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Being Muslim the Bosniak Way

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Hamoudeh View Drop Down
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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Being Muslim the Bosniak Way
    Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 22:36

An insightful thread, though with some things that sadden me. I'm sorry not to have seen any mentioning of Bosnia-Herzegovine Grand Mufti, Imam Mustafa Ceric

Imaam Mustafa Ceric

A graduate of al-Azhar, Imaam Ceric originally hails from Sarajevo in the Balkans, where he graduated from a Madrasah there before heading to Egypt to complete his advanced studies. He is a strong advocate for unity between Orthodox Muslims. Hanbali Text Society

Mustafa Ceric is the Reis-ul-Ulema, President of the Council of Ulema, Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He graduated from the Medressa in Sarajevo and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, after which he returned to Bosnia, where he became an imam. He then spent several years as Imam of the U.S. Islamic Cultural Center, during which time he earned a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology at the University of Chicago. He left for Zagreb in 1987 where he became a practicing imam at a learning center. Mustafa Ceric is the author of a number of books in Bosnian including Roots of Synthetic Theology in Islam.

Reis al-`Ulema Mustafa Ceric (Bosnia)

In 1981, he accepted the position of Imam at the Islamic Cultural Center and settled in the United States for several years. He learned English and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in Islamic Theology. When he finished his studies, he returned to his homeland, left the ICC and became a practicing Imam in a learning center in Zabreb in 1987. During the war with the Serbs and Croats, he represented the defiance, dignity and God-consciousness of the Bosnian ulema who lead their people in the face of international apathy and acquiescence.

"The small jihad is finished quite a number of years ago now and we - some of us - survived the war. The Bosnian state is intact. But now we have to fight a bigger, second Jihad, that is an intellectual and educational one. We need to do our utmost to educate our children and help them gain knowledge about Islam. We mustn't be obsessed with the past; we need to look to the future. You, the Muslim Ummah around the world, helped us with the lesser jihad, now we need your help with this intellectual one. We need money to build schools, libraries and madrasas and to employ preachers and Imams."

This exclusive interview was conducted by the writer Nadeem Azam during a visit to London by Dr. Ceric.


A Conversation with Dr. Mustafa Ceric - Nadeem Azam

Ma`salam

 

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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 22:38
Ceric was recently re-elected, even though most people didn't think he would be. He's a good man, though, I like him.
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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 01:16

Would you say that Imam Ceric has been influential amongst the common Bosnian Muslims in the recent years, have some of those who perceived their religion in a cultural fashion increased in practice through his influence? Is the trend in the recent years more towards the Ottoman era, or towards modern secularism? From your post one would think it is the latter, but certain individuals are being highlighted that do not seem representative even if they are popular. Indeed many misconceptions seem to exist, and I would hope an eminent `Alim such as Imam Ceric and others have helped in changing these perceptions.

A reminder for the future or a time forever lost in the greater Balkan? It is interesting that secularism and other ideologies foreign to Islam have never influenced the populations as significantly and longlasting in Arabic countries as it has in the greater Balkan, even when it was prominent.

Ma`salam

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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 09:33
Well, to be honest, Ceric is one of the supporters of "secularism" here. He cried when he was talking about how happy he was that Bosniak women who started wearing the veil and praying in Arabic during the war returned to their more secular lifestyles.

It's what Snezana Islamovic was referring to in her quote when she said, "LIke our Imam said, I have no doubt that our people will return to their own traditions." and so on.

Generally he has a lot of respect - definitely much more than would be afforded to him simply because of his position. So he does have some influence. But he tends to religious justify our lifestyle and use that to bring people in, to get them more in-depth into Islam. But even if he created the perfect Bosnia and Herzegovina in his eyes, it would look no different on the surface. People would just feel closer to their faith.
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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 12:02
"Svi ljudi se todaju bezgrijesni
(All people are born free)

Svi ljudi se jednaku pred Bogom
(All people are equal before God)

Svi ljudi su nevini dok se ne dokaze da je neko kriv
(All people are innocent until proven guilty)

Svi ljudi su dobri dok se ne pokaze da je neko los
(All people are good until some do evil)

Svi ljudi su pravedni dok se ne utvrdi da je neko
nepravedan
(All people are just until some do injustice)

Svi su krivi dok se ne uhvate oni koji su zlocin pocinili
(All people are guilty until those who have committed
the crime are brought to justice)

Zlo je prisutno, ali nije apsolutno
(Evil is present, but it is not absolute)

Dobro je apsolutno, ali ponekad je potisnuto
(Good is absolute, but sometimes is absent)

Jer, svijet ne moze prezivjelti zlo i zlocin potiv
covjecanstva. Svijet moze zivjeti samo u dobru.
(The world cannot survive evil and crime against
humanity. The world live only by good)

Boze Milostivi
Ako mi zaboravimo Tebe,
Nemoj Ti zaboraviti nas
(Our Lord,
If we forget you,
Please don't forget us)"

- Mustafa Ceric

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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 15:49

It seems to me that in Bosnia, as well as some other Muslim countries, there exists a confusion between what is traditional way of its people and foreign influences. To be honest I find it very hard to imagine, that a scholar such as Mustafa Ceric who is recognized and very well respected by orthodox scholars around the world, would be upon a path that strays from orthodoxy in any way. From the description on HTSP, from the interview mentioned and from other sources it seems that his orthodoxy is only praised and confirmed. Is Snezana Islamovic properly understanding what the Imam means when he speaks of traditions, but to the best of my knowledge the traditions of Bosnian Muslims lie within the Usmani Khilafa and manifest in the way of the 'Ahnaaf. Can you show me any reference, translated if possible, of anything the Imam has said that goes against the Hanafi approach to either the veil or prayers? Or otherwise provide some of his statements pertaining to the subject along with the context they are said in?

Ma`salam

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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 16:17
I wish all muslims were like Bosnian muslims, the world would be a much happier place.
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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 16:17
His quote about Bosniaks remaining the same as
they've always been was widely reported in Bosnian
and international media. The only story I remember
specifically was "In Rebuilt Bosnia, no Terror
Toe-Hold" by the Christian Science Monitor.

As for your question about 'traditions', it is a loaded
word here. Tradition encompasses, basically,
everything about history, culture, language, practices,
festivals, etc, etc, etc. of a specific people that THIS
GROUP LIKES. You would never, in Bosnia, hear the
dominance of men over women described as a
tradition. You would, however, hear tolerance
described as a tradition.

Here is another interesting article - it mentions
Mustafa Ceric but also reveals quite a lot about
Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of the
best foreign descriptions I've ever read.

The Rev. Franklin Graham ought to visit Sarajevo.
So, for that matter, should anybody else who thinks
Islam "is a very evil and wicked religion," as Graham
said it was shortly after the September 11 attacks; or
that it is extreme and violent, as the conservative
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson said of the
faith last year.

And while strolling the smooth cobblestone streets
of the Bosnian capital's Old Town, anybody holding
such views might do well to stop in the city's Central
Mosque and listen to what Grand Mufti Mustafa
Ceric, leader of the nation's 1.6 million Muslims, has
to say. In his speeches, Ceric has been known to
quote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma
Gandhi as often as he cites the Koran. He has also
led calls for an "Islamic avant-garde" to promote
human rights and democracy; frequently celebrates
the historic and spiritual links among Islam,
Christianity and Judaism; and implores Muslims to
be careful about using words like "jihad." To
Muslims, Ceric says, the word "may mean many
good things, but to non-Muslims it means only one
thing: violent actions against their faith." For Bosnian
Muslims to live among other religions in a small
country, he says, is a sign of strength rather than
weakness. "I believe neither the weak nor the
aggressive will inherit the earth, but the cooperative,"
Ceric said in a 2001 speech in Vienna titled "Islam
Against Terrorism."

Ceric is about as tolerant and ecumenical as
religious leaders come. But his views are neither
unique nor on the liberal fringe here. Rather, they
tend to reflect and reinforce those of the vast majority
of Bosnia's Muslims, who make up 44 percent of the
country's 3.7 million people. Despite a genocidal war
from 1992 to 1995, in which Muslims were the main
victims, Islam in Bosnia remains an astonishingly
broad-minded faith that has largely made its peace
with other religions, the West, modernity, democracy
and the separation of mosque and state. This has
remained true despite an influx of fundamentalists
during the war who--funded largely by the Saudis
and preaching the strict Wahhabi form of
Islam--have led efforts to radicalize the country.


Bosnian Muslims, who prefer to be called Bosniaks,
never tire of pointing out that in downtown Sarajevo a
mosque, a synagogue, a Roman Catholic cathedral
and an Eastern Orthodox church sit within blocks of
each other. "Islam, through the Koran, accepts all
other religions, including Christianity and Judaism,"
said Amel, a 22-year-old student.
At first glance, Bosnia seems an unlikely place to
find such tolerance. The festering wounds and
lingering mistrust from a war in which Serb and
Croat militias waged a vicious campaign of "ethnic
cleansing" against Muslims are still evident here.
But due to centuries of tradition, and the strong
leadership of people like Ceric, Bosnian Islam has
managed to remain what many scholars call one of
the most tolerant branches of the faith in the Muslim
world. "All our experience in Bosnia is living with
other traditions," Rusmir Mahmutcehajic, a
Sarajevo-based sociologist and author of the book
Bosnia the Good: Tolerance and Tradition, told me.
"This kind of epistemic modesty is the basis for the
Bosnian experience. What we have is valuable."

During the siege of Sarajevo, when the Serb militias
captured territory in the city, they would often
spray-paint This Is Serbia! on buildings. At one point
the Bosnian Army briefly took back a chunk of land
on Sarajevo's outskirts, and a Muslim soldier noticed
the graffiti on a post office. According to local legend,
the soldier then scribbled an answer: This Is a Post
Office, You F--king Idiots!

The incident, now a part of Sarajevo folklore, reveals
not only Bosniaks' irrepressible sense of humor,
even in the darkest of times; it also speaks volumes
about just what those defending Sarajevo were
fighting for--not Islam, but the preservation of a city
and a culture that had historically been a
cosmopolitan melting pot. According to a survey
conducted in 1996, a year after the war ended, a
startling 93 percent of Bosnia's Muslims said they
preferred to live in a multiethnic and
multiconfessional society. In contrast, 83 percent of
Bosnia's Serbs and 81 percent of the country's
Croats said they wanted to live only with their own
ethnic group.
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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 17:06
In addition to all of this, mosques have always and continue to serve two different purposes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The first is, obviously, religious - as a place of worship. Take the Gazi Husref-bey Mosque in Sarajevo, for example. Even during the communist era, it was used as a place of worship:

Begova Mosque, 1984



As it is today as well.

Begova Mosque, 2004



But mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina also serve as community centres for the local, Muslim population. They are popular place to relax, chat, meet up with old friends, and waste away a slow, summer afternoon.

Begova Mosque, 1984



Begova Mosque, 2004


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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 17:19

Originally posted by Milla

His quote about Bosniaks remaining the same as they've always been was widely reported in Bosnian and international media. The only story I remember specifically was "In Rebuilt Bosnia, no Terror
Toe-Hold" by the Christian Science Monitor.

As for your question about 'traditions', it is a loaded word here. Tradition encompasses, basically, everything about history, culture, language, practices, festivals, etc, etc, etc. of a specific people that THIS GROUP LIKES. You would never, in Bosnia, hear the dominance of men over women described as a tradition. You would, however, hear tolerance described as a tradition.

How have Bosnian Muslims always been, if not Hanafis in accordance to the Ottoman tradition? Speaking of tradition I particular mean in the sense of Fiqh and the particular school of jurisprudence. I don't know what you specifically refer to with dominance of men over women, but generally speaking you would not hear of it for example in Syria either as a tradition while you would hear tolerance as a tradition. How this has to do with anything secular rather than the fundamentals of Islam as preserved in the schools that both countries largely follow, which are the same and through the orientation of the same Ottomans, is what I am wondering about. Thank you for the interview, but I don't see any statements in it that would show Imam Ceric to have secular tendencies rather than represent orthodoxy as found in Sunni Islam. In Syria we've had a late Mufti the Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro who invited Christian leaders into his mosque for the celebration of Christmas, which he faced opposition for yet still he maintains orthodox views and was widely respected by orthodox scholars around the world.

The article mentions influences of Wahhabism during the war, and I think this is an important factor in the confusions related to Bosnian vs. Arabic, tradition and secularism.

Ma`salam

 

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2005 at 09:58

well Muslims in Bosnia look exactly like in Indonesia then, in term liberality ( I dont know this good or bad think though ),

'PLZ prevent them from Idiot Wahabism sect, Coz ppl like these has destroyed alot beautifull place in my beloved country,

 

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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2005 at 02:52

The problem is that extremes incite eachother, when there is too much liberalism/secularism, extremism follows in response and visa versa. The best would be the middle path, which is how Islam is considered to be anyways: Deen al-Wasatiyya. No better reflection of this in Bosnia can be found other than in the Ottoman era.

Ma`salam

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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2005 at 03:36
Originally posted by Hamoudeh

The problem is that extremes incite eachother, when there is too much liberalism/secularism, extremism follows in response and visa versa. The best would be the middle path, which is how Islam is considered to be anyways: Deen al-Wasatiyya. No better reflection of this in Bosnia can be found other than in the Ottoman era.

Ma`salam



Freedom/secularism is no extreme: it is the normal way of living. Extremism is to try to impose your own narrow views on others, even if they are a minority.

If you religion and your approach to religion is so powerful, you should need to impose nothing, your very example would enlighten others and spread out quickly. Fubdamentalism is just throwing stones on your own roof.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2005 at 03:37
Originally posted by Mila


During the siege of Sarajevo, when the Serb militias
captured territory in the city, they would often
spray-paint This Is Serbia! on buildings. At one point
the Bosnian Army briefly took back a chunk of land
on Sarajevo's outskirts, and a Muslim soldier noticed
the graffiti on a post office. According to local legend,
the soldier then scribbled an answer: This Is a Post
Office, You F--king Idiots!





NO GOD, NO MASTER!
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  Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2005 at 09:56
It is true but he got it wrong.

It was the central part of Sarajevo, an area never conquered by the Serbian soliders. At the beginning of the war they were still spread out across the city - remember when they opened fire on protestors in April of 1992, they were positioned on the roof of the Holiday Inn, in the center of the New Town area. At this time one of them spraypainted "THIS IS SERBIA!" on the Post Office. (Yellow building)



Then someone else spraypainted, "This is a post office, you peasant!" in response.


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  Quote Infidel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2005 at 14:01

Originally posted by Mila

During the siege of Sarajevo, when the Serb militias
captured territory in the city, they would often
spray-paint This Is Serbia! on buildings. At one point
the Bosnian Army briefly took back a chunk of land
on Sarajevo's outskirts, and a Muslim soldier noticed
the graffiti on a post office. According to local legend,
the soldier then scribbled an answer: This Is a Post
Office, You F--king Idiots!

An nescite quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?
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  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Dec-2005 at 12:44
Maju it is not extreme from your perception, it is extreme from an Islamic perspective. This was the perspective I was speaking from, and as such consider secularism and liberalism extreme. However you may define extremism and how you may argue for or against it is up to you.
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  Quote violentjack Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2006 at 18:31
Tone Bringa wrote that book in 80'ties i read it years ago

Beink Muslim Bosnian way
Like in one village hge entered,host couldnt told him he just ate bacon,because Muslims werent supposed to eat pork products.Its interesting,detail and in some way quite funny


Bosnjaci,probudite se ili nestanite
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  Quote YuGo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2006 at 22:06
Originally posted by Hamoudeh

It seems to me that in Bosnia, as well as some other Muslim countries,

Sorry, I don't want to ruin this thread.... but, it bugs me when people confuze Bosnia as a Muslim country. There is no religion that makes a majority over 50% of the Bosnian population, and if anything both Orthodox Bosnians and Catholic Bosnians belong to Christianity, which makes up 48.6% of the population.. while Muslims make up 43%...

Anyways, Nice topic!

 

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  Quote YuGo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2006 at 22:21

My contribution to this thread...

It is important to note that the number of Bosniak returnees to the Republika Srpska is growing every year! Here are some pictures of the opening ceremony, for the Ruzevic mosque in the town of Teslic!

Photograph

Photograph

Photograph

Photograph

Photograph

 

 



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