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An Abstract of the History of Islam in Austria

The distinctiveness of Islam in Austria can be traced back to it's legal recognition - formerly constricted to the Hanafi school - in the year 1912 (e.g. Schmied 2005, 190). The recognition of Islam was based on the "law of recognition for religious communities", which was installed in 1874. Therefore, long before the guest worker era of the 1960'ies and 1970'ies.

With the occupation of the former Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the year 1878, the balance of power shifted. For the first time in history the incorporation of the provinces in the year 1908 saw the Habsburg Monarchy confronted with the challenge to incorporate a large number of muslims into their domain (Schmied 2005, 189). With the annexation a convention with the Ottoman empire was signed, which guaranteed the religious communities of the newly conquered terretories freedom of religion (Heine/Lohlker/Potz 2012, 47).

The law on Islam of 1912 guaranteed muslims living in Austria the possibility of:
- a common, public practice of Islam (e.g. Islamic teachings in schools)
- founding confessional institutions (e.g. schools and trusts)
- administrative self determination for inner matters
- and the right of equal treatment to Roman Catholics and member of other recognized religious communities (Schmied 2005, 190)

During WWI and with the end of the Habsburg Monarchy, the efforts to institutionalize Islam in Austria came to a halt. Only from 1932 it began to flourish again with the foundation of the "Islamic Cultural League". But with the invasion of Nazi Germany this association got suspended (Heine/Lohlker/Potz 2012, 53). During the short period of 1943 to 1948 the "Islamic Community of Vienna" existed. With the end of WWII, the "Association of Muslims in Austria", which concentrated their work mainly on religious and charitable issues, was founded (Bihl 1991, 592). On the initiative of the Bosniak Smail Balić, the association "Muslim Social Service" was founded in 1962. 

Balić submitted a petition for the foundation of the "Islamic Community" to the Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture (BMUKK) in 1972. On the basis of the "Law on Islam" stemming from 1912 and the "Law on Recognition" from 1874, the founding of the "Islamic Community of Faith in Austria" (IGGiÖ) was granted on May 2nd, 1974.


  • Bihl, Wolfdieter. „Zur Stellung des Islam in Österreich.“ Österreichische Osthefte 3, 1991. Demographisches Jahrbuch Wien.
  • Heine, Susanne / Rüdiger Lohlker / Richard Potz. Muslime in Österreich: Geschichte, Lebenswelt, Religion; Grundlagen für den Dialog. Innsbruck; Wien: Tyrolia-Verlag, 2012.
  • Kreisky, Jan. Historische Aspekte des Islam in Österreich: Kontinuitäten und Brüche. Wien: Österreichischer Integrationsfonds, 2010.
  • Schmied, Martina. „Islam in Österreich.“ In : Islam, Islamismus und islamischer Extremismus, von Walter Feichtinger, Herausgeber: Walter Feichtinger, Wien, 2005, S.189-206.
  • Neumayer, Christoph. „Der Islam in Österreich-Ungarn 1878 - 1918 : Neuordnung der muslimischen Kultusverwaltung in Bosnien - Muslime in der k.u.k. Armee – Muslime in Wien und Graz.“ Diplomarbeit, Wien, Univ., 1995.
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