ABWA Official Website – Albania, the smallest country in the Balkans, is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. With an area of 28,748 km2, the population of Albania is 2,845,955 according to the latest census.
Located in the southeast of Europe and in the Balkan Peninsula, Albania consists of 70% Muslims and 30% Christians. Muslims follow Sunni and Bektashi schools. The migration of Alevi and Bektashi Shiites played an important role in the expansion of Shiism in this country.
About 45% of Albanian Muslims are of Sufi sects, and before religion was banned in Albania (during the Soviet era), these sects had significant activity. This can be understood from the large number of Takiyes (Takiye: a place for holding religious ceremonies) that have remained since that time, and now, that religious activities have been freed in this country, these sects have started to work and rebuild their Takiyes. Although Sufi sects in Albania outwardly consider themselves followers of one of the Sunni schools, they all consider themselves Shiite inwardly.
The emergence of extremist Salafist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS caused some people from Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to be deceived by them and joined them and created harsh propaganda against Shia in Albania.
On the sidelines of the 7th General Assembly of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Ali Ansari, reporter of ABNA News Agency has conducted a brief interview with Sheikh Volant Miria, a Shiite activist from Albania, as follows:
ABNA – First of all, please introduce yourself and explain your activities.
Sheikh Volant Miria – I am Sheikh Volunt Moriya, nicknamed Sheikh Abbas from Albania, and a Mustabasr (Shia convert). In Beirut, Lebanon, I studied Islamic sciences for eight years, and since 2002, I have been promoting and publishing the sciences of the Quran and the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings in Albania.
In 2005, I founded the Albanian Shiite Association under the name of the Nasim Association, which only deals with the Shiite school and the AhlulBayt (a.s.) teachings. I have authored five books and translated 78 books from Arabic to Albanian, with various topics such as Tafsir of the Quran, Islamic ethics, the biography of the AhlulBayt (a.s.), and Shia history.
Nasim Association of Albania is active on a page on Facebook, and on this page, in addition to the books written and translated by me, there are more than 130 books with Shia Quranic content and other contents. I am now the president of the Nasim Association, and in addition, I manage the Holy Quran Foundation of Albania, which is sponsored by Al-Mustafa (p.b.u.h) International University. Nasim Association and the Holy Quran Foundation in Albania work together to produce Shia content and promote Quranic activities, and in this regard, they have compiled 205 Shia books in the Albanian language. The translation of “Tafsir Nemooneh” by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi in 30 volumes in the Albanian language was one of the greatest Quranic achievements of the Nasim Foundation. This translation is the only detailed translation in Albania.
The establishment of Noor Al-Quran online radio and television in late 2021 was our latest achievement in Albania. Our online radio has about 290 thousand followers. Also, 1,900 video programs have been broadcasted on our online TV so far. Our Facebook page has many followers, about 190 thousand people, and on this page, we publish various topics for them.
Our other activity is a program on one of the famous private radio stations in Albania called Radio National. Every Friday night for an hour and a half, we air Kumayl supplication on this radio. Also, on Fridays, we broadcast a live program on this radio for one hour.
ABNA – Please explain the Shiites’ situation in Albanian society.
Sheikh Volant Miria – 70% of the Albanian population are Muslims. Alevis are part of the population who are enthusiasts of AhlulBayt (a.s.). They are active in Albania, and we have good relations with them, and we provide books and religious content for them. Albanian Shiites are Twelvers. We have a good relationship with the Sunnis and Alevis in the country, and this relationship also exists in Macedonia and Kosovo.
There is a strong basis for spreading the AhlulBayt (a.s.) school in Albania, and we thank God for the existence of the banner of AhlulBayt (a.s.) in this region. This situation owes more than anything to the grace of God and the blessings of the AhlulBayt (a.s.), as well as the support of the institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, Al-Mustafa (p.b.u.h) International University, and the raised flag of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) in the area.
ABNA – What is the economic situation of Albanian Muslims?
Sheikh Volant Miria – There is an economic crisis all over the world and Albania is no exception to this situation. The economic condition of the people of the country is not good, especially the Albanian Shiites, whose economic condition is worse than the rest of the Muslims in Albania. The AhlulBayt (a.s.) enthusiasts do not have many facilities in this country, and in recent years, the deprivation of Albanian Shiites has increased.
ABNA – Are there any obstacles to the expansion of Shiism in Albania?
Sheikh Volant Miria – There is a strong basis for the promotion of Shia in Albania, and as a child of this country, I think there are no obstacles in this way. Of course, we need financial support to publish books, establish schools, and websites to spread the AhlulBayt (a.s.) belief in Albanian society. But we must know that in Albania, along with Kosovo and Macedonia, there is a strong and ready platform for the acceptance of Shia.
During the past 20 years, we invited and preached to others based on the Quranic verse “ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ” (Holy Quran, Surah: An-Nahl, Verse: 125) (Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice) and have followed the orders of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, who always calls for unity and brotherhood. We do our own actions without insulting or blaming others.
We publish the words of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) according to the hadith of Imam Reza (a.s.) who said, “If people knew the virtue of our words, they would follow us”, and we spend all our efforts in this field, and we see that even the Wahhabis accept the thoughts of the Shia school.
ABNA – Do Shiites in Albania have an independent religious school?
Sheikh Volant Miria – There are religious schools in Albania. But these schools belong to the Sunnis, and the Shiites, unfortunately, do not have an independent religious school. In the past, there was a religious school for girls under the supervision of Al-Mustafa (p.b.u.h) International University in Albania, and religious ceremonies were held in that school. But it was closed and now Albanian Shiites have no independent religious school. It is in the meanwhile that having a school for Shiites in Albania is one of the best ways to educate Shiite preachers in the country.
ABNA – What are the obstacles to establishing independent religious schools for Shiites in Albania?
Sheikh Volant Miria – The establishment of an independent religious school for Shiites in Albania requires obtaining permission from the government of this country, as well as obtaining permission from the Association of Islamic Sheikhs of Albania which is currently under the control of a person who is one of the enemies of AhlulBayt (a.s.). However, it is not impossible to establish such a school for the Shiites of the country, and it is possible to establish an independent religious school for Shiites.
ABNA – What is the view of the Albanian people towards the Islamic Republic of Iran?
Sheikh Volant Miria – Regardless of political issues, most Albanians respect the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Albanian people know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only Muslim country that defends the rights of Muslims and the oppressed in Palestine, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Albanian culture is similar to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have witnessed the connection of professors and Ph.D. graduates in various fields of study in Albania with the cultural consultancy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because there is a connection between Albanian and Iranian cultures.
ABNA – How do you predict the future of Shiites in Albania?
Sheikh Volant Miria – We are optimistic about the future of Shia in Albania. Currently, students from this country are studying in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and after graduation, they will set a bright future for the Shiite school in Albania.
ABNA – Thank you for your precious time and participation in this interview.
Sheikh Volant Miria – God bless you.