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Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sufi Orders in.

By:
Ahmed Kulanić
Source:
Oxford Islamic Studies Online What is This? Online-only content developed by noted scholars is continuously added to the site, part of our ongoing efforts to expand our coverage of the Islamic world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sufi Orders in.

Islam in Bosnia arrived with the Ottoman conquest by Sultan Mehmed Fatih in the fifteenth century. Over the next century, Sufi orders (tarīqah) helped to spread the religion. Among these, the most influential were the Naqshbandi and the Halveti; others included the Bektashi, Halveti, Qādiri, Mawlawi, Tabani and Rifā῾īyah orders.

Sufi Orders.

One of the first Sufis who came to Bosnia during the mid-fourteenth century was Sari Saltuk, a member of Bektashi tarīqah whose grave was located near the Buna tekke (Sufi residence, hospice, or lodge) in Blagaj (established in 1466). Two other prominent Sufis—Ayni-Dede and Shamsi-Dede, who fought with Sultan in the conquest of 1463—stayed in Bosnia and established a Sufi learning center (khorasani) for the Bektashi tarīqah near Fojnica. The Bektashi also established a tekke in Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia.

The influential Naqshbandi tarīqah, founded in Bukhara by Muhammad Bahauddin Naqshband (b. 1317), established its first Balkan tekke in Sarajevo in 1462. This development occurred under the rule of Isa-bey Ishaković, beglerbey of Rumelia, governor of Bosnia, and founder of the city of Sarajevo. Although currently there is no functioning tekke of the Naqshbandi tarīqah in Bosnia, several members of this order still gather and practice dhikr (remembrance of God) in Sarajevo.

Despite its initial success, the Naqshbandi tarīqah played a subordinate role to the Halveti tarīqah. In the early sixteenth century, several branches of the Halveti appeared in Bosnia. The order established around one hundred tekkes, and among the most prominent were the three hanikahs (Sufi retreats): those of Gazi Husrev-bey and Sheikh Ibrahim Bistrigiya in Sarajevo, and the Hanikah in Tuzla. Around this time the Hamzevi tarīqah was established by Bosnian Sheikh Hamza Baliya (d. 1573) as an offshoot of the Bayramiye-Melamiye order that had grown in the Balkan region. During the seventeenth century, two more Sufi orders from Turkey were established in Bosnia, namely the Qādiri and Mawlawi. The Qādiri tarīqah, formed by Abdul Qādir Jilani (d. 1166), was introduced to the region by Sheikh Ismail Rumi (d. 1631) from Istanbul. By 1660, followers of the Qādiri were working in Prizren, Berat, Skopje, Gasoutina and Sarajevo, largely thanks to the efforts of Sheikh Hasan Kaimi Baba (d. 1691). The most important tekke that was established by the Qādiri Tarīqah in Bosnia is Hajji Sinan’s tekke in Sarajevo.

During the seventeenth century, the Mawlawis established several tekkes, attracting mainly the educated elite, among whom were prominent writers such as Habib-Dede (d. 1643), Fevzi Mostarac (d. 1707) and Fadil-pasha Šerifović (d. 1882). Upon the fall of Ottoman rule in 1878, the Mawlawi vanished from Bosnia.

After the Ottoman withdrawal, Austria-Hungary began an occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina that would last until the end of World War I. Whereas Islam had once been the official religion, Sufi orders now had to define their religious status within a Christian empire. Along with the Mawlawi order, many Muslims chose to leave the region (often moving to Turkey), despite an official recognition of their right to worship freely and establish new institutions. During this era, still more orders were established or consolidated, such as the Naqshbandi-Halidi, founded by Sheikh Husnija Numanagić (d. 1931), and the Halveti-Shabani, founded by Sheikh Sejfudin Iblizović (d. 1889). However, between the two world wars, many Sufi orders were closed down as a result of strong anti-religious sentiments by the nationalists. The only two Sufi orders which continued their work during this period were the Naqshbandi and Qādiri.

This dismantling of Sufi institutions accelerated under the consolidated rule of the communist Yugoslavian government. Two laws in particular sought to restrict religious activities and discourage Islamic identification: the 1946 Law on the Abolition of Sharīʿah Courts and the 1950 Law Prohibiting the Wearing of the Veil. In 1952, all tekkes in Bosnia were officially closed. In the ensuing decades, Sufi leaders such as Fejzullah Hadžibajrić (Sheikh of the Qādiri-Mawlawi tarīqah in Sarajevo; d. 1990) and Xhemali Shehu (Sheikh of the Rifai tarīqah in Prizren; d. 2004) worked to repeal the ban. In 1974, they established the Community of Islamic Sufi Orders of SFRJ (ZIDRA), which aimed at advancing the study and practices of tasawwuf (mysticism) in Yugoslavia. Thanks to the efforts of this umbrella organization, the ban on Sufi activities was eventually lifted.

A partial revival of the Sufi tradition occurred during the 1980s, which allowed for these orders to play an active role in the preservation of the Muslim community during the 1992–95 Bosnian War. Though the conflict destroyed a number of tekkes, Sufi orders were well positioned to further their mission in the postwar era and establish new institutions to bolster the Islamic community.

Sufi Institutions.

Džemal Čehajić, author of The Dervish Orders in Yugoslavian Lands, has documented Sufi tekkes from the Ottoman period until the 1970s. Over the six centuries of Sufi presence in Bosnia, several hundred Sufi institutions have been built, among which the most important are:

  • • Koski Mehmed-pasha Naqshbandi Hanikah in Mostar, built in 1572 by Mehmed-pasha (d. 1611), served as an institution for research of tasawwuf and as a Sufi school. The first Sheikh of this Hanikah was the brother of Mehmed-pasha, Mahmud-Baba. This hanikah was functional until its closing in 1924, but the building of Hanikah existed until 1950 when it was demolished. A small park was opened on the site.
  • • Tekke and Musafirhana at the well of Buna River in Blagaj. According to Evlija Čelebi Ziyauddin, Ahmed b. Mustafa founded this tekke in the seventeenth century. But other sources indicate that, at this site, a tekke existed as early as in the fifteenth century. The present-day building was constructed in 1851 by Omer-pasha Latas (d. 1871) at the request of the Sheikh of tekke Acik-Basha. During its long history, the tekke in Blagaj was renovated several times, and its most recent restoration began in 2010.
  • • Hajji Sinan’s Tekke in Sarajevo is, with its architectural structure, one of the most beautiful tekke in Bosnia. Built mostly from chiseled stone, the tekke was probably constructed in the period from 1638 to 1640. This tekke belonged to Qādiri Sufi tarīqah, and was built by Sinan-aga and his son Mustafa-pasha. Hajji Sinan’s tekke was one of several focused on the study of Sufi rituals, and was also a center for studying the tasawwuf and Persian, Arab and Turkish literature.
  • • Isa-bey’s zāwiyah at Bentbaša is one of the oldest Naqshbandi tekke in Sarajevo, built in 1462 by Isa-bey Ishaković, a governor of Bosnia. A zāwiyah (hospice), consisted of a musafirhana (guest house), an imarah (public kitchen), and a stable and yard. It was founded not only with a religious purpose, but was intended to be the cultural and social center of Sarajevo. The zāwiyah was built from very weak materials (woods and adobes); therefore it was constantly damaged by the Miljacka River. The first significant damage of Isa-bey’s zāwiyah was in 1697, when Prince Eugene of Savoy attacked and burned Sarajevo. Years later, the zāwiyah was destroyed in August 1958 when the Yugoslavian government decided to demolish the building and to construct a road on the soil.
  • • Skender-pasha Tekke and Hanikah, a Halveti-Naqshbandi Order tekke in Sarajevo, was built around 1500 by Skender-pasha, a governor of Bosnia. The location of the Skender-pasha tekke and hanikah is the present-day location of the sports-cultural center of Skenderija.
  • • Tekke “Mesudija” in Kaćuni was founded by Sheikh Mesud ef. Hadžimjelić in Kaćuni near the town of Bugojno. The building is divided into a clinic and a hastahane (hospital), and is still functional.
  • • Tekke in Vukeljići-Živčići near Fojnica was founded by Sheikh Husein-Baba Zukić in the mid-eighteenth century and belongs to the Naqshbandi.
  • • Tekke on Mejtaš in Sarajevo was rebuilt after the Bosnian War thanks to the significant efforts of Sheikh Halid ef. Hadžimulić. Currently, this tekke is used for spiritual purposes and for guests and travelers.
  • • Tekke “Yediler” was built in 1879 by Sejfulah Iblizović, beside the Miljacka River in Sarajevo on the crossroads of Bistrik and Širokača. Initially it was built as a room for the guardian of the Tomb of the Seven Brothers, a religious monument that continues to attract tourists and pilgrims. The “Yedileri” tekke belonged to the Naqshbandi. In 1894, next to the tekke building, Ibrahim ef. Herić built Semahana (Whirling Room for dervishes).

Bibliography

  • Algar, Hamid. “Some Notes on the Naqshbandi Tariqat in Bosnia” in Die Welt des Islams, New Ser. 13, issue 3/4, 1971.
  • Bringa, Tone. Being Muslim the Bosnian Way. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
  • Čehajić, Džemal. Derviški Redovi u Jugoslovenskim Zemljama. Sarajevo: Orijentalni Institut u Sarajevu, 1986.
  • Hazen, Julianne Marie, Contemporary Bosnian Sufism: Bridging the East and West. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, 2011.
  • Kreševljaković, Hamdija, “Šejhovi Husrevbegova hanikaha,” Spomenica Gazi Husrev-begove četristogodišnjice, Sarajevo, 1932.
  • Mujezinović, Mehmed, “Musafirhana i tekija Isa-bega Ishakovića u Sarajevu,” Naše starine, III, Sarajevo, 1966.
  • Sikirić, Šakir, “Sarajevske tekije,” Narodne starine, Zagreb, 1927.
  • Truhelka, Ćiro, Gazi Husref-beg - njegov život i njegovo doba. Sarajevo, Zemaljska štamparija, 1912.
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