Spiritual Assistance During Two Refugee Crises in the Republic of Macedonia
Abstract: This paper offers an analysis of spiritual assistance offered in times of crisis. It is based on research and interviews conducted in the early months of 2009 and provides insights into the role played by both NGOs and publishing houses during two refugee crises in the Republic of Macedonia. Their motivation to intensely engage in helping the refugees was greatly due to their religious convictions and was imbued with spiritual connotation. Based on a number of interviews conducted with the engaged parties, this paper also includes the religious discourse of the imams[i] during these two major refugee crises that happened in the Balkans. Through various means of action, both the organizations and the imams attempted to convey a religious message that would provide psychological strength to the victims of these crises in the region, as well as to restore their faith in keeping their community alive and returning safely to their homes. Much of the religious messages and the religious discourse in general, aimed at giving both spiritual support and teaching patience, as well as giving the victims a sense of belonging to a community, and therefore triggering their awareness to preserve it. Some aspects of the 2001 conflict in Macedonia, which bring in the questions of nationalism, nationalist agenda and patriotism, are also be brought into focus, especially as it can shed some further light on the different agendas of both humanitarian and spiritual assistance in times of crisis.
Keywords: spiritual assistance, refugee crisis, Islamic literature, piousness, religion, sense of belonging
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