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Bosniaks ( Bosnian Bošnjaci / Бошњаци, sg .: Bošnjak / Бошњак ) are a South Slavic ethnic group with around three million members who live primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina , but also in Serbia , Montenegro and Kosovo . They speak the Bosnian language , a standard variety of Serbo-Croatian , and the majority have converted to Islam since the 15th and 16th centuries . Bosniaks are also referred to as Bosnian Muslims or simply Bosnians , the latter also referring to all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina or their nationals.

Over two million Bosniaks live in the Balkans , plus over a million who fled during the Bosnian War and are now spread around the world. Ethnic cleansing during the war changed the ethnic structure and distribution of the Bosniaks in the country significantly. There is a significant Bosniak diaspora particularly in Turkey , Germany , Austria , Switzerland , Sweden , Norway , Australia , Canada and the United States , particularly in St. Louis .


Origin of the country name

The Slavic settlers who settled in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina in the course of the Slavs' conquest of the Balkans , took the name of their new homeland from the local Illyrians , in contrast to the Croats and Serbs , who named the new homeland after themselves ( Croatia , Serbia ). The Illyrians named their country after the upper reaches of the river Bosna , whose old name is no longer known. It is assumed, however, that the river name also contained the root " Bos " among the Illyrians .

The earliest mention of the river known today comes from the year 8 AD by Velleius Paterculus as part of his description of the Great Uprising in years 6 to 9, in the case of the defeat of the Pannonian units on August 3 of the year 8 near the River Bathinus flumen is mentioned. Another Latin name is basan . Like the name Bosna, these names come from the original Illyrian name.

The earliest mention of the country name comes from Konstantin Porphyrogenitus from the 10th century. ( cwrinon Bosona ).

Bošnjani (Middle Ages)

The name Bošnjani (Sg .: Bošnjanin ; Latin Sg .: Bosnensis ; Italian Pl .: Bosignani ), with which the inhabitants of the territory of early late medieval Bosnia were referred to, later emerged from the country name . Depending on the political motive, the inhabitants of the newly conquered areas were also known as Bošnjani. Whether there was a connection between religious affiliation and ethnonym is controversial.

One of the oldest documents that uses the name Bošnjani comes from Stjepan II. Kotromanić around the year 1322 , where it says: " dobri Bošnjani " ( dt . Good Bošnjane / Bosnians / Bosniaks ). The ethnonym was almost always associated with the adjective well at that time .

Bošnjaci (Ottoman Empire)

With the conquest by the Ottoman Empire , the Bosnian language slowly changed; Words ending in " -ak " were used more often (like Poljak or Slovak ). With the stabilization of Ottoman rule, Bošnjanin was replaced by Bošnjak (pl .: Bošnjaci ). During the Ottoman rule, the entire population of Bosnia was known as Bošnjaci. During the course of the Croatian and Serbian national movements of the 19th century, the Catholic and Orthodox Bošnjaks began to refer to themselves as Croats and Serbs. There was no real self-designation of today's Bošnjaci at that time, as there was initially no nationalism in this sense on the Muslim side. You felt part of a large Islamic community. During this period, Bošnjaci lived mostly in Eyâlet Bosnia .

Muslimani (Austria-Hungary)

After the occupation campaign and thus the beginning of the rule of Austria-Hungary , the occupiers used the term Muhamedanci or Muhamedovci ( Mohammedans ), which the Bosniaks could not make friends with. The population continued to refer to themselves as Bošnjak or Turčin ( Turk ), the latter being used by Muslims throughout the Balkans as a proper and external name. At the same time the term Musliman ( Muslim ) came up. In the Austro-Hungarian military , however, the term "Bosniaks" has always been used. In 1900, Muhamedanci was officially replaced by Musliman, which the population accepted.


At the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia , the existence of a separate people was denied; in the censuses, you could not call yourself Bošnjak or Muslim in any way. Instead, the options “Muslim Croats” and “Muslim Serbs” were available, but these were rejected by leading Bosnian politicians such as the President of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization Mehmed Spaho .

Even at the time of socialist Yugoslavia , the existence of a separate ethnic group was initially denied; in the first census in 1948 one could only call oneself a Srbin-musliman ( Muslim Serb ), Hrvat-musliman ( Muslim Croat ) or neopredjeljen-musliman ( ethnically indifferent Muslim ). In 1953 all options to identify yourself as a Muslim - in whatever form - were deleted. Instead, the term Yugoslav was introduced. In 1961, Musliman jugoslovenskog porijekla ( Muslim of Yugoslav origin ) was given. Finally, in 1968 - in the course of the beginning of a general decentralization of the state - the Muslims were declared the sixth Yugoslav national people in the ethnic sense . From 1971 onwards one could call oneself a Musliman u smislu narodnosti ( Muslim in the ethnic sense ) in censuses .


The " Lily Flag ", from 1992 to 1998 the flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina ; the lily is considered the national symbol of the Bosniaks

When the disintegration of Yugoslavia began in 1989 , there was a return to the old term Bošnjak . From 1993 it was officially used again in Bosnia; since then, mainly populations of Muslim origin from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sanjak have identified with the term, as have many Muslim South Slav minorities in south-east Europe . It is irrelevant whether they are practicing Muslims or those who have a Muslim background in terms of culture and family. There are also gorans who see themselves as Bosniaks. Today the Bošnjaci are constitutionally one of the three constitutive peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina .

For the results of the census in October 2013 , it was expected in advance that a significant proportion of Bosnian residents would identify as Bosnians or Herzegovinians, i.e. could choose a territorial rather than an ethnic reference value. Depending on the size of this group, this would call into question the system of proportional representation established in the Dayton Treaty between the country's three “official” ethnic groups. Today the Bosniaks make up the majority of the population with 50.11%.

The current, modern name for all inhabitants of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is - regardless of their ethnicity - Bosnian ( Bosanci ).


middle Ages

The Western Balkans was recaptured from the barbarians by the Byzantine ruler Justinian I. Slavs ( Sclaveni ) invaded the Balkans, including Bosnia in the 6th century . De Administrando Imperio (approx. 960) mentioned Bosnia (Βοσωνα / Bosona ) as a small country (χοριον Βοσωνα / horion Bosona ) and as part of Serbia. The American historian John Van Antwerp Fine Jr. believes that the western part of Bosnia belonged to Croatia and the eastern part to Serbia.

After the death of the Serbian chaplain Časlav Klonimirović (approx. 927–960), Bosnia seemed to become more and more politically independent from Serbia. A short time later, at the turn of the century, Bulgaria attacked Bosnia, which then became part of the Byzantine Empire. In the 11th century , Bosnia was part of the southern Slavic state of Duklja . In 1137 the Kingdom of Hungary annexed the region of Bosnia, briefly lost it to the Byzantine Empire before regaining the region in the 1180s. After multiple changes between regional powers, an independent Bosnian state emerged under Hungarian sovereignty in the 12th century .

Banat Bosnia and the Bosnian Church

Stećci , which are spread all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and are associated with the Bosnian Church.
The Hval Codex is a manuscript illuminated in the 15th century and one of the most famous scripts in the Bosančica .

Christian missionaries from Rome and Constantinople had taken their course in the Balkans since the 9th century and established the Catholic Church in Croatia, while the Orthodox Church was established in Bulgaria, Macedonia and most parts of Serbia. Bosnia, which lies in between, remained a no man's land . In the 12th century, most Bosnians were likely to be influenced in a nominal form of Catholicism, characterized by widespread illiteracy among the population and a lack of knowledge of Latin among Bosnian clergymen. Around this time the Bosnian Ban Kulin founded the Bosnian Church . Their followers were mostly referred to as Dobri Bošnjani (good Bosnians), Bošnjani (Bosnians), Krstjani (Christians), dobri mužje (good men) or as dobri ljudi (good people). The later occupiers, the Ottomans, called them Kristianlar , while they called the Catholic and Orthodox population as gebir or kafir (infidels).

Kingdom of Bosnia

The Bosnian state was significantly strengthened by the rule of Stjepan II. Kotromanićs (approx. 1318-1353), who improved the relationship between Bosnia and Hungary and expanded the state. He conquered more western and eastern areas around Bosnia, which meant that more Catholics and Orthodox Christians lived in his empire. To do this, he conquered the Zahumlje held by the Nemanjids . In the 1340s , Franciscans were introduced to Bosnia against alleged heresy . Before that there were no Catholics, or at least no Catholic organization, in Bosnia for a century. Stjepan II was also the first Bosnian ruler to adopt Catholicism in 1347. Almost all rulers of Bosnia were from then on Catholic, with the exception of Stjepan Ostoja , who still had close ties to the Bosnian Church. The Bosnian nobility will later take an oath to suppress heretical organizations, but in reality Bosnia remained multi-religious until the Ottoman occupation and was often characterized by tolerance between the different faiths. In the 1370s the Banat of Bosnia developed into the powerful Kingdom of Bosnia following the coronation of Tvrtko I as the first king of Bosnia in 1377 . His kingdom expanded into neighboring Serbian and Croatian countries. But even with the advent of a kingdom, no specific Bosnian identity emerged; religious plurality, independently minded nobility and rugged mountainous terrain prevented cultural and political unity. As Noel Malcolm, an English historian, stated: "All that can reasonably be said about the ethnic identity of Bosnians is this: They were the Slavs who lived in Bosnia.

Ottoman rule and Islamization

Bosnia has been under Ottoman rule since 1463. Bogomilism played an important role among the peasants as well as among the representatives of the nobility , since the Bosnian ruler Ban Kulin converted to the Bogomil faith in 1199 in order to escape the Hungarian Catholic sphere of influence of the Archdiocese of Spalato . The Bosnian Church , influenced by the Bogomils but more hierarchical , became a state church in the 13th century, but was bled to death by the Franciscan mission in the 15th century . The Islamization of a large minority of the population after 1463 took place very slowly; it was mainly due to the voluntary conversion of the nobility, landowners and other regional elites to Islam, as they wanted to keep their leadership positions and avoid tribute payments (foreign tax). However, the Bogomils in particular, who were persecuted as heretics by the Catholic Church in several crusades and sometimes handed over to slave traders, welcomed Turkish rule and quickly converted to Islam. There were mass conversions to Islam, probably also because of religious similarities and the anti-feudal tendencies in Bogomilism. The Turkish conquest, which also broke the hegemony of the big landowners, represented a “liberation of the poor” in a certain sense. A “Bogomil myth” was cultivated in Austria-Hungary since 1900 as well as in Tito's late Yugoslavia since 1960, in order to be able to derive the origin of the Muslims as a state-supporting class in Bosnia directly from the Bosnian Bosnian aristocracy.

Although there had been an immigration of Hungarian Ismailis by the 13th century , the immigration of administrative officials and traders from other regions of the Ottoman Empire, which began after 1453, hardly played a role in Islamization. Many Serbian rural residents continued to follow the Orthodox faith, some of the townspeople on the coast and on the Sava remained Roman Catholic. It was not until the 17th century that the majority of Bosnia was Islamized.

The Ottoman administration initially supported the Orthodox Church because they saw in the Catholics an extended arm of the papacy, and even favored the conversion from the Catholic to the Orthodox faith. The Orthodox Church was given permission to build numerous new churches, the Catholic Church only repairs. As in the entire Ottoman Empire , Christians and Jews living in Bosnia were granted certain rights under the Millet system ; In return, the members of these was proteges a special tax that cizye imposed and the carrying of weapons prohibited. Different ethnic groups could gather under the umbrella of the Millets. The Millets increased the political influence of the clergy of the various faiths, who also took on secular tasks such as collecting taxes, and became the nucleus of collective identities. Even the Muslims sometimes called themselves islamski millet .

The Bosniaks in Austria-Hungary

After the Ottoman national bankruptcy and unrest among the Christian population, Austria-Hungary demanded that the Ottoman Empire grant religious freedom to the Bosnian population and implement agrarian reform. Even after the Austro-Hungarian occupation of 1878, the latter was not implemented consistently. There were unrest for several years, which is why the political and landed elite of the Muslim Bosniaks should be won over to cooperation with the occupying power. Therefore, their dominant social position was not called into question, their members were often active as higher administrative officials, which intensified the social conflicts, especially with the Serbian peasantry. However, the Austrian administration set up the completely new institution of a spiritual head for the Bosnian Muslims, the Reis-ul-ulema , as well as a supreme spiritual council. This provoked the resistance of the conservative clergy, which intensified at the beginning of the 20th century, and the Muslim landowners and administrators of the numerous pious foundations ( vakuf ) now also opposed the hesitant plans to modernize the administration and renew the education system.

Since 1882, the Muslims were used for military service. At the request of the Ottoman government, the formula was adjusted and the Muslims swore the oath separately from the other Bosnian soldiers. The promise to God was also linked to duties to the emperor in order to strengthen loyalty to the monarchy.

The educational level of the Bosniaks was relatively poor. A literary establishment influenced by Europe, but which for a long time bore the traces of Sufism , developed only gradually. In 1898 the first novel by a Bosnian Muslim was published ( Zeleno busenje by Edhem Mulabdić ). In contrast to the well-developed Catholic education system of the Croatians , Muslim girls were rarely sent to school. Mixed marriages were relatively rare and occurred almost exclusively in cities. Typically, the wife would join her husband's creed. In 1899 Muslim protests escalated over the alleged forced conversion of a Muslim woman to Catholicism. But Serbian Orthodox and Catholic priests also saw mixed marriages as a threat to their belief system.

One of the main architects of nationality and religious policy was the Austrian-Hungarian finance minister, Benjámin Kállay , who promoted the Bosniaks as a separate, not just religiously defined ethnic group. The local civil servants, which were greatly increased by the modernization and infrastructure policy (schools, railways, post offices, etc.) were probably the most important bearers of an ethnically based sense of identity.

After the final annexation of Bosnia in 1908 , a parliament was elected in 1910 in separate curiae according to religious affiliation. At that time the Muslim population was around 650,000, about a third of the total population of Bosnia. Since 1909, drafts of an Islamic law have been discussed which, on the one hand, aimed at equating Islam according to the Hanefite rite with the other religions, but made reservations about individual institutions and customs that did not comply with state laws (polygamy, etc.), but ultimately also the main rules of the Islamic marriage law (divorce, etc.) wanted to receive. The Islam law, which was groundbreaking for the time, was enacted in 1912; Incidentally, it was valid in Austria until 2015.

Bosniak military imam during field prayer in the First World War

For the Habsburg Monarchy, the successful modernization of Bosnia was a acid test, which - if it had been successful - could have represented an example of the calming of relations between different religions and ethnic groups in a multi-ethnic state. However, it was doomed to failure, especially because a Bosniak aristocracy that had been a state-sponsored Bosniak aristocracy for centuries was now to be integrated into a foreign state as a compact minority. The attempt to separate the Muslim population from their clergy therefore led to the politicization of the Bosniaks.

In spite of a civil service loyal to the Reich, denominationalism resulted in a religiously legitimized nationalism; the religious conflicts were ethnicized and three separate ethnic-religious groups formed . Especially after the assassination attempt in Sarajevo , a nationalist movement emerged among the Bosniaks, whereby the question of land distribution was not insignificant.

Even before World War I, the reliability of soldiers of Slavic origin in the Austro-Hungarian Army was questioned. Therefore, Serbian teams were mixed with the Bosniak and Croatian troops of the Bosnian regiments, which were considered loyal. In the First World War, however, the Bosnian troops in the Austro-Hungarian army were generally characterized by loyalty and bravery. The Bosniaks were allowed to obey their dietary rules and wear the red fez . This is how Austria became the largest fez producer in the world. The fight of the Bosniaks for the emperor was legitimized by the political and religious representatives of the Muslim world as jihad , as a holy war. In particular, the loss-making storming of the strategically important Monte Meletta-Fior on June 7, 1916 brought them a lot of fame.

The desertions at the turn of 1914/15 can largely be traced back to the news that Serb soldiers of the Bosnian regiments received about Austrian retaliatory actions against Serbian civilians. Only towards the end of the war, there were more desertions of Bosniak enlisted personnel, after which the Bosniak forces with Poland and Ruthenian mixed. The troops were weakened by hunger and diseases such as malaria . Those who deserted and were apprehended had to pay a “reward” to whoever found them. In the case of three violations, death by shooting was ordered. Officially 10,000 Bosnian soldiers died in World War I, twice as many went missing, over 18,000 were captured and around 50,000 injured. According to other sources, at least 38,000 Bosnian-Herzegovinian soldiers were killed.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia and World War II

Soon after the founding of Yugoslavia, nationalist tensions set in. The Slavic Muslims and Macedonians were not viewed as independent parts of the South Slav nation, but officially listed as Muslim Serbs and South Serbs, respectively. At the same time, the Croatians claimed the Bosniaks as part of their nation. As a result, there was resistance among Muslims as well as Macedonian Slavs and Slovenes to the Unitarian conception of the one Yugoslav nation. The political organization of Muslims, the Yugoslav Muslim Organization under Džafer Kulenović (Džafer-beg Kulenović), a political representative of the pro-Croatian Muslims, was soon isolated and opposed by the Serbs. After Alexander I's royal dictatorship was proclaimed in 1929, it was banned like all other parties.

In 1939, Kulenović turned against an ethnic division of Bosnia, which the Yugoslav state sought with the extended statute of autonomy for Croatia . After the German invasion, the Bosnian territory was placed under the control of the Independent State of Croatia ; the Bosniaks became Croatians with an Islamic religion. Some of the Muslim politicians, including Kulenović, accepted cooperation with the Ustasha authorities and autonomy within Croatia. Džafer Kulenović was appointed by Ante Pavelić as his representative for Bosnia in April 1941 . In November 1941 he succeeded his brother Osman Kulenović as Croatian Vice President. Džafer Kulenović took radical action against Bosnian Serbs and Jews. Another part of the Bosniaks was indifferent to the new government, but many joined the partisans.

Since 1943, Bosnia has been the main scene of cruel partisan struggles with countless victims. Some Muslim politicians, led by Uzeir-aga Hadžihasanović , were soon calling for Bosnian autonomy in order to be able to better protect themselves from the Serbs, against whom the Croatian government did not act effectively enough in their eyes. The Croatians described the demand as a form of support for the partisans, but this was unjustified as the Muslims demanded the establishment of a German protectorate on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnian Muslim politicians belonging to this wing declared in a memorandum dated November 1, 1942: The Bošnjaci , i.e. “the Muslims of Bosnia, are an integral part of the 300 million Islamic people in the East, who can only be liberated by fighting the English Imperialism, Judaism, Freemasonry and Bolshevism can achieve a struggle in which the German people, under the leadership of its leader, is at the forefront ”. Bosnia had become part of the Croatian state, "which happened according to our will and our consent", but soon "failed against our hopes and expectations". It was believed that "our Bosnia-Herzegovina would remain under German military administration and that the Bosnian Muslims, as the numerically strongest element, would be asked to participate in the administration". This hope has been disappointed. The politicians, who hoped for a Bosnian connection to a Greater German Reich in the tradition of the Danube Monarchy, offered Hitler the establishment of a Muslim SS unit in return for more autonomy. In 1943 - also due to the propaganda of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and partly under false pretenses - many Muslims left the Croatian military service unorganized and against Croatian resistance, which initially caused chaos. With the help of German SS officers, they formed a Muslim legion. The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS "Handschar" , which was first trained in France, emerged from this troop, which was allowed to wear the Fez . There an uprising against their German officers by the troops, who felt deceived by the transfer, had to be put down.

In 1944 the division was transferred to Bosnia, where it fought against Serb partisans. There were also atrocities against the Serbian civilian population, Roma and Jews, but occasionally they worked with the anti-communist royal Chetniks . The division ignored the Croatian state organs and even appointed the village elders, who were sworn in on Hitler or the SS. After the division became the preferred target of the partisans and in the late summer of 1944 more and more soldiers deserted, because they still had the collapse scenario of 1918 in mind, the Germans disbanded them. Towards the end of the war, almost everyone in Bosnia fought against everyone. Kulenović went into exile in Syria .

Political instrument for the movement of the non-aligned

After Tito founded the movement of the non-aligned states together with Nasser and Nehru , the Bosnian Muslims came back into contact with the rest of the Muslim world more easily after the Second World War . Although the Islamic Religious Community, which officially represented Yugoslav Muslims, was instructed to boycott the World Islamic Congress in Karachi in 1952, its members were soon sent around the world on behalf of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia . A Muslim background was an asset to candidates for the Yugoslav Foreign Service . Many Bosnian Muslim diplomats therefore served in the Arab and Indonesian states. The fact that these officials were all Communist Party members and had largely given up their religion did not seem to matter as long as they had Muslim first names.

Striving for recognition

In the 1948 census, Muslims in the former Yugoslavia had three options: they could call themselves “Muslim Serbs”, “Muslim Croats” or “Muslims (undeclared nationality)”. In fact, the vast majority of Muslims said they were “undeclared”.

In 1953 there was a similar result. At that time the spirit of Yugoslavism was propagated. The term “Muslim” has been removed. In their place came the indication "Yugoslav (undeclared nationality)". Again, most chose this option.

In the 1960s the trend changed. In general, the Bosnian politicians submitted to Serbian dominance. The Bosnian Communist Party was about 60% Serbs and only 20% Muslim. But the representatives of political Islam in Bosnia observed Nasser's struggle against the pan-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood after they called for his overthrow, and Saudi Arabia's support for pan-Islamism , which quickly found supporters among the impoverished populations of many Islamic countries. After the resignation of the Serb Đuro Pucar as party chairman and Aleksandar Ranković as Tito's security chief, Belgrade accommodated the Muslims and the other non-Serbian ethnic groups with regard to their needs for autonomy. Two further factors were decisive for the efforts to recognize Muslims as an independent ethnic group: the effort to strengthen the identities of the sub-states towards “integral Yugoslavism” and the rise of a small elite of Muslim communists within the party. An important proponent of this new nationality policy, which did not intend to make Bosnia-Herzegovina a purely Islamic republic, but instead developed a secularized understanding of the nation, was Džemal Bijedić .

In the 1961 census it became possible to state “Muslim in the ethnic sense”. Likewise, the preamble of the Bosnian Constitution of 1963 referred to "Serbs, Croats and Muslims, in the past united by a common life", which implicitly meant that the Muslims were regarded as an ethnic group . From now on, the Muslims were treated like the rest of the ethnic groups, even if this had not yet been officially confirmed.

Unofficial flag of the Bosnian Muslims, often seen on mosques, rarely used by the population

A large number of academics and civil servants started a campaign to capitalize the M in the word Muslim , under the intellectual leadership of Muhamed Filipović and with the help of communist functionaries such as the historian Atif Purivatra - a representative of the Bogomil myth . This denotes the member of an ethnic group, in contrast to musliman , who only refers to religious affiliation as an identity criterion. Filipović was therefore expelled from the party in 1967. However, the Bosnian Central Committee of the Communist Party decided in 1968 that "current socialist practice shows that Muslims are a separate ethnic group". Despite strong opposition in Belgrade from Serbian national communists such as Dobrica Ćosić or Macedonian politicians, this approach was confirmed by the central government. The information given in the 1971 census was therefore “Muslim (in the sense of an ethnic group)”. The study of Islamic theology in Bosnia-Herzegovina and student exchanges with other Muslim countries have since been stimulated. In 1977 the Faculty of Islamic Theology was established at the University of Sarajevo .


Bosniaks mostly speak Bosnian , a standard language form of the štokavian dialect on which Croatian and Serbian are based and which today is officially regarded as an independent language within Bosnia and is expanded as such. Compared to the other standard varieties of Serbo-Croatian, it shows differences in phonology and morphology as well as partly in syntax, spelling and also in vocabulary, the latter being the most obvious.

The Bosnian vocabulary shows somewhat greater influences from the Turkish , Persian and Arabic languages , which found their way into Bosnian through Ottoman . In the 2013 census in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1,866,585 inhabitants, and thus the majority of the population, designated their language as Bosnian .

Settlement area

Population share of Bosniaks in the municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina:
  • > 90%
  • 80-90%
  • 65-80%
  • 50-65%
  • 40-50%
  • 30-40%
  • 20-30%
  • 10-20%
  • 5-10%
  • 1-5%
  • <1%
  • The settlement area of ​​the Bosniaks today mainly includes Bosnia and Herzegovina , especially its republic, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina , and some small sections on its border as well as parts of the Sandžak between Serbia and Montenegro .

    Up until the Bosnian War in 1992, the Bosniaks were mainly the urban population of the country; they mainly settled in the center and in the east and in the Bihać region in the west.

    After the "ethnic cleansing" during the war, when Bosniaks were driven mainly from the areas controlled by the Republika Srpska along the Drina and the genocide of the Bosniaks in Srebrenica , they are now concentrating on the region around the cities of Sarajevo , Zenica and Tuzla and the Bihać area. The Bihać region is congruent with the canton Una-Sana , which with 94.3% has the highest proportion of Bosniaks in the total population. The cultural center of the Bosniaks is Sarajevo.

    In states of the former Yugoslavia

    The economic internal migration during the Yugoslav period resulted in a Bosniak diaspora in Slovenia and Croatia. There are, however, a few Bosniaks in Croatia who have lived there since the Ottoman rule; these are among the few remaining Bosniaks who did not emigrate after the end of Ottoman rule or the withdrawal of the Eyâlet Bosnia . The war in the Balkans in the first half of the 1990s also resulted in significant refugee movements.

    Regions Bosniaks Year of survey
    Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 000000001860347.00000000001,860,347 50.11% 2013
    SerbiaSerbia Serbia 145 278 02.02% 2011
    MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro 53 605 08.65% 2011
    CroatiaCroatia Croatia 000000000031479.000000000031,479 00.73% 2011
    KosovoKosovo KosovoBosniaks in Kosovo 000000000027553.000000000027,553 01.58% 2011
    SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 000000000021542.000000000021,542 01.10% 2002
    North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia North Macedonia 000000000017018.000000000017,018 00.84% 2002


    There is a large Bosniak diaspora in Turkey. Today, depending on the source, five, seven, eight or even twelve million descendants of Bosniaks live in Turkey. According to Austria-Hungary, 61,114 Bosniaks emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina from the occupation to the beginning of the First World War (1878 to 1914), but this did not correspond to the facts. Already in the period 1900 to 1905 there were 72,000 Bosniaks according to the data of the Ottoman committee for the placement of refugees, in the same period according to Austria-Hungary there were only 13,750. Estimates assume 150,000 emigrants during the reign of Austria-Hungary, there are also journalists who speak of 300,000 Bosniaks, which, however, is viewed by most historians as an exaggeration.

    Bosniaks in other countries in the world

    Since the 1960s, Bosniaks came to Western European countries as guest workers, and in the 1990s as war refugees also to the USA, Canada and Australia.

    In Germany, the first Bosniak communities emerged as early as the 1960s and 1970s when numerous guest workers from Yugoslavia came to Germany. Many of the Bosniaks living in Germany immigrated during the Bosnian War. The umbrella organization Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Germany has existed since 1994 and 2007 .

    Bosniak names

    The Bosniak surnames often have the endings "ić" or "ović", as is common in the southern Slavic region. The influence of the Ottoman-Islamic culture can be recognized from the surnames. Many Bosniaks have names such as B. "Imamović" (translated: son of the Imam ) or "Hadžiosmanović" ( son of Hajji Osman ). Since Bosniaks were the nobility in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, there are many surnames that point to this, such as B. “Kurbegović” (descendants of Kur-beg) or “Hadžipašić” (descendants of Hajji-paša). The most common titles of nobility that can be found in surnames are - beg -, - aga - and - paša -.

    There are also Bosniak surnames that do not have an ending. These usually relate to a job, origin or other factors in family history. An example of such a name is the common name Zlatar (translated: goldsmith ). There are also surnames that date back to the pre-Slavic period, the meaning of which is no longer known today.

    Other Bosniak names have nothing oriental about them, but end in -ić. These names have their origins in the Middle Ages and have likely not changed since then. They belong to the old Bosnian nobility or belong to the last wave of converts to Islam. Examples are Tvrtković and Kulenović (see King Tvrtko or Ban Kulin ).

    The first names of the Bosniaks are mostly of Arabic, Turkish or Persian origin. So many are called z. B. Hasan , Adnan , Sulejman or Emir . Some Arabic names are shortened. In addition, names are also popular that are not religiously bound and are common throughout the South Slavic region, such as the name Zlatan ( the golden one ).

    Role of intellectuals

    Alija Izetbegović (1925–2003) - He declared independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and was President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1990–1996) and a senior member of the collective state presidency (1996–2000).

    The movement to recognize the Slavic Muslims as a separate ethnic group began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From this two currents developed: One was led by communists and other secularized Muslims like Džemal Bijedić, who wanted to transform the Muslim identity in Bosnia-Herzegovina into a definitely non-religious one (the so-called secular “Muslim nationalism”), and one of them separate ones that put the Islamic identity in the foreground.

    Scientists such as Atif Purivatra belonged to the first movement , who had been grappling intensively and at an academic level with the question of the nationality of Bosnian Muslims since the late 1960s . A prominent example of the views of the second, conservative pan-Islamic current is the " Islamic Declaration ", a programmatic text that was written by Alija Izetbegović in the 1960s and published as a book in the year Nasser's death (1970). Izetbegović was in opposition to Purivatra with his views. He maintained contacts with the Muslim Brotherhoods abroad and called for a pan-Islamic federal state. The supporters of this movement turned against mixed marriages and advocated alcohol bans and the veiling of women. Izetbegović declared that there could be no peace between Muslims and non-Muslim institutions. He condemned secular nationalism as a divisive instrument and called communism an inadequate system. Izetbegović was subsequently sentenced in 1983 to 14 years in prison for “calling for the destruction of Yugoslavia”, but was released in 1988 to defuse the conflict in Kosovo.


    • Bartosz Bojarczyk: Radical Islamism - A threat to Bosniak Identity and Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Jakub Olchowski, Tomasz Stępniewski, Bartosz Bojarczyk, Alina Sobol (eds.): Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans. Yearbook of the Institute of East-Central Europe. Volume 12, No. 3, 2014, pp. 53-72.
    • Adisa Busuladžić: The Bosniaks: Failing Role Models for Muslim Europeans. In: International Journal of Euro-Mediterranean Studies. Volume 3, No. 2, 2010, pp. 211-222.
    • Annette Monika Fath-Lihic: Becoming a nation between inner turmoil and external pressure. The Bosnian Muslims on the way from ethnic awareness to national identity . Dissertation University of Mannheim 2007, full text
    • Hermann Hinterstoisser, Erwin A. Schmidl, Christoph Neumayer, Helmut Wohnout: The Emperor's Bosniaks. The Bosnian-Herzegovinian troops in the Austro-Hungarian army. Vienna 2008.
    • Atif Purivatra: Nacionalni i politički razvitak Muslimana . Svjetlost, Sarajevo 1969.

    Web links

    Commons : Bosniaks  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, The Ethnic Cleansing of Bosnia-Hercegovina, (US Government Printing Office, 1992)
    2. a b Salmedin Mesinović " Thallóczy and the study entitled" Bosna ". "O. O. o. J.
    3. Pejo Ćošković: " Veliki knez bosanski Tvrtko Borovinić. " Zagreb 1996.
    4. Mak Dizdar: " Stari bosanski tekstovi. " Sarajevo 1969.
    5. Lejla Nakaš: " Konkordancijski rječnik ćirilskih povelja srednjovjekovne Bosne. " Sarajevo 2011.
    6. a b c d Mustafa Imamović: " Historija Bošnjaka. " Sarajevo 1997.
    7. ^ Marie-Janine Calic: History of Yugoslavia in the 20th century . C. H. Beck, 2010, p. 241 .
    8. Andreas Ernst: "Bosnjak, Serb, Croat or even Bosnian". In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung from October 15, 2013.
    9. 2013 census
    10. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp, Jr .: The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of Michigan Press . 1991.
    11. Kaimakamova, Miliana; Salamon, Maciej: Byzantium, new peoples, new powers: the Byzantino-Slav contact zone, from the ninth to the fifteenth century. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Historia Iagellonica", 2007.
    12. Kaimakamova, Miliana; Salamon, Maciej: Byzantium, new peoples, new powers: the Byzantino-Slav contact zone, from the ninth to the fifteenth century. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Historia Iagellonica", 2007.
    13. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp, Jr .: The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of Michigan Press . 1991.
    14. Bulić, Dejan: The Fortifications of the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine Period. The World of the Slavs: Studies of the East, West and South Slavs: Civitas, Oppidas, Villas and Archeological Evidence (7th to 11th Centuries AD). Istorijski institut. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Historia Iagellonica", 2013.
    15. Bulić, Dejan: The Fortifications of the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine Period. The World of the Slavs: Studies of the East, West and South Slavs: Civitas, Oppidas, Villas and Archeological Evidence (7th to 11th Centuries AD). Istorijski institut. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Historia Iagellonica", 2013.
    16. Bulić, Dejan: The Fortifications of the Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine Period. The World of the Slavs: Studies of the East, West and South Slavs: Civitas, Oppidas, Villas and Archeological Evidence (7th to 11th Centuries AD). Istorijski institut. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze "Historia Iagellonica", 2013. Fine, John Van Antwerp, Jr .: The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of Michigan Press . 1991.
    17. ^ Pinson, Mark (1994). The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-932885-09-8 .
    18. Malcolm, Noel (1996) [1994]. Bosnia: A Short History (2nd ed.). New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-5561-5 .
    19. Perry Anderson : From Antiquity to Feudalism. Traces of the transition societies. Frankfurt am Main 1978, p. 357.
    20. ^ Carsten Wieland: Nation- state against its will. Frankfurt 2000, p. 128 f.
    21. On the long-term effects up to the most recent times, cf. Carsten Wieland: Nation-state against its will. Frankfurt 2000, p. 154 ff.
    22. Dunja Melcic-Mikulic: The Yugoslavia War: Handbook on Prehistory, Course and Consequences. Berlin, Heidelberg 2013, p. 83 ff.
    23. Adelheid Wölfl: [ With the Fez on the head for Austria-Hungary. ] In: Der Standard , January 20, 2014.
    24. Heiner Grunert: Faith in the hinterland: The Serbian Orthodox in the Habsburg Herzegovina 1878-1918. Göttingen 2016, p. 197 ff.
    25. ^ Srećko Džaja: Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Austro-Hungarian Era (1878-1918). (= Southeast European Works 93) Munich 1994, p. 46 ff.
    26. ^ Carlo Moos: Habsburg post mortem: reflections on the continued life of the Habsburg monarchy. Vienna 2016, p. 84 ff.
    27. Werner Schachinger: The Bosniaks are coming! Elite troops in the Austro-Hungarian Army. 1879-1918. Graz 1989, p. 23 ff.
    28. ^ Adelheid Wölfl: With the Fez on the head for Austria-Hungary , in: Der Standard , January 20, 2014.
    29. Enver Redžić: Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War. Basingstoke 2005, p. 165 ff.
    30. Wolf Oschlies: The 13th SS Division Handschar in Bosnia and Herzegovina , 2006, updated 2017, in: The future needs memories .
    31. ^ Gordon Williamson: The Waffen-SS. Vol. 3: 11th to 23rd divisions. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012, p. 11.
    32. Ernest Plivac: Complexity, Dynamics and Consequences of a Multi-Layered War: Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Second World War 1941–1945. Hamburg 2015, p. 128 ff.
    33. Enver Redžić: Muslimansko autonomaštvo i 13th SS Divizija - Autonomija Bosne i Hercegovine i Hitlerov Treći Rajh. (The Muslim striving for autonomy and the 13th SS Division - Autonomy of Bosnia-Hercegovina and Hitler's Third Reich), Sarajevo 1987.
    34. a b Noel Malcolm: Bosnia. A short history. 1994, p. 197, 200 ff.
    35. a b Malcolm, Noel (1994): Bosnia. A short history. P. 197.
    36. ^ Marie-Janine Calic: Southeast Europe: World history of a region. Munich 2016.
    37. Höpken: The Communists and the Muslims. P. 196 f. Irwin: Islamic Revival , p. 443.
    38. ^ Carsten Wieland: Nation- state against its will. Frankfurt 2000, p. 129.
    39. CIA World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina (English)
    40. 2011 of Population, Households and the Dwellings in the Republic of Serbia - Population - Ethnicity
    41. Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in Montenegro 2011 . Monstat. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
    42. English Wikipedia: Demographics of Croatia: Ethnic groups Link
    43. English Wikipedia: Demographics of Kosovo: 2011 census Link
    44. English Wikipedia: Demographics of Slovenia: Ethnic groups Link
    45. English Wikipedia: Demographics of Macedonia: Ethnic groups Link
    46. a b Daniel Roters: Article: Bosnian-Turkish identities and (song) traditions: Zapjevala sojka ptica 2013 (October 21, 2013) Link ( Memento of the original from October 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
    47. a b Ifet Sivić: Diploma thesis: The language and culture of the Bosniaks in Turkey. University of Vienna 2012.
    48. ^ A. Popović: Islamic Movements. P. 281.
    49. ^ Zachary Irwin: The Islamic Revival and the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina. East European Quarterly, Vol. 17, 1983. pp. 445 f.