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Islam in Norway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Islam in Norway is a minority religion and the second largest religion in Norway after Christianity. As of 2018, Statistics Norway gives a number of 166,861 Muslims living in Norway or 3.15% of total population.[1] These numbers vary depending on the source. The U.S. government statistics from the CIA registered 121,095 members of Islamic congregations in Norway, roughly 2.3% of the population, according to a 2011 estimation.[2] The Pew Research Center estimated that 3.7% of Norwegians were Muslim in 2010[3] and 5.7% in 2016.[4]

The majority of Muslims in Norway are Sunni, with a significant Shia minority. 55% lived in the counties of Oslo and Akershus. Scholarly estimates regarding the number of people of Islamic background in Norway vary between 120,000 (2005) and 163,000 (2009).[5] The vast majority have an immigrant background, with Norwegians of Pakistani descent being the most visible and well-known group. Islam in Norway has also some famous converts which includes the ethnic Norwegian man Yousef-Al Nahi and Vegard Bjørge, they are both well known for their engagement on social media, especially when it comes to tolerance and rights for minorities. Other famous muslims from Norway includes Fatima Almanea, Hadia Tajik and Sumaya Jirde Ali. [6]

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Icelandic annals relate the arrival of embassies from the Muslim sultan of Tunis in Norway in the 1260s, after King Håkon Håkonsson had sent embassies to the Sultan with rich gifts.[7] The population of Muslims in the country has not been noticeable until the latter half of the 20th century, however. Immigration from Muslim countries to Norway began late compared to other western-European countries, and didn't gather pace until the late 1960s. In 1975, labor immigration to Norway was halted, but rules for family reunification were relatively relaxed for several more years.[8]

The number of Muslims in Norway was first registered in official statistics in 1980, when it was given as 1006. These statistics are based on membership of a registered congregation, and it is most likely that the low number is due to the fact that few Muslims were members of a mosque. Historian of religion Kari Vogt estimates that 10% of Norwegian Muslims were members of a mosque in 1980, a proportion which had increased to 70% by 1998.[9][page needed] Being a member of a mosque was an alien concept to many immigrants from Muslim countries. In Norway, because government grants to religious congregations are based on the number of registered members, except for the state church. The number of registered members of mosques increased to 80,838 in 2004, but have since dropped to 72,023 in 2006. Part of the reason for the drop could be a new methodology in the compilation of statistics.[10]

In the end of the 1990s, Islam passed the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostalism to become the largest minority religion in Norway, provided Islam is seen as one group.[citation needed] However, as of 2013, the Roman Catholic Church regained its position as the largest minority religion in Norway due to increasing immigration from European countries and less immigration from Muslim-majority countries.[11] In 2009, the total number of registered Muslim congregations was 126. More than 40 prayer locations exist in the city of Oslo.[12]

In 2010 a Muslim from Örebro in Sweden wanted to build a mosque in Tromsø with money from Saudi Arabia but the Norwegian government declined to give permission on the grounds that Saudi Arabia has no freedom of religion.[13]

In a 2014 poll conducted by the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity, 5 of 10 Norwegians considered Islamic values to be either completely or partially incompatible with Norwegian society.[14]

In June 2018, the parliament of Norway passed a bill banning clothing covering the face at educational institutions as well as daycare centres, which included face-covering Islamic veils. The prohibition applies to pupils and staff alike.[15][16]


Studies conducted for a TV channel in 2006 found that 18% of Norwegian Muslims reported visiting the mosque once a week. A similar study in 2007 reported that 36% of Muslim youth visit the mosque less than once a month.[17]

According to a 2007/2008 survey of students at upper secondary schools in Oslo, 25% of Muslims pray regularly while 12% attend religious services weekly.[18]


Historical population
1980 1,006—    
1990 54,000+5267.8%
2000 56,458+4.6%
2010 144,000+155.1%
2018 166,861+15.9%
Note: 1990 data,[19] 2010 data,[19] 2018 data[1]

Muslims in Norway are a very fragmented group, coming from many different backgrounds. Kari Vogt estimated in 2000 that there were about 500 Norwegian converts to Islam.[20] The rest are mostly first or second generation immigrants from a number of countries. The largest immigrant communities from Muslim countries in Norway are from Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia:

Country of origin Number (2008)[21]
Pakistan 30,134
Somalia 27,881
Iraq 21,795
Bosnia and Herzegovina 15,649
Iran 15,134
Turkey 15,003
Converts 900 - 1,000[22]

An unknown, but presumably high, proportion of these immigrant populations is Muslim. In other words, the largest group of Norwegian Muslims originate in Pakistan, but no single nationality constitute as much as a quarter of the total population.[citation needed]

The Turkish, Pakistani and Iranian communities are quite established in Norway. 55% of Iranians have lived in Norway more than 10 years. The Iraqis are a more recent group, with 80% of the Iraqi community having arrived in the past 10 years.[citation needed]

In the 1990s there was a wave of asylum seekers from the Balkans, mostly Bosniaks. In recent years most immigrants arrive as part of family reunification.[citation needed]

By county (2019)

County Percent Muslim
Oslo 12.5%
Akershus 5.8%
Østfold 6.5%
Buskerud 6.3%
Rogaland 3.6%
Hordaland 2.9%
Vestfold 3.9%
Telemark 4.6%
Vest-Agder 4.5%
Hedmark 2.9%
Oppland 3.0%
Nordland 2.8%
Møre og Romsdal 2.1%
Trøndelag 3,0%
Troms 2.7%
Aust-Agder 3.5%
Sogn og Fjordane 2.4%
Finnmark 2.9%
Norway 5.0%

By region (2019)

Region Percent Muslim
Eastern Norway 6.9%
Western Norway 3.0%
Trøndelag 2.7%
Southern Norway 4.1%
Northern Norway 2.8%
Year Muslims Percent
1980[citation needed] 1,006 0.02%
1990[19] 54,000 1.3%
2000[citation needed] 56,458 1.3%
2006[23] 76,000 1.6%
2010[19] 144,000 2.9%
2018[1] 166,861 3.2%
2030[19] 359,000 6.3%


The mosque of The Islamic Association of Bergen (Det Islamske Forbundet i Bergen), like most Norwegian mosques situated in a regular town house.
The mosque of The Islamic Association of Bergen (Det Islamske Forbundet i Bergen), like most Norwegian mosques situated in a regular town house.

Mosques have been important, not just as places of prayer, but also as a meeting place for members of minority groupings. Several mosques also do different forms of social work, e.g. importantly, organising the transport of deceased members back to their countries of origin for burial. The mosques are mostly situated in regular city blocks, and are not easily visible features of the cities.


The first mosque in Norway was the Islamic Cultural Centre, which opened in Oslo in 1974.[24] The initiative for the mosque came from Pakistanis who were helped by the Islamic Cultural Centre which had already opened in Copenhagen in Denmark. The new mosque adhered to the deobandi branch of Sunni Islam.[citation needed] Adherents of the Sufi inspired Barelwi movement, who constituted the majority of Pakistanis in Norway, soon felt the need for a mosque of their own, and opened the Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat in 1976. This is today the second largest mosque in Norway, with over 6,000 members.[25]

By 2005, only one purpose-built mosque existed in Norway, built by the Sufi-inspired[26] Sunni Muslim World Islamic Mission in Oslo in 1995. Minhaj-ul-Quran International established its mosque and centre in 1987.[27] In 2000, this was the first Norwegian mosque to start performing the adhan - the call to prayer. Initially, the mosque received permission from Gamle Oslo borough to perform the adhan once a week. This was appealed to county authorities by the Progress Party. The ruling of the fylkesmann (county governor) of Oslo and Akershus stated that no permission was required for performing the adhan, leaving the mosque free to perform it at their own discretion.[28] The mosque decided to limit themselves to performing the adhan once a week.


As the Muslim population grew, the number of mosques also multiplied quickly. As long as the total number of Muslims was low, it was natural for many different groupings to congregate in a single mosque. But as different immigrant groupings increased in number, the wish for separate mosques for people of different nationalities, languages and sects increased. The first Shia mosque, Anjuman-e hussaini, was founded in 1975, and in the early 1980s, separated Moroccan and Turkish mosques were established.[29]


Nor mosque at Frogner in Oslo, the mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Oslo.
Nor mosque at Frogner in Oslo, the mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Oslo.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community established itself here in 1957.[30] Various Ahmadi mosques include Noor Mosque, opened in Oslo August 1, 1980[31] and Baitun Nasr Mosque in Furuset, Oslo.[32]


Islam Net is a salafist organisation in Norway, founded by engineer student Fahad Qureshi in 2008.[33]

Umbrella organisations

The main umbrella organization in Norway is the Islamic Council Norway, which was set up in 1993.[34] In 2009, the Islamic Council publicly denounced harassment of homosexuals.[35] Minhaj-ul-Quran has a branch in Norway and community centre was established in Oslo in 1987.[36] In 1991, the Islamic Women's Group Norway (Islamsk Kvinnegruppe Norge) was founded, after an initiative by the Norwegian convert Nina Torgersen.[citation needed] In 1995, a Muslim Students' Society (Muslimsk Studentsamfunn) was established at the University of Oslo, with some of its officers, such as Mohammad Usman Rana, becoming important voices in the Norwegian public sphere.[citation needed] The Islamic foundation Urtehagen was established in 1991 by the Norwegian convert Trond Ali Linstad, at first running a kindergarten and youth club. In 1993, Linstad applied for the first time to establish a Muslim private school. The Labour Party government of Gro Harlem Brundtland rejected the application in 1995, stating that it would be "detrimental to the integration of the children". After the Labour government was replaced by the government of Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian People's Party in 1997, Linstad applied again, and his application was approved in 1999. In August 2001, Urtehagen School (Urtehagen friskole) opened with 75 pupils. However, internal conflicts at the school led to its closure in the spring of 2004.[37] Plans to open a similar school in Drammen in 2006 were blocked after the new left-wing government stopped all new private schools after coming to power in 2005.[38] As of today, no Muslim schools exist in Norway.[citation needed]

Non-Denominational Islam

In June 2017, Thee Yezen al-Obaide revealed plans to create a mosque in Oslo named Masjid al-Nisa (The Women’s Mosque). In an interview, al-Obaide described the mosque as "a feminist mosque where women have as much space as men." The establishment will allow both men and women should be able to lead prayers, and all genders should be able to pray in the same room. The mosque will also be open to LGBT people and has been compared to the Ibn Ruschd-Goethe mosque in Germany and the Mariam Mosque in Denmark.[39]


Since 2007, the Islamic Cultural Centre stages an Eid Mela annually that attracts around 5,000 visitors. The event involves food, concerts, and other activities.[40]

Interfaith relations

Following the 2015 Copenhagen shootings, Norwegian Muslims were among those taking part in a vigil on 21 February 2015 evening, in which they joined hands with Norwegian Jews and others to form a symbolic protective ring around the Norwegian capital's main synagogue.[41]

Islamic dress

As of 2014, no laws had been implemented to restrict Islamic dress in public space or schools. In 2007, a debate occurred to ban face veils in higher education but institutions advised against such a bill. Similar debates arose in 2010 but failed to result in any ban. In 2012, a student at the University of Tromsø was kicked out of class by a professor but no general ban on niqabs was adopted. However, the Oslo City Council and County Board of Østfold banned niqabs in teaching situations at their high schools. Norwegian law does not reference a right of people to wear religious headgear, but the issue is referenced by the Working Environment Act and the Gender Equality Act. The Norwegian Labour Inspectorate considers refusal to accommodate religious headgear as discrimination. Hijabs have been incorporated into uniforms in the army, healthcare, etc.[42]

In a 2014 poll conducted by the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity, a majority of Norwegians were negative to the wearing of the hijab outside the home.[14] A stronger antipathy (75%) was expressed towards the hijab being part of the police uniform in Norway.[14] Concerning the full-cover niqab, 86% expressed a very or very negative opinion.[14]

In June 2017, the Norwegian government proposed rules banning female students from wearing full-face veils. Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen said that in their perspective, full-face veils like the hijab don’t have a place in educational circumstances since they counteract correspondence. The administration is subsequently examining the likelihood of controlling the utilization of such pieces of clothing in childcare focuses, schools and colleges.[43]

The Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg stated in an interview that in Norwegian work environments it is essential to see each other's faces and therefore anyone who insists on wearing a niqab is in practice unemployable. Solberg also views the wearing of the niqab as a challenge to social boundaries in the Norwegian society, a challenge that would be countered by Norway setting boundaries of its own. Solberg also stated that anyone may wear what they wish in their spare time and that her comments applied to professional life but that any immigrant has the obligation to adapt to Norwegian work life and culture.[44]

In April 2019, telecom company Telia received bomb threats after featuring a Muslim woman taking off her hijab in a commercial. Although the police did not evaluate the threat likely to be carried out, delivering threats is still a crime in Norway.[45][46][47][48]


Islamophobia refers to the set of discourses, behaviours and structures which express feelings fear, towards Islam and Muslims in Norway.[49][50] Islamophobia can manifest itself through discrimination in the workforce,[51] negative coverage in the media,[52] and violence against Muslims.[53] In 2004 the slogan, "Ikke mobb kameraten min (Don't touch my hijab)," was adopted by a Norwegian protest movement focused around the case of Ambreen Pervez and a proposed hijab ban. Pervez was told by her employer that she was not to wear her hijab to work. The slogan was an adaption of the french slogans, "Ne touche pas a mon pote (Dont touch my buddy)," and, "Touche pas à mon foulard (Don't touch my hijab.)" A number of employment discrimination cases in Norway arose over the wearing of the hijab.[54] [55][56]


Most research has focused on immigration, and there is a lack of research about the Muslims that are already in the country. The research usually focuses on either the religious or social aspect. Popular versus normative is one controversial way of characterizing Muslims.[57][58] Researchers have become increasingly polarized in recent years.[59]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Statistics Norway – Church of Norway and other religious and philosophical communities
  2. ^ "CIA World Factbook: Norway". CIA World Factbook. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  4. ^ "5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe". Pew Research Center. 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  5. ^ (in Norwegian) Islam i Norge
  6. ^ Cesari 2014, p. 393.
  7. ^ Nielsen et al. 2014, p. 308.
  8. ^ Cesari 2014, p. 394.
  9. ^ Vogt, Kari (2008). Islam på norsk : moskeer og islamske organisasjoner i Norge. Oslo, Norway: Cappelen Damm. ISBN 9788202293468.
  10. ^ "Trus- og livssynssamfunn utanfor Den norske kyrkja, 2006" (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  11. ^ Daugstad, Gunnlaug; Østby, Lars (2009). "Et mangfold av tro og livssyn" [A variety of beliefs and denominations]. Det flerkulturelle Norge (in Norwegian). Statistics Norway. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  12. ^ Nielsen, Jørgen; Akgönül, Samim; Alibašić, Ahmet; Racius, Egdunas (2013). Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 5. BRILL. p. 490. ISBN 9789004255869. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  13. ^ "sv: Norska regeringen säger nej tack till saudiska pengar (Norwegian government says no to Saudi money)". Uppdrag granskning. Sveriges Television. 2011-02-02. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d Integreringsbarometeret 2013/2014 - Holdninger til innvandring, integrering og mangfold. Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity. 2014. p. 11. ISBN 978-82-8246-151-1.
  15. ^ "Norway bans burqa and niqab in schools". 2018-06-06. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  16. ^ "Nå blir det forbudt med nikab i norske skoler". Bergens Tidende (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  17. ^ Walseth, Kristin (18 January 2013). "Muslim girls' experiences in physical education in Norway: What role does religiosity play?" (PDF). Oslo, Norway: Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. p. 4. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  18. ^ Botvar, Pål Ketil; Sjöborg, Anders (2012). "Views on human rights among Christian, Muslim and non-religious youth in Norway and Sweden" (PDF). Nordic Journal of Religion and Society. 25 (1): 73. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e The Future of the Global Muslim Population Archived 2011-02-09 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Cited by Jorgen Nielsen (ed.), "Islam in Denmark: The Challenge of Diversity," Lexington Books (December 21, 2011), pg. 53. ISBN 978-0739150924.
  21. ^ Source: Statistics Norway Archived January 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ (in Norwegian) Guro Sollien Eriksrud, "Flere nordmenn blir muslimer"[permanent dead link], Dagsavisen (17 juni 2006). Retrieved 24-11-2013.
  23. ^ Muslim religious communities grow Norwaytoday, 01.12.2017
  24. ^ "Om ICC". Islamic Cultural Centre Norway. 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  25. ^ Ebrahimnejad, Masoud (29 March 2016). "Central Jamaat e Ahle Sunnat". Utrop (in Norwegian).
  26. ^ "Norway Muslims question focus on Breivik's sanity". Fox News. AP. April 28, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  27. ^ Minhaj-ul-Quran mosque Norway
  28. ^ (in Norwegian) Lov med bønnerop Archived 2007-02-17 at the Wayback Machine, Aftenposten, November 1, 2000
  29. ^ "The Anjuman-e-Hussainy". Anjuman-e-Hussainy. 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  30. ^ Lewis, James R.; Tøllefsen, Inga Bårdsen (2015). Handbook of Nordic New Religions. BRILL. p. 364. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Masjid Noor". 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Moské vil bygge 40-50 boliger" (in Norwegian). Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  33. ^ Bangstad, Sindre (22 December 2014). "salafisme". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian).
  34. ^ Cesari 2014, p. 1993.
  35. ^ Nielsen et al. 2014, p. 469.
  36. ^ Website of Minhaj-ul-Quran Norway
  37. ^ (in Norwegian) Full krise i Urtehagen skole i Oslo
  38. ^ (in Norwegian) Full stopp for muslimskole[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "Norwegian Muslim plans liberal mosque in Oslo". The Local. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  40. ^ Nielsen et al. 2014, p. 471.
  41. ^ "Norwegian Muslims join Oslo synagogue vigil". Deutsche Welle. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  42. ^ Nielsen et al. 2014, p. 466.
  43. ^ "Norway to ban full-face veil in nurseries, schools and universities". BBC News. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  44. ^ "Erna Solberg: – Du får ikke jobb hos meg hvis du har nikab på". NRK. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  45. ^ Ripegutu, Halvor. "Telia har mottatt trussel som følge av hijab-reklame". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  46. ^ "Trusler, klagestorm og hatefulle ytringer mot Telia etter hijab-reklame". (in Norwegian). 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  47. ^ AS, Nordvestnytt. "Trussel mot Telia etter hijab-reklame". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  48. ^ "Phone company Telia threatened in Norway after empowerment advert". Reuters. 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  49. ^ Richardson, Robin (2012), Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism – or what? – concepts and terms revisited (PDF), p. 7, retrieved 10 December 2016
  50. ^ Hogan, Linda; Lehrke, Dylan (2009). Religion and politics of Peace and Conflict. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 9781556350672.
  51. ^ Midtbøen, Arnfinn; Rogstad, Jon (2012). "Diskrimineringens omfang og årsaker: Etniske minoriteters tilgang til norsk arbeidsliv" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Institutt For Samfunnsforskning. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  52. ^ Bangstad, Sindre (2016). "Islamophobia in the Norway National Report 2015" (PDF). European Islamophobia Report. Istanbul, Turkey: Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research. p. 417. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  53. ^ Thjømøe, Silje Løvstad (22 April 2015). "Tiltalt for rasistisk motivert vold: "Fucking muslims, you don't have anything to do here"". VG-lista. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  54. ^ Jacobsen, Christine (December 17, 2010). Islamic Traditions and Muslim Youth in Norway. BRILL. p. 160–162. ISBN 9789004178908. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  55. ^ Sandberg, Tor (April 22, 2007). "Nektet å fjerne hijaben, mistet jobben(Refused to remove her hijab, lost her job)". Dagsavisen. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  56. ^ "France: Banning the niqab violated two Muslim women's freedom of religion - UN experts". United Nations Human Rights- Office of the High Commissioner. October 23, 2018.
  57. ^ Ahlberg 1990
  58. ^ Vogt 2000
  59. ^ cf. Birt 2006; Bonnefoy 2003


External links

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