Lessons from Bosnia — Part 6
Whether you are religious or not, religion is something we’ve all had to discuss at some point or another. It’s just one of those worldwide topics that prevails no matter what. Some might argue that the world would be a better place if religions didn’t exist at all. I’m not so sure. Each and every prophet I’ve ever heard of came to a bad society, where people were just nasty to each other. Yet, all of those prophets left their society in a better state. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. That sounds like a pattern. However, whether I’m right or wrong is irrelevant. Religions do exist and we have to live with that and, hopefully, make the best of it.
In Bosnia, there are two main religions, Christianity and Islam. However, Catholics and Orthodox Christians are treated as two separate religions. Hence, in this article, I will also treat them as two separate religions.
While in Serbia/Croatia people are Serbs/Croats irrespective of their religion, in Bosnia it’s not so simple. Generally speaking, Serbs follow Orthodox Christianity, while Croats are Catholics. However, that is NOT to say that all Orthodox Christians in Bosnia are Serbs or that all Catholics in Bosnia are Croats. As I said previously, we do not have a definition of what is a Croat or a Serb in Bosnia. What this does show is that religion has been nationalised to some extent, and in a unique way — by neighbouring countries. There are still groups (and individuals) that have kept their religion out of nationalism and politics.
Islam is the majority religion, by a small margin, but it is. And even though there are various Islamic sects in Bosnia, they’re not treated as different religions, so I will not treat them as such in this article.
During Communism, religions were looked down on, especially Islam, but others as well. The whole idea of God and being a believer was ‘unwelcome’. Despite this, some people remained religious. I come from one such family, so I know firsthand that back then there were about 3 people in the mosque, my grandfather was one of them. Except during Ramadan. I also walked an elderly neighbour to a church a few times, so I know the churches were also practically empty, except for Christmas and Easter.