Dr. Mustafa Ceric
Mustafa Ceric came to the community of the Islamic Cultural Center in 1981. Like Imam Advich before him, he graduated from the Medressa in Sarajevo, and was given a scholarship to pursue a degree at Al- Azhar University in Cairo. After he finished his schooling there, he returned to his native Bosnia, when he became an Imam. In 1981, he accepted the position of Imam at the center and settle in the United States for several years.
After his arrival in the United States, he learned to speak english at a very quick pace. He also began taking courses at the University of Chicago in the pursuit of a Ph.D in Islamic Theology. His knowledge and inderstanding of Islam was something that he shared openly with everyone in the community.
Imam Ceric also had a keen understanding of American culture. He moved the community toward taking a responsibilty of spreading Islam in America. Setting the example, he reach out to other religious groups about Islam. At the same time, he was sensitive to issues facing new converts to Islam and was careful to make the ICC a place for them as well. "He was a real nice guy, very social. And he took care of the school," says Hasan Avdich. It was under Imam Ceric`s guidance that this school curiculum was expanded and inproved.
Imam Ceric had a gift of being a great communicator. He showed toleration and understanding to the members who fell under his leader- ship. During the contruction of Phase II, he spent countless hours raising funds, and donated money to the project personally. Talat Uthman, who worked closly with the Imam on this phase, remembers his incredible leadership ability, "he had the force of personality and the wisdom to be able to keep diverse groups working together in harmony in a constructive way."
When the Imam finished his studies, he was drawn back to his homeland where many changes would soon be taking place. He left the ICC to become a praticing Imam in a learning center in Zagreb in 1987. But his special attributes once again directed him onto a direction of leadership. With the outbreak of civil war by genocide by Serbian aggression in Bosnia-Hercegovnia in the spring of 1991, he moved to give his direction to the Muslims in Bosnia. Today he holds the title of "Reis-Ulema", in Bosnia. That is "The Supreme Authority" of all the Muslims in the country. As always Imam Ceric takes his responsibilty very seriously. "We Muslims must know that there is no difference (between us)," he said at a gathering at the center in the fall of 1914." There is one thing that matters in this world and that is Islam and that you are Muslims." His advice to the congregation of ICC and to Muslims everwhere is simply, "You have to stay together.... You must stay together."