Author: Jasmin Mujcinovic
It is 15th century. After conquering Istanbul Sultan Mehmed Fatih continued to move further. It is noted that when he reached city Jajce, in former Kingdom of Bosnia, over thirty thousands of families embraced Islam as its religion. Many historians are discussing about reason of accepting Islam in Bosnia, there are objective view of that, but also and biased view.
Every empire that ruled in the world had its good and bad side, so did Ottoman Empire. But we need to know that if someone performed violence or any kind of it, it was for his own ‘pleasure’, it was never ideological.
It’s the same with Islam in Ottoman Empire, they could have bad leaders, but they never forced anyone to embrace their religion, and there are many evidences of it.
However, why exactly people of then called Kingdom of Bosnia embraced Islam?
Islamic presence in Bosnia was actually recorded centuries before Ottomans. Some sources are saying that Islam in Bosnia appeared arround 8th century.
Abu Hamid el Garnati, arabic geographer, recorded that there were muslims known as Maghrib who fought on the side of Hungary against Byzantium in 12th century. In the same war there was present Bosnian Ban Boric (ban is medieval title) who was ally of Hungary. He brought a group of muslims, after being called Kaleesies, they settled in Northeastern Bosnia, which witnesses todays toponym of city Kalesija.
There is also more interesting evidences that people of Bosnia didn’t embrace Islam by force. Before Islam appeared on these teritories, Kingdom of Bosnia was not Orthodox or Catholic christians, they were called heretics by both of them, Byzants and Rome. Their religion was Bosanska Crkva, meaning Church of Bosnia and it was amazingly similar to Islam. They were against idolatry and icons, against feudalism, but the most interesting fact is that they prayed five times a day. They took care of cleanliness of body and place.
Of course, when Islam did come to them, they had no problem of embracing it. It’s fascinating that so many empires ruled over Bosnia after Ottomans, yet no one could remove Islam from their hearts.
Today, surrounded by Orthodox Christians by one, and Catholics by another side, Bosnian muslims are still here. That’s the biggest evidence that people of Bosnia never embraced religion because of interests, but because of heart and love for the truth.