Between the Sovereignty, State-control and Non-interference in Religion. The Islamic Community and the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Antithesis of the German Orientalist Carl Heinrich Becker (1876–1933)
Keywords:C. H. Becker, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Islamic Community, Muslims, Orientalism, Islam Policy
February 2023 marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Carl Heinrich Becker (1876–1933), a famous German orientalist, founder of modern Islamic studies in Germany and the Prussian Minister of Culture and Education (1921, 1925–1930). Since his appearance on the German and European intellectual scene at the beginning of the 20th century, C. H. Becker tried to focus his various interests not only on a historical and cultural research of medieval Islam but also on Muslim contemporary issues. Based on this, his analysis of the European colonial powers regarding their Islampolitik found its main motive in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s regulations on the legal position of the Bosnian Muslim’ religious and waqf-mearif institutions.
Although some Bosnian authors, such as Ahmed Smajlović, Smail Balić, Nerkez Smailagić, Salih H. Alić, Fehim Bajraktarević and others, referred to Becker's scientific work, his notions about Bosnian Muslims remained mostly disregarded in Bosnian historiography and Islamic studies.
Therefore, the aim of this article is to – using the literature, the press, Becker's numerous private correspondence, manuscripts and other archival sources – analyse Becker's observations about the Bosnian Muslims and their Islamic community through the practice of the Austro-Hungarian Islam policy. Thus, this paper analyses the method of his Islampolitik in the context of his antithesis of the sovereignty, state-control and non-interference in religion.