Introduction / History Bosniaks are an ethnic group living in the southeastern part of Europe, mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is proposed that their 'genetic roots' are reflective of numerous pre-historic components, especially signatures thought to be 'autochthonous' to the Dinaric region, where the historical Illyrians later appeared.
The earliest known inhabitants of the area now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina were the Illyrians, who spoke a language related to modern Albanian. The Romans conquered Illyria after a series of wars, and Latin-speaking settlers from all over the empire settled among the Illyrians.
In the Seventh Century, Slavs settled in Bosnia, Herzegovina and the surrounding lands. In 1463 the Turkish Ottoman Empire conquest at that time the independent Bosnian kingdom and it was the beginning of the influence of Islamic Civilization in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the Second World War, Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the six republics of Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, unlike the preceding Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bosniaks were not allowed to declare themselves as Bosniaks. As a compromise, the Constitution of Yugoslavia was amended in 1968 to list Muslims by nationality recognizing a nation, but not the Bosniak name. The Yugoslav "Muslim by nationality" policy was considered by Bosniaks to be neglecting and opposing their Bosnian identity because the term tried to describe Bosniaks as a religious group not an ethnic one. When Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, most people who used to declare as Muslims began to declare themselves as Bosniaks.
Where are they located? Most Bosniaks identify themselves with Bosnia and Herzegovina as their ethnic state and are part of such a common nation. There are around two million Bosniaks living in the Balkans today. The largest number of Bosniaks outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina is found in the Sandzak region of Montenegro and Serbia. A smaller number have migrated to places like Spain where they have no cultural affinity with the majority population. Within Spain, there are Bosniaks in Castellon, Barcelona, and Girona.
What are their lives like? Being part of Europe and influenced not only by the oriental but also by western culture, Bosniaks are considered to be some of the most advanced Islamic peoples of the world. The nation takes pride in the melancholic folk songs sevdalinke, the precious medieval filigree manufactured by old Sarajevo craftsmen, and a wide array of traditional wisdoms that are carried down to newer generations by word of mouth, and in recent years written down in numerous books.
National heroes are typically historical figures, whose life and skill in battle are emphasized. These include figures such as Gazi Husrev-beg, the second Ottoman governor of Bosnia or Alija Djerzelez, an almost mythic character who even the Ottoman Sultan was said to have called "A Hero". Old Slavic influences can also be seen, such as Kulin Ban who has acquired legendary status. Even today, the people regard him as a favorite of the fairies, and his reign as a golden age.
What are their beliefs? Most Bosniaks are Sunni Muslim, although historically Sufism has also played a significant role among them. For many Bosniaks, Islamic identity has more to do with cultural roots than with religious beliefs. Even among most religious Bosniaks, there is a disdain for religious leaders exercising any influence over day-to-day life. Bosniaks are no different than other Muslims in that they view Islam as the foundation of their culture.
What are their needs? Bosniaks need to learn marketable skills that will help them flourish in the urban, 21st century settings in Spain.
Prayer Points * Pray that God will meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of Bosniaks in Spain.
* Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the mission agencies that are currently working among Bosnians.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Spain and share Christ with Bosniaks.
* Ask the Lord to raise a strong Disciple-Making movement among Bosnians.