Born in 1955, Fikret Karčić studied in Sarajevo and Belgrade and is a Professor at the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo. He has taught in the fields of the general history of law and the state, the history of Islamic law, the history of Islam in the Balkans, and the encounter of Muslims with modernity at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo, the Faculty of Theology of the University of Marmara (Istanbul), International Islamic University in Malaysia, and the University of Oslo. He is President of the Constitutional Court of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among his publications, there are "The Shari’a Courts in Yugoslavia 1918-1941", "Social and Legal Aspect of Islamic reformism", A History of Islamic Law in Bosnia and
Hercegovina", "Studies in Islamic Law and "The Bosniaks and the Challenges of Modernity" and "The Muslims of the Balkans: “The eastern Question” in the 20th Century". He is also a contributor to "T.D.V. Islam Ansiklopedisi" and has published a number of articles on Islam
and Muslims in different journals.
We can begin with the interest towards the faculty of Islamic Studies among the young generation of students in
Mekteb-i Nuwwab. This was a school established by the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy to educate Muslims judges, and after that the school was upgraded to the level of the faculty. Several years ago, this faculty became a part of the
Comparing to the years in the past, has there been an increase or decrease in the interest towards the school?
Yes, the interest is quite stable; the interest of the past several years indicates that it is stable. And it is efficient for the needs of the Islamic community in
Does this meet the needs in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
Yes, definitely, this is sufficient for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Prophet Muhammad is always considered by Bosnian Muslims as the model of human behavior, and like other Muslims we try to follow his words and his acts,his deeds and his sunnah
What about the perception of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam among Bosnian people, is there a difference before and after the war for example?
Now, talking about our Prophet Muhammad, with the spread of Islam here during the Ottoman times, we have accepted Islam, we have accepted the Sunni type of Islam and the Hanafi madhab like in an Ottoman state, and Prophet Muhammad is always considered by Bosnian Muslims as the model of human behavior, and like other Muslims we try to follow his words and his acts, his deeds and his sunnah. I can tell you that for example in their folk practice of Bosnian Muslims that on a regular basis we have a celebration of the Mawlid of the Prophet. And during the Ottoman times it was celebrated by the reciting of Süleyman Çelebi’s mawlid in the Turkish language. But since the 19th century we have had Mawlids in the Bosnian language, and today we have a very interesting custom here in
How many months?
Two or three months
What kinds of organizations or programs do you arrange on such occasions?
Usually there is a recitation of Mawlids, qasidah, and a vaaz which is kind of advises to the Muslims on how to live their life. But when we compare the situation in
What about Islam as a lifestyle in
When we talk about Islam in
What comes interesting to me about
Yes, that is a correct observation. As I mentioned, we experienced modernization from the Austrian-Hungarian times, and after that the
When we think about the Islamic world in general, where do you see
The causes of Islamophobia in Europe are much deeper and this is related to the issue of the European identity, whether Europe is only a Christian identity or a multi-cultural identity, and the issue of the integration of the foreign workers, and the immigrants and their children etc
When we talk about Europe, taking the Islamophobia and the fear of Islam into consideration, can we say that
To counteract or to deal with Islamophobia is a very big challenge actually, we have very deep roots of Islamophobia in Europe and in the West, and one of the deepest roots, actually one of the causes of Islamophobia in
In terms of the relationships with Europe,
That is the usual perception that we have. When we talk about Europeans of course we have Europeans of different kinds, but for example from my own experience of talking to intellectuals from different parts of Europe and from different European countries, they always perceived Bosnians as Europeans, but of course I am talking about intellectuals, and about those who support the multi-ethnic concept of the European identity.
What about the relationships of Muslims with the other ethnic groups or religious groups in
It is improving, but there is still tension, and the tension can be seen in areas with a mixed population, and the main reason is that especially among Serbs and to a certain extent among the Croats, there was no true confrontation with their past. Horrible crimes were committed against the Muslims in the past during the war of 1992-95, and people on whom behalf those crimes were committed, should confront with what happened in the past. So dealing with the past and heritage with the past, and especially the last war in
Can’t a structure be built that would contain all the religious and ethnic groups?
Yes, we are talking about a state in
What about on the level of society? What kind of structures can be developed among individuals?
On a daily basis the most important thing is the daily communication. If we improve our daily communication -communication on the local level and communication in the working places and so on- we can also achieve much more.
Can Islam play any role in this process?
Yes, for Bosnian Muslims, Islam can play a very important role because Islam gives us answers on how to deal with our friends, and how to deal with our neighbors and Islam tells us what kind of values are important in our lives, and we know that one of the highest values in Islam is justice, so therefore we ask for justice to be served for all those who were responsible for the crimes in the past. But also Islam includes among its values ‘Salam’ which is peace, and we learn actually, and we try to find inspiration in the Islamic teachings while we are dealing with non-Muslims.
Does the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad has a determining place in the daily lives of the Bosnian Muslims? How is it being implemented in the daily lives of the people here?
When we talk about the sources of Islam, in the first place is the Qur’an, in the second place is the sunnah of the Prophet. Of course as Muslims, especially when we talk about how to arrange the daily life, we know that the best example is the Prophet, and the Bosnian Muslims are trying as much as they can to emulate, to follow the Prophet in their daily lives. It is the main source of inspiration.
So, is Prophet Muhammad known in
It depends actually on who you ask of course. When we talk about the Bosnian Muslims, we are talking about people of different levels of religious education. Of course those who are educated in Islamic schools, in Islamic high schools that we call madrasas and if you ask graduates of those schools, they will know sufficiently, and if you ask graduates of the faculty of Islamic studies they will know all about this. Even those who receive a religious education in public schools, actually they know elementary things about Prophet Muhammad and his life. But there are also people who are not sufficiently educated in religion, so it is a responsibility of the Islamic community to try to reach them, and also that is indicated of the interest of those people in Islam and in their own identity.
In my opinion it will be important to see what is a relevant, contemporary meaning of the message of Prophet Muhammad and what the Prophet says to the people of the 21st century
What kind of policies could be pursued, what can be done in order to introduce Prophet Muhammad to these people who do not have a sufficient religious education? And if we can expand the content of the question, how can we introduce Prophet Muhammad to the Western world in general?
Just for your information, we do have religious education in elementary schools, and we have religious education like the ‘din dersi’ (religious instruction) in
I would say that it would be very interesting and important to try to relate the message of Prophet Muhammad to contemporary times. We have a number of books about the Seerah, about the biography of the Prophet, and we know about every single detail. But in my opinion it will be important to see what is a relevant, contemporary meaning of the message of Prophet Muhammad and what the Prophet says to the people of the 21st century.
What do you think that this message says to humanity?
What I think that message would say is about the priorities in life. About the aim of life, the meaning of life and the priorities in our lives, and these are ultimate questions, basic questions which every man ultimately at the end should answer. The objectives of life, aim of life, meaning of life, and if we correctly answer those questions, how to arrange secondary questions such as how to arrange life will be answered easier. Today’s contemporary man is in search of the values: what are the values in life? In that sense, the hadith of the Prophet can serve as a very important source of inspiration.
Is the problem that we are living today is that we are mixing up place and the range of priorities?
I think so, we have to establish a kind of hierarchy of priorities.
Finally, is there anything that you would like to add?
The only thing that I can add is that I have read about your organization, Lastprophet.info, and I would like to support your activities in that sense. It is very important that you have it in mind to develop websites and publications in different languages, to reach out to people that speak languages other than just the Turkish language, so I wish you success. Thank you very much, insha’Allah in the near future we will be translating the site into the Bosnian language.