FRIDAY SERMON BY THE GRAND MUFTI OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA H.E. DR. HUSEIN-EF. KAVAZOVIĆ
On the 23rd Anniversary Commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide
Delivered at the Emperor's [Bey's] Mosque on 6th July 2018
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. We are ever grateful to the Merciful for sending the noble Messenger Muhammad (saws) to guide mankind. We thank Him for the many blessings He bestowed upon us. Indeed, the most significant of God's blessings for our souls is the blessing of iman (faith), whereas the wisdom and knowledge that He gives us are the lights of our minds. Our basic duty is to be ever grateful to Allah for all His blessings, and to constantly reflect upon the noble verses of the Holy Qur'an for our own benefit.
Respected brothers and sisters,
In this blessed day of Jumu'a, and in this special hour, we sincerely pray to Allah the Almighty, asking Him to accept our good deeds and to forgive us our sins. We pray to Him to save us from error and misguidance. Today, in our prayers we especially remember the martyrs of Srebrenica and Podrinje, as well as all other martyrs from other parts of our country, Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the eve of 11th July, we make special prayers in our mosques and congregations remembering the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. This year again, like we have done for the past many years, we shall be performing a group funeral prayer for those of our Srebrenica martyrs whose bodies have been found and identified in the last 12 months. A few days later, we shall be praying another group funeral prayer, in another part of our country, for martyrs of Prijedor and other surrounding places in the valley of Sana river where too the most grave of atrocities were committed, including genocide.
Brothers and sisters,
In this Friday sermon and in this day, we send a clear message about 'the Bosnian martyrs [shuhada]'. Namely, we express our duty to defend the greatest values of our people and of our country for which our martyrs sacrificed their lives. Likewise, on this day we are sending a clear message to all people who have connection with this beautiful land that our only way to victory is to establish the truth and justice in full. Without the truth and justice there is no peace and good in or among our people, nor is one able to achieve a personal salvation and happiness. We want of our people to become better humans, to become self- conscious and learn lessons either from their own or other people's deeds, in order to glorify and praise the Almighty God, and in order to spread the message of peace and harmony on the face of His earth and among His creatures. Only in this way would people fulfill the purpose of their existence and ensure their future, regardless in which country and on which continent they may be living. A proof for this is found in a very telling dialogue between the All-knowing Creator Allah and His pure angels. The cause of that dialogue, as the Qur'an tells us, was the creation of human with the superlative attribute of knowledge on one hand, and an inclination to evildoing on the other: “And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am placing a successor on earth.” They said, “Will You place in it someone who will cause corruption in it and shed blood, while we declare Your praises and sanctify You?” He said, “I know what you do not know.” (Al-Baqara, 30.)
Therefore, when the Almighty Creator told the angels that He would make a successor (a caliph or a steward) on earth, they asked in surprise: is such creature, i.e. a human being, capable of such great “amana” (trust) because of his/her inclination towards corruption and bloodshed? Yet, the Wise Creator had then informed the angles that He the All-knowing possesses certain knowledge about man's nature which was [is] unknown to them. God taught man the names of all things thus revealing that the man's ability to acquire knowledge is his special privilege, as if giving a deep lesson to His angels. Man however is given the choice to behave in two opposing ways towards the God and the world; namely to obey God and do good, or to disobey God and do/spread mischief on earth and shed blood of innocent people.
The “Amana” of man's stewardship on earth is therefore the question of order, or disorder. The order on earth should be as harmonious as is the order in the Universe. To achieve that, it is primarily man's duty to accept and discharge the orders of God using his knowledge and consciences, and not to follow one's own narrow, and often distorted, picture of worldly harmony and order. In relation to man's possible misunderstanding of God's order on earth, and all the mischief and trouble that emanates from it, the Almighty God has taught man about good and evil, and also about the consequences of making order or its opposite. In sura al-Balad, it is said:
“Did We no give him two eyes? And a tongue, and two lips? And We showed him the two ways? (Al-Balad 8-10). “And Then he becomes of those who believe, and advise one another to patience, and advise one another to kindness. These are the people of happiness. But as for those who defy Our revelations—these are the people of misery. Upon them is a padlocked Fire”. (Al-Balad, 17-20).
Hence, to ensure order, balance and harmony in the worlds as they are, in all their infinite diversity and differences, humans are invited to believe in the Creator, and asked to struggle and strive together with great patience, and to interact with each other with utmost care and compassion. In the order which is understood in such a way, the differences between humans are not the cause of misunderstanding and exclusion; but quite contrary such diversity and differences become the very bases for their mutual love and respect, and their honest efforts of building harmonious communities and accomplished human civilisations. Ours and the Creator of the entire Universe says: “O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well- Informed.” (Al-Hujurat, 13)
These noble words of the Almighty God tell us that the differences in human communities are nothing but norms and orders of God's Creation. Moreover, this noble verse indicates that indeed there is a deeper purpose in all that God had created, but is 'hidden' from the so-called 'ignorant' and 'blind' folk. Only those of humans whose conscience is pure from pride and selfishness can reach and see the purpose of such a diverse creation of God. Furthermore, this noble verse also indicates that human's true value lies in his awareness of God's omnipresence. That is because only with sincere obedience to God people are able to respect their mutual norms and duties, and able to meet the great trust (al-Amana al-'Uzma) of establishing the order (stewardship) on earth and between the different nations and peoples. Moreover, in this noble verse of the Holy Qur'an, every human is invited to understand that the taqwa is the most important criterion in our relationship with God and our own selves. In addition, we understand from this great verse that the level of our nobleness and morality is the main measurement of our healthy relationship with other human beings.
In arguably one of the most important religious sermons ever delivered, our noble teacher Muhammad (saws) preached the following words:
“... O people, just as you regard this month, this day, and this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. ...
Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.
Do not do injustice to others, and there will be no injustice inflicted upon you yourselves.
O people, all mankind is from Adam and Eve. And, Adam is from clay. None have superiority over another except by piety and good deed.”
Brothers and sisters,
In the memory that carries on, we chose an especially heavy date, namely 11th July, to remember the martyrs of Srebrenica and Podrinje, as well as all other innocent victims of the recent Bosnian war. We are doing so, firstly because it is our duty to remember our noble martyrs and out of our utmost respect for their invaluable efforts; and secondly out of our deepest sympathy for their families and relatives.
We invite all of you to perform the funeral prayer for our martyred brothers and sisters from Srebrenica on Wednesday the 11th of July at the Genocide Memorial Centre in Potočari. For all of us, but especially for those who will be putting down the remains of their beloved ones into graves, it will be a very painful and sorrow day. For the mankind, it is a day of great lesson and warning. Indeed, it is very important that the entire human race acquires a clear lesson from Srebrenica that some human beings of our times are capable of committing such grievous crimes. Yet, it is especially important that the lesson is learn by those in whose name the crime of Genocide was committed in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The scope of criminal offenses carried out by individuals and institutions are well known because some of the perpetrators and the war criminals have been convicted for the crime of Genocide by the International Tribunal of the UN in Hague. This process of convicting the war criminals and perpetrators must not come to an end until the last perpetrator has had faced the justice.
The historic burden of the moral responsibility stretches on all those in whose name the act of Genocide was committed. However, it is not possible to pass this great test of moral responsibility if the Srebrenica genocide, otherwise proven at the highest instances and courts of the International Community, is yet to be acknowledged and condemned on the side of some people who live in Bosnia. An acknowledgment, condemnation and regret would, at least partially, ease the pain and sorrow of the families whose loved ones had perished in the process of the Genocide. Furthermore, in this way the path of the truth and justice would become clearer to all, and the relationships between various peoples and communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in the region would become stronger.
Dear brothers and sisters,
As much as it is painful, we must not lose hope. Despair could become our biggest disease with certain unexpected consequences. So let us strengthen our faith and awaken our hope in God's mercy and help when facing different kinds of temptations and tests. Let the prophet Ibrahim (a.s) be our best example in this. As we know, his pure faith served him from the then prevalent shirk, ignorance and tyranny of his time. Prophet Ibrahim firmly relied on his Creator, and with knowledge and piety raised his family and community. Moreover, Prophet Ibrahim used to pray with humility to the Merciful Allah for his progeny. In a barren land, his beloved wife Hajar gave birth to a devoted and gentle son Ismail, whereas his wife Sara whilst in an old age gave birth to a prudent son Ishaq. Indeed, Ibrahim's loyalty in faith has become a symbol of faith and a lesson for the worlds. Allah the Almighty describes His beloved prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) in the noble Qur'an by these words: “
“Abraham was an exemplary leader, devoted to God, a monotheist, and was not of the polytheists.” (Al-Nahl, 120)
“Then We inspired you: “Follow the religion of Abraham, the Monotheist. He was not an idol-worshiper.” (Al-Nahl 123)
And, truly, Ibrahim's pure faith and wisdom which are the pillars of his rich tradition and legacy have remained exemplary for centuries and millenniums. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) has received this honorable lesson of Ibrahim's (a.s.) sacrifice in the Holy Qur'an. The same is true of Musa (a.s.) and Isa (a.s.) before our Prophet (saw). Each one of them is thus a student of Ibrahim, and so are we, the people of this land, Bosnia, the followers of our common Abrahamic faith and tradition.
Hence, let us work hard on rebuilding the lost trust and let us improve the relations between us and the people of the Book. And, let us do so with noble intentions, honest and beautiful word and good deeds.
Brothers and sisters, We all believe that we are Allah's servants and that we shall all onto Him return. He has disclosed lessons and reminders in his Holy Book for those who want to reflect, and He has made our hope and reliance on Him a source of blessing: “By Time. The human being is in loss. Except those who believe, and do good works, and encourage truth, and recommend patience.” (Al-'Asr, 1-3.)
Our Lord, You do whatever You wish so we ask You to expand our breasts and to ease the burden which we carry on our shoulders. Our Lord, let the truth be elevated and the falsehood be brought down.
Oh Allah, in our hearts instills the certainty that after a difficulty comes ease since You have decreed for it to be so. Oh Allah, bless and accept our sincere and good deeds so that we draw nearer to You.
Oh Allah, You are the Almighty, the Glorious, the Creator of every single thing, and You are the ever living Who never dies, we ask You with Your noble face that illuminates every part of Your magnificent throne to accept the prayers of those who pray to You.
Oh Allah, indeed all people will be gathered before You, the entire humanity, in order to witness in person and altogether with their own eyes the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Your supreme justice and Your final Judgment in which there is no doubt.
Oh Allah, do not burden us with more than we have strength to bear, pardon us, forgive us, and have mercy on us.
We pray to you, Oh Allah, to bestow Your ample mercy upon our martyrs and place them with Your mercy in the promised gardens of Paradise. Oh Allah, strengthen their families and relatives with patience.
Oh Allah, show the path of truth and justice to all people. You are our Majestic Lord, we ask You to be with us against those who deny the truth.
Oh Allah, give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!
*This special sermon by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina was coordinated by Dr Hafiz Kinan Musić, Chief Imam of Sarajevo and Dr Abdullah Faliq, Co-founder of the Bosnia Heritage Foundation. It was translated into English by Hafiz Hafiz Sejad Mekic