The Islamic Declaration

The Islamic Declaration

The Islamic Declaration ("Islamska Deklaracija"), is a text written by Alija Izetbegovic in 1969-70 and republished in 1990 in Sarajevo, that offers an interesting view about Islam and modernization.Izetbegovic was ideologically a “pan-islamist”, as he had participated in the “Young Muslims” organization ("Mladi Muslimani") between 1941 and 1947, before the Titoist regime made it illegal. His work had also been used against him and other panislamists in a trial in front of the Court of Sarajevo in 1983, ended with the condemnation of Izetbegovic to 13 years of penal servitude, as liable of «attack against socialism, and of willingness to build an Islamic State in Bosnia». In fact, no plan for the transformation of Bosnia in an Islamic state, in the opinion of Noel Malcolm and Ivo Banac, was included nor in the political program of SDA (the party Izetbegovic founded in 1990) nor in the “Islamic Declaration” itself, notwithstanding this remained as a myth of Italian (at least) contemporary journalism on the issue [ Between the articles who reported this version are the followings:
*Kiro Nikolovski, «Come nasce la “dorsale verde”», in "Limes - Il triangolo dei Balcani", 3/1998, pp. 15-27;
*Massimo Nava, “Il nostro Afghanistan”, in "Limes Quaderni Speciali" 4/2001, pp. 177-185
*Nicolò Carnimeo e Adnan Buturovic, “L’Occidente ‘scopre’ le cellule terroriste in Bosnia”, in "Limes Quaderni Speciali" 4/2001, pp. 141-149
*Fiorenza Sarzanini, “Soldi e moschee, Osama avanza nei Balcani”, "Corriere della Sera", 8 novembre 2001; commented by Andrea Ferrario in [ Notizie Est, n.500]
*Laura Iucci, «La Bosnia resta un serbatoio di terroristi», in "Limes - Il nostro Oriente" 6/2003, pp. 203-208
*Maria Grazia Mazzola, tv reportage on Al Qaeda cells in Bosnia-Erzegovina, "Ballarò", 13 gennaio 2004; commented by Edin Avdic, “Chi mette la Bosnia in collegamento con il terrorismo?”, "Slobodna Bosna", Sarajevo, 15 gennaio 2004 (it. tr. in [ "Notizie Est" Balcani] n.743); and by Andrea Rossini, “La Bosnia di Ballarò”, [ "Osservatorio Balcani"] , 15 gennaio 2004.
] .

No modernization without roots in the Qu'ran

The “Islamic Declaration” is a general treaty upon Islam and politics, trying to conciliate progress and Islamic tradition, and in which Bosnia is not even mentioned. The main idea is that the Qur'an allows modernization, but that there would be no modernization without roots in the Qur'an. To this end Izetbegovic cites kemalist Turkey as a negative example of root loss, ending in economic stagnation and analphabetism, and Japan as a positive example, in which keeping its own culture allowed modernization and economic growth. [Ivo Banac, [ Bosnian Muslims: From Religious Community to Socialist Nationhood and Postcommunist Statehood, 1918-1992] , pp. 147-148]

The issue of an Islamic government

Izetbegovic affirms that an Islamic government is not possible but in the context of an Islamic society, which can exist only when the absolute majority of the population is constituted by sincere and practising Muslims. On these basis, it resulted impossible to theorize an Islamic government in Bosnia, where Muslims, even only by name, were a minority. «The Islamic order can be realized only in the nations in which Muslims represent the majority of the population. Without this social premise, the Islamic order fall to be mere power (for the lack of the second element, the Islamic society) and can revert to tyranny. Non-Muslim minorities in an Islamic state should be granted of religious freedom and every protection. Muslim minorities in non-Islamic majority countries should be loyal to every social duty and every norm imposed by the community, on condition that they don’t offend Islam and Muslims, and of being able to dispose of religious freedom and of a normali life». Evidently, only this last sentence is directly applicable to the Bosnian situation.Thus, where Izetbegovic affirms (being usually cited apart from the context by the Serbian propaganda) that «there’s no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions» he refers to those countries in which good Muslims constituting the majority of the population can not accept the imposition of non-Islamic institutions.

Other thesis of Izetbegovic sentenced as “fundamentalist” are simple affirmations of orthodox faith, in Noel Malcolm’s opinion: the fact that an Islamic state should ban alcoholism, pornography and prostitution; the vision of Islam not only as private believing but as a whole lifestyle, with a social and political dimension; the transcendence of national borders by the brotherhood of the whole Islamic believer’s world, the "umma". [Noel Malcolm, [,+Bosnia:+A+short+history&output=html&source=gbs_search_s&cad=5&sig=ACfU3U2d-UnmkIWRnSO7ykd--EkLeX3XsQ Bosnia: A short history] , pp. 219-220]

Izetbegovic and the “Islamic fundamentalism”

From the journalistic notion of “Islamic fundamentalism”, concentrating political extremism (whether traditionalist or revolutionary) and the radical, cultural and political anti-Occidentalism, Izetbegovic moves away in different ways.
First, he attacks the idea of the violent taking power in order to create an Islamic society from the top. At the contrary, postulating a population in which the majority being Muslim even if only by name, an Islamic society could be created only by a long process of religious training and moral persuasion.
Secondly, Izetbegovic did not reject western civilization in itself, even if he criticize the rapid and coercive secularization of Turkey under Ataturk (based, in his opinion, on the prejudice that every Islamic thing was culturally primitive) and even if he raged against the «so-called progressives, westernizers and modernizers» that would apply the same policy elsewhere. But such political judgements don’t delve into a radical sense: «since its foundation – he writes – Islam engaged, without prejudices, in studying and gathering the summa of knowledge inherited by previous civilizations. We don’t understand why today’s Islam should take a different approach toward the conquests of the euro-american civilization, with which it has so many contacts». Same concepts that Izetbegovic specifies in the treaty "Islam between East and West", in which he praises Renaissance art, Christianism, anglo-saxon philosophy and social-democratic tradition; all elements impossible to praise for a “fundamentalist”. [Noel Malcolm, [,+Bosnia:+A+short+history&output=html&sig=ACfU3U3XXWynIXcDesjDrJc-AuPwkcmj9w Bosnia: A short history] , pp. 221-222]

See also

* Alija Izetbegovic
* Party of Democratic Action



* Noel Malcolm, "Bosnia: A short history", NYU Press, NY 1994, ISBN 0814755615
* Ivo Banac, "Bosnian Muslims: From Religious Community to Socialist Nationhood and Postcommunist Statehood, 1918-1992", in Mark Pinson, Roy Mottahedeh (ed.), "The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia", Harvard CMES, Boston 1996, ISBN 0932885128
* Alija Izetbegovic, [ The Islamic Declaration, A Programme for the Islamization of Muslims and the Muslim Peoples, PDF] , Sarajevo, 1990
* Alija Izetbegović, [ Islamska deklaracija, Jedan program islamizacije Muslimana i muslimanskih naroda, PDF] , Bosna, Sarajevo, 1990
* [ another english translation of the Islamic Declaration on the webpage Alija Izetbegović - A Muslim Hero]

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