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The menshura, in Bosnian practice, is an official document which confirms that an individual is a legally appointed i.e. selected Raisu-l-ulama, and that, as such, he is authorised to issue similar authorisation under the Shariyaa law to other Islamic officers subordinate to him. The term "menšura" entered Bosniak Islamic administration through Ottoman institutions, while the Ottoman themselves adopted it from earlier Muslim states.

In Muslim diplomacy, the term "menshur" (derived from the Arabic word "neshere") signifies "a confirmation of a decree, or an act of appointment" [1]. The "menshura" was associated with different professions and activities in different Muslim states. During the Fatimi era, for instance, lecturers were appointed through the issuing of the menshura, while the same was applied to the appointment of senior Islamic officials, dignitaries and governors of provinces during the rule of the Ayyubids.[2] Renowned Hanafi lawyer el-Hasan Ibn El-Mensur El-Fergani (died hijreti 592) mentions the use of the menshura as a document by which khadiyas were appointed.[3]

In the Ottoman state, the term "menshura" was used simultaneously with the terms "berat" and "misal", with the meaning "letters of appointment".[4] Regional muftis, including those that worked in Bosnia, were appointed by means of a menshura. In international agreements that regulated the position of Muslims in the Balkans after 1912-1913, the term was used for documents by which the Skeiku-l-islam permitted the work of local Islamic leaders (grand or head muftis) after the selection process, or after the leaders were appointed in their national boundaries[5]. Such is also the use of the term in the Autonomous Statute of 1909, as well in all later documents or practices in the Bosniak community.

In the Bosniak community, the text of the menshura changed during the last century. Generally speaking, earlier menshuras were textually more similar to Ottoman influences, whereas the later menshuras, especially those issued during the communist era, suffered significant modification, a step that, in a way, reflected the marginalisation of Islam and its role in the lives of Bosniaks.

At present, the menshura is delivered to newly selected Raisu-l-ulama at an official ceremony and in the presence of the ulama, members of the Community, representatives of the state authority, dignitaries of other faiths etc. A special place among the attendees of the ceremony belongs to supreme representatives of Islamic institutions from around the world. The presence of such an imposing number of "witnesses to the act" (shuhud al-hal) is considered as an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of their leadership among Bosniaks, as well as a confirmation of the fact the members of the Bosniak Islamic community also belong to the universal Ummet of Islam.


*This text was taken from "Istorijski razvoj institucije Rijaseta" (The Historical Development of the Institution of the Riyasat", edited by Omer Nakičević, the Riyasat of the Islamic Community, Sarajevo 1996, pp. 56-58.

[1] W. Bjorkman, "Manshur", EI, vol. V, 246-248.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Fetava Siradžijje, vol. 3, 36.

[4] I.H. Uzuncarsili, op. cit., n.I, 78.

[5] W. Bjorkman, op. cit., 248.