Europe's Endangered Species: Yugoslavia's Forgotten Muslims
A Survey of the Indigenous Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Past History- Current Situation - Future Prospects

Saffet Abid
(Copyright © 1991  The Message International)

(This is a summary of the article developed by Dr. A. Zahoor.)

Books and E-Books
On Muslim History and Civilization

According to a 1989 estimate, there were 5 million Muslims in Yugoslavia (20% of the population). Of the six republics, Muslims are located in the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Albanian autonomous region of Kosovo.

From early 6th century through the 9th century, the indigenous population of southeastern Europe was host to multiple waves of migration of various Slavic tribes. From the 12th through 14th centuries, those who chose not to submit and convert to religious-political entities of either the Catholic Church or Byzantine Orthodox Church were fortunate to escape to the mountains of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they encountered a people who were known as 'Bogomil' by faith. The Catholic Church branded them as heretics for their rejection of the Biblical concept of the Trinity among other heresies.

Bosnia-Herzegovina came under Ottoman rule in 1492, the year Muslims lost Spain. The Bogomils, seeing the merciful and tolerant nature of these conquerors declared en masse their allegiance to the Ottoman Empire and their acceptance of Islam. Contrary to some "historical writings," the Ottomans did not force conversion by the sword. Instead, they guaranteed religious freedom and simply undertook the administrative functions of the conquered land. Such en masse acceptance of Islam by various populations was not unusual in Muslim history.

Bosnia-Herzegovina was officially annexed in 1908 by the Austrio-Hungarian empire. The Congress of Berlin Agreement stipulated that the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina were guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion and the freedom to conduct their own religious affairs. Included in the Agreement was the right to full autonomy over their religious institutions, educational programs, religious endowments (Waqf), as well as the right to implement the Islamic personal and family law.

The situation for Muslims of Yugoslavia worsened in 1941 when general Draza Mhaijlovic, head of the Yugoslav Royal Armed Forces and Cetniks (radical Serbian-Orthodox groups), issued an order to 'cleanse' the "cancer of Islam" from Christendom by eradicating the last remnants of Europe's indigenous Muslim population. This led to a systematic and barbaric campaign of genocide against them. Hardly any Muslim village or household was spared the murderous onslaught of the Cetniks. The terror includes horrors such as men being stripped naked, tortured and paraded in front of their families before being executed. Mothers and daughters being repeatedly raped in front of their own family members.

In the early 1980s, Muslim intellectuals and workers were once again being arrested and brought to trial for their reassertion of the Islamic heritage and cultural values. As in the past, they were accused of treason and other such crimes. The "official" ulema of Yugoslavia, who attended various religious conferences in the Middle East, were only too happy to label the Muslims on trial as being 'religious fanatics' and 'innovators in the religion'. Many of them made public statements declaring that the Yugoslav government was committed to the right of complete religious freedom for all its citizens. These statements were in direct contradiction to the oppressive practices of the government.

The writer is an American Muslim of Bosnian-Herzegovnian and British extraction.

Allah: Allah is the proper name in Arabic for The One and Only God, The Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is used by the Arab Christians and Jews for the God (Eloh-im in Hebrew; 'Allaha' in Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus, pbuh). The word Allah does not have a plural or gender. Allah does not have any associate or partner, and He does not beget nor was He begotten. SWT is an abbreviation of Arabic words that mean 'Glory Be To Him.'


E-Books on Islam and Muslims

Copyright © The Message International, 1991
Copyright © 1998 Web version prepared by Dr. A. Zahoor.

Recommend This Site To:
Your Name: