Aug 2, 2012

Ajvatovica - the "little Hajj"

Ajvatovica is the largest Islamic traditional, religious and cultural event in Europe. Muslims from around the world gathered here, as it is the most important Islamic shrine in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was named after Ajvaz-dedo who was a devout Muslim.

Every year in June, thousands of Bosniaks gather at the holy site at Ajvatovica near the village of Prusac. According to legend, Prusac had problems with water supply.  Ajvaz-dedo found a water spring near Prusac, but it was blocked  with a 74 meters long rock. Ajvaz-dedo spent 40 days praying to Allah to split the rock. On the fortieth morning, following his prayers,  Ajvaz-dedo dreamed that two white rams collided and split the rock.

In June 1990 the Islamic Community (IZ), organized a landmark commemoration of the sixteenth-century conversions to Islam in Bosnia.

Concurrently the IZ symbolically restored the national  Bosniak shrine at Ajvatovica in western Bosnia via massive pilgrimage under green banners of Islam. The pilgrimage had originated in 1463 and had continued as an established tradition until it was interrupted by a police action in 1947. Legend has it that Ottoman religious instructors came to the Prusac area in the 1460s to establish regular instruction and convert local members of the Bogumil "Bosnian Church" to Islam.
On 16-17 June 1990. over 100.000 people made pilgrimage to Ajvatovica to commemorate the beginning of the conversion to Islam in Bosnia. At the mountain shrine where Muslim mystics meditate above the valley of the historic conversion.
Jakub ef. Selimoski (then acting reis-ul-ulema) said: With the help of the Almighty Merciful Allah. With this is the time when we Bosniaks are restoring the right to express our religious identity in a dignified and humane way: this is the time when we restore our traditions and customs in liberty, though being aware of the responsibility and constraints the freedom we have acquired are imposing upon us... Congregating here at Ajvatovica, as our ancestors before us did, we are paying tribute to literacy and education.... We are today also paying tribute to our history and our forefathers.