Learning from Bosnia: Approaching Tradition

Learning from Bosnia: Approaching Tradition

Rusmir Mahmutćehajić
Saba Risaluddin
Francis R. Jones
David B. Burrell series editor
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13wzxcf
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    Learning from Bosnia: Approaching Tradition
    Book Description:

    This book, at the intersections of political sociology,political philosophy, and theology, reads the legacyof Bosnia as both a paradigm and an antiparadigm forthe human condition. The adjective Bosnian sums up anacceptance of the diversity of human attitudes towardthe world and toward God. Yet the Bosnian tradition ofaccepting the inevitability of, and thus the right to, differingChristologies among people who speak the samelanguage and share the same history has been reduced tothe antiparadigms of confessionalism, ethnicism, andultimately nationalism, which seeks either to expel or tosubordinate to the majority everything that is other.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4808-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Author’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xxii)
    Adam B. Seligman

    To a great extent, the twentieth century can be said to both begin and end in Sarajevo. The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, and the outbreak of the First World War brought an end to the complacent belief in material progress and ameliatory politics that had characterized nineteenth-century European civilization. Heir to Cartesian method and positivist science, the nineteenth century—more than any other period—assumed that rational thought, empirical investigations and a presuppositionless universality would provide sufficient bases for the correct organization of the social world. The First World War shattered these assumptions.

    What followed...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xxiii-xxx)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. 1-4)

    Every ideology offers the promise of an end to killing. And yet the killing continues to this day—and it is unreasonable to hope that there will be none in the future. Both the promise that it will end and the likelihood that the promise will not be honored accompany the ritualization of violence and killings. After the Holocaust, every understanding of the world, humankind, and God that has been proffered and developed within the enterprise of modernity as a whole should have been subjected to critical reexamination. Nothing should have been spared scrutiny through the lens of different perspectives...

  7. Introduction: The Achievement of Bosnia
    (pp. 5-16)

    It is difficult to find any book on contemporary issues published in the last decade of the second Christian millennium that does not also deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina.¹ Unfortunately, this is not the result of any interest in the distinctive nature of Bosnia and its history, although there has long existed sufficient justification for that. Addressing Bosnia has been prompted, rather, by the war that devastated this country as the world looked on, its contemplation of events recast into a ritual of shame. Yet, despite the many books written about the war, and read and interpreted according to various...

  8. 1. The Forms of Expression of a Single Truth
    (pp. 17-26)

    Two contrary social tendencies have characterized Bosnia throughout its history. In one of them, religious differences are reconciled through coexistence based on confidence within the framework of different sacred paths. In the other, those differences are in confrontation with one another. These two essential tendencies were in earlier centuries interwoven with the religious affiliation of the people of Bosnia. The arguments for diversity were justifiable on the basis of individual sacred traditions. A breach of trust and responsibility toward others representedgrehota,¹ a violation of God’s commandments, which imbue every being and every phenomenon. This sense of the sacredness of...

  9. 2. Submissiveness, Emotion, and Knowledge
    (pp. 27-36)

    If the perennial orientation toward Beauty and Sanctity, as the expression of the human aspiration to survival and happiness, is translated into modern terms, it is inseparable from the idea of nation as the consciousness of social affiliation. With this consciousness, individual aspiration, expressed in a specific language, simply means that the Divine Unicity is reduced to being in and with the nation. Alterity, particularly the alterity with which such a nation is in direct contact, must then be experienced, understood and interpreted as lesser and weaker in principle, in consequence of its being separated from the true God. To...

  10. 3. The Apprenticeship of Submission and Freedom
    (pp. 37-47)

    Human potential derives from the existence or absence of interdiction in the openness of the self to Eternity and Infinity. But there are also two possible ways in which the self may be closed off—again, with or without interdiction. Each of these possibilities of the self is counter to the society that directs it or that it illumines, and in neither of them does the self evade suffering and death. It can resolve them in Absolute Plenitude, beyond the self and the outer horizons but also through them, as, indeed, it can all forms of suffering and disorder, of...

  11. 4. The Lower Horizons of Freedom
    (pp. 48-57)

    The relationship between modernism and tradition parallels the relationship between trust and confidence. Traditional doctrine tells us that humankind is infinitely far from God, but that God is as close to humankind as can be: “and We are nearer to [it] than the jugular vein.”¹ This is perfect proximity, with the unicity that confirms the mystery lying between the human individual and the individual’s heart. The heart is eternity and infinity, and there is not one of its manifestations in the world but unicity is immanent in it. Every plurality of individualities is thus linked with confidence through the freedom...

  12. 5. Pride and Humility
    (pp. 58-66)

    The issue of tolerance is becoming more and more salient wherever there is serious discussion about the tensions of contemporary society. There are three prevailing interpretations of the issue. The first is that those who are other and different continue to survive in a majority environment because, in the given circumstances, the means of excluding them are lacking. Tensions between “us” and “them,” however, can all too readily deteriorate into denigrating and humiliating, persecuting and even killing the others. The second interpretation is that the nature of the culture of others is of no fundamental importance, and the attitudes toward...

  13. 6. The Dispute over Names
    (pp. 67-75)

    Muslims, Christians, and Jews have all contributed to the formation of Bosnia’s complex identity in its historical entirety. It is from these religious affiliations that her diverse political and national identities have been drawn during the modern era. Thus today’s Bosniacs are linked historically with Islam, Bosnian Serbs with Eastern Orthodoxy, and Bosnian Croats with Roman Catholicism. These religious components were an element in the formation of their distinct political and ethnonational identities, accompanied by the shifts in the role and understanding of religion that have been taking place ever since the Renaissance and that continue to this day. That...

  14. 7. The Word Held in Common
    (pp. 76-84)

    Ten years after the Hegira from Mecca, Muslims and Christians held a debate in Medina, in the presence of the Jews, on the tradition and its different forms.¹ During the course of the debate, more than eighty verses of the third sura of the Qur’an were revealed, addressing the relations between different phenomena in the tradition. Here it was stressed that differences in language, meanings, symbols, and their related teachings do not mean disunion from the Word that is common to all these external forms. Disunion from the Word involves denial or indifference, hypocrisy or distortion; and equally, no tradition...

  15. 8. Wealth in Poverty
    (pp. 85-93)

    The only way toward Reality lies in humility and generosity. The greater the humility and generosity are, the greater the remembrance of God or the openness of the self to God. This does not mean that suffering and death can be avoided or disregarded, but that their role is different, and the attitude toward them more direct and active. They are inevitable in the appearance of the world but cannot be resolved there. For this, distance from the world and infinite closeness to God are needed. Conversely, the notion of their immanent resolution or the reduction of transcendent Perfection to...

  16. 9. Other Gods but Him
    (pp. 94-103)

    Whenever the presence of wisdom is displaced by oblivion, the self embraces poverty as wealth and ignorance as knowledge—and passion then imposes itself as a god. We see the world as subordinate to us, rather than ourselves as subordinate to anyone else. The weakness of the other is something to be desired, for it seems to prove the power of the self-deluded self, which avoids poverty and humility, seeing them as the very negation of itself. If the self in this state is considered from the perspective of the modern sense of the sufficiency of reason, it will be...

  17. 10. Two Histories
    (pp. 104-113)

    The testimony that there is no god but God leads to the question: who utters those crucial words? Every response is arrayed between the I of the human individual and the I of God. The testimony is thus the mysterious relationship of the human I and the Divine I; and it proclaims that there is no I other than the Divine I. Because all praise belongs to the Self, the totality of creation is but its revelation. The impulse for this is the love of being known. All that is dispersed in the worlds praises the Self. The link between...

  18. 11. The Ideology of Nation
    (pp. 114-124)

    The tragic experience of Bosnia as a country that has for centuries been defined as unity in diversity prompts two opposing interpretations. In the first, the killings and ravages of war are an anomaly in modern evolution, and are explicable and resolvable from that perspective. In the second, these horrors are the inevitable consequence of the modern preoccupation with nation as the higher and more conscious level of existence of every society. The ultimate achievement of this mind-set is the notion of freedom without God, Who is the Lord of all the worlds, and thus of all the nations. Every...

  19. 12. The Chasm of the Future
    (pp. 125-134)

    Every form engendered by modernity denies the possibility that a single truth may be handed down throughout time, in every historical imprint. In the traditional outlook, however, there is no period of history, no sign in the outer and the inner worlds that is not suffused with the truth. Each of them praises the truth, albeit in its own specific way: for, as humans, we have always been perfect and will always be perfect, and exist only for this. In this view, no single period can be better, in principle, than another, for neither the Truth nor human openness to...

  20. Epilogue
    (pp. 135-140)

    It seems that news about Bosnia has touched everyone. It is hard to say what dominant quality is evoked by the wordBosnia:harshness or clemency, suffering or healing, arrogance or humility. In these dualities of opposing qualities lies the tension between the phenomenon and its name. What will the phenomenon itself and its name, once both are reunited, have to say in some final judgment about all the lies that have been associated with it and attributed to it? What is the truth in which justice can be shown for the humiliated, the displaced, the dead on the Promised...

  21. Notes
    (pp. 141-156)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-162)
  23. Other Works by Rusmir Mahmutćehajić
    (pp. 163-164)
  24. Index
    (pp. 165-171)