Mustafa Cerić

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Mustafa Cerić
Mustafa Cerić.jpg
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
School Hanafi
Alma mater Al-Azhar University
University of Chicago
Nationality Bosniak
Born (1952-02-05) 5 February 1952 (age 63)
Veliko Čajno, Visoko, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia
Senior posting
Title Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Period in office April 1993 - November 2012
Successor Husein Kavazović

Mustafa Cerić (Bosnian pronunciation: [mustafaː tserit͡ɕ], born 5 February 1952) is a Bosniak imam who served as the reis-ul-ulema of Bosnia and Herzegovina and currently president of the World Bosniak Congress. He was also a candidate for a Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 2014 general election. He is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.[1]

Cerić, an influential figure amongst Bosniaks, ensured that Islam becomes a strong element of the Bosniak nationalism and argued that Bosnia and Herzegovina should become a Bosniak nation state, since Croats and Serbs already have their nation states, Croatia and Serbia.[2]


Cerić graduated from the Madrasah in Sarajevo and received a scholarship to Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. He then returned to Yugoslavia, where he became an Imam. In 1981, he accepted the position of Imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago (ICC) in Northbrook, Illinois and lived in the United States for several years. During his time in the United States, he learned English and earned a Ph.D. degree in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago. After his studies, he left the ICC and returned to Yugoslavia and became an Imam again in a learning center in Zagreb in 1987.

Cerić led the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1993.

He officially became the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999. The fact he led the Islamic Community 1993-99 sparked controversy in his re-election.[citation needed] He was replaced as reis-ul-ulema in 2012 by Husein Kavazović.

In 2011, Mustafa Cerić was one of the founders of the Bosniak Academy of Sciences and Arts.

In December 2012, Cerić was one of the founders of the World Bosniak Congress, and serves at the president.

On the Bosnia and Herzegovina general election 2014 he is a candidate to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Bosniak member.


First Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish leaders in Brussels, December 2010 - left to right: Grand Mufti Mustafa Cerić - European Council President Herman Van Rompuy - Marc Schneier - Abduljalil Sajid

Cerić is a member of several local and international scientific organisations and societies, including the Interreligious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Foundation of Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery, the Council of 100 Leaders of the World Economic Forum, the European Council for Fatwas and Research, Religion for Peace, the Executive Committee of the European Council of Religious Leaders, the Board of Trustees of International Islamic University Islamabad, the Sharia'h Board of Bosnia Bank International, the Fiqh Academy in Mecca, Aal Albayt Foundation for Islamic Thought in Jordan, the World Council of Religions for Peace, International Commission for Peace Research chaired by Henry Kissinger, UNESCO and the Executive Council of World Forum of Ulama. He has delivered numerous lectures and led several workshops on interreligious and interfaith issues at local and international conferences.[citation needed]

He is one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding.[citation needed] Cerić is also a member of the Committee of Conscience fighting against the Holocaust denial.[3]

At his public speeches as the one in 2010 organised by Foundation For Ethnic Understanding he calls for common efforts on behalf of humanity and better understanding between the religious communities.[4]


Cerić is known for having made many controversial comments which have drawn criticism from secular Bosniaks, Serbians and Croatians alike. In May 2009, while visiting a Bosniak Muslim community in Serbia’s Bosniak-majority Sandžak region bordering Montenegro, Cerić said that no force could separate Muslims (Bosniaks) in Serbia from those in Bosnia, which he has described as a homeland for Bosniaks. On 15 August 2009, while conducting Bosnia's first Sharia mass wedding in Zenica, he called for Islamic Sharia law to be incorporated into the Bosnian constitution.[5]

Some have criticised Cerić for what they claim is the glorification of "the Ottomans who ruled the Balkans for six centuries, converting the local Slavic Christian population to Islam."[5] After an International Court of Justice opinion, he said "nobody needs to prove to us nor we need to prove to somebody who planned this, executed it and who did not punish those who committed the genocide." in accusation against Serbia. He added that "We know everything came from Belgrade and we will live with it... because the right way for misunderstandings among people to be solved is the International Court, it said its business and it remains for eternity."[6]

During his meeting with the Turkish prime minister, Cerić said: "Turkey is our Mother. That's how it was always, and it will remain like that."[7][8][9]

Cerić also sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for The Elijah Interfaith Institute.[10]


He was the co-recipient of the 2003 UNESCO Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize[11] and recipient of the International Council of Christians and Jews Annual Sternberg Award “for exceptional contribution to interfaith understanding."[12] He also received the 2007 Theodor-Heuss-Stiftung award for his contribution to spreading and strengthening democracy."[13] In 2007, he was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists UK “in recognition of his distinguished contributions to better understanding between Faiths, outstanding scholarship, for promoting a climate of respect and peaceful co-existence, and a wider recognition of the place of faith in Europe and the West.”[14] He is also a 2008 recipient of Eugen Biser Foundation award for his efforts in promoting understanding and peace between Islamic and Christian thought.[15] In 2008, Cerić accepted the invitation of Tony Blair to be on the advisory council of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.[16]


Personal life[edit]

Cerić is fluent in Bosnian, English and Arabic language, and cites a "passive knowledge" of Turkish, German and French language.[17] He is married and has two daughters and a son.



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