Bektashis and Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Džemal Ćehajić, prof.dr.


Dervish order (or sect) of bektashis had a certain significance in the religious, socio- political and cultural life of the Southern regions of Yugoslavia  — in Macedonia and Kosovo, and particularly in districts predominantly inhabited by Albanians. This tarikah was represented in a lesser degree in Serbia and more lesser in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Reasons that bektashism has not been so much spread and had not continuity on the soil of Bosnia and Hercegovina author sees in the fact that the Sunni orthodox Islam had already been strengthened in the XVth century, at the time when the process of islamization began in this area.

Ottoman governors in  Bosnia and  Hercegovina and Ottoman feudal society, as well,  systematically  carried  out  the  policy  of  protection  and  support  to  Sunni  Islam and  they  also used to  establish the tekkes  (monasteries) o f orthodox dervish  orders - such  as:  mevlevi,  halveti, nakšbandi,  Kadiri, etd., giving material  assistance to  them  in order that they serve and act also as a counter- balance to the struggle with heterodox brotherhoods ans sects.

Expanding  of  bektashism  in  Macedonia,  Kosovo,  Serbia  and  in  Bosnia  and Hercegovina  took  place  at  the  time  when  this  tarikah  had  been  formed  on  turco-anatolian  traditions  and  other's  in  XV th  and  X V Ith  centuries  in  the  definitive  form w hich  Balim Sultan  (d.1516)  gave to  it.  As a result of social developments and its spe- cial  evolution  in  the  XVIIIth  and  the XIX th  centuries, bektashism was expressed not only  as a religious  movement,  but  Albanian  national  sentiments  were also  cultivated through  the  bektashi  tekkes.  National  aspirations  of  Albanians  w ere developed  and also originated from  bektashi lodges. Having in view of this and other circum stances, we may understand that bektashism  as a Turk tarikah, w as accepted not only by the Turks but also by Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo and in Albania, and much lesser by subjects of other nationalities.  However, it  is unnecessary to exaggerate when it is spoken about the  importance of bektashism  in creating and propagating of local  national  aspirations adopted orthodox Islam were also inclined to that. The members of this tarikah were recruited  mainly from  middle classes of the society (handicraftsmen, small shopkeepers, petty landowners — begs and free peasants). A few great landlords who made use of  it for the strengthening of their influence and their authority, as fo r example, in western and centrai Macedonia and in Albania also belonged to this tarikah.

It is too necessary to point o ut the fact that there are not informations in accessible sources which wuld refer to the bektashi influence on the janissaries o f Bosnia and Hercegovina, as, for instance, the influence of mevlevies, halveties, nakšbandies, kadiries, to what certain sources refer. Bektashism, otherwise, was a short- lived and ephemeral phenomenon in Bosnia and Hercegovina, therefore it could not be established as a tradition, or to make cosiderable influence on spiritual life o f this region, as it made in Macedonia, Kosovo, and in Albania.

It is ture that "aristocratic form o f Islam" was cultivated in Bosnia and Hercegovina, if we can say that, a kind o f cosmopolitan form o f islamic culture, or orthodox Sunni Islam, which w as represented not only in urban centres but also in rural districts. By the way, it can not be denied the fact that "people's form of Islamic religion", represented by dervish orders and sects, has been developed, but never been so strong and predominant. It has always been in the background, it has always had m inor significance and in such form it existed in the structure of the islamic life of the Muslims of Bosnia and Hercegovina.




How to Cite
Ćehajić, D. (1978). Bektashis and Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 4(5-6), 83-98. Retrieved from