Reconciling Muslim Fragmentation with Universal Message of Islam

By Akbar Ahmed, who is an author, poet, filmmaker, playwright, and is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, DC. He formerly served as the Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland. He tweets @AskAkbar

“The problem I see with Muslims is that they are fragmenting, breaking apart, and the universal message of Islam. This is the essence of Islam, help people and spread peace. We need to work hard to build understanding, trust between peoples.” The Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Husein Kavazovic

In Sarajevo, while conducting fieldwork for my book and film project Journey into Europe about Islam in Europe, I was privileged to interview both the present Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Husein Kavazovic, and his predecessor, Dr. Mustafa Ceric. Their words of wisdom, including their vision of Islam as perfectly compatible with modernity as well as being perfectly compatible with European identity, are very important for both Muslims and non-Muslims to consider and learn from today.

I met Dr. Husein Kavazovic, the current Grand Mufti, who was educated locally and at Al-Azhar in Egypt, at the Grand Mufti’s office in Sarajevo. He defined Bosnian identity as “multilayered”: “We are of Islamic origin, settled in Southeast of Europe…Bosnians carry both identities, both values, Islamic and European. Bosnians are people that are open for accepting universal values.”

When I asked the Grand Mufti what he would say to the rightwing Europeans who say that Islam is not European, he replied that Muslims have to show Europe that they are ready to find their “equal space” in Europe. “Of course,” Kavazovic continued, “we do have challenges. The politicians are poisoning things, making it difficult for people to reconnect. We see it on a daily basis that it’s drawing back, that that seed is growing back.” The Grand Mufti spoke of his concern at what he described as “trends” currently that we are “seeing again” as in the time of “pre-aggression” in the 1990s prior to the genocide perpetuated against the Bosnians.

Kavazovic said that he believed that there were lessons that Bosnia could give the world in how it handled the aftermath of the genocide: “We are people that suffered genocide, but in spite of that, there was not a single incident of revenge from Bosnian Muslims to their Christian neighbors, to Serbs and Croats who did the genocide on Muslims. Why is that? Bosnian Muslims acted according to the universal message of Islam.”“We as Bosnian Muslims,” the Grand Mufti continued, “want what happened to us, the genocide, the massacres, to serve as a warning for everyone, for Muslims and non-Muslims. And we believe that from the genocide on Muslims in Europe, that Europe will take lessons for themselves.”

“I don’t feel inferior to anyone. I feel equal and decent and happy, because I am Muslim. The problem is that somehow we accept what others are teaching us that we are a problem. No, we are not a problem, we are a solution of this world.” Dr Mustafa Ceric

The Grand Mufti summed up the Muslim predicament today: “The problem I see with Muslimsis that they are fragmenting, breaking apart, the universal message of Islam. This is the essence of Islam, help people and spread peace. We need to work hard to build understanding, trust between peoples.”

Grand Mufti Kavazovic’s predecessor, Mustafa Ceric, who I met in Ceric’s office, was also educated in Bosnia before attending Al-Azhar. He went on to obtain a PhD at the University of Chicago. Ceric served as Grand Mufti until 2012, and is a highly respected figure in the Muslim world. Ceric compared the approaches of both famous universities he attended. “When I was at Al-Azhar I was told everything has been solved. Islam has solved all the problems. So I was very sad. I didn’t know what to do, because everything has been solved. When I came to the University of Chicago, they told me nothing has been solved. Everything is waiting for you to research and to study and to give solutions.”

Ceric was seeking, he explained, to reconcile religion and politics. He believed this will be a “major theme of the twenty-first century. I think that Muslims are the only people today who are caring about what is right and what is wrong. It is another thing whether they do it in a right way…they are doing it very aggressively and so on.”

Ceric discussed the importance of the Balkans as the European region with the most diversity, and also the importance of the indigenous Muslims of Europe. “The history of the Balkans and Europe cannot be separated…The Balkans was always a boiling pot, if you like. But my point is this: the Balkans remained the most dense in its multicultural, multilingual, multinational character, more than any other region in Europe.” In this, Ceric said, the Balkans is unlike the rest of Europe, which was, in places such as Spain, “ethnically cleansed a long time ago.”

Ceric traced the development of the philosophy of liberal democracy and international cooperation. “I as a Muslim in Bosnia now can say that despite what happened to my people, in the genocide and so on, I can say, thanks to the German philosopher Kant and to President Roosevelt, that the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Crimes Against Humanity in the Hague were established for the first time in history as a single court because of the genocide against my people.”

Discussing the challenges Muslims were confronting, Ceric said. “I think our teachers are not up to the challenge of the time. Too much religion in a wrong way is very dangerous.” “Unfortunately,” he said, the “so-called modernists,” who obtained an education in the West before returning to Muslim countries “are lost, they don’t know what to do.”

But he was upbeat about his identity: “I don’t feel inferior to anyone. I feel equal and decent and happy, because I am Muslim. The problem is that somehow we accept what others are teaching us that we are a problem. No, we are not a problem, we are a solution of this world.”

Reference:

The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles to overcome inter-sectarian divide

The only constitution the world needs is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

8 replies

  1. ===“The problem I see with Muslims is that they are fragmenting, breaking apart, and the universal message of Islam. This is the essence of Islam, help people and spread peace. We need to work hard to build understanding, trust between peoples.” The Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dr. Husein Kavazovic•==

    ==help people and spread peace== I think it is not enough to do so!
    Most non Muslims already knew that in Holy Wuran and Hadith there are many violent verses that show hatred and hostility toward Christians.
    Whae a extremist Cleric ask his followers to establish Shariah law such as ; NO PORK RESTAURANT, HALAL FOOD, ISLAMIC BANK, ISLAMIC SCHOOL, ISLAMIC HOSPITAL ETC it means to eliminate non Islamic bussiness, and then create problem in community. Islam / Muslim is root of problem.

    What will happen, if non Islamic companies forbid Muslim to be employee? Forbid women wear hijab / burqa etc. What do we feel?

    As we do Islam as religion of private between us and God, every thing will be fine. Every religion will accept Muslim.
    But Muslim use Islam as political thing will be problem.

    This is my view of Islam in Era global siciety.
    All love❤️

    • As the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe that the Messiah and Imam Mahdi has come we feel it is essential to follow their advice. Consequently we should follow the Khalifas of the time, now Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Blessings and Guidance are for those who follow him and listen to him. Pls tune in to http://www.mta.tv !

      • JESUS SAY IN GOSPEL: He will come again on earth,

        In Christianity Mormons sect believe in his leader was a Messiah or Imam Mahdi ( Jesus)

        In Muslim community, Ahmadiyyah sect believe in his leaders was Messhiah or Imam Mahdi.(Jesus)

        Adnan Oktar believe Imam Mahdi will come soon
        Watch his video here, very interesting!

      • It is amazing to me how any Muslim can believe that Prophet Jesus (as) has powers higher than the Master of All Prophets, Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be with him). I have adviced Adnan Oktar to accept Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah, as this is much more in line with logic and in line with the history of religion (no super-natural to come and break all the crosses on all the churches). If and when ‘his kind of messiah’ comes we can reconsider! – On the other side, did you notice that Adnan Oktar in his videos always seems to preach to beautiful made up ladies? Strange how he ‘gets away with it’ as a so-called Muslim scholar. (Well, a lot of people do ‘see through him’ too).

  2. @ Raffiq.. very interrsting which sect of Islam is the true Islam… we need to investigate it, without investigating we may fall into sinful syrik.
    I agree with you about Adnan Oktar, but it is reality, he has millions followers in the world as well Ahmadiyyah. He also spread Peaceful , beatiful Islam as we beautiful ladies as if he live in Heaven.

    ABOUT JESUS:
    Our prophet Muhammad pbuh has affirmed that:
    1. Jesus was a Holy, Jibril is Holy, God is Holy.
    ( all Prophets were not Holy, except Jesus)
    2. Those who follow Jesus teaching will become lovely person, no hatred in his heart:
    “ love your nieghbor as you love you self, Love your enemy, pray to those who persecute you, love foreigner as you love your self “

    Most American people follow Jesus teaching, that is why Allah bless American with peace, prosperity and happiness. Muslim who follow Jesus teaching are lovely people too.
    In contrary, most Muslim do not follow Jesus teaching, that is why they hate Christian, America, and Jews.

    So I urge Muslims to believe in Taurat, Zabur and Gospel as God and Prophet command us to do so. Allah will fill your heart with love, Mercy and guidance.

    May Raffiq follow Jesus teaching amin
    All love❤️

    • Are you a Muslim or a Christian or a confused mixture? Instead of only preaching I suggest you listen once in a while. Did you watch / listen to Hazoor’s (Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad)’s Friday Sermon of yesterday? November 10th? 2017. Please watch it and then give me your comments.

  3. Core problems for Muslim mutual pragudices are:
    1. Even though most Muslims agree on the physical existence of Hadith collections and the Qur’an, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that the message coming from these sources depends on the reader.

    2. Almost every Muslims groups and their assemblies are echo-chambers.

    Solution: Muslims urgently need a kind of Muslim TED talk center where all voices, even if it is offensive, are heard, dissected, and contested for a philanthropic, altruistic and benevolent outcome for all and moderated by a professional independent moderator.

    • I agree with your suggestion, it is a excellent suggestion

      We are Progressive Muslim really want to debate about some issue in Islam sincerly and respect different thought.
      Unfortunately most extremist Muslim Clerics do not want to debate openly, they feel superior to others. Whereas they are lack of knowledge.

      Proverb:
      A wise people will be happy if some one criticize him but stupid one will be angry if someone criticize him.

      Most extremist clerics are angry / mad when someone criticize them. Those Muslim do not follow them are kafir or infidel, will be punished.

      This is kind of charecter of Extremist Clerics every where on earth.
      All ❤️

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