Foreign interest in Bosnia’s once beleaguered Muslim community is evident all around. Saudi Arabia built the largest mosque and Islamic centre in the Balkans in Sarajevo and is helping to fund the new university library. Countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE have all provided aid and investments.
Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich and longstanding history in the country, having been introduced to the local population in the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Bosniaks are predominantly Muslim by religion, the vast majority of whom are Sunni Muslims who subscribe to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, although more recently small minorities of Shia Muslims subscribing to the Twelvers school of thought have also emerged in the country. There are around 3 million Muslim Bosniaks, taking into account historic emigrations and the large diaspora that had left the country during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. An estimated 1.55 million still reside in their native Bosnia and Herzegovina where they constitute 40 percent of the country’s overall population.
As such, Bosnian Muslims comprise the single largest religious group in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the other two large groups being Eastern Orthodox Christians (31%) and Roman Catholics (15%)) and form one and the same ethnoreligious community with Bosniaks in the neighboring Sandžak region of Serbia and Montenegro.
Other non-Bosniak minority groups of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina include Albanians, Roma people and Turks.