None of us really liked Sarajevo because we couldn’t have imagined that a city and its dwellers which were destroyed could just keep on partying so we left and headed to Mostar.
Muslims of Bosnia were targeted by both the Serbians and the Croatians. Since Mostar was a city in Bosnia with significant Croatian population it was here that the most brutal confrontation took place between Bosnians (Muslims) and Croatians (Christians).
Mostar came into Ottoman rule in 1468 and the Ottomans set to work on modernising the city. The standard Ottoman planning of splitting the city into two zones is clearly evident in the city and the old city has two distinct zones
A student of Ottoman Architect Mima Sinan replaced the old wooden bridge with a stone bridge which became a wonder of its time and stood for nearly 400 years. The original Ottoman bridge can be seen here:
The Croation army pounded the city relentlessly for 9 months and you can see the state of the iconic bridge according to BBC Archives to imagine the state of the people and the homes!
The Croations then proceeded to mass murder, gang rape and ethnically cleanse the Muslims here in only of the few atrocities that the West actually acknowledges (happened)!
This bridge signifies the hyprocrisy of the West as when the Bosnian Army (aided by early Mujahideen) struck back at the Croatians with blistering speed with plans like Operation Neretva '93, the operation was stopped! Later during the war, when tables started turning in Bosnia (for the Muslims) with the arrival of hundreds and thousands of Mujahideen the West intervened and envoked a cease fire.
The bridge was rebuilt in 2008 but it has lost its Ottoman charm as you can see here:
It is a favourite past time for the Tourists and those who want to make money for Tourists to actually jump off the bridge and into the River. Before you admire this scene remember that many Muslim women did this to avoid being gang-raped!
Once you cross the brdige, you pass through the old Ottoman era Bazaar on your way to the Masjid which is the focal part of the whole city. The Ottomans once again set the Mosque at a location where it still peers proudly and stands tall staring down at everything else. Here is the old Bazar:
You pass the Bazar and enter into Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque which is one of the oldest Mosques and later Madrasa (Darul-uloom) from the Ottoman era. The Mosque is a very popular tourist site. The Ottomans used to build their Wudhu facilities away from the Mosque even in cold climates and they enigneered fresh water supply system which was the best of its kind (at the time). This Mosque has been through war but the original Ottoman plumbing and Wudhu Khana still functions!
The Mosque is built on a magnificant site as you can see from the pictures.
Inside is still the Ottoman era Mimbar. Those who have never been to a Turkish Mosque are requested to play close attention to the High mimbar. I put this question to a Turkish Scholar as to why the Turks build High Mimbars and the Muadhin actually stood on the back to give Adhan instead of from the front, answer later.
You can actually just make out the bridge from the back of the Mosque
Here an incident occured which restored our faith in Ummah of Sayyidina Rasul-ullah (Sallallaho Aliahe Wassallam) and its Ghayrah.
The Mosque is run by an Ottoman era trust and there are families earning an income from tourists and living in abject poverty. I wanted to use the Toilet so I started walking, an old Bosnian woman who was the cleaning lady ran after me to stop me to charge for money. I had no idea that it cost me money to use the Toilet.
When I turned to face her, she froze in her tracks and said, “No money for you”...Then she ran ahead and made sure that the Toilet was clean before I went inside and said “Take your time”. She didn’t know English but we all understood what was happening.
After I came out I tried to pay and she refused to take it so we shared food and stuff with the old woman and started talking. She ran somewhere and returned with her son who spoke reasonable English. She told me you are Muslim how can I take your money? We spoke to her about the atrocities of war and she said “I hate the Croatians” but I am an old woman, the Ummah never came to help us! We were fed to the wolves here”
I asked her, “What she does with the Croatians?” She said, “I charge everyone 1 Euro for using the Toilet and Croatians 2 Euros, what else can I do in my age?”
We also asked her as to why the Mosque lets Croatian women half-naked into the Mosque, doesn’t she think its disrespectful to the Mosque. She said, “Ask the Hoca (Alim) who gives a Fatwa and allows it and he will explain it to you that he gets my money for it and I get to clean the Toilets for these filthy Croatians”.
Stories of old women like this is what keeps the enemies of Islam awake at night because no matter how hard they try they cannot crush the spirit of the Ummah and break its backbone!
This old woman made us very happy! Al-Wala Wal-Bara Bosnian style
We then returned from the Mosque and hired a Taxi to go to Croatia. At the border again the white guy was let out to walk while the rest of us sat in the Taxi. Border crossing into Croatia was easy and the white guy got back in the car and within minutes two police cars came from nowhere and stopped us!
We were finally caught...
The Croatian Police issued a penalty to the Taxi driver for his car tax being out of date and didn't even look at us.
From here on the Taxi driver started giving us attitude, all of sudden kids became poor etc. He wanted more money so we asked him to stop the Taxi at the nearest city (by the Railway station). He thought that he can get some money this way so he obliged. We stopped at the Railway station and I offered to give him what we had agreed but he said he doesn’t want any money! So I walked and he drove.
He drove around and came and asked for money and I refused to give him anything. He kept begging and I kept walking. I said either you take us where we are going and I give you what we agreed OR you don’t get anything because I tried to give you money previously which you declined.
Reluctantly, he agreed to take us to our destination and when we got there I gave him his money and 20-30 Euros as tip so he was happy.
Our return flight was supposed to be from Dubrovnik which is a beautiful town near the Adriatic sea. We got to the Airport in the early hours of the morning when it was very dark. The Airport was closed!
We had no choice but to find a place to sleep so we just slept in the grass until Fajar. After Salah the Airport was still closed and by the time it opened we discovered that there was a problem with the EasyJet flight and it was delayed and won’t be going for a good few hours.
What were we supposed to do? Chinese parliament started again with all sorts of ideas and discussions and then...
Ingenuity took over and we borrowed the Airport Wifi, logged onto a site back in UK and booked a luxury apartment for 30 Euros. This apartment was right on the beach and absolutely beautiful. 3 of the boys went out and bought some stuff so we cooked a meal and enjoyed ourselves.
I went to sleep (because I always recharge myself for the next trouble) while the boys went to the beach and fooled around. There wasn’t a human in sight for miles, the water is crystal blue, beach was spotless and sun was shining. They came back a few hours later, we had another meal and then left for the Airport.
The return flight was pretty much uneventful except for the gossiping passengers who had come to this resort a week or so earlier and just lounged around on the beach while we had been through several countries in the same time.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.