The Department of Oriental Philology (previously the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures and the Department of Oriental Studies) grew out of the Chair of Oriental Languages that was established in 1950 with the founding of the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo. The initial teaching staff were already established scholars of Oriental philology: Prof. Šaćir Sikirić taught Arabic language and literature, while Prof. Nedim Filipović taught Turkish language and literature. Besim Korkut, an associate of the Oriental Institute, was employed as a visiting professor to assist in the teaching of Arabic. In designing the curriculum, the Chair aimed to develop a specific programme that would educate scholars prepared to study Arabic, Turkish and Persian languages, as well as classical and contemporary literature written in those languages, and also to carry out research into Ottoman source materials and the rich manuscript archive in Arabic, Turkish and Persian in order to fill the academic and cultural need to study the history and culture of our peoples.
Initially, the A discipline at the Chair included Turkish language and literature and Arabic language and literature. History, Serbo-Croatian language and European languages were offered as a B discipline. Persian was the C discipline and it was taught by Prof. Sikirić. Later, because of the overly demanding nature of the programme, the Chair was divided further into two tracks: a track for Arabic language and literature and a track for Turkish language and literature as separate A disciplines. Turkish language featured as a B discipline for the Arabic language and literature track, and Arabic language featured as the B discipline for the Turkish language and literature track. In addition to the chosen A track, history, Serbo-Croatian language, European languages, philosophy and sociology could be studied as a B discipline.
At the same time as these changes were taking place, the need for teaching staff grew. Associates of the Oriental Institute were employed as visiting professors: Prof. Teufik Muftić taught Arabic and Omer Mušić was also employed for a period of time at this Chair, while Prof. Hamid Hadžibegić and Ešref Kovačević were employed to teach Turkish language and Ottoman palaeography and diplomatics. At that time, it became possible for the Department to select teaching staff from its alumni. During the 1960s, the Department employed teaching assistants who would later join the ranks of full professors: Dr. Sulejman Grozdanić taught Arabic literature, Dr. Srđan Janković taught Arabic language, Dr. Vančo Boškov taught Turkish literature, and Dr. Bećir Džaka taught Persian language and literature.
In 1971, the Chair grew into the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures, which was initially divided into two Chairs: the Chair of Arabic Language and Literature and the Chair of Turkish Language and Literature. In 1977, a third Chair was established—the Chair of Persian Language and Literature. The Department is the first in the region to promote the importance of the Persian language at an academic level as this study attained the rank of B discipline becoming a three-year program. Teaching was carried out by Dr. Bećir Džaka and his outside associates were Salih Trako and Dr. Džemal Ćehajić, Iran scholars from the Oriental Institute.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Vasja Sterle, Nada Bojani and Naida Sušić-Mehmedagić were employed at the Department as teaching assistants for Arabic language, while Jasna Šamić and Ekrem Čaušević were employed as teaching assistants for Turkish. The Department concentrated its scholarly, professional and staffing efforts on the languages, literatures and cultures of the Arabic, Turkish and Persian worlds. Academician Nedim Filipović taught Oriental and Islamic civilisation at the Department.
In the following fifteen years, Amir Dervišević, Kerima Filan, Dragana Kujović, Aida Damadžić, Slobodan Ilić, Nada Žan, Pajo Avirević, Vesna Đukić and Namir Karahalilović were employed as teaching assistants at the Department. In 1990, Dr. Amir Ljubović was employed to teach Oriental and Islamic civilisation and in 1991, Dr. Fehim Nametak was employed as a visiting professor of Turkish literature.
The beginning of the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina found a number of faculty members and associates outside of Sarajevo and during the war (1992-1995) a number of them left the Faculty. This left the Department with a teaching staff deficit and so individuals from the Oriental Institute were employed to carry out the curriculum: Dr. Esad Duraković taught Arabic language and literature, Dr. Lejla Gazić taught Ottoman palaeography and diplomatics, Dr. Fazileta Hafizović and Dr. Amina Šiljak-Jesenković taught Turkish language, and Smaila Sjenar taught Persian. Dr. Jusuf Ramić from the Faculty of Islamic Studies was employed for a short period to teach Arabic stylistics and meter and Suada Muharemovović was employed as a teaching assistant for Persian language, while Jasmina Pulić worked for a short time as a teaching assistant for Arabic language. During the sixty years of its existence, librarians Lamija Hadžiosmanović, Safija Bajramović and Sadžida Bjelak made a significant contribution to the work of the Department of Oriental Philology.
Staff that joined the Department after the war—Elma Dizdar, Sabina Bakšić, Đenita Haverić, Munir Mujić, Amra Mulović, Alena Ćatović, Munir Drkić, Mirza Sarajkić, Mirsad Turanović, Suada Muharemović, Velida Mataradžija and Edina Nurikić—have completed and improved the work of the Department by building up their academic portfolios.
Finally, fair hiring practices have resulted in equal status for all three Chairs of the Department and the fact that today, as part of the Bologna system, students can study all three Oriental languages and their literatures as a single or double subject area in both the first and second study cycle.
During its decades of existence, the Department of Oriental Philosophy has nurtured and continues to nurture cooperation with the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo, as well as with many other universities and institutions of similar profile, especially those in Arab countries, Turkey and Iran. This contact is maintained with, among other activities, visits by international professors, respected linguists, writers and critics. Members of the Department have participated in international conferences and symposiums and have published in local and foreign journals. Faculty members from the Department have received national and international awards and honours for their work.
Members of the Department:
Dr. Esad Duraković, academician (corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, corresponding member of the Arab Academy of Damscus, corresponding member of the Arab Academy of Sciences of Cairo, corresponding member of the Jordan Academy of Sciences)
Dr. Fehim Nametak, emeritus
Dr. Namir Karahalilović, full professor
Dr. Kerima Filan, full professor
Dr. Munir Mujić, associate professor
Dr. Elma Dizdar, associate professor
Dr. Sabina Bakšić, associate professor
Dr. Alena Ćatović, associate professor
Dr. Đenita Haverić, associate professor
Dr. Munir Drkić, assistant professor
Dr. Amra Mulović, assistant professor
Dr. Mirza Sarajkić, assistant professor
Dr. Ahmed Zildžić, assistant professor
Velida Mataradžija MA, teaching associate
Edina Nurikić MA, teaching associate
Mirsad Turanović MA, methodology instructor
Amir Dervišević, methodology instructor
Suada Muharemović, lector
foreign lector for Arabic, Turkish and Persian
International awards, honours and achievements:
UNESCO SHARJAH PRIZE FOR ARAB CULTURE 2003 (Dr. Esad Duraković)
International Turkish World Service Award (TÜRKSAV) for 2009 (Dr. Fehim Nametak)
Member of the Jury for The International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2016 (Dr. Munir Mujić)
Recognition by the President of the Republic of Turkey for contributions to cooperation of two countries in 2017 (Dr. Kerima Filan)
Ninth international FARABI Award for the best research project in 2017 for the Višejezičnost u Mesneviji monograph (Dr. Munir Drkić)