It’s not only the vast holdings that attract visitors, but also the fact that the institute represents two endowments in one, with Adil Bey Zulfikarpašić’s bequest taking up the central part of the complex, while also housing Gazi Husrev Bey Hamam (16th c.).
Adil Bey Zulfikarpašić
Adil Bey Zulfikarpašić was born in Foča in 1921, into the Čengić family, a prominent bey family. His father was a landowner who served as mayor of Foča for 25 years and was a member of the Vakuf Parliament in Sarajevo.
While he was from a wealthy and privileged family, even at an early age Adil was interested in building a more just society. He was a member of communist youth groups during high school and later joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.
He was expelled from Foča Gymnasium in 1937 for helping organize a strike by workers in the local wood industry, and was at odds with the Party in 1939 because he supported the writer, Miroslav Krleža, who had been accused by party leaders of “ideological straying.”
At the beginning of WWII, Zulfikarpašić worked to form a partisan unit in Foča, but was arrested by Ustašas in early 1942. He endured torture and was sentenced to death but, since he was from a prominent family and his brother was killed by Četniks, he was sentenced to hard labor. He escaped while being taken to prison in Lepoglava, and managed to rejoin the Partisans.
He served as Assistant Minister of Commerce in BiH’s first socialist government, but came to realize that communists were becoming materialists, so he decided to emigrate.
He studied political science in Austria and wrote for an American news agency and, when he arrived in Switzerland in 1954, he had already acquired a reputation as an important representative of the Bošnjak diaspora.
While in Switzerland, he joined Liberal International, which provided him with access to Europe’s political and economic elite, and started his own business.
Bosniak Institute in Zurich
With a desire to set up an institution that would deal with the study of Bosnia while also promoting its culture, he worked tirelessly at collecting materials and founded the Bosniak Institute in Zurich in 1988.
He returned home at the beginning of the 1990s, at a time of democratic transition in BiH. He started the Party for Democratic Action (SDA) with Alija Izetbegović, but they soon parted ways. Adil Bey started the Muslim Bosniak Organization, but enjoyed little success.
His institute was moved to Sarajevo in 2001 and, in order to facilitate operations, he made nearly all of his possessions part of the endowment.
Adil Bey Zulfikarpašić died on July 21, 2008 in Sarajevo and he rests in the tomb in the courtyard of his endowment – the Bosniak Institute.
To this day, the institute continues to grow as one of the most important scientific and cultural facilities in BiH.
The library houses more than 200,000 titles, video archives, audio and print collections, a map collection, a library, an old book and oriental manuscript collection with 743 codices and 1,125 books….
The institute also has a valuable collection of berâts, decrees issued by sultans and written in Ottoman Turkish, as well as a vast art collection containing more than 1,500 works by famous artists.
The Bosniak Institute is open to visitors and various events are held in this prominent institution, which provides a wonderful ambience.