Against Fascism, CIP Publishes on Muslim Jewish Life
by Luciana Zana Trëndafilazezë
The Centre for Islamic Pluralism calls on Muslims, Jews, and Christians to unite NOW! This is our jihad!
Death to Russian imperialism! Remember Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Azerbaycan, Vainakh, the Balkans, Crimea!
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RUSSIANS! RISE UP! YOUR ENEMY IS IN YOUR OWN HOUSE! SLAV IMPERIALISM ENSLAVES YOU!
Let the images of your great ancestors — Alexander Nevsky, Dimitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dimitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov and Mikhail Kutuzov -- inspire you in this struggle!
The enemy is not so strong as some frightened intellectuals picture him!
The devil is not so terrible as he is painted!
ARISE! SAVE HOLY RUSSIA! ALL BELIEVERS PRAY FOR THE SALVATION OF RUSSIA!
Freedom for All People!
In an environment of expanding fascist aggression worldwide against Jews, Muslims, and other minorities in Russia, China, the Mideast, and the West, the Centre for Islamic Pluralism is aware of our duty to educate the global public about interfaith civility.
CIP is antifascist. We have worked with Kurds active in Antifa, the worldwide antifascist movement, for many years. Antifa backs Kurdish militias defending Christians against ISIS.
Supporting the historic record on Antifa, we will publish a translation of an important document, Les Troubles Sanglants en Palestine [The Bloody Riots in Palestine]. Brussels: Antifa Palestine, 1936. This booklet deals with the Palestine Mandate Government during anti-Jewish riots in 1936, Arab nationalism, involvement of the Communist Party in the riots, immigration of Jews to Israel, and more.
In that spirit, CIP now posts Sarajevo Rose, a volume by our founder and Executive Director Ashk Sylejman, as a free download here. The book was written under his born name Stephen Schwartz, based on his experiences with Balkan Judaism and Islam. It was published in 2005 by Saqi, the most prestigious house in the Arab world.
As Sarajevska Ruža, the book was issued in Bosnian by the outstanding Islamic publishing house Tugra. It was translated by the leading Bosnian Muslim theologians, Enes Karić and Rešid Hafizović. Copies of the Bosnian edition are available from us. An expanded Albanian-language version, titled Rruga drejt Ulqinit, is in progress.
On Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook:
"Sarajevo Rose comprises essays by American poet and writer Stephen Schwartz. His subject is [Bosnia's] (once) fourth great nation after its Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, its Jews. Schwartz's book contains extraordinary and fascinating long-lost tales of Bosnia's Jews, many of whom came to the country after being expelled from Christian Spain in 1492. Included are fascinating documents that testify to an era long gone...
"Schwartz does not limit himself to Bosnia. He writes of the Jews of both Albania and Kosovo (communities which no longer exist) and also wanders as far afield as Romania. He is an ardent pilgrim tracking down shrines and cemeteries. Here are pictures of a Jewish gravestone in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and the tomb in Stolac in Hercegovina, once the site of Bosnian Jewish pilgrimages, of Rabbi Danon. The rabbi died there in 1830, while at a coffee house on the way to Dubrovnik to catch a ship to the Holy Land.
"Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the book is Schwartz's hunt for the tomb of the 'false messiah,' Sabbetai Zvi, who, after inspiring a mass movement of Jews who believed him to be the messiah, then converted to Islam, or at least told the Ottomans that he had. They then exiled him to Ulcinj, where he apparently died in 1676. Ulcinj today is an Albanian inhabited port and holiday resort in Montenegro, close to the border of Albania. It has, notes Schwartz, no known historical Jewish links. Nevertheless sleuth Schwartz tracks down a turbe (a tomb cum shrine) in Ulcinj believed by some to be Zvi's last resting place. The guardian of the turbe is an 80-year-old man called Qazim Mani, 'the proprietor of a successful hardware and paint store' who unfortunately repudiates 'any association of the turbe with a Jew,' claiming it instead as the tomb of a Muslim Albanian called Murat Dede, about whom he professes to know absolutely nothing. Thus, concludes the sorrowful Schwartz, 'the question of who is actually buried in the turbe ... is, then, unresolved.' One suspects however that, as far as he is concerned, this is not the end of the story.
"Schwartz has written a quite special book... Schwartz has written a book that nobody else has and that is a fine achievement in an ever more crowded market."
– Tim Judah, Transitions Online [Excerpted in The Economist]
"In Sarajevo Rose, the extraordinary new work by Stephen Schwartz, a writer hitherto noted for his incisive studies on Saudi Wahhabism and the dangers it poses for Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance and humanism, we read the remarkable story of the Balkan Jews.
"Sarajevo Rose is a work that feeds off of a number of different narratives and historical trajectories that overlap and intersect with one another: In addition to the many layers of its historical reconstructions, the book is a personal narrative of self-exploration by a man who is searching for the meaning of life in a Western world that has become corrupted by the nationalisms and politically compromised systems that reject freedom and the power of the spirit.
"...that place was Sarajevo, the home of a brilliant and richly evocative Sephardic civilization which had achieved a certain centrality in the Balkan culture."
– David Shasha, Sephardic Heritage
"Sarajevo Rose is a personal notebook in which [Schwartz] openly reveals his love affair with the Sephardic Jewish and Muslim cultures of the Balkans, especially as they blossomed in polycultural Bosnia. It is a felt and lived narrative... Given the affective nature of the author's encounter, it is not surprising that he devotes considerable space to poetry, printed in the original Judeo-Spanish and translated into English... Under construction is Schwartz's own protean self. It is the liminal phase of his life in which he, the initiate, travels across Jewish, Bosnian Muslim, Croatian, and Albanian borders, adding and rearranging the parts of his self along the way... Schwartz has been affected deeply by his encounter with the people, texts, and places of Jewish and Muslim Bosnia, and his mission is clear: he wants people to know that these Balkan peoples made a notable contribution to religion, literature, the arts, and mysticism. More than ever, following the attempts to destroy these cultural treasures, he calls for efforts to preserve this cultural legacy."
– Paul B. Gordiejew, Balkan Academic News
"This is a very special book. Stephen Schwartz leads us through the most intricate threads of Balkan civilization with clarity, passion, and poetry... a story so compelling it turns the pages on its own."
– Michael Sells, Author of The Bridge Betrayed, Religion and Genocide in Bosnia
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