Islamic Declaration

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The Islamic Declaration (Bosnian: Islamska deklaracija) was written by Alija Izetbegović (1925–2003). Originally published in 1969–70, and republished in 1990 in Sarajevo, SR Bosnia, it presents his views on Islam and modernization. He was an ideological pan-Islamist, who participated in the Mladi Muslimani (Young Muslims) organization between 1941 and 1947, before the Tito government declared the organization illegal.[citation needed] The book was later used against him and other pan-Islamists in a trial in Sarajevo in 1983, which resulted in his condemnation to 13 years of penal servitude for an "attack against socialism [and] willingness to build an Islamic State in Bosnia".[citation needed]

In the opinions of historians Noel Malcolm and Ivo Banac from the Bosnian Institute, no plan for the transformation of Bosnia into an Islamic state was included in the book, nor in the political program of Izetbegović's SDA (which he founded in 1990).[1][2][3][4][5][6] The declaration remains a source of controversy. Serbs, who were opposed to Izetbegović, often quoted the declaration as indicative of an intent to create an Iranian style Muslim republic in Bosnia.[7] Passages from the declaration were frequently quoted by Izetbegović's opponents during the 1990s, who considered it to be an open statement of Islamic fundamentalism.[8] The opinion is shared by some Western authors such as John Schindler.[9] Indeed, in his book, Izetbegović praised Pakistan as a model for Bosnian society and declared that "there can be no peace or co-existence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions".[10]

No modernization without roots in the Qu'ran[edit]

The Islamic Declaration is a general treatise upon the relationship between Islam and politics, trying to conciliate Western-style progress with Islamic tradition, and in which an Islamic Bosnia is not mentioned. The main idea is that the Qur'an allows modernization, but that it sets limits. To this end Izetbegović cited Ataturk's Turkey as a negative example of loss of Islamic roots, ending in economic stagnation, and Japan as a positive example, in which retaining most of its own culture proved compatible with modernization and economic growth.[11]

Islamic government[edit]

Izetbegović wrote that an Islamic government is not possible except in the context of an Islamic society, which can exist only when the absolute majority of the population is constituted by sincere and practicing Muslims. On this basis, it is impossible to theorize an Islamic government in Bosnia where Muslims, even only by name, are a minority.

The Islamic order can be realized only in the nations in which Muslims represent the majority of the population. Without this social premise, the Islamic order fall to be mere power (for the lack of the second element, the Islamic society) and can revert to tyranny. Non-Muslim minorities in an Islamic state should be granted religious freedom and every protection. Muslim minorities in non-Islamic majority countries should be loyal to every social duty and every norm imposed by the community, on condition that they don't offend Islam and Muslims, and of being able to dispose of religious freedom and of a normal life.

Other quotes from the book include:

Muslim nations will never accept anything that is explicitly against Islam, because Islam here is not merely a faith and the law, Islam has become love and compassion. One who rises against Islam will reap nothing but hate and resistance.

In perspective, there is but one way out in sight: creation and gathering of a new intelligence which thinks and feels along Islamic lines. This intelligence would then raise the flag of the Islamic order and together with the Muslim masses embark into action to implement this order.

The upbringing of the nation, and especially the mass media – the press, TV and film – should be in the hands of people whose Islamic moral and intellectual authority is undisputed.

There's no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions."

Other theses of Izetbegović, which are categorized by some [clarification needed] as belonging to Islamic fundamentalism and others as simple affirmations of orthodox faith", include the belief that an Islamic state should ban alcohol, pornography and prostitution, the vision of Islam not only as a private belief but as public lifestyle with a social and political dimension, and the transcendence of national borders by the brotherhood of the whole Islamic world, the Ummah.[12]

Izetbegović and Islamic fundamentalism[edit]

Izetbegović purportedly did not reject Western civilization in itself, although he criticized what he regarded as the rapid coercive secularization of Turkey under Atatürk. Izetbegović raged against the "so-called progressives, Westernizers and modernizers" who want to implement the same policy in other countries.

Since its foundations Islam engaged, without prejudices, in studying and gathering of knowledge inherited by previous civilizations. We don't understand why today's Islam should take a different approach toward the conquests of the Euro-American civilization, with which it has so many contacts.

In his treatise, Islam between East and West, he reportedly praised Renaissance art, Christian morality, and Anglo-Saxon philosophy and social-democratic traditions.[13]

As to his pan-Islamism, he wrote:

Islam has become love and compassion... He who rises against Islam will reap nothing but hate and resistance... In one of the theses for an Islamic order today we have stated that it is a natural function of the Islamic order to gather all Muslims and Muslim communities throughout the world into one. Under present conditions, this desire means a struggle for creating a great Islamic federation from Morocco to Indonesia, from the tropical Africa to the Central Asia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ *Nikolovski, Kiro. «Come nasce la “dorsale verde”», Limes - Il triangolo dei Balcani, March 1998, pgs. 15-27
  2. ^ *Nava, Massimo. “Il nostro Afghanistan”, Limes Quaderni Speciali April 2001, pgs. 177-85
  3. ^ *Nicolò Carnimeo e Adnan Buturovic, “L'Occidente 'scopre' le cellule terroriste in Bosnia”, Limes Quaderni Speciali April 2001, pgs. 141-9
  4. ^ *Sarzanini, Fiorenza. “Soldi e moschee, Osama avanza nei Balcani”, Corriere della Sera, 8 November 2001; commented by Andrea Ferrario in Notizie Est, n. 500
  5. ^ *Iucci, Laura. «La Bosnia resta un serbatoio di terroristi», Limes - Il nostro Oriente June 2003, pgs. 203-208
  6. ^ *Mazzola, Maria Grazia. Report on Al Qaeda cells in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ballarò, 13 June 2004; comments by Edin Avdic, “Chi mette la Bosnia in collegamento con il terrorismo?”, Slobodna Bosna, Sarajevo, 15 June 2004 (it. tr. in Notizie Est Balcani n. 743); and by Andrea Rossini, “La Bosnia di Ballarò”, Osservatorio Balcani, 15 June 2004
  7. ^ "Obituary: Alija Izetbegović". BBC. 19 October 2003. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "Alija Izetbegović, Muslim Who Led Bosnia, Dies at 78", New York Times, 20 October 2003
  9. ^ John R. Schindler, Zenith Press (2007)
  10. ^ Deliso 2007, p. 5.
  11. ^ Banac, Ivo. Bosnian Muslims: From Religious Community to Socialist Nationhood and Post communist Statehood, 1918-1992, pgs. 147-148
  12. ^ Malcolm, Noel Bosnia: A short history, pgs. 219-220
  13. ^ Malcolm, Noel. Bosnia: A short history, pp. 221-22