The Battle Against Wahhabism Heats Up!
by Jeton Musliu
Instead of the leadership of the Islamic Community of Kosova (ICK), Mullah Osman Musliu is dealing with the Wahhabis. His protests have moved the District Government in Drenas while ICK is waiting for the return of [Kosova reis-ul-ulema, who calls himself Chief Mufti] Naim Tërnava. Mullah Osman reveals the chaos in the highest institution of Islam in Kosova, which is slipping out of control.
As long as Mullah Osman Musliu is alive and chairman of the Drenas branch of the Islamic Community of Kosovo (ICK), the mosque in the village of Zabel will never suffer the fate of the mosque in the village of Morina near Skënderaj.
This is the oath taken by Mullah Osman, who was beaten a few days ago in the Zabel mosque and who considers the imam at Morina near Skënderaj a very dangerous person.
Despite the fact that the Morina imam is known for the generous aid he distributes to ordinary people in the area, Mullah Osman has a different opinion of him.
"Those who give out a lot of money are the ones who do the worst harm. Something else is hidden behind the money and behind the aid," Mullah Osman tells Express newspaper. "I do not think Serbia has damaged Kosova the way the Morina mosque has."
Regarding Naim Tërnava, chairman of the ICK, Mullah Osman says he is intimidated by the Wahhabis. He explains that this is why they are now preaching as imams. They include "Mazllum from Prizren, Shefqet Krasniqi from Prishtina, and others from Macedonia or Albania ". ICK is too weak to control the imams or the mosques and the worst example, according to Mullah Osman, is Imam Shefqet Krasniqi who is allowed to preach in the mosques of the Drenas district without asking any permission.
"If Shefqet Krasniqi is a Wahhabi, something must be going on. The fact that he comes to my home (mosque) and operates in Drenas ignoring the chairman of the local Islamic Council and ignoring the imam shows there must be something afoot. We have notified ICK and mufti Tërnava about all of this but the measures taken have been very weak," explains Imam Osman.
His face still shows the signs of violence against him and his hand is still bandaged, but after Friday's incident [January 9, 2009] in the Zabel mosque, Mullah Osman Musliu has still not heard from one person: Naim Tërnava himself, leader of the ICK. Usually in the last nine years, the news that some recognized, higher figure in the ICK has been beaten naturally ends without a public discussion of Wahhabism. This time Mullah Osman has decided to make a difference.
Surprisingly, the initiative to remove Wahhabis and other religious radicals from the ICK-administrated mosques has not been initiated from the top of the ICK, but from the periphery, by Mullah Osman Musliu. With letters to the District Government of Drenas and to the ICK. Mullah Osman called for substantial measures to prevent Wahhabi operations in the mosques and in properties administrated by ICK.
"I think that I have done a good deed by bringing this issue into the open and I have decided not to keep silent on this," Mullah Osman says to Express. "We have decided to close the mosque in Zabel until everyone calms down and I have fully recovered and am back on my feet."
While the ICK leadership has as yet failed to respond to the letter of Mullah Osman, the Drenas district government reacted promptly. One important item in the letters that Mullah Osman sent to ICK and the district government involved illegal Wahhabi activity in the library of the elementary school in Komaran.
Hyrije Xhemajli, head of the School Inspectorate in the district administration reports that immediately after receiving the letter, her institution sent inspectors to this library.
"The inspectors did not find those who run the library but they have collected enough evidence about how the various educational activities are conducted, including the courses in foreign languages [i.e. Arabic]. Based on this information we will investigate and decide whether certain educational activities violate the law," Xhemajli told Express.
However, she explained that any official inspectorate action regarding the buildings administrated by ICK must take place in cooperation with this religious institution.
"We are looking at ways the law provides for dealing properly with the issue," Xhemajli said.
As he is visited by numerous supporters bringing greetings, Mullah Osman says he is very satisfied by the support he received from the District Council of Drenas ,and the district head himself has met him at least five times.
"Some members of the ICK Leadership have also visited me but they cannot decide anything. I am waiting until chairman Tërnava comes back from abroad," Mullah Osman explains. He declared it has been easier for Wahhabis to operate since Naim Tërnava has begun running ICK than it was when Rexhep Boja was chairman of the ICK, because the latter opposed them.
"I have noticed that mufti Tërnava is unable to fight the Wahhabis, because he is afraid and intimidated by them. Even when Rexhep Boja was head there were Wahhabis here but he opposed them," said Mullah Osman, who declares he was against the recent re-election of Naim Tërnava as the head of ICK.
He explains that mosques are property of ICK, as well as its library, control of which has now totally slipped from the hands of this religious institution, and operation of which is totally deviant.
This newspaper has tried to contact the ICK officials, but they did not want to comment on this case until Naim Tërnava returns to Kosova.
"We need to know what is being presented to our children. I have demanded that other mosques and organizations, including Christian groups, be inspected as well. We must not allow any manipulation of our children," concluded Osman Musliu.
The Drenas chairman of ICK believes in what he says and adds that it is of less importance what happens to older generations.
"I am willing to let a Christian priest come and speak in a mosque to people who are older than 18 years, but it is different when it comes to institutions intended to educate and not to manipulate our children. We have made great sacrifices to become those who teach our children. We should not let others educate them," says Imam Osman.
He wants a Law on Religion prepared as soon as possible, so that the state can control religious activities. This should not be like what communism imposed but should be limited to defending the law.
"Wahhabis may build new mosques, but they cannot preach in the mosques of ICK," Mullah Osman Musliu concluded.
[Translation by Center for Islamic Pluralism]
Note: The content of external articles does not necessarily reflect the views of Center for Islamic Pluralism.