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Lessons from Horror: Reflections from my Bosnian Trip as we remember the Srebrenica massacre!

Subhanallah, today marks the day when 8,000 Muslim Bosnians were murdered in the Srebrenica massacre, and since Allah has blessed me to visit Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia in the last 2 years, I would like to share some powerful personal insights with you! (I promise it's worth your valuable time!

I will never forget my first flight from Istanbul to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, as the last 20 minutes of landing was the most scenic window view I've seen in all my life flying over half this planet! However, in the last 5 minutes of landing, that view became disturbingly uncomfortable, as the beautiful mountains suddenly got covered by grave stones as far as the eyes could see!

After landing, the drive from the airport to the old town of Sarajevo, as beautiful as the nature was, that beauty was overshadowed by buildings which have hundreds of bullet/cannon holes in their front face, yet still remain inhabited until this day by the local residents who suffer from record unemployment until this day, 22 years after the tragic incidents. I also saw school playgrounds, and football fields completely turned into cemeteries, because there was not enough space to bury everyone who died! :(

Gardens turned into graveyards!

As I reach the home of my Bosnian hosts, sister Maryam, an old woman and her middle aged son welcome me with a plate of mouth-watering burek, a spiral looking Ottoman pastry filled with meat, or cheese and spinach, or potato. I take a quick bite, shower, and get ready to explore and learn the history of this majestic place with my wonderful host family.

The son, a war survivor who was a teenager when the Serbian invasion started, took me on a tour, which was unlike any tour I've ever seen in my life, because.... he was actually narrating to me the exact story of how he and his mom survived the horror of this genocide, while many of their relatives became Shaheeds in this war!

The most horrific scene he showed me, was a very compact but long tunnel, which they have dug with their bare hands, where they had to smuggle food from outside the besieged city as the UN was dropping food supplies from planes, but to get the food, they still have to bribe some soldiers with cigarettes to get the food, since their currency became obsolete!

Imagine then, having to carry 40 kgs of supplies in a backpack and walking through a claustrophobic dark tunnel where you cannot even stand straight, while water reaches almost to your chest. Just imagine breathing in those conditions with that weight! (40 kgs is equal to 2 large suitcases ON YOUR BACK!!!!)

To make matters worse, he told me about how the winter was super harsh, as the Serbs cut off heat and electricity from the entire city to freeze the citizens to death (it's a very cold city because of the mountains) and even cut the water supply, a complete ethnic cleansing!

My tour ended at night by meeting the famous scholar, tafseer authour, and graduate of Al-Azhr, Dr. Safvat Khalilovic, who gave me another night tour of the city explaining the 500 year Ottoman history, and relating the events from the Tafseer of the Quran. He even taught me how to defend myself from the 3000+ stray dogs using an Umbrella! :)

We ended the night by praying isha in a Masjid which is as full on a week day as it is on Friday in other countries Masha'Allah! Since Bosnians have witnessed the horror of death, they know very well the value of being close to their Creator!

If you are still reading this, I want to tell you a secret. As Allah has blessed me to travel to 100+ countries, I have never seen anything like Bosnia. The majestic mountains, the heart touching history, the super tasty food, the wonderful kind locals, and the super cheap prices!

So this summer, forget Switzerland, France, and those overpriced countries which enjoy bullying their Muslim minorities with xenophobic laws, and come spend your time here in Bosnia at one tenth of the cost, where your money will help the local people, your brothers and sisters, recover from war and rebuild their Jannah-like nation again insha'Allah. May Allah have mercy on all those who died bravely defending their land. Ameen!

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