Though there is little talk of the war in Sarajevo today, religious leaders trace Bosnia’s Islamic revival directly to the horrors people witnessed in the 1990s, when they were children. “This generation grew up overnight,” says the country’s Grand Mufti, Mustafa Efendi Ceric. “We had an entire generation asking, ‘Does God exist?’ And now we have a generation that is very religious.” Husic and her friends bear that out. As young girls, they watched their hometown of Mostar become ripped apart as lifelong neighbors turned against each other in a spiral of ethnic enmity; two of the four women lost their fathers, while another watched as an uncle was dragged away to his death. As rockets pummeled the city, the girls huddled in the makeshift basement that served as their classroom. Deeply shaken, all four opted to study in Egypt after the war under a religious sponsorship. They returned at 18 in hijabs — a sharp break from their families’ traditions. Their transformation was hardly unique. Aida Begic, 33, a director whose first feature film Snow has won numerous awards, says her teen years in besieged Sarajevo shook her to the core. “Every minute you wonder what will happen after you die,” she says. “You cannot postpone those questions until old age.” After years of dabbling in Buddhism and Judaism, and a phase as a punk rocker with blue hair, four years ago Begic adopted the Islamic head scarf and long dress and became deeply religious. She says the decision “caused an earthquake” among her family and friends, who are still uncomfortable with her devotion.
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May Allah continue to guide them and keep them firm on the straight path. Ameen!