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Issue 17

Oct 2013

Remembering Bosnia In Harms Way Martin Bell OBE Travel through Bosnia Fighting for Blond Blue-Eyed Muslims

To New Lands - Mersiha Hadziabdic NATO - Colonel Bob Stewart The Emperors Mosque The Bosnian Kilim

Fifteen21 inspires young Muslims to be proud of their British Muslim identity. The name Fifteen21 is derived from both the 15th century of the Islamic Hijri year and the 21st century of the Common era. Fifteen21 aims to reconcile both Muslim and British identity.


Editor Fozia Parveen Designed by Hafizur Rahman Contact Fifteen21 All views are of the authors alone and not necessarily of those held by Fifteen21

Summa Bosniaca by Bosnian artist Sead Emric

Editorial Fozia Parveen Dear readers Asalamu Alaykum! Firstly I apologise for how late this issue is. We are slowly but surely catching up. Issue 17 promises to be our biggest and best yet. In this issue we mark the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia on 9th November 1993 during the Bosnian War in the early 1990s. One of Bosnia’s most recognisable landmarks, the Mostar bridge had stood for over 400 years, its construction commissioned by the famous Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. Here we ask the question; how could genocide occur in Europe when there had been a promise of ‘Never Again’ after World War II? This question is explored through the history, poetry, culture and art of Bosnia, and again posed for the case of Syria today.

The Bosnian War will also tragically be remembered for the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 within a UN safe zone. More than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) were executed in cold blood. Mothers are still burying remains of loved ones today, and mass graves are still being discovered across Bosnia.

Moazzam Beg, Arwa Abdel and Assed Baig share their travels in Bosnia, both during and after the war. We also interview Martin Bell OBE a journalist for the BBC who was injured during the Bosnian War and Colonel Bob Stewart, who served as a NATO commander during the conflict. Imam Sejad Mekic shares his reflections on the implications of the war today in Bosnia 20 Years On. Finally To New Lands tells the experiences of Mersiha Hadziabdic as a young refugee fleeing the war in Bosnia as a 3 year old with her mother, and finding a new home in Germany. I had the privilege of studying alongside Mersiha in Cambridge. And right at the end you find our regular recipes, poetry, art and ‘Masjids Around the World’ all from Bosnia in this issue. Bosnia, forgive, there is a land Both barren And barefoot, forgive (Mak Dizdar)

Contents 6-9 10 11 12 13 14-17 18-19 20-23 24-25 26-27 28-35 36-39 40-45 46 47 48-51

Abraham: The beginning of the Journey 100 less One: Al-Qahar the Dominator Muslim Youth Helpline Help! I’m a Teenager! Elders Child Line The Destruction of the Mostar Bridge Muslim Heritage: Gazi Husrev-Beg Interview: Moazzam Begg Letter to the United Nations Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed To New Lands: Mersiha Hadziabdic MADE in Europe: Bosnia Journeys through Bosnia Dua: Wudhu Fifteen21 Interview: Assed Baig

52-59 60-61 62-65 66-67 68-69 70-73 74 75 76-79 80-81 82-83 84-85 86-87 88-89 90 91

Sejad Mekic: Bosnia 20 Years On MADE in Europe: Ethical Fashion A Storm of Generosity Edinburgh Interfaith Week Young Leaders on Moving Visit to Srebrenica Where Was God? Nominate a Role Model! In the Next Issue Interview: Sead Emric Bosnian Artist The Bosnian Kilim A Conversation with God Masjids Around The World: Emperor’s Mosque Poetry Recipes: Bosnian Delights and Sape National Events Child Line

Martin Bell and Colonel Bob Stewart Interviews being added soon


Journey Through Bosnia

40 28

36 12 80



of Islam

Abraham: The beginning of the Journey Part 1 Sarah Ikram

AS - alayhi salaam Upon him/her be peace SWT - subhanahu wa taala Glorious is He and He is Exalted SAW - sallallahu alayhi wa salaam - May God’s blessings and peace be with him


Abraham (AS) lived an incredibly long life, of extraordinary journeys, survival and miracles. He grew up in the community of Ur, present day Iraq. Ur is known in history as the first city that emerged in the civilisation of mankind. It was a centre of business and industry attracting craftsman, merchants, traders and visitors from surrounding areas. It was also a materialistic society that practised interest based transactions (usury) and idol worship. Ur had 5000 idols, the main idol of the city being called Nannar (the moon god) which was kept in a grand shrine built at the highest peak of Ur. The people of the city were divided into 3 classes: the Amelu, the highest social class consisting of priests, state officials and military officers; the Mushkenu, the middle class that consisted of merchants, craftsmen and farmers and the Ardu, the lowest class which consisted of slaves. Prophet Abraham (AS) belonged to what his people regarded as the highest class, the Amelu, and his father was a chief

official of the state. We can imagine how Abraham (AS) knew what society expected of him as the son of a high serving chief official. The attitudes and actions of his father and himself were expected to be in accordance with the law of the ruling dynasty. The royal dynasty in power was believed to be from Nannar, (the moon god) itself, making the royal family divine by nature. Abraham (AS) would have known that to challenge his father would not only be blasphemous to their religious practice but would also be traitorous to the state. He knew that by challenging his father he would sever relations with his father, family and society at large. Abraham (AS) tried to convince his father: “O my father! Verily there has come to me of the knowledge that which came not unto you. So follow me, I will guide you to the Straight Path,” (Qur’an 19: 43).

Station of Prophet Abraham (AS)

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But his father became angry and said: “Do you reject my gods, O Abraham? If you stop not this, I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you,” (Qur’an 19:46). The first challenge Abraham (AS) tackled was his people’s practice of worshipping nature. Abraham (AS) explains to his people to worship the Creator of nature, Allah (SWT) Himself, because all things around us are of His creation. He says:

broke and destroyed all the idols except one, the biggest idol. He placed the axe in the hands of this idol making the biggest idol appear to be responsible for this destruction. Later people visited the sanctuary and were shocked at the sight of the broken idols. They knew that a man named Abraham (AS) had been preaching against their practices. They suspected Abraham (AS) at once and on seizing him they asked:

“And from among His Signs are the night “Are you the one who has done this to our and the day, and the sun and the moon. gods, O Abraham?” (Qur’an 21:62) Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them Abraham (AS) replied: if you really worship Him,” (Qur’an 41:37). “Nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) Abraham (AS) challenged another practice did it. Ask them, if they can speak!” of his people, the practice of idol worship. (Qur’an 21:63). Again he used intelligent questioning to make his people think. A festival arrived Then they turned to themselves (their first and the people gathered at one place to thought and said): “Indeed you Abraham celebrate leaving the temple and people’s know well that these (idols) speak not!” houses empty. Abraham (AS) walked into (Qur’an 21:65). the holy sanctuary and using an axe he 8

Abraham (AS) said:

Abraham (AS) said:

“Do you then worship besides Allah, things that can neither profit you, nor harm you?” (Qur’an 21:66).

“My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death,” (Qur’an 2:258). The King retorted:

The people were angered by his questions and planned to kill him by burning him. All the citizens gathered to build a large fire and with a catapult Abraham was thrown into the fire.

“I give life and cause death,” (Qur’an 2:258).

“We (Allah) said: “O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham!” (Qur’an 21:69). Allah (SWT) protected Abraham (AS) and to everyone’s shock and astonishment Abraham (AS) walked out of the fire unscathed. King Nimrod, the ruler of the city, became concerned that his power and godhead were appearing weak; he held a meeting with Abraham (AS) to speak to him directly. Abraham (AS) used this meeting to challenge the third belief of his people, the belief that man (such as the king) has divine attributes of god (as they believed).

Nannar in the form of a cresent, court life, Ur, 2100BC

the man who walked unharmed out of a fire and the man who left King Nimrod silent on the topic of the Godhead! Abraham (AS) continued to preach to people, and amongst those who believed in him were Sarah (RA), who became his wife, and Lot (AS) who later become a prophet. King Nimrod did not attempt to harm him anymore. Eventually Abraham (AS) left the city with the people who believed in the message of Allah (SWT). The mould of his footprints sit in the Holy Mosque at Makkah within a structure called The Maqameh-e-Ibrahim, it serves as a reminder to mankind of the shoes that no one can ever fill.

Remember that this story is about Abraham (AS) said: someone who was born into the comforts of life, who sacrificed wealth, position, Verily! Allah brings the sun from the east; power and a comfortable future that was then brings it you from the west.” So the so easily laid out for him. His conviction disbeliever was utterly defeated gave him the courage to give up all his (Qur’an 2:258). comforts for the true worship of Allah (SWT). People were awe struck. Abraham (AS) became well known all across the city as

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Al-Qahar the Dominator Allah (SWT) is Al-Qahar the Dominator. In Arabic ‘Al-Qahar ‘ means the ability to overpower and dominate. Allah (SWT) is the One who shatters the powerful among His enemies by destroying them and humiliating them. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: He is Irresistible, (watching) From above over His worshippers, And He sets guardians Over you. At length, When death approaches One of you, Our angels Take his soul, and they Never fail in their duty. (Qur’an 6: 61) This ayah demonstrates the absolute Power and Domination of Allah (SWT) over all things. Moreover, the attribute Al-Qahar also draws attention to

the human condition and therefore the condition of the world we live in. In other words, if we reflect upon our own selves and our individual life experiences we can identify that our biggest enemy is our own ego. Giving into our desires and allowing our ego to take possession of our Nafs will lead to the abasement of pride because Allah (SWT) will destroy and humiliate those whom glorify their own Nafs. It is inevitable that we will be tempted with wealth, beauty and status and while these things are appealing and most desired, so it is important that a believer acknowledges the dangers of indulging in such pursuits. The danger is that by chasing the temporary delights of this life such as recognition, fame, domination and so on this opens the

Shanaz Ali

pathway leading to shirk (associating others with God), because it is only Allah (SWT) that we should be striving to please. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: Seest thou such a one As taketh for his god His own passion (or impulse)? Couldst thou be a disposer Of affairs for Him? (Qur’an 25:43) This ayah speaks clearly of the reality of mankind and how we wrongly fall for our passions and let our impulses direct our lives. The lessons we can take from the attribute Al-Qahar are many, but the most important one is this: to look within ourselves and hold our souls to account by always exerting our best efforts.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 SWT – subhanahu wa taala - Glorious is He and He is Exalted 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 10

Help! I’m a Teenager! Elders

Khurram Azad

that we don’t need to be ashamed of Islam or scared of it. We think that if we “get into” Islam we will be living the life of a hermit. No! Enjoying life is important, as long as it’s within the boundaries of Islam.

I often hear “I can’t stop smoking”, “need to take This article is about Islam and the youth. Our elders drugs”, “I love her, can’t live without her!”. All we need complain about the ‘huge’ distance between the youth is Allah (SWT)! We think we need all these things, of today and Islam. From their point of view it may when in fact, the real reason for these addictions is seem that way, and in some cases it is true. We know always something else... what is right and wrong, and what is acceptable and unacceptable, yet we continue to commit sin, in When we sit and think about what takes us away from abundance. We all fear Allah (SWT), we all feel Islam, it is because ‘we’ are weak. It’s always easy to bad for our wrong doings, yet we continue on without take the lazy route by not reading our prayers. Don’t change. blame Islam... Everything about Islam will become clearer with age (so I’ve been told!). Perhaps for some of us it’s only doubt, but for those who know Islam is real and true, why don’t we One thing I will finish with is that TRUST in Allah (SWT) admit it? Or do anything with it? Is it shame? wrong is vital. If we can trust Him and say “I’m giving up such priorities? Think to yourself. We all believe? We and such for your sake, Oh Allah (SWT) please make all know? So think about how we will one day stand it easy for me and please replace it with something before Allah (SWT) shedding light on all our bad and better” then hopefully your prayers should be good deeds. Think about who matters more! Is it Allah answered. Remember, that sometimes by not getting (SWT) or is it....? something is also like a prayer answered because Allah (SWT) knows whether that thing is good for us The purpose of this article is to simply tell the youth or not.


20 years since the destruction of the

Mostar Bridge

The Siege of Bosnia

As the world remembers, in hushed tones, atrocities that unveiled themselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years ago, the topic continues to acquire fresh connotations. In May 2013, six former army and political Croat leaders were sentenced to lengthy prison terms by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, for “a plan together by the JCE (Joint Criminal Enterprise) members to remove the Muslim Population”. The charges related to a variety of heinous assaults, but one perpetrator, Slobodan Proljak, received a 20 year sentence for his command of the destruction of the Mostar Bridge and the subsequent siege of the Eastern Quarter of the city. This piece will focus upon a short history of the Mostar Bridge, the development of the aforementioned siege and the lessons Muslims can learn from this, particularly those living in the West. The Mostar Bridge was originally built upon the Neretva River and


linked the Eastern and Western quarters of the city of Mostar, named after the guardians of the bridge, Mostari (Bridge Keepers). This bridge was a wooden structure allowing passage for soldiers, traders and other travellers. The Ottoman Caliphate took over Mostar in 1468 and the city’s two distinct districts, on opposing banks of the Neretva River, were unified into one administrative polity. The town acquired the name Köpruhisär (fortress at the bridge) and the vast majority of the population reverted to Islam. Interesting narrations about this process detail that the Christian inhabitants of this town had previously belonged to the Unitarian belief system, denouncing the idea of Trinity as an erroneous innovation. They had faced persecution at the hands of the surrounding Catholic Church and saw, in Islam, a perfect embodiment of their belief namely, the unity of the Creator and the status of Jesus Christ (AS) as messenger rather than divine. Their reversion to Islam, therefore, came

relatively smoothly. Suleman the Magnificent (known as Suleman Al-Qanooni within the Arab-speaking world) commissioned a stone arch to be built linking the two quarters of the city together more cohesively. Mamar Hayruddin completed the architecture and design, and the bridge was finished in 1566. It came to represent the splendour and magnificence of Islamic architecture and advancement, and was named a World Heritage Site in the 20th century. Its position in modern day Europe, cut off from the traditional Islamic world, continued to illuminate the imprint Muslim civilisations had left on territories far away from Islam’s Arabian birthplace.

against the newly independent Bosnia, as recognised by the European Community, following a vote for independence in 1992. Following the Yugoslav invasion, the aggression continued with varying degrees of fluidity until 1995; three years of disastrous war crimes, genocide, bombing of civilians and ethnic cleansing.

In the midst of this, the city of Mostar was struck by the Serb bombing campaign in April 1992. The Croat forces (HOV) and the Bosnian resistance forces (ARBiH) were allied in their resistance at this juncture. They attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to hold their positions as, over the course of the following weeks, the Serbian forces (JNA) At the beginning of the 1990s, the attained control of large swathes of city had a vibrant and dynamic mix the city. By June 1992, the Bosnians of Muslims and Christians, consisting and Croats had managed to force primarily of Bosniak and Croat the Serbs back out of the city, and ethnicities. There was also a claim the struggle for Mostar shifted to to the land from the Serbs allied an aerial bombing campaign along to neighbouring Yugoslavia. The with shelling again. This campaign Yugoslavs launched an offensive destroyed many monumental support us by joining our page on


structures, including thirteen mosques.

Slobodan Praljak


The complexity of the strife did not just pit the above parties against one another in the traditional sense. Eventually, the city of Mostar was divided by the Croats and Bosnians on opposing sides, having been previously allied in their repulsion of Serbian aggression. The Croats drove the Bosnian Muslim population of the city out of the Western quarter, dividing the city into Eastern and Western encampments on the banks of the Neretva River. Having forced Muslims into the traditional Ottoman Quarter, or Mahalla, the Croats proceeded to shell and siege the area over the following 18 months. During this bloody siege, Mostar Bridge, the primary display of Muslim architecture in the Balkans, was destroyed by the Croats’ targeted bombing, which started on 8th November 1993. The bridge was hit by 60 mortar shells directly before it finally collapsed. The Croats, after much evasion, accepted that the bridge had been

deliberately targeted as it held “strategic importance”. These claims have been rubbished as the bridge in truth held no strategic relevance. In actuality, the aim was to make a statement; it was a major symbolic moment, described as an act of “cultural barbarism” by the judiciary at The Hague. The bridge was rebuilt, initially by the Royal British Engineers, who replaced the stone arches with an iron structure, and it re-opened in 2005. The bridge continues to represent a symbolic point within an unmitigated disaster which unleashed itself upon the Muslims of Bosnia. The world witnessed the horrors of racial supremacy and its inherent Islamophobia, deeply entrenched long before the horrors of 9/11. The Bosnian war dragged on for three years and claimed the lives of many thousands of innocent civilians (estimates range from 40,000 to 325,000). As Bosnians in Mostar dealt with the repercussions of a lengthy siege, many perished from

the shelling, hunger and disease. The UN and world powers watched on, having taken the step of enforcing a no-fly zone, as the Croats and Serbs continued with their Naziesque plans for developing super states to represent their respective ethnicities. The Croat leader, Franjo Tudjman, dreamed of an ethnically pure Croat land carved out of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and met with the Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic, at a hunting lodge to finalise plans for Greater Yugoslavia and Greater Croatia. The targeted expulsion and extermination of Muslims, “the most secularised Muslims in the world”, highlighted the enmity of the Western world towards those seen to represent the remnants of Muslim and Ottoman heritage. These thought processes were highlighted vividly in the deliberate massacres, such as Srebrenica, slaughtering, raping and pillaging of helpless European Muslims. The lessons from such episodes must not be forgotten, particularly by

the Muslim world. Sacrificing one’s identity as a religious entity is not a sufficient token of appeasement to those who see Islam as an alien ideology belonging to the Dark Ages. The inaction of Muslims, and more notably their inability to act, in the face of the tragedies at Mostar (and Bosnia in general) continue to be displayed in the tangible political apathy towards the hideous situation in Syria. Our Ummah must retain its heritage, both cultural and ideological, and ensure unity to avert travesties of this nature unfolding upon any Muslim anywhere. As the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said to the Ka’ba, as he performed tawaf (circumambulation): “How pure and good you are! How pure and good your fragrance is! How great and exalted you are! And how great and exalted your sanctity is! But by Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul, the sanctity of a believer’s blood and property in the sight of Allah is greater than your sanctity”. (Targhib wa’ l-Tarhib).

Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent

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Adnan Khan


Muslim Heritage Gazi Husrev-Beg Ever since I was a child, I have heard and read so much in the media about Bosnia. The horrific images of war are engraved in my memory, but the research for this article led me to discover that Bosnia has a rich and diverse history littered with heroes and heroines - like Gazi Husrev-Beg. Gazi Husrev-Beg was the Ottoman sanjakbey of Bosnia in 1521—1525, 1526—1534 and 1536—1541. He was an effective military strategist and the greatest donor and builder of Sarajevo, the capital of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Battle of Mohács 18

He was born in Serres, Greece, in 1480, to a Bosnian Muslim father (a convert from the Trebinje region) and a Turkish mother, daughter of Sultan Beyazid II. His name is composed of the Ottoman honorific prefix Gazi and the royal name Husrev.

There isn’t much reliable information about his early life. However, there is information about his glittering military career. In less than three years, he conquered the fortresses of Knin, Skradin and Ostrovica. He was appointed governor of the Sanjak of Bosnia on 15 September 1521, becoming one of Sultan Suleiman I’s most trusted men. A relentless campaign of conquest soon followed. The fortified towns of Greben, Sokol, Jezero, Vinac, Vrbaški Grad, Livač, Kamatin, Bočac, Udbina, Vrana, Modruč, and Požega all fell victim to the might of Gazi Huzrev-Beg. Gazi Husrev-Beg played a crucial role in overcoming the Crusaders at the Battle of Mohács. His 10,000 special Akınji soldiers and his irregular cavalry of Turks, Bosnians and Crimean Tatars served as reserve soldiers in that battle. According to the military strategy of the Turkish, the Akinji soldiers circled the European knights while the Turkish infantry were making a counterfeit retreat after the first assault. The Turkish army was composed of Ottoman Turks, Crimean Turks and Bosnians.

Gazi Husrev-Beg played a crucial role in overcoming the Crusaders at the Battle of Mohács. His 10,000 special Akınji soldiers and his irregular cavalry of Turks, Bosnians and Crimean Tatars served as reserve soldiers in that battle.

Gazi Husrev-Beg and his forces struggled against a power vacuum in Montenegro after the death of his ally Skanderbeg Crnojević in 1528. In 1541, during an uprising of Montenegro nobility, he set out to protect the Muslim Crnojevićs and the local populace. After fighting many battles to maintain order in the region, although ultimately victorious, he was killed fighting renegade Christians in Mokro, a small village in Drobnjaci (present-day Montenegro). Legend states that he was a big man, so his warriors could not carry him, but took apart his intestines, and buried them on a small hill called Hodžina glavica (Imam’s Peak). However, it is unclear whether this legend is founded in truth. The corpse of Gazi Husrev-Beg was returned to Sarajevo, where it remains in a tomb in the courtyard of his mosque. Above it, the following quote is written: “May the mercy and generosity of God fall upon him everyday”.

Mosque of Gazi Husrez-Beg

Shabina Bi-Baroo

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It has been 12 years since 9/11 impacted on the world; about 3000 people died when the World Trade Centre came crashing down and over 6000 people were injured during the traumatic event. But, when 9/11 is mentioned we all remember the new tagline it produced, “The War on Terror”.

alleged abuse and torture while in the custody of the US. So, turning back a few pages and delving into his past, I wanted to see why he ended up being the questionable candidate for the US.

Fighting for Blond Blue Eyed Muslims Moazzam Begg

Born and raised in Birmingham, UK, Moazzam lost his mother at an early age. Moazzam Begg, one of the nine British His father remarried to ensure a stable citizens held for four years but released environment for the family and being without charge in 2005 from Camp X-Ray the typical father, he emphasised good in Guantanamo Bay, is another aspect that conduct and encouraged good education. many will never forget. Attending a Jewish school, he knew only too well what being a minority was in the early 70’s. “The racism that existed at that time, as I was growing up, was very much of antiPakistani, anti-black and anti-Irish, it was those three groups. And my friends consisted of those three groups,” said Begg. Having always protested his innocence, Moazzam, upon his return, fought and won a legal battle against the British government over their complicity in the 20

And contrasting the past to the present and how it may be linked to his imprisonment, he explained, “Post- mid to

Interview conducted by Hazma Farooq

late 90’s and beyond it started to become most definitely defined; racism was antiIslamic and certainly post 9/11. And I’ve seen that regression.” But, having gone through many mishaps during his youth with society and differing cultures, he found some comfort in travelling to experience what real life was about. “I’ve always been like that, I’ve always wanted to go and see places that people will say ‘these are dangerous places you shouldn’t go there!’,” Moazzam said. One of his first major trips was to Bosnia. In the 90’s the world saw Muslims being massacred.

rediscover who I’m meant to be, Muslim, Pakistani, British – whatever. So I started to go to the mosque a lot more and that’s how I came across some of these refugees,” Moazzam said.

One of the atrocities recorded under this war was systematic mass rape, “I met this sister here, in Birmingham. She had been raped by Serb soldiers terribly. And the “Some weren’t even Muslims; some were story – although she didn’t tell me herself, Croats. So I started becoming close to some I went to her house, the brothers told me of these Bosnians and they were telling that Serbs cut the head off her 3-month old me some amazing horror stories of what baby and placed it in front of her while they’ve witnessed,” he said. they were doing this. So, these kinds of After meeting the refugees, one could stories incensed me, unbelievable that this hardly argue with his reasoning into was going on.” wanting to help those under oppression. With all of this roaming in his mind, Moazzam contacted a charity organisation – Convoy of Mercy – which was one of the first convoys to provide aid, food and much needed medical essentials from the UK.

At this stage of Begg’s life, he found himself looking deeper into his faith, trying to reconnect with Islam; during this period he began visiting Birmingham’s Central mosque for the five daily prayers. During his frequent visits, he met with European refugees; “I was fascinated by them because I was trying to get in touch with my own faith at that time and

he says, with still, visible shock.

“Plenty of reporters and plenty of aid organisations were going in there,” he said rationalising his journey into a war zone. “I sat with one of these guys, very intelligent well-educated guy, and we are sitting together – as we are sitting together now – he pulls off one of his legs. It’s prosthetic and then he pulls the other off,”

“What I realised mostly with war zones is that people still live there and millions of people simply just can’t get away and leave,” he said. In the age before mobile phones, the

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convoy travelled through Europe smoothly; experiencing different lands and their beauty, they eventually crossed the border from Croatia into Bosnia.

thought food was not the help they wanted, “What’s the point of bringing food for us, you tell me what’s the point bringing food to us. We’re going to die anyway!”

“Now, the feeling was totally different, we are in a danger zone, it’s a war zone. Sure enough, we came to Mostar. One of the famous bridges there, which separated the two sides of the city, had been destroyed. So it had collapsed into the river. It is a beautiful place but shocking,” he explained.

Now, feeling the need to assist in another way, Moazzam, in a spur of the moment decision, half-heartedly, saw himself join the Third Corps of the Bosnian Army, Foreign Volunteer Force.

Driving towards the aid distribution centre, Moazzam witnessed the destruction and carnage caused by the war. He also heard how Bosnians existed under the effects of communism. Shockingly, he made a contrast between ‘their’ Islam and ‘his’ Islam, “It was very clear they had been separated; religion had been separated from their lives. And, for me, that meant their connection with the rest of the Muslim world had also been separated.” While speaking to some of the locals, Moazzam was shocked to hear that many 22

damaged door from the war

A few weeks in, he travelled to a field hospital full of injured people brought back from the battlefield and looking at the consequences, had a change of heart. “I lost heart when I saw one man, I didn’t know how he was still alive, to be honest with you. His face had just been torn off,” he explained still affirming that fighting to protect ones religion and land is a noble cause.

Looking at it all, Moazzam loved his time in Bosnia and hopes to return one day; having seen the different seasons that Bosnia brings is a memory he wishes to experience once again. From Bosnia, the next part of this story is his visit and capture in Afghanistan; he said it best, “It’s all just part of a memory now.”

This, and the knowledge that his wife was carrying their first baby, Moazzam left the Army and returned to England. Leaving its mark on Bosnia was the variety of guests that entered its land, “They were a little bit too judgemental of the local population. And, like anywhere else, you can see the effect of this overzealousness that causes resentment in the locals,” Moazzam explained.

Now, working hard as the CEO of CagePrisoners, he continues his fight for justice, educating British Muslims, and works hard to campaign against unfair anti-terror legislations, at home and abroad.

Forcing a particular form of Islam – which was foreign to their way and culture caused their kind-heartedness to turn into bitterness and in some cases, offending the people they came to help.

Throw-back years for some people are easy; but for others, not so much. Past experiences make you the person you are today and in his case, we can quite clearly see his past in his future.

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27 July 1995

United Nations Office at Geneva Centre for Human Rights Palais des Nations CH 1211 Geneve

His Excellency Tan Sri Dato’ Musa Hitam Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations Dear Mr Chairman, Events in recent weeks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and above all the fact that the United Nations has allowed Srebrenica and Zepa to fall along with the horrendous tragedy which has beset the population of those ‘safe havens’ guaranteed by international agreements, oblige me to state that I do not see any possibility of continuing the mandate of special rapporteur entrusted to me by the Commission on Human Rights. On accepting the mandate which was given to me for the first time in August 1992, I declared unequivocally that my goal would not simply be writing reports but helping the people themselves. The creation of ‘safe havens’ was from the beginning a central recommendation in my reports. The recent decisions of the London Conference, which accepted the fall of Srebrenica and resigned itself to the fate of Zepa, are unacceptable to me. Those decisions did not create the conditions necessary for the defence of all ‘safe havens.’ These events constitute a turning point in the development of the situation in Bosnia. At one and the same time, we are dealing with the struggle of a state, a member of the United Nations, for its survival and multi-ethnic character, and with the endeavour to protect principles of international order. One cannot speak about the protection of human rights with credibility, when one is confronted with the lack of consistency and courage displayed by the international community and its leaders. The reality of the human rights situation today is illustrated by the tragedy of the people of Srebrenica and Zepa.


Human righs violations continue blatantly. There are constant blockades of the delivery of humanitarian aid, the civilian population is shelled remorselessly and ‘Blue Helmets’ and representatives of humanitarian organisations are dying. Crimes have been committed with swiftness and brutality and by contrast the response of the international community has been slow and ineffectual. The character of my mandate allows me only to describe further crimes and violations of human rights. But the present critical moment forces us to realise the true character of those crimes, and the responsibility of Europe and the international community for their own helplessness in addressing them. We have been fighting against a totalitarian system in Poland with a vision for the Europe of tomorrow. How can we believe in a Europe of tomorrow created by children of people who are abandoned today? I would like to believe that the present moment will be a turning point in the relationship of Europe and the world towards Bosnia. The very stability of international order, and the principles of civilisation are at stake over the question of Bosnia. I am not convinced that the turning point hoped for will happen and cannot continue to participate in the pretence of the protection of human rights. Mr Chairman, please understand the motives behind my decision and convey them to the members of the Commission on Human Rights. I will submit my final eighteenth report based on my recent mission to Tuzla to the Commission in the near future. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration. Tadeusz Mazowiecki Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia

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Twenty years ago a land where different faiths and races had lived in harmony was uprooted and torn apart in political warfare. The years of 1992 through to 1995 saw the worst war on European soil since WWII. The civil war that resulted in genocide was a consequence of the breakup of Yugoslavia. When a predominantly Muslim Bosnia declared independence a fierce struggle for territorial control ensued, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population from areas under Serb control, particularly in East Bosnia. Bosnian villages around the city of Srebrenica were under constant attack by Serb military forces. The Bosnian Institute in the UK has published a list of 296 villages destroyed by Serb forces around Srebrenica three years before the genocide and 26

in the first three months of war (April – June 1992), uprooting tens of thousands of Bosnians from their homes. As in all wars civilians were caught in a political minefield, with countless villages destroyed on both sides. Hatred toward Muslims was fuelled by the Muslim army led by Naser Oric, who turned over numerous Serb villages causing unnecessary lives to be lost. Naser himself committed War Crimes in his quest for the upper hand. While he celebrated, the Serbs mourned deaths. Hatred toward Muslims and the desire for revenge was settling in their hearts. The ongoing siege for major cities like Sarajevo and Srebrenica was a nightmare for civilians, but there were many points of hope. An agreement was made between Muslim and


A Town Betrayed

Serb leaders to demilitarize, unfortunately, this did not last very long. The Muslims were then promised a protected area of safety (‘Safe Haven’) but yet again this did not follow through. Following this came the promise of 6000 armed peace troops (‘peacekeepers’), but this turned out to be the arrival of around 400 poorly armed soldiers who in no way could adequately defend Srebrenica. American and Bosnian presidents negotiated with the Serb army chief for an exchange of enclaves and cities so Muslims could have more space and the ability to cross cities but this was declined by the Serb chief. Slowly the situation worsened, civilians were enduring torturous conditions, and families were being torn apart. Aid was sent into Bosnia but rather than it reaching the needy as intended it began to be sold on the

black market. Naser Oric’s promise to defend the land and ‘never leave Srebrenica’ lost its conviction and he left in April 1995. On the 11th of July 1995 the people were betrayed by a Muslim commander who had vowed to protect Srebrenica but then abandoned the land he had sacrificed many lives for.

Serb control, their fate already decided by the notorious Serb commander Ratko Mladic. That day around 8,000 men and boys were systematically slaughtered and buried in mass graves.

On the day that Srebrenica fell a genocide ensued. On the 11th of July 1995 the women and children of Srebrenica had fled north to the UN Dutchbat (Dutch battalion) base for protection. Military leaders and the president of Bosnia did not answer Srebrenica’s call for help and the remaining 15,000 men feared revenge from the Serb’s after the massacres in ’92 and ’93. Although they didn’t intend to surrender they tried to escape through the mountains and forests under

From a look back at history, the maps, the motives and the machines it is clear that Serb forces deliberately and methodically killed civilians solely on the basis of their identity, seeking to eliminate Bosnian Muslims. These Muslims were badly betrayed by the people who were once their

neighbours. They were also betrayed by the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina who sat on the side-lines giving the opposition the upper hand. Betrayed by those who were sent to protect them

(The Dutchbatt peacemakers) who were wholly unprepared and hence lay the path for the mass murders by retreating. The most significant and sensitive questions are not political or legal but are from the victims concerned. Why were promises broken? Why

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was the guarantee of safety broken? Why were defenders not armed sufficiently? Why were there not enough defenders? Why have our men been killed? Where are their bodies? These questions are still being asked, bodies are still being identified and buried and answers are still being searched for. Bosnia lies still with its scarred buildings and fields of skeletal remains silently reminding all of the false hopes and empty promises. A land whose death illuminates the chain of betrayal it faced. Srebrenica is a wonderful city that suffered a truly historic and horrific event, where the truth was buried with the bodies, where the people were betrayed by their protectors. Nadia Rehman


To N

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It is only a few months since we celebrated Eid. This is the time you get excited, make Baklava, buy gifts and talk to relatives and friends who are on Hajj to see how they are doing on their greatest journey. I spent the days before Eid experiencing a constant flashback surrounded by many memories of my family. My mother and I spent our holidays with my uncle, aunty, their daughter and her two sons near Geneva where my uncle and aunty live. We were enjoying each other´s company and reminiscing about things past. It reminded us all of 1992 when we lived as refugees in Berlin with other relatives in a tiny apartment. They tried to name all our neighbours in Bosnia. My cousin and her playmates were remembering when and how they built our houses, and I tried to hold on to the only memory I have from our vegetable garden when I was three years old. Then in 1992, our home town Prijedor was occupied. It was Eid only weeks prior when attacks by the Serbs had started. This was war. So, we became

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refugees, seeking a safe shelter anywhere in the world. The following Eids were marked by big family gatherings with rather humble gifts. However, we children enjoyed them the most. As the years passed, everybody slowly settled down, struck new roots into new ground. Some stayed in Berlin, some did not. So now, our Eid is most often marked by long and numerous phone calls to several parts of Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Slovenia, — and of course Bosnia. Whilst we can afford greater gifts now, we have to mark Eid often like an appointment in our schedule and celebrate it in much smaller numbers. Then, Eid came. We were back in Berlin with my cousin and her children in Frankfurt and my uncle and aunty in their little French village. Unfortunately, the taste of Baklava on the first day of Eid has a sad flavour to it, too. It is a reminder of how many families do 30

not know when to start with congratulating because their killed fathers, brothers, husbands and sons cannot call them after the prayers to utter the first “a blessed Eid”. Instead, many families end up spending Eid visiting graves, if their relatives were even found. This particular Eid, a new mass grave was found in a village near my hometown Prijedor. Twenty years after Serb soldiers conducted house-to-house searches in their “ethnic cleansing” efforts, national and international forensic experts are digging up what could turn out to be the biggest mass grave from the aggression war of 1992-1995, i.e. the biggest mass grave in Europe since WWII. The grave covers over 5000 square meters and is 10 meters deep. So far, the remains of 430 people have been found at the Tomašica mass grave: men and women of all ages, some were brought there in pieces from other graves, others executed at the site. Sadly enough, the city of Prijedor is always being associated and identified as a particularly cruel war theatre with its

concentration camps; the three most famous ones in Bosnia are all on the outskirts of the city. Moreover, a woman from Prijedor holds the record for having lost the most members of her immediate family, 6 sons and her husband.However, it is this woman´s village that put Prijedor back on the front page of the nation´s newspapers – the stories of ongoing racism and discrimination are not breaking news anymore. As we can see with today´s conflicts, media coverage is and was crucial in raising and maintaining an awareness which needs to be cultivated for actions against injustice to follow. So, what does the Bosnian media speak about? Well, it depends who supports a certain magazine, newspaper or TV station as good journalism is as rare as jobs for the youth! Bosnia today is characterised by complex ongoing debates in the realm of post-war politics. In general, society is shaped by many debates around various topics but characterised by few actions. The State and administration are a highly bureaucratic post-war construct imposed on the people in which multi-layered administrations can barely function as one

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whole to provide for the basic needs and security of its citizens. This is both a consequence of and simultaneously a cause for the fact that the country´s economy is weak: it has always been weak and has not recovered nor is improving to the degree needed. And so, the vicious cycle continues. As one can assume, the harsh post-war reality influences people´s identity as indigenous European Muslims. Just as centuries of political reality shape the collective psyche of the people as it reacts to events like the genocide, or the oppressive socialist rule, or living under Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. Thus, when we deal with Bosnian Muslim history and identity, we need to consider the factors that have mainly influenced it: belonging to the Ottoman legal culture and civilisation, dramatic cultural change and secularisation during Austro-Hungarian rule, socialist anti-religious ideology and religious discrimination during former Yugoslavia. Hence, a collective memory of a traumatic genocide and 32

diaspora experience on one hand, and the political and economical instability within the homeland on the other. Personally, although I was little when fleeing my home, growing up as a refugee has greatly shaped my individual identity. Later, the summers spent in Bosnia had a more profound impact on what I am today than the comforting roof we found in Berlin. We turned from being ‘refugees’ to being part of ‘The Diaspora’ - a people who are trying to find a home in any other place but their homeland. Lily Cho, an associate professor at York University (Toronto), says in her essay “The Turn to Diaspora”: “[t]o live in diaspora is to be haunted by histories that sit uncomfortably out of joint, ambivalently ahead of their time and yet behind it too. It is to feel a small tingle on the skin at the back of your neck and know that something is not quite right about where you are now, but to know also that you cannot leave. To be un-homed is a process.”

To be unhomely is a state of diasporic consciousness. There is now talk of a model of ‘European Islam’ and how this can be an identity for many. However, the Bosnian Muslim (‘Bosniak’) experience cannot be divorced by the trauma of genocide and Diaspora either individually or collectively in any such debate.

ith Mersiha w Professor dan a m a R q i r Ta

but we must most definitely look to Tomašica, Srebrenica or Mostar as an equally relevant part of Muslim history in Europe. The conclusion we draw from these lessons, however, should rather be balanced and carefully drawn.

Personally, I do consider myself a ‘European Muslim’, but this is a more geographical than ideological One can think of Bosnian Muslims statement. The Diaspora experience however one wants on the spectrum is now for me as painful as it is from the suitable-European-modelinstructive and valuable. I now relate of-Islam-we-should-aspire-to to the and understand Mahmud Darwish´s not-practicing-only-nominal-Muslims. poetry! After feeling at home in so In honesty, I have heard it all before many places I decided to stop buying and neither is helpful to idealise or into this West vs. East narrative demonise. Personally, I believe the as both geographical areas were crucial point is that we do not embody mutually influenced by each another. and reduce identity because history Furthermore, studying history has both has and is still making a massive made me realise that the world of impact on all of us individually and ideas used to be more permeable and collectively. Bosnian Muslims are born “globalised” than it is in fact today. in a context. Considering their specific Actually, what else can a Bosniak do cultural code developed over the when he or she is not European, i.e. centuries, we can look in our debate not Western enough for one side and about “European Muslims” for an not Muslim, i.e. Eastern enough for the example of best practice in Bosnia, other?

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In Mehmed Selimović’s book ‘Dervish and Death’, he writes about Bosnian Muslims:

It is now 20 years since the famous 450 year-old Old Bridge in Mostar was destroyed by the Croatian Defence Council and almost 10 years “We live at the crossroads of the after its renovation, the “New-Old worlds, on a border of nations; we Bridge”, today a UNESCO World bear the brunt for everybody, and we Heritage site. However, it seems to me have always been guilty in the eyes of that this bridge has not fully restored someone. The waves of history break its metaphorical meaning and function, themselves over our backs, as on a namely, to connect two sides and to reef. Crude force has worn us out and overcome the gap and to bridge we made a virtue out of a necessity: constructed paradoxes on both sides. we grew smart out of spite.”

“Nowadays Bosniaks happen to be the most western autochthonous Muslim nation, and apart from that, they also happen to be the most eastern of all European Muslims. The mere fact that they represent a living bridge between the numerous western and eastern aspirations and eruptions has brought a number of paradoxes into their lives.” 34

Today in a world so much in need of mutual religious and cultural understanding...

An important Bosniak intellectual, Enes Karić, illustrates what these categories mean for Bosnia when he says:

This dichotomy is illustrated below, as you can see Bosnia´s role positively like Sayed Hossein Nasr, who said,

“Bosnia lies at the heart of the European continent, at once a witness


to the reality of Islam, a bridge between the Islamic world and the West and for most of its history a living example of religious accord and harmony between the followers of the Abrahamic religions. Today in a world so much in need of mutual religious and cultural understanding, Bosnia can play an important role far beyond the extent of its geographic size or population, provided it remains faithful to its own universal vision of Islam threatened nowadays by forces both within and outside its borders.”

Honestly, I was still undecided what side to choose, when I visited years ago the Mostar bridge as a tourist in my own country. Today, I think there are lessons to learn from the specific history of Bosniaks that might help us usefully deconstruct paradoxes we have as Muslims living in Germany, or the UK, France or even the US. Once, after a beautiful Ramadan in Bosnia, I travelled back home to Berlin and I tried to build new bridges by sharing Baklava and telling stories from a place I call home – too.

Or you can agree with the Bosnian writer Dervis Sušić, when he writes,

Eid in Bosnia

“Evil, good, gentle, raw, unable to move on, stormy, open, hidden; They are all this and everything “Bosnia is not what our senses in between; perceive from her colors and shapes. And most importantly they are mine, Listen to me! Bosnia is the deepest and I am theirs; cauldron of Hell. Her bad roads, And everything I’m saying; I’m her entrenched habit, and her saying about myself.” incurable suspicion have closed her Meša Selimović, to the beauties created by others, Death and Dervish while her position makes her open to aggression from all four sides.”

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Bosnia The charity MADE in Europe (Muslim Agency for Development Education) runs a one month volunteering programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina, southeast Europe. The project aims to revive the Islamic concept of taking a journey as an act of learning and enrichment, and providing an opportunity for young Muslims to learn about conflict and development and to enhance their skills. Bosnia suffered greatly from violence and aggression during the 1990s with over 200,000 deaths, including the Srebrenica massacre where 8000 Muslim men and boys were killed. The Bosnian people have been slowly rebuilding their lives for the past fifteen years but the memory of genocide cannot be so easily forgotten. The MADE in Europe volunteers stay with survivors, supporting them with their dayto-day farming tasks as well as setting


up livelihood projects such as strawberry farms for which they fundraise in the UK. The volunteers also take part in the threeday Mars Mira “Peace March”, following the route the Bosnians took to flee the Serbian army and attend the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre along with thousands of people from all around the world. One of the 2011 volunteers, 21-year-old student Wasim Mir, shares his personal story: “Words and pictures will never be enough to describe the experience I had in Bosnia this year. Before coming I had various expectations of a remote and possibly hostile region, fed by misinformed stereotypes from people in England. I was not only proved wrong, but moved to tears on many occasions, the memories of which will last a lifetime.

Our day-to-day activities in eastern Bosnia mainly involved waking up early to aid our host families on their farms and sampling what can only be described as a beautiful culture (not least the food!). Personally, I was awe-struck by how physically demanding the fruit picking, hay stacking and irrigation was in such intense heat. Men and women shared the workload and did so with such humility, something we take for granted in our every-day comforts of ‘developed world problems’. We had a group objective of fundraising for and setting up two strawberry farms for families who were victims of the 199295 genocide. We came together on specific days and after a lot of grafting, set up the farms that would provide a modest means of income (6000 Bosnian Marks per year) for an otherwise unsupported family. Returnees in Eastern Bosnia receive little or no support from the government and so this was both a gesture and a necessity for them. Strawberries and other small fruit are a large export market in the Balkans and as

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most of the families were women (owing to the large disproportionate loss of life of men during the conflict), it was a convenient project to implement, as fruit picking does not entail the intense manual labour a massive field of hay or taking care of animal livestock does. The farmers have both the expertise and the commitment to work hard to sustain their means of income. We, as a group of volunteers, merely provided them with the platform they deserve as much as everyone else in trying to make a living.

atrocities is paramount to our failure as fellow citizens from both an Islamic and moral perspective.

My lasting memories will be of the jawdropping mosques and sounds of Arabic echoing in such remote villages. It was a pleasure and a great educational experience to see Islam practiced so openly in this nation. To see blondehaired, blue-eyed men, women and children greeting me with ‘Assalamaleyk’ (Peace be upon you) and ear-to-ear smiles melted my heart a little more on On a more poignant note, attending the every occasion. They were testament to annual memorial at Potocari, Srebrenica the true universal attitude of Muslims and (the site where over 8000 males were of kind human nature, and not judging massacred in July 1995) was an event that me for my background in the slightest. So would tug at the strongest of hearts. As a welcoming were the people that they even volunteer, I had heard the horrendous war- let me read the Adhan (call to prayer) time stories from my host family over the on a hilltop mosque, a personal highlight 3 weeks I had stayed with them, but it was that I owe to the local people and my only upon attending such an emotional relationship with them. event, steeped in sorrow, that I realised the scale of the massacre and genocide. The experience as a whole was not only One thing stuck with me from that day that of a volunteering project, but a – Bosnia’s tragic stories deserve to be journey on so many levels. Spiritually, heard at the very least, for ignoring such morally, emotionally and personally - I


learnt a lot about my character that I would not have done without stepping out of my comfort zone into this environment. I saw my religion practised by an entirely different ethnic group and it broke down barriers which previously seemed immovable. Volunteering abroad also gave me a completely new form of independence that I had not experienced before. Furthermore, it benefitted other areas of my skill base in terms of verbal and non-verbal communication, teamwork, leadership and time management skills.

Bosnia has been through a lot in recent times, and on the surface it appears to be as healthy as any other European nation, the only physical signs of war evident in mass graves or bullet-laden buildings. However, deep under the thin cover of peace is a psychological tension between Bosnians and Serbs. Living in Republica Serbska (a Serb-run province) is not easy for a family who has had relatives killed and land taken away. Today, Serbs are now a majority in this area of Bosnia, and every bit of help is needed to support the returning Bosnians to their land. May God protect the Bosnian people from whatever force prevents them from living their simple, yet incredible lives. And you can take it from me, what a lively bunch they are!�

I would highly recommend the project for anyone with an interest in volunteering or working abroad with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and charities. However, it is also an opportunity not to be missed as an educational experience. It entails a lot of hard work and effort before deployment with regards to Ameen. training and fundraising, and also in raising awareness afterwards. But this pays off when you can see first-hand the benefits of your own grafting. The only downfall is that there is a lasting feeling of regret upon leaving the country!

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Wasim Mir


The Tunnel of Hope The airport of Sarajevo is on our right. We can see the planes a couple of a hundred meters away from us. We made it to the destination that I have heard so much about since I was a little girl. The tunnel of hope... we made it to the tunnel of hope. Today, this tunnel is a tourist attraction. Everyone who passes by Sarajevo makes sure to come by. During the war, Sarajevo was surrounded by the Serb and Croat armies. No people nor supplies could enter or exit the city. The UN decided it would throw packages of food and clothing from the air space above. But even that, the Serb army wouldn’t allow the Bosnians to have to themselves. The Serbs made an


agreement with the UN that they would only allow for these supplies to be delivered to the people of Sarajevo, under one condition: That the Serb Army take half the supplies and give the Bosnians the other half. The siege continued for nearly three years; the people of Sarajevo grew hungry, their clothing had worn out, the sick had no medicine to treat their wounds.

Bosnians are fighters I know that. I can see it in their faces to this day. To save the city from dying, the people of Sarajevo built a tunnel under the grounds of the airport. It started here, under the house of an old woman. 800 meters long, 1.6 meters high, and 1 meter wide. It ended just outside the

city in another house like the one we are standing in now. This was the only way they hoped the Serbs would not find out about the tunnel. During the siege this tunnel was used to bring supplies of food, medicine and clothing into Sarajevo. It was used to take the wounded and the sick outside of the city which eventually had no electricity and no water. I cannot explain how it feels to be standing here in this old woman’s house. There is a lump in my throat and I cannot seem to be able to let out a single word. I cannot express to her the amount of reverence I carry towards her. The old woman’s body is weak now and her face is crinkly, but her eyes show the strength of a thousand soldiers. I bent down and kissed her hand. She is a warrior too... She risked her own family’s safety by allowing the tunnel to start from her house. The Serbs eventually knew about it, and every day people were

Journeys through Bosnia Arwa Abdel Basir Ibrahim

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killed here, right where I stand. With the rest of the group, I went into what still remains of the tunnel. I looked under my feet and saw a railway that was used to push carts of supplies on. Sometimes these carts carried the wounded too. I touched the wooden slabs on the walls of the tunnel. The wood had stopped the soil from toppling in, put my hands where it happened and it all came back.

running. I could see men with no legs and no arms. I could see young boys and girls crying for their lost fathers and mothers. I wanted to stop and cry with them too, but we all had to keep running.


We are in Sarajevo, the city I had longed to visit throughout my life. People who know me well, have Many of the Bosnian refugees I had definitely heard me say, “I want to visit met when I was a young girl had passed through this tunnel. I had heard Sarajevo.” Someone did once tell me, “You’ll make it there one day.” their frightening stories of how they made their way through the dark, It felt quite surreal to be finally damp underground passageway entering this historic city. On June 28, in hope of freedom. I woke up to 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of nightmares when I was six years old. Austria and his wife were murdered on In my sleep, I was with them, running away from the Serbs, I could hear the the infamous bridge here in Sarajevo; gunshots and the bombs on the ground the incident that sparked the beginning of World War I. In 1984, the whole above. But I had to keep running in that dark, tight tunnel. I was afraid that world assembled here for the Olympic they would catch me, but I had to keep Winter Games, one of the most magnificent Olympics in history. This city running. I could feel my legs getting weaker and weaker, but I had to keep witnessed many important battles when 42

it was part of the Ottoman Empire, during the 16th century and into the 19th. Finally, in 1992 Sarajevo become the longest besieged city in world history.

As soon as we entered the city, we headed towards the mass graveyard where the late President Alija Izzet Begovic is buried along with thousands of soldiers who died as martyrs during the war. It was a sunny day; the grass was green across the hills and flowers were blooming with colour. It could have been a very pretty site; for as far as our eyes could take us, we saw lucent white slabs with fine Arabic and Latin script, neatly dug into a carpet of greenery and blossoms of colour. Looking more closely at the engravings however, we read names and years; the grave reality was inescapable. The journey between many of the birth and death dates on the white slabs, were so short . Many of these men were younger than myself I realized. We had stood ourselves in a half circle around Begovic’s grave and put our hands together to read Surah al Fatihah and a small prayer for the heroes. It was a solemn moment and the air seemed to stand still and heavy upon our shoulders as we recited holy words from the Qur’an and Hadith.

After we packed ourselves back into the van, we were on what seemed like an endless spin. We drove in an upward circle until we finally came to a halt and Abosondos shouted, “Get out everyone!”

The newer buildings are quite dull however and as I pass them by, I feel that I have travelled back in time into Soviet Russia. Although I’ve never been to Russia, the novels I’ve read and movies I’ve watched make me feel that if I ever were to visit this country, I would find many similarities between it and this part of Bosnia that I am seeing now. We passed a block of tall apartment buildings; their plainness, lack of beauty or elegance and practicality are overwhelmingly sullen.

Sarajevo still bears the scars of the war. More than any other city we’ve been through so far, bullet and Not only is Sarajevo a city of natural shrapnel holes are everywhere; they beauty, it was also a cradle of cultures still decorate all the buildings. “There it and faiths for several historical eras. is, the Holiday Inn,” someone shouted in As we drove along the roads taking the car while pointing at a hotel as we us from the new city to the old, we drove. On our left was the yellow and passed by buildings of different styles white Holiday Inn, which was brutally and architecture. The new city has bombed and set on fire during the a clear European imprint. The older war. Flash backs from TV news reports, buildings are of magnificent Victorian nearly 15 years back, rushed through architecture, like the national museum my head. It was surprising to me that and the school of art and dance. I could still remember seeing this hotel

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in flames; it was so long ago. Today, the Holiday Inn still stands, and the bullet holes and damage are quite visible on its edifice. I wonder if the owners have decided to keep this memory alive for their visitors...

peaceful and pretty inside; it resembled the mosques of Istanbul a lot. We made friends with some Bosnian girls who spoke Arabic quite fluently. They helped me buy a traditional pair of harem trousers and a copper coffee set for my mother.

relations between the two countries.

Walking in the old city, was like walking through a story book. The cobble stone on the footpaths, the small Ottoman style buildings, and the authentic feel to the city centre was a dreamy experience. We visited a big cathedral and then we went to a synagogue built by one of the Ottoman sultans to provide for the city’s Jewish citizens. They were preparing for a concert later that evening so we could not visit. A mosque we visited was

The shops are small and they sell old fashioned clothes. Vendors insist on talking to me in Turkish, assuming that I am one of the many Turkish students studying in Sarajevo. Most of the covered women in the city centre are Turks studying at the University of Sarajevo because of the Hijab ban at public universities in Turkey. Turks and Bosnians can enter each others’ countries without a visa, one of the reflections of the tight

sipping on another cup of Bosnian kafa and I can hear Bosnian music in the background. I am at a crossroads of several civilisations, histories, religions and cultures. The richness of this moment will stay in my heart forever.

The sun is now setting and the dim lights of the wooden sebil/fountain built by the Ottomans in the Bascarija Square are beginning to become clearer. I am

Mostar As we entered Mostar, maybe the third largest city in Bosnia, we were greeted

by a huge cross on top of one of the mountains. It stood there overlooking the whole city below and giving a very powerful statement, “This city is still Christian.” As we drove through the city, I saw many churches and mosques built side by side. It reminded me of driving through Abbassia, Cairo. It seemed to me that religion was a fierce denominator in the demography of this city. I walked through the old city until I came to Mostar Bridge. This bridge holds an important story. It was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans, connecting between the two sides of the city. The city is named after this bridge; Mostar comes from Stari Most or Old Bridge. During the war, this bridge was destroyed. After the war, UNESCO funded a 12 million Euro project to rebuild the 1,088 stones of the bridge to their original form. The bridge was reopened in 2004. A photo museum had been dedicated to the bridge. I walked past the dated photos and let them tell me the story. I stared at the first photo dated June

1992. The first bomb had ripped off a significant portion of the bridge. It made me cry as I wandered past the pictures and the saw the bridge fall, bit by bit, in front of my eyes. In the last photo the whole city had turned from a sun-kissed green oasis into a grey, destructed piece of abandoned land. We had been to another waterfall called Kravic. Then we stopped to pray in the mosque of another Ottoman fortress called Pocitelj. It was dark by the time we arrived and so we could not really appreciate much of it. The boys ran into a little coffee shop and tried We spent the night in an old Ottoman to follow the remainder of a football house. The house belonged to an match. I think Germany was winning. aristocratic family of Hungarian origin, called Velagic. They have maintained a complex of 7 houses as well as the surrounding lands and streams that run through them for over 400 years. Semir, the young man who owns the house we are staying at, has been talking to us for two hours now about tourism in Bosnia. He stood at the door as he left us to go to sleep. “I will bring you honey from our bee hives for breakfast in the morning.”

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Rumaysa Malik

Before wudhu (ablution)

Allahumma-gh fir-lee dhan-bee wawass si’lee fi dari wa bariklee fi rizq Translation: O Allah Forgive my sins, make my home accommodating and grant me abundance in my livelihood. After Wudhu

Allahummaj ‘al-ni minat-tow-wa beena waj-alni minal muta-tah-hireen Translation: I testify that there is no deity except Allah; He is One and has no partner. And I testify that Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is His servant and apostle.


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Assed Baig How did you get into the Journalism field? Were you always interested in current affairs I was interested in journalism from a very young age, but the realisation that it was possible for me to become a journalist was not until much later. It was only through a close friend and mentor that I was able to realise my potential and attain the necessary skills to be able to do what I do. I spent a lot of time travelling and studying. Once I was back in the UK, I worked various jobs to pay the bills and save up so I could either travel or study further. I ended up going to University as a mature student to study Ethical World Journalism. It was a very specific and specialist course. I was lucky to have a very passionate and supportive tutor. My


course was basically politics, philosophy and a major in Journalism. I was reporting and being published before I graduated and even had job offers in my second year of university. In the past I believe you have criticised Islamic Relief? Is this true and if yes, what’s your justification for this view? I criticised Islamic Relief because they put public relations before saving lives. I don’t think this is just specific for Islamic Relief but a lot of charities. The idea that something is ‘Islamic’ or ‘Muslim’ means that many Muslims do not question organisations or institutions and therefore there is a lack of transparency and accountability. I was present when the UK director of Islamic Relief, Jehangir Malik, attempted to delay emergency food aid to Somalia so that he could be there when

it was distributed in order to get his photo taken when it was given out. Islamic Relief later denied that the incident had taken place and instead decided to attack me personally. They did not reply when I released an audio recording of Jehangir not denying that the incident took place. You can read more about it here posts/469472936396216 What are your motivations and is there any particular figure you look up to? My motivations are to uncover the truth,

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work for the oppressed and shine a light on the powers that be. One of the figures I looked up to was a dear friend and my mentor Ayman Ahwal. He was a journalist, activist and eco-warrior. He taught me to be myself, always stand for truth and not worry about finding a job or money. He used to say if you have a talent and are passionate about it, then it will be recognised sooner or later. The voice of the global south has for so long been silenced through the mainstream media, and unfortunately journalists in the mainstream media have an inherent and institutional bias towards the establishment. They are dependent on their press releases, press conferences, interviews with ministers and far too often fail to ask the right questions. If they do ask the right questions they will find themselves ostracised from the mainstream media. Noam Chomsky sums it up better than I do. What have been your highest and lowest points in life? There are no bad moments. Challenges 50

come with life. Everything is a lesson, an experience, a way to learn. Everything is from Allah (SWT) and it is with his grace and blessings that I am here today doing what I do. Alhamdulillah wa shukurlillah fi kulli haal. I think one of the most important moments for me has been reporting on the Rohingya in Myanmar. We were crowd funded, but our work went viral around the world. For me I was doing what I was supposed to do, reporting on the oppressed, and letting their voices be heard. One particular moment was reporting on the rape of Rohingya women by the Burmese military What general advice do you have for young people and those that are considering journalism as a career? Stay true to yourself. Remember what you stand for. Say something different because that is what’s needed. We have too many journalists that are mindless

drones that can write well, and put news reports together, but have no knowledge of the world, and fail to get real peoples’ voices heard. Write, read and build your contacts. Develop a world perspective. Try not to please everyone because everyone cannot be pleased, stick to the truth, because the truth will always prevail. Support each other and build up a good network of friends that support and share your ideals and principles. Never sell-out. You have travelled to Bosnia twice, when you look back now, what memories come to mind? So many. I think the testimonies of those that suffered during the war. I interviewed people who survived concentration camps, Srebrenica, rape camps. There is so much resilience and hope amongst Bosnians. For so many there is still no closure. I think the defiance of the Bosnian people that refused to lie down and be exterminated at the hands of the Serb forces and the massacres that took place sticks in my mind.

If I wanted to visit Bosnia next year, what sights should I definitely make a trip to? Srebrenica memorial, Mostar, Sarajevo, everywhere where the war effected. There is so much to see. I got to travel all around as I was filming for a documentary. There is so much culture and history to take in. You met the eminent Sheikh Hulusi. Could you tell our readers who Sheikh Hulusi is? Sheikh Hulusi is a spiritual sheikh and heads a Naqshabandi group in the country. He has many students around Bosnia and his Tejkia has regular gatherings where people perform dhikr and he gives advice. He was also a general during the war. At one time he had over 5000 men under his command as part of the Muslim brigade in the Bosnian army. I found him to be a very hospitable, soft and gentle man, but also very wise. Interview Conducted by Ehsan Khan Assed in Libya support us by joining our page on


An Overview of the Bosnian War The Bosnian War (1 Apr 1992 ñ 14 Bosnia and Herzegovina was once a part of former Yugoslavia. It was a southern European land of rivers and mountains to which holidaymakers would return time and again to bask in the Mediterranean sunshine. Then came 1992, and over three years of brutal inter-ethnic fighting ripped the country apart. The conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs had its roots in the fear of Serb expansionism and dominance. On 29 February 1992, the multiethnic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed a referendum for separation from Yugoslavia. Independence was declared on 5 March 1992 by the parliament. The Republic became governed by a separation-leaning government led by Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic. Following the declaration of independence, Bosnian Serb forces, supported by the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) attacked the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 52

envisaged an end to the bloodshed Dec 1995) was characterised by bitter between the three ethnic groups and fighting, indiscriminate shelling of cities assisted in implementing the peace and towns, ethnic cleansing, systematic settlement which is being maintained mass rape and genocide mostly led by to this day through the international the Serb forces but Croats also. Events community and its peacekeeping such as the Siege of Sarajevo and the forces. Srebrenica massacre would become iconic of the conflict. In light of the outbreak of fighting in the country, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on all of former Yugoslavia which hurt the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina the most because Serbia inherited the lion’s share of the former JNA arsenal whereas the Croatian army could smuggle weapons through its coast. The Bosnian government headed by Alija Izetbegovic lobbied to have the embargo lifted but that was opposed by the United Kingdom, France and Russia. As the war went on, the USA’s involvement became more and more central. The best proof of this is the Dayton Peace Agreement, officially signed on 14 Dec 1995 in Paris, which ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement

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Impact of the War

to their pre-war homes and live either in different towns across the country The consequences of the conflict were or have settled in the countries they simply catastrophic. Due to constant sought refuge in. This is especially shelling and violence, Bosnia’s true with Austria, Sweden, Norway, infrastructure and economy were Australia, New Zealand and the USA. in tatters. Poverty and instability became the legacy of the bloodiest It is truly remarkable what sort of conflict in Europe since 1945. In the crimes were inflicted upon Bosnian space of only ten days, namely from Muslims during the war; from ethnic 11-22 July 1995, over 8,000 Bosnian cleansing and genocide to mass Muslims (mainly men and boys) were rape and psychological oppression. massacred in and around the town In many places, but especially so in of Srebrenica. According to the most eastern parts of the country, women modest estimates, around 150,000 were systematically raped and then in people died during the war. Over most cases brutally killed. A glimpse 170,000 people were wounded, of this particular atrocity towards many of whom are permanently Bosnian Muslim women has been handicapped (sustained serious body recently presented in a film produced injuries). 2.2 million people - about by Angelina Jolie called The Land of half the population - were displaced Blood and Honey. and unable to return to their homes in safety. Even though the Dayton Peace For many, the truly innocent victims of agreement anticipated refugees the carnage were Bosnia’s children; returning to their homes, a large around 35,000 were orphaned by number of refugees are yet to return the armed conflict. These abandoned 54

children turned to Bosnia’s underresourced orphanages, some of which took in seven times their official capacity at the height of the war. The situation was exacerbated by Bosnia’s rape babies - children with no family and no birth certificate born to mothers who rejected them after falling pregnant to Serbs intent on muddying the ethnic pool. As various studies suggest, those particular children suffer terrible trauma because of the hatred the mother bears for the father. Put simply, the consequences of such crimes were far too damaging. Following the conclusion of the bloody conflict, most of the Bosnian Serb wartime leadership (Biljana Plavöic, Momcilo Krajiönik, Duöko Tadic ...) were indicted and judged guilty for war crimes and ethnic cleansing. The former president of Republika Srpska Radovan Karadûic is currently under trial. The top military general Ratko

Mladic is also under trial by the ICTY in connection with the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre. Some high ranking Croat political leaders (Dario Kordic) were convicted of war crimes, while some others are presently on trial at the ICTY (The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). Although many protagonists (perpetrators) were charged with war crimes the truth is that some still remain at large. The Current Situation in Bosnia Bosnia has been in a depression since 1995. The economy is still a wreck. Unemployment is very high (42 %) and monthly salaries paltry. Experts warn that it could get even worse as the world recession hammers away at the former Yugoslav republic. Most of Bosnia’s current economic dysfunction began with the onset of the war. With a large number of factories and

businesses destroyed during the war, business links were disrupted and consequently led to the current dependence on help and favourable loans from abroad, leaving the Bosnian economy staggering behind other countries in the region. In

representatives from all three ethnic groups. Government agencies and local institutions frequently get bogged down in ethnic mistrust. The so called grey economy has robbed the treasury of tax revenue. Furthermore, employers are saddled with astonishingly high costs for social security, health care and other taxes and levies that require companies to pay 68 percent more on top of each worker’s take-home wages. Despite the less-than-enticing situation, Bosnia has managed to attract some international investment, in part because foreign employers are exempt from some taxes for addition, the post-war privatisation of five years. For example, Mittal, the national companies has not been world’s largest steelmaker, employs carried out properly and justly. Many about 3,000 people in the central state companies have intentionally town of Zenica, and automobile been made insolvent in order to be upholstery manufacturer ASA bought for pennies. Prevent employs another 3,500. But The current Bosnian government nationwide, the average monthly is a three-headed hydra, with salary is still a paltry £300. That’s a presidency that includes not enough to nudge someone north

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of the poverty line in Bosnia, where prices for food, fuel and housing are fast approaching Western levels.

the country. With the support of some media agencies, they freely spread the fear of war and tend to create animosity towards other ethnic groups. For example, on 1 Mar 2012 Bosnia’s Muslim and Croat leaders commemorated 20 years of independence from Yugoslavia, while a boycott from Bosnian Serbs

Apparently the key factor of the currently futile Bosnian situation (politics) lies in the division of the country along ethnic lines, i.e. Republika Srpska and a Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation, as instigated in the Dayton Peace Agreement. Despite efforts to build up the powers of the central state, both regions are still highly autonomous, with separate political, security and financial structures. Similarly, a common education system is yet to be put in place, with schools still segregated by ethnicity, lacking basic resources and stocked with outlined the country’s deep ethnic nationalist textbooks. divisions. Such instances carve unrest and insecurity among ordinary For over a decade now, Serb people, as well as suspicion and a politicians are openly calling for reluctance to accept the country and referendums and secessions of the society as credible partners among Republika Srpska from the rest of foreign investors and international 56

diplomats. The prospects of a new conflict however are very low not only because of a firm resolution of the international community to maintain the peace through its military presence and diplomatic influence but also because the local population has lost any interest in fighting again. It should also be mentioned here that the situation would completely change if Bosnia and Herzegovina were to be accepted as a fully fledged member of the European Union. Role of Religion in Bosnian Society Different religions and different cultures have mixed in the traditional historical model of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately in recent times religion has been harnessed in the service of nationalistic politics. Bosnian Muslims were thus faced with a dilemma. Following the Serbian and Croatian nationalisms that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century,

Bosnian (Balkan) Muslims have also begun energetically searching for their own identity. It is arguably too late for Bosnian Muslims to construct a nationalism of their own based on religion, along the lines of the aforementioned Serbian and Croatian nationalisms. That could end only in a catastrophe for the Bosnian Muslims, and the disintegration of the country. Instead, we must build a shared and wider identity that will not exclude anyone in advance. There must be a will to live together with other people and a psychological ability to enter their world while remaining true to one’s own spiritual and cultural tradition. There is great need to know other people well; their language, culture, history, religion and hopes. Not in order to change them, but in order to know them; not in order to convince them of our view of the world, but in order to understand their view of the world. We must take up the problems facing today’s

Bosnian Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews, with the people who live here today as the starting point. Dialogue must take place in a concrete perspective; absorbed by the concrete problems of their own survival and the survival of the country.

familiarity with other faiths was characteristic of the theologians of all our denominations.

As mentioned above, an interfaith dialogue is the principal need in Bosnia as it is in the other regions of former Yugoslavia. I believe that encounters between Muslims and One may argue that the recent Christians based on dialogue will tragedy of Bosnia had emerged have a decisive influence on the fate precisely from too long a silence of this land, the future and, God and the lack of dynamic dialogue. permitting, democratic Bosnia. Communism and later the western We must enter on the road of lifestyle brought about a superficial dialogue, which would move beyond intermingling based on ignorance. For the problems that tormented our instance, no one carried out any forebears and take into account all serious studies of the sociology those phenomena of religiousness that of religion. Only what served the make our society a true multi-cultural communist ideology was permitted and multi-denominational model. to be written or published. All Islam has existed in Bosnia for several differences were brushed over - but centuries as an autonomous faith. only superficially brushed over. That Hence, for Bosnian Muslims the faith is was what made possible the negative a challenge that they cannot refuse. emotions that came out in such an Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, awful way. Moreover, insufficient just like Muslim peoples elsewhere in

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the world, stand at the crossroads of tradition and modernity.

enormous state administration, social payouts, crime, nepotism and corruptionë. Steps should therefore Finally understand that they are be taken towards fostering a not an eschatological nation that political climate which will lead to a has been promised the kingdom of functionality of the state according to heaven from the beginning to the end European standards, laws and rights”. of time but they, like all other people, Conclusion The country has to be able to attract are only part of the history of the foreign investment. To do that, the world and thus have an obligation The Bosnian War has been an business environment has to improve. to make history on the level required international armed conflict since Arguably first and foremost, the cost by their Creator. That is, according Bosnia had declared its independence of setting up new businesses and the to the highest ethical values. In which was recognized by the bureaucracy associated with it has to post-modern European culture, the International Community. Without a be reduced. There is no doubt Bosnia Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina shadow of a doubt, Bosnia is still in is in far better economic condition must therefore serve as a particular a major post-war recovery period. than in the immediate aftermath of model of Islamic culture. In other There is a clear need for better the war. Eight years ago, the World words, the sphere of Islamic culture schools, colleges, as well as better Bank, for instance, announced that and civilization must become known social and health care (e.g. child Bosnia has officially moved from a through them. They will, of course, benefits, working/child tax credits, post-conflict to a transitional country. build spiritual and ideological links etc.), and also the hope of a future Bosnia has surely moved on but with the rest of the Islamic world, for Bosnia’s youth to cling on to. further reforms are essential. The but that will not endanger their As one political analyst recently stabilisation of the country and the own specific cultural and religious remarked, “Bosnia is a mixture attraction of foreign investments institutions and patterns. The of a post-conflict, post-communist, would certainly help in creating new Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina transitional society burdened with an jobs and would ensure better lives for 58

in particular should be aware of their historical demographics in the wider region of the Balkans and the continuous shrinking process of the Muslim population in this region since the Ottoman period.

all ethnic groups. Breaches of the Geneva Conventions is the most serious war crime Bosnian Muslims were convicted of. Over ten award-winning films, a few documentaries, and many novels and poems have been produced so far on the war in Bosnia.

Dayton Peace Agreement

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Ethical Fashion Maiya Rahman

SWT subhanahu wa taala Glorious is He and He is Exalted SAW sallallahu alayhi wa salaam May God’s blessings and peace be with him


2013 saw one of the largest disasters in “We have given you garments to cover the history of the Bangladeshi garment your nakedness and as an adornment for industry, costing the lives and livelihood you; the garments of thousands. And what was this in the of God-consciousness is the name of? Cheap UK fashion. best of all garments.” (Qur’an 7:26). On April 24th the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, collapsed on thousands of workers, killing a total of 1127 people and injuring many more. The darker side to this story was that as many of these people took their last steps into work, they were aware of the fatal risk of entering the unsafe building and so, too, were their bosses. The workers were forced to continue to work by the factory owners using threats of dismissal and they continued to enter the Clothes are a blessing from Allah (SWT), premises out of fear of poverty. a means of maintaining chastity, a means of beautification, a means of displaying Sadly, this is not an isolated event and our Muslim identity and a means of dangerous factories like this provide obeying our Creator. Our beloved clothes for major UK brands such as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a Primark® and Matalan®. These and tradesman before Prophethood who was other UK fashion outlets provide cheap well known as a man of truth, fairness clothes for us living here. This raises the and justice. He continued to lead a life question – what part did we have to of simplicity and made a conscious effort play in this disaster? not to waste even a drop of water. Islam

itself is a way of life and stands out as a Deen so comprehensive that there is a code of conduct set out to make sure the way we buy and sell is fair. The injustices of the clothes industry are a clear violation of Islamic teachings and as Muslims we have a pressing responsibility to take action. Although there are many events leading to the collapse that we could not help, the high demand for cheap clothing, the wastefulness of our cupboards and customers simply not asking where their clothes actually come from all played a role. By sticking close to our beautiful Deen and prophetic tradition, these disasters are easily preventable by changes in our every day lives. MADE in Europe (Muslim Agency for Development Education) is a charity based in the London Muslim Centre that have started to campaign for ethical clothing. The campaign aims to encourage Muslims to think more ethically about their clothes, think twice about where their clothes come from and take active steps to change the

situation. Activities range from swap shops - where you bag yourself a new outfit by swapping in your old clothes; to upcycling workshops - where you can spruce up an old t-shirt into a new bag. Although these may seem like small changes, they can make a major difference in the long run by reviving the Sunnah of spending less and wasting less. We are also holding a petition calling on major brands such as Gap® and ASDA® to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety agreement to ensure garment workers are kept in healthy and safe working conditions.

and represent our obedience to Allah (SWT) through fairness. Indeed they will be the best of all clothing, the clothing of God-consciousness. To sign the petition and find out ways to help please visit campaign/ethical-fashion You can also like us on facebook and follow us on twitter @MADEinEur

InshaAllah we are expanding the campaign to give you bigger and better ways to take action but we need your help! The Prophet (SAW) said, “Your brothers are your responsibility... Do not give them work that will overburden them and if you give them such tasks then provide them assistance” (Bukhari). We all have a responsibility to challenge the clothing industry and help those affected. By doing so, inshaAllah, one day all clothes will be free of injustice

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A Storm of Generosity As Typhoon Haiyan neared the Philippines, the international community held its breath to see just how bad the damage would be. There had been warnings of a huge storm for days, and at Islamic Relief, we were on standby to launch an emergency appeal – but nobody predicted the level of devastation wrought by this ‘super typhoon’; the largest to make landfall in recorded history. On 8th November 2013, winds of up to 235mph swept across the Philippines, leaving behind them a trail of utter destruction. Six million people lost their homes, with 14 million affected in total. Families lost everything, leaving them without even basic food or shelter; roads, power supplies and hospitals were decimated, while water sources were damaged and contaminated. Thanks to the early warning, thousands had been evacuated from the storm’s path, but over 5,000 lives were still lost. 62

Zaid al-Rawni in the Philipines

As we launched our emergency appeal, the intensity of the British public’s response was almost as unforeseen as the strength of the storm itself. Islamic Relief is part of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a group of the UK’s top 14 aid agencies, and together a record-breaking £13 million was raised in just the first 24 hours. One month on from the disaster, that figure is now at almost £80 million – an absolutely staggering amount. Up and down the UK, our fundraisers and volunteers immediately swung into action. We are so touched and proud of the extraordinary generosity shown by the Muslim community, giving both their time and their money to save Filipino lives. Volunteers braved the cold to shake buckets at tube and railway stations, city centres and football stadiums; they held cake and samosa sales, packed supermarket bags, took sponsored waterfall treks and even bungee jumped

from 160ft-tall cranes! Support came from every angle – from mosque collections after Friday prayers, to boxer Amir Khan’s fundraising dinner, which raised over £80,000 for the appeal. At Islamic Relief, we see every donation as an amanah – a trust which we are dutybound to fulfil – and with such astounding generosity for the Philippines, it was our responsibility to do the very best work possible. An emergency response team flew out within days of the typhoon, and immediately began working with local agencies to help distribute vital food and clean water, quickly reaching over 150,000 families. What they saw left them stunned. “The real shock for me was the sheer number of houses blown away,” said Islamic Relief’s Zaid al-Rawni. “Even well-built concrete houses were ruined. I saw a whole metal roof that had been

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whipped off and wrapped around a tree by the force of the wind.” The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, and while destruction in areas like Tacloban and Leyte hit media headlines, suffering in other parts of the country barely got a mention – like the small islets surrounding Bantayan, with populations between a few hundred and a couple of thousand. Delivering aid to these tiny islands is extremely difficult, but we didn’t shy away from the challenge. Supplies were carried on small boats; when tides were low, islanders helped drag them over the sand. The team quickly identified shelter as the most pressing need – on small islands like Botigues, as many as 90% of homes had been destroyed. Families used whatever they could find to build makeshift shacks, hoping to protect themselves from the scorching sun, winds and rain, but with minimal success. Islamic Relief transported 64

thousands of family-sized tents and tarpaulins and began distributing them immediately, moving as swiftly as possible from island to island. Families were delighted. As Tudor Payne, one of the team, said: “they might have just been tents, but they were somewhere to rest and keep the elements out until more permanent solutions were sought, and people were excited.”

to leave what remained of belongings to be stolen by scavengers, so we set up her tent next to the ruins of her house. Andreas kept his children safe through the storm by sheltering under a table with a mattress on top, emerging afterwards to find their home completely flattened. I could go on – the countless stories we’ve heard from the team have all been incredible. In fact, the one thing we keep hearing over and over is that the Filipinos have tremendous spirit and courage in the face of extreme adversity. Imran Madden, who led the emergency response team, told us that “our efforts have been amply rewarded by the incredibly warm reception we have received from our beneficiaries. It has been a communitywide expression of thanks – a humble and sincere appreciation for which the Filipinos are famous.”

Tudor also emphasised just how “inspirational” the people he met were. There was the woman who gave birth the day the storm destroyed her house, and huddled with her family in a corrugated iron shelter which was far too hot for her tiny newborn – until Islamic Relief gave them a new, cooler tent. Annalee Dewic had been preparing to bury her late husband, whose coffin was in her front room when their house was torn apart. Epefania Desamparado is frail and Islamic Relief is committed to staying in elderly, but fiercely independent, refusing the Philippines for as long as we are

needed. We won’t just deliver food and walk away – we want to help rebuild the country, getting it back on its feet. We’re already helping schools to get back up and running, covering ruined roofs with tarpaulins so that the beating sun doesn’t prevent children learning. It is vital that their education isn’t interrupted, as it’s the key to their future. We couldn’t have done any of this without the astounding generosity of the British Muslim public – a testament to the truth of the Disasters Emergency Committee slogan: “together, we’re stronger”. To all those who supported our work, either by donating, volunteering or simply in your prayers – a huge thank you, or “maraming salamat”, as our Filipino brothers and sisters would say. Louiza Chekhar

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Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association celebrated Scottish


The week kicked off on Sunday, as in previous years, with the Inter-Faith Week Launch event, held in St John’s Church. The evening featured a cello performance by Emma Turley, a performance by jazz vocalist and Just festival hit Cynthia Gentle, presentations from EIFA board members on new membership and funeral card schemes as well as a presentation and a musical performance from EIFA General Secretary Iain Stewart. Long time EIFA friend and colleague Dharmveer Singh of Edinburgh’s Sikh community closed the event with a story about Guru Nanak, and a beautifully read blessing for all those present.

introduced. How a Faith Community can respond to the conflict in Syria was the focus point for the first half of the meeting. Dr Thomas Pierret of the University of Edinburgh gave an engrossing summary of the political environment from which the conflict has developed as well as giving those present an idea of the ongoing instability of the situation.

The Religious Leaders and Faith Representatives Conference on Tuesday followed the opening event and was well attended by a variety of different communities. After going over the successes and progress from the previous year’s meeting new discussions were

Next was a presentation from Syrian Manhal Al Nassar, who described the humanitarian effort of Hand in Hand for Syria, a charity for which he is Scottish representative. After a Q&A session chaired by Rabbi David Rose, Barnado’s gave a presentation about

domestic and sexual abuse in Scotland. Forming valuable new links with the various community groups present, in an open and sensitive way, Barnardo’s have demonstrated the need for events such as these, and also the need for charities working within the community to remain in touch with the many different traditions and cultures that form our city, and country. A group discussion about Scottish Independence closed proceedings, and such was the lively debate on how Faith Groups can engage with that question that a separate event is being planned for 2014 to continue that debate. For more information on that event, or on any of the subjects discussed in the meeting, don’t hesitate to get in touch. On the Tuesday evening the similarities and differences between Christianity and Sikhism were tackled in Jesus and Guru

Inter-Faith Week in 2013 with a typically diverse programme Nanak. Inter-Faith Week allows us to look into often overlooked questions in unique events such as this one which featured discussion from various representatives of Edinburgh’s Gurdwara, based in Leith.

participating students learned about each other’s beliefs and in doing so, no doubt learned more about their own. Breaking Barriers will continue to grow in the future and we encourage anyone who is interested in taking part in a future conference to get in touch.

On Wednesday, Iain Stewart presented The Common Threads of World Religion to attendees at St Mary’s Primary School. St Mary’s over the last year have shown a keen interest in Inter-Faith relations, hosting various guest speakers from EIFA’s network over the course of their very own Inter-Faith Week. Iain’s talk gave those present an introduction to the essence of Inter-Faith work and the similarities and foundations that bond all belief systems Also happening on Saturday was the together. Multi-Faith Women’s Fayre featuring community and charity groups from Breaking Barriers, a Christian/Muslim around Edinburgh, and the Multi Faith Youth Conference continued the success Meal and Cinema Screening organised by of the previous conference. Through the Edinburgh University Chaplaincy team. Scriptural Reasoning, discussion, and Inter-Faith Week 2013 was closed relaxed, casual conversation, the officially by the Inter-Faith Quiz – an

always popular fixture in the Inter-Faith Week programme. With even more teams than expected, guest host Paula Fortier did a wonderful job keeping everyone in check and making herself heard over the (traditionally) rowdy attendance. Thanks for all your help Paula and thank you for everyone that came along to the quiz and all the other events that helped make 2013’s Inter-Faith Week a great success. It says a lot about the enthusiasm for Inter-Faith work in Edinburgh that we could not fit in a review of every single event in this article. With new volunteers helping EIFA at every turn, and new organisations and communities hosting their own Inter-Faith Week events, the future is bright for EIFA and for Scottish Inter-Faith Week in Edinburgh. Matt Lord

Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association

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Young Leaders on moving visit to Srebrenica in Bosnia As we were driving from the airport to the hotel, our tour guide pointed out that many buildings in Sarajevo were still covered with bullet holes from the siege of 1992 to 1995. He was right. The seemingly normal city was punctuated by these ugly black dots, on balconies, rails and walls – so numerous that they had blended into the landscape.


The bullet holes, disturbing as they were to someone with no real concept of conflict and war, somehow looked defiant. It was as if they were kept as a testimony that the city had survived against all odds. “A symbol�, a young Bosnian lady said to me.

At the start of this month, I had the privilege of travelling with a delegation organised by the UK charity, Remembering Srebrenica.

A symbol, perhaps, that what had happened cannot yet be confined to history books. After all, 1,000 bodies from the Srebrenica genocide have not been found, and many remain unidentified. The international community had gloriously failed Srebrenica, and the victims still pay the price.

We were selected from different communities in the country to learn about the 1995 genocide that happened when most of us were toddlers or teenagers, and we met various prominent figures in Bosnia.

The resilient women of Srebrenica we met continue to live side by side with war criminals who slaughtered their family members. Many go through the raw pain of discovering that another bone of their loved ones had been uncovered in a

different grave, years after burial. We had the chance to visit the headquarters of the International Centre of Missing Persons, where scientists go through an elaborate process of matching skeletons with DNA of survivors.

Our delegation saw an ordinary room with more than a hundred plastic bags, organised and labelled. The only extraordinary element was a pungent smell. As it turned out, packed in these bags were bones of those who had yet to be identified. This tidy room, a complete opposite to the chaos and suffering it contained, is a chilling place I will never


overpower the base callings of evil.

Srebrenica during the Bosnian War.

As a young girl, I was taught the horrors of the Holocaust. When visiting holocaust exhibitions and museums, the overpowering emotions of anger and grief were coupled with a small comfort that the cacophony of chilling photos and heart-wrenching stories belonged to ‘the past’. That the world had moved on, or better yet, progressed.

It is precisely because we have failed to do the above that Srebrenica remains relevant. We fail each time a Syrian child is murdered, or when a woman asks why she is raped.

The conflict involved Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro (then known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and Croatia.

However, Nelson Mandela’s statement rings true: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People Growing older, these naive musings were learn to hate, and if they can learn to replaced by a gradual realization that hate, they can be taught to love, for love human evil knows no ‘time’, ‘place’ or comes more naturally to the human heart ‘context’. than its opposite.” Srebrenica is a potent reminder that, in the ‘civilized’ 1990s, human evil triumphed once again on European soil. Essentialist remarks about particular ethnicities are completely misleading – as human beings, we are all capable of nesting under the darkest shades of human nature. All we can do is try our best to create conditions which enable our goodness to

Numerous factions from different ethnic groups fought from 1992 to 1995. In summer 1995, Srebrenica had been a UN Safe Area for two years, having been held by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its Bosnian Muslim civilians, known as Bosniaks, were protected from Bosnian Serbs by lightly armed Dutch forces, numbering only hundreds.

In July, the UK government held its first memorial day for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. We must remember When Bosnian Serbs surrounded the town – not only for the Bosnians, but for the and took hostages, the Dutch retreated sake of our humanity. and the killing took place. What happened in Srebrenica?

In March 2010, Serbia’s parliament passed a landmark resolution In July of 1995, more than 8,000 Bosnian condemning the massacre. Muslims – mainly men and boys – were Davina Levy murdered in and around the town of

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It is widely accepted that there is no expectation for God to intervene every time someone is about to do something morally evil. But an age old question remains, how can an AllPowerful and Loving God allow natural evil to occur when it causes so much suffering? In India, there were 12 thousand fatalities from the tsunami, where the majority religion is Hinduism. Hindu survivors related this event to


the law of ‘Karma’, that every action has its consequences. These consequences are not restricted to ones present life, as these can span over several reincarnations. Pain and suffering or blessings and good are not seen as being imposed on people by God. One’s own actions are responsible for our own suffering or happiness.

being has an inner spirit called ‘Atman’ which is eternal, perfect and indestructible. The atman is born into a physical body, and when that body dies, the atman is reborn into another body and so an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth continue unless the atman unites with Brahman (God). However, skeptics find this hard to digest

Pain and suffering or blessings and good are not seen as being imposed on people by God.

There is no such thing as chaos or coincidence, in essence you reap what you sow and these may manifest in future rebirths. Evil and suffering including natural evil are not seen as unfair. Suffering in this life is seen to be caused by behaviour committed in a previous life. Hindus believe every living

On Boxing Day 2004, a tsunami from the Indian Ocean left approximately a quarter of a million dead. This natural disaster claimed the lives of people from most of all the major religions. The survivors often turned to their faith to cope with the aftermath, however, some asked, “Where was God?”

as in the case of a child that died so young and was not given a chance to change their karma. Hindus also have a God called Shiva, who is regarded as the God of destruction and other actions that cause the world to move into different stages. Individuals are seen to be part

of the ‘cosmos’ and it is God who creates and it is God who can take away. Also struck was the coastal region of Sri Lanka, home to a majority Buddhist community, killing 35 thousand people. Buddhists don’t try to attribute the occurrence of natural disasters to a deity or God. Rather they regard them as a side effect of natural law. It is believed that Buddha once said: “I teach only dukkah and the end of dukkah.” The word Dukkah, for ease of translation into English means suffering, however, it means much more than simply this. It tries to capture that life is suffering, pain, everything is temporary and subject to change and everything is conditioned and dependent on everything else. Including a being or soul, it is a


Where Was God

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temporary state that changes. Buddhism teaches ‘causation’, that the whole universe is a web of interrelated causes and effects. The universe does not operate according to our desires and wishes, the effect it has on humans does not bear any influence on how nature reacts. Nor has natural causation got anything to do with people’s good or bad behaviour. However, natural causes do have a resulting effect on humans, as they are the ones who suffer from the destruction. This is because the universe is seen to be dynamic, whose events benefit us but at other times harm us. That’s the way the world is, it is simply a matter of the various natural forces acting on each other. Buddhism is concerned with teaching the modification of desires so we can accept the


world as it is and learn to remain calm and content when things go wrong. The main purpose of the Buddhist path is nothing more than the “end of suffering.” And so more focus, time and attention is placed on remedying the suffering and rebuilding from the destruction rather than questioning the source and reasons for the tsunami.

and Day of Judgment. Death of family members and the community as a whole were accepted as it being their decreed time and place so even if they didn’t die in the tsunami, they would have died elsewhere in another way. To cope during and after the tsunami many Muslims found solace with prayer and dhikr (remembrance of God).

The tsunami also ravaged Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in the world, leaving 131 thousand dead. Survivors thought the tsunami was the ensuing of the apocalypse

Islam teaches that Allah (SWT) is the Creator of the Heavens and Earth and this creation is perfect and is under His ultimate control. Though the event of a tsunami is the

product of natural phenomenon and a reaction to natural laws set by the Creator, these disasters could not occur without His Decree. Therefore, these tragedies are viewed as a test from God. Any suffering in Islam is seen as a test, but this is of course on a wider scale. Islam sees these as opportunities to turn to Allah (SWT) and to increase our rank with Him. Also, to remind ourselves of the purpose of our life, to strengthen our faith (iman) and increase the practice of our deen. This is especially true when tested with losing what we love the most and when our lives are at stake. Furthermore, believers from around the world are tested to see who would rush in to help those in strife and struggling to survive by giving charity and showing mercy.

Despite the carnage, Muslims believe in Qadr, which is the Decree of Allah (SWT). That whatever happens, good or bad, is with the permission of Allah (SWT) and was written to come in our path. We could not escape it. And so Muslims find peace when they surrender to the Will of Allah (SWT). Though we can never truly know what is in the mind of God in regards to calamities such as natural evil, nonetheless,

scientists have continued to strive to discover more about the creation of the world. When the tectonic plates that form the earth’s crust move suddenly, this causes an earthquake. However, when this occurs under the sea, the burst of energy released creates huge waves we call tsunamis, which, if they reach the coast, often cause mass devastation. Could God not have created a world without these flaws?

Despite the carnage, Muslims believe in Qadr, which is the Decree of Allah. That whatever happens, good or bad, is with the permission of Allah and was written to come in our path.

Al-‘Allaamah Ibn al-Qayyim (ra) said: “Allah (SWT) sometimes gives the earth permission to breathe, which is when major earthquakes happen; this makes people feel scared, so they repent, give up sins, pray to Allah (SWT) and feel regret [for their sins]. When there had been an earthquake, some of the Salaf said: your Lord is warning you.”

A paper submitted to a “God, Evil and Nature” conference held at the Vatican in 2007 attempted to explore the possibility of a perfect world. In summary, it explained that a perfect crust would require no moveable tectonic plates and so no natural disasters. However, after erosion over time, this would cause the surface of planet earth to become smooth. Given the amount of water in the seas, this would mix with the soil on the land causing it to become marshland. Only simple organisms could live in such an environment and would not be able to sustain complex animals like humans. Due to the static nature in the ‘perfect’ world, the minerals and resources in the soil could not be recycled and renewed and so fairly quickly mineral stores would be depleted within a few

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generations and life on earth would cease to exist. Though this may not be the answer to the big question, it does make us think about our definitions of perfect and imperfect Creation. If our wish for a perfect crust were to be answered, would we accept the bargain that to save the suffering of those caught up in natural disaster would mean the end of human existence? My concluding thought is from the ex-Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams: “When we stretch and torment our minds over the problem of evil in the world, we should not forget that the survival of love is just as much of a mystery.”

Shabana Diouri


Nominate a Role Model! Over the past 17 issues Fifteen21 has showcased many inspirational role-models from the Muslim community in the UK. From youth activists like Neelam Rose, to Humza Yousaf, a trail-blazing young politician in Glasgow to Aisha Yasmin, a young aspiring designer from Birmingham hoping to make it big in the Big Apple! If you would like to nominate an inspiring role-model to be featured in a future issue of Fifteen21 please email us at with the following details;

e m a il N a l l m u E F e ls er / d b o m M u N le e o n n R o o h s r P e • p ct s a i t h n t o t ou b • C k n o w n ) a u yo s f i e ( r i p ins t s) a d r h o W 0w 5 • 1 x ma (

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

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Out on Friday 31st January 2014!


Sead Emric Bosnian Artist


Thankyou for agreeing to be interviewed Are there particular messages or ideas for Fifteen21 youth magazine, what do you hope to communicate through your you do? art? Thankyou for making it possible for me to present my artwork through your magazine. My exhibition “Summa Bosniaca” is currently displayed in the Slovenian city, Ljubljana, in the gallery “Modra Hisa” from November 2013 until February 2014. The exhibition displays my images and graphics which are products of my thinking and creative expression during the spring and summer of 2013. In addition to painting, I also work in graphics art, with which I want to supplement my ideas in other media. “Modra Hisa” in Ljubljana is a meeting point and affirmation of positive energy that is home to artists from different cultures.


cultural memory in this country dates from prehistoric times to the present. Another symbolic meaning that can be found in my art, is an affirmation of the light as God’s I have been trying for many years to gift that gathers my attention as an artist affirm Bosnia and Herzegovinas’ beauties with Islamic identity. and contrasts. This through my art and the subject of Summa Bosniaca, using the How is your work different to that of aesthetic effect and creative work. All Meliha Teparic, another well-known these years, I have tried being an artist of artist from Sarajevo? contemporary profile, and to reflect the spirit of the time and place in which they Nowadays in the world there are two are created. Bosnia is my love and I have groups of visual artists. The first group dedicated all my life to my homeland, consists of those artists who draw their and through the medium of modern art, I inspiration from the abundance of cultural sing an ode to this beautiful and troubled heritage of glorious Islamic civilization. country. Bosnia and its culture are in the They affirm those patterns further through center of my artistic research. My symbolic their work in the modern age. The second story always speaks of Bosnia. The roots group is made up of those artists who rely of my expressions ought to be looked on their inner spiritual spaces, and who into Bosnian dirt and all the cultural create their own artistic world, through codes left by a number of generations as

art scene of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was lucky to have my artwork exhibited and to be a part of art symposiums in Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Malaysia, and Germany. Areas of my greatest interest are the cities of Istanbul and Vienna, between whom my art has been influenced. They their own intuition and rich life experience. enable me to synthesise art of different cultures. Their art primarily does not need to be given an Islamic theme. Everything they do Did the Bosnia War in the early 1990’s in their creative procedure is Islamic art affect your artistic vision and in what because it was done by artists who are way? Muslims, and their spiritual commitment. They are slaves only to Allah (SWT). I Yes, Allah (SWT) be praised, I survived all belong to the second group of artists. the injustice that was done to my people and my country Bosnia and Herzegovina. Where are your favourite places in the There is sorrow that left an indelible world that art has taken you? mark on my soul that I am trying to show through my art, to those that have no such In addition to active participation in the

experience. Single to my artistic cycle “Imago Mortis” is a modest contribution of my own to painting, to the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica. You are very well known throughout the world, where are the most memorable places you have found your work displayed? So far I have mostly exhibited my artwork in galleries of Europe. Art is a great way to connect with friends from all around the world.

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We love the vibrant colours in your more community in Bosnia and Herzegovina recent work, how was this recent work have a negative attitude towards the received in Bosnia and Herzegovina? production and possession of art. I pray to Allah (SWT) that this negative trend Abstractive expressionism is the field of against art in the Muslim community of my my artistic interests. Strong colours through country changes. multifaceted allegories, hide symbolic meanings of the essences that I, as an The field of art is often perceived as artist speculate. Affirmation of light (NUR) having no stable prospects and quite in my art is my artistic mission. difficult to break into, what would be your advice to young people who want Do you feel there is a lack of Muslims in to enter the creative arts? art, and have you always felt supported by the Muslim community in Bosnia and “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty�, Herzegovina? my dear young friends, art is the most beautiful thing humankind produces. Art There are many well-known artists today is a gift of Allah (SWT). Make sure, that including Yusuf Ahmad, Zaha Hadid, through continuing education, you manage Karim Rashid, Dzevad Hozo and a number to find inside yourself all that creative of others who make a major contribution potential. Acquire the qualities for artistic to Islamic culture. My heart is filled with skill that will bring joy to your soul and joy that Muslims are now able to reach your lives will be complete. On the other these glorious peaks of Art and put side, in future, your artwork will bring the Islamic culture and civilization back comfort to you and others. onto the map of art events in the world. Unfortunately, because of the prejudices that were created after the long presence of communism in the Balkans, the Muslim support us by joining our page on


Hot Chocolate. Throws. Tea. Blankets. October! As the temperature drops and the nights get longer, what could be better than coming home to a cozy abode, where we could relax, unwind, wrap our hands around a Turkish teacup, as we rest our feet on an Indian ottoman and watch the flickering candlelight of a Moroccan lantern.

means “to spread roughly�, and is also used in different forms in various countries like Turkey, Greece, and Albania.

The Bosnian Kilim is a hand woven rug filled with vibrant colors and unique patterns that appeal to every eye. Rugs that carry with each weave a memory; rugs that tell the story of people who, regardless of the struggles they’ve been through and the pains of war, were able to use their talent, creativity, and most Diversity is beautiful in all of its forms, importantly their willpower to produce and the home is a great place to such a beautiful work of art. In a exemplify that. Adding simple touches, time when there was no internet, no splashes of color, and simple accents social media, Kilim making became from around the world is a simple yet rampant. Bosnians made them to earn profound way of making your home a living, decorate their homes, and feel like a global sanctuary. occupy their time whilst bringing out their artistic side. Kilim making has In this issue we will be taking a glimpse started many great initiatives as well. at the Bosnian Kilim. The word Kilim Some organizations were established originates from a Persian word which for the sole purpose of aiding women

The Bosnian Kilim


who were widowed as a result of war. Providing them with a means of supporting themselves and their families by weaving Kilims and other Bosnian handicrafts.

fit for the times they were made in. Now people tend to lean more towards modern geometrical shapes as well as brighter colors. They have also been used for more than just the floor. Some used as wall hangings The Kilim making process can be to decorate plain walls and smaller very time consuming, as it involves sizes used as prayer rugs. One interweaving the strands very creative idea has led to another, tightly to ensure no gaps are left in and we may now see what was once between. Upon completion, the kilim a floor rug used as a storage basket rug is then taken out in the sun to or a tote bag! make sure no light could go through the rug. Wool is the main material Rugs are a great addition in the used in the making of the Kilim, but wintertime, as they add warmth and at times cotton and silk could also be colour to what would otherwise have woven alongside the wool. been a plain and cold room. So if you’re looking to add something to A noticeable change in the evolution your room this winter, consider the of the Kilim lies in its design. As Kilim and bring in a touch of culture times change, so do the styles. If you and warmth to your home. compare both pictures here, you will see that the Kilim originally had a Sarah Haridi very traditional look using patterns and darker colors that were more

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Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop giving. Your prayer is the strongest communication you can have with Me.

O God, I ask for nothing except the reason Your giving can only bring you happiness for my being here. through the power of My acceptance of your prayers; your means to give can only The reason for your being can only be be fulfilled by the blessings I bestow upon answered if you keep asking from Me. you. Without these you would not be able Your asking Me through your prayers will to give and gain happiness. open up the mind and answer all your questions. So your asking for others is also asking for yourself. O God, I ask for my loved ones, my family, my friends...for all humankind, but find it O God, I love to pray to You. I love to hard to ask for myself. talk to You, but why are some prayers not answered? Ask for yourself first, then for everyone else. When you ask for yourself I will come All prayers are answered. Do you to you closer than the air that surrounds remember once you asked me to give your you. By asking for yourself you show Me friend eternal happiness and comfort, and the love and faith you have in Me. By you ask me this every day? Do you think I asking for yourself you begin to build a have answered this prayer? stronger bond between Me and you. O God, yes, I ask for this in all my prayers, Tell Me why you find it hard to ask Me. but my friend continues to face difficulties which hurt me to see. O God, I want to give everything I have to the people I love. I want nothing in return When you called to Me in this prayer, I because the giving makes me happy. gave your friend sickness. It was you who

A Conversatio 82

Your giving can only bring you happiness through the power of My acceptance of your prayers Jawaad Ahmed Mahboob

was there for him and loved and cared for him. This gave him happiness and comfort; I know because he told Me and prayed for you.

to the initial thing you prayed for. You may think a prayer is not answered, but some are answered without you knowing or understanding them.

Your friend was in distress due to debt; I O God, I love You. Show me a way to get brought you to him to help him. This gave closer to You, to love You even more. him happiness and comfort; I know because he told Me and prayed for you. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop giving. Your prayer is the strongest communication Your friend was lost in his faith and felt you can have with Me. Your giving is alone and isolated. I brought you to the highest characteristic you can have, him and through My blessings you gave because that is a part of Me. him strength and belief. This gave him happiness and comfort; I know because he Give all you can to others but want only told Me and prayed for you. from Me. Pray for yourself, then for everyone else. If you call Me I will always Your friend had lost his way and became answer; if you walk towards Me I will run hopeless. I gave you the knowledge towards you. and wisdom to guide him. This gave him happiness and comfort; I know because he The more you pray, the more you give, the told Me and prayed for you. closer you will become to Me. Only then will you understand and find the “reason Sometimes when situations seem like they for being here”. are becoming worse, the fact is those very situations are just a stepping stone

on with


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Masjids Around The World

Emperor’s Mosque Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia Zeeshan Arif

Long before the siege of Sarajevo by the Serbian forces in the 1990s, the Ottomans arrived in the country and established Islam as the religion long before they conqured Turkey. They built some impressive structures. The first of which was the Emperor’s mosque in 1457. The mosque is located to the south of the river, which runs through the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mosque is connected to the other side of the river by a stunning semi-circular bridge. Both the bridge and the mosque were originally built by Isa-bey Ishakovich-Hranushich who dedicated the mosque to Sultan Mehmed II. Isa-bey is also thought to be the founder of Sarajevo, and responsible for constructing other landmark buildings in the city. It is believed that the original elliptic dome was replaced with a semi-circular dome. The mosque has the largest single 84

sub dome in the country. Major alterations have taken place to the mosque since it was originally built. It was originally built with wood and was a lot smaller than the current mosque. The mosque was destroyed at the end of the 15th century and rebuilt in 1565. At first sight, the mosque doesn’t seem too impressive, consisting of only one minaret, three main domes and two rectangular buildings either side of the main entrance. However, on closer inspection you realise why this mosque was considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture in the Balkans. Above the entrance, there are five mini domes which are identical in design to the bigger domes either side of the main dome. The central dome is green in colour whilst all the other domes are grey. This mosque would not look out of place if it was built in Istanbul. The mosque is



Capacity: unknown

dwarfed by a tall minerat which has a pointed cone. The central dome is built on a different level to the main building.

Behind the main prayer hall there is a beautiful courtyard with an exquisite mosaic on the floor. The courtyard is surrounded by arches which are simple in The oldest part of the mosque is the central design. To the rear of the mosque a small section with extensions either side of the cemetery is located, where notable sheikhs mosque being made in the 19th century. and people connected to the mosque are Both new sections are connected to the buried. central prayer area via a door. The symmetry of the mosque continues as The scars of the war still remain and you walk into the main prayer hall. The buildings that were damaged during the interior of the mosque is very simple. It siege are still being renovated. Therefore, has a red carpet and calligraphy is used it is hoped that the mosque will be sparingly on the walls and interior of the repaired. The mosque is part of the rich domes. All the windows have a decorative Islamic history of the city of Sarajevo. It border. The white rendered walls and the is the oldest mosque in the country and light brown interior of the minerats give the arguably the most important and beautiful mosque a very simple and elegant look. mosque in the region. The mihrab is decorated in blue tiles.

Mosque dome

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Mosque courtyard 85

Inscription of a land


Once upon a time a worthy caller asked: Who is that, what is that, forgive Where is that Whence is that Where to is That Bosnia Tell

And the questioned gave then a prompt reply to him: Bosnia, forgive, there is a land Both barren And barefoot, forgive Both cold and hungry And even more Forgive Defiant By A dream Mak Dizdar (1917-1971)

Tuzla Massacre Here one does not live just to live. Here one does not live just die. Here one dies just to live Mak Dizdar (1917-1971)

Death and the Dervish Bismilahir-rahmanir-rahim! I call to witness the ink, the quill, and the script, which flows from the quill; I call to witness the faltering shadows of the sinking evening, the night and all she enlivens; I call to witness the moon when she waxes, and the sunrise when it dawns. I call to witness the Resurrection Day and the soul that accuses itself; I call to witness time, the beginning and end of all things - to witness that every man always suffers loss Meťa Selimović


Da sam ptica/If I was a Bird

Mak Dizdar

Da sam ptica i da imam krila/If I was a bird and if I had wings

cvjetaj Bosno, u mirisu rudi/Bloom Bosnia, in redolence ripen

ja bih cijelu Bosnu preletila/I would fly over entire Bosnia

iz teb’ i ja da napajam grudi/From you I feed my soul

letila bih, nikad ne bih stala/I would fly, I would never stop

Uvijek si mi kao sto si bila/You’re always the same

dok se Bosne ne bih nagledala/Until I had enough of Bosnia

sva zelena, vesela i mila/All green, cheerful, and loving

Nad Bosnom se planine izvile/Above Bosnia, mountains rise zelenilom svu je okitile/They dressed her up in green

tvoja pjesma nek’ te uvijek krasi/Let your song always adorn you zdravo Bosno, uvijek zdravo da si/Goodbye Bosnia, always remain healthy Mirza Bašić

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Recipes Sana Khalid

Bosnian Delights Ingredients: 8-10 white peppers 1 1/3 lb (600g) ground beef 1/3 cup (80g) rice 1 large potato (finely chopped) 1 small onion (finely chopped) 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped) 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley (finely chopped) 1 egg 2 tbsp tomato puree 1 tsp Vegeta spice 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

Sauce: 2-3 tbsp cooking oil 2 tbsp flour 1 tsp ground paprika 1 tsp salt ½ cup (120ml) tomato puree 4 cups water


Preparation: Wash and dry peppers. Cut open the top and remove all the seeds and membranes. Set aside. Cook the rice halfway (about 5 minutes) and strain. Set aside. Finely chop all vegetables. Place the ground beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with all the spices. Add all vegetables, rice, egg and parsley and mix together into a compact mass. Stuff each pepper and set on a plate next to the stove. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Lightly, brown peppers on each side, just until fragrant. Remove from the pan and place back on the plate. Pour the oil from frying into a cooking pot. Use this to make the sauce. Sauce: Lightly heat the oil, add 2 tbsp flour and stir gently until smooth. Add ground paprika and salt and stir for approximately 1 minute. Don’t let it burn. Add tomato puree and water. Stir and let it boil. When the sauce starts boiling, place all the peppers inside. Turn the

temperature down to medium and simmer for about 45-50 minutes in a half covered pot. The sauce will reduce during the cooking and will become thicker. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or just with bread.

Powdered sugar Baking tins Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation: Beat butter, sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, and then add egg and lemon zest and mix for a few more minutes. Add Šape ground walnuts. Combine flour and baking Šape are one of the most loved, traditional powder, and then add to the mixture. The Bosnian treats. When translated to English, dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two of milk. Brush the tins with šapa simply means a “paw”. The old tins melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with were shaped like bear paws, hence the dough. Place the tins on a cookie sheet name. and bake at 180C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until a golden-brown colour. Ingredients: Let them cool down for a minute or two, 140g /4.9 oz butter remove from tins and liberally dust with 120g / 4.2 oz sugar powdered sugar. 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest Enjoy! 1 egg 120g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts 300g / 10.5 oz cup all-purpose flour 13g / about 1 tsp baking powder A few tsp of milk (if needed) 1 – 2 tbsp honey (optional)

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National Events

To add your local study circles, conferences, events or courses please email



The Zawiya Centre T: 0121 766 8364 W:

Masjid An-Noor T: 0116 262 5440 W:

Arabic, Tajweed, Youth activities & Study circles for both brothers and sisters, various dates

Monthly Youth Programme for boys, starts first Saturday of each month



Islam Bradford Centre T: 01274 395521 E:

York Central Masjid T: 01904 413 123 E:

Study Circles, for brothers and sisters (separate classes), various days & times

Brothers Qur’an Circle, every Friday, between Maghrib and Isha Salah Sisters Qur’an Circle, every Sunday, 11am to Dhuhr Salah

… e u s s I e Next

Cambridge Cambridge Masjid T: 01223-350134 E:

In Th go’s: St Mun

Edinburgh Central Mosque T: 0131 343 3802 E:

Arabic, Tajweed, Youth activities & Study circles for both brothers and sisters, various dates

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Life has its ups and downs You can talk confidentially online or by phone whenever you need to. Whatever your worry, it’s better out than in. ChildLine is a service provided by the NSPCC. Registered charity numbers 216401 and SC037717. 7244/11

Fifteen 21 issue 17