Gazi Husrev Beg Waqfs

Gazi Husrev Beg Waqfs

Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s Mosque

Above the main mosque entrance, there is a stone tablet, 120 cm x 60 cm in size, on which verses in Arabic language are carved. The inscription is placed into six elliptical spaces edged on its sides and through the middle with arabesques. The inscription text is partly vocalized. The inscription surface is blue and the letters are good plated. The translation of the transcription is as follows:

“The mosque of the good people Husrev-beg
buildeth in the name of God (as) a home for those who prostrate themselves.
He is the destroyer of foe, helper of the champions of faith,
Propagator of benefaction, helper of the pious.
God inspireth us with its verses;
This is) the meeting place of benefactors, a home of those beholden to God.”

If the numerical values of the Arabic letters in the last verse of chronogram, written in beautiful calligraphy, are added we get the year when the mosque was built. It is the year 938 according to Hijra or 1530/31 A.D.

At the front of the mosque, exactly in the middle of the front wall, within a red marble surface, there is a beautifully decorated mihrab (a place where the imam- a Muslim priest stands while leading prayer). The mihrab faces southeast, or towards Kaaba (the most sacred Muslim pilgrim shrine in Mecca towards which Muslims turn when praying.) On the right side of the mihrab is the mimbar (a pulpit) built from seven kinds of marble. On Fridays and during religious holidays formal sermons are delivered from the mimber. On the left side of the mihrab are two curses (smaller pulpits); places from which general education lectures were delivered. 

Exceptional lighting of the mosque, with its 51 windows of which 12 lower ones are of rectangular shape, while the rest of the windows of which are crowned with a broken arch, gives an impression of a space quite larger than it actually is. The entire mosque interior is decorated with calligraphically written verses from the Qur’ans.

During the shelling of the city of Saravejo the Beg’s Mosque was hit by more than one hundred mortar and artillery shells, so that many people were amazed that following the restoration, regardless of the damage these walls had suffered, we managed to restore this mosque to its full splendor, which is a responsibility that had been handed down to us.

Five times a day, from the mosque minaret a voice of the muezzin calls the believers to prayer, and this call has been repeated daily from the year 1530/31 till today.

1.2- begova mosque
1.3- begova mosque
1.4- Begova mosque
1.5- begova mosque
1.6- begova mosque
1.8- begova mosque

Shadirwan (Fountain)

In the middle of the mosque courtyard, standing gracefully is a charming marble fountain whose roof rests on eight wooden posts linked by arches. Aside from being very decorative, the shadirwan also has its functional purpose; its water can be used for ablutions (ritual washing of the face, arms, and feet before entering the mosque for prayer).

The original shadirwan was built in 1530 supplied with water from the Crnilo Spring, located seven kilometres away in Donje Biosko. The water from this spring was distributed through Sarajevo using a system of pipes made of baked clay. This old shadirwan was totally reconstructed after the original model was damaged in 1772. Due to the cold Sarajevo winters and frequent freezing, the reconstructed shadirwan was badly damaged, so a new one was built in 1893 using the marble from the island of Brac in Dalmatia. During the last reconstruction (1893), the shadirwan was connected to the modern water system.

During the aggression on Sarajevo (1992-1995) the wooden roof was damaged so badly that it could not be restored. Therefore, in 1997 a new roof was built, identical to the old one. Below the wooden roof, a calligraphically written quote from the Qur’an was added, whose translation is as follows:

                     “And from water We have created all living things!”

During 2002 the shadirwan was restored in its entirety. It was taken apart and the water system installations were replaced since most of the pipes were damaged during the savage shelling of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Mosque.

2.1- Shadirwan
2.2- Shadirwan
2.3- shadirwan
2.4- Shadirwan
2.5- shadirwan
2.6- shadirawan fountain

The Turbes/ Mausoluems

On the eastern side of the mosque, there are two mausoleums (turbe) which Gazi Husrev Beg ordered to be built during his lifetime. The bigger mausoleum houses today the grave of Gazi Husrev Beg, while in the smaller one Murat Beg, Tardic was buried, Gazi’s commander and later also a sanjakbey and the first administrator of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf.

Gazi Husrev Beg’s Turbe

During his lifetime Gazi Husrev Beg had two turbes built (domed burial sites – mausoleums) which belong to typical examples of closed mausoleums which were built in the 16th century as tombs for famous people. The dimensions of this structure reveal the influence and the rank of the deceased. In the middle of the great octagon turbe lies a sarcophagus of Gazi, covered with a gold-embroidered cover.

 Gazi Husrev Beg was an individual who embodied the virtues of a talented soldier and citizen; an emir (leader), a humanist and a builder. The title of “gazi” or a hero, which was given to the outstanding Ottoman soldiers and heroes for their military successes and bravery he earned before his arrival in Bosnia. At the same time, he was a grateful son of his homeland, to which he gave his heart and his fortune.

With his testaments from 1531 and 1537, Gazi Husrev Beg had endowed his entire fortune for the mosque, haniqah, imare (the soup kitchen), musafirhana, madrasa, and the library. In the period of twenty years during which, as an Ottoman governor, he governed Bosnia, Gazi Husrev Beg had laid strong foundations to the future city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which shortly after his death developed into the biggest city of the Ottoman Europe with the population of approximately 50,000.

The turbes were restored in 1895 during the Austro-Hungarian administration and their interiors were decorated with the calligraphically written verse from the Qur’an. In the restoration that was performed in 2002, the interior was restored in accordance with the conditions from 1895.

Murat Beg’s Turbe

Next to his own turbe Gazi Husrev Beg built a smaller turbe of hexagonal shape for Murat Beg Tardic. Murat Beg was a freed prisoner of war who embraced Islam. He was freed in accordance with the wishes of Gazi Husrev Beg who appointed him his duke and cehaja (deputy).

Based on a chronicle which describes the military Dalmatia from 1536 we find out the following:

This Murat-beg, who was later decorated in a desperate battle near Gorjan, was according to Istvanfy, from Sibenik, and in his youth he came into Turkish slavery and as a slave came to Ghazi Husrev-Beg court where in time he was appointed duke… We have determined, from the above text, that this statement of his descent is trustworthy. We were also able to determine that Murat-beg had a brother in Sibenik, a priest by the name of Jurje Tardic, and this brother of his, as we were able to understand from a report by a Sibenik prince dated 30 May 1526, was a canon of a chapter house and had remained on brotherly terms with his brother Murat, at that time a gate-keeper of Ghazi Husrev-beg, since that same spring he was in Sarajevo paying him a visit, and it was his intention, as we had come to understand from that same report, to visit his brother again.

In 1528 Murat Beg conquered the fortified city of Jajce and in 1537 he also captured the impregnable city of Klis and the entire Military Border in Croatia and Slavonia, when the newly conquered territory the Klis sanjak was formed.

And that’s how one of the most important strategic places on the coast of Adriatic Sea, tough (unconquerable) city of Klis sanjak in which, at the suggestion of Ghazi Husrev-beg, Murat-beg was appointed its first sanjak-beg and from that time was given the name of Gazi Murat, and to reward his bravery the Sultan himself, according to the historian Muvekkit, granted him the zijamet and Murat was given the title of Beg.

After he became well known in the wars against the Venetian Republic and Austria, Murat-Beg died in 1546 as the Sanjak-Beg of Slavonia. His body was moved to Saravejo and placed inside the smaller turbe.

According to the decrees from Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s testaments, Murat-Beg was appointed the first Mutawalli (Administrator) of Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s Waqf.

Above the entrance into Murat-Beg’s turbe is a stone table, 30x 85cm in size, with an inscription in Turkish language, the inscriptions are written in four elliptical spaces, edged by lines.

“When Murat-Beg departed from This World, whoever heard uttered the following words; may God bless Murat’s soul.”

The year of the chronogram is expressed in ebdzed with the words “Cani Murade rahmet”, whose numerical value is equal to 952, which is the year Murat-Beg died, according to hijra, and which corresponds to year 1545/46.

3.1- Gazi Husrev Beg's Turbe
3.2- Gazi Husrev Beg's Turbe
3.3- Gazi Husrev Beg's Turbe
3.4- Gazi Husrev Beg's Turbe

The first mention of the clock tower is made at the beginning of the 17th century in a work by the Catib Celebija (Chatib Chalabiya), an Ottoman geographer. The clock tower was burnt down in the fire when Eugene of Savoy made a raid on Saravejo in 1697, and it was repaired 30 years later. Then it was burnt down again in 1831 and was repaired in 1834. Its upper part was added in 1875 due to installing a new clockwork which the head office of the Gazi Husrev Beg Waqf purchased in London.

The clockwork drives four clock faces, each face looking towards one side of the world, and a considerable increase in the height of the clock tower enabled good visibility of the clock faces. The clock shows the lunar time, which means that a day ends at the moment of astronomical sunset and that, according to this calendar, a new day begins at that very moment. Considering that the length of a day constantly changes, including the time of sunset, the clockwork has to be adjusted regularly.

It is the duty of a muwaqqit who, on the basis of the exact determination of the time of sunset, makes necessary adjustments to the clock and sets the right time. When the sun sets, the clock tower is supposed to show 12 o’clock.

Gazi Husrev Beg Madrassa and Khaniqah and Kurusumlija

The Gazi Husrev Beg madrassa, mosque, khaniqah, imaret, and nearby shops constitute an architectural, townscape and aesthetic ensemble formed in the center of old Saravejo. 

The Gazi Husrev Beg khaniqah was built by the end of 1531. In addition to the performance of Sufi worship and dhikr, it was also used to provide dervishes with the necessary knowledge of the internal meanings of Islam. The Gazi Husrev Beg khaniqah was damaged on several occasions, the last of which was in 1931 when the new madrassa building was erected. It was reconstructed in 1998.

The entrance to the madrasah with its richly decorated portal turns to a deep niche, and there is an inscription (tarih) in Arabic above the entrance, which reads:

This building was raised for those who seek knowledge. For the love of God who has heard supplications, By Gazi Husrev Beg, the commander of the fighters for the faith, (He is) the source of benefaction, the pride of the righteous, Fejzu-r-Rab composed a chronogram for it; The gathering place of the good, the home of perfect people. (944 AH/1537 AD).


4.2- Gazi Husrev -Beg Medresa
6.5- Kurushumlia Medresa- Museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg

Sakir Sikiric (1893-1966)

He was born at Oglavak near Fojnica. He comes from a scholarly family which has raised outstanding standing scholars for generations. Abdurahman Sirri, a famous dervish, thinker, and poet, is Sakir grand-grandfather. He attended Gazi Husrev Beg’s Madrassa and the Sharia School for Judges in Sarajevo. He graduated from the University of Budapest with a degree in oriental philology in 1919 and earned a doctorate from the same university with a doctoral thesis on dervish orders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On his return to Sarajevo, he lectured at the Sharia Gymnasium, the Sharia School for Judges, the Sharia Theological College, Gazi Husrev Beg’s Madrassa and the Faculty of Philosophy. He also performed the duties of the principal of Sharia School for Judges.

Hanika - School of Islamic Mysticism

5.1- Hanika- school of a Islamic mysticism
5.2- Hanika -school of a Islamic mysticism
5.3- Hanika -school of a Islamic mysticism
5.4- Hanika -school of a Islamic Mysticism

The Gazi Husrev Beg’s Museum/ Kurusumlija

According to the tarih (chronogram) over the entrance door, the madrassa was completed in 1537/38 and was built in memory of Gazi Husrev bey’s mother Seljuk Sultana. As a result, it was called the Seljuklia by the local people, but later became known as the Kursumlija because of its lead- clad roof. It belongs to the type of enclosed madrassa with an inner courtyard and a colonnade leading into the student’s rooms and the dershane (schoolroom). The Gazi Husrev Beg madrassa is the oldest surviving madrassa in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Now it houses the Gazi Husrev Beg Museum which represents a unique place where visitors can acquaint themselves with the character of Gazi Husrev Beg and the history of his waqf (endowment). The contemporary exhibition is thematically organized in the former student's room of the Madrassa, and it focuses on the following themes; Gazi Husrev Beg, Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf, Gazi Husrev Beg’s Madrassa. Rare artifacts belonging to Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf, Astronomical instrument from the Muwaqitthana. Old photographs of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf and the destruction of the buildings belonging to Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf during the siege of Sarajevo from 199 –1995, and there is also a room where visitors are given the opportunity to see a film about Gazi Husrev Beg, the foundation of this waqf and the buildings belonging to his waqf in Saravejo. The Museum is situated in Gazi Husrev Beg’s Madrassa built in 1537, and visitors have therefore a unique opportunity to enjoy the most beautiful and authentic historical ambiance.

6.1- Kurushumlia Medresa -Museum if Gazi husrev- Beg
6.2- kurushumlia medresa -museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg
6.3- Kurushumlia Medresa - museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg
6.4- Kurushumlia Medresa- Museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg
6.7- Kurushumlia Medresa- Museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg

Waterpots (1891)

The vessels used for serving sharbat (sweet drink) on the occasion of marking Mawlud, the birthday of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Muvekkithana and Muvekkits of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf

Muvekkithana represents the institution for determining the exact period of daily prayers of Muslims, as well as for drawing up the Islamic Hijri calendar. Organized and professional muvekkithanas in Bosnia and Herzegovina were established in the second half of the 19th century. Until then, this work had been done by trained individuals engaged with a particular waqf.

The first mevekkithana was established within the Careva (Emperor’s)Mosque in 1270 AH (1853/1854 AD), and the muvekkithana within Gazi Husrev Beg’s Mosque in 1275 AH (1858/1859 AD).

The muvekkits were tasked with determining the exact time period of the five daily prayers, drawing up the takwim (Islamic calendar)and measuring the exact time, while the muvekkit of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf had also a duty to maintain the clock’s accuracy at the clock tower, which showed the lunar time (al a Turk).

Muvekkits had various instruments, such as rub’tahtas (the astrolabe quadrants), octants and sextants. Besides those in Saravejo, one muvekkithana was established in Mostar and one in Banja Luka.

The first muvekkit of Gazi Husrev Beg’s Waqf was Salih Sidki Hadzihuseinovic, who wrote scholarly papers on astronomy and is famous for his two exquisite wooden globes that he made himself in 1878.


In 1859, along with the abdesthana, a small building was built and was given the name muwaqqithana- a place for the one who sets the clock (now tourist info center). Inside this room, the instruments used to measure the height of the Sun are kept. At one time this instrument was a simple place or an astrolabe in the shape of a quadrant, set for Se meridian. Later, this instrument was replaced with the modern sextant that allowed for a completely accurate measurement of the height of the Sun.

The accurate measuring of the height of the Sun was necessary for determining the exact time of the sunset or the beginning of the Salat- Al-Maghrib (a prayer which begins after the astronomical sunset). By using the time when the maghrib begins, the other prayer times could be determined. Determining the right time prayer was the duty of a muwaqqit who calculated certain dates by converting the results he obtained through the measurements of the height of the Sun. Since at that time very few people had clock tower watches, next to Gazi Husrev Beg’s Mosque a clock tower was built so that all those in the vicinity of the Mosque would know the time.

6.6- Kurushumlia Medresa- Museum if Gazi Husrev-Beg

Sextant (second half of the 18th century, after 1780)

The hand instrument used for measuring the angular height of celestial bodies.
The base is made of brass, the rest parts are made of wood, ivory, and glass. Signature: JB Le Roy Jersey”

The Clock Tower

3.7- Clock tower
3.8- Clock tower

Gazi Husrev Bey’s Library Museum

The Gazi Husrev Bey Library museum collection contains more than 1,200 items which are divided into five thematic exhibit areas: Islamic art, education, religious life, ethnology and the library during the war.

The Islamic Calligraphy section is made up of a collection of works by BiH master calligraphers and the Measuring Time section contains items that were used to calculate the exact time, including two hand-made globes made by the famous Sarajevo muvekit (a person responsible for precisely calculating the time for prayers), Salih Sidki Efendi Muvekkit.

The Ulema section features a display of both hand-written and printed works by famous BiH ulemas (scholars), who served as authors, scribes or commentators on the works of others.

The next section, Mosques and Tekkes, has items such as levhas (individual calligraphic panels), lamps, Qur’an stands, prayer beads, hand-made carpets, prayer mats, from some of BiH’s religious buildings.

The Hajj display shows items that were brought back by Bosnian-Herzegovinians from their pilgrimages and the Everyday Life section contains articles that have served as a part of Bosnians’ everyday life for centuries, including clothing and shoes, furniture, dishes, items used in personal hygiene.

7.1- Beg Library -Museum's collection
7.2- Beg Library -Museum's collection
7.3- Beg Library
7.4- Beg Library
7.5- Beg Library
7.6- Beg Library

Gazi Husrev-Bey Bezistan

The Gazi Husrev-Bey Bezistan is the most beautiful oriental market houses in Saravejo and even today it serves its original purpose. Construction of the buildings began in the middle of the 15th century, it was financed out of the Gazi Husrev- Beg’s legacy. While other noblemen and kings spent money on equipping their armies, Gazi Husrev Beg built the cities. By virtue of his farsightedness, Sarajevo is now famous for numerous magnificent buildings. The bezistan is a long stone structure that extends along the street, bearing the Gazi Husrev- Bey’s name. It is also known as the old dome bezistan. This building is like a small fortress. Cuff buried in the ground with walls up to 120 centimeters thick its solid construction has ensured its survival throughout the centuries. The Gazi Husrev-Beg's Bezistan was built in style of rectangular covered market modeled on other Arab cities. It reminds one of the grand bazaar in Istanbul. Inside the building is a 109 meters long passage with four monumental entrances, and below the elongated barrel shape stone ceilings, are 70 small shops that line the building on its side. Entering the Gazi Husrev- Beg’s Bezistan is a wonderful and colorful experience where traditional and other elements are fused together in complete unique way.  

8.1- Bezistan
8.2- Bezistan
8.3- Bezistan
8.4- Bezistan and Tashlihan

Gazi Husrev-Bey Taslihan

One of the oldest inns or caravanserai is Taslihan. Its benefactor was the Bosnian governor and the greatest benefactor of the city of Sarajevo, Gazi Husrev- beg, Taslihan was built in 1543 in the period of greatest expansion of Sarajevo.

Originally the name of Taslihan was Gazi Husrev - Beg's caravanserai, while later the people named it Taslihan, meaning inn made of stone. Taslihan after its construction was the largest and the most representative facility of its kind in the region. It was built of stone and covered with vaults and domes made of lead which was not the case in other inns. It was built by artisans from Dubrovnik.

Taslihan had two floors, a ground floor, and the first floor. On the ground floor were placed storerooms and stables with a capacity for 70 horses. Upstairs there were 30 rooms for the passengers and each room had its chimney, which means that each room had its own heating system.

Unlike other inns, in this inn the accommodation was free. The complex of this inn was a rectangular shape with an open center or inner courtyard and porches. In the central part of the yard, there was a stand-alone masjid was built on wooden pillars, and beneath it there as the water fountain.

The capacity of this inn was such that it could receive up to 90 guests. Immediately after building this inn, the largest shopping mall was built next to it called Gazi Husrev-beg’s Beziztan (covered market building), popularly known as long bezistan. This bezistan was tied for Taslihan. Throughout its history, the first post office in Sarajevo was located there, then called menzilhana. Taslihan was on fire several times, the last time in 1879. Last remnants were removed in 1912, except for the walls next to the Bezistan. During the reconstruction of the hotel “Europe” It has been actively involved in conservation of remains of Taslihan, with the intention of preserving and displaying the rich cultural and historic heritage of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

9.1- tashlihan
9.2- Tashlihan

Gazi Husrev-Beg Imaret Soup Kitchen

Pekara Imaret

With the campsite of old the imaret (soup kitchen) of the vakuf (foundation) Gazi Huservbegova, is the bakery (will pekara) most popular of the historic quarters. It is so well hidden that, if it is not known, one can pass in front of without realizing some. In fact, it is necessary to take the passage giving on the western entrance of the Gazi Husrev Beg mosque. There, on the left in the small paved courtyard, at the bottom of the Tower of the clock, the "shop" is limited to a window where the inhabitants have a presentiment of themselves to buy all kinds of bureks and breads, but especially of the kiflice, bread rolls. It is without fuss, but all is fresh, good and really not expensive. 

Norodna Kuhinja Stari Grad

The site of the present-day soup kitchen has moved to another location and operates all the days of the weekdays from 8-11 am. If you go you can see over 1000 people receiving food. Volunteers are not allowed but donations are accepted and receipts given for them.

10.1- Soup kitchen
10.2- soup kitchen
10.3- soup kitchen
10.4- soup kitchen
10.5- soup kitchen
10.6- soup kitchen

The Moricha Haan

Besides bezistans and hammams, as huge public buildings, haans were also built in Saravejo. They were a sort of guesthouse providing accommodation, and they functioned as today’s hotels. The need for haans in Saravejo in the mid -16th century and the Ottoman travel writer, Evliya Chelebi (1659) mentioned 23 haans in Saravejo.

Sadly, most of the haans were lost in the systematic destruction of Saravejo in the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, i.e. in the period 1878-1940. Some haans were devastated by fires or due to the negligence of the local community. Only one has been entirely preserved in Saravejo to this day, the Moricha Haan, which was named after the family that had rented it at the beginning of the 19th century, while it had been well-known for its other names before. Today, this haan is part of Gazi Husrev Beg’s waqf. It was built towards the end of the 16th century or in the beginning of the 17th century, and it has been renovated several times. Its ground level was made of stone, while the upper floor was made of brick and the sloping roof was made of wood, which was a building standard in than Saravejo.

The Moricha Haan has an irregular square base in whose middle the central courtyard is situated. In the lower levels, there are service-area, stores, and space for homes. On the upper floors, there are guest rooms which had a capacity of 300 travelers.

11.1- Morica han
11.2- Morica han
11.3- morica han
11.4- morica han

Drinking Fountains of Husrev Beg Aqueduct

There is a legend about Sarajevo that is passed through generations and it goes:

“Whoever drinks water from Baščaršija returns to Sarajevo.”

Legend or not, it had been proven true so many times. There is rarely a person that comes to Sarajevo just once – they come back again and again. It’s not the biggest nor the most beautiful in the world but it surely has magic to it. Centered in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then the whole country centered in the heart of Europe, there’s so much heart visible and felt in the air. This drinking fountain is on the corner of the Gazi-Husrev Beg Mosque and is basically placed in the most frequented street in the city when it comes to walking areas. It is always on so the water is refreshing. 

12.1- Drinking Fountains of Husrev- Beg's Aqueduct
12.2- Drinking fountains

Gazi Husrev Beg’s Hammam

A hammam is an indoor public bathhouse and unavoidably urban feature of many cities in the Islamic world. It derives its origins from antique baths, and hammams had been built since the early days of Islamic history. The Ottoman hammams have their specific appearance, and they were built in all the great centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Gazi Husrev Beg’s hammam was built in 1555. This is a monumental stone building covered with domes of different sizes, which form a harmonious architectonic whole. The building was divided into two entirely equal parts, one for men and the other for women, with separate entrances from two different streets. As all the other hammams of the advanced type. Gazi Husrev Beg’s hammams are also divided into shadrwan (reception and the largest room), kapaluk (a room for taking off clothes in winter), halvat (a bathroom), hazna (a water reservoir) and Dulhan (a boiler room). Today, the Bosniak Institute is partially situated within the hammam.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 9.49.06

Public Toilet

That Husrev Beg was thoughtful enough of the needs of people whether those who lived in Sarajevo or its visitors to even think of providing the essential if simple need for a public toilet that is still used until today.

14.2- Public toilet

The Story Behind Gazi Husrev - Beg’s Awqaf

The most glorious period in the history of Sarajevo, under Ottoman administration, was during the time Ghazi Husrev-Beg held court while performing his duty as the Bosnian Sanjak-beg (1521-1541). With the exception of the military campaigns he had undertaken, Ghazi Husrev-Beg devoted his entire life to the building and urbanization of Sarajevo. Filled with noble love for the common good and progress of the people he was entrusted with, and from which he descended, he unselfishly sacrificed his enormous wealth to build magnificent structures for various purposes, which transformed the Saravejo of that period into the largest trading, crafts, cultural, educational and military center at the crossroads of East and West. With his architectural undertakings, Ghazi Husrev-Beg achieved lasting merit for the development of the city of Sarajevo, the cultural progress of Muslims and the development of material culture of all inhabitants of these parts.

Knowing that his merits on the battlefield could only be preserved by history and that the only lasting hajrats (good deed) is that which repeats itself in the future, Husrev-Beg endowed all his immovable and movable property. With a waqf (an endowment), a man self-willingly renounces his property and endows it for the common good and for all time.

His three vaqfnamas (testaments), written in November of 1531, January of 1537 and November of 1537, bear witness to that fact. His fortune in Bosnia he acquired on his own and that in Rumelia he inherited from his father Ferhat-beg. Reaffirming this Islamic principle which had been recommended by the last prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s., that is best to endow one’s property so that it may become a lasting hajrat, Ghazi Husrev-Beg wrote in his testament from 1531, among other things, the following:

"Every wise and rational man will come to understand that this World is transient and an abode of boredom and misfortunes. This World is neither a house nor a dwelling place, it is but a passage through which one enters the house of Heaven or Hell and wise is he who is not deceived by This World; who does not believe in it; who does not look upon it with amorous eyes and thus allows himself to be governed by it. Good deeds chase away evil and the best of the good deeds is charity, and the most exalted act of charity is that which lasts forever and from all the charitable deeds the best is that which forever repeats itself it is obvious that from all the lasting charitable deeds the most enduring is waqf. For as long as this World is in existence the benefit of waqf will not cease nor will it stop to function until the Day of Judgement (the First Testament, November 1531)."

The first Ghazi Husrev-Beg testament from 1531 was written for the mosque, imaret (the soup kitchen) and the hanika (the Dervish School). The second testament from 1537 was written for the Kurshumli Madrasa. From the amount that remained after the building of the madrasa, the best-known books of that time were purchased, and with the third testament from 1537 additional property was endowed for the maintenance of the mosque.

These three testaments represent the documents that make up the legal basis for the formation of the Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s Waqf as a meticulously organized and a complex institution. When viewed from the perspective of modern regulations, these testaments also represent all the necessary regulations, needed for the functioning of any modern organization. This is why Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s Waqf is specific as an institution in which, during its formation, every job was described. At the time of the endowment 46 jobs which included the maintenance of the waqf, the mosque, the hanika, the madrassa, the maktab and imaret, were planned. Obviously the number of workers changed with time and had to be adapted to the current situation. The budget showed the number of services to be at 65 and the registers of those employed included 121 names.

In his testaments, Ghazi Husrev-Beg described in detail all that was necessary for the permanent functioning of the waqf. All the activities that were to be performed by the waqf, as well as the buildings in which certain activities were established, are described, including: The mosque and the related activities, the madrassa and its activities in the field of education, The Hanika (the Dervish School) and the ibadahs that are performed in the hanika, and the imaret (the soup kitchen) and musafirhana (lodgings for the night or holster) and the manner in which it functioned.

All the services within the organized activities are designed in detail and individual rewards for every job are expressed in dirhems=3.2 grams of silver). Conditions of employment for some of the jobs, as well as the educational requirements,  are described to the last detail.

Aside from the prescribed five daily prayers performed in the mosque, described are the additional rites and the manner in which they are performed. Here, it is important to mention that the recital of hatmas (recital of the entire Qur’an) and tevhids for Ghazi Husrev-Beg- are prayers that are performed in the mosque on a daily basis ever since he passed into the Hereafter in 1541. According to the regulations of the first testament, the hatma is recited so that every day following the noon prayer 30 dzuzhans (persons who recite their dzuz, with one dzuz being equal to 1/30 or 20 pages of Qur’an) recite their dzuz and dedicate it to Ghazi Husrev-Beg’s soul.

The survival and the maintenance of the buildings and the prescribed activities within these buildings were to be realized from the revenue coming from other endowed property whose value was to be increased through good administration.

All endowed property is listed and described in detail. For the maintenance of waqf property Ghazi-Husrev-Beg endowed great personal wealth, and some of the government-owned land that had been given to him for his own use by the mulknama (decree) of Sultan Suleyman, were registered at his own property so that he could endow them to be used for the maintenance of charitable institutions. In this way, huge expanses of land around the towns of Tesanj, Teslic, between Kljuc and Ostrovica, around Obrovac; the mills on the river of Zrmanja and other expanses of land “that were not in someone’s possession, but were deserted, conquered by the Sultan’s might, some of the land lying near the town of Kobas and some of it bordering with the Croatian territory” were added to the already huge property of the vaqif (endower). This is how the greatest waqf in our parts originated. Every one of Suleyman’s successors had confirmed this decision. One original mulknama of Sultan Osman II was to be found in the National Library in Dresden all the way until WWII. It had probably been taken to Dresden during the incursion of Prince Eugene Savoy’s forces into Saravejo in 1697.

These and other waqfs suffered greatly from different fires, the most destructive one being that of 1697 when the invading Austrian Army burned down the city of Sarajevo and many of the original documents and other endowed valuables were taken away. The Waqf suffered in other fires as well in 1724, 1759, 1765, 1778, 1831, 1842, 1852 and 1879, but every time this Waqf recovered thanks to the strong foundations laid by Ghazi Husrev -beg’s testaments.

In a legal sense, the act of endowing with which the property is placed outside any turnover that could bring infringement upon it, is very important, since it ensures that the waqf can never be transferred into someone’s ownership. “Therefore, from this time forward it is not permitted to distort, change, corrupt or suspend the testament in such a way so that it comes into contradiction with the content of this document in any way or for any reason. It is not permitted to anyone who believed in God, His Prophet and the Day of Judgement be it a disloyal Mutawalli or a tyrannical Sultan, or a vali who is corrupted or a qadi who accepts bribes, to destroy, corrupt or suspend this waqf, or to distort or change any of its regulations. He who commits such an evil deed or acts contrary to any of the regulations, or changes any of its institutions with his distorted interpretation, has committed an evil deed and has caused himself to sin. “(The Second Testament, 8 January 1537).

The waqf had lost the property that had been endowed in the region of today’s Greece long ago, as it did the land on the territory of today’s Croatia which was placed outside the present-day borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that were established after 1713. Due to some economic and into other institutions. For example, up to WWII, the collected waqf funds or the funds that were charged for the property which had been taken away by a foreign country, residential and commercial buildings, one hotel, a new building which housed the madrasa and the maktab were all built in the center of Sarajevo. In those days, in the newly established social conditions, these waqf properties provided enough revenue for the maintenance of all the waqf charitable institutions.

This waqf, as was the case with the rest of them, received the biggest blow in the period following WWII when, through nationalization and without compensation, almost all of its property that was realizing a profit was taken away. Thanks to the organization and the maintenance within the Islamic Community, this waqf survived the most difficult period in its history. The property of this waqf from which profits were realized for the maintenance of charitable institutions exists, for the most part even today. Owing to the legal foundations of the endowment and the non-estrangement of waqf property, we hope that following its restitution, we are going to be able to establish enough revenue so that we would be able to restore all the functions of the waqf which are regulated by the testaments.

Up Next:

Husrev Beg’s Life

And Family Tree

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One thought on “Gazi Husrev Beg Waqfs

  1. Very detailed and informative. The best info I can find on the internet about this area! Recently visited Bosnia and wanted to know what the inscriptions said above the entrance ways.

    Still trying to make sense of the translation above the Madrasa, not sure if that has translated 100%?? Nevertheless this blog was useful!

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