Western Balkans and the Islamic schisms -The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Religious divisions are an important part of the historical heritage of the Is-lamic world, which is still, to a large extent, heavy burden of mutual relations between “countries of Prophet Muhammad”. These divisions determine not only the nature of relations between Islamic countries, and the rules of the for-eign affairs “game” in the Islamic world but they also determine their internal political turmoil. The “Earthquake” of the Arab Spring which has been shak-ing the Middle East for two years now is the latest example of how divisions among Muslims create not only reality but also future of this region. Without understanding the Islamic schism it is impossible to understand the uprising against Assad in Syria or answer as to why Arab countries such as Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia support the rebels in that country and yet at the same time violently suppress the revolution in Bahrain. Without understanding these is-sues it would be impossible to understand the complex relationship bet...ween Saudi Arabia and Iran, two Middle Eastern states which both claim the right to be considered as the guardians of the “true” Islam. Through the lens of Middle Eastern version of the “Cold War”, an expression which can most suitably de-scribe the relationship between these two countries in the past few decades, best reflects the depth and significance of the religious divisions in Islamic world, and above all, the importance of Sunni-Shia divisions. However, it is important to emphasize that the Sunni-Shia division and the diverse consequences which this rift carries is something which is primarily related to the Middle East. This region represents both the cradle of the Islamic faith and the root of its division. On the other hand, the Balkan Muslims as authentic and “autochthonous” European Muslim populations have, until recently, nev-er faced this kind of division. After the Ottoman conquest of this part of Eu-rope a significant number of Christians converted to Islam. One part of the local Slavic population embraced the new Islamic religion and life in this region was getting, slowly but surely, a completely new and different physiognomy, marked by the spirit of the Sunni Islam. Due to centuries of stability in the Ot-toman Empire and to the lack of religious reform movements in this part of the “Islamic” world, the Balkan Muslims remain primarily aware of the Sunni Islamic teaching and practice. The other interpretation of Islam remained re-mote and exotic to them.
Keywords:Islamic schisms / Islam / Balkans / Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source:The Balkans and the Middle East: Are They Mirroring Each Other?, 2013
- Beograd : Univerzitet u Beogradu, Fakultet bezbednosti