Prayer Profile
The Bosnian of Bosnia-Hercegovina

[IMAGE] The nearly 1.3 million Bosnian are the largest ethnic group in Bosnia-Hercegovina, making up almost 40% of the total population (Serbs 31%, Croats 17%). The Bosnian, the Serb, and the Croat are similar in language and culture, yet all three have different religious affiliations; the Bosnian are primarily Muslim.

A brutal civil war evolved after Bosnia-Hercegovina declared its independence in 1992. Seventy percent of Bosnia's factories, homes, schools, and mosques were destroyed by former Serbian and Croatian neighbors, and almost 100,000 Bosnian Muslims reported killed or missing. In 1993, more than 60,000 Muslims lived in concentration camps, with hundreds of communities and thousands of families destroyed. Many mass graves have been discovered. Bosnia's Muslims are widely seen in the West as the primary victims of this civil war, and refugees can be found in nearly all European countries.

What are their lives like?
Bosnia separated from Serbia in 960 A.D., and many Bosnian Slavs became Muslims during the 500-year Ottoman-Turkish occupation. Because of their willingness to become Muslims, the Bosnian were generally favored. They quickly dominated the professional and civil-service posts in the cities. The rural Bosnian remained involved in cereal farming and raising livestock, mainly sheep.

The break-up of Yugoslavia led to a Croat-Muslim alliance in March of 1992 in support of Bosnia's independence. The Serbs living in Bosnia opposed to this began a civil war. The Serbs sought to remove all non-Serbs from the Bosnian territory that they claimed. Efforts by the United Nations and other mediators to hold back Serbian aggression and "ethnic cleansing" have failed to deliver a solution acceptable to all warring parties.

During the war, many local industries were destroyed, resulting in thousands of unemployed Bosnian. The United Nations food supplies constituted the main source of food; but due to the trade embargo, supplies were limited to the bare necessities.

Bosnian Muslims in the rural areas are patrilocal, which means that they live near the husband's family. They live in traditional, extended farm households, called zadrugas. All members contribute to the household's economic well-being. Traditionally, the bulk of the heavy agricultural labor and livestock care belonged to the males. However, the civil war has severely disrupted both living and working situations for most Bosnian.

Some Islamic traits have persisted longer in Bosnia-Hercegovina than in Anatolia where they originated. Thus, Bosnian Muslim women wore veils until this practice was banned in 1950. The traditional Bosnian men still wear the fez, a cone-shaped hat.

What are their beliefs?
Almost all Bosnian (99.9%) are Muslims and follow the teachings of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed. Islam is based on five central teachings or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet. (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must generously give alms. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.

What are their needs?
The tragedy of the Bosnian has been vividly portrayed to the world by the media. The destruction of villages and towns, expulsion of their inhabitants, systematic looting, and raping of women have left deep scars and an abiding hatred between communities that once lived together and even intermarried.

The Bosnian are one of Europe's least evangelized peoples. Although there are four missions agencies currently working among the Bosnian of Bosnia-Hercegovina, very few have accepted Christ. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Bosnian toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are currently working among the Bosnian.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Bosnia-Hercegovina and share Christ.
  • Ask God to encourage the few known Bosnian believers in this region.
  • Pray that God will meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the Bosnian.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Bosnian by the year 2000.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Bosnian bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.

See also the following related groups:
The Bosnian of Croatia; Macedonia; and Serbia.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Bosnian
  • Country: Bosnia-Hercegovina
  • Their language: Serb-Croatian
  • Population: (1990) 1,651,800
    (1995) 1,326,000
    (2000) 1,660,300
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Hanafite) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 398
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 623,600 (47%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 40,200 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 583,400 (44%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 702,400 (53%)
  • Country: Bosnia-Hercegovina
  • Population: (1990) 4,308,200
    (1995) 3,458,700
    (2000) 4,330,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Bosnian 38.3%
    Serb 30.1%
    Croat 17.3%
    Vlach Gypsy 10.1%
    Rumelian Turk 1.1%
  • Major religions: Muslim 50.7%
    Christian 37.7%
    Nonreligious 8.7%
  • Number of denominations: 10

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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