Readers May Choose A Title For This Text
by Esad Duraković
The snowball called Wahhabism has been rolling down the Bosnian hill, but it is still not certain which side is going to be struck by the avalanche. However, a meticulous analyst should be able to predict it quite precisely.
The Islamic Community in Bosnia has finally voiced its opinion, yet inadequately and euphemistically, without even naming the threat hovering over Bosnia. At the same time, Wahhabi efforts are extremely decisive and resolute, and they are likely to succeed. Nevertheless, even such an effort by the Islamic Community is to be applauded. However, we need to indicate that the Resolution of the Rijaset [Administration] of the Islamic Community on the Interpretation of Islam, and the press conference on its issuance are completely inadequate to respond to the energetic efforts of the Wahhabis. Even if it is not too late – which may not be true – the response has to be more appropriate and urgent.
Retrograde Wahhabi activism is covered both in media and the Islamic Community inadequately or with a cosmetic makeover of its essence. Its radicalism is detrimentally minimized and the essential aspects of its predictable future conduct are obscured. Naturally, that's what Wahhabism prefers, so as to develop deep roots, with any additional action being unnecessary, except that involving powerful international institutions, as part of a planned reactionary strategy to destroy any trace of the local Bosnian Muslims. Many local institutions are responsible for such a situation – political, academic, educational, then the [official Islamic] weekly newspaper Preporod [Revival], the Council of the Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals (VKBI), etc. However, the greatest responsibility rests with the institutions of the Islamic Community, since it has both the ability and the obligation to act most efficiently, categorically and decisively, by means of its powerful infrastructure and its respectable ideological position. Many non-Wahhabi believers, as I have been able to witness, are affectionate towards Wahhabis, including many officials from the Islamic Community, not knowing or ignoring the ultimate objectives of that movement, which are for now only manifested through publicized incidents. Such a position clearly reminds us of the untimely recognition of danger at the time of [the 1992 Serbian] assault on Bosnia, which understanding only came when the border areas of the country were already being burnt -- yet the people thought that it would end quickly, and it would not extend into the interior. I am convinced that many Wahhabi-recruited Bosniaks are unaware, at this stage of the movement's expansion, of the ultimate objective of their sheikhs; however, by the time they recognize it, the stream will be too strong for them to reach the shore. Consequently, the chief deceptions need to be brought up in public, including by those who make official statements about the problem, regardless of how tentative they are.
The public in Bosnia has to most seriously comprehend the magnitude of the cataclysmic threat. Everyone has to act in a preventive fashion, through enlightenment, deliberately and decisively. As far as the Islamic Community is concerned, I would not like its leaders to express anger at me, although I do not seek tranquility at any price, because I will suggest where their main effort should be, among other things, because my intention regarding them is as honest as are those of all people who cherish the culture of dialogue and a peaceful, diversity-enriched life.
Wahhabis have deeply penetrated some institutions, both secular and Islamic. It is that much more inadequate and misleading to confine them to those who came to Bosnia during the war to aid in saving the very lives of local Muslims. Wahhabis are also acting institutionally, through Islamic academies, with instructors who completed their education in the well of uncompromising Wahhabism. True, the penultimate paragraph of the Rijaset's Resolution states that "khatibs [Friday preachers] shall read the contents thereof at jumaa prayers at all mosques, while professors at all medresas and universities sponsored by the Islamic Community shall clarify it to all students, and they shall strictly adhere to it in its true letter and spirit as the official position of the Islamic Community in Bosnia." However, apart from the long-awaited Resolution, which is to be applauded, we have to admit that the problem has developed in proportions that cannot be countered by the reading of a Resolution, but rather some people have to face official action by the Rijaset, which it is entitled to carry out, in line with the heavy historic responsibility before it. Let it be seen how many indoctrinated Wahhabi lecturers there are at the academies, medresas, and on mosque pulpits. It is a known fact that classes of religion in Bosnian public schools, mostly elementary and some high schools, are taught by people who received their education at retrograde Wahhabi or "Salafi" universities. Paragraph 2.4 of the Resolution, which states that "the Rijaset of the Islamic Community believes that Bosnia has no extremist individuals or groups which may undermine the unity of Muslims," was rendered ineffective by reality even before the ink on it dried.
Those are the right courses of decisive and responsible action – it is a lot of work. We have to act immediately.
[Translation by Faruk Bogučanin and Center for Islamic Pluralism]
[Note: Academician Esad Duraković is Professor of Arabic at the University of Sarajevo.]