One Mosque's Story: Old Soko Mosque
Have you ever come across an old building and wondered, as they say, "what if these walls could talk"? If you have, perhaps you will find this third thread in the "One Mosque's Story" series especially interesting.
The Old Soko Mosque is just such a building, one that causes your imagination to wander - and with good reason.
This mosque is located in what used to be a small village belonging to the independent Bosnian Church, a heretical form of Roman Catholicism. The residents belonged to one of the lower social classes within the Bosnian Church known as "guests". A census conducted sometime in the early 1400s recorded a population of 6.
Residents of the village who lived during the time that Islamic forces conquered the area converted very early to Islam. One of the main families in the village was led by Saban, the first convert to Islam in the whole region. It is known that he built a very small mosque at this site.
Saban's mosque was built using tombstones from the nearby Bosnian Church. Only the tombstones of families which converted to Islam were touched, those belonging to the deceased relatives of those who remained Christian or fled the village were not touched. This is why they say there is a very strong feeling of love associated with the Old Soko Mosque because, presumably, the newly Muslim residents wished for the eternal salvation of those who died as followers of the Bosnian Church and that is why the mosque was built using their tombstones.
There are still many legends in this area, such as one that says the bell of the old Bosnian Church is burried in the mosque's graveyard and another that says a certain type of chestnut tree found in the village but nowhere else in this part of the world was given to the good residents by God.
Many times in its history, the final resident of the Soko area passed away and the place became uninhabited. It was in the late 1800s that this happened again, and the site was eventually re-settled led by a woman known only as Bega. She was a wealthy widow, and rebuilt the Old Soko Mosque after removing portions composed of Bosnian Church tombstones - which she did not consider appropriate for a Muslim house of worship.
This new life for the village didn't last long, though. By 1920 the residents had again all moved or passed away and the village and it's mosque were abandonned. That's why it is such a run-down place today, one that rarely receives a visitor as even the roads to this part of the village have long since grown over with trees and plants.
Another part of the village, in the valley below, is still inhabited and, as if some historical joke, it has the same number of residents as the census of the early 1400s: 6.