The Reality of the Genocide Against Bosnian Muslims

By: Imam Dr. Senad Agić

The Srebrenica massacre was “genocide”. In a landmark ruling on Monday, February 26, 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica was genocide, confirming an earlier verdict by the UN war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia. “The court concludes … there were acts of genocide committed by members of the Bosnian Serb army (in Srebrenica),” said Rosalyn Higgins, the ICJ presid ent, while delivering the ruling on Monday. This is the first time that the ICJ, the United Nations top court, has ruled that a massacre was genocide, which was made an international crime under a 1948 treaty.

However, in the same ruling the court also said that the mass killings in other parts of Bosnia during the 1992-95 wars did not constitute genocide. “The court finds it has not been established (by Bosnia) that the killings amounted to genocide,” Higgins said.

Bosnia has accused Serbia of masterminding the widespread “ethnic cleansing” of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the 1992-95 war, saying it amounted to genocide. In its ruling, the court said that Serbia “was making considerable military and financial support available to the Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb entity)” during the Bosnian war”; but did not make any immediate comment about specific involvement in genocide.

All Praise is for Allah, the Lord of all creation, who is without a partner in any nature. And may Allah’s endless blessings be upon the light of His creation, our master Muhammad (S) and upon his purified family and upon all of his noble companions. I ask Allah’s mercy to be rained down upon the successors of the companions, upon the great mujtahid imams, upon the righteous scholars of the religion and upon the virtuous and righteous saints of Allah.

Allah, Most Glorified, Most High says in the Qur’ân in Surah Ra’ad: “Allah will not change the situation of a people until they change themselves. ” (Holy Qur’ân 13: 11)

The truth of Allah contained in the ayah I have quoted can be realized in the situation of the Muslims in Balkan Europe today. This ayah’s style, brevity and universalism presents an everlasting and present warning to everyone who truly submits to Allah and in particular people who are thinking and contemplative of their situation (ulul-albab). Implied in that ayah from Surah Ra’ad are several causes for the present suffering Muslims are enduring and perspectives for ameliorating their suffering and entering into the light of the straight path (al-sirat-ul-mustaqim).

It must be clearly stated and conveyed that very often, if not always, the essence of suffering lies within the Muslims themselves. In the manner, the exit from such a state depends on their willingness and ability to change themselves in accordance with the teachings of Islam about the straight path (al-sirat-ul- mustaqim). (Refer to Holy Qur’ân 1:5)

The act of genocide and open aggression against the Muslim Ummah in Bosnia is a reality. We have all been witnesses, either directly or indirectly, to the horrible atrocities perpetrated against us, yet even the victims of this crime had a difficult time understanding the wisdom of this ayah and thus they had, in many cases, prolonged their own suffering due to an inability to align their behavior with Allah’s command.

A lot of ink, paper and emotions have been spent in so-called analytical texts, in almost all languages of the world, in order to describe the tragic events in Bosnia and unveil the hypocrisy of Western Democracy. However, with such approaches, Qur’ânic diagnosis of the genocide has been obscured. Such an approach — that of blaming others for our own suffering – leads to a dead end and a misleading interpretation of the events that could befall the rest of the Muslim world, unless they purify their deeds and actions through obedience to divine warnings and instruction from their Lord. (Holy Qur’ân 2:129)

The West has never been Democratic toward the Islamic World; the enemies of Islam and their goals are well known to us. One such goal is the destruction and removal of Muslim minorities that exist amongst them. The strongest proof of this is the recent genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, referred to above. Is it rational or wise, while knowing the goals of our enemies, to accede to their methods of governance and behavior and thus make it easier for them to overcome us?

It is justifiable then, considering the reality in which Bosnians and the Muslim Ummah are in, for them to turn inward and review the functioning of the mechanisms of the Muslim system of governance, morality and ethics. (Holy Qur’ân 62:2) We need to see how much harm we bring to ourselves due to our unpreparedness to change our condition in order to follow the path of Allah and protect ourselves from harm that will befall us if we stray from the straight path. (Holy Qur’ân 5:105) If we don’t analyze our weaknesses and if we don’t build possibilities of everlasting, strong, solid defenses through the process of permanent self improvement and correction then we can expect the situation in Bosnia to be repeated elsewhere, even in places where the tragedy would be much greater. Allah commands us to have a program of strong, active self defense in the Holy Qur’ân. (Holy Qur’ân 3:167 and 13:11)

Is the West Guilty?

Let me ask some rhetorical questions in order to aid in deepening our understanding of where the problem lies, either with the West or with certain circles in our own Ummah.

Is the West guilty because the help that came to Bosnia from most of the so-called Islamic countries came in the form of humanitarian aid that was provided for by the U.N., when it was already well known that we were in dire need of arms to defend our very lives in front of naked aggression and genocide?

Is the West guilty for the genocide lasting four years during which 200,000 members of the Muslim Ummah were killed, amongst them being 16,000 children and, in addition, 40,000 of our sisters were disgraced?

Is the West guilty because the oil revenue of certain Muslim nations was not used to stop the bloodshed of Muslims?

Is the West guilty for the Muslim World being disunited and many Muslim lands being ruled by tyrants?

Is the West guilty because Muslim nations escaped their responsibility of putting their monies into the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Bosnia and to offer support in military defense of Bosnia? Now, when we enjoy relative peace, we must use it to get ready to combat the next genocide (being planned already) instead of passively awaiting it.

Is the West guilty because many Muslims from the Muslim World came not to fight the enemies of Bosnia but to fight the traditional Bosnian Islam that has been practiced there for more than 500 years? For your information, it was this traditional Islam that allowed Islam to survive in Bosnia (and Europe) until today. Even non-Muslims, if they were truthful, would accept this historical fact.

Is the West guilty because such misguided Muslims, who fight traditional Islam instead of helping us, have introduced fitnah and confusion into our midst? Instead of helping and strengthening Islam in Bosnia they have weakened it. Consequently, Bosnians are now divided into two camps: the majority which follows the Hanafi Madhab and a small but vocal minority which claims to follow the “Qur’ân and Sunnah” but in fact are the furthest from them. There is a division between those who celebrate Milad (the birthday of the Prophet) out of the love of the Messenger and those who fight it because they feel it is an innovation. These men, who have mainly come from Arab countries with humanitarian missions, have also divided Bosnian believers by other issues that never existed prior to those modern day innovators coming to Bosnia to cause fitnah. These individuals that cause fitnah sap our strength and allow more chaos to occur.

Considering what I know of the situation of the Muslim communities in both the United States and Bosnia and due to the bitter experience Bosnian Muslims have suffered, we have no other choice but to move with a strong initiative following appropriate and well-coordinated actions to form a Muslim community which will serve Allah Almighty and not His enemies and which will be strong in body and in spirit, and will be unified; such a community will be honored firstly by ourselves and then by others. It depends only on us (as Muslims) whether we will have a powerful united community based on Qur’ân and Sunnah. As long as we don’t accomplish this goal, it will be in vain to accuse others for our mishaps. We must hold on to the faith and commands of Allah, they are like a rope that attaches us to heaven. (Holy Qur’ân 3:103)

Reasons for the Present State

Let us analyze some of the reasons for the present state of the Muslim World. First, Islam requires true believers with courage. Many examples can be brought forth to show the necessity of
being courageous for Muslims. However, the Muslim society today is full of individuals who are essentially cowards and lack courage. To make matters worse, these individuals frequently sit in the governments of Muslim counties. How can we then expect the Muslim minority in Bosnia to be protected by such individuals who only fawn over the West? If the aggression against Bosnia happened 300 years ago, the Ottomans wouldn’t have stood by and watched the slaughter of their Muslim brothers and sisters. Here I must remind you of the ‘Ummah’s responsibility for the care of orphans, widows, and the oppressed. Today Bosnia is the orphan of the Muslim World. (Holy Qur’ân 93:6)

Second, we must consider the value of following the guidance that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’alla, has given us. Islam prohibited alcohol; however, today it is being produced and consumed in a number of Muslim countries. What kind of example can Muslim minorities then take from the behavior of their brethren in those countries?

Third, Islam prescribed brotherhood amongst Muslims; however, wherever you turn you see Muslims are not united and moreover some wage wars and die for the sake of foreign causes or spend their abundant resources for military defense to protect themselves from their Muslim brothers. Furthermore, after stockpiling expensive, highly sophisticated weapons, they stingily gave only a minuscule fraction to the Muslims of Bosnia to protect themselves and these weapons came only reluctantly, with much foot dragging. (Holy Qur’ân 47:38)

Islam proclaims that in the wealth of the rich is a portion that the poor have a right to. Instead of giving the poor their God-given rights, the rich started taking the lives and liberties of the poor as their own so much so that many Muslims got into a situation where they had little freedom to collect donations for their Muslim brethren in Bosnia. Governments of some Muslim countries were afraid that large donations would be collected, so they prohibited fundraising for Bosnia. Worse yet, some of these governments maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Serbia during the genocide in Bosnia. In doing so, they strengthened the hands of our killers — the real aggressors and perpetrators of genocide in Bosnia. (Holy Qur’ân 70:25 and 51:19)

The nonexistence of the office of the “Khalifah and a government” under him leaves no Muslim minority paying a higher price than the Bosnian Muslims. Bosnian Muslims suffered tremendously after the fall of the Caliphate. Bosnia is an indicator to the Muslim World that it cannot even live (let alone progress) in an Ummah divided along national lines. Grand Muftis and Rais-ul-Ulamas don’t have the necessary competencies and authority of the Supreme Religious leader of all Muslims in the world — the Khalifah (the successor of the Prophet Muhammad) — to lead Muslims. Only the Khalifah has these abilities and authorities invested upon him. If we had the Khalifah, the Serbian aggressor would ponder the outcome of the aggression to see if it would be worthwhile to enter a war against over one billion Muslims. (Holy Qur’ân 4:59)

There are many things that the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) abhorred, so one non-Muslim felt obliged to write, "If the Prophet would arise from his grave and see what his followers have done he would certainly be horribly angry and would curse those who participated in that [in regards to the faith of Allah]." The late President of Bosnia, his Excellency Alija Izetbegovic, had a habit of saying that “those who love Islam have one thing left to console them, this situation is not the result of Islam but its negation.” [Zašto su muslimani zaostali?, Why Muslims are backwards?, Takvim 1967, p. 97]

The consolation that the President mentions contains a hope if the negation led to such a situation of backwardness and chaos. Is the return to Islam going to mean the advent of a new spirit and new era in the life of the Muslim ‘Ummah?

These changes, brought about by a reaffirmation of the traditional sources of Islam (Qur’ân, Hadith, consensus of the scholars, and scholarly personal opinion derived from these sources), would turn the Muslim world away from its decline and dependence upon the West for its forms of governance, morals, economics, and education system and standards. Every person who supported Bosnia and attempts to implement a return to Islam is a needed part of an Islamic Renaissance and deserves praise and thanks.

Today’s dynamic changes in the Islamic World, despite some clumsiness, unreadiness, and unnecessary emulation of others, announce a new and, we hope and pray to Allah, positive turn of events and renaissance for Muslims. I hold these analyses as an invitation to every Muslim to be a participant in this Renaissance and the uplifting of a fallen humanity.