Alija Izetbegović (8 August 1925 – 19 October 2003) was a Bosnian activist, philosopher, and politician, president of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1990 to 1996 and member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996 to 2000, and author of several books, including Islam Between East and West.
- Islam is the best, but we Muslims are not the best. The West is neither corrupted nor degenerate. It is strong, well-educated, and organized. Their schools are better than ours. Their cities are cleaner than ours. The level of respect for human rights in the West is higher, and the care for the poor and less capable is better organized. Westerners are usually responsible and accurate in their words. Instead of hating the West, let us proclaim cooperation instead of confrontation.
- As quoted in The Two Faces of Islam, by Stephen Schwartz
- Narode, spavaj mirno, rata neće biti.
- Sleep peacefully people, there will not be a war.
- Quoted in Central Europe Review.
- Sleep peacefully people, there will not be a war.
- Bosnia should be a secular state. A non-secular Bosnia would be terror.
- Interview in "Start BiH Magazine", questions 28 and 29
- This may not be a just peace, but it is more just than the continuation of war.
- Quoted on BBC News
The Islamic Declaration (1970)
- Do we want the Muslim peoples to break out of the cycle of dependence, backwardness and poverty?... Then we can clearly show the way which leads to this goal: the generating of Islam in all areas of personal individual life, in the family and society, through the renewal of Islamic religious thought and the creation of a unified Islamic community from Morocco to Indonesia.
- p. 5.
- The idea of Islamic renewal, which understands Islam as capable not only of educating human beings but also of ordering the world, will always have two types of people as its opponents: conservatives who want the old forms, and modernists who want someone else's forms.
- p. 8.
- The briefest definition of the Islamic order defines it as a unity of religion and law, upbringing and power, ideal and interest, the spiritual community and the state, willingness and force... An Islamic society without an Islamic authority is incomplete and without power; Islamic government without Islamic society is either utopia or violence. Generally speaking, a Muslim does not exist as a sole individual. If he wishes to live and survive as a Muslim, he must create an environment, a community, a system.
- p. 26.
- There is no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions. The failure of these institutions to function and the instability of these regimes in Muslim countries, manifest in frequent changes and coups d'état, is most often the consequence of their a priori opposition to Islam, as the fundamental and foremost feeling of the people in those countries. Claiming its right to order its own world alone, Islam clearly rules out the right and the possibility of the application of any foreign ideology in its own region. there is, therefore, no lay principle, and the state ought to be a reflection of and to support the moral concepts of the religion.
- p. 30, as quoted in Aleksandar Pavković. The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism and War in the Balkans. Springer Science+Business Media.
- There are immutable Islamic principles which order relations between people, but there is no Islamic economic, social or political structure which cannot be changed... Nothing which can make the world a better place can be rejected out of hand as non-Islamic... In order to be Islamic, a solution must fulfill two conditions: it must be maximally efficient and maximally humane.
- p. 31.
- Islam contains the principle of the umma, i.e. a tendency towards the unification of all Muslims in a single community - religious, cultural and political. Islam is not a nationality, but it is the supranationality of this community.
- p. 36.
- The upbringing of the people, and particularly means of mass influence - the press, radio, television, and film - should be in the hands of people whose good Islamic moral and intellectual authority is indisputable.
- p. 42.
- Islam must take the initiative of recognizing motherhood as a social function. Harems must be abolished. No one has the right to refer to Islam as a reason to keep women disenfranchised: abuse of this kind must be brought to an end. Such attitudes do not represent a Western feminism, which has displayed a tendency to impose the measures, whims and mastery of a depraved element among the female sex. Neither is this equality in the European sense. It is an underlining of the equal value of men and women, together with the underlining of the differences between them, which should be preserved.
- p. 47.
- In the struggles for the Islamic order, all means are permissible except one: crime. No one has the right to defile the good name of Islam by the uncontrolled and superfluous use of force. The Islamic community should once more confirm that justice is one of its keystones... Formula: the aim justifies the means has become the cause of numberless crimes. A noble aim cannot command unworthy means.
- p. 49.
- The Islamic order can only be established in countries where Muslims represent the majority of the population. If this is not the case, the Islamic order is reduced to mere power (as the other element - an Islamic society - is missing) and may turn to violence. The non-Muslim minorities within an Islamic state, on condition that they are loyal, enjoy religious freedom and all protection.
- p. 49.
- When considering these matters, the dilemma inevitably arises - albeit only for a moment - that a shorter way to the Islamic order would be by taking power... This is mere temptation. History does not relate any true revolution which came from power. All began with education and meant in essence a moral summons.
- p. 53.
Quotes about Izetbegović
- We did not always agree, but I know that he was committed to the peaceful reconstruction of a Bosnia-Herzegovina which could be part of Europe and in which all its citizens could feel at home. He was tough, scholarly and serious. He lived a simple life and he had little of the opportunistic charm or coarse joviality that are hallmarks of political operators in the Balkans and elsewhere... History will no doubt say that not all his decisions were right, but more than anybody else he was responsible for the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina survived.
- To further weaken Pale, I proposed that the Dayton agreement include a provision moving the Bosnian Serb capital to Banja Luka. Milošević seemed interested in this proposal but, to my surprise, Izetbegović demurred. Even though he hated the leadership in Pale, he seemed to think he could work with them, especially his old associate from the Bosnian Assembly, Momčilo Krajišnik. Izetbegovic also saw value in keeping the capitals of the two entities close to each other so that Sarajevo remained the only important political center in Bosnia. He may also have feared that if the Bosnian Serb capital moved to Banja Luka, which is closer to Zagreb than Sarajevo, it would accelerate the permanent division of the country and strengthen Tuđman. Whatever Izetbegović's reasons for not wanting to close Pale, it was a mistake. The mountain town was solely a wartime capital, established by an indicted war criminal and his henchmen. It was the living symbol - and headquarter - of his organization. We should have pushed Izetbegović harder to agree to establish the Serb capital at Banja Luka. It would have made a big difference in the effort to implement the Dayton agreements.
- Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p. 293
- "The Islamic Declaration", Alija Izetbegović (1990 reprint)
- Notes From Prison - 1983-1988 Alija Ali Izetbegović