The Legacy of the Lipka Tatars

Islam in Poland

In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Islam had been a freely professed religion for centuries. Because of their reputation as skilled and reliable soldiers, many Tatars were welcomed to settle in the area from the 14th Century onward. Freedom of religious practices was encoded in the Golden Liberty of 1575 and its Confederation of Warsaw Clause.

They were initially invited by the Grand Duke of Lithuania and settled in the areas of Vilnius, Hrodno, Trakai, and Kaunas in what is present day Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland. Because their customs and traditions evolved in their new environment, they became known as the "Lipka Tatars". Alas, because of the annexation of much of eastern Poland by the Soviet Union following World War II, less than 30,000 Lipka Tatars are Polish citizens today.

Karen Wisniewski & Dennis Benarz, USA 2010