize and to bring this Eastern collection into effect. Thus, we ask Your Majesty to consent the Imam elected by Hungarian Muslim, the great mufti of Buda, Durics Husszein Hilmi in possession of a Hungarian citizenship, and beg Reszulovics Mehmet, who also holds Hungarian citizenship and works as Hungarian military sports doctor, to collect voluntary donations from foreign Muslims to carry out the intentions aforesaid and transfer the amount to the bank account of the Gül Baba Committee. We found it necessary to set up the Gül Baba Committee which has political and moral control over the move­ment.
The Gül Baba Committee wishes to have control over the money manage­ment so that the sums of cash are used to cover real expenses that have arisen during the fund rising.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
As this movement is quiet extraordinary thanks to its available means and declared purposes, we would like to ask Your Excellency to give us the permission free of restriction for the period of three years by considering the morality of the personalities who make part of this group.
In 1934 Durics and Ismail Mehmedagics had already travelled to Egypt, Syria and Palestine. Hadj Amin al-Husseini, the anti-Semitic head of the Pan Islamic Congress and Hitler’s later friend, made them promises relat­ed to the East. Durics and his companions set out for a second trip with the hope of get­ting real financial support instead of promises.
They left for Alexandria-Jerusalem, Damaskus, Bombay and Haiderabad in 1935. Hilmi held several conferences during their journey of several months and the local papers wrote a lot about him and the case of Islam in Hungary, they were also welcomed by the local aristocracy and sover­eigns like the king of Iraq and the local monarch of Hyderabad.
But they only returned with promises again.
“We had no financial success in Arabia…”-quote from Mehmedagics’ di­ary.
It is obvious that the Turkish religious leader’s, Abdul Latif, intrigues also contributed to the failure of their journey. The Press interviews made with Durics demonstrate that he hoped that financial promises made by the Eastern Muslim sovereigns regarding the construction of the Islamic centre would come true. It is well know that he had to loan money for his trips and he had serious problems with his creditors after his arrival to Hungary. The newspaper, Hungarian World, published a summary of the articles appeared in the local foreign Press on Durics’ visits.

“Al Okab (Bagdad): The great mufti of Hungary in Bagdad”
Al Tarik(Bagdad): His Excellency the king has given audience to Mr. Durics Hilmi…
Al-Bilad (Bagdad): Islam in Europe and Hungary”
While Durics was making efforts to gain financial support for the case of the Gül Baba Mosque, several Hungarian Muslims gathered at the shrine on Saint Stephen’s day, as the Pest Diary relates it: “Several Hungarian Muslims live without spiritual support. Religious leaders are fighting and arguing because all of them wish to become leader, so, right now, there are neither religious leaders, nor Islam. Nobody takes care of the Father of Roses’ shrine preserved for centuries, the great feast of ‘Bayram’ has lost its importance, everything is taken by devastation and destruction, regardless that Islam is a supported and approved religion in Hungary…- If things go well, Durics will get back home in fall. He has been to Arabia and now he’s raising fund at the rich Maharajas of the Indian subconti­nent. He surely has some diamond jewellery in his pocket and ten thou­sand pengoes are spent from a Muslim aristocrat’s donation of 60,000 pengoes. We will have such a beautiful Mosque over Gül Baba’s shrine that Turks will long to visit Buda after Mecca… A new Turkish rule will flourish in Buda and the pilgrims’ train will be arriving one after the other, the Mosque will be completed by a school but all will agree on being good and loyal Hungarians…”
After all this failure, Durics turned to Zogu, king of Albania again who was also elected as the patron of Hungarian Islam and he also gifted him a model of the future mosque, evaluated to 450 pengoes by the Hungari­an Customs, along with a small pocket of soil from around the shrine.
This memory model was taken to a museum under the reign of Enver Hodja and was handed over to the leader of the Albanian Bektash Order where it is still exhibited. In the meantime, Mussolini was also proclaimed as the patron of Hungarian Islam. One may recall the negotiations with the Libyans.

The Buda Diary says that It was Durics who celebrated the marriage ceremony of king Zogu and Geraldine Apponyi, as Durics had been as­signed as the great mufti of his Court.
Destiny has funny games: Mussolini, patron of Hungarian Islam, chased Zogu, king of Albania, the other patron of Hungarian Islam, from the throne. So, Durics and his companions lost yet another hope.
After so much disappointment, Andor Medreczky kept on supporting the idea of Eastern tourism but with less enthusiasm and he also forgot to mention Durics’ name. He had hard feelings for him because Durics had joined the National Front, a fact Medreczky did not like as his views were closer to those of Bárczy.
The Muslims –Hungarian-Bechene and the Turks- celebrated the seker and khurban bayrams independently from each other. In the thirties, many ar­ticles of interest were published on the common points of Christianity and Islam and the refusal of analogy between Islam and the Turks, as many believed. Some supported the idea of pulling up a Mosque around Gül Baba’s shrine or its renovation and the demolition of Wagner Castle adja­cent to it.
In 1936 Béla Viráag died and he was followed by Gyula Lippay, while the Buda Diary was replaced by the Buda Chronicles and none of them seemed to be supporters of the case of Islam even if some articles were published on it. Durics Hilmi Hussein died of his pneumatic illness in János Hospital in February of 1940. He died at the age of 52, a quiet early age.
His obituary appeared on the pages of the 7th of February, 1940 of the Buda Chronicles. His personality was praised along with his active partici­pation in all the community events and supported the improvement of the touristic sector.
“He wasn’t an ordinary person. He was driven by great projects and ideas.
And if he determined something, he also carried it out. He did not care about obstacles, nor difficulties. He took a trip to the East twice to pro­mote his ideas related to Buda with his personal attraction and his won­derful propaganda of his words: the construction of Gül Baba Mosque, the setup of Muslim Academy e cultural centre.

He visited the Court of Arab principles and kings, he travelled to Egypt, India and he encouraged and agitated for his case and achieved that large sums would be available to reach his goals, if once… This ‘if once’ was the the cause and the purpose of his fights and sadness.”
“The hopeless windmill fight of the Don Quijotes is always both tragical and comical. However, it is always respectful.”
In 1946, the eternal enemy, Abdul Latif, was also dead.
Both of them were buried in Rákoskeresztúr New Cemetery, in the par­cel destined to Muslims, very close to each other.
Andor Medreczky escaped from the Soviet troops in 1944 and his fur­ther life story is unknown. However, he had handed over a large file to Dr. Lajos Kovács, chief archivist.
The files also included a piece of green baize of 20 x 20 cm on which this Quranic aya was embroidered: You are dead and they are dead. This baize piece must have been used for funerals.

Unfortunately, this baize piece was not found anywhere a few years ago, however, it had existed in the ‘80ies. Among the Muslims of Budapest who cooperated with Durics for the case of Hungarian Islam, Abid Csátis was the last who died.
There was nobody who would have told the Fatiha above his grave as he had done to his Muslim brothers who died earlier. Mehmet Raszulovics, who had left for Vienna after 1956, died in the Austrian capital. The great Muslim scientist of the period, Gyula Germanus, died in 1979.
He was buried in Farkasrét Cemetery, I was the only Hungarian Muslim present at his funeral that was done by an employee of the Embassy of Libya according to Muslim rituals. However, the Arab students who did their studies here were by my side and they were the ones who represent­ed “Hungarian Islam” for a long period. After a pause of several decades, new efforts were being made for the case of Islam in Hungary prior to the political transition but it is another story which I’ve also been a part of.

On the dead of the Muslim Cemetery of Budapest

Only a few people know that one of the parcels of the Cemetery of Kozma street has been operating as the funeral place of the Muslims of Budapest.
I believe the oldest tomb dates back to 1891 and the deceased was called pasha Szokollu Mehmed, who could be a Turkish nobleman. Sergeant Nadim Bey and his wife, Hadidse Hanum of Turkish origins, also rest by his side. The other tomb hides the rests of another noble Turk called Bayilkay Ahmet Nadir who was the chief Turkish council. He died on 12 th of July, 1937.
There are also Bechene-Hungarian deceased, those who participated in this story as well. However, life went on and new Muslim immigrants ar­rived. Birth includes death as well; so, the tombs of this cemetery are in­creasing: The international feature of our religion is indicated by the Pak­istani, Turkish, Arabic and Chinese Muslim inscriptions. 

TODAY’S HISTORY
The contemporary history of Islam in Hungary
The year 1949 indicates a period in the history of democracies that did not favor Ecclesiastic development and the practice of any religions. This affected smaller communities of unclear status more than well-known, large religions, regardless that differences between adopted and admitted communities were cancelled by the Legislation of the Republic of Hungary in 1947. Gyula Ortutay, the Minister in charge, held a speech on it at the Parliament of Hungary in this occasion:
„It shall be noted, as a point of interest, that the Article No. 17. of 1916 that proclaimed Muslims as an admitted community, that only had around 300 members, due to the political requirements of World War I. However, this approval has not yet rendered it necessary the setup of an admitted Islamic religious community here in Hungary. It also demonstrates how much Churches depended on the State and how many benefits these Churches gained from their dependence on the State and how much they relied on it.” There are some who argue how much this dependence re­duced from 1947 when Act No. 33 was approved. From 1947 it was not permitted to practice Islam in Hungary, its followers were discriminated and exposed to persecution. Durics’ companions went to offer their prayer at Gül Baba’s shrine secretly.
Antecedents from my perspective
I officially embraced Islam in 1978 and I had consciously prepared for it. Somewhere, I shared the young Gyula Germanus’ ideal that all related to Islam was equivalent to the Ottoman-Turks. At high school, I got Gyula Germanus’ address and I wrote him a letter to help me embrace Islam and do my Islamic studies. His secretary answered me in his name and he encouraged me to study languages so that I could deepen my knowledge on the religion I had so much interest for.
As a child, I was raised as a strict Roman Catholic, I served at mass, I was received into the Church and I also did the confirmation ceremony.
I was really attracted by the holy sermon at Church.
I believe I used to read all the books of the local library that were trans­lated to Hungarian on Turks, Arabs and Islam. In the summer of 1975, I made friends with two Arabic students at the university preparatory camp. It was the first time I had met born Muslims. I was lucky as these Arabic students practiced their religion, so, practicing Muslims became my first teachers and they introduced me to other Arabic students as well who were mostly Sudanese and Egyptians. The students who studied in Hun­gary were usually delegated by a so called national liberation movement or a Syndicate or a Marxist (Communist) movement. Only some of them could finance their own studies individually. These students were those who practiced their religion on a regular basis and lived according to Is­lam. Most of them, however, drank alcohol, lived in sexual promiscuity and even ate pork. There were no arguments between the two groups.
The supporters of the system were usually non-practicing students who talked about their religion and politics secretly between each other.
Many ex-Marxist students stayed here and became fervent Muslims after the Islamic renewal. Now they regard themselves as the front-line figures of Islam today. I will be talking about them later. There were also some Hungarians who decided to embrace Islam after they had read Germanus’ books. There were also Hungarian women who got married to Muslim men and embraced Islam via marriage. Most of them moved abroad. I will give a further detailed summary of mixed marriages.
This small, practicing Muslim community held Friday’s Salatul Jummah and the meetings and iftars of Ramadan at the College of Budapest Uni­versity of Technology and Economics on a regular basis. I attended all the places they met like the College of Kruspér street and that of the Castle, but there were meetings held in the College of Bartók Béla street but not so often as elsewhere.
Maybe the best and most qualified imams of the period were an Egyptian young man called Abu Bakr. The Embassy of Egypt, Libya and Iran also gave place to Friday prayers and Muslim feasts. The Revolution of Iran of 1979 was most welcomed by religious Muslims and listened to the news on Iran without stopping. By this period, I had embraced Islam and I was a regular practicing Muslim and I tried to participate at the Salatul Jummah every Friday till 1980.

However, the fall of 1980 brought along a change as the porter of the Col­lege of the University of Technology and Economics close to Petőfi-bridge noticed that I was Hungarian and declared that I could not go to offer my prayers there any more. I intended to take part in Salatul Jummah but the lady seemed to be suspicious and did not believe the promises I had made a week before. She threatened me to call the police and ordered me to leave the place regardless the nice words of my Arabic friends who tried to persuade her with nice words. From this case till the political transition, I could not participate in Salatul Jummah.
Religious students were so much afraid of the Hungarian regime that they neither dared to oppose it, nor find any solutions to me regarding my education, etc.
In 1979 I had made friends with a religious Afghan student who was not willing to return to the Communist Afghanistan. There was also a secret underground Muslim organization I only knew superficially due to its secret organizational structure. This Afghan young man reached Kuwait with a false passport. In this period, I had Sudanese friends and I was planning to leave for Eritrea to help Muslims there fight against the soldier of the Ethiopian Communist regime. These childish projects, however, failed, along with my plans to do studies in Egypt and Iran.
After leaving the Army in 1981, I renewed my contacts with some Muslim students and in August I paid a visit to Gyula Germanus’ widow who lived at Petőfi-Square in Budapest. I visited her in the company of an Iraqi acquaintant who was in Hungary for a visit and used to have a personal contact with Professor Gyula Germanus. The conversation was about the memories of the past while taking a cup of tea. I received a photo of Gyula Germanus with the message as follows: To Sultan Mohamed Bolek with love from Aisha Germanus, 15 of August, Budapest.
I followed the Press news related to Islam on a regular basis and it was several times mentioned that an Islamic Centre would be build in Hungary thanks to the financial support of a wealthy oil-sheik. As it is well-know, these plans did not come true.
In this period I received a Quran of Arabic language from the Islamic Centre of Aachen in Germany (previous FRG) to which official Arabic certificates were annexed to prove that the Holy Book was authentic.
In addition, I was also sent books on Islam in German language, all of them are preserved as relics along with Arabic certificates up today.
In 1983 the government officials of Hungary carefully came up with the idea of setting up an Islamic Centre in Budapest, however, the project failed due to ideological reasons, although the Embassies of Muslim countries had much interested in the idea destined to failure. The summer of 1987 gave place to a camp for young architects in Rózsadomb, where the British-Iraqi architect, Basil Bayat, made the design of an Islamic Centre dedicated to Gyula Germanus again. Regardless of the serious talks started with the Muslim World League financed by Saudi-Arabia and the State Office of Religious Affairs, no further steps were taken in this regard. The Hungarian Party claimed a very high amount for the agreement. It is obvious, that Saudi purposes were not taken seriously by the Hungarian administration.
Foundation and history of the Islamic Community of Hungary till 1996

The most active and interested participant of the Saudi-Hungarian talks that took place in 1987 was Dr. Balázs Mihálffy who was later elected as the sheik-president of the Islamic Community of Hungary.
Dr. Balázs Mihálffy’s mother was a teacher and his father was an archi­tect. He was given a strong Roman-Catholic education.
He fist came in contact with Islam and the language of the Holy Quran in the College of Gödöllő University of Agriculture thanks to his Sudanese companions with whom he shared his room. He later did some courses at the Arabic Department of ELTE along with his studies of Agricultural Engi­neering. He studied Arabic so much that the 1991 edition of HVG made this comment on Dr. Balázs Mihálffy:”…many admire his sophisticated Arabic knowledge from Cairo to Rabat.” After graduating from University as a crop producer, he wrote his doctorate dissertation on the Agriculture of Iraq. From 1980 he represented Agrobert in Libya for two years and he worked as the Customs and tax expert of a Libyan company for a year. He later drew the attention of the sheik of Al-Azhar  University who gave him the opportunity to study Islamic theology after his daily work. He was also preparing the water investments of the Hungarian company, Hidroexport, in Egypt. After his talks, that ended late at night, with the sheik he wit­nessed in 1985: ‘I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.’ His transformation into a Muslim ended at this point. It was the sheik who gave him the Muslim name ‘Abdurrahman’ that implies ‘the servant of the Merciful’ in Hungarian. He started to orga­nize Islamic religious life in Hungary in 1986.

As a result of his efforts, the Islamic Community of Hungary was declared an officially admitted community by Imre Miklós, Secretary of State and President of the State Office of Religious Affairs, in accordance with Act No. 63 of 1895 on the Free practice of religion and Act no. 17 of 1916 on the Approval of Islamic faith of 1916.
Dr. Balázs Abdurrahman Mihálffy earned great and imperishable merits to have the Islamic faith registered as Church. This fact is equal to the setup of a major Islamic centre. If one considers that only some European coun­tries admit Islam as a religion, this action of Dr. Mihálffy highlights his merits more. I would also add that the political leaders of the period tried to get the financial supports of the wealthy Arabic states due to the diffi­cult economic situation of the country. So, the foundation of the Islamic Community of Hungary was the result of the efforts of a small Hungarian Muslim group and the ideals of the political leadership which coincided with each other. Abdurrahman became responsible for an ecclesiastic or­ganization without money and any financial conditions.
The Community also worked out the Bylaws also approved by the same Secretary of State. The basic regulations, made by Durics and his com­panions, were the basis of these Bylaws.
The first part of the Bylaws is called Civil Declaration that defines the roles of the community as the spreading of Islam and the Islamic culture as re­sponsibilities attributed by Allah along with all important duties that bring benefit to the people of Hungary and mankind. The Islamic Community expresses its intentions to cooperate with those organizations, religions and communities that have the same goals as Islam. The Islamic Community friendly approaches all ideologies that represent love, peace and legality and opposes all discrimination based on races, religions and nations.
The Islamic Community assures the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary to observe all its effective acts and regulations and limits its operations in its framework. To achieve common goals, the Islamic Community undertakes as its religious-cultural role of being a bridge between Hungary and the Islamic countries. The Islamic Community distances itself from any statements or actions that contradict the ideas of the present Declaration.
The Bylaws of 45 points written in the name of ‘Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful’ proclaims that the Islamic Community of Hungary is the community of people of Hungarian citizenship who practice the Islamic faith. The spreading of Islam is based on the statements of the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Sunna. The community incorporates all Muslim believers pertinent to all Muslim movements and it does not tolerate any enmity among its followers and it also represents these views on international Islamic Forums.
The community membership applies to all Muslims and it entitles everybody to appear, cast vote, propose or vote on any topics. The members of the Islamic Community of Hungary are obliged to live according to its religious principles, obey its leaders, contribute to the prosperity and represent the interests of the community. All individual members of the community hold responsibility to share the liabilities of the community, pay the religious taxes imposed on them and participate in the decision-making and administrative process of the community.
The Islamic Community of Hungary declares that the Muslims of Hungary are linked to all the Muslims of the world by the community of faith and love. So, this Islamic Community makes part of the Muslim world. In the light of mutual appreciation and respect the Islamic Community is open to keep in contacts with other national Churches and set up ecumenical relationships. The other points of the general principles also state that the Community is entitled to hold contacts with different Muslim and non-Muslim ecclesiastic institutions and wishes to fulfill its mission given to it by Allah at international congresses and meetings. It further regards  it important that its members fulfill its duties as specified by the Constitution and foreign believers observe the principles stated therein and they do not act against it. The organizational structure speaks for itself, it is well prepared and precise. The right of alteration was kept and practiced though by the new leadership. Believers of Islamic faith practice their religion according to three main regions: Budapest, Pécs and Szentendre. The believers of Pécs and Budapest belong to the Budapest leadership. The leaders of the Islamic Community of Hungary were the sheik-president. The community, the Shura Council (majlis-al-surah) and Property management i.e. vakuf were lead by the sheik.
To make the ecclesiastic inscription effective in 1988, twenty Muslim of Hungarian citizenship had to sign it and it seemed hard to achieve.
However, the number of Hungarian Muslims was constantly increasing thanks to the embrace of Islam.
Just a few Arabic Muslims helped the community and until around 1990 Hungarian Muslims were majorly present at Friday prayers. The Community first rented apartments and expenses were covered from foreign supplies and the financial support given by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Community had its headquarters in the 18th district, close to Oktogon and Bajza street. The majority of the membership was made up of mainly single Hungarian women. In the apartment rented close to Oktogon more and more Arabic students started to attend the lectures on Islam as they were searching for a wife among Hungarian Muslimas. A few of these Arabic university students also questioned the validity of some teachings which was categorically rejected by sheik Abdurrahman.
These frequent disputes among the Arabic students and the leader of the Community destroyed the atmosphere. It also led to situations when only Hungarians were permitted to take part in the lectures. This conflict resembles much the controversy between the Bechene-Hungarians lead by Durics and the Turkish Imam, Abdul-Latif and there will be much similarity independently from persons and nationalities.
As Balázs Mihálffy found a previous air-raid shelter situated in Mikó street, which was renovated from foreign donations and the social work of Hungarian Muslims, the place problem seemed to be sorted out by 1992.

Abdurrahman’s foreign relations were continuously expanding and he also worked as consultant of Islamic Affairs for the Ministry of Foreign Af­fairs as requested by Géza Jeszenszky, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the era. So, he could accompany the delegations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Muslim countries several times. He also met the emir of Kuwait chased during the Gulf War on one of the trips to Saudi-Arabia and his designation to the title of Ambassador of the newly established Embassy to Saudi-Arabia also came up.
The Antall administration also had an Islamic lobby made up of Germanus’ students and some Turkologists like Tamás Katona and András Kelemen. The religious leader Ali Hamenei, successor of imam Khomeini, welcomed the Hungarian sheik as an equal partner on the sheik’s visit to Iran with Géza Jeszenszky.
Abdurrahman regarded Japan as the ideal state because work and family are in harmony with each other. The Hungarian Community held good contacts with several Islamic countries. Mihálffy admitted that his reputa­tion was more spread in Muslim countries than Hungary owing to his translation of the Holy Quran and his lectures. King Hussein of Morocco’s invitation to his Court, which took place in 1990, as the critic of theologi­cal works at royal events was also related to his reputation. The sheik-president affirmed to be proud to preserve the neutral status of his com­munity at international level. The Islamic Community of Hungary had 200 members under his leadership. All its members were Hungarian citizens ranging from the age of 17 to that of 75 who represented all the social classes of Hungarian society from blue-color workers to doctors.
The average age is of 35 i.e. young and 70% of them are women. Abdur­rahman would explain it a follows: in these hard times, one looks for sup­port in an ideology or religion that will not disappoint him and not a mate­rialism.’ He aimed at calling on a small group. Along with the provision of support, he worked on introducing a real image of Islam as a universal re­ligion. No foreign support was received or even accepted to achieve this target as it was linked to some conditions. Well, the specification of these conditions is still effective in return of foreign support…

The sheik’s relations with the Arabic community of Hungary

He would give this report: ‘We do not wish to be Arabs, we only wish to follow this religion. These are two completely different things.’
So, our community situated in the middle of Europe, is the smallest as well as the poorest’- he said and it is true even today.
Regardless the sheik’s efforts to pull up a Mosque close to the Gül Baba’s shrine and of the model made of it, as inspired by Durics, the Commu­nity’s renewed intentions to build a mosque vanished into thin air.
By 1993 community life was restricted to Friday prayers due to Mihálffy’s serious illness. A part of the Hungarian believers started to feel unsatisfied with the sheik’s absence on one part and with the missing cultural and fi­nancial conditions on the other part.
B.K., Muslim of Hungarian origins, started huddles with other Hungarian Muslim members and a part of the Arabic community resident here. Hun­garian Muslims refused to involve foreign Muslims resident in Hungary to help them solve the internal problems. B. K. persuaded V. A. Hungarian Muslim, already deceased, and gained Sz. J.’s support who was regarded the sheik’s direct colleague. He aimed at renewing Islam in Hungary and he also contacted me as he knew that I cooperated with several Hungari­an Muslims.
B. K., who had a critical nitpicking nature but also liked to stay away from work, had several personal conflicts with the sheik. Even Hungarian Mus­lim women disliked him because he critiqued the sheik for being lenient at the issue of hijab, as Abdulrrahman did not oblige women to wear the hi­jab in the street.
Sz. J. called on a general assembly in the worship place of Mikó street where only Hungarian Muslim men were invited. A temporary leadership of 5 members was elected due to the sheik’s illness and the documents made at the assembly were sent to Court for amendment. The date of a new, final general assembly was also specified.
Certainly, the news of the case was soon widespread, the Court rejected the amendment and Abdurrahman came back. The Muslim World League issued a provision that affirmed his position and it was also stacked to the entrance of the worship place.  As only the increasing number of Islamic foundations had community life the sheik understood that he had to hold an assembly to Hungarian Muslims. Sz. J. could not participate in the as­sembly and the sheik rejected weak critics by promising to achieve the goals previously specified like the restart of religious teachings and the foundation of Muslim kindergarten, etc.
The Aluakf Foundation, located in Miskolc, was the greatest threat to the Community, so, the sheik asked the Hungarian Tax Office to start an in­vestigation on the financial resources of the Foundation and their   
use. The Tax Office investigation was also conducted and it is alleged that no irregularities were found, however, the investigation was influenced by a ‘pious fraud’ of the members of Miskolc.
As a result of the War in Bosnia, massive Muslim immigration started to­wards Hungary and, thus, the Islamic Foundations had interrelations with Muslims. Several ten and even hundred thousand American dollars were taken to the country in cash. Only the Arrahma Charity Organization threw in with the Islamic Community of Hungary and the Community moved its centre to the Charity Organization’s place.
The two organizations also purchased a common property; more precisely received it as a donation. The tenth district of Budapest gave place to the Kibáa Foundation which competed both with the Community and its sup­porting Foundation and with the Aluak based in Miskolc. The later commu­nity had the largest amount of money at disposal: they built a worship place that also provided accommodation to travelers.
These foundations also had Hungarian leaders who only played represen­tative roles. Several times, an Arabic husband appointed a duty o his Hun­garian wife and it indicates well the character of the place.
It was very common to send infamous letters, faxes and make identical calls abroad, so, wealthy Muslim supporters of good intentions ended up losing their trust in Hungarian Muslims. The sheik was also accused of be­ing alcoholic: these accusations were made by his Hungarian and foreign­er enemies alike.
The President of the period did make mistakes and his personality was more suitable for educational than organizational purposes but we are all imperfect. Time will tell the talking. Unfortunately, many applied for the presidential position but nobody had real projects.
The period of every day fights and superficial rumors lasted till February of 1996. In 1995 rumors had spread on Abdurrahman’s resignation.
It seemed to be true because the supporter of the Community and the sheik and one of the leaders of Arrahma, a Sudanese psychiatrist, was re­moved from his position by force. The Muslims of Hungary heading this blow of state thought that Arrahma had large financial resources and the times of Canaan would return. They were wrong!
In the beginning, the Arrahma leaders held close contacts with Fatih Has­sanein on whom Washington Post alleged to have contacts with terrorist organizations. Well, the new leaders’ close relations with Fatih Hassanein were not long-lasting; moreover, they were obliged to sell properties and means, purchased by the previous leaders with much effort, owing to their financial difficulties.
However, the story of the Islamic Community of Hungary goes on. Dr. Balázs Mihálffy sent his resignation letter and asked the Community to elect a new leader to his place. The organizers, among them B. K., sent this letter along with the invitation to the general assembly for the reelec­tion of officials to all the registered members. 11 of April, 1996 only 17 of 181 Muslims, including me as well, were present without any concept or idea about the future. We knew one thing for sure: we will need a collec­tive leadership. In the knowledge of antecedents, it was not surprising that we only knew a few people and smaller groups formed out. This as­sembly, as it was legally lack of sufficient number of people, was renewed 30 minutes later. Some believed that the Community should be split up and suggested us getting integrated to Foundations lead by Arabs. This idea was proposed by a young, Moroccan-Hungarian University student who lived in the Great-Plane. The proposal was dropped and a temporary syndicate of 5 persons was set up. The organization of a new assembly was also adopted.
These five persons were charged to estimate the real number of Muslim society and that of those who would be willing to work for the community.
It’s needless to say that B. K. did not undertake any work or duties at this assembly. Only 3 members of the syndicate worked. We estimated who the real Community members were, who we could rely on and we also made inquiries on future cooperation possibilities at the Arabic foundations and on financial resources.
The survey had a disastrous result. Just two dozens of our members were willing to undertake work in future and the others only preferred assis­tance to real help. The new leaders of Arrahma were suspicious of us and we had to ask their permission to enter the office housed inside the building. Cooperation with the Foundation based in Miskolc looked positive, however, many Hungarian Muslims were frightened by the Salafi ideology they belonged to. We travelled a lot to the countryside to meet our Muslim brothers and sisters to find out their needs so that we could make a future strategy to help our Muslim brother and sisters in the countryside as the leadership was often accused of focusing on Budapest too much.
We also visited our Muslim companions who live lonely and scattered around the country and, thus, face the hardest situation. They do not have the chance for community life and they have to travel to the capital or any bigger cities, if they need help or information on any topic about Islam.
In consideration of the shortage of place, money and relationships, I dare to say that we had to set up a completely new community. The Islamic foundations gave attention to our work with doubts and a bit of ill will. They did not think that we could carry out the projects we wished to come true. Sz. I., a Hungarian Muslim who practices the Shia branch of Islam, supported our work with much help. He dedicated all his spare time to work with much enthusiasm and sincerity.
V. A., my Hungarian Muslim, already deceased companion, worked in Germany and had widespread contacts with the Turkish communities resident there thanks to his good command of Turkish. In the fall of 1996, we hoped to get a place from Budapest local government. On 23rd of October, date of the new assembly, 35 Hungarian Muslims were present instead of 17. The assembly was held again in the building of Arrahma and there were also some Arabs interested in our initiative.
The Alauf Foundation of Miskolc financed the organization of the assembly.
The new leaders elected at the assembly were five again but three members of the previous committee were not elected as one did not undertake the duty and the other two were deemed to be inappropriate by the members. V. A. I. Cs. G. Z. and I were entrusted by the members to make part of the committee. At the end of 1996 we acquired the pre-purchase right of a broken-down property located in the 13th district of Budapest, no. 104.; this used to operate as pharmacy. As we had no money at disposal, we could only trust ourselves and the fund we raised.
We raised the attention of those who had doubts or ill-will towards our efforts. We could celebrate the first Ramadan fasting here in 1997, although we held common iftars just every second day and the meal was prepared by our sisters at home. The Arabic business men and religious teachers who visited Hungary heard of us and, finally, we took all foreign visitors to the centre under construction by our own efforts. Alhamdoulillah, many of them helped us do the construction with their donations later and the worship place was ready by May of 1997.
Sz. I., my Shia friend, and I were invited to the United Arab Emirates, more precisely to Sarjah, where we were welcomed by the local emir whose hospitality we enjoyed for 10 days. It was my first real official trip to the Muslim world. I must tell you that I enjoyed it very much, it was great and we came back with much experience. The Turkish community of Germany also helped us: they undertook to pay the expenses and utility costs of the Community for a year.
We got in contact with the Embassy of Malaysia and we were given the most significant financial support after a year and it was sufficient to end with the renovation of the Mosque and the furnishing of the office that meant the purchase of a computer, telephone, fax and copying machines.
Everything seemed to be evolving smoothly and we were at the point of making up the project of an Islamic kindergarten and we could have acquired a property from the Local Government of Budapest 14th district.
We were also planning to open an Islamic cultural exhibition and set up a museum and an ecclesiastic public collection organized from our books and other objects in relation with it. However, disputes arose again!
Many-many, non-Hungarian Muslims attended our Mosque, participated at our events and provided us financial support. The always doubtful and hostile Muslims could not accept their position and they expected foreign Muslims to help them improve their positions inside the Community.
Gossips were common on the Community and its leaders; however, the appearance of a new person launched an avalanche. The controversy was deepened by the Muslim of Hungarian citizenship that successfully made the proverb ‘divide et impera’ prevail. We, Hungarian Muslims, believed the rumors and unity broke up into pieces. This division was used by the man aforesaid whose name should be rowed up.
Oil was poured on the fire when an interview on the gipsy Muslims of Pánd was made by the program tv2 Napló and it was also given on TV once again. Certainly, many of the readers of these lines saw this both funny and sad interview.
The antecedents are as follow: I worked as a notary at Pánd for a year. Many, around 25 persons of Gipsy origins, embraced Islam but just five of them are still practicing Muslims. Local gypsies were attracted by my religion owing to our good personal contacts and the knowledge they acquired on Islam and its principles, so, they thought it was appropriate for them. It cannot be denied though that most of them were driven by realistic financial desires. However, as time goes by, inappropriate people leave Islam.
The austere weather conditions of those times forced the people of Pánd to steal logs from the forest which I persecuted both as a notary and as a law-abiding person in order to eliminate forest owners’ complains. However, the poor thieves who were all gypsies came up with the argument of being forced to do so, if they do not want to get frozen.
To create social harmony, the Mayor, the head of the social commission and I made a list of needy families and we arranged to transport residual logs from another village. We distributed the logs among the members of the list who were mostly non-Muslims. Financial resources were raised in the Community’s worship place. Contrary to the TV coverage, this distribution was not financed from the resources of the local government and it was not destined only to Muslims and gypsies.
In the meantime, we were searching for a family house for sale so that we could set up a worship place there and it would have rendered possible the start of a farming program to the unemployed. Certainly, all this disappeared after the coverage.
I would say a few words on the antecedents of the coverage: The reporter turned to me saying that he had read a positive article on me and the Community in Magyar Fórum (Hungarian Forum), and he had much interest in the gypsies who had embraced Islam.
I gave consent to the coverage without any suspect and those who saw it know what message it delivered.
Later the well-known reporter told me he had believed I supported MIÉP (Hungarian Nationalist Party). I do not think that the refusal of any Press coverage would do good to the Community, if the coverage is aimed at showing an objective image of Islam.
After the presentation of the story aforesaid; this brought along a very negative change to my private life, health and workplace such as nervous breakdown, loss of workplace and financial resources, etc., my opponents and apparently good-intentioned people succeeded that I issue a temporary ‘retrieval declaration’. From that moment, the Community did not prosper either financially or spiritually, all was aimed to serve personal purposes.
There were several meetings and general assemblies held to sort out the problem but all we could do was to establish the Community’s electorate but no further work was done. Our strength reduced to minimum due to the increased number of small groups and some Hungarian and foreign interests. Good intentions always failed thanks to our opponents who were against the birth of Hungarian Islam exclusively focused on religion and culture. The Community’s peak was reached in 2000 that also indicated the beginning of the end that brought forth shortages and mistakes. It was more precisely related to the Islamic Symposium organized by Saudis in Budapest from 10th to 12th of September.
Before starting to describe it, I would summarize the development of our trips abroad and our foreign relationships to my readers. All these were done before the issuance of my retrieval declaration. I visited Western-Europe, especially Germany and Austria, where we made very good contacts especially with the Turkish organizations like Ditibbel, Miligörüs and Atibbal.
In 1997 I was at Hajj to Mecca with V. A., my colleague and leader companion, thanks to the assistance of the Austrian Milligörüs. V. A. and I visited Ankara as the guests to the Prime Minister of Turkey in 1997. He received us, we prayed and dined together. We were promised to get financial support but we had the same experience as Durics. 1998 was the year of my largest journeys: I visited the United Arab Emirates again along with my Hungarian Muslim friend, E.P., and V. A. and I participated at a Conference held in Libya. We visited Malaysia and Brunei twice in fall without any financial help to our purposes, although we had the project of the Muslim kindergarten and the relating complete documentation.
V. A. and the person who worked for us and wished to get a higher position, achieved that the Islamic Community of Hungary should be registered in the Co-operative Association of European Muslims based in Spain. These years were about the establishment of our international contacts. In 1999 I visited Saudi-Arabia as the guest of the Minister of Religious Affairs of the country. I was received with much respect and we also did the small hajj called Umrah in Mecca.
I succeeded in meeting the leaders of almost all the influential Islamic organizations and we were taken to Jidda, Medina and Riyad. We received many promises for financial- and moral support but we shared Durics’ experience: no support was delivered except 2000. The amount was sufficient to pay all our debts.
From 1999 to 2000 I did not undertake any representative duty in the Islamic Community of Hungary as the Community was prevailed by the national Muslims’ controversies and internal fights along with the ‘blessed cooperation’ of some external forces that all led to uncertainty, financial and moral crisis within the Community.
Many stayed at home and practiced their religion there because they believed that this was the best way to stay away from gossips and power fights. Our situation resembled much to the conflict between Durics and Abdul Latif.
In December of 2000, our brother, V. A. died, who might have perceived his upcoming death and had started to encourage a complete renewal in the Community. Now that I’m writing these lines I hope that his soul rests in peace in the Heavens and we are on the right path.
The year 2001 did not bring along any major changes to our community life except the registration of another Muslim Church, which started its operations very soon afterwards, in the fall of 2000. I believe that we regarded each other rivals for a while. However, our Community cannot be deprived of the ‘historical’ attribute as it is our merit just like the continuity of our Church.

Brief summary of the present situation:

Actually, Hungary gives place to a dozen Islamic Foundations and another dozen Islamic Associations that all operate only under foreign leadership. Hungarian Muslim leaders are just marionette and serve to make their or­ganization appropriate to the world. Foreign financial support is sent ev­erywhere except to our community. Maybe the principle ‘similarities at­tract each other’ also works here. Maybe potential supporters have more confidence in their fellow citizens? We asked ourselves the same questions many times. However, we never gave up our independence and non-com­mitment by following Dr. Balázs Mihállfy’s example. We do not belong to any Islamic schools and we will not intend to do so. We don’t want to be Arabs or Turks, we’ve been Hungarians and we’ll be Hungarians, regard­less that our religion chosen on a voluntary basis seems a bit unusual.
Our situation is difficult due to the lack of financial support and the fact that we belong to a religious community that looks strange to a Hungarian person. Islam had a negative start in Hungary, if you think of the 150 years of Turkish occupation, Christian traditions and historical prejudice. All this was crowned by the terrorist attacks of 11th of September, 2001, whose brutality and the shocking Press images put the question: is Islam equal to terrorism? Our reply is a categorical NO!
We truly and deeply share the pain with the victims’ family, not talking about the high number of Muslim victims.
We are deeply against all violent actions committed in the name of our chosen religion, we condemn anti-Semitism and all actions done to intimi­date or subjugate others.
We wish to cooperate with all social organizations that contradict violence and works for social peace and the elimination of social differences.
There is one God who gave the Earth to mankind so that it could benefit from it. We must join together to be beneficial to our country and all mankind so that we may please our Creator. We do not have to build walls but destroy the walls between us and we must live with each other in love and cooperation in Hungary. Maybe our initiative will find supporters and Muslims and non-Muslims will join each other to work for noble purposes.