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Islam

Islam in Georgia was introduced in 645 AD. when an army sent by the Second Caliph of Islam, Umar, conquered Eastern Georgia and established Muslim rule in Tbilisi. During this period, Tbilisi (al-Tefelis) grew into a center of trade between the Islamic world and northern Europe. Islam's history continued in Georgia throughout the late 14th and early 15th centuries with Timur's invasions of Georgia and during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Safavids and Ottomans commanded influence in the region. In 1703, Vakhtang VI became the ruler of the kingdom of Kartli and he embraced Islam. Other notable Georgian Muslims from that era include David XI of Kartli, Jesse of Kakheti and Simon II of Kartli.

Muslims constitute 9.9%, or 463,062 of the Georgian population and mainly consist of ethnic Azerbaijani Shia Muslims concentrated along the border with Armenia. The Georgian ethnic Muslims are Sunni Hanafi and are found in relatively small numbers in the rural parts of Adjara, a Georgian region bordering Turkey.

There are two major Muslim groups in Georgia. The Georgian ethnic Muslims are Sunni Hanafi and are concentrated in Autonomous Republic of Adjara of Georgia bordering Turkey. The ethnic Azerbaijani Muslims are predominantly Shia Ithna Ashariyah and are concentrated along the border with Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Meskhetian Turks are Sunni Hanafi Muslims. Meskhetian Turks are the former Turkish inhabitants of Meskheti region of Georgia, along the border with Turkey. They were deported to Central Asia during November 15–25, 1944 by Joseph Stalin and settled within Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Of the 120,000 forcibly deported in cattle-trucks a total of 10,000 perished. Today they are dispersed over a number of other countries of the former Soviet Union. There are 500,000 to 700,000 Meskhetian Turks in exile in Azerbaijan and Central Asia.

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