Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya: Standing by oppressed Bosnian Muslims

Anas Mahmood, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya UK


One of the beauties of Islam is that when its followers encounter one another, they meet as brothers or sisters in faith. The worldwide ummah – followers of the Holy Prophetsa – are to resemble a family, where its members pray for and protect each other from harm. This was the example of the Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, about whom Allah states:

اِنَّمَا الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ اِخۡوَةٌ

“Surely [all] believers are brothers.” (Surah al-Hujurat, Ch.49, V.11)

We see in history that whenever Muslims have not acted according to this principle, the ummah has faced division, strife, and suffering – such as in the case of the Bosnian Muslims. However, amidst the silence of the wider ummah, the Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya stood as a shining example of brotherhood and support for the oppressed Bosnian Muslims.

On the 11 July 2020, the world marked 25 years since the Srebrenica massacre, part of the Balkan Wars about 30 years ago. During that time, the Muslims of Bosnia faced expulsion and extermination, while most of the Muslim leaders turned a blind eye. This is the story of how the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat recognised the plight of Bosnian Muslims and took unprecedented steps to reach out to them in their time of desperation, becoming an embodiment of the wonders Khilafat can accomplish for the Muslim ummah.

Bosnian War: 1992-1995

The people of Bosnia readily accepted Islam when they came under its rule in the 15th century. Despite limited Muslim rule, the rapid conversion to Islam reached nearly 100% in certain areas – such as Sarajevo. (Gábor Ágoston; Alan Masters (2009), Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, p. 146) Tensions started to flare in the 1990s when the Bosnians voted for an independent state, but other ethnic groups, especially Bosnian Serbs, boycotted the referendum. Serbian militias, backed by the Serbian government, then went to war in order to “secure” ethnically Serb areas.

However, when the war began, the Serbs started attacking cities primarily populated by non-Serbs, particularly Muslims. As these attacks specifically targeted non-Serb areas, the sinister aim became clear: to ethnically cleanse the Bosnian Muslims from their ancestral homeland.

This war devastated Bosnia. The atrocities perpetrated by the VRS (Bosnian Serb Army) are enough to make one shudder to the core. In Visegrad alone, 3000 Muslims were killed in just five months, with 70 of them locked in a house and burned alive. For the first time since World War II, concentration camps reappeared on European soil. Similar massacres occurred throughout Bosnia, with unspeakable atrocities committed against women and another 3000 deaths by the end of 1992. (

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IVrh pointed out that their children were sent to furnaces, and their leaders were publicly humiliated to emphasise the annihilation of their future (Friday Sermon, 20November 1992, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 11, pp. 821-839). Despite this, the worst was yet to come.

The capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, was besieged for 1,425 days, making it the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare. The UN has estimated that an average of 329 shells hit the city every day, at one point reaching up to 3,777 shells on a single day. Countless lives were lost, and the resulting divisions have left lasting scars. (Bassiouni, Cherif (27 May 1994), “Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to security council resolution 780 (1992) – Annex VI – part 1 – Study of the battle and siege of Sarajevo”)

As part of their offensives in numerous towns and cities across Bosnia, Serbian forces attacked Srebrenica in 1995. Srebrenica was a UN safe zone that provided shelter to Bosnians, many of whom were refugees. Tragically, over 8,300 lives were massacred in this event – a figure so immense and incomprehensible that, even to this day, the bodies of those killed are still being identified from mass graves. By the end of the war, the death toll had reached over 62,000 Bosnian Muslims, with half of them being civilians. (Calic, Marie–Janine (2012), “Ethnic Cleansing and War Crimes, 1991–1995”, In Ingrao, Charles W.; Emmert, Thomas A. (eds.), “Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholars’ Initiative”, West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press. p. 14

Research presented to the Hague Tribunal stated:

“What happened in Bosnia is also described as sociocide, the murdering of a progressive, complex, and enlightened society in order that a regressive, simple, and bigoted society could replace it.” (Keith Doubt, Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia [2006], pp. 129-130)

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh addressing Bosnian refugees in Oslo, Norway | Al Fazl International, 30 July 1993

Response by Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya

The actions of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya to support the Bosnian cause became an exemplar, defining the standard of fraternity between Muslims in the modern era.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, whilst making it clear that “This matter connects deeply to my being” (Friday Sermon, 12 February 1993, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 12, pp. 117-136), made it a point to mention that no one was helping the Bosnians in the same way that the oppressed Jews were helped during the Holocaust, and the reason for this was that the major powers were colluding to expunge Islam from the region. (English Mulaqat, 6 August 1995 Huzoorrh stressed the point that the Muslims were being unjustly usurped of their land because of their religion and calling of Allah’s name. (Friday Sermon, 9 October 1992)

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh would dedicate his Friday sermons to urging the members of the worldwide Jamaat to donate generously to the Bosnian people (Friday Sermon, 12February 1993, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 12, pp. 117-136). He would also sit down with them and listen to their experiences. He personally distributed clothes from his wardrobe to them and emphasised the importance of preserving their language and culture. (Tariq Magazine, Tahir Souvenir Edition, 2004, p. 217) His affection for Bosnian children was evident in his meetings with them, as their joy was impossible to conceal. (Meeting with Bosnians 24 April 1994, He would reassure them, saying, “Our bond will never break”, and that “Bosnia’s Muslims are the bravest people in the world.” (Meeting with Bosnians, 24 April 1994,

In his sermons, he encouraged the Jamaat to adopt the traumatised children of the war and show them love. He stated, “I feel that despite [legal] challenges, it is possible for Ahmadis to take [these] children into their care, and try to love them with a love greater than one given by parents […] They have been wronged for the sake of Allah.” (Friday Sermon, 9 October 1992, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 11, pp. 705-722)

He said, “[Members of the Jamaat] should welcome the Muslims of Bosnia, give them shelter, aid their spiritual upbringing, and help them in every respect” (Friday Sermon, 9 October 1992, Khutbat-e-Tahir, Vol. 11, pp. 705-722)

It was his ardent desire that Ahmadis be at the forefront of securing a future for this generation of Bosnian children whose lives were changed after the fallout of the war: “Those children who have been orphaned for the sake of God, this is the time for treating them with special love and care. And more and more Ahmadi households should adopt them.” (Ibid.)

Under Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’srh guidance, members of Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya embarked on humanitarian missions to deliver aid to regions devastated by the war. These missions would later serve as pioneering accomplishments for what would become “Humanity First”. The Jamaat was encouraged to contribute to these regular convoys.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’srh reassurance to the distraught survivors holds lessons of sympathy and empathy for us all. He would urge them to have firm faith in Allah: “We trust only in prayer, and we do hope and believe that once God has decided for the trial to be over, and for the new break of the new morning, the new day in Bosnia, then it will happen insha-Allah […] God will not abandon you” (Meeting with Bosnians, 24 April 1994, He also stated that the future of Bosnia “is brighter than ever before”, and that although it was a “small state” that was “engulfed by Communists all around”, after “huge sacrifices”, now is the “era of reward”. (Q & A, 14 January 1996,

At the 1994 Jalsa Salana UK, a survivor presented Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’srh with a painting she had drawn from memory of a mosque that had been destroyed in the war. Huzoorrh warmly accepted the painting, and in a manner reminiscent of a father’s love, his consoling words served as a reminder to the woman and the Muslim world of Islam’s history of steadfastness in the face of adversity. Huzoorrh said:

“No reason for shedding tears, because no tears were shed on the demolition of the Kaaba [… ] only a determination, a resolution was born, that ‘We must rebuild it’, and with that, you must be happy, Okay?” (Q&A Jalsa UK 1994,

In a time when the Muslum world remained largely silent, the actions of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya assumed responsibility. Understanding this dark chapter of humanity not only helps us comprehend the Divine force guiding our Jamaat but also enables us to be informed human beings.

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