By Stoyan Raichevsky
Translated from the Bulgarian by Maya Pencheva
Bulgarian Bestseller - National Museum of Bulgarian Books and Polygraphy
184 pages, Illustrated, 6 ¾" x 9 ¼"
The Mohammedan Bulgarians (the so-called Pomaks) have often been the object of research in contemporary Bulgarian and Balkan historiography. The major problem in such studies is the conversion to Islam: when, how and for what reason did it happen, was violence applied in adopting Islam or economic considerations were quite enough.
The analysis of all existing publications indicates that the Mohammedan Bulgarians adopted Islam on a mass scale mainly in the period 17th-18th c. The reasons for that vary. Naturally there was change of faith imposed with the sword, but this was not the only and the major reason for adopting Islam.
It seems that the main factor was economic pressure and the temptation of privileges and tax reductions received for adopting Islam by Mohammedan Bulgarians is suggested - the greed of Greek Orthodox clergy, the conflict of the Bogomils with the Orthodox Church, etc. A second group of studies of Mohammedan Bulgarians in centered on their ancient Bulgarian language, their rituals and traditional culture, in which scholars discover many traces of the pre-Islamic period and the so-called crypto-Christianity. A third group of studies can't be disregarded - those which uncover the common hereditary roots, the kinship relations or the common property of Mohammedan Bulgarians and Christian Bulgarians.
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