Dzemijetul Hajrije

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Dzemijetul Hajrije is the oldest Muslim organization in the United States.[1] It is a benevolent society started in 1906 to help Muslim immigrants from Bosnia.[2]

History[change | change source]

In the late 1800s, many young men came from Bosnia to Chicago to work in construction. They built roads, buildings, and tunnels for the Chicago commuter train system.[3] Many Bosnians worked on the tunnels for Arif Dilich’s Paschen Construction Company, a large company in Chicago.[4] The Dzemijetul Hajrije was like a family to the many young single men. It had religious services and special activities for Eid and other holidays. It helped pay for medical expenses and funerals.[2]

Many Muslims also lived in Gary, Indiana and worked in the steel mills. Another group of Bosnian Muslims went to work in the copper mines in Butte, Montana.[5] Dzemijetul Hajrije started chapters in Gary, Indiana in 1913, Wilpen, Pennyslvania in 1915, and Butte, Montana in 1916.[2] They did not have a mosque, but they met in coffeehouses.[2] In 1956 the last Bosnian coffeehouse closed.[5]

After World War II more Bosnians immigrated to Chicago. Many were well-educated, but they had to take jobs as taxi cab drivers, factory workers, and janitors. In the early 1950s, they asked Sheik Kamil Avdich, a religious scholar, to be their first imam. They started the Muslim Religious and Cultural Home. In 1957, they opened a mosque on Halsted Street. In 1968, they changed their name to the Bosnian American Cultural Association. In the 1970s they bought land in Northbrook for a larger mosque, the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago.[3][5][2]

References[change | change source]

  1. Schuessler, Ryan (18 January 2017). "America's oldest Muslim families on the Trump presidency: 'This can't deter us'" – via The Guardian.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 publisher. "Bosnian Muslims Break the "Cliché" - Muslim Journal Online".
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Bosnians".
  4. Puskar, Samira (1 January 2007). "Bosnian Americans of Chicagoland". Arcadia Publishing – via Google Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bronner, Simon J. (4 March 2015). "Encyclopedia of American Folklife". Routledge – via Google Books.