Published On: Pet, pro 25th, 2020

Bosnian Muslims applies Hudaybiyyah-like approach against Croat Catholics in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In mid-March, the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Washington Agreement, which created the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of power-sharing, one of the two entities beside Serb Republika Srpska, was commemorated. Although this agreement ended the war between the Bosniak-Muslims and the Croat Catholics, there was no festive celebration and has not been one for many years now. This is indicative of the relationship existing between the two nations.

Bosniak-Muslim dissatisfaction

Since the end of the war, Bosniak-Muslims are unsatisfied with their position. In fact, they have the majority of the country’s population (50 percent), while Serb Christian Orthodox (30 percent) and Croat Catholics (15 percent) represent the smallest two constituent nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Muslim-Croat Federation, is even hugely populated by Bosniak Muslims (70 percent), while Croat Catholics have 22 percent of the population.

On the evening of the 2018 elections, the former member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency and the president of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Bakir Izetbegovic, proclaimed victory in front of the TV cameras as his party supporters excitedly chanted the phrase „tekbir, Allahu ekber“ in the middle of Sarajevo. 

In his public statement, he firmly rejected the criticism expressed by the President of the Croat National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH), main Croat political coalition of parties elected by more than 90 percent of Croat votes, Dragan Covic, about the out-voting of the Croats and the lack of implementation of the “Ljubic decision” of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016, which annuls the centralistic provisions of the Election Law favoured by Bosniak-Muslim politicians, saying that “we Bosniaks are not satisfied that we comprise 50 percent in this country and only hold a third of the power, and we are not satisfied that the Federation is divided into cantons“.

While the Bosniak-Muslim political and intellectual elite expresses dissatisfaction with the basic principles of the Washington (and Dayton) Agreements, calling for centralization of power and opposing the federal framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croat politicians are attempting to maintain what is left of autonomy and federalism.

After the High Representatives of the international community, Wolfgang Petritsch and Paddy Ashdown, imposed almost 70 percent of the amendments on Federation’s constitution, about which Croats were unable to provide their input, the goals of the Washington Agreement which guaranteed power-sharing between the two communities were literally nullified.

The open support of the international community for centralization of power enables the Bosniak-Muslim leaders to reject, by underhanded tactics, changes to the election regulations based on the “Ljubic judgement” and to boycott the negotiations on Mostar, the city in which all key Croat institutions are located and in which, in spite of decisions by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no elections have been held since 2008.

Of course, the Bosniak-Muslim benefit by the non-implementation of the “Ljubic decision” because this allows them to continue their domination in BH as well as the status quo in Mostar where, if the regulations that are in force in other cities were implemented, the Bosniak politicians would be unable to control the government.

 “Sign, Alija, even if it’s the size of a courtyard”

After his visit to Palestine in 2018, Bakir Izetbegovic gave an interview to the Sarajevo weekly “Stav”. Izetbegovic had visited the mausoleum in Ramala of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLO) leader Jaser Arafat. Arafat is known for the advice he gave Alija Izetbegovic in 1993 during the Vance-Owen peace plan negotiations in Bosnia. He recommended to Izetbegovic to sign the plan, which the Mostar comedians interpreted as “sign, Alija, even it’s the size of a courtyard.” Bakir Izetbegovic confirmed in “Stav” that “Arafat said something similar to Alija Izetbegovic, but in an even more serious manner.”  He added that Arafat had recommended to his father that he “accept peace, even if unjust, but that he continue to fight by political means for the reintegration of BH.”

Sefer Halilovic, the Head of the Bosniak-Muslim Army, has a similar recollection. He recorded Izetbegovic’s account of Arafat’s bitter regret that, when talking about the size of territory, he “had wanted everything and ended up with nothing.” While Izetbegovic hesitated, the Bosnian Croats signed the plan (as did all others), and Halilovic was so dissatisfied that he made the threat, in an interview to El Pais, on January 27, 1993, that “if Europe does not change its position, we will launch terrorist attacks on their territories. Many European cities will burn.”

During this same period, Arafat successfully negotiated with the Israelis the recognition of PLO and the Palestinian Authority. PLO and Israel signed the historic Oslo Agreement on September 13, 1993, under the auspices of the American president, Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the agreement did not bring the anticipated peace. Already in 1994, from a Johannesburg mosque, Arafat compared the Oslo Agreement with Israel to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah: “I don’t consider this agreement to be any more valid than the one signed between our emissary Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wa salaam, and the Quraysh tribe.” His words encouraged the Palestinians to continue their war against Israel.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

After leaving Mecca (hijra) in AD 622, Muhammad settled Media with his followers and there began to build up arms. In AH 6 (AD 628), he achieved in Hudaybiyyah a ten year non-aggression agreement, unpopular among his followers, with the heathen Quraysh tribe who comprised the majority in Mecca. In order to raise the morale of his people, who were fervently opposed to the agreement, Muhammad attacked the Jewish Khaybar, whose inhabitants were in an alliance with the Mecca Quraysh tribe. Two years later Muhammad, now more powerful, raised an army and conquered Mecca after a small skirmish between his allies and the Quraysh. Considering the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah to be in force, the Quraysh tribe offered no resistance whatsoever.  At the same time, Muhammad patiently built up his military forces, never losing sight of his goal during the duration of the agreement.

One of the interpretations of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah is that it legitimized the Muslim violation of the cease-fire and its continuation of the realization of its goals. The agreement is instructive for at least four reasons.

  • First, after the unpopular concessions to the unfriendly nation, Muhammad was prepared to pursue his goal: domination over the territory and the unfriendly nation.
  • Second, Muhammad was the one who judged whether the agreement was to be respected and whether the other side should be attacked.
  • Third, Muhammad’s agreements were not for the most part intended to produce peace but to serve only as short-term cease-fires while the goals were pursued.
  • Fourth, Muslims and non-Muslims alike were allowed to reach short-term cease-fires (hudna).


Arafat, like Muhammad, endured harsh criticism from, among others, the most influential Orientalist and Palestinian-American university professor, Edward Said, who described him as an “Israeli Marshal Petain.” History teaches us that Arafat, in relation to Said, was aware of the advantages his PLO had gained by signing the Oslo Agreement. Arafat’s hudna, that is, the hudna peace, conformed perfectly to Muhamed’s teachings on the temporary nature of the agreement.  With support from the Islam world and certain Western governments, the result of Arafat’s Treaty of Hudaybiyyah peace was that it enabled him to continue the conflict with Israel, during which, from the fall of 1993 to the end of 1995, 40 percent of the all Israel victims of terrorism in the period between 1945-1995 died.

The Bosniak-Muslim Hudaybiyyah-type interpretation of the agreement with the Croats

The war-mongering of the Bosniak-Muslim political center against the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina the past several years strengthens the conviction that the Bosniak-Muslim leadership considers the Washington Agreement a Hudaybiyyah-type peace, just as Arafat had considered the 1994 agreement with Israel; in other words, a hudna preceding the final reckoning with Croats in a war waged by other means.

The basic connecting tissue between Bosniak policies and Hudaybiyyah tactics is their dissemination of Islamic politics and identity from 1990 to the present day.  In regard to current Bosniak policies, the deep penetration of Pan-Islamic ideology is apparent. In the “Islamic Declaration”  (1970), Alija Izebegovic writes: “Pan-Islamism has always emerged from the very heart of the Muslim nation”. Izetbegovic never retreated from the religious, cultural, and political unity of the entire Muslim world (ummet), considering Pan-Islamism as the measure of “his foreign relations”. He imposed his vision during the war, persuading the Islamic public that “not even the Palestine drama could unite the Muslim world as much as Bosnia”.

At the beginning of the 1990s, nine of the members of the SDA party main council became prominent in Pan-Islamic circles.

Some are close to leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which numerous terrorist groups have emerged. One is the co-founder of the SDA, the former reis-ul-elema Mustafa ef. Ceric, who is a member of the European section of the Muslim Brotherhood, some of whom are under the leadership of one of the heads of the anti-Semitic and pro-Islamic terror Yusuf al-Qaradawi organization. The Islamization of the Bosniak political sphere did not last only during the war, which is illustrated by Ceric’s post-war insistence on sharia law through his statements that “the state has an obligation to guarantee Muslim freedom of life in harmony with the sharia”, and that there is an “inalienable right of Bosniak-Muslims to live under the sharia”.

One is also reminded of the meeting of the delegation of the Muslim Brotherhood, received by Bakir Izetbegovic in his office in 2014. He took a photograph with them with four raised fingers. It was a symbol of Rabia, showing solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood and their violent protests in Egypt, which provoked the outrage of the Croat as well as other world media.  Another indication that Bosniak-Muslim politicians are opening the doors to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization the United States plans on adding to the list of terrorist organizations, was the official meeting between the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic with Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Doha.

The Bosniak-Muslim leadership has pan-Islamized domestic as well as foreign policy, which has increased antagonism toward the West. Bosniak-Muslim leaders have on the one hand adopted the firm belief in the superiority of Muslim unity, and on the other hand, the paranoid fear of the “power” of the unbelieving Christians and Europe, both of which wish to “Palestinianize” or “Andalusianize” them.

Based on the “Islamic Declaration” of Alija Izetbegovic, according to which “there can be no peace or co-existence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions”, his loyal adherents began in early 1990 to write about the “whore Europe” (Dzemaludin Latic), and the West, for which “a drop of oil is more important than a litre of our blood” (Mustafa Ceric), and “Europe, still living under the burden of the barbarism of the Crusades” (Mustafa Imamovic).

This philosophical position can provide one of the explanations for Izetbegovic’s Hudaybiyyah-type approach in the peace agreements under the auspices of the United States, UN, and European Union, agreements he violated and from which he retracted his signature, beginning with the Cutiliero plan in March, 1992, which could have prevented war. The Muslim leadership in actuality signed the hudna while at the same time realizing its military goals.

Considering the post-war Bosnian destruction of the Washington Agreement with the Croatians, it becomes more and more obvious that the Bosniak-Muslims approached it on the the same “Hudaybiyyah-way” they approached the majority of agreements during the war. More recently, proponents of “Bosnian unitarism” have given enthusiastic support to SDA’s Islamism.

Beside islamization of politics, leading Bosniak politicians also promote the islamization of identity.  Ivo Andric, the renowned Bosnia-born writer and Nobel Prize recipient in literature, even fell victim recently; he can scarcely be found today in the Bosnian school curriculum after being proclaimed an “Islamophobic”, and even his defenders are no longer welcome in Sarajevo.  The same applies to Ivan Lovrenovic, who called attention in one of his texts to the ideological-national hostility present in interpretations of Andric’s work; Lovrenovic mentioned the “uncritical idealization of the Ottoman past, and the description of the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and the introduction of Islam as an historical and even eschatological redemption.”

While the proponents of pan-Islamization attempt to preserve the political and spiritual purity of Muslim territories (Dar al-Islam) from worldly “parasites” like Andric, and if possible impose it upon the non-Muslim areas which exist peaceably with Muslims (Dar al-sulh), representatives of so-called “civic Bosnia” conform well with these policies, due to their unitaristic ideology, one that requires a dominant, strong nation able to hold power and maintain its system of predominance.

The Croatian and Western response

In spite of the clear foundations of the 1994 Washington Agreement, its Hudaybiyyah-type interpretation imposed the philosophy of majorization of Bosnian Croats as the main method of realizing the Bosniak-Muslim goal that remained unrealized in the war. The proliferation of Bosniak political so-called “Space of the Jihad”, proclaimed in the middle of the War by Army of BIH commanders (Mr Šerif Patković and the others), was in the eyes of some parts of the Bosniak-Muslim elite halted by the formation of the Muslim-Croat entity in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994.

Croatia and Western political representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina must finally emancipate themselves from the Eurocratic cover-up of the true political situation in the Muslim-Croat Federation.

A dual Cyprus scenario threatens this entity: first, territorial and political division, and second, total destruction of the conditions required for negotiations on an enduring agreement and long-lasting peace between Bosniak-Muslims and Croats.   

As signatory to all significant agreements, the Croat side has an obligation to change the paradigm in regard to how the goals and activities of Bosniak leaders are interpreted. The confusion among the Croat representatives and public opinion can be seen as a result of European post-modern complacency as well as the lack of desire to confront the basic Islamic concepts that influence and explain the intra- and international relations built into contemporary Bosniak-Muslim political tradition.

One of these concepts can be seen today in Arafat’s advice to Alija Izetbegovic on the acceptance of Hudaybiyyah-type peace and the subsequent continuation of the struggle.

In other words, the methods of action have changed, but the goal of freely ruling over territory and nations remains the same.

Muhamed utilized the same philosophy in the AH 8 year to conquer Mecca, as the Quraysh tribe slept peacefully in the belief that the agreement applied equally to all.

Croats and Western representatives must wake from their slumber and find strategic solutions within the limited time period of Hudaybiyyah-type peace before the “historic opportunity” arises to finally eradicate Croats from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a “war by other means”.

Ivan Šušnjar l Globus . Zagreb, Croatia.