|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
|1According to estimates commissioned in 2008 by the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Güvenlik Kurulu) as many as 2,000,000 Turkish citizens have Bosniak ancestry.|
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The Bosniaks, or less commonly Bosniacs, (Bosnian: Bošnjaci pronounced [bɔːˈʃɲaːtsi]; singular masculine: Bošnjak, feminine: Bošnjakinja) are a South Slavic ethnic group living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina along with a native minority present in other countries of the Balkan Peninsula; especially in the Sandžak region of Serbia and Montenegro (where Bosniaks form a regional majority), and in Croatia. Bosniaks are typically characterized by their historic tie to the Bosnian historical region, traditional adherence to Islam since the 15th and 16th centuries, common culture and Bosnian language. In the English-speaking world, Bosniaks are also frequently referred to as Bosnian Muslims[note 1] or simply Bosnians, though the latter is generally used to denote all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of ethnic origin.
Bosniaks are linguistically defined as a South Slavic people. Nonetheless, it has been proposed, based on genetic signatures, that their roots also date back to pre-Slavic inhabitants of the Dinaric region, effectively predating many modern European homogenous ethnic groups. There are well over two million Bosniaks living in the Balkans today, with an estimated additional million settled and living around the world. Several instances of ethnic cleansing and genocide by Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats have had a tremendous effect on the territorial distribution of the population. Partially due to this, a notable Bosniak diaspora exists in a number of countries, including Austria, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Turkey, Canada and the United States. Both within the region and throughout the world, Bosniaks are often noted for their unique culture, which has been influenced by both eastern and western civilizations and schools of thought over the course of their history.
Ethnonym and definition
According to the Bosniac entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known lexical use of Bosniak in English was in the 1836 Penny Cyclopaedia V. 231/1: The inhabitants of Bosnia are composed of Bosniaks, and it arrived in English either via the French "Bosniaque", or the German "Bosniake", or the Russian "Bosnyak".
The earliest attestation to a Bosnian ethnonym is the historical term "Bošnjanin" (Latin: Bosniensis), which denoted the inhabitants of the medieval Bosnian kingdom. By the latter half of the 15th century, the suffix -(n)in had been replaced by -ak to create the current form Bošnjak (Bosniak). The Bosniaks derive their ethnic name from Bosnia and its likely eponymous river Bosna, which has been proposed to have an Illyrian origin - Bosona.
For the duration of Ottoman rule, the word Bosniak came to refer to all inhabitants of Bosnia; Turkish terms such as "Boşnak milleti", "Boşnak kavmi", and "Boşnak taifesi" (all meaning, roughly, "the Bosnian people"), were used in the Empire to describe Bosnians in an ethnic or "tribal" sense; and indeed, 17th century Ottoman traveler and writer Evliya Çelebi reports in his work Seyahatname of the people in Bosnia as natively known as Bosniaks (Bošnjaci). However, the concept of nationhood was foreign to the Ottomans at that time - not to mention the idea that Muslims and Christians of some military province could foster any common sur-confessional sense of identity. The inhabitants of Bosnia called themselves various names: from Bosniak, in the full spectrum of the word's meaning with a foundation as a territorial designation, through a series of regional and confessional names, all the way to modern-day national ones.
The generally accepted definition (and the one used in this article) holds that Bosniaks are the Slavic Muslims on the territory of the former Yugoslavia who identify themselves with Bosnia and Herzegovina as their ethnic state and are part of such a common nation. However, individuals may hold their own personal interpretations as well. Some people, such as Montenegrin Abdul Kurpejović, recognize an Islamic component in the Bosniak identity but see it as referring exclusively to the Slavic Muslims in Bosnia. Still others consider all Slavic Muslims in the former Yugoslavia (i.e. including the Gorani) to be Bosniaks.
In Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, unlike the preceding Austro-Hungarian Empire, the option to declare oneself Bosniak was withdrawn. As a compromise, the Constitution of Yugoslavia was amended in 1968 to list Muslims by nationality, recognizing a nation, but not the Bosniak name. Prior to this, the plurality of Bosniaks had declared as either Undecideds or Yugoslavs in censuses pertaining to Yugoslavia. Although being recognized as a separate nation under an alternative name, the Yugoslav "Muslim by nationality" policy was, nonetheless, perceived by the Bosniaks as detrimental to their Bosnian identity as the term aimed to label Bosniaks as a religious group instead of an ethnic one. To quote Bosnian president Hamdija Pozderac at the time:
They don't allow Bosnianhood but they offered Muslimhood. We shall accept their offer, although the name is wrong, but with it we shall start the process.
— In discussion with Josip Broz Tito in 1971 on the constitutional changes which recognized "Muslims"
Upon Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the great majority of Bosnian Muslims aligned themselves with the Bosniak name. In September 1993, at the height of the Bosnian war, the Second Bosniak Congress (Bosnian: Drugi bošnjački sabor) formed a basis for the official re-establishment of the historical ethnic name Bosniak and deprecation of the former Muslim in use during SFR Yugoslavia. Today, the election law of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizes the results from the 1991 population census as results referring to Bosniaks which are, alongside Serbs and Croats, one of the three constituent nations in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina and the single largest ethnic group in the country.
In other ex-Yugoslav countries with significant Slavic Muslim populations adoption of the Bosniak name has been less consistent. The effects of this phenomenon can best be seen in the censuses. For instance, the 2003 Montenegrin census recorded 48,184 people who registered as Bosniaks and 28,714 who registered as Muslim by nationality. Although Montenegro's Slavic Muslims form one ethnic community with a shared culture and history, this community is divided on whether to register as Bosniaks (i.e. adopt Bosniak national identity) or as Muslims by nationality. Similarly, the 2002 Slovenian census recorded 8,062 people who registered as Bosnians, presumably highlighting (in large part) the decision of many secular Bosniaks to primarily identify themselves in that way (a situation somewhat comparable to the Yugoslav option during the socialist period). However, such people comprise a minority (even in countries such as Montenegro where it is a significant issue) while the great majority of Slavic Muslims in the former Yugoslavia have adopted the Bosniak national name.
|"Muslims/Muslimani" in SFR Yugoslavia|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1,482,430 (39.6%)||1,630,033 (39.5%)||1,902,956 (43.5%)[note 2]|
|Montenegro||70,236 (13.3%)||78,080 (13.4%)||89,614 (14.6%)|
|Croatia||18,457 (0.4%)||23,740 (0.5%)||43,469 (0.9%)|
|Macedonia||1,248 (0.1%)||39,512 (2.1%)||35,256 (1.7%)|
|Slovenia||3,197 (0.2%)||13,425 (0.7%)||26,867 (1.4%)|
|Serbia||154,364 (1.8%)||215,166 (2.3%)||246,411 (2.5%)|
|Yugoslavia||1,729,932 (8.4%)||1,999,957 (8.9%)||2,344,573 (10.0%)|
Background, origins and genetics
- See also: Early history of Bosnia and Herzegovina
As a melting ground for confrontations between different religions, national mythologies, and concepts of statehood, much of the historiography of Bosnia and Herzegovina has since the 19th century been the subject of competing Serb and Croat nationalist claims part of wider Serbian and Croatian hegemonic aspirations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, inherently interwoven into the complex nature of the Bosnian war at the end of the 20th century. As Andras Riedlmayers's meticulous research for the Hague Tribunal demonstrates: What happened in Bosnia is not just genocide, the willful destruction of the essential foundations of one particular community or group of people within a society [....] What happened in Bosnia is also described as sociocide, the murdering of a progressive, complex, and enlightened society in order that a regressive, simple, and bigoted society could replace it.
Contrary to frequent Serb and Croat nationalist claims, Bosnia and Herzegovina constitutes a historical entity which has its own identity and its own history. These two neighbors have, indeed, occupied minor parts of its territory, but only for brief periods of time and, as such, neither Serbia nor Croatia has any serious historical claims to Bosnia. Moreover, although Bosnia did interact with its Serb and Croat neighbors over the centuries, it had a very different history and culture from them. John Kinnamos, a late 12th-century Byzantine historian, reports that Bosnia was not subordinated; rather the Bosnians had their own distinct way of life and government. According to American professor John Fine, prominent authority in the field, the Bosnians (Bošnjani) have been a distinguishable people since at least the 10th century.
The Early Slavs, a people from northeastern Europe, settled the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (and neighboring regions) in the sixth and early seventh century (amid the Migration Period), and were composed of small tribal units drawn from a single Slavic confederation recorded in Byzantine sources under the ethnonym of Sclaveni (while the related Antes colonized the eastern portions of the Balkans). Upon their arrival, the Slavs assimilated the Paleo-Balkan tribes generically known as the Illyrians (and even Thracians) on the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, being a remote and mountainous region, Bosnia appears to have been settled by fewer Slavs than in general and thus perhaps served as an area of refuge for the native Illyrians. The toponym "Bosnia (Bosna)" - after the river Bosna around which it has been historically based - is most likely itself derived from the Illyrian Bosona ("flowing water") and a testament to the Illyrian heritage of the region. Tribes recorded under the ethnonyms of "Serb" and "Croat" are described as a second, latter, migration of different people during the second quarter of the 7th century who do not seem to have been particularly numerous; these early "Serb" and "Croat" tribes, whose exact identity is unknown, came to predominate over the Slavs in the neighboring regions. Bosnia proper, however, appears to have been a territory outside of Serb and Croat rule and is not mentioned as one of the regions settled by those tribes. In time, Bosnia would come to form an independent unit under a ruler, Ban Kulin, calling himself Bosnian.
In the 14th century a Bosnian kingdom centered on the river Bosna emerged. Its people, when not using a local name, called themselves Bosnians. However, it was not until the Ottoman occupation of Europe that the modern-day Bosniaks became distinct from surrounding Slavs, as Islam's self-identifying role for the Bosniaks was similar to that played by Catholicism for the Croats and Orthodoxy for the Serbs.
As with all modern European nations, a large degree of 'biological continuity' exists between the Bosniaks and their ancient predecessors. Genetic studies show that the earliest (genetic) roots of the Bosniak people can be traced back to the ancient populations that expanded from the Balkans following the Last Glacial Maximum 21 thousand years ago. These studies have indicated that the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup I, and specifically its sub-haplogroup I-P37 found in Bosniaks, are associated with the pre-Slavic paleolithic settlers.
- I2a-P37.2, with frequencies 43.50%, respectively. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Herzegovina (63.80%), and its variance peaks over a large geographic area covering B-H, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. It is the second most predominant Y-chromosomal haplogroup in the overall gene pool of Slavic speaking peoples.
- E1b1b1a2-V13, 12.90%. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Albania (24%), and is also high among Greeks, Romanians, Macedonian Slavs, Bulgarians, and southern Italians.
- R1a1-M17, 15.30%. The frequency of this haplogroup peaks in Poland (56.4%) and Ukraine (54.0%), and its variance peaks in northern Bosnia. It is the most predominant Y-chromosomal haplogroup in the overall Slavic gene pool.
- R1b1b2-M269, 3.50%. Its frequency peaks in Western Europe (over 80% in Wales and Ireland).
- K*-M9, 1.20% The modern distribution of haplogroup K* in Europe strongly correlates with the Neolithic colonisation of the European continent by Middle Eastern farmers, who also included members of haplogroups E1b1b, G2a, J1 and J2.
- I1-M253, 4.70%. It is the most common haplogroup in Northern Europe, reaching over 40% of the population in Scandinavia, where it also originated.
- J2b-M102, 2.4% This subgroup of the J2 haplogroup is most common among the population of Albania, Montenegro and the northern parts of Greece.
- G-M201, 3.50%
- F*-M89, 3.50%
- J2a1b1-M92, 7.10%
- J1-M267, 2.40%
The period from the 6th to 10th centuries saw both external migrations and raids by Slavs and Avars, as well as internal political and cultural re-organization of the former Roman province of Dalmatia. It is only from the 9th century that Frankish and Byzantine sources begin to mention early Slavic polities in the region. In this regard, the earliest widely acknowledged reference to Bosnia dates from the 10th century De Administrando Imperio written by Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, during which period Bosnia is briefly a part of the short-lived Serbian state of Časlav, after whose death in battle in about 960, much of Bosnia finds itself briefly incorporated into the Croatian state of Krešimir II. Shortly thereafter, in 997, Samuel of Bulgaria marches through Bosnia and asserts his over-lordship in parts of it, however, only to be defeated by the Byzantine empire in 1018 which annexes Bulgaria and asserts its suzerainty in Bosnia. This lasted until later in the century when some parts of Bosnia are briefly incorporated into Croatia and others into Duklja from which the latter Bosnia appears to have seceded in about 1101. In the year of 1137, Hungary annexes most of Bosnia, then briefly losing her in 1167 to the Byzantine empire before regaining her in 1180. Thus, prior to 1180 (the start of the reign of Ban Kulin) parts of Bosnia were briefly found in Serb or Croat units, but neither neighbor had held the Bosnians long enough to acquire their loyalty or to impose any serious claim to Bosnia. Anto Babić notes that Bosnia is mentioned on several occasions as a land of equal importance and on the same footing as all other [South Slavic] lands of this area.
After frequent change of rule over the area between medieval Serb, Croatian, Bulgarian and Byzantine rule, a de facto independent Bosnian state known as the Banate of Bosnia arose in the 12th century, though nominally under Hungarian sway.
Religion, the Bosnian Church and Independence
- See also: Bosnian Church
Christian missions emanating from Rome and Constantinople had since the ninth century pushed into the Balkans and firmly established Catholicism in Croatia and most of Dalmatia, while Orthodoxy came to prevail in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and eventually most of Serbia. Bosnia, lying in between, remained a no-man's land due to its mountainous terrain and poor communications. By the twelfth century most Bosnians were probably influenced by an underdeveloped form of Catholicism vitally flawed by a widespread illiteracy and, not least, lack of knowledge in Latin amongst Bosnian clergymen. Around this period, Bosnian independence from Hungarian overlordship was effected during the reign (1180-1204) of Kulin Ban whose rule marked the start of a religiopolitical controversy involving the native Bosnian Church. The Hungarians, frustrated by Bosnia's assertion of independence, successfully denigrated its patchy Christianity as heresy; in turn rendering a pretext to reassert their authority in Bosnia. Hungarian efforts to gain the loyalty and cooperation of the Bosnians by attempting to establish religious jurisdiction over Bosnia failed however, inciting the Hungarians to persuade the papacy to declare a crusade: finally invading Bosnia and warring their between 1235 and 1241. Experiencing various gradual success against stubborn Bosnian resistance, the Hungarians eventually withdrew weakened by a Tatar attack on Hungary. On the request of the Hungarians, Bosnia was subordinated to an Hungarian archbishop by the pope, though rejected by the Bosnians, the Hungarian-appointed bishop was driven out of Bosnia. The Bosnians, rejecting ties with international Catholicism came to consolidate their own independent church, known as the Bosnian Church, considered heretic by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church. Though scholars have traditionally claimed the church to be of a dualist, or neo-Manichean or Bogomil nature (characterized by the rejection of an omnipotent God, the Trinity, church buildings, the cross, the cult of saints, and religious art), some, such as John Fine, have stressed domestic evidence indicating the retention of basic Catholic theology throughout the Middle Ages. Most scholars agree that adherents of the church referred to themselves by a number of names; dobri Bošnjani or Bošnjani ("good Bosnians" or simply "Bosnians"), Krstjani (Christians), dobri mužje (good men), dobri ljudi (good people) and boni homines (following the example of a dualist group in Italy). Catholic sources refer to them as patarini (patarenes), while the Serbs called them Babuni (after Babuna Mountain), the Serb term for Bogomils. The Ottomans referred to them as kristianlar while the Orthodox and Catholics were called gebir or kafir, meaning "unbeliever". The majority of the knowledge about the church is retrieved from outside sources.
Expansion and the Bosnian Kingdom
The Bosnian state was significantly strengthened under the rule (ca. 1318-1353) of ban Stephen II of Bosnia who patched up Bosnia's relations with the Hungarian kingdom and expanded the Bosnian state, in turn incorporating Catholic and Orthodox domains to the west and south, the latter following the conquer of Zahumlje (modern-day Herzegovina) from the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty. In the 1340s, Franciscan missions were launched against alleged "heresy" in Bosnia; prior to this, there had been no Catholics - or at least no Catholic clergy or organization - in Bosnia proper for nearly a century. By the year 1347, Stephen II was the first Bosnian ruler to accept Catholicism, which from then on came to be - at least nominally - the religion of all of Bosnia's medieval rulers, except for possibly Stephen Ostoja of Bosnia (1398-1404, 1409–18) who continued to maintain close relations with the Bosnian Church. The Bosnian nobility would subsequently often undertake nominal oaths to quell "heretical movements" - in reality, however, the Bosnian state was characterized by a religious plurality and tolerance up until the Ottoman invasion of Bosnia in 1463.
By the 1370s, the Banate of Bosnia had evolved into the powerful Kingdom of Bosnia following the coronation of Tvrtko I of Bosnia as the first Bosnian king in 1377, further expanding into neighboring Serb and Croat dominions. However, even with the emergence of a kingdom, no concrete Bosnian identity emerged; religious plurality, independent-minded nobility, and a rugged, mountainous terrain precluded cultural and political unity. As Noel Malcolm stated: "All that one can sensibly say about the ethnic identity of the Bosnians is this: they were the Slavs who lived in Bosnia."
Ottoman era and Austro-Hungarian rule
The Ottoman occupation of the Balkans modified the religious picture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Throughout the entire Balkans, people were converting in small numbers to Islam in order to escape the burden of taxation and resulting social discrimination. However, in Bosnia, voluntary large-scale conversions to Islam were prevalent. This left the landscape as a checkerboard of Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox villages existing side by side. In 1870 the Bosnian Muslims were the largest population in Bosnia (694,000), slightly less than 50 percent of the total. Many of the Bosnian Church adherents eventually converted to Islam. There are conflicting claims on the exact ratios or whether or how much of it was voluntary or not. Since earliest Turkish defters clearly distinguish Bosnian Christians from Catholics or Orthodox, it is now general consensus that the number of Christians adherents in the times during Ottoman rule did not exceed a few hundred people, due to mainly Islamic converts. The conversion process was accelerated mainly by the emergence of Muslim settlements that were centered around the Islamic cultural institutions such as mosques and Dervish monasteries. The reason that Bosniaks converted is in dispute, and none concrete answers has been achieved. One theory is that the religious rivality between the Bosnian, the Catholic and the Orthodox Church which coexisted in Bosnia for a long period would have weakened the religious structures in the country and made the inhabitants more willing to adopt the faith that the Ottoman conquerors brought with them.
Ottoman rule also changed the ethnic and religious makeup of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many Catholic Bosnians retreated to Croatia, which was controlled by Habsburg Austria after the Ottoman conquest of most of the Kingdom of Hungary, and to Dalmatia, which was controlled by the Republic of Venice after the fall of Hungary. Orthodox Serbs and Vlachs from Herzegovina and the neighboring Sanjak of Smederevo (Belgrade Pashaluk) migrated into parts of Bosnia. Many Vlachs later assimilated into the local Serb, Bosniak and Croat populations. During the Ottoman period, Christians were treated as "dhimmis" by the Ottoman authorities but were otherwise subject to the same restrictions as Muslim subjects. Dhimmis were not required to join the army, but they paid a special tax called jizya (glavarina in Bosnia). Many children of Christian parents were separated from their families and raised to be members of the Janissary Corps (this practice was known as the devşirme system, 'devşirmek' meaning 'to gather' or 'to recruit'). Owing to their education (for they were taught arts, science, maths, poetry, literature and many of the languages spoken in the Ottoman Empire, such as Arabic, Bosnian, Greek and Turkish), Janissaries could easily work their way up to a becoming governors or even Grand Viziers. The Ottoman rule also saw many architectural investments in Bosnia and the creation and development of many new cities including Sarajevo and Mostar. This is mostly because of the high esteem the Bosniaks held in the eyes of the Sultans and the Turks.
The 17th century brought major defeats and military setbacks on the Ottoman Empire's western frontier. With major wars occurring every few decades, Bosnia was economically and militarily exhausted. For Bosnia and Bosniaks, the most critical conflict of all was the Great Turkish War. At its very start in the mid-1680s, the Habsburgs conquered nearly all of Ottoman Hungary, sending tens of thousands of Muslim refugees flooding into Bosnia. A similar process occurred with the Habsburg conquest of Lika and Slavonia. Thousands of Muslims from these parts fled eastward into the Bosnian pashaluk, while those who remained were forcibly converted to Catholicism. In total, it is estimated that more than 100,000 Muslims were expelled from the frontier regions and settled in Bosnia during this time. Many brought with them a new sense of hostility towards Christianity.
Ottoman military disasters continued into the next decade. In 1697, Habsburg Prince Eugene of Savoy conducted an extremely successful border raid which culminated in Sarajevo being put to the torch. The Great Turkish War was finally ended by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. However, in the late 1710s yet another war between the Ottomans and the Habsburg-Venetian alliance ensued. It was ended by the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, but not before sending another wave of Muslim refugees fleeing to Bosnia proper. These events created great unrest among Bosniaks. The sentiment of discontent was further magnified by war and an increased tax burden. As a result, Bosniak revolts sprang up in Herzegovina in 1727, 1728, 1729, and 1732. A large plague that resulted in the death of thousands during the early 1730s contributed to the general chaos. In 1736, seeking to exploit these conditions, The Habsburgs broke the Treaty of Passarowitz and crossed the Sava river boundary. In one of the most significant events in Bosniak history, local Bosniak nobility organized a defense and counterattack completely independent of the ineffective imperial authorities. On August 4, at the Battle of Banja Luka, the outnumbered Bosniak forces routed the Habsburg army and sent them fleeing back to Slavonia.
With the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Serbia became independent from Ottoman control by the nineteenth century, it was the time of a concomitant "re-awakening" of Serb and Croat nationalism. Both Serbs and Croats claimed 'historical rights' to Bosnia. However, members of the 19th century Illyrian movement, most notably Ivan Frano Jukić, emphasized Bosniaks alongside Serbs and Croats as one of the "tribes" that constitute the "Illyrian nation". His pupil and fellow friar Fra Antun Knežević, was one of the main protagonists of the Bošnjak (Bosniak) identity as well, and even more vocal then Fra Jukić. He fiercely advocated against imminent Croatization of Bosnian Catholics on one side, as well as imminent Serbianization of Bosnian Orthodox people on the other, as he called it in his work. His position and doctrine was that all Bosnians are one people of three faiths, and that up to late 19th century, no Croats and Serbs lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although Fra Antun Knezević was not a unique phenomenon in this sense, he certainly had strongest impact, next to Fra Jukić.[better source needed]
|“||One-third of the Bosniaks are Mohammedans, and the remaining two-thirds pretty equally divided between the Greek and Latin Churches.||”|
—Thomas Gordon - The History of the Greek Revolution, p. 19, 1839
After the Serb Uprising that was sparked in 1875 the population of Bosnian Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Bosnia decreased. The Orthodox Christian population (534,000 in 1870) decreased by 7 percent but the Muslims decreased far worse a loss of more than one third. The conflict rapidly spread and came to involve several Balkan states and Great Powers, which eventually forced the Ottomans to cede administration of the country to Austria-Hungary through the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. The Austrian census in 1879 recorded altogether 449,000 Muslims and 496,485 Orthodox Christians in Bosnia. The losses were 245,000 Muslims and 37,500 Orthodox Christians.
A large number of Bosniaks left Bosnia and Herzegovina following the Austrian occupation; official Austro-Hungarian records show that 56,000 people, mostly Bosniaks, emigrated between 1883 and 1920, but the number of Bosniak emigrants is probably much greater, as the official record does not reflect emigration before 1883, nor include those who left without permits. Those who stayed were concentrated in towns and particularly proud of their urban culture, especially in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, which soon became one of the most ethnically mixed cities in the former Yugoslavia.
Being a newly independent sovereign state, Serbia acted as a center of stimulus for South Slavic nationalism, a policy that would lead to conflict with Austria-Hungary. Bosnia and Herzegovina had always been a multi-religious region, but under the influence of neighboring Serbia and Croatia, the Orthodox and Catholic Bosnians wished for the unification with their respective religious brethren. With the dawn of the Illyrian movement, Muslim intelligentsia gathered around the magazine Bosnia in the 1860s to promote the idea of a Bosniak nation. A member of this group was father of Safvet-beg Bašagić, a poet. This Bosniak group would remain active for several decades, with the continuity of ideas and the use of the Bosniak name. From 1891 until 1910, they published a magazine titled Bosniak. In order to confront the constant conformational influence from Serbia and Croatia on the Orthodox and Catholic Bosnians, the administration of Benjamin Kallay, the Austria-Hungarian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoted the idea of one united Bosniak nation that would include Christians as well as Muslims. The idea was fiercely opposed by Croat and Serb nationalists. The Austrian policy further clouded the Bosnian ethnic issue by counterproductively making the Bosniak group appear as a pro-regime. After Kallay's death in 1903, the official policy slowly drifted towards accepting the three-ethnic reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The failure of Austro-Hungarian intentions to promote a Bosniak identity amongst Catholics and Orthodoxes, resulted in only Bosnian Muslims adhering to Bosniak identity, and thus Bosniakism was adopted as a Bosnian Muslim ethnic nationalism by nationalist figures. Beginning in 1891, Mehmed-beg Kapetanović Ljubušak declared that Bosnian Muslims were neither Croats nor Serbs but a distinct, though related people. Kapetanović in an article of the journal Bosnjak (The Bosniak), declared the following:.
Whereas the Croats argue that the Orthodox are our greatest enemies and that Serbdom is the same as Orthodoxy, the Serbs wear themselves out calling our attention to some bogus history, by which they have Serbianized the whole world. We shall never deny that we belong to the South Slav family; but we shall remain Bosniaks, like our forefathers, and nothing else.
At the outbreak of World War I, Bosniaks were drafted into the K.u.k. (the Bosnian contingent of the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I), some chose to desert rather than fight against fellow Slavs, whilst some Bosniaks attacked Bosnian Serbs in apparent anger after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Neven Anđelić writes One can only guess what kind of feeling was dominant in Bosnia at the time. Both animosity and tolerance existed at the same time. In November 1881 the Austro-Hungarian government passed a Military Law (Wehrgesetz) imposing an obligation upon all Bosnians to serve in the Imperial Army." This led to widespread riots over December 1881 and throughout 1882 - which could only be defeated and suppressed by military means. The Austrians appealed to the Mufti of Sarajevo, Mustafa Hilmi Hadžiomerović (born 1816) and he soon issued a Fatwa "calling on the Bosniaks to obey military Law." Other important Muslim community leaders such as Mehmedbeg Kapetanović, later Mayor of Sarajevo, also appealed to young Muslim men to serve in the Habsburg military.
Yugoslavia and World War II
- See also: History of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1918-1941), History of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1941–1945) and History of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1945–1992)
After World War I, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was formed. In it, Bosniaks alongside Macedonians and Montenegrins were not acknowledged as a distinct ethnic group. However; the first provisional cabinet included a Muslim.
Politically, Bosnia and Herzegovina was split into four banovinas with Muslims being the minority in each. After the Cvetković-Maček Agreement 13 counties of Bosnia and Herzegovina were incorporated into the Banovina of Croatia and 38 counties into the projected Serbian portion of Yugoslavia. In calculating the division, the Muslims were discounted altogether which prompted the Bosniaks into creating the Movement for the Autonomy of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Moreover, land reforms proclaimed in the February 1919 affected 66.9 per cent of the land in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given that the old landowning was predominantly Bosniak, the land reforms were resisted. Violence against Muslims and the enforced seizure of their lands shortly ensued. Bosniaks were offered compensation but it was never fully materialized. The regime sought to pay 255,000,000 dinars in compensation per a period of 40 years with an interest rate of 6%. Payments began in 1936 and were expected to be completed in 1975; however in 1941 World War Two erupted and only 10% of the projected remittances were made.
During World War II, Bosniak elite and notables issued resolutions or memorandums in various cities that publicly denounced Croat-Nazi collaborationist measures, laws and violence against Serbs: Prijedor (23 September), Sarajevo (the Resolution of Sarajevo Muslims of 12 October), Mostar (21 October), Banja Luka (12 November), Bijeljina (2 December) and Tuzla (11 December). The resolutions condemned the Ustaše in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both for their mistreatment of Muslims and for their attempts at turning Muslims and Serbs against one another. One memorandum declared that since the beginning of the Ustaše regime, that Muslims dreaded the lawless activities that some Ustaše, some Croatian government authorities, and various illegal groups perpetrated against the Serbs. At this time several massacres against Bosniaks were carried out by Serb and Montenegrin Chetniks. In total the Muslims lost 86,000 people or 6.8 percent of their population in the war. A number of Muslims joined the Yugoslav Partisan forces, "making it a truly multi-ethnic force". In the entirety of the war the Yugoslav Partisans of Bosnia and Herzegovina were 23 percent Muslim. Even so, Serb-dominated Yugoslav Partisans would often enter Bosniak villages killing Bosniak intellectuals and other potential opponents. In February 1943 the Germans approved the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) and began recruitment. Muslims composed approximately 12 percent of the civil service and armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia. During the socialist Yugoslav period, the Muslims continued to be treated as a religious group instead of an ethnic group. In the 1948 census Bosnia and Herzegovina's Muslims had three options in the census: "Serb-Muslim", "Croat-Muslim", and "ethnically undeclared Muslim". In the 1953 census the category "Yugoslav, ethnically undeclared" was introduced and the overwhelming majority of those who declared themselves as such were Muslims. The Bosniaks were recognized as an ethnic group in 1961 but not as a nationality and in 1964 the Fourth Congress of the Bosnian Party assured the Bosniaks the right to self-determination. In 1971 the Muslims were fully recognized as a nationality and in the census the option "Muslims by nationality" was added.
During the war, the Bosniaks were subject to ethnic cleansing and genocide carried out by both Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs, especially the latter. The war caused hundrends of thousands of Bosniaks to flee the nation. The war also caused many drastic demographic changes in Bosnia. Bosniaks were prevalent throughout almost all of Bosnia in 1991, a year before the war officially broke out. As a result of the war, Bosniaks in Bosnia were concentrated mostly in areas that were held by the Bosnian government during the war for independence. Today Bosniaks make up the absolute majority in Sarajevo and its canton, most of northwestern Bosnia around Bihać, as well as central Bosnia, Brčko District, Goražde, Podrinje and parts of Herzegovina. At the outset of the Bosnian war, Serb forces attacked the Bosnian Muslim civilian population in eastern Bosnia. Once towns and villages were securely in their hands, the Serb forces – military, police, the paramilitaries and, sometimes, even Serb villagers – applied the same pattern: houses and apartments were systematically ransacked or burnt down, civilians were rounded up or captured, and sometimes beaten or killed in the process. Men and women were separated, with many of the men massacred or detained in the camps. The women were kept in various detention centers where they had to live in intolerably unhygienic conditions, where they were mistreated in many ways including being raped repeatedly. Serb soldiers or policemen would come to these detention centres, select one or more women, take them out and rape them. The Serbs had the upper hand due to heavier weaponry (despite less manpower) that was given to them by the Yugoslav People's Army and established control over most areas where Serbs had relative majority but also in areas where they were a significant minority in both rural and urban regions excluding the larger towns of Sarajevo and Mostar. The Serb military and political leaders, from ICTY received the most accusations of war crimes many of which have been confirmed after the war in ICTY trials.
Most of the capital Sarajevo was predominantly held by the Bosniaks. In the 44 months of the siege, terror against Sarajevo residents varied in intensity, but the purpose remained the same: inflict suffering on civilians to force the Bosnian authorities to accept Serb demands. The VRS surrounded it (alternatively, the Serb forces situated themselves in the areas surrounding Sarajevo the so-called Ring around Sarajevo), deploying troops and artillery in the surrounding hills in what would become the longest siege in the history of modern warfare lasting nearly 4 years. See Siege of Sarajevo.
Bosniak folklore has a long tradition dating back to the 15th century. Like many other elements of Bosniak culture, their folklore is derived from European, Slavic and Ottoman influences, typically taking place prior to the 19th century. Generally, folklore also varies from region to region and city to city. Cities like Sarajevo and Mostar have a rich tradition all by themselves. Many man-made structures such as bridges and fountains, as well as natural sites, also play a significant role. At the very roots of the Bosniak folk soul are the national music genres called Sevdalinka and Ilahije. Slavic traditions such as fairies, Vila, are also present. Pre-Slavic influences are far less common but nonetheless present. Certain elements of Illyrian, and Celtic beliefs have been found.
National heroes are typically historical figures, whose lives and skills in battle are emphasized. These include figures such as Ban Kulin, the ruler of medieva Bosnia, King Tvrtko I of Bosnia, King during the peak of the Bosnian kingdom, Gazi Husrev-beg, the second Ottoman governor of Bosnia who conquered many territories in Dalmatia, Northern Bosnia, and Croatia, Đerzelez Alija, an almost mythical character who even the Ottoman Sultan was said to have called "A Hero", and Husein Gradaščević, known as "The Dragon of Bosnia" who led the Bosnian uprising against the Turks in the 18th century. Old Slavic influences can also be seen, such as Ban Kulin who has acquired legendary status. The historian William Miller wrote in 1921 that "even today, the people regard him as a favorite of the fairies, and his reign as a golden age."
Bosniaks speak the Bosnian language. This language differs only slightly from the Serbian or Croatian language in writing and grammar, but its speakers are, on the level of colloquial idiom, more linguistically homogeneous than either Serbs or Croats. The Bosnian language has a number of orientalisms as well as Germanisms not often used in the neighboring languages. The language forms in many ways a middle ground between the Serbian and Croatian languages, not least because Bosnia itself is geographically situated in the middle of the region where the Serbo-Croatian dialects are spoken.
The first official dictionary in the Bosnian language was printed in the early 1630s, while, comparatively, the first dictionary in Serbian was printed only in the mid-19th century. Written evidence and records point to the Bosnian language being the official language of the country since at least the Kingdom of Bosnia, as further corroborated by the declaration of the Charter of Ban Kulin, one of the oldest written state documents in the Balkans and one of the oldest to be written in Bosančica.
The modern Bosnian language uses the Latin and, occasionally, Cyrillic alphabets. However, scripts other than Latin were used much earlier, most notably the indigenous Bosnian Cyrillic called Bosančica (literally "Bosnian script"), dating back to the late 10th and early 11th centuries. The Humac tablet, one of the oldest Bosnian literacy monuments, is written in this script. The script is of the greatest significance to Bosnian history and linguistics, since it is the one script that is purely native to Bosnia and Herzegovina and is linked to the Bosnian medieval monarchy and the medieval Bosnian religion where it was used abundantly. It can also be found in many royal state documents and as well on old stećaks. One of the most important documents and diplomatic achievements in Balkan history was the signing of the Charter of Ban Kulin, which is also one of the oldest official recorded documents to be written in Bosančica. The substantial influence of Bosančica on medieval Bosnia has unfortunately made it a target of controversial debates and propaganda throughout history which has led to the tendency of some Croat and Serb philologists and paleographers to deny the exclusivity of association of the script with the medieval Bosnian state, and associate it with Croatian and Serbian cultural provenience, despite its geographical origin and the historical prevalence of usage. Other scripts used include: begovica (used by Bosniak nobility) and arebica, or Arabic script adjusted to write Slavic speech, also chiefly used by Bosniak nobility during the Ottoman era, which succeeded Bosančica as the primary script for the Bosnian language.
In addition, the oldest South Slavic document is the Bosnian statehood charter from 1189, written by Ban Kulin of Bosnia in Bosnian Cyrillic. Some other early mentions include one from July 3, 1436, where, in the region of Kotor, a duke bought a girl that is described as: "Bosnian woman, heretic and in Bosnian language called Djevena".
The irony of the Bosnian language is that its speakers are, on the level of colloquial idiom, more linguistically homogeneous than either Serbs or Croats but they failed, for the historical reasons outlined below, to standardize their language in the crucial 19th century. The first Bosnian dictionary, a rhymed Bosnian–Turkish glossary authored by Muhamed Hevaji Uskufi, was composed in 1631. But unlike e.g. Croatian dictionaries, which were written and published regularly, Uskufi's work remained an isolated foray. At least two factors were decisive:
- The Bosniak elite wrote almost exclusively in foreign (Turkish, Arabic, Persian) languages. Vernacular literature, written in modified Arabic script, was thin and sparse.
- The Bosniaks' national emancipation lagged behind that of the Serbs and Croats, and since denominational rather than cultural or linguistic issues played the pivotal role, a Bosnian language project didn't arouse much interest or support.y is minuscule.
Most Bosniaks are Sunni Muslim, though historically Sufism has also played a significant role in the country. Bosniaks in Sandžak are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, though there is also a small community of Slavicized Bektashis with Azeri roots identifying their language as Bosnian. In a 1998 public opinion poll, 78.3% of Bosniaks in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared themselves to be religious.
Surnames and names
Bosniak surnames, as is typical among the South Slavs, often end with "ić" or "ović". This is a patronymic which basically translates to "son of" in English and plays the same role as "son" in English surnames such as Johnson or Wilson. What comes prior to this can often tell a lot about the history of a certain family.
Most Bosniak surnames follow a familiar pattern dating from the period of time that surnames in Bosnia and Herzegovina were standardized. Some Bosniak Muslim names have the name of the founder of the family first, followed by an Islamic profession or title, and ending with ić. Examples of this include Izetbegović (Son of Izet bey), and Hadžiosmanović ("son of Osman Hajji"). Other variations of this pattern can include surnames that only mention the name, such as Osmanović ("son of Osman"), and surnames that only mention profession, such as Imamović ("son of the Imam"). Some even mention religion as well such as "Muslimović" ("meaning son of a Muslim").
Quite a few Bosniak names don't necessarily have Islamic roots to them, but end in -ović and -ić; common amongst Slavic surnames. These names have probably stayed the same since medieval times, and typically come from old Bosnian nobility, or come from the last wave of converts to Islam. Examples of such names include Tvrtković and Kulenović.
There are also other surnames that do not end in ić at all. These surnames are typically derived from place of origin, occupations, or various others such factors in the family's history. Examples of such surnames include Zlatar ("goldsmith") Kovač ("blacksmith") or Kolar ("wheelwright").
There are some Bosniak names of foreign origin, indicating that the founder of the family came from a place outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many such Bosniak surnames have Hungarian, Vlach, Arabic or Turkish origins. Examples of such surnames include Vlasić and Arapović.
Many Bosniak surnames are also common as Croatian and Serbian surnames: Puškar, Jašić, Sučić, Subašić, Begić, Hadžić.
First names among Bosniaks have mostly Arabic, Turkish, or Persian roots such as Osman, Mehmed, Ismet, Kemal, Hasan, Ibrahim, Mustafa. South Slavic names such as "Zlatan" are also present primarily among non-religious Bosniaks. What is notable however is that due to the structure of the Bosnian language, many of the Muslim names have been altered to create uniquely Bosniak names. Some of the Oriental names have been shortened. For example: Huso short for Husein, Ahmo short for Ahmed, Meho short for Mehmed. One example of this is that of the Bosniak humorous characters Mujo and Suljo, whose names are actually Bosniak short forms of Mustafa and Sulejman. More present still is the transformation of names that in Arabic or Turkish are confined to one gender to apply to the other sex. In Bosnian, simply taking away the letter "a" changes the traditionally feminine "Jasmina" into the popular male name "Jasmin". Similarly, adding an "a" to the typically male "Mahir" results in the feminine "Mahira".
The best known Bosniak national symbol is the Fleur-de-lis (Lilium Bosniacum) and crescent moon. The most popular Bosniak symbols are derived from medieval times, from the old flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from the flag of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were used by King Tvrtko Kotromanić in the Kingdom of Bosnia and the intention was that they represent Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. But the flag was not commonly accepted by the Serb and Croat leadership, which led to the flag being associated with Bosniaks, although some Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs still venerate the flag. An example is former Bosnian army general Jovan Divjak who is a non-Muslim and former member of the Presidency of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina the Bosnian Croats Stjepan Kljuic.
Another Bosniak flag dates from the Ottoman era, and is a white crescent moon and star on a green background. The flag was also the symbol of the short lived independent Bosnia in the 19th century and of the Bosnian uprising against the Turks led by Husein Gradaščević.
Traditions and customs
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The nation takes pride in the native melancholic folk songs sevdalinka, the precious medieval filigree manufactured by old Sarajevo craftsmen, and a wide array of traditional wisdom transmitted to newer generations by word of mouth, but in recent years written down in numerous books. Another prevalent tradition is "Muštuluk", whereby a gift is owed to any bringer of good news.
National consciousness has also spread to most Bosniaks in the neighboring countries and increasingly around the world afer the Bosnian war for independence. The largest number of Bosniaks outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina are found in Serbia and Montenegro (specifically in the Sandžak region). The city of Novi Pazar is home to the largest Bosniak population outside of Bosnia. Another 40,000 Bosniaks are found in Croatia and 38,000 in Slovenia. However, some of them still identify themselves as "Muslims" or "Bosnians", according to latest estimates. In Macedonia there are estimated to be about 17,000 Bosniaks.
Due to warfare and ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a large part of the world's estimated 3-4 million Bosniaks are found in countries outside of the Balkans. The highest Bosniak populations outside of the ex-Yugoslavian states are found in the United States, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Turkey. Prior generations of Bosniak immigrants to some of these countries have by now been mostly integrated.
In Western countries, a large majority of the Bosniaks are war refugees who only arrived in these countries during the past 15 years or so. They still speak Bosnian, and maintain cultural and religious communities, visit their mother country regularly and send remittances to families back home.
- United States
The diaspora community in the USA has a long and distinguished history dating back more than a century. One of the first Bosnian arrivals to any country in the New World was to the United States, and is estimated to have been around the 1860s. According to Embassy estimates there are some 350,000 people of Bosnian origin living in the United States. The traditional centers of residence and culture for people from Bosnia and Herzegovina are situated on the East Coast (Atlanta, Jacksonville, New York and Nashville), in Mid-West (St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit) and on the West Coast. Bosnians live in all 50 states.
The United States has numerous Bosnian cultural, sport and religious associations. Bosnian language newspapers and other periodicals are published in many states; the largest in the United States is the St. Louis based Bosnian-American Newspaper Sabah.
According to the 2001 Canadian census, there are 25,665 people who have claimed Bosnian ancestry. A large majority of Bosnian Canadians emigrated to Canada during and after the Bosnian war which lasted from 1992-1995. History of Bosnian arrivals to Canada, however, dates back to as far as the 19th century. The Bosnian Community in Canada has a long and distinguished history dating back more than one hundred years. After the Bosnian war, between 1992 and 1995, many Bosniak and Bosnian Croats fled to Canada as refugees. According to 2001 Canadian census, estimates say there are 25,665 people of Bosnian origin living in Canada. The traditional centers of residence and culture for people from Bosnia and Herzegovina are situated in Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver, British Columbia. Numerous Bosnian cultural, sport and religious associations, Bosnian language newspapers and other periodicals are published in many states. The largest Bosnian organisation in Canada is the Congress of North American Bosniaks.
The Bosniak community in Turkey traces its origins mainly to emigration waves from the Bosnia Eyalet taking place in the 19th and early 20th century as result of the crumbling of Ottoman Muslim rule in the Balkans. According to estimates commissioned in 2008 by the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Güvenlik Kurulu) as many as 2,000,000 Turkish citizens are of Bosniak ancestry. Bosniaks mostly live in the Marmara Region which is in other words the north-west Turkey. The biggest Bosniak community in Turkey is in Istanbul. Yenibosna is a borough, located on the western part of the Istanbul district of Bahçelievler, bordering with the neighbor district Küçükçekmece. The disctrict saw rapid migration from the former Ottoman empire after the founding of Republic of Turkey. The origin of the borough's name comes from the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. The settlement was initially named Saraybosna, which is the Turkish equivalent of Sarajevo before it was renamed Yenibosna with the formation of the Republic of Turkey.
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