The future of Islam may be resolved in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina
Stephen Schwartz's Lecture on "Islam in the Balkans, Islam in Europe"
by T. Ponoš
Novi List [Croatia]
February 24, 2006
ZAGREB – Bosnia and Hercegovina and Croatia have an enormous responsibility for the future of Islam, and also for Christianity and the world. It is precisely in this region that the future of Islam may be resolved, and not in Pakistan or London. These were the principal assertions of the executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, Stephen Schwartz, put forward yesterday during his lecture "Islam in the Balkans, Islam in Europe."
Mr. Schwartz asserted that Bosnian Muslims have a considerable role to play because they are European, contemporary, moderate, and are opposed to extremism. Bosnian Islam is not essentially different from Catholicism in Croatia or Poland. It is intense and traditional, but their faith is not manifested in an aggressive manner, according to Mr. Schwartz. He remarked that Bosnian Muslims have a highly respected position in the Muslim world and that their "unique credibility" and prestige is a positive example of how Islam can develop«. It is precisely because of the contemporary nature of Islam in Bosnia and Hercegovina that Mr. Schwartz had proposed the foundation of a network of "Bosnian medresas" (Islamic schools) in Muslim countries, but given the difficulty of such a project, he now proposes the establishment of a main center for training of European Muslim clerics in Sarajevo with a branch, perhaps, in Prishtina.
Croatia could be a mediator between the Islamic world and the West and this would help in averting a clash of civilizations, according to Mr. Schwartz. His theory is based in the argument that Croats, who are in their majority Catholic, are confident of their faith. Instead of a clash of civilizations there should be a dialogue across borders, and Croatia could be the center of this healthy dialogue, Mr. Schwartz said.
Mr. Schwartz warned that what Islam is now experiencing in the West is deeply tragic, as it faces violence, ignorance and repression. Because of this it is essential to restore the intellectual and scholarly traditions of Islam and with these traditions to regain its prestige, and that is the duty of Muslims alone.
Related Topics: Albanian Muslims, Balkan Muslims, Bosnian Muslims, European Muslims, Kosovo, Muslim-Christian Relations
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