The World Federation’s Bosnia Desk was set up in 1992 under the leadership of Marhum Mulla Asghar Ali MM Jaffer and Mulla Muhsin Jaffer, for the purpose of the propagation of Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri faith amongst the Bosnian community. The Desk was active within the Dar al-Tabligh office in the UK for thirteen years, until it moved to Bosnia in 2005 and was registered officially under the name Fondacija Zivot.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in South-Eastern Europe with a 50% Muslim population. The majority of Muslims in Bosnia follow Hanafi mad’hab and Sufism plays an important role in the Bosnian culture. Shia Islam has few hundred followers that are spread across the country.
In 2007 the first Shia community centre was built. This is the only Bosnian Shia centre that exists so far and is situated 23 kilometers away from the capital Sarajevo, with several Shia families living in its vicinity. It is the focal point for our activities as it houses the office of Fondacija Zivot. Our office manager has made significant efforts in making this Centre an institution for education and research projects.
Our Bosnian desk’s vision is to have an independent, confident, and religiously committed Bosnian Muslim Shia Ithna Asheri community, which is respected and recognized in the society for its dedication and contribution to the common good.
Our vision is reflected through the various activities that the Centre has undertaken or is planning to undertake in different areas:
1. Programs at the Centre
• Daily prayers in congregation
• Tuesday and Thursday evening programs
• 15 days Mahe Ramadhan and 11 days Mahe Muharram programs
• Several educational and research projects
• Organizing library and reading room that caters for different ages and interests
2. Activities for Children and Youths
• Conducting weekly classes
• Quiz events
• Community-based sport activities
• Organizing trips and summer educational retreats
• Sending 2 young individuals to The World Federation’s renowned Madinah and Bab Al-Ilm Summer Courses
3. Publishing and Distribution of Literature
• The Centre aims to publish at least two books every year
• Supply books on Shia Islam to the local libraries
• Sending books to all individuals on our mailing list
• Set up of an Islamic English Course where English is taught using specially designed Islamic textbooks
4. Propagation through the Media
• Actively posting religious materials on social media pages (YouTube, Facebook)
• Establishing contact with Radio/TV program editors
• Offering scholarships for media-related courses
5. Interfaith and Public relations
• Building rapport with organizations and individuals sympathetic to the Shia faith
• Establishing contacts with professors and students at different schools and universities
• Occasionally visiting and inviting members of the civic authorities and other organizations to explain more about the Shia faith
• Participating in local community projects
• Making small donations on humanitarian grounds to those in genuine need
• Organising meetings and discussions with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches
6. Intrafaith Dialogue and Activities
• Building a solid rapport with the local Sunni Jamaat based on mutual respect and understanding
• Occasionally attending programs at the Ahl-e Sunnah mosque and engaging in close circle debates
• Keeping away from inter-Muslim disputes and hostilities
• Arranging an annual meeting program among Bosnian Shia converts with the Shia converts of other European countries as a self-confidence boosting exercise
7. Islamic Debates and Book Club
• Promoting the values of open-minded dialogue, thorough understanding, and fair judgment
• Provide the followers of Ahlulbayt (as) an opportunity to present rational arguments and quality evidence on issues concerning a public, social, or religious topic of current interest
• Encouraging reading culture by having regular group discussions of selected books
8. Human Resources
• Identifying potential talents for Muballigheen and supporting them in becoming future religious educators and leaders of the community
• Assisting community members for specified contingencies (student loans, marriage, housing, debts)
• Organizing annual medical screening program
9. Widening Horizons
• Making the Centre a place for people of Taqwa who are engaged in studies that enable them to be efficient in their struggle for justice and a just society
• Assisting students in enrolling in degree programs at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Sarajevo, at one of its five departments: Sociology, Social work, Journalism, Political science and Security & Peace studies
The Centre’s accomplishments in the year 2020
Despite the virus being on the rise, the centre was kept open for daily prayers but was restricted to a limited number of attendees while observing the government guidelines to minimize the risk of spreading infection. Programs like Dua-e Tawassul on Tuesdays and Dua-e Kumail sessions on Thursdays also took place without intervals.
- Library Programs:
Our Bosnia Desk obtained 654 new books on the topics of Sociology, Psychology, Social Work, law, and History. Each book has a sticker with a unique library number that is scanned and entered into a computer database with all details. Shia students borrowed our books for their bachelor and masters’ studies. The Centre also attracts visitors from the Sunni community who use the library and a Christian Priest of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also visited to tour the library.
- Administrative Repairs
We installed roof gutters heating system with thermostat to protect the roof against icicles and bursting gutters; a problem that we have been facing during previous winters. We also replaced the wooden doors in the women’s washrooms as they were rotting.
- Publishing and distribution of books
The World Federation’s Bosnia branch translated, published and distributed 2 books: ‘Istina kakva jest’, translation of ‘The Truth as it is’ by Marhum Shaykh Ja’far al Hadi, and ‘Porijeklo šiitskog islama i njegovi principi’, translation of ‘The Origin of Shia Islam and it’s principles’ by Marhum Muhammad Husain Kashif al-Ghita’. 32 books of different titles were also donated to a library in the town of Srebrenica.
The Centre held two evening courses on the Arabic alphabet designed for beginners in order to enable them to read the Qur’anic script. Each course had 14 lessons. We have also started with the translation of the Holy Qur’an into the Bosnian language and have translated Surah Al-Fatiha, Al-Alaq, Al-Muzammil, Al-Mudaththir, Al-Lahab, Al-Takweer, and Al-A’laa so far.
- Propagation through the Media
The eleven video series titled Karbala – a Battle for Ta’weel, by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Saeed Bahmanpour was translated and subtitled and thereafter screened for the audience during the 10 days of Mahe Muharram. These videos were also uploaded onto the Centre’s YouTube channel.
The Centre also produced and published a 16 video lecture series titled ‘On the track of Revelation’, which was also made available on its YouTube channel. These videos were produced to answer questions such as ‘How did the revelation of Qur’an start? What is the proof that the monotheists from the progeny of Prophet Abraham (as) lived in Mecca, and that the Prophet (saw)’s Parents were among them? Etc’. These videos were also played on Thursday nights during the weekly online programs.
The Manager of our Centre who resides there also gave an interview for the Bosnian weekly magazine ‘Start’ about how Bosnian Shias were affected by the propaganda against them and also discussed the problem of religious intolerance.
- Intra-Muslim and Public relations
Our External Tableegh team in Bosnia attended several programs at the local Sunni mosque, including Jum’ah prayers and participated in a donation forum for surfacing the local road with tarmac along with the local residents.
- Mutual Aid Fund
The Mutual Aid fund was established in the year 2005 when several Bosnian Shia families were given interest-free loans for building their houses. The loan returns were used to establish a fund for helping others in need. In the year 2020, interest-free loans were given to families for installing heating systems in their houses and two students for their bachelor’s course in medicine and master’s course in physics.
Our Upcoming Projects
We have planned a few projects that Inshallah we are looking forward to implementing this year:
- Bosnian translation of the book ‘Building a Successful Relationship: The Heavenly Path’ by Abbas and Shaheen Merali.
- Inshallah we will continue with the translation of the Holy Qur’an into the Bosnian language carrying on with the shorter Surahs first.
- Translation and subtitling of video lecture series titled ‘Freeing the Butterfly Within’ by Sh. Khalil Jaffer.
- A Summer Workshop for boys and girls in Babanovac, a mountain village 140 kilometers from Sarajevo which is planned to take place Inshallah in August 2021. The workshop will aim to promote Islamic values and principles through interactive sessions and facilitate personal development through activities and games.
We would like to sincerely thank our dedicated team in Bosnia and our sponsors for their continuous support towards our Tableegh activities. May Allah (swt) increase them in Towfeeqaat, Ameen.