Mustafa Hasani: The Status of Imams in Bosnia and Herzegovina
135 Mustafa Hasani In addition to the word Imam, the Bosnian language also uses the syn- onyms hodža and efendija. Imam is an Arabic word meaning “lead- er”. Classical Islamic literature defines Imam as a person who leads prayers, but someone who is invested with the authority of political leadership. The word hodža is derived from the Arabic hudždže in the sense of hudžetullah, that is to say, “the proof of God to people”. Efendi- ja is originally a Greek word which entered Bosnian via Turkish and it means “sir” or “mister”. The word efendija has a special use in Bosnian as the name of an Imam is usually followed by the word efendija, of- ten shortened to ef. as an honorific title. At the same time, Imam is also an alim, “a person learned in re- ligion”. Its plural is ulema. Historically speaking, after attending reli- gious schools ulema were divided into three categories based on the type of work they did: T h e S ta t u s o f I m a m s i n B o s n i a a n d H e r z e g ov i n a 136 Mustafa Hasani 1. the ritual ulema (Imams, hatibs), 2. the educational ulema (muallims, muderrises), and 3. the legal and judiciary ulema (judges, qadis and muftis) (Karčić, 1999). This paper is concerned primarily with the first two categories of Imams because, first of all, they...
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