Naučna istraživanja

Canadian Bosnians














6.1. Introduction

Hundreds of years of Bosniac national political idea and a hundred years of North American Bosniaks’ BATTLE AGAINST NEGATIVE assimilation into the Canadian cultural mosaic are the reasons for AN ATTEMPT to search for the answer about the history of Canadian Bosniaks on the behalf of the realistic definition of free Bosniak figure in Canadian Society. The Canadian Bosniaks are facing new national, spiritual and cultural self-definition, WHAT IS, at the same time, determining themselves to Bosnia and Canada.

The first Bosnian diaspora in Canada has not been of such scope and such a force to immediately overtake the leading and forming role of the Bosniak figure among Canadian Bosniaks. Intellectually scarce and fragmented, politically and nationally/patriotically disoriented, overwhelmed by paradigms and solutions that have historically been a overcome without institutional forms of living and acting and without institutional support, the Canadian Bosniak diaspora struggled for mere physical survival. Its occasional association with the far more numerous, older, more organized and richer Serbian and Croatian diaspora was a matter of historical reality and necessity, from which it was performed an additional splitting and doubling in terms of separation.

Despite this fact, Canadian Bosniaks, first through a religious organization, and then through a national/patriotic organization succeed in expressing their own individuality, speaking up in order to defend the Bosniak honor, spirituality and identity, the Bosniak culture, traditions and customs, the Bosnian language and democratic, single country of Bosnia and open, free civil society as the only parent and the matrix of Bosniaks. This was derived from the fact that the Bosniaks in Canada brought, along with them, strong awareness of their national particularities, that could have been, at the time, only expressed through two elements: Islam and Bosnian language.

In 2006. It will be a hundred years since the start of the Bosniak national political ideas. In December of 1906 beg Ferdowsi founded the Muslim People's Organization, the first Bosniak political party. The reason for founding this party was forced Christianization or baptism of young a girl, Fate Omanović from Travnik, and demonstrations of Bosnian Muslims after that act.

A few years later, Mehmed Spaho, a member of the Muslim National Organization, established the Yugoslav Muslim Organization.

A year after Spaho was elected a president of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization, in 1922. Salih Behmen was born, as the late Alija Izetbegovic said in Behmen's memorial service: "The greatest among us is gone."

On May 1st 2006, it will be exactly one hundred years since the first Bosniak national organization in North America was founded, under the name Mutual Assistance Muslim society named Demijetul Hajrije Chicago. Throughout the whole century this society from Chicago experienced  its evolution and a number of transformation, we can say that it has survived till this day, and left us all the legacy of five specific elements of the Bosniak national identity: Islam, Bosnian language, Bosniak culture, traditions and customs.  In this way, Bosniaks in Canada have preserved their uniqueness and managed to resist the negative assimilation, which is strongly expressed in the Canadian cultural mosaic.


The Arrival of South Slavs in Canada


Diaspora (Ancient Greek - dispersion, diffusion) indicates the second half of the 20th century, a group of people or ethnic groups that were forced to abandon their traditional ethnic homeland and that have settled all over the world. The concept of diaspora can also indicate the status of minorities, for example, of certain religious groups. Originally, the concept of diaspora represented only Jews that the Babylonians deported in 586 b.c.e. from Judea, and the Romans deported them from every corner of Roman Empire in 135 b.c.e.

The beginnings of South Slavic, and hence of the Bosniak and Bosnian history in Canada, experts associate with the Vikings and Leif Ericson time, others, not without good reason, with the expedition of John Cabot who, under the patronage of the English in 1497th with his ship "Matthew", discovered New Land. Recent discovery of the graves of sailors dating from 1491 in South England, is associated with the data that EG Taylor specifies in his book "Tudor Geography 1485-1583" that the south Slavic sailors were among the most numerous sailors on the English ships around the year of 1500, that only confirms the theory that South Slaves in Canada have been present longer than half a millennium. However, historians generally referred to a year 1543, because at least two sailors on an expedition led by Jacques Cartier and Le Sieur de Roberval was Juzno Slavs. Samuel Champlain, who led several expeditions to the New World, mentions in his journals 1605th to 1606th, that among the sailors and precious metals explorers in Acadia (now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), there was Jacques from Slavonia.

Later, we encounter many South Slav names among British and also French soldiers and members of the expedition to New France. Intensive research and list check of passengers and sailors in the expedition led by James Cook, George Vancouver Quadra Bodegay on the Canadian Pacific, and a list of people led by Alexander Mackenzie, who moved to Canada by land and reached the Pacific coast, would surely give more insight into the oldest history of South Slavs in Canada.


Among the expedition crew of Bodegay Quadra, a South Slav names were mentioned in 1779 a, which belong to those who disembarked and remained on the Pacific coast. Thus, it is mentioned that on 30 December 1859 many South Slavs arrived to Victoria on the ship "Pacific". Some of them were led by the gold rush to Victoria and thence 600 miles farther north, in the Cariboo region, and they have never even seen any of civilization or their relatives. Working conditions were terrible, and violence, card game gambling, gold smuggling and extortion among the diggers from all sorts of nations were an integral part of life, as their hopes to get rich quick. In 1867,when Russia sold Alaska to America for 7,200.000 dollars, the road to the north has become more open, and at that time, South Slav traders of fur and other goods were in Alaska.


A large wave of emigration in the late 19th and early 20 century devastated many parts of the Bosnian land and filled many countries around the world. One part of these immigrants came to Canada. At first, they arrived as a fisherman on the Pacific coast, and then as the builders of the trans-Canadian railway, bringing with them an extensive experience in this business, then as miners and lumberjacks, and only a small part as the farmers who settled in the prairies of central and western Canada. When the British Columbia joined the Confederation in 1871, and after the most powerful company, "Hudson Bay" sold its territories a year earlier to Canada, Canada expanded its land from one ocean to the other ocean. This represented a significant impact on

South Slavic movement of migrants and also on their economic progress. In particular, this applies to fishermen and fish traders. In fact, at that time there were already established South Slavic fishing communities. By opening the trans-Canadian railway tracks in 1885,fish trade was reinforced between Montreal and Vancouver, especially the highly prized salmon, which gave a momentum to South Slavic fishing industry in Vancouver and until the present day it has remained in the hands of South Slavs. The causes of emigration, as much as they seemed disjointed and diverse, from the mid-19th century piled up and tied up into a tight loop that has pulled immigrants across the ocean.


In 1873, cheap grain from Canada caused the collapse of the Vienna exchange office and dealt a new blow to landlords in the Balkans. Stories about the rich Canada drew many South Slavs who hoped to quickly earn enough money to buy a piece of land and achieve the dream of having their own business. Soon, there were two additional factors that further tightened the loop: the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878, and phylloxera. With the loss of power in Bosnia and Herzegovina, former landowners of the Turkish Empire wanted to sell their land as quickly as possible: some, to go back to Turkey, and others, because there were no longer serfs who would have worked the land. This has led many Bosnians to go to the New World, to attain a sufficient sum of money in order to purchase the land they once worked on as serfs. The departure of many people was caused by the phylloxera that has just devastated the vineyards that were an important and often the only source of income in Herzegovina. Waves of immigrants in the late 19th century splashed the lands of Canada. Thus we encounter the first miners in the coal mines around Nanaimo, Wellington, Ladysmith, Cumberland. In the late 19th century, South Slavs worked in the mines of zinc and lead in the Trail-Rossland area bordering the U.S. state of Washington, while the others were still in the newly opened mines of gold and silver in the Kootenay region (Rocky Mountains). With the construction of railways across Canada in the 1890s sprout mines started to open surrounding then port of Prince Arthur (later Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay) on the shores of Lake Superior, then the regions of Sudbury, which was founded as a mining town in 1883, and 300 kilometers north around today's Cobalt, Kirkland Lake and Timmins. In 1896, when the gold was discovered in the field Klondikea between Yukon Territory and Alaska, many South Slavs from the south headed north. They traveled by steamer boats to the port of Skagway, deep in the fjord between the Alexander Archipelago, and after through the dangerous mountain crossing White Pass to the upper parts of Yukon River, and then on Lake Bennett it was necessary to make a raft or a boat and go down the Yukon, about 800 kilometers to Dawson, a town that in two years rose to 25 thousand inhabitants. Working in the woods, the mills and paper factories also attracted a number of South Slavs. Port Arthur and Fort William, now Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie on the northern shores of Lake Superior were in the beginning of the century the center of Ontario timber industry. After the closing of the copper mines in Calumet, the border state of Michigan in the United States, many South Slavs of America moved to Canada. Skilled mining workers, found to the job much easier than newcomers from Europe. Thus, a large group of workers in 1910 found employment in the mining of nickel, copper and silver in Worthington, Creighton, Garson, and Sudbury. It is characteristic for all the South Slav immigrants before World War II that they came as single, married or just married. All of them had planned to stay in Canada only for a year, earn enough money to pay off the land, purchase equipment and tools for working the land or for their workshop at  their homeland. This plan was prolonged every year, because of idleness in Canada, because of unexpected opportunities to make more money, and because of the deteriorating situation at home. So most of them delayed return until the senior age, often staying single for life. Others, realizing that there is no return, began to build or buy their own homes and accept offers for a more constant job in mines or factories. He would organize the arrival of their girlfriends or fiancée, or wife and family from home. The turning point in relation to returns and organization of permanent communities was certainly the first world war. First, all the dreams of return were destroyed by the arrival of the great Serbian royal regime. After the war and after losing hope in return, the first significant permanent communities were formed. Except in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island towns, communities were formed in Winnipeg in Manitoba, Ontario in today's Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Creighton, Garson, Schumacher, South Porcupineu, Kirkland Lake, Toronto, Hamilton, Welland, Port Colborne and Windsor. During the war there was no immigration to Canada, but soon after the war a new wave of emigration began. When in addition, the United States introduced and started to apply (1923 to 1924) restrictive quotas for southern European nations, Canada, in 1923 lifted restrictions on immigrants from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, many that intended to go or have already left for America, ended up in Canada. People that have already found some kind of home in Canadian locations, began to bring their wives, children and relatives. Political terror and deteriorating economic situation in Yugoslavia between the 1920 and 1929 forced 153,914 people to migrate. Within this number, according to official data, 60,000 people moved just before depression. But instead of prosperity, employment and earnings, they were greeted by a depression, idleness and homelessness. It seems that this situation was just another strong element that has a significant influence on a intensive gathering of immigrants, mutual solidarity and the development of hitherto unprecedented social, cultural and social activities. Families that had houses accepted to their home not only relatives, but also many unemployed singles. People were sleeping in shifts in the same bed. Around 40 singles would gather in a workers' apartment. South Slavic communities grew in Canadian cities in late twenties, due to runoff into the cities of those who worked in the surrounding small towns, mines, forests and construction sites. This is especially true for the Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, where many worked in the surrounding forests, to Sudbury, where they were flocking from Garson, Creighton, Worthington; between the 1945 until the 1960's there were  more and more Bosnians coming to Toronto, Canada, but not directly from the BH, but through other countries in Europe. Among them there were educated people, engineers, professors and doctors, all of them starting a new life in Canada by beginning to work in the mines, on construction sites or farms, Manitoba and Alberta. A new group of immigrants rejuvenated the old groups and injected them with dynamics, especially over football clubs. However, newcomers have, at the same time, largely politicized already dormant or uninformed community by Yugoslav propaganda. This is how a certain antagonism started between the "old" and new immigrants. Similar phenomena were reported in the Ukrainian, Slovakian and other communities. The second post-war wave of Bosnian immigrants came after the 1960’s, especially between 1966 until 1973. It was called the planned emigration. The Yugoslav regime, under total police control of the Serbian secret police chief Aleksandar Rankovic, began the systematic emigration, primarily young people, organizing through its associates, an "escape" over the border, until the whole avalanche of refugees started to occur. This let a "safety valve" out in order to prevent possible social unrest and riots of unemployed young people who were through this way punished to stay in their towns where there were no job oppenings or no construction of new industrial objects. In 1966, this strategy has expanded and changed by greater liberalization of issuing passports. Hundreds of young Bosnians, biologically most fertile and productive in their most creative age, left Bosnia. Some of them managed to get to Canada, among whom were a considerable percentages of the professional or university educated people. This wave, although reduced after 1973 was not stopped until the nineties, turning itself significantly into "brain export".





The movement of South Slavs into Canada in large numbers began only after the First World War. Canadian Immigration and Naturalization Service registered a very small number of South Slav immigrants until the World War I. It is believed that the first group of 49 immigrants arrived in Quebec 1885. According to the research that Professor VG Smith published in 1920, in the period between 1900 and 1918, 1,258 South Slaves arrived to Canada. They were mostly men who came alone so they can later be joined by family members. Many of these single men were not marrying other women because they hoped to be back in their hometowns and establish a family after they acquired enough money, or gain enough wealth and bring a spouse from their homeland. For long, they have not been able to realize their hopes, so many of them remained unmarried bachelors. There were over 1000 citizens of South Slavic origin in Toronto, between Balkan wars and World War I, mostly singles.


There are no accurate statistics about a number of citizens of South Slavic origin in Canada, although the regular census began to be made in 1871. Smaller ethnic groups from Europe were not emphasized specifically, but in the category "other." After the First World War Canadian statistics on immigration was led by the country of origin, and not by nationality, so the first time in 1921 a Canadian group of people was officially listed as "Yugoslav" ethnic origin. There were 1,946 people born in Yugoslavia that were registered in this census, of which 655 were naturalized. Total number of people whose ethnicity was "Yugoslav" was 3,906, which includes those people who were born in Canada. Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration takes a completely separate statistics on the number of immigrants arriving to Canada, which does not include the one obtained by the census. Statistics of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is, without a doubt, very important, although it is not complete. It usually does not report ethnicity, but it does show the country of origin.


As it was the case in the USA, information about immigration from the early period can be found in the shipping companies that transported people to Canadian ports. Thus, in the period between 1900 and1914 the number of immigrants with the "Yugoslav’’ ethnic origin was 17,806 people. During the First World War, this number slightly decreased, but after 1918 the migration starts again, so until 1921 there were 234 new immigrants registered, which ads up to a total number of 18,050 people. This shows that the number of immigrants almost ten times greater than it was registered by the census in 1921.


Re-immigration of citizens of Yugoslavia in Canada has risen in importance before 1924, when over 2,000 people from the territory of Yugoslavia immigrated to this country. They settled in the province of Ontario. In 1928 there were more than 2,000 citizens of Yugoslavia only in Toronto.


According to the census of 1931, Canada has registered 17 110 people that were born in Yugoslavia. 10,521 of them responded that their native language was Serbo-Croatian. Ten years later, the census results show the following figures: 21,214 people with "Yugoslav" ethnic origin and 17, 416 persons born in Yugoslavia. Among them there were 14,863 people whose native language was Serbo-Croatian.


Until 1971, the Canadian census found that only Serbo-Croatian language was the mother tongue for the Yugoslav group. After that, the census was introduced to national characteristics, so therefore, four new groups appeared: Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian and Yugoslav.


In the period between the two world wars, Canada becomes much more important immigration country for the people of Yugoslavia, due to changes in legislation. Hence, according to some estimates,  the period between 1919 and 1939, 33,503 people immigrated to Canada., and 9070 people returned to Yugoslavia. Net inflow per year fluctuated a lot. However, the exact number is unknown, but it is estimated that at the beginning of the World War II, about 20,000 citizens of Yugoslavia were in Canada (of which about two-thirds in the province of Ontario).


After the World War II, over 110 000 people from Yugoslavia immigrated to Canada. Canada gave a refuge shelter to quite a number of "displaced people". As refugees, IDPs or stateless people with the Yugoslav ethnic origin have moved to Canada as follows:

- In the period 1947-1958, 19,683 people,

- In the period 1959-1962, 4,609 people,

- In the period 1963-1965, 4,266 people, and

- In the period 1966-1967, 2,275 people.


So, in twenty years 30,933 refugees immigrated to Canada. After 1967, the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration was reorganized and added a new department that the Department of Labor and Immigration. In that year, the continuity of the special refugees registry stops.


By the end of the seventies, the share of those moving in from Yugoslavia to Canada increased over 77% of the total immigration of Yugoslavs. It is now generally considered as economic emigration.


In the second half of the sixties and during the seventies, the number of immigrants from Yugoslavia has been increasing. That number fell to under a thousand, when the restrictions were introduced in the Canadian immigration policy. So in 1979, the first time since 1947, less than 1,000 people from Yugoslavia had immigrated to Canada. During the ninth decade annual influx of immigrants from Yugoslavia to Canada was lower than 1,000 per year. Since 1973, Canadian statistics gives more information about immigrants, about their background, education and profession. Among immigrants from Yugoslavia, there are more engineers, doctors, architects, technicians and such. It is also in accordance with Canadian immigration policy, which presses on immigration of young and educated people.


According to Canadian census of 1981, the mother tongue section was following:


- 32,210 people as Croatian,

-   6,305 people as a Serb,

-   6,720 people as Slovenian

- 10,650 people as Macedonian

- 42,635 people as Yugoslavian


Thus, the largest number of immigrants or their descendants pleaded that their mother tongue is "Yugoslav".


Since 1990, immigration of Bosniaks to Canada becomes more significant. This importance is especially visible after the changes in immigration law in 1993, when they introduced additional criteria that stimulate migration of professional and skilled people. Given the large labor supply that was created after the beginning of the aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian immigration to Canada has rapidly increased. U 1993 Bosnia and Herzegovina entered the top ten largest suppliers of skilled labor for the Canadian market. That year Canada issued more than seven thousand immigrant visas and became the first and the most important immigration country.


Judging by the plans for further employment in Canada, the Bosniaks will continue to migrate to this country. This is indicated by the migration policy that this country is conducting. Canadian immigration policy is based largely on the experiences of the United States, so that the legislation policy was made approximately at the same time as in the USA. So in this country as well, immigration is based largely on the family gatherings. Those who are immigrating without family ties, they are educated and professional immigrants. Even before 1967, when the new immigration policy was launched, primarily in the function of the economic needs of the country, Canada brought professional and highly skilled immigrants. Legislation enacted in 1967 confirms that the principles that were introduced in 1962 on immigration regulations elaborate immigration system by introducing nine criteria that carry a certain number of points for the ranking of potential immigrants.


6.3. Canadian Bosniaks


Bosnian diaspora is a term of more recent date, although before the 1990s, it existed as such in the political (Bosniaks from Sandzak in Bosnia and Turkey at the start of 20th century) and economic migration (especially in Western Europe during the 1960s and 1970’s). Greater Bosnian diaspora exists as a social phenomenon or a particular social group only since early 1990's, when large groups of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina (mostly Bosniaks) were displaced from their home country by the aggressor army and paramilitary units. Migration goals of the Bosnian diaspora were originally countries where there already have been certain groups of Bosnian citizens (Germany, Switzerland, Austria), friendly countries and countries with special historical ties with Bosnia (Turkey, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic), and traditional emigrant countries of northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands). Due to the worsening economic situation in the country part of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided, during the second half of the 1990s, to leave the country towards the countries of the "New World": USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A part of Bosnian immigrants in Germany is taking a similar move, that, due to unresolved residency status could not stay in the country or has not seen a prospect in return. Rough estimates are that there are about 1.5 to about 2 million Bosniaks in diaspora outside its home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Countries with significant Bosnian emigration: United States 250.000; Germany: 180.000; Norway 12.000, Sweden 54.000, Denmark 16.000, Holland 25.000, Switzerland 40.000, Austria 90.000, Turkey 45.000, Croatia 20.755, Canada 30.000, Australia 35.000, New Zealand 1.000, Slovenia 21.542; Macedonia 17.018, France 10.000, Great Britain 8.000, Belgium 4.000, Luxembourg 3,000, Ireland 2,000, Russia-Ukraine-Belarus 5000 immigrants.


The social and cultural lives of Canadian Bosniaks had an important place not only in Bosnian Islamic centers, but also many national associations and clubs, as well as numerous individuals.


Bosnian Islamic centers were the first places of spiritual and cultural life of Canadian Bosniaks.


The troubles that have befallen the Bosniak people in Bosnia were rounded up and united Canadian Bosniaks even more, whose entire organization and the community have the task before the Canadian authorities to protect the Bosniak national interests and the interests of BH.


Just in 1993, 2,300 Bosniaks from Bosnia and Herzegovina immigrated to Canada. These were mostly refugees. In addition to this category there are three categories of Bosniak immigrants to Canada. The first category of Bosniaks who entered Canada in the period between the 1890 to 1920 in most cases were single men, uneducated, who solely intended to earn money as soon as possible and return back to their homeland. In this first wave of immigration, Bosniaks were mostly from Herzegovina. The second category of Bosnian immigrants to Canada came after the World War II. Besides economic reasons, there were also great social and political changes resulting from the arrival of the Communists to power in the former Yugoslavia. Third-generation of immigrants, that was also the most educated, came in 60s of last century when the government of Yugoslavia approved the departure to another country for temporary work.


The most important obstacle in Bosniaks’ assimilation into the Canadian cultural mosaic, as a specific form of Canadian multiculturalism, was faith. Therefore, the organization of Bosniak Islamic centers in Canada, was of a great importance for the Bosniak entity.


According to the research of professor Emir Ramic, in 2004 there was around 30, 000 Bosniaks in Canada concentrated mainly in the South side of Ontario.


Due to unfamiliarity with the language, Bosnian refugees were forced to live with the help of the state at the very start, or accept jobs that were very poorly paid. Later this scenario changed over time. Children who came with their parents were given access to education, and many of them graduated at respectable and recognized universities. However, these children feel that Canada is their homeland, while parents continue to cultivate the unbreakable bond with Bosnia. This is where the conflict starts. The refugees are stretched between the desire to return to Bosnia and staying in Canada for economic security, desire for their children to be Bosniak-Bosnian and on the other side there is a fear of assimilation, the trauma of war. Now they have a serious conflict in front of them that must be slowly addressed and overcome. How?


They need to preserve their language, folklore, culture, religion, marriage and family. This can only be done through adequate religious, cultural and national organization of events and frequent visits to their homeland. This is one of the ways in which the Bosniak community in Canada is required to show a dignified attention and possibly direct its intellectual elite through religious, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and all other ways to develop programs to preserve the core of their homeland.


The number of Canadian Muslims, with the number of 750 000 has exceeded the number of Jews and seriously threatens to overtake the number of Presbyterians and Lutherenian. The number of Muslims in Canada has rapidly increased in the last 30 years. Here are the indicators. First Muslim presence in Canada was reported in 1871, with 13 Muslims. In 1921, there were only 478 Muslims in Canada, in 1931 there were 645 Muslims, but then it suddenly began to grow as follows: in 1981 there were 98,165 Muslims, in 1991 there were 253,260 Muslims. Islam in Canada is the largest non-Christian faith that is still growing steadily. About 150 000 Muslims live in Toronto. Muslims represent the youngest category of Canadians with an average of 28.1 years of age (Canadian average age is 37 years of age). Muslims are the most educated population in Canada (6% of Muslim population in Canada has a master's degree, more than 120,000 Muslims attended different degrees of schools in Canada, 6,310 Muslims in Canada have a doctorate degree). Canada's and at the same time North American first mosque was Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, Alberta, that was endowed in 1930, and started with a service in 1938. Canada has in total 411 Islamic buildings of which 121 are mosques, 37 Islamic schools and 253 Islamic centers. Most mosques, schools and centers are in Ontario, which is understandable because it is the most populous province.

Province of Ontario has a total of 265 Islamic buildings, mostly in southern Ontario, which is the most populated part of Ontario and Canada. Most Bosniaks live in the Gold Horseshoe i.e. from Kingston to Niagara Falls; where 64 mosques and Masjid exist. Among those 64 mosques in southern Ontario, four are Bosniak: Canada's oldest Bosnian mosque, Bosnian Islamic Centre in Etobicoke near Toronto (former Croatian mosque) where we have imam Nedzad ef Hafizović, Bosnian Islamic Centre Gazi Husref Bey in Etobicoke, where we have the chief imam of Canada Tajib ef Pašanbegović, and the Bosnian Islamic Center in Hamilton, where we have imam Ismail ef Fetić and the Canadian-Bosnian Islamic Centre in London. In the past 10 years, 26, 210 Bosnians had immigrated to Canada, of which a large number are Bosniaks. The exact number of Bosniak is still unknown. (If Bosnians account for 75% of the total number of immigrants from Bosnia, then there are 19 657, but there are no accurate records). In addition to the above, the larger groups of Bosniaks are in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Kitchener, Guelph, Windsor, St. Catherine and Niagara Falls, so hopefully there will be an endowment of new mosques and Bosniak centers. It should be noted that the Bosniaks were highly involved in the establishment of mosques in Niagara Falls, mostly because of late Hasan Karaci, where besides the mosque there is established a Bosniak Cemetery.


The oldest Bosnian Muslim immigrant in Canada is probably late Meho Hebib, who emigrated after the World War I. Another could be Ejub Reis who emigrated after the World War II, in 1947 to be exact. Ejub Reis was from Austria, where he spent 2,5 years as an English prisoner, was the only Muslim in the group of 24 Croatians. He emigrated to Halifax to as a lumberjack and says that even years later he did not encounter any Muslims. He was Haci Kerim Reis’s nephew who fled to Canada after he spent over 10 years in a Communist prison. After he arrived from Zagreb to Canada in 1968, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, started the first Muslim organization, with a very close connection with the Croats. Besides this group of Bosnian Muslims with Croatian nationality, there was a group of Bosnian Muslims who were Yugoslavs. They have not cooperated with each other because all Muslims from Croatia associated Yugoslavs and communists with the Chetniks and their fiercest enemies.





In the attempt to briefly summarize the basic characteristics of life, work and success of Canadian Bosniaks, then one could say that within this period, Bosniaks "broke the ice," they began to start their own homes, acquire property, build their mosques and national institutions in which there are more and more young families with children. It was a period of connection through sports and school, the time of a political charge and maturation, breakthrough in business and political life of Canada, but also a time of building bridges between Canada and democratic Bosnia.





Thanks to the Bosnian Islamic centers, and institutions of the chief imam of the Bosnian diaspora in Canada, the Coordinating Body of Bosniak Islamic center of south Ontario and the Islamic Community of North America, Canadian Bosniaks build awareness about Islam as the safest wall defending their potential in the Canadian cultural mosaic. At the same time awareness about Islam as the broadest and deepest differential specifics of the other is starting to grow. That is the reason why Canadian Bosniaks, in the very beginning, are expressing their national needs through religion. For Canadian Bosniaks, these institutions develop an awareness of Islam as a religion of reason and common sense, because it calls for mental freedom and the freedom of knowledge. Through its Bosniak community - the focus of the islamic character of the Bosniak figure, Canadian Bosniaks are becoming aware of the importance of Islam as an indestructible spiritual center of the Bosniak figure. Therefore, Islam as the core of all forms of Bosnian culture is not opposed to Canada's social spirit, embodied in the Canadian way of multiculturalism. Cultural mosaic is mainly Christian, so there is no reason for any kind of hatred of the subjects of the Canadian Cultural Mosaic toward Canadian Bosniaks who are no foreign body in the Canadian social system, but its constructive part.





Bosniak political community in Canada was not of such size and strength to take over the role of leader or important formative factor of Bosniak figure in Canadian Bosniaks. Intellectually scarce, politically fragmented, and nationally disoriented, burdened by paradigms and solutions that have been historically overcome, without the institutional forms of life and activities, and without institutional support and protection, the Canadian Bosnian diaspora struggled for bare physical survival. Their association with the far more numerous, older, more structured and richer Serbian and Croatian diaspora was a matter of historical reality and necessity, from which an additional splitting and doubling were drawn. Despite this fact, Canadian Bosniaks, first by the religious organization, and then by national/patriotic organization that is seen in the Congress of North America, with its branch in Canada {Congress}, are succeeding to express their individuality, speaking up in defense to their community, honor and spirituality.


The compaction of Canadian Bosniaks and their initial enlargement, particulary to express their political and national clearer view comes with the formation of the Congress of North America, with a branch in Canada, led by Professor Emir Ramic. Congress did not speak on the behalf of all Canadian Bosniaks, but tried everything it states and does to be in the interest of Bosniaks in Canada and the interests of the Bosnia and Herzegovina. Arguing that Islam is not the cause of cultural and economic stagnation of the Bosniaks, but discriminatory policy against the Bosniaks, Congress began the process of national liberation of Canadian Bosniaks. In this process special attention is paid to coherent, independent, democratic Bosnia, that is kept and witnessed by Bosniaks. Bosniaks are the guards of the Bosnian mission. For Congress, term Bosniak, is more than a regional sense, more than a geographical concept, more than cultural and historical characteristics, although it covers all of this. For Congress, Bosniak is the only real national identification. Congress is advocating for an independent Bosnia, an equality, tolerance and democracy, for all the factors in Bosnia. Hence, the Bosniak becomes the most valuable and fundamental characteristics. In its documents, Congress clearly states: "Bosnia is inseparable historical and political unit, and a Bosniak is our only national characteristics."


Congress has tried to articulate the process of understanding the Bosniak individuality and uniqueness. In particular it emphasizes the lack within the Bosniak intellectual forces that would determine the design principles of Bosniak existence - a national program. In this program, Congress considered three important matters. First, Bosnians have always understood their national position as a dialectical relationship with Bosnia. Second, in the most difficult moments of their existence, Bosniaks did not abandon the idea of multidimensional and complex religious, cultural, national, and civilizational community. Third, the Bosnians have never accepted, given their Bosnian nature and roots, the idea of national exclusivism and production of a mono-ethnic country. Bosniak circle of values are religion, nation, country.


After the aggression on Bosnia and the genocide against Bosniaks, the analysis of the Bosniak state is still missing. Bosnians are not yet democratized within themselves according to Western principles, nor morally structured according to Islamic principles. Today, Bosniak figure exists on the principle of loyalty toward individuals, but those individuals or small groups of interest are not, and could not be the basis of a society, one nation, and one country.


A prerequisite for the biological, economic and territorial recovery of the Bosniaks, the Congress sees in the strengthening of the Bosniak mind and spirit. Aggression and genocide did not destroy the spirit of the Bosniaks, but that spirit has not yet become a Bosnian spirit. The low level of national consciousness and statehood has not improved significantly even today. Congress will insist on the Bosniak self awareness plan, because the knowledge of a self means knowledge of others, distinguishing friend from enemy, good from evil.


Starting from observations on the lack of intellectual organization of the Bosniak policy, which is reflected in the political inefficiency, lack of predictions of future events and will to take own steps, which directly affects the development of insufficiency of the Bosniak national political self- consciousness and self-confidence. Bosniak Congress of North America, due to the necessity of democratization of the Bosniak nation, production analysis suggests a production of an analysis of the Bosniak situation.


Basic guidelines within the Bosniak analysis or analysis of the situation are:


Europe is not united on Christianity as a worldview and ideology, but as a community of free people, cultures and individuals, without limits, myths and prejudices towards diversity.

Bosnian environment remained anti Bosnian, anti Bosniak and anti Islamic. This environment is made of Serbs and Croats, with their grand national plans and designs.

Awareness of a self, its core, the Bosnians did not reach on a collective level even after the aggression and genocide. External orientation is still dominant.

After the aggression and genocide, Bosnians found themselves in a situation to make fateful decisions about their future, without the pressure from big powers and the world. This represents a problem for us, because for a long time someone else was deciding about the Bosniak country. The world has already said it: The current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is untenable because the state is dysfunctional. The basis of the current dysfunctional constitution (Dayton constitution) is an international treaty (Paris Agreement), which is the result of aggression and genocide, which was never ratified by the victim (the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina), so that the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still legitimate (legal), but only suspended.


The world has clearly defined who the victim of aggression and genocide is, and which side is the aggressor and perpetrator of genocide. The Dayton constitution was declared dysfunctional by the "world", and the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is suspended. Without the Dayton Constitution there is no "Serbian Republic". In the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina there is no "Serbian Republic". Venice Commission proclaimed Dayton constitution dysfunctional and thus the "Serbian Republic". Venice Commission, Europe, America, and the world, cannot abolish the "Serbian Republic" because they do not have right to do so without a requirement of Bosnians as victims of aggression and genocide.


The U.S. Congress passed a resolution on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the genocide crimes in Srebrenica and once again confirmed who the victim and who the aggressor and the perpetrators of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina are. Europe and America are making recommendations to change the Dayton Constitution, which leads into the direction where Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of no single ethnic or any other division, and to abolish the "Serbian Republic".

The Hague tribunal makes the acquittal of the commander of the Army of BH, and thus the world once again confirms the legality of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There are no more military threats from Serbia, in circumstances where Serbia was militarily defeated. Serbia is faced with a lawsuit against the International Court of Justice for aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Genocide has been documented and accepted after the conviction of some individuals in the Hague tribunal. Serbia was forced to judge some of the criminals of the Srebrenica genocide themselves.

There is no military threat from the Croats. Today, the head of the Croatian government supports the government of a united Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnians have full freedom not to only dictate the terms of their future. Bosnians will get the most from their requirements, so they can never again say that something in the future is a result of an aggression and genocide, or the will of the world. Bosniaks were victims of genocide and their rights will be achieved through the mechanism of complete freedom in negotiations. This is the only way where America and Europe wash away their responsibility for genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the long history, people of a single nation did not have such favorable conditions as the Bosniaks have now. Jews had the similar support from the US because of the genocide during the World War II. If the request is the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosniaks will get it, just like the Jews got Israel. Bosniaks would have the advantage since they are asking for a country that was taken away from them as a result of an aggression and genocide, and not at the expense of some other nations and foreign territories. What is a Bosniak project for Bosnia and Herzegovina? We know what those who committed the genocide want. They want ethnic state in divided Bosnia and Herzegovina with the right to secede, something they will never achieve. Croats want a unified state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the only way they can ensure the return of sovereignty that they had in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What is it that Bosniaks want? In response to a question in which the Bosniaks came out of the aggression and their situation today, the Congress of North America suggests

- In the field of diaspora, the formation of the World Congress and the production department of the Cultural Community of Bosniaks Regeneration and Division Bosniak Society, with at least one department in North America, Australia and Europe.

- In the field of the homeland, the organization of the new Bosniak Parliament in Sarajevo that will produce an institution for development of the Bosniak national program.





Over one hundred years of evolution through various forms of Bosniak organization, through preservation, improvement and presentation of all the values of the Bosniak national identity in the best way, Canadian Bosniaks were the ambassadors of the values, achievements and accomplishments of a Bosniak. At the same time they promoted a positive form of assimilation, that is, the degree of incorporated Bosniak community in the Canadian cultural mosaic. Canadian Bosniaks have clearly demonstrated, with their actions, another value of Bosnian diaspora. Throughout the past century, Canadian Bosniaks remained faithful to a single, independent, democratic, tolerant and open country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to open and free civil society, in which each nation and the citizen enjoy equality, peace, and freedom. They have, with their actions, spread the truth about the events in Bosnia during the last decades of the 20th century in the name of achieving justice for the victims of aggression and genocide, those horrible crimes against humanity, peace and freedom in Europe and worldwide. Without justice, truth and punishment of initiators and implementers of crime, there is no true reconciliation between entities and people in BH.

On the basis of the achievements of generations that have gone through the work and activities of Canadian Bosniak organizations, which had learned to fit into the Canadian cultural mosaic, and to simultaneously preserve and strengthen the Bosniak national peculiarities and values, we should turn toward the processes of transformation and reorganization of all the Bosniak institutions and organizations. Without the awareness of belonging to Bosniak ethnicity, each individual upon arrival to the Canadian cultural mosaic is facing the temptation of losing its national identity that has multiple negative human and existential repercussions. Awareness of national particularities, Bosniaks are motivated to come together and build national institutions that will preserve and strengthen common values: religion, language, traditions, customs, and culture.


Canadian Bosniaks still do not have answers to basic questions of Bosniak existence and Bosniak essentials.


Canadian Boaniaks still do not have answers to following questions:


How many existing Bosniak institutions protect and enhance the Bosniak value and uniqueness in Canada?


What is the percentage of Bosniaks who actively participate in the construction and the improvement of national, religious and patriotic institutions?


By which methods, concepts and activities to animate the Bosniaks to work in national, religious and patriotic institutions of the diaspora, especially youth, intelligence and women?


Is the Bosniak national community in Canada willing to, in addition to conservation of the Bosniak national identity, work on the promotion of basic values of Bosnia and Herzegovina - multicultural, multi religious and multinational society and country of Bosnia and Herzegovina?


Can the Bosniak community in Canada avoid the pitfalls of ghettoization and detention in itself, first through an opening to other ethnic communities, especially those who, in addition to the Bosniaks, consist and represent Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of the traumatic and tragic consequences of the past?


Answers to the questions above will lay out the future of the Bosniak national organizations in Canada. Without the awareness of belonging to Bosniak ethnicity, Bosnians are facing challenges of the loss of their identity. Without the identity, Bosniaks are faceless amorphous mass that can be formed by anybody according to their discretion, according to their needs and goals, and according to their interests.


Bosniaks’ losses during the aggression and genocide are 10% of the population, half of the remaining population was deported from their own country to worldwide destinations and the rest of the quarter of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Large parts of the Bosniak people, of whom the Sandzak is the largest group, are in an unfavorable political, economic and cultural position and environments, without the possibility of direct connection with the homeland and its people. The destruction of Bosniak material goods is enormous.


A prerequisite for the biological, economic and territorial recovery of Bosniaks is to strengthen their mind and spirit.


Within the Bosniak people there are no intellectual forces that would determine the basic principles of Bosniak survival, a national development strategy based on realistic analysis of the national situation. The reason for this is the lack of space for the development of cultural tolerance and dialogue within which dispute between the ideas does not mean personal disagreement. Bosniaks need linkages to the principle of equal opportunities for all. Bosniaks are the keepers of the Bosnian mission. Bosniak is more than a regional sense, more than a geographical concept, more than cultural and historical specificities, although in itself, it covers all of this. Bosniak is really the only national identification. Bosniak is a fundamental characteristic of the idea of Bosnia and the Bosnian spirit.


In the process of articulating Bosniak individuality and specificity particularly emphasizes the lack of Bosniak intellectual force that would draft a set of principles of Bosniak existence. In the same process of articulating Bosniak values value, political and cultural space are missing, within which the national position of Bosniaks is refined through a dialectical Bosnian mediation, through the acceptance of complex Bosnia and Herzegovina and its society, through the rejection one dimensional Bosnian country and society.


Bosniaks still do not have the analysis of the Bosniak situation. They still are not democratized within themselves according to Western principles, nor morally structured according to Islamic moral principles. Today Bosniak being exists on the principle of loyalty to an individual or a small group of interest, and those are not, and could never form the basis of society, nations, people, or nations. The energy that is liberated within the Bosniaks in the aggression and genocide did not turn into a new quality situation. This energy has not received a new form, life has not improved, hopes were not realized, the reality is superior to the illusion, and the energy is dissipated. Bosniak situation has never been more difficult, although the Bosniak position has never been better. The relationship between the prominent position and the catastrophic situation is the basis for any future Bosniak work. Often-expressed statement that the Bosniaks today, for the first time an independent and free nation appears as a phrase. Freedom and independence make a new Bosniak definition of themselves, but not redefining the inherited. Definition used to be, because all previous definitions either extorted from somebody else, or mimetic, or ideological, and opportunistic response to say the least. Today Bosniak have a new national, spiritual and cultural self-definition in front of them.


What is Bosniak? Is it ethnic, national or political category, or all of this? Are Bosniaks only Muslims, as we now days think and proclaim? Has the change of name from Muslim to Bosniak only been the name change or empowerment of the old political stance on the autonomy of Bosnia? Content of the term Bosniak is obviously not scientifically defined. These are questions to which there is no response in the homeland.


The power of the Bosniak nation is in a critical self-reflection. The truth is, the only one who are, and Bosnians are today, can afford it. Regardless of those favorable position, there is no such a mindset within the Bosniaks. On the contrary, there is too much romanticism, self-glorification, arrogance and sense of self-superiority. The direction of a good position and the poor condition of Bosniaks is inevitable in the very near future. To reach this goal it is enough to accept the principles of political liberalism, democratization of society and executed individualization of its holders, where in an open and fair competition, on the historical scene, all the forces that achieve its goals through fast work and quality, can participate, rather than family or clannish relations. This would mean the reconstruction of the Bosniak society and its immanent measures of value as a meaning of liberation and the emergence of new energy. The assumption of all of this is that the democratization of the Bosniak nation and society, individual initiative, freedom, rule of law, but also the obligation, to establish the legal framework of action that would allow the promotion of work and quality of entrepreneurship and lasting values.


Starting from a lack of intellectual organization of the Bosniak policy, which is reflected in the political inefficiency, lack of predictions of future events and the ability to take their own steps, which directly affects the insignificant development of the Bosniak national political self consciousness and confidence, Canadian Bosniaks, with the aim of democratizing the Bosniak nation, need to work on the analysis of Bosniak situation.


Basic guidelines within the Bosniak analysis or analysis of the situation are:


Europe is not united on Christianity as a worldview and ideology, but as a community of free people, cultures and individuals, without limits, myths and prejudices towards diversity.

Bosnian environment remained anti Bosnian, anti Bosniak and anti Islamic. This environment is made of Serbs and Croats, with their grand national plans and designs.

Awareness of a self, its core, the Bosnians did not reach on a collective level even after the aggression and genocide. External orientation is still dominant.

After the aggression and genocide, Bosnians found themselves in a situation to make fateful decisions about their future, without the pressure from big powers and the world. This represents a problem for us, because for a long time someone else was deciding about the Bosniak country.


The world has already said it: The current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is untenable because the state is dysfunctional. The basis of the current dysfunctional constitution (Dayton constitution) is an international treaty (Paris Agreement), which is the result of aggression and genocide, which was never ratified by the victim (the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina), so that the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still legitimate (legal), but only suspended.


The world has clearly defined who the victim of aggression and genocide is, and which side is the aggressor and perpetrator of genocide. The Dayton constitution was declared dysfunctional by the "world", and the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is suspended. Without the Dayton Constitution there is no "Serbian Republic". In the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina there is no "Serbian Republic". Venice Commission proclaimed Dayton constitution dysfunctional and thus the "Serbian Republic". Venice Commission, Europe, America, and the world, cannot abolish the "Serbian Republic" because they do not have right to do so without a requirement of Bosnians as victims of aggression and genocide. In the long history, people of a single nation did not have such favorable conditions as the Bosniaks have now.





The experience of Muslims in the Canadian cultural mosaic with special reference to Bosniaks.








3. SEX?


























































Topics about the Bosniak diaspora have been covered in our literature, mostly in fragments, casually and indiscriminately. The first problem we face in the writing and thinking about this topic is the lack of reliable indicators and data that may be a relevant source for analysis and elaboration of such an important topic. Hence, this kind of text is based more on personal impressions, impressions and knowledge of the situation on the basis of the general trends in the diaspora, since no individual or institution, as far as I know, have not seriously researched the situation in the Bosniak diaspora. The fact is that even the actual numbers are based on assumptions, makes it difficult to objectively analyze this problem. Therefore, the task that was set before me is extremely difficult, and it is understandable that this text has no pretensions to offer a well-rounded analysis of this topic.


The history of the Bosnian diaspora begins with the Austro-Hungarian period in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1878). Then, the Bosniaks started to massively immigrate to areas controlled by the Ottoman Empire. In the early 20th century, a group of Bosniaks from eastern Herzegovina immigrated to America. Most of them settled in the Chicago area in 1902. In 1906 they formed, "Dzemijjetu-l-hajrijjeh - mutually reinforcing Muslim society." Nevertheless, this organization remained largely local in character and it was gathering Bosniaks who lived in the area. At the end of World War II, due to circumstances that have arisen as a result of the war, several thousand Bosniaks emigrated from Bosnia. Since the emigration was treated as "hostile", nothing was written about it in historical and ethnographic literature. Dr. Mustafa Imamovic highlighted its activities in his book "Bosniaks in emigration - monographs of Bosnian views between 1955 - 1967". Most of the economic immigrants, who emigrated from Bosnia, from the late 1960s, lived in the German and English speaking parts of the world. The sudden increase in the number of Bosniaks in diaspora was caused by the aggression on their home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995). Diaspora community, in general, has a real meaning only when their homeland is strong, powerful and organized. The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not, unfortunately, support Bosnian diaspora. Diaspora was not offered educational, cultural, political, and may even say religious programs of the institutions in their home country.


Significant organizational forms in the Bosniak diaspora emerged at the end of the 20th century, in parallel with the difficult years of the aggression against Bosnia. Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the 20th century, did not have full national and political subjectivity, and it is understood that it could not establish connections with its citizens living abroad. Therefore, the Bosnian diaspora was formed with the religious identity and poor cultural patterns, and gathered around itself powerful figures that acknowledged the value of the Bosnian Muslim cultural-historic circle. In organizational terms, the Islamic community is the only stable structure among the Bosniaks in diaspora, through Islamic centers, which are mainly related by the country where they live. Naturally, all communities are not equally well organized, nor all of them achieve the satisfactory results. The fact that the Islamic community is the only organization that connects Bosniaks shows that they still preserve their identity through religious forms. It further shows the scarcity of national, cultural and educational institutions and programs that have special implications on the development of the Bosnian diaspora and the lack of recognition of their national and cultural identity.


In recent years, the number of Masjid and mosque developments has increased, Islamic education has improved, and increased number of members, contributed to the development of building constructions for Bosnian embassies, supporting diverse religious, cultural, national, political, economic and other activities among Bosniaks in diaspora but also in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based on these indicators, significant improvements in the affirmation of religious and national identity of Bosniaks are noticeable. The backbone of the organizational structure of the Bosnian diaspora is the Islamic community and its centers. Islamic centers in the Bosniak diaspora mainly operate in countries with developed democracy, stable economic and political relations in society, in countries that respect human and religious rights.


In the past, the Bosniak diaspora faced some difficult circumstances in the pursuit for organizational forms, educational, cultural and religious programs, political activities and that it did not have, its intellectual elite that was able to organize and develop activities through these parameters. Secondly, the Bosnian diaspora is relatively weak diaspora. It is consisted mostly of people of middle and lower social class, which can meet their own existential needs, but their donations for the wider community are modest. The composition of the Bosnian diaspora is still not much better. There are few wealthy individuals, a lot of poor people, a lot of unfortunate people that were forced to deport from Bosnia. Third, unlike other people from former Yugoslavia, rare Bosnian political dissidents were not with their people. The situation in this regard has not changed significantly.


Many of the problems, that people in diaspora faced, have been created due to the spontaneous emergence and development of Jama’at, wheeling and dealing of political and other cultural, singing and humanitarian envoys in the Jama’ats, Bosniak and indigenous clubs, charitable and other organizations. With improving economic and political conditions and with stabilizing the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, situation in Bosniak diaspora also stabilizes. The imams and the congregation had to take the most important role in the diaspora, even the obligation that each country has towards its citizens. While our neighboring countries are fighting for their citizens and their children by organizing additional classes from the national group of subjects, the Jama’at takes this commitment to Bosniak children. In centers where the congregation is gathered, there is a parallel affirmation of religious and national identity. The careless attitude of the country representatives to organize additional classes for children from Bosnia-Herzegovina is disturbing.


Education is the main source for the development and affirmation of national, cultural and religious identity. A powerful and designed educational system is the most important guarantee of conservation of the entire Bosniak identity. Indicators on the assessment of students originating from Bosnia at the universities in the United States are encouraging. Bosniak organizations estimate about a few thousand students. On the other hand, indicators show that the percentage of the German-speaking Bosniak students is still insignificant.


Another important segment for the development of the Bosnian diaspora is a joint program that needs to be implemented and applied by the Islamic community. Although Bosniaks are living in countries where different languages are spoken, religious classes in Jama’ats, despite some suggestions that it should be done in the language of the country where people live, should be held in Bosnian language. Language is a communication framework that will preserve our uniqueness and preserve the relationship among Bosnians that their education, as well as European identity, develop in different countries. Having religious classes in Bosnian language is the connection between the third and next generations of Bosniaks who will lose their identity if they forget the language, suffer from an identity crisis or fully assimilate into the society in which they live. That is why the Islamic community has an important role in the development of linguistic and cultural identity.


In our lives, symbols play an important role. Science, art, nations and religions have their symbols. Symbols are an integral part of every national and religious identity. Symbols integrate individuals into the community, an individual often identifies with the community through symbols. The oldest symbols - symbols that indicate the centurial Bosniak presence in Europe and America are the tombstones, cemeteries in Austria, America and elsewhere. They are specific, especially older ones, and compared to other Muslim cemetery, they reflect the Bosniak Muslim identity. Bosniaks, as a religious symbol, regardless of all the disputes, took a crescent and a star with a green banner. This is confirmed by photographs made at the annual meeting in Chicago in the twenties of 20th century. This symbol was developed as an official symbol of the Islamic community. In the modern world, Bosniaks in diaspora decorate the most common neighborhood mosques and areas where they pray the way in which their ancestors from Bosnia had for centuries. Because of this, all of the Bosniak mosques are recognizable regardless of which country they are in. Rare mosque with a minaret, which Bosniaks managed to build outside of Bosnia, show loyalty to their religious identity. Naturally, the minaret in the Diaspora has a significant role, it is more symbolic, it has a strong spiritual and psychological support as well as it is rooted in the country and society where it is located. It is the witness of the existence of Muslims in a particular area and the message to parents to educate their children about time and place in which the generation of enthusiastic imams and the members of Jama’at built the object with great sacrifice. The mosque in diaspora has a "more significant" role than in countries where Muslims are the majority. The mosque is a place for the affirmation of religious, cultural, and linguistic identity. It should assist the individual to overcome "gaps" that exist between his identity, which is acquired in the social circles he lives in, and identities, which are inherited from the parents. That is why the symbols are important for the development of the identity of every man. Unfortunately, the Bosniak symbols and symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina, due to known circumstances, are not sufficiently developed in our nation. This awareness should be developed.







There are many factors that have led to distortions in the value system of the Canadian Bosniak diaspora. One of the major factors is the lack of an adequate response to the challenges that the community faces. Today's parents are less able to fulfill the role of guidance in understanding the environment in which their children are growing up. The values underlying the Bosniak identity, which are under the pressure of the environment and contemporary challenges, are collapsing. This is evident in all age groups; so we can see that the parents speak English with their children and also complain that their child speaks very poor Bosnian. Generally, the youth looks confused and ashamed of their own identity (complex of lower values), so they choose to identify with the collective identity of the environment in which they live, while others would like to form their own values as a system that is reflected in the estate of expensive cars, attractive look and partying, and night clubs, in which they see the only meaning of life. When parents discover that their child visits the places where they can easily access psycho stimulants, and that the child has become a victim of alcohol and drugs, then we all would have given and done it all to save him, but it is usually too late.


The good news is that there are a number of families that have successfully responded to the challenges and overcame this crisis and the identity of their children is unquestionable. Bosniak youth in diaspora is left on its own; the family is unable to respond to current challenges and we do not have the appropriate institutions to deal with the problems of the youth.


The survival of the community and the prevention of assimilation requires a systematic approach to this problem in order to affirm and maintain the identity of future generations.


Four main components of our identities that make us Bosniaks are: religion, language, culture, and history. Since the Bosniaks, wherever they live, link their identity to Bosnia, in this context, we examine this question.


Diaspora without a home country is like "the tree without its roots". If we lose the home country (either physically or emotionally) then we lose our identity. Loss of the homeland would mean the loss of the language, declaration, and often the loss of the right to religion, because the homeland is the one that guaranties the preservation of the identity through its mechanisms.

It is clear that the faith is the main component, and it comes in the first place; without it we would have lost the world that represents the greatest loss. However, it is clear that faith is the only component that distinguishes us from our neighbors, but in our case, when it comes to identity itself the faith is not sufficient for that confirmation. The second set of components of identity is one that ties us to our country of origin and, therefore, we are obliged to raise our children in the spirit of Islam, we must also teach them the Bosnian language and instill them with a sense of belonging to the Bosniak nation and love towards Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of what point of the globe we live in. By losing any of the above components, we lose our identity.


Bosnian language, as one of the main determinants of Bosniak identity, is often disputed by our eastern and western neighbors, and on occasion, and we ourselves do not attribute the necessary significance to it. Language is the backbone of the nation and thus the country and therefore we can put equal sign; language = nation = country, without the language other two are untenable.


If you try to talk to a Bosniak youth in Canada in Bosnian language, you will come across difficulties; they will not understand you. Why is this? They had no systematic approach to language learning, but learning and talking in Bosnian came down to family and small number of schools in Jama’ats, which is not enough. This makes the communication with Bosnia and strengthening of fraternal relations very hard - the language barrier.


It is common that even the first generation who came to Canada speak in English with each other rather than in Bosnian, and we do not even have to talk about the preschoolers who had immigrated to Canada in that age. This begs for the logical question, why is this so? The only answer can be the underdevelopment of the awareness of their identity. How is it possible to expect that tomorrow's youth teach their children the Bosnian language?


The religious classes in Jama’ats should be held in Bosnian language. Language is a communication framework that will preserve our uniqueness and preserve the relationship among Bosnians that their education, as well as European identity, develop in different countries. Having religious classes in Bosnian language is the connection between the third and next generations of Bosniaks who will lose their identity if they forget the language, suffer from an identity crisis or fully assimilate into the society in which they live. That is why the Islamic community has an important role in the development of linguistic and cultural identity.


Diaspora needs Bosnia and Herzegovina, and BH needs the diaspora. Why does a diaspora need BH? To preserve our identity, and because only with the preserved identity we can help Bosnia and Herzegovina and ourselves.


What our community urgently needs to do is to find a systemic response to current and upcoming challenges that are before our children and grandchildren. We need to educate the younger generations that will be able to raise their children and grandchildren in the spirit of our values.


As Canadian Bosniak community settled its roots in Canada's cultural mosaic, it is essential to have the infrastructure for the upcoming generation. Immigrant generation brought with them the language, culture, religion, etc. In order to meet the needs of this population, there are established religious and national institutions to according to the needs of this population. The ones who were born in diaspora should have the availability to institutions that would upgrade them with what their parents or grandparents brought from Bosnia. So in addition to existing institutions, we need educational work in the first place, which will guarantee the preservation of identity of our youth.


Remembrance is a mean of "survival" and an important element in building the identity of the individual and the community, therefore we must learn from our history because the only by remembrance we can protect ourselves from evil. The goal is to build a culture of remembrance and transfer it to younger generations primarily through adequate education. But knowledge alone is not determinative factor in our identity. Unlike knowledge, remembrance is a part of us because we have the ability to engage the emotions. Memory has the function to ensure the identity in a way to evoke a common history with which we can identify ourselves with the various commemoration ceremonies and other means of transmitting cultural values.


The causes of the genocide against Bosniaks are, in general, ideological and conquest in character, with a goal to completely destroy the Bosniak people. Therefore, the new coming generations must have the infrastructure through which it will be distributed the image of its history and genocide that will be shown at schools, in college, at work, in society; the truth about the atrocities and crimes. Never forget, just remember and warn!


Our primary mission is to rise generations who will be in a position, based on our values, to produce and rise a new generation of Bosniaks Muslims in Canada. To achieve this, it is necessary to convince our people that unless we work together and unless we do not socialize through our institutions, we will not be able to preserve our identity, which is already severely compromised. We must not let our children forget our faith, Bosnian language, culture, sense of national belonging, and to love Bosnia and Herzegovina.









Within the research of the experience of Canadian Bosniaks in the Canadian cultural mosaic attained in ten Canadian cities and cities worldwide, in scientific - research sample of 100 Bosniaks from different social, sexual, educational, and ideological structures, we determined the following:


1. 96% of respondents considered that the Jama’at is the most organized, the steadiest and most effective form of organization of Bosniaks in Canada, that can preserve and strengthen the multidimensional Bosniak entity, which is bounded by Islam as their spiritual component, that include: Bosniak ethnicity, Bosniak history, culture, traditions, customs, Bosnian language, and patriotism towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.


2. 89% of respondents considered that the main tasks of the Jama’at are: protect yourself, your family, your people, your nation and your religion from evil, injustice, and falsehood. Raise and educate your children according to Islam and preserve and strengthen the Islamic spiritual component of the Bosniak multidimensional beings and present Islam in Canada as a religion of peace, tolerance, respect, acceptance, and recognition of others.


3. 94% of respondents believe that strengthening the higher forms of Islamic institutions can solve the division among Canadian Bosniaks within the religion. Division within the Jama’at and between Jama’ats is a major problem, not just in the process of preserving and strengthening the Islamic component of the Bosniaks, but also in preserving and strengthening the multidimensional Bosniak national identity in general. In this sense, it should consider the formation of the Islamic Community of Bosniaks Canada.


4. 78% of respondents feel that the situation of religious personnel in the Canadian Bosniak community is unsatisfactory. There are too few religious personnel with university degrees. There is a lack of consistent personnel policies in this area. Also, it lacks a clear criterion regarding the election of imam.


5. 89% considered that the basic problem of Canadian Bosniaks in the proper understanding of Islam, which madhhab to follow and what is the correct form of the practice of Islam. This leads to confusion of Bosniaks that are seeking a clear explanation on this issue.


6. 86% of respondents assessed the role of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina as positive. The role of this community is assessed positively not only to strengthen the Islamic component of the Bosniak beings, but also in the process of strengthening the overall national Bosniak multidimensional beings and the idea of Bosnia and Bosnian spirit, that Bosnian road to the religious, ethnic and cultural dialogue, which in the modern world is called multiculturalism, and in Canada it is called a cultural mosaic.


7. 73% of respondents believe that reforms in the religious life of Canadian Bosniaks are not enough. The continuation of reforms in this area is needed. In particular, the methods for overcoming the division within the Jama’at, between Jama’ats, and between different Islamic organizations, are needed.



8. 91% of respondents believe that parents as the first and most important teachers and mentors are most responsible for the Islamic upbringing of children.


9. 87% of respondents believe that family is the basic cell and pillar of the Islamic community. However, families in the West are not the same as families in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In parallel with that, Jama’at in the West is not the same as the Jama’at in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this sense, we are looking to change the method and content of Jama’at, especially religious classes. Primarily, we need to start studying in the mother tongue within the Bosniak Jama’at because children communicate mostly in English and they are threatened by the assimilation and oblivion. In this sense, it is supported not only to maintain religious classes in our language, but also the opening of schools for learning the Bosnian language alongside with Jama’at in which it would be, in addition to mother tongue, studied the Bosniak and Bosnian history, traditions and cultures.


10. 76% of respondents consider that the relationship between the Jama’at and other forms of religious organization in Canada and the Bosniaks Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not satisfactory.



11. 79% of respondents believe that imams are not motivated enough to work. At the same time 82% of respondents believe that imams should have a highly professional qualifications to perform their duties.


12. 80% of respondents believe that Jama’at committees should choose imams. The same percentage believes that only Canadian diaspora should elect their mufti.


13. 76% of respondents believe that the Bosniaks are not as divided as much as they are disconnected.


14. 91% of respondents consider that it is necessary to have political organization of Bosniaks in Canada, totally separate from religion and religious organizations and communities.


15. 97% of respondents believe that the role of Bosniak intelligence in the development of the Bosnia Jama’at is weak. Bosniak intellectuals have not yet recognized the evil and criminal, are not yet on the same side with the victims; they are mostly quiet, some even criticize Bosniaks and Bosnia in the papers. As intellectuals can not be an excuse for politicians and their disastrous moves, then intellectuals can not be left without a moral and professional responsibility for their ideas on the basis of which someone else is working or not working. Many "intellectuals", the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina call a "primitive tribal conflict." If the aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a "tribal conflict", then "civilized people" really need to be afraid of conflict, in which the “civilized society” will participate.


16. 86% of respondents believe that no one can accuse Bosniaks because they express their own symbols and the importance of identity, their beliefs, thoughts or beliefs.


17. 84% of respondents believe that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom to receive and pass on the information and ideas without the involvement of public authorities. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.


18. 89% of respondents considered that the Bosniak endowment is the most reliable economic resource of Bosniak people. It is accumulated for hundreds of years for the economic support of religious and social needs of Bosniaks. To deprive the Bosniaks endowment means to deprive them of their economic resources. Endowment is used for maintenance of the religious needs of Bosniaks, for the maintenance of Islam as a firm constant of Bosniak beings. Infringement of the endowment actually violates Bosniak’s right to manifest one's religion, that is a crime of genocide that even today is being carried out.


19. 95% of respondents believe that some form of general Bosniak People's Congress should be made, that would adopt a resolution that would require the Bosniaks to have their right to use its national resources returned, including an endowment property. Because the goal to suppress the endowment is at the same time suppressing of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Without a mosque there are no prayers, without prayers there is no Muslims, without Islam there is no Bosniaks, without Bosniaks there is no Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main objective of the new resolution all Bosniak parliament would be to leave a written historical evidence of the crime of genocide against Bosniaks, evidence of hypocritical attitude towards Bosniaks, proof of Bosniak strength and their ability to withstand enormous pressure, just as it suits the people of one country.





Today, when the relation between the Muslim world and the West is very delicate, when besides nation mixing, cultures, religions and civilizations, we still have great prejudice and misunderstanding, the material, organizational, and professional strengthening of Bosniak Jama’at in Canada that is a very important task and goal. Bosnians were the victims of lies and untruths. We are like that because others want us to be like it, and partly because we ourselves do not know what we want. Bosniaks see their future in Canada, but if a lie is repeated a hundred times, and the truth not once; the Bosniaks will not have a future in Canada.


Jama’at, as the basis of the Islamic community of Bosniaks in Canada should publicly tell the truth. To expand the truth is the imperative for the religious people. The mission and goal of reformed Jama’at would be just that. Modern Jama’at in addition to standard functions should deal with: the study of Islam, its culture and civilization, providing services to the young and old Bosniaks in terms of their education and to break down stereotypes related to Islam, preserve and strengthen the Bosniak national being. Jama’at should be a place where Bosniaks seek answers about Islam. They should cooperate with other Jama’ats and cherish good relations with other Islamic and other religious communities in Canada.


Jama’at should be open and cooperate with the media, to have transparency and communication. The direction of Jama’at is supposed to be confined to the sphere of influence where Jama’at exists in Canada and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Work locally, think globally.


Jama’at should be pulled away from the uniformity and offer Bosniaks in Canada the teachings of Islam in an interesting manner.

Jama’at should publish their own newsletters and publish them publicly. Jama’at should take measures to protect its members from possible diseases that are spreading in the Canadian society.


Jama’at should return the Bosniak his confidence, as Allah's regent on earth, who is responsible. Jama’at needs to fight against the Islamic and the Bosniak passiveness. Jama’at needs to raise free Bosniaks congregation, spiritually powerful to draw the truth from falsehood. Jama’at needs to spread Islam as the process of establishing the real peace based on togetherness of civilizations, not on their conflict. Jama’at should free the Bosniaks from the blind reliance on someone, which is the easiest and weakest solution, which leads to destruction.


Bosniak brotherhood, Bosnian dialogue, destroying more than a hundred different divisions within the Bosniak national identity on the basis of Islam, and developed responsibility before God are the key activities of the modern Jama’at in Canada.


“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted”. Al-Hujurat 13.


People have always traveled a lot. They moved from place to place, country to country. The civilizations were formed and civilizations disappeared. In particular, the Muslims were forced into migration. There is hardly a prophet that did not perform Hijrah. Some would be returned, and others forever left their homeland. The most famous is the Hijrah of the last Prophet Muhammad saas from Mecca to Medina. Migration of Muslims has continued even after the death of Muhammad saas to the present day. Today we are witnessing perhaps the greatest migration of Muslims in history. There are few countries from which Muslims are not moving.


That is the situation with the Bosniak people. Bosniaks have actually been in motion for centuries. During the last war almost entire population was moved. Huge number of Bosniaks ended up in Western countries. No one, of course, was prepared for it, and the majority of Bosniaks experienced a real shock when they met with Western cultures. Some of the Bosniaks still remain in shock.


For true believers there was no doubt. Aware of the messages from the verses of the introductory part, they still know how to behave themselves. In this orientation, important place is taken by the following words of Allah: Say, "O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah." But if they turn away, then say, "Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]."Ali Imran 64. Let us mention here the following verse, or part of the verse:” And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty”. Al Maida 2.


Canada in which we live is filled with different challenges and tasks, needs and expectations. It seems that this generation of Muslims, in Canada, are especially exposed to great challenges and tasks. Is it enough to mention the challenges of life as strangers far from home anyway, and the homeland? Is it sufficient to say that we have a task, to live in the spirit of Islam, the Quran and Sunnah? But is it so? If not, how is it?


It is certainly necessary, at the beginning, at least briefly, to explain these terms and concepts, what is integration, what insulation and what is assimilation?


Integration is a sociological term used to indicate the involvement of different ethnic and religious elements of the population in a community, state or union. Integration means equal opportunities and rights for all members of society.


Isolation is the process of separation from someone or something or others, such situations where a person or a group separate itself from all others.


Assimilation is a sociological term used to describe a process in which the dominant cultural groups absorb individuals or groups. This term is most often mentioned when talking about immigrants in new countries, where they meet and communicate with others, they change and become more and more as their host. When individuals (or groups) desire to leave at least some traces of their previous culture, religion or tradition, etc., while the process develops in stages, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. When the old members do not recognize the new members of a society, then we have a full assimilation.


Justifiably, we can raise the question:  in which process are the Bosniaks in Canada; if it is the process of integration, what needs to be done to improve it even more and possibly accelerate; if it is the process of isolation, what is needs to be done in order to 'get away' if, God forbid, it is the process of assimilation; what is needs to be done to make slow down this trend and then stopped? This is for Bosniaks in Canada very important, so important that every day we ask where and in what direction we go, which process do we belong to. What is with the Bosniak identity we belong to? Is the Bosniak tradition and culture fading away? Are we losing the Bosniak nation / nationality, that we hardly returned? Is the Bosnian faith to which we belong disappearing? Sure, there are many other issues that should be validly answered to, and these are the key ones.


I will cite at least one verse and the hadith of the Prophet, marked in this context, Allah tells us to hold on to the right faith, and the 153rd verse of Surah Al-En'am, says: And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous”.


In late February, 10th year of Hijrah, 632 b.c., Muhammad saas carried out the last and remissive hadith in which, among other things said: "I leave you with what will lead you, the Book of God, which will, if faithfully followed always keep you from straying from the right path, the path of justice and truth. This book is clear and positive, that Allah has revealed. You have before you my whole life, my words and my actions. Everything I said and did, I tried to be in complete harmony with God's command”. So, wherever we are and regardless of any environment we live in, we accept to live in the spirit of Islam - the right way on the basis of the main sources: the Koran and the Sunnah.


More than ever before, Canadian Bosniaks should see the importance of its relationship to their sources, traditions and identity. Here's how the famous contemporary Islamic scholar S.H. Nasr sees the traditional interpretations of Islam, Islam in the framework of tradition. He says: "Traditional Islam includes not only the Qur'an and the Hadith, which is actually a tree of Islam, but all verbal and written religious traditions, interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, all reaffirming the truth of science, opinions, art. Traditional Islam is the one that blooms on this tree, which grows on the tree through all of its branches. We cannot say that ''sitting'' on the one branch is Islam, while others are not. Tree roots, branches, Islam is all of it. There are no branches that will survive without trees and roots, nor it is good to have a tree and a root without branches”.


Bosniak famous scholar, late Mehmed Handzic, in one of his works, written in 1943, entitled "Preservation of Muslim customs”, says:" One of the important duties of every Muslim is to keep Muslim customs, and to always keep them, and to stay away and avoid any non-Muslim custom, of any kind. Muslim customs are sometimes the religious laws, and sometimes they are strong fences that keep the religious precepts, that keep them from falling apart. Our faith demands that we do not accept any customs that serve as distinguishing characteristics of other faiths.


Muhammad saas said: "Differentiate from the infidels!" In this hadith Prophet requires from us that we do not accept any non-Muslim traditions, which serve as the exclusive characteristics of non-Muslims, and requires from us to be different from non-Muslims. It is very important for thing for the community. It holds the community as a whole and it holds its independence. By leaving it, the community begins to dissipate; a unit starts to fall apart. Conversely, by strictly holding on to it, we maintain and strengthen our community and unity. "


It is important to properly integrate into Canadian society in which we live and work. We recall, at this point, Ian Assman’s claims that with the cultural memory said: "People do not disappear by biological extinction, but by the loss of identity and assimilation." A small community, such as Bosniaks in Canada is threatened by the assimilation unless we invest a collective and individual energy for the preservation of those values that make us different.


By analyzing the relationship that exists between Islam and the Bosniak nation, I came to the conclusion that religious rituals such as different ceremonies in Islam, two Eids, and Muslim New Year carry elements of the symbols of ethnic identity. Signs of the national recognition of these symbols were created as a response to the needs of individuals to identify with the community to which they belong. On the other hand, Islamic holidays as public, but also as family rituals are gaining the importance in understanding the Bosniak ethnic identity when it is known that the family has one of the most important roles in the life of an individual and in his emotional and mental structure. Throughout the history and today, it has shown and displayed as a carrier of social values, irreplaceable constituent element of the wider community. If we walk through the memories of our own childhood, at least one part of our will discover the meaning of Islamic holidays.


One of the most important messages of this research is: Stay who you are. Keep and protect your faith, culture and tradition. Loss of identity means slavery and humiliation. Based on the above, it can be concluded: Challenges of the Canadian Bosniaks are numerous, and the task is one and clear: to preserve the identity that we belong to, pass on the customs of Islam to our descendants and the younger generations, and sustain harmony and unity that we need. On this journey, our goal is to be the subject to these processes and to guide them into the right direction, and not to become their property and lose the influence on their movement.


Inspired by a desire for doing good Muslims accept everything in this service. This orientation proved to be very successful throughout history. Wherever Muslims came to, they accepted everything that was good. It is known that in this way arose certain provisions of Shariah law, with the sole condition that they do not oppose the basic sources of Qur'an and Sunnah. Even some customs were included in the basics of Sharia law. This made the Islamic country an attractive and stylish for all its residents, including those who were not Muslims.


Today, as never before, the Canadian Bosniaks are faced with countless new dilemmas. Should we accept this or that? Should we assimilate, segregate, or integrate? Any of the first two alternatives leads to the risk of extinction and continuing conflict. By accepting everything a Muslim encounters with, he will slowly lose the identity, and the second generation will be left without roots and without roots it will be left without everything, accepting the inertia of almost everything that is negative. This creates big problems even for host countries, because most future criminals are recruited in this way.


A number of Muslims separate themselves in specific neighborhoods, organized Jama’ats, associations, schools and even companies. That in a sense is not bad, but the problem is that everything outside the existing system is in almost constant conflict with reality. This leads of youth to radicalism, and others into the crime, because in segregated environments it becomes easily compacted, both physically and mentally.


If we have all of this in mind, there should not be any dilemma. For a Muslim, integration is even obligation. Integration and its positive sides are duties to him. A Muslim is supposed to be at the forefront of the fight for human rights. Following the example of the Prophet saas, a Muslim must take care of the environment, animals, and climate in general.

Caring for a neighbor is also one of the essential components of a good Muslim.


For anything he does, he needs to arm himself with a useful knowledge.


A Muslim must be among those who fight against the abuse of alcohol, drugs and all that is destructive to society. This fight often requires political commitment. He does not need to be a stranger to this engagement.


This fight, the Muslims cannot lead alone or with other Muslims. This requires mobilization of all benevolent people. And that is why the integration is necessary.


On the other hand, there is no integration with what Allah has forbidden, regardless of what is sometimes considered to be outdated. Compromises cannot be made with alcohol, gambling, adultery, violence and all other forms of destruction. The fight against these evils is an obligation for Muslim, of course, as much as circumstances allow.


Integration of the good is possible, no matter what I often hear is all directed against Islam and Muslims. A large number of very successful individuals, today in the Muslim world, are enjoying a great reputation with non-Muslims. True values are respected everywhere.


Adaptation to a new environment, foreign language, raising children, caring for the elderly, are all problems and challenges that we face every day. If we add to that accelerated assimilation of our young people who deliberately avoid all that is Bosnian - our language, customs, religion, it is clear that the issue of assimilation and integration something that concerns each of us.


Indeed, adapting to the new environment is something that in itself is understandable, but can Canadian Bosniaks become Canadians, without stopping to be Bosnians. How? The establishment of clubs, cultural, artistic and sports associations, and especially the media services in Bosnian language. Because a community without newspapers and radio is a deaf-mute community, virtually doomed to extinction and complete assimilation.


Gathering information about our people in Canada and documenting our existence here, I looked for information about the BH citizens generally, who began arriving in Canada more than a hundred years ago. Browsing through the very poor repertoire of credible sources, I came to the conclusion that the average Bosniak today does not differ much from that of a hundred years ago. Bosniaks then used to come for the very same reason as we do today or the recent past: Everyone is seeking a better life. Life that will help us to overcome the difficulties that we have gone through, and at the same time offering us a better tomorrow for our children. What may have caught my eye during this research work is a part of the book "Immigration and Assimilation," Dr. Senad ef Agic, published in 2004, in which, as the case study, offers a Bosniak who came to the United States in 1902. Good Bosniak even then, envisioned his arrival as the necessary evil that will last a certain number of years followed by a return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, forming a family (for those of us who have not done it yet) and the continuation of life the way we wanted.


What the Bosniaks, at that time, did not realize is just what today's Bosniaks do not realize and what they pay so little attention to leads to difficult situations in our families. They forgot the second generation of Bosniaks, i.e. the younger generations who came to Canada at the age of one to fifteen or they were born here.


From the very war and postwar arrival of our people, this generation has now grown into teenagers or young people of our community. Due to the general oblivion of this generation, or rather the lack of work and institutions that care for them, now the gap appears in communication and understanding with the first and second generations of Bosniaks. Looking back ten years ago, when I started working as imam with BIC Hamilton, I had the opportunity to witness the rift of generation not only in understanding today's world, and our traditions and culture, but also the stoppage of communication that is not caused by poor, de facto, relationships within the family, but language barrier that was created over time, where parents do not speak good English and the child speaks little or no Bosnian language. Today, the situation is worse, much worse.


Through the activities of the Jama’at in Hamilton, I also had the opportunity to work with young people and to participate in organized activities for young people during Ramadan and Eid days of our Jama’at.


From the religious, cultural, and traditional parties’ aspect the situation was serious. Bosnian language was spoken hardly or never. Bosnian language was forced through notices, results and the like. There was a total lack of interest for the community situation, its origin, culture and tradition, to the extent that some individuals distanced themselves publicly from the community with the excuse that this is not a way they feel and that they show with their actions how they feel. And what is even worse, there is an excessive individualism. It is the individualism that dissociates young people from the society and from the community that will eventually lead to a complete estrangement from the Bosniak community and later on by the community generally. Alienation is not so foreign to Canadian culture as it is to Bosniak culture which is full of interaction and where there is no place for solitude and distance; and therefore our culture, after a certain time, can be an absolute loser if it comes to options “take it or leave it”, or assimilation.


What is happening in Canada today is called the full sense of assimilation as J.W. Berry defined in a book published in 1992: "Assimilation means giving up your connection to the culture of origin and acceptation of the host culture." This is essentially happening with our boys and girls, and what has certainly affected our teenagers, and which is already very much embedded in our youngest. Taking into the account the very short period of stay of the last wave of Bosniaks in Canada, we can safely say that the assimilation of our people is moving with a frightening speed. Although there is a counter argument that assimilation needs to happen in order to forget all the horrors, and that man could freely operate in the new society, this argument is not a good starting point for the survival of Bosniaks in Canada. A survival of Bosniaks in Canada, in the form closest to the Bosniaks of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is of crucial importance for the survival of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country and Bosnians as a nation; and to prevent the repeat of genocide and ethnic cleansing.


But if you leave Bosnia and Bosniaks aside and look at the direct benefits that we as a people we have a use of knowing who we are and what we are, we will see there is a huge benefit. Whether it's spiritual, cultural or traditional being in us, we certainly are not less fortunate because we Bosnians are "only" Canadians. Thus, the combination of our spirituality that is our faith, our culture, our traditions genuinely makes us what we are, and without it, in a very short period of time, we would be lost primarily as a nation, as a community and ultimately as individuals. Today, we still have collective understanding of that problem that is growing by the day about which we can read in the newspapers, the Internet, and to find out the results of which we often can read in black chronicles.


If we continue at this pace Bosniaks will face extinction in this form in the next 15-20 years. In favor to this issue, we have a widespread of changing names, surnames, naming children un-Bosniak names, and the general disinterest of the community, and the situation there.


Realizing the importance of a undisturbed function in our new society is of great importance to find a formula of ideological work that will meet all our needs, from social needs that attract us to the social and spiritual needs that we inherited from our roots, which are crucial to our survival. Therefore, Bosnians still have to look for a balance between Canada and Bosnia, as well as between the two cultures by taking something that is best of both. This phenomenon, Bosniaks often call positive assimilation, but it is very nicely defined by Berry in his above-mentioned book, as a definition of integration: "Integration enables maintenance and commitment to the culture of origin while acknowledging the positive values of the culture of the new society." Recognizing the positive values of the new society the average Bosniak opens the door to a general acceptance in the new environments, while at the same time cherishes cultural values he grew up and which make him what he is by helping him to preserve true values of Bosniaks. A true values of Bosniaks are not measured by the speed of assimilation and acceptance of more negative than positive values that lead to disruption of families, abolishing the children and the disappearance of entire generations and our descendants, but rather lead to a better understanding of cultural values, spirituality, and 1000-year tradition that has produced the Nobel prize winners, Oscar winner, world famous athletes and many other positive personalities.


In order to avoid integration into the society at any cost, Bosniaks must stop the current trend of assimilation. We can integrate into the society only if we stand together, and if we care about each of us individually as much as we care about ourselves. We can integrate only if support and build institutions that will work directly on the prevention of assimilation and that will be led by the needs of Bosniaks and the community and not the needs of individuals that want to be in charge at any cost. We can integrate only if we stand shoulder to shoulder and go ahead and stop the groping in the hope that we will all one day return to Bosnia.


Maybe some of us who want to come back and do it, and I hope that I am one of them, but statistically a very small percentage of immigrants return to their country of birth, which should lead us to thinking. Thus, from around 30 000 of our citizens in Canada, just maybe a few hundred would return to Bosnia and depart from this ‘world’ to another. Therefore, all of those who care about the Bosniak community in Canada cannot claim with certainty that they will return "home". The moment when we concentrate more on the return then on our lives here, we are condemned to failure. We do not have to assimilate in the process, but with a certainty we will not integrate and thereby leave our family without a connection to their homeland by assimilating them, and not even realizing we are doing so. For that reason, as someone who loves the Bosniak community, I cannot say that my return is certain, because on that day when I say that I am coming back, I clearly accept the understanding of good Bosniak from the beginning of the text. Thinking that leads to utopia and the lack of sentimentality are still evident among the Bosniaks and consequently that leads to slow disappearance. It will lead me to the illusion of thinking that all our problems will be solved here, and there is no need to return, or if I do something for the common good, and what is even worse, it will lead me into a state of laziness and idleness. Laziness is the mother of all evil thoughts, and evil thoughts take you away from the joint work of the community and straight to our disappearance.


Let us prevent assimilation, promote integration, and by working together let us create institutions that will take care of those we leave behind us.
























What we are finding is that Canada’s second generation Muslim youth are constructing their identities in general, and their religious identities in particular, in diverse and highly original ways, without regard for what the majority might think and without apparent fear of marginalization, as would be expected in a context that claims to permit and even encourage this. Yet these same people, with few exceptions, also claim to feel entirely comfortable in Canada, to consider it a fine place to live, that welcomes immigrants and accepts difference. In short, they are different, but they usually also feel completely, and in an

unproblematic way, Canadian.


The second generation in our preliminary sample did not, on the whole, feel disempowered or disadvantaged; nor did they seem fearful of their futures. Their attitude to discrimination, which a great many had experienced in their lives, was to ignore it as the manifestation of others’ ignorance, and certainly not to accept it as a feature of the society in which they lived. Canada’s multiculturalism policy, ideology and orientation definitely structures the limits of how one can be different; it is a very integrationist and, perhaps in its own way, even an assimilative multiculturalism.


Yet it is also one that the second generation youth in our research seem to accept as genuine, as permitting them to live their lives as their religious convictions see fit. None wanted to live in a society where Islam was the sole religion. They all valued living in a society that is religiously and culturally diverse. One female participant, when asked how she felt about Canada’s diversity, summed it up succinctly for the others:

I think it’s a good thing for Canada. I mean it’s always more exposure, more ideas, more….Even within religion itself, if you don’t necessarily believe in another religion, you can always take certain aspects of what they practice or what they do if it’s a really good thing. I mean I see it as a good thing, it’s just more diversity and more exposure to ideas you never would have considered before had you been living in a small tiny bubble.


This conclusion applies especially to the highly diverse, but also highly involved, ways in which the majority of these Muslims construct their personal identities and their Islam. Confirming conclusions reached from research among second generation Muslim youth in Europe (Khosrokhavar 1997, Vertovec and Rogers 1998), Canada’s counterparts seem to be exhibiting a similar combination of greatly varied, highly individualistic and, for the most, very serious attitudes towards their religion. They are not dependent on their elders, they do not rely on traditional sources of Islamic authority, and they are not in the least hesitant about creating their own bricolages. These are not people who are just carrying on the traditions of their immigrant parents in a kind of exercise in religiocultural preservation. Nor are they people who are simply “assimilating” to the dominant culture. Like most youth in Canada, they seem to feel it incumbent upon themselves to reconstruct their world on a primarily individual basis. Their Islam is innovative rather than imitative, individual rather than communitarian, covering somewhat evenly a vast spectrum from what some observers might be tempted to label as “extremists” but which I will avoid for the same reason the majority of the participants scorned such terms – for being limiting and one-dimensional.


The Muslims of Canada are semingly not ready to take a departure from their  resolve to continue living  in Canada. Despite the fact they have created strong aprihenssions regarding their alleged disliking by  the majority Canadian population; Muslims are in a constant contemplation to invent ways and means in order to make themselves acceptable to the Canadian majority population. They are taking interests in the social and economic associations of the majority. The political representation is increasing in the political institutions from top to bottom. Several Muslims are now found taking interest in the practical politics at national and local government levels. The social integration into the society is being considered as a backbone of the policy of the Muslim social and political leadership in Canada.




Canadian Muslims believe in a progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, and secular society where everyone has the freedom of religion. They  want our communities to be equal and active contributors and participants in the development of a just, democratic, and equitable society in Canada.

  • Canadian Muslims in the separation of religion and state in all matters of public policy. Canadian Muslims feel such a separation is a necessary pre-requisite to building democratic societies, where religious, ethnic, and racial minorities are accepted as equal citizens enjoying full dignity and human rights enunciated in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  •  Canadian Muslims believe that fanaticism and extremism within the Muslim community is a major challenge to all of Muslims. Canadian Muslims stand opposed to the extremists and will present the more humane and tolerant face of our community.



  •   Canadian Muslims oppose gender apartheid that is practiced in parts of our community, and believe it is contrary to the equity among men and women enshrined in Islam.  Canadian Muslims believe that Muslim men and women should work together, shoulder-to-shoulder, in their effort to rejuvenate our community.


  •  Canadian Muslims envision Canada as a society with strong and well-funded public institutions in the health, education and social services sectors.  Canadian Muslims feel these public institutions are the foundation and pre-requisite for an enterprising and vibrant private sector.



  • Canadian Muslims will work for a more progressive, anti-racist and accessible immigration policy in Canada; a policy that recognizes the contributions of immigrants as vital assets of society and essential for the survival of the country.


  • Canadian Muslims hope to build a Canada where personal initiative and creativity are celebrated and rewarded, but not at the cost of our collective social conscience and an abandonment of our responsibility towards the broader community.



  • Canadian Muslims look forward to building communities free from the ravages of racism, intolerance, ignorance, disease, and poverty, and where religion becomes a force of joy, enlightenment, democracy, peace and bridge-building, rather than hate, oppression, war and division.


  • Canadian Muslims support the aspirations and dreams of the peoples of the developing countries throughout the world.; a dream of dignity, democracy, freedom from poverty and political oppression, and a just and lasting peace. To achieve this and resist the steady re-colonization of the developing world,  Canadian Muslims will work closely with like-minded groups in building an anti-imperialist movement.


  • Canadian Muslims recognize the reality of globalization, but are concerned at its domination by transnational corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens.  Canadian Muslims hope to work closely with international movements to build on the positive aspects of globalization while opposing corporate globalization, which undermines sovereign democratic governments.


I propose the following recommendations to the Canadian government to ensure that Muslims are not discriminated against:

1. The Government of Canada should fund governmental as well as non-governmental and inter-faith projects that aim to increase the knowledge of Islam and Islamic Practices. There is a general lack of awareness of Islam within the mainstream communities. Disseminate accurate information to mainstream community about Islam that also attempts to dispel prevailing myths and misconceptions. And ensure discussions about Islam that are not relegated to 'hot issues' like hijab and terrorism.


2. Educate the media. The mainstream media must change its coverage. The media needs to be more aware of Islam the faith, and less as a stereotype.  The Muslim community should also provide the media with contact names of Muslim organizations and community leaders who can best fulfill the needs of the media.


3. Ensure transparency in all government policy as well as stakeholder consultations with various members of the Muslim community, taking into account sectarian differences.  Ensure this is done prior to legislation being brought to the House of Commons.


4. When collecting data the government should disaggregate it based on gender and religion.  This will allow us to capture the level of discrimination against Muslim women much more accurately.  Compiling a systematic record of hate crimes --motivated by gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. – is a new endeavour in the country.  It is well known that females are less likely than males to report crime to police, and Muslims are less likely than the others.  Statistics Canada report on hate crime and discrimination following 9/11 made some interesting points: (a) the aftermath of 9/11 was a blip as far as the statistics goes; and (b) the Hindus are the most worried that they will be the victimized.  No Muslim organization was represented on consultations leading up to the design and development of the survey.  There is an urgent need to help statistics gathering and law enforcement agencies in gathering the information and interpreting it.  Among other things, it is urgent to start a database which would allow the community to compile annual or quarterly information consistent with definitions in the Charter and those used by law enforcement and statistical agencies.


5. Ensure that the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance during his country visit to Canada in 2004 have been followed through, particularly those related to minorities in Canada.


6. Re-brand the community.  New packaging is needed.  Produce brochures and short videos that emphasize values and things that are dear to all Canadians such as quality of life, multiculturalism and the beauty of the landscape.  Fit Muslim women within these qualities:

§  what is their potential,

§  their contributions as artists, teachers, public servants, community builders,

§  pioneer Muslim women who helped build this nation like Agnes Love, Hannah Hunt, Martha Simons, who were here before the Confederation, and others.


7. Involve mosques and Islamic centres in the task of community building.