History of Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Development

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Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich and long history. Islam was introduced to the local population around the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of the conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Ottoman Empire.

The majority religion of Bosnian society is Islam, the Muslim community of Bosnia is Sunni Muslim and there are several small Shia Muslim communities in the country.

There are about 4 million Bosnian Muslims. During the Bosnian War, many Bosnian Muslims fled their country.

An estimated 1.7 million indigenous Bosnian Muslims live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they constitute 50 percent of the country’s total.

Thus, Bosnian Muslims constitute the largest religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina (51%), the other two major groups being Eastern Orthodox Christians (31%) mostly Serbs, and Roman Catholics (15%) mostly Croats.

Other small minority groups who are Muslim apart from the native Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Albanians, Roma, and Turks.

The era of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian sultanates

Islam was first brought to the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire in the mid-15th century, which ruled most of Bosnia in 1463, and Herzegovina in the 1480s.

Over the next century Bosnia consisted of dualists and Slavs living in the Kingdom of Bosnia under the name Bošnjani under Ottoman rule many of the Slavs converted to Islam in large numbers and eventually the name Bošnjanin changed to Bošnjak (‘Bosniak’).

In the early 1600s, about two-thirds of the population of Bosnia was Muslim.
Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a province in the Ottoman Empire and gained autonomy after the Bosnian uprising in 1831.

After the Berlin Congress in 1878 the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was temporarily under Austro-Hungarian control. In 1908, Austria-Hungary officially annexed the territory.

Bosnia, along with Albania, was the only part of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans where a number of people converted to Islam, and lived there after independence.

In other areas of the former Ottoman Empire where it formed the majority of Muslims. and many Muslim communities in the area were expelled, Christianized, massacred, and some fled to Turkey.