Just went to Isha at Dzhumaya mosque in Plovdiv Bulgaria. Having read that the Ottomans ruled over this land for more or less 500 years until the 1870’s when they lost the Russo Turkish war , I would have still expected more than the paltry dozen worshippers in a very large and beautiful Ottoman masjid. Most of the worshippers like me looked like outsiders visiting.
Perhaps it was the years of communist rule that all but extinguished religiousness of Muslims or even if they recognise themselves as such. Perhaps they moved away with the ottomans , or perhaps Muslims were always a minority as the way the Ottomans ran Bulgaria was to ensure that their authority was submitted to and the jizya and other levies were paid.
More likely it was the weakness in the way in which Islam was carried by the Ottomans, where they were quite permissive and accommodating to other belief forms. At the same time they were militarily minded but not deeply rooted in Islamic thought.
Most of the lands in which Islam was implemented to this day the people still hold on to Islam from Morocco to Indonesia. It is here in the balkans that we do not see whole populations except in pockets like the Bosnian Muslims or Muslims in Rhodopes Bulgaria in spite of Islam being applied over them.
This shows that it is not the might of the ruling that is all important rather the political and ideological thought that underpins it. When it loses its clarity, Muslims will not challenge other belief systems and succeed in transforming the societies adequately even though the authority of Islam is established over the lands.
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