Patarenes, Protestants and Islam in Bosnia: Deconstructing the Bogomil theory

Ines Asceric-Todd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Attempts to explain the existence of a large indigenous Muslim population in Bosnia have resulted in two main academic trends, both subject to politicized and biased representations of the area’s history. The first, originating mostly in Serbian nationalist historiography, claims that Bosnian Christians were forcibly converted and has been used since the nineteenth century to galvanize support for Serbian expansionist ambitions in the shape of its ‘Greater Serbia’ project. The second and long the most popular view holds that the majority of Bosnian Christians who converted to Islam belonged to a heretical ‘Bogomil’ institution of the Bosnian Church. Although this theory has been questioned over time, one of its central premises – that there are similarities between the theology and practice of Bogomilism and those of Islam – has never undergone any scrutiny. This article examines both this crucial premise of the Bogomil Theory, and the theory’s provenance, and argues that, just as we should dismiss the Serbian (and Croatian) nationalist theories on the subject, we should also recognize the Bogomil Theory as a mythicized account of history, motived by both the personal prejudice and imperialist-colonialist agendas of its nineteenth-century authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-234
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Issue number3
Early online date23 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Bogomils
  • Bogomil theory
  • Islam in Bosnia
  • conversion to Islam
  • Bosnia
  • Bosnian Muslims


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