The recently concluded gay pride parade in downtown Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stirred much debate in the country and the region, and produced two clear winners in the deliberations: the official Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ICBH), and the country’s LGBTI community.
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Islam on the Edges is Islam full of dynamism, uniqueness, innovativeness, and adaptation. Constantly at the edges, Muslims who live in these parts - such as Bosnia and Indonesia - embody the contradictions of belonging to the Muslim civilization but frequently being treated as outsiders, and being so close to the Other but never quite belonging. A closer look at Islam on the Edges reveals unique syntheses and strains along the stitches. It also uncovers a certain ease of being and living that is wonderfully appealing in its relaxed orientation, pulling the strangers to it with an irresistible spiraling centrifuge, as if it says to them: come, come to the center. Journey to the center leads to the edges, only to be pulled back to the center. To discover the axis of our being, we need to go to its frontiers. You cannot know Islam until you know its edges. Unburdened by historical determinism that is often present at the heart of Islam, Muslims who live on the edges are capable of unleashing the type of creativity that is often lacking among the Muslims at the Center who have been lulled into a stupor caused by the drunked obsession with past glories that remain in the past, and the unfulfilled dreams of the future that has been elusive for more than a century. To write a love letter to coffee from Sarajevo, the quintessential frontier, is to touch the innermost core of our being, to tickle the beans that form the fiber of our life.
Islamic civilization and coffee have a long, loving relationship. It is probably not an exaggeration to state that the world owes its addictive coffee habit to the spread of the cosmopolitan civilization of Islam. Coffee was most likely introduced to the Turks via the port of Mocha in Yemen, and then spread by the Sufi orders and merchants throughout the Ottoman lands. Some Muslim jurists, the Islam's veritable haram police, true to their calling and the usual conservative reflex, issued the rulings banning this new, potent drink, claiming it caused intoxication. While the jurists debated the permissibility of drinking the liquid black gold, Muslim sages, mystics, and masses voted with their lips. "My community will not agree on an error," said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Vox populi vox Dei, indeed.
In a recent Ramadan address, the Grand Mufti of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Husein Kavazović, eloquently expressed his concerns about the politicization of the refugee crisis in Bosnia. In a context of weak leadership from political leaders, the Grand Mufti’s stance positions him as one of the few proactive voices on this issue.