Journal of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World : Issue 8

The Muslim population of the SE Europe, excluding European part of Turkey, numbers ca. 9 millions, almost all of them being indigenous save for small immigrant Muslim minorities of Muslims in Greece and Romania (See Table I). The Balkan Muslim communities originated with the Ottoman presence in the region and for centuries their destiny was tied to the fortunes of the Ottoman state. Even nowadays Ottoman past and legacy determine to a large extent the way the Balkan Muslims are perceived by their neighbors. They remained part of the Pax Ottomana and lived and prospered under its umbrella until 1832 (Greece), 1878 (Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania), and 1913 (Sandzak, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia).
While inside the Ottoman state Balkan Muslims were integral part of the Ottoman economic, political, social and cultural world. Therefore the departure of Ottomans represented a major cultural shock. From then onwards Balkan Muslims were on their own having to deal with hostile anti-Ottoman Orthodox nationalisms of the SE Europe and soon after that with equally unfriendly godless Communism. In the turbulent decades that followed almost all things Muslim and Islamic became legitimate targets of popular hatred and destructive state actions. Very soon the ties between Istanbul and the Balkans were severed and the huge network of formal Islamic educational institutions fragmented and often completely destroyed. Practically all Balkan Muslim communities experienced breakdown in the system of Islamic education after the World War II. Ex-Yugoslavia had biggest Muslim population and softest of all communist dictatorships. Still, only one madrasa was allowed to continue its operation immediately after WWII while only Bosnia and Herzegovina had 23 madrasa on the eve of communism. The only institution of higher Islamic education, Higher Islamic Theological School in Sarajevo was closed in 1946. After the rapprochement with the Muslim world Yugoslav communist …

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