Bosniaks were among the first Muslim immigrants to Chicago
At the beginning of the last century, Muslim immigrants from all over the world immigrated to America in waves in search of economic security and escape from political crises.
In the 1890s, Chicago was one of the world’s largest centers, a large construction site, a magnet for immigrants eager for work and income. Among the immigrants were Bosniak young men, mostly unmarried, who wanted to earn money in America, and then return to Bosnia and continue where they left off. However, they never returned. Since they were unmarried, some married within the Bosniak community, which was small in number, and some married Yugoslav immigrants of non-Bosniak ethnicity.
Croats mostly inhabited southern Chicago, while Serbs lived in Orthodox communities that existed on the east side of the city. According to official data, in the period from 1899 to 1939, 53,142 Dalmatians and Bosnians, and Herzegovinians immigrated to America. In the 1930s, there were already about 325,000 Yugoslavs living in America, but Bosniaks were not even close in number to Serbs and Croats. In the early years of Yugoslav emigration, Bosniaks did not make up a large number, and this was facilitated by the anti-Muslim and anti-Ottoman mood in the then America.
Bosniaks were among the first Muslim immigrants to Chicago, and the number of Muslims has grown steadily since then, so in 2007, 30,000 Muslims of various nationalities gathered in Chicago for the annual gathering of North American Muslims, which is held on Workers’ Day.
What is interesting is the little-known fact that Bosniaks founded the first Muslim organization (institution) in America back in 1906, when they founded Jamietul Hajri (The Benevolent Society), which aimed to bring Muslims together and inherit the faith. and the tradition of Bosniaks and they extended their activities to the communities of Bosniaks in Indiana (1913) and Montana (1916). The primary task of these associations was to care for the sick and bury Muslims, as well as to welcome and assist newly arrived Bosniaks in America. Thus, in Saric’s tavern in Chicago, which was on three floors, single Bosniaks who had just emigrated lived on the upper floors.
After the Muslim community in Chicago expanded in the 1950s, they invited Imam Kamil Avdic (1914-1974) to be an imam in the community, and in 1957 they opened the first mosque on Halsted Street. Imam Kamil Avdic made a great contribution to the development of this Bosniak community, wrote several works, and remained there until his death in 1974. In 1968, the association changed its original name to the Bosnian American Cultural Association, and in the 1970s land was purchased to build a large mosque, which became a gathering place not only for Bosniaks but also for other Muslims. According to data from 2002, counting previous immigrants, as well as those due to the aggression on BiH, the number of Bosniaks in Chicago is about 40,000. Most of those who are in the late 19th or early 20th.
During and after the aggression on BiH 1992-1995. tens of thousands of Bosniaks found refuge in America. That is according to the official data of the American government in the period from 1993-2006. year, when the acceptance of refugees from our country was officially completed, a total of 143,770 BiH immigrants arrived in America. citizens and the biggest wave of emigration occurred in 1998 when 30,906 BiH immigrants settled in that year alone. citizens.
According to recent data, between 250-300,000 Bosnians and about 350-390,000 descendants of Bosnians (second and third generation) currently live in America, of which 70% are Bosniaks, 20% Serbs, and 10% Croats.
In support of several old photographs of the first Bosniaks in the United States, and more about Bosniaks in the United States, and especially Chicago, you can find in the work Bosnian Americans of Chicagoland by A Magazine.