March 4, 2012 By Jafer Ajanur Palaki

Reading Begovic and the milestones of an intellectual

Alija Izetbogovic is widely known as the first president of Bosnia Herzegovina, who bravely led the Balkan Muslims at a time when they were threatened by racial extermination in Eastern Europe which was fast set as a stage for communal and religious conflicts after the disintegration of the Marxian political system. He was widely acknowledged in the international forums for his mature stances, compromises and firmness to preserve the multi-cultural identity of Bosnia. His leadership and bravery in the face of a warring situation in Bosnia earned him an endearing name among the Bosnians (both compatriots of his religion and the secular ones): Dodo.
Begovic started his career of writing with the review of the premises both of science and religion regarding the origin of human species. He tried to build his definition on the origin and role of man on Darwin and Michael Angelo, whom he took as metaphors respectively of science and religion as well as of the theory of evolution and that of creation.
Begovic observes that man is not only the most evolved species in an inhuman and mechanical chain of evolution; but a peculiar existence with being and freedom who stays at odds with nature and weaves dreams on the canvas of sky. Neither the mechanical rationale of the theory of evolution nor the theories of natural selection are enough to explain the mystery and drama; prayer and prohibitions; loneliness and sense of guilt that have all remained close to man ever since the very morning of the origin of his race. The evolution of man from the bestial state of hunting in privacy; sleeping in peace; and mating to his state in the cave where he observed mysterious rites and irrational taboos cannot be explained but in the context of religious imaginations on the birth man in heaven and on the immortality of human soul. Darwin tries to explain the physical attributes of man, while the pictures of Michael Angelo signify his inner world and his spiritual transactions.

Begovic was not only the builder of a nation. He was a philosopher and scholar too. He spent many years in prison owing to his dissidence against the restraint on freedom and liberty imposed by autocratic states. It was during his prison years that he wrote the philosophical notes titled Notes from Prison. Begovic has also written Islam Between East and West, which is celebrated as Begovic’s magnum opus.

Begovic’s philosophy is neither self-laudatory literature, which spouts the greatness of Islam to non-Muslims nor anarchic existentialism which denigrates life into absurdity. His is an intellectual exercise to place Islam in the spectrum of ideas and translate it to the language in which the newer generations communicate and debate. Islam has had a rich philosophical tradition in which belief, knowledge and rationality were all harmoniously blended. The tradition was enriched by the likes of Al Farabi, Al Kindi, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Imam Ghazzali. Of these, Ibn Rushd, who was born in Andalusia, is known as a philosopher who deeply influenced western enlightenment and modernity. Moses Maimonides and St Thomas Aquinas pay him the tribute of his disciples. But the world of Islam has rarely been influenced by Ibn Rushd, because of the suspicion of incongruity of his ideas with the tradition of Islamic faith and of the popularity of Ghazzali’s philosophy.

Begovic’s philosophy stands apart with its concord with the scriptural tradition of Islam. He carried Islamic ideas over to the modern intellectual language. He hardly claims that he succeeds in this attempt. Begovic’s words are imbued with the splendour of Ibn Rushd’s rationality and the strength of Ghazzali’s certainty of belief. The society becomes dynamic and the community creative, when the ideas of thinkers like Begovic are widely

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