17 Mar 2014

Bosnia


Bosnia nan indah
Oleh SAIFUL NAZLI MOHAMMAD NASIR

Mulanya meremang bulu roma apabila teman mengajak ke Bosnia. Hanya bayangan kelam - kehancuran, kese­dihan dan kemurungan kesan peperangan yang pernah mengejutkan dunia satu ketika dulu di rantau Balkan.

Sejarah menyaksikan pembunuhan beramai-ramai penuh tragis yang menjadikan ramai dalam kalangan kita beranggapan, inilah negara terakhir bagi dilawati untuk bercuti dan santai.

Namun ternyata tanggapan saya jauh tersasar. Segala yang difikirkan sangat berbeza dan bertentangan sama sekali.

Maha Suci Allah, sejak hari pertama lagi saya bersama empat lagi teman dapat rasai dan nikmati keindahan alam, keharmonian hidup dan keunikan seni bina sepanjang bermusafir bersama Kembara Muslim Harmony ke satu-satunya negara Eropah yang majoriti penduduknya ber­agama Islam iaitu Bosnia dan Herzegovina
.


AIR terjun Jajce di pertemuan Sungai Pliva dan Sungai Vrbas.


Penghujung Disember, biasanya rantau ini ‘beku’ dan sejuknya bukan kepalang. Setibanya di Sarajevo dari Istanbul, kami disambut mesra oleh wakil ejen pelancongan Harmony Excellence Holidays di Bosnia yang membawa kami bersiar-siar, memberi makan ribuan merpati jinak di Pigeon Square dan kemudian menikmati hidangan ‘ashchinica’ (kebab Bosnia-Turki) yang sungguh menyelerakan.


Bagi saya, selama ini ia sangat asing, lalu sahabat di Bosnia memberi taklimat pengembaraan dan memperkenalkan negara yang menampung penduduk sekitar empat juta orang ini yang dihuni tiga kaum etnik utama iaitu Bosniak, Serb dan Croatia.

Yang menambah kekaguman saya di sepanjang pe­ngembaraan, kelihatan bentuk bumi yang bergunung-ganang menyerlahkan lagi keindahan ciptaan Tuhan.

Air sungainya jernih me­ngalir dan di Ilida Vrelo Bosne, ada sungai di dalam taman yang mendamaikan bersatu dengan flora dan fauna.

Memerhatikan angsa dan itik berenang-renang di tasik seolah-olah menjadi terapi menghilangkan segala bebanan dan menambah lagi perasaan syukur dan kagum kepada Yang Mencipta.

Antara pemandangan terindah boleh dinikmati ialah di pertemuan air terjun Sungai Pliva dan Sungai Vrbas. Belum pernah lagi bertemu sesiapa yang tidak meluahkan rasa kagum dengan keindahannya bila saya tunjukkan gambar rakaman di sana.

Namun rakaman visual itu belum cukup untuk meng­gambarkan keindahan bumi Bosnia dan Herzegovina. Di Mount Vlasic setinggi 6,000 kaki dari aras laut, kami dapat menikmati pemandangan seluruh Bosnia yang mengagumkan.

Allah Maha Besar, di situlah pemandangan yang tak dapat digambarkan dengan kata-kata keindahan dan suasana yang menakjubkan.

Ada dalam kalangan kami yang kali pertama menyentuh salji dan peluang ‘berguling’ di atas hamparan putih itu tak mungkin dilepaskan. Ova Prelijepa! adalah ayat yang diajar bagi menggambarkan keindahan ciptaan Allah.

Layanan masyarakat tempatan ketika kami berkunjung ke rumah seorang sahabat membuat kami terasa seperti sebahagian daripada ahli keluarga yang rapat dan ceria. Seorang demi seorang disapa mesra dan diberi layanan mewah sepanjang kami menjadi tetamu.

Ketika di Nova Breka, kami diperkenalkan dengan imam besar Masjid Malaysia yang pembinaannya disumbang­kan oleh kerajaan dan rakyat Malaysia satu ketika dulu di Sarajevo. Di dalam masjid diadakan kelas agama yang dibimbing imam terbabit.

Alhamdulillah, kami diberi peluang memilih anak ang­kat dan akan dimaklumkan mengenai perkembangan pendidikan mereka dari semasa ke semasa.

Kala menziarahi masjid dengan seni bina Turki Uthmaniyyah, kami ditegur sapa oleh penduduk tempatan yang tampak jelas keceriaan dan keikhlasan meraikan kedatangan tetamu.

Bertambah ceria apabila mengetahui kami orang Malaysia yang mereka sedia maklum pembabitan negara kita di waktu keperitan mereka ditimpa musibah peperangan.

Kedamaian di Sarajevo terserlah walaupun pada lewat malam, masih boleh kelihatan wanita berpakaian sopan berjalan keseorangan tanpa kerisauan atau ancaman.

Kesan peninggalan Empayar Turki Uthmaniyyah pada awal kurun ke-15 jelas dan banyak dapat dilihat melalui seni bina bangunan, masjid, jambatan dan pel­bagai binaan.


Jambatan bersejarah di Mostar merentasi Sungai Neretva yang jernih kehijauan bak permata zamrud yang diberi nama ‘Stari Most’ (Jambatan Lama).

Ia dibina semula pada 2004 setelah dibom oleh tentera Croatia ketika perang. Kini ia tersenarai sebagai satu daripada Tapak Warisan Dunia oleh UNESCO.

Di sekitarnya ada kedai yang antaranya menjual peralatan perang dan senjata lama sebagai cenderahati kepada pengunjung.

Kami sempat lawati kubu zaman pertengahan di Pocitelj, tempat ahli tarikat dan sufi bersuluk di Blagaj, yang terletak di pinggir bukit di tepian sungai deras yang bersumber dari sebuah gua.

Restorannya juga punyai daya tarikan tersendiri. Terletak di tepian sungai, ia dihiasi land­skap indah aliran air bukit yang menggerakkan kincir. Kincir itu pula dijadikan tempat memasak kambing golek yang kemudian dihidangkan kepada kami.

Satu keunikan restoran bersebelahan sungai ialah dibina satu ruangan khas untuk ikan berkumpul. Hanya de­ngan sekali tangguk, dua ekor ikan sungai segar sebesar le­ngan dewasa mudah diperoleh untuk menjadi hidangan istimewa pengunjung.

Di Jajce, ada taman yang didirikan beberapa kincir air (kelihatan seperti pondok kecil) yang mengalir di bawahnya air sungai.


Kombinasi keindahan alam semula jadi dan keunikan binaan penduduk tempatan menyerlahkan suasana. Bagi saya, ia seperti dalam studio atau dalam cerita khayalan, membuat saya tergamam dan hanya mampu bertasbih memuji kehebatan Yang Maha Mencipta.

Secara peribadi, Bosnia bukan sekadar dikurniakan Allah keindahan pemanda­ngan yang luar biasa. Tinggalan sejarah dan seni binanya, ukhuwah kekeluargaan, rendah diri dan layanan mesra terhadap tetamu, keharmonian, hidangan makanan dan pendek kata, segala-galanya indah di sana.

Negara majoriti Islam ini juga kian subur amalan Islamnya. Dengan hanya menggunakan telefon bimbit, saya sempat merakam sedikit kenangan terindah yang dimuat naik ke laman YouTube untuk perkongsian bersama.

Kembara Muslim Harmoni ke Bosnia dan Herzegovina meninggalkan kesan mendalam dalam mensyukuri nikmat kurniaan Tuhan yang Maha Pencipta untuk hamba-Nya.

my Metro

Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina



Pedestrians walk by the Emperor's Mosque built in the Ottoman era, the oldest mosque in Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich and longstanding history in the country, having been introduced to the local population in the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The Bosniaks (commonly known as "Bosnian Muslims") are predominantly Sunni Muslim, and ascribe to the Hanafi school of thought. There are around 3 million Muslim Bosniaks, taking into account the large diaspora that had left the country during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. An estimated 1.55 million reside in their native Bosnia and Herzegovina where they constitute 40 percent of the country's overall population (with Bosniaks in total constituting 48 percent).

As such, Muslims comprise the single largest religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the other two large groups being Eastern Orthodoxy (31%) and Roman Catholicism (15%)) and form one and the same ethnoreligious community with Bosniaks in the neighboring Sandžak region of Serbia and Montenegro.

Islam was first brought to the Balkans by the Ottomans in the mid-to-late 15th century who gained control of most of Bosnia in 1463, and seized Herzegovina in the 1480s. Over the next century, the Bosnians - composed of dualists and Slavic tribes living in the Bosnian kingdom under the name of Bošnjani - embraced Islam in great numbers under Ottoman rule which also saw the name Bošnjanin transform into Bošnjak ('Bosniak'). By the early 1600s, approximately two thirds of the population of Bosnia were Muslim. Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a province in the Ottoman Empire and gained autonomy after the Bosnian uprising in 1831. After the 1878 Congress of Berlin it came under the temporary control of Austria-Hungary. In 1908, Austria-Hungary formally annexed the region.

Bosnia, along with Albania, were the only parts of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans where large numbers of people were converted to Islam, and remained there after independence. In other areas of the former Ottoman Empire where Muslims formed the majority or started to form the majority, those Muslims were either expelled, assimilated/Christianized, massacred, or fled elsewhere (Muhajirs).



The ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian war caused a profound internal displacement of their population within Bosnia-Herzegovina, resulting in the almost complete segregation of the country's religious communities into separate ethno-religious areas. The rate of returning refugees was markedly slowed down by 2003-2004, leaving the majority of Serbian Orthodox adherents living in the Republika Srpska and the majority of Muslims and Catholics still living in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within the Federation, distinct Muslim and Catholic majority areas remain. However, the return of Serbian Orthodox adherents and Muslims to their prewar homes in Western Bosnia Canton and Muslims to their prewar homes in eastern Bosnia near Srebrenica have shifted the ethno-religious composition in both areas.

Throughout Bosnia, mosques were systematically destroyed by Serb and Croat armed forces. Among the most important losses were two mosques in Banja Luka, Arnaudija and Ferhadija mosque, that were on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) register of world cultural monuments.

wikipedia


The Heritage of Ottoman Islam in the Balkans

by Stephen Schwartz
Illyria [New York]
November 2010

While the history of Ottoman conquest and rule in the Balkan region, and the role of nationalist grievances by the inhabitants of the Balkan provinces in the movement that led to the dissolution of the empire, are well-known topics under the general heading of Ottoman history, Western scholarship on Balkan-Ottoman Islam, and particularly on the role of Sufism in the Balkans, has been sparse. This is unfortunate, because the legacy of Ottoman spirituality is surprisingly vital in that region.

In discussing the heritage of Ottoman Islam in the Balkans, it is first necessary to recognize the difference in the religious and cultural destinies of the peoples in the area that were brought under Ottoman rule, beginning in the 14th century C.E. The main Balkan states to be absorbed early into the empire, i.e. Macedonia after 1371, followed by Bulgaria in 1422, Serbia in 1459, and Greece in 1460, as well as the vassal entities of Wallachia and Moldavia, remained Orthodox Christians in the majorities of their populations. Some members of the autochthonous populations accepted Islam, and these today-indigenous Muslims, including the Macedonian Slav Muslims and Pomaci in Bulgaria, with small numbers in Thrace and other neighboring localities, survived the fall of the empire as significant minorities. They currently number in the tens, and possibly hundreds of thousands.

Greek and Serbian converts to the faith of Muhammad are both topics of historical controversy. A Greek Muslim community originating in conversions seems to have mainly disappeared from that country, during the population exchanges after the first world war, although a new Muslim immigrant community mainly comprising Albanians and Arabs has lately revived Islam in Greece. Muslim Albanians in the Greek Epirotic area known to Albanians as Çamëria were expelled or have been forcibly assimilated in the Greek state.

Serbian historical legend depicts all Slavs who became Muslims as "renegade Serbs" who left their past faith either under compulsion or to avoid the cizje tax on non-Muslims and gain other advantages, or as colonizing "Turks." There certainly were and are Serb Muslims, although many were driven out of the country during the wars, massacres, and expulsions of Slav and Albanian Muslims during the long southerly expansion of Serbian territory, beginning in 1804. "Muhadžirs" or refugees from persecution for their Muslim faith settled in places as distinct from one another as Caesarea in Israel, which was built up in the late Ottoman imperial period by them, Kosova, and Turkey. At least 3.5 percent of the Serbian population of 7.5 million today is Muslim, concentrated in the southwest, with Slavs, who identify themselves as Bosniaks, living in the northern part of the former sancak of Yenipazar/Pazar i Ri/Novipazar, which was divided between Serbia and Montenegro after the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. The Sandžak, as it is known to Bosniaks, also includes a significant Albanian Muslim presence at its eastward extremity, bordering on Kosova.

Ottoman emigration to these districts – organized as beyliks, vilayets, and pashaliks – was uneven after their takeover, with some receiving considerable numbers of Turkish colonists and administrators, others fewer. Remnants of Ottoman Turkish communities, sometimes speaking archaic dialects of the language, are to be found today in Kosova, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Thrace. In addition, as I shall mention further along, Turkish-language ilahije and spiritual nefesler are still sung by Sufis in the region.

The outcome for Bosnia, which was finally subdued in 1463, and Albania, overtaken in 1478, was different than for the other formerly-Christian lands. Bosnia-Hercegovina had long harbored Catholics in its West, as did the Albanian ethnos in its northern regions, including parts of today's Montenegro, as well as Kosova and western Macedonia. Both Bosnia-Hercegovina and Albania in its present borders included large Orthodox Christian communities, in eastern Bosnia and southern Albania. But the majority of the Bosniak people and of the Albanians became Muslim.

To consider the Bosnian elite who became Muslims after the victory of the Ottomans in the 15th century as "former Serbs" is, as noted, a popular shibboleth of Serb and other Orthodox Christian historians and apologists. Bosniak Muslim intellectuals argue that their community was independent from both Catholic Croatia and Orthodox Serbia, and that its mass acceptance of Islam did not represent a betrayal of either of the Bosniaks' neighbors, but, if justified by any political imperative, was a recourse taken to reinforce their separate identity. Certainly, Croats no less than Serbs have attempted to claim the Bosniaks as their "forcibly Islamized" lost sheep. In the late 19th century, with the rise of conservative Croatian nationalism, the right-wing political leader Ante Starčević (1823-96) referred to the Bosnian Muslims as "the flower of the Croatian nation."[1]

From the Habsburg occupation of Bosnia in 1878 until the end of the first world war, Bosnians were treated by the Austro-Hungarian authorities as a separate community from both Croats and Serbs. The term Bošnjak, to denote a national identity unifying all inhabitants of the country, but distinct from Croats and Serbs, was promoted by the Habsburg regime, particularly by the Hungarian finance minister and administrator of Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1882 until his death, Benjamin von Kállay (1839-1903). The concept of a distinct Bosnian identity, however, was stifled with the end of Habsburg rule. After 1918, Bosnian Muslims were returned to a situation of competition between Croats and Serbs for their explication of their origins, as well as their allegiance. Under monarchist Yugoslavia, between the world wars, Bosnian Muslims wavered between identification as Muslim Croats and as Muslim Serbs. During the second world war, the German-installed Ustaša regime united Croatia with Bosnia-Hercegovina, in the "Independent State of Croatia" (NDH by its Croatian initials), and, in a chapter of Bosnian history much discussed but little elaborated by historians outside the region, Bosnian Muslims were recruited to fight under German and Croatian command in the Waffen SS, as were Albanians.

With the arrival of the Yugoslav Communist regime in 1943-44, Bosnian Muslims were denied a distinct ethnic category by Yugoslav authorities until 1968, when the Tito regime recognized "Muslims by nationality" (not officially called "Bosniaks") as a separate census classification. A small number of "Yugoslav Muslims" are still self-defined, separately from Bosniaks, in Montenegro and Serbia.

In the discussion of a Bosnian identity, neither Serb nor Croat, as an independent factor in the local society prior to the Ottoman conquest, much time and effort has been dedicated to understanding the Bosanska Crkva or "Bosnian Church" that was present in the territory and was the object of a crusade against Balkan heretics as well as in resistance to the advance of the Ottomans, launched by Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini [1405-1464]). Unfortunately, the Bosnian Church left little in the way of written sources to judge its beliefs, and the study of its existence has been muddied by identification of it with the neo-Manichean Bogomil movement among Bulgarians. It is now generally accepted that the Bosnian Church was not "Bogomil," but most probably was simply a geographically-isolated branch of the same Catholic faith practiced in Croatia, then as now with its own Slavonic liturgy and customs. It is widely believed among Bosnian Muslims that the leaders of their separate church joined the rest of the elite in entering the ranks of Muslims.

Some Bosniak intellectuals today and in the past have advocated the view that Bosnian Muslims and their forebears were never Slavs, either Croat or Serb, except in adopting their language, and that Bosnians, like Albanians, are descendants of the Illyrian population that inhabited the region prior to the Slavic invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries. Substantial evidence for this theory remains lacking, although Bosnians and Albanians share some cultural markers that could indicate either a common origin or extended contact. One example of this is the legend, preserved in Albanian and Slav balladry, of Gjergj Elez Alia, in Albanian, or Djerdželez Alija, in Bošnjak language, a hero who is praised by Albanians for fighting invaders to defend local traditions. Djerdželez Alija is said by Bosnians to have lived in Sarajevo, in a specific house on a street named for him today. Among Albanians, he is a defender of ethnic custom, while Bosnians consider him a Muslim gazi or warrior.

Most of the oral corpus among Bosnian Muslims is Islamic, but not Turkish, in character – an element supporting the presumption of an independent Bosniak identity.[2] Bosnian folk music has little in common with the Turkish modes found in the Albanian lands and Thrace. Traditional Bosnian songs are known as sevdahlinke, and are described as bearing sevdah – the pain of love – as their content. The word sevdah is of Turkish, and ultimately Arabic origin, indicating darkness of attitude. The commonalities of oral traditions among Balkan Slav Muslims and Albanians have been further confused, rather than clarified, by Yugoslav and Western scholars who insist on seeing Western Balkan songs and recitations, which often feature common motifs, as having an exclusively Slavic origin, but which was then borrowed by Albanians. Albanians, quite naturally, argue for the reverse, or for prolonged contact, in explaining these common cultural artifacts between two essentially dissimilar language communities. On one point, however, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians agree: neither are descended from Turkish colonizers.

While claims are seldom heard today that the Albanians who became Muslim were also former Serbs, they are not unknown. But regardless of that argument, a notable number of Albanians today, in Kosova as well as Albania proper, will declare that their forebears were compelled to become Muslims, and that Albanians should return to Christianity so as to better integrate into Europe.

Still, perhaps because Bosnians and southern and central Albanians more thoroughly accepted Islam, Turkish colonization was less common in these lands, generally being limited to the beyler, as the highest members of the governing elite, living in urban enclaves, and as landowners. Neither Bosnia-Hercegovina nor Albania today has a visible Turkish minority, although Kosova and western Macedonia, which are considered within the sphere of "ethnic Albania," do. Turkish loanwords are common in both Bosnian and Albanian, but old modes of Turkish speech are not heard in Sarajevo or Tirana, although they may be encountered in the Macedonian cities, Shkup/Üsküb/Skopje and Tetova/Kalkandelen/Tetovo, as well as in Prizren and other Kosova towns.

The Ottoman heritage in the western Balkans is often summarized by the continuing presence of Islam, counting around 6.5 million believers, architectural monuments, predominance of rural over urban socialization, culinary habits, and loan words in the Slavic and Albanian languages. Yet the Bosnian and Albanian Muslims also created and maintained a substantial Islamic spiritual culture. This included the broad penetration of Sufism into Bosnian and Albanian Muslim consciousness.

Bosnian Islam has been described by the Bosnian author Jasna Samić as follows: "The general orthodoxy of 'Sunnism' in Bosnia-Hercegovina had increased in the course of history: Bosnia became more 'Sunni' with the coming of the Austrians, and became yet more pronouncedly so in [the former] Yugoslavia. Rigidity, intolerance, the authoritarianism of local clerics, formalism, and dogmatism (present in every area) along with ideas of orderliness and good manners, fear of liberation, etc., finally expressed nothing more than anxiety over the loss of power. All this is comprehensible if one grasps that in this milieu the 'semiliterate' dominate."[3] Samić uses this polemical argument to explain why Bektashi Sufism, the heterodox tariqat associated with the Ottoman Yeniçeri (janissaries) and, after the suppression of dervish orders in Turkey by the republican regime in 1925, with Albania, to where Bektashi world headquarters was moved, could not gain a permanent presence in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Samić writes, "Bosnian Sufis agree that Bektashism never had great success in Bosnia because of the strong presence of other orders such as the Naqshbandis and Qadiris, and the great influence of the clerics. It is likely that they could not root themselves in the region because of their non-conformism." Nevertheless, the Yeniçeri, quite naturally in a border region like Bosnia, were a major institution in the land. It should be noted that the most famous Sufi shrine in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the Blagaj tekija in Hercegovina, was once a Bektashi installation, and lacks a mihrab for prayer in the direction of the qibla in Mecca, since Bektashis do not practice daily prayer or namaz. The Blagaj tekija is today claimed as a Bektashi site by the World Bektashi center in Tirana.

Until the Communist era Bosnia was rich with Sufi activities, including those of the main tariqats aside from the Naqshbandis and Qadiris, such as the Mevlevis, who are said to have converted a former dignitary of the autonomous Bosnian Church to Islam, and who established a tekija described in song as well as historical documentation at Bembaša on the river Miljacka in Sarajevo. Bosnian Islam has, in my observation, maintained an air of pronounced Sunni "rigor" although its popular culture, as revealed in the aforementioned song traditions, is replete with positive references to rebels.

Resentment of the distant authority in Istanbul is found under the surface of many Bosnian Muslim cultural products. For example, two Muslim brothers from the 18th century, the Morići, were hanged by the authorities yet are looked upon as beloved symbols of Sarajevo, and celebrated in many folk songs. They are described as members of the ahiha or trade guilds and of the yeniceri, which suggests they may have been dissident Sufis. In one of the songs dedicated to them, the brothers are defended against the power of the Sultan, of whom it is said: "Sultan care, proklet li si, kad ti sablja pravdu kroji, na zulumu carstvo stoji; Aj, ne prestaše paše i veziri, Bosnu moju niko ne umiri." Translation: "Imperial sultan, you are damned as long as your sword denies justice and the empire stands on evil; Oh, pashas and vezirs will come and go but my Bosnia will never die." These songs became patriotic anthems during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the reference to the evil foundation of the empire invariably elicits waves of applause when this ballad is included in public performance of Bosnian sevdahlinke.

During the 16th century, Bosnia-Hercegovina was the scene of the Hamzevi movement, a derivative of Malami Sufism that was ferociously punished by the Ottoman authorities, but which produced an insurrection in Bosnia a decade after its apparent suppression. The Bosnian historian Emin Lelić has associated Hamzeviyya with the Hurufi numerological theosophy that was brutally extirpated from the Ottoman lands.[4] Like the Jewish Kabbalah and some radical Franciscan interpretations, Hurufism led its adepts to believe that numerology foretold great upheavals in the worldly order. Hurufism was viewed as seditious and its members were burned alive "in the Christian style," according to the Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı.[5] Nevertheless, outside Bosnia-Hercegovina, Hurufi beliefs persist in Turkish Alevism as well as in the Bektashi Sufi order.

The Albanian lands, perhaps because of their linguistic singularity, were generally more hospitable in Ottoman times to heterodoxy, and it is unsurprising that the Bektashi Community, as it defines itself today, after 85 years of effective Albanization, is fully Albanian in character, having adopted Albanian as its language of esoteric instruction, as well as Albanian patriotic symbols. The Bektashi Community was suppressed in Albania proper under the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha, but remained alive underground, with its gatherings, like those of other Sufis, disguised as weddings and other acceptable social events. In Kosova and western Macedonia, under Tito, the Bektashis were harassed and their properties – most importantly, the 16th century Harabati Baba Teqe in Tetova – were expropriated for commercial use, as a hotel in the Tetova case. During the Communist period, notwithstanding the apparent low degree of religious affiliation or particularism in their national community, Muslim Albanians in Kosova and western Macedonia remained loyal to Sufism, which could not be extirpated in their regions of the former Yugoslavia. By contrast, Sufism was outlawed in Bosnia-Hercegovina in the 1950s. In a certain sense, Bosnian Muslims may be said to have preferred the worldly rewards brought by the Communist system, in the form of artificial industrial development, over the spiritual bounties of the Sufis.

The result of this is that Sufism has a rich tradition of local shaykhs and authors in Bosnia, but most of them are figures of the past, although some Sufis fought with distinction in the 1992-95 war and several tekijas are open today. In Kosova, Sufism could not be extinguished. First, Kosovar Albanians, except for the elite assimilated into the Yugoslav Communist hierarchy, could not be rid of a preternatural suspicion that Communism was merely another form of Slavic imperialism. Second, Kosova did not receive the benefits of Yugoslav economic aid until very late. Today, Sufism has a more abstract, intellectual, and even folkloric quality in Bosnia-Hercegovina than in Kosova, western Macedonia, and Albania proper. In Bosnia-Hercegovina it is but one among many competing cultural trends, Islamic and non-Islamic, but in the Albanian lands it maintains a strong presence in public life.

Under Titoite Yugoslavia, the non-Bektashi Sufis of Yugoslavia had their headquarters among the Kosovar Albanians of Prizren, while the teaching and clerical institutions of the Yugoslav Islamic Community were centered in Sarajevo. Although Bosniaks and Kosovars speak different languages, the Islamic Faculty of Sarajevo continues to serve as the main teaching establishment – with Slav, i.e. Bosniak texts – for Muslim religious functionaries in the western Balkans, Kosovar Albanians as well as Bosnians and Croatian Muslims. For many years, Sarajevo was the site of the main Islamic secondary school in Yugoslavia, the Gazi-Husrevbeg Medresa. The Alauddin Medresa in Prishtina, the Kosova capital, also operated through the Tito years but was and continues to be treated as a lesser establishment.


Arson damage by Wahhabi vandals at the 16th c. CE Harabati Baba Bektashi Shrine, Tetova, Macedonia – Photograph 2010 by the Bektashi Community of the Republic of Macedonia.

Aside from the Bektashis, who support their own organizational apparatus, Kosova, western Macedonia, and Albania include hundreds of active teqet affiliated with the Rifa'i, Halveti, Qadiri, Sa'adi, Gjylsheni, Xhelveti, Hajati, and Tixhani tariqats, numbering almost 300 in Albania alone. Many towns in Kosova and Albania proper have numerous teqet representing the different orders, as well as, especially in southern Albania, many Bektashi centers.


Naim Frashëri

Albanian-speaking Sufis continue to produce collections of ilahije, nefesler, and other songs and recitations for use in dhikr – the Sufi remembrance of God – some in Turkish as well as Albanian, along with translations of Sufi classics, and new contributions to the spiritual canon, while literature on Sufism in Bosnian is more limited to academic investigation.[7] Religious works read in Albanian during the Ottoman ascendancy, such as the Mevlud-i-Sherif of Hafiz Ali Riza Ulqinaku (1855-1913) [8] and the Bektashi poetry of the Albanian national enlightener Naim Frashëri (1846-1900),who is considered one of two Albanian national poets along with the Catholic Gjergj Fishta (1871-1940), remain popular with Albanians today.


Gjergj Fishta

Naim Frashëri was one of the three Frashëri brothers who were prominent in the movement to modernize the Ottoman dominions. He, his older brother Abdyl Frashëri (1832-1892) and their younger brother Sami Frashëri (1850-1904) were also leading figures in the Albanian national rebirth of the 19th century. Bektashism, with its heterodox and humanistic outlook, was so important in the development of the Albanian national movement that it may be said that Albanian national consciousnes was mainly articulated by Bektashis and Catholics, with a subordinate role played by Albanian Orthodox figures such as Theofan Stilian Noli (1882-1965), founder of the autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church.


Theofan Stilian Noli

Control of the Albanian Orthodox community, which accounts for about 20 percent of religious believers in Albania proper, remains contested, with the position of primate currently occupied by an ethnic Greek, Anastasios Janulatos – a source of considerable Albanian resentment. While Bosnian Muslims must contend with claims on them made by Croats and Serbs, Albanians face attempts at denial of their nationality by Serbs, Slav Macedonians, and Greeks.

Naim Frashëri composed a long poem, Qerbelaja, which, in line with the Shia orientation of the Bektashis, equates the fate of the Albanians, as a people oppressed because of their love of freedom, with the martyrdom of Imam Husayn at Karbala in 680 CE. "Naimi" also composed a collection of spiritual poems, Lulet e Verës (Summer Flowers), and a manifesto for Albanian Bektashi "identity."[9] Albanian Bektashism differs from the Turkish Alevi-Bektashi movement in several ways. First, the Albanian Bektashis comprise an organized tariqat rather than a folk subculture. Although Bektashis are found nearly everywhere Albanians live, they remain a disciplined body requiring esoteric initiation and study. The Bektashis, because of their long service as chaplains to the yeniçeri, have, like other Sufis, often been described as supporters of gradual Islamization of non-Muslims under Muslim rule. It may be more pertinent to note that until their official disbanding in 1826, and even afterward, when they were able to reassert their influence, the Bektashis were a pillar of the Ottoman order. As such, they offered protection to other heterodox minorities, aside from any natural affinity between them and similar phenomena.


Ceiling decoration, Haxhi Et'hem Beu Mosque, 18th-19th c. CE, Tirana – A most precious jewel of Albanian sacred architecture, subsidized by a Bektashi Sufi shahid. Photograph 2007 Via Wikimedia Commons.

The Albanian ethnologist Albert Doja[10] has summarized a process by which the Anatolian Qizilbash community, which was persecuted by the Ottomans during the Turkish wars against the Iranian Safavids, ceased to be perceived as a threat to Ottoman authority and as heretics supportive of the enemy. Thus the "Alevi-Bektashi" stream emerged, in which the Shia, Sufi, and ancient Anatolian practices and beliefs of the Alevis became associated, but did not fuse, with the existing Bektashi tariqat. While the Bektashi order struck deep roots in Albania, nothing resembling Anatolian Alevism ever appeared in the western Balkans, except in Trakya – i.e., Turkish Thrace, or European Turkey.

The Albanian Bektashis are devotees of shaykh-ul-aqbar, the "doctor maximus" of Sufism, Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi (1165-1240). In this regard, they and other Albanian Sufis naturally have a common interest with Bosnian Sufis, who also treat Ibn Arabi with deserved honor. My friend and mentor Dr. Rešid Hafizović, a professor of Islamic theology at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo, is completing a translation into Bosnian of the most important Sufi work by a 17th century Bosnian, which is a translation into Ottoman Turkish, with commentary, of Ibn Arabi's classic Fusus al-Hikam (The Bezels of Wisdom) by Abdullah effendi Bošnjak 'Abdi' bin Muhammad al-Bosnawi (1584-1644), who was a shaykh of the Bayrami- Malami tariqat. Al-Bosnawi's name is relatively well known in Bosnia, but his work has not been generally read in recent decades. Hafizović has published an important article on his own recension of Al-Bosnawi in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, titled "A Bosnian Commentator on the Fusus al-hikam."[11]

Therein, Hafizović notes the peculiar trajectory of Al-Bosnawi's work, which the author himself translated into Arabic in an expanded edition with further explanatory material.[12] I will here cite the description of what more recently happened to Al-Bosnawi's work, as published by Hafizović: "The Turkish version has been translated, with some abridgements, into English by Bulent Rauf, in association with R. Brass and H. Tollemache, but with the original wrongly ascribed to Ismail Haqqi al-Bursevi, the famous author of the tafsir Ruh al-Bayan and devoted follower of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, instead of to its true author, Abdullah al-Bosnawi. Shaykh Abdullah al-Bosnawi was born… in Bosnia, where he received his primary and secondary education before completing his studies in Istanbul. He then spent several years in Bursa, acquiring further knowledge of Sufi literature under the eminent authority of the day Shaykh Hasan Kabaduz, from whom he received an ijazat-nama (diploma) in irshad (spiritual guidance by a shaykh). In 1636 he set off on his travels around Egypt, Syria and Arabia, ending up in Mecca where he performed the pilgrimage. He took advantage of his travels to write the enlarged Arabic version of his commentary on the Fusus, probably for his pupils in Syria, Egypt and Medina, who travelled with him for a time. Later, on his return from the Hijaz, Abdullah al-Bosnawi spent some time in Damascus near the mausoleum of Ibn 'Arabi, where he single-mindedly dedicated himself to studying his works. On returning to Istanbul he decided to visit Konya with the intention of performing ziyara (pilgrimage) to the tombs of Jalaluddin Rumi and Sadruddin Qunawi. [Let me interject to note that Sadruddin Qunawi (d. 1274), a Persian, was the stepson of the Spanish Muslim Ibn 'Arabi.] Abdullah al-Bosnawi was to spend the rest of his life in Konya, and in due course this was where he fell ill and died. In accordance with his last wishes, he was buried alongside the tomb of Shaykh Sadruddin Qunawi. His tombstone bears the epitaph:

"This is the tomb of a recluse of Allah on His Earth.

His name is Abdullah, Servant of Allah."

I will conclude by noting that since the collapse of Yugoslavia and Serbian aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1992-95, a fairly considerable scholarly literature on Bosnian Islam has been published in English. Some of these works embody "cultural survival," in that Islamic and Catholic libraries were targeted deliberately for destruction by Serb forces during the war, and many significant works are lost or are the object of efforts at rescue.

An important doctoral dissertation defended at the University of Sarajevo in 1988, The Works of Logic by Bosniac Authors in Arabic, by Amir Ljubović[13], includes the following note: "Manuscripts, some of which [were] handwritten by the authors, from the collection of the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo, other sources and literature used for this work, were definitely destroyed in the fire set to the Institute on May 17, 1992, together with some of the author's notes and card-files."

Contemporary Bosnian Muslim authors have published various important works on the transition of their community from Ottoman to Habsburg and Yugoslav rule, and the implications of "the challenge of modernity." Several key titles have been translated into English. A useful and stimulating volume, with much on the role of the Muslim theologian Mehmed Džemaludin Čaušević (1870-1938), is Contributions to Twentieth Century Islamic Thought in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by the Sarajevo scholar Enes Karić.[14] The author comments therein, "Unfortunately, little will be said of Sufi thought in 20th century Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reasons for this are complex, and lie primarily in the fact that Sufism and sufi thought in Bosnia and Herzegovina have withdrawn into themselves and have not had a significant impact on Islamic thought in this country."

This is, one must add, a controversial opinion. Sufism remains a powerful and enlightened element of Islamic culture in the Balkans, which cannot be divorced from the long influence of Ottoman governance. In these remarks I have touched only on some outstanding representatives and characteristics of this legacy.

Thus, scholarship on Bosnian Islam increases, while research on Albanian Islam in English remains sparse, but Balkan Islam in general presents an important, largely-neglected, and open field for Turkologists and Islamologists, notwithstanding the losses of libraries and other resources in the Balkan Wars of 1992-95 and 1998-99.

islamicpluralisme

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