Bosnia Islam the Islamic Faith Essay

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The armed activities of resistance or assault committed in these contexts tends to drive a view of Islam as a radical force counterintuitive to the philosophical aims of western capitalism. As Malik (2004) contends on this point, "it is not surprising that islamophobic authors frequently resort to the concept of secularism which they say needs to be defended against an increasing influence of political Islam in Europe." (Malik, 148) It is under this very set of terms that we are given over to a proclivity where the Islamic identity of Bosnia is concerned. Specifically, the secular society in which this Islamic faith has achieved cultural dominance is belied by a brewing discontent in Bosnia.

A history of ethnic tension, a war still fresh in the memories of all inhabitants, and the new infusion of religious exploration produced by the withdrawal of communist authority are having the effect of diversifying and intensifying the Islamic tendencies of some pockets of the populace. The security which is taken by those in the Western world in the liberal leadership of Bosnian Islamic population may soon be dispelled. The homogenized impression of Bosnian Muslims as reflexively more sympathetic to western aims and ideologies will increasingly subside as young men and women come of age without ever having known the atheist administration of the Soviet Union. For those that instead emerge in a formative stage ensconced by an intensifying interest in the Islamic faith, its roots and its practice around the world, there may yet emerge a connection between the political frustration of life in Bosnia and the tendencies toward extremism demonstrated elsewhere in the Muslim sphere.

A false comfort that this is not feasible in a secularized nation reflects a failure to fully understand both the Islamic experience throughout the world and the implications of the struggle between the values of the west and those elsewhere, especially in the developing sphere. The research by Yavuz (2004) is telling on this point, reflecting on globalization as a force with the capacity both to bring groups closer to the fold of a world community and to alienate or disenfranchise those groups by virtue of ethnic, ideological or political difference. Yavuz argues that "the main impacts of globalization have been the two contradictory processes of homogenization and fragmentation. At present, in most of the Arab and Muslim world, the fragmentation aspect is more dominant than homogenization or cooperation. Nonetheless, it would be legitimate to argue that globalization has created two competing visions of Islam. At the extreme end of the spectrum is the liberal and market friendly Islam, dominant in Turkey and Malaysia, and at the other is the 'ghetto Islam' of some parts of Pakistan and some Arab countries. Muslim reaction to these processes is very much shaped by idiosyncratic local histories and socio-political conditions." (Yavuz, 214)

Bosnia is a clear demonstration of that fact, with its population proceeding to demonstrate much of what one might expect in the face of Soviet rule and its categorical prohibition against the practice of religious faith. A clear response to that era of repression is the heightened demonstration of religious faith in all contexts, even as Bosnia continues to be governed by secularist ideologies and a religiously integrated society. However, as noted, we are now entering a second generation following the fall of the Soviet Union.

As new students pass through schools given a greater religious latitude, as new professional sectors open up further to the aims of Western capitalism, as its political ambitions come into greater focus with the establishment of stable sovereignty and clarity of international presence, the local history and sociopolitical conditions referenced by Yavuz may yet produce a stronger impetus on religion and the primacy of Islam in Bosnia's ethnic makeup. The text by Yavuz contextualizes this as a likelihood already realized in parallel contexts where Islamic leadership, philosophy and membership have seen a more recent proliferation. Yavuz tells that "Islam has been an important facet of all Arab, Persian, Turkish, South Asian and Mayal Indonesian nationalisms, and it has also been mobilized for transnational causes such as in Bosnia or Palestine. In other words, the revival of nationalism in these zones has also led to the revival of Islamic symbols, practices, and institutions that had previously been an integral part of the social fabric of these countries." (Yavuz, 215)

This is both a rationale for the surge in religious observation that should be seen as an inherent return to tradition with the departure of a foreign invader and its attendant disruption of culture and for a recognition of the greater likelihood of further segmenting within the Islamic population as time passes and nuance of faith increases. As the text by Bougeral indicates, "the internal diversity of Bosnian Islam, the issues and cleavages along which this diversity structured, and the agency of Bosnian Muslims themselves have been largely ignored." (Bougeral, 99)

This is not a wise policy as it demonstrates both a false assurance that Bosnia's political future will be secured by the moderate disposition of its Muslim population and a critical misunderstanding of that which radicalizes Islamic groups. The political, social and economic realities that are typically at the root of fundamentalist activism are frequently overlooked by the western nations which attempt to combat this activism. A failure to remain supportive of the positive human rights record and high level of religious tolerance in Bosnia may allow the forces of violence, extremism and regression to intercede with an otherwise potentially positive growth of moderate Islamic community-based leadership. For the people of Bosnia, Islam has been a positive force, helping to provide organizational leadership, community orientation and a return to spiritual values in a context otherwise abused by atheist and secular forces alike. However, if Islam is to remain as a positive force, it must be seen as a bulwark against the social, political and economic conditions which often radicalize and discredit the faith.

Works Cited:

Bougeral, X. (?). Bosnian Islam as 'European Islam.' Islam in Europe.

Cesari, J. (2006). When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States. Palgrave.

Malik, J. (2004). Muslims in Europe from…[continue]

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