Islam in Trinidad
This chapter discusses the introduction of Islam to the Caribbean, beginning with the African slaves followed by the East Indian indentured immigrants.
Indian Muslims, though initially isolated from the wider society, have integrated successfully with the wider society especially during the post-independence period. Muslims have coexisted peacefully with other groups and have participated in mainstream politics, music, sports, business, as well as education. It was not until 1990 that international attention started to be focused on Trinidad Muslims, when a Muslim group attempted to remove the democratically elected government. Such an event was rather unexpected in a society known for carnival, calypso, steelpan, and its religious and ethnic harmony.
The chapter traces the evolution of the Muslim community in Trinidad, and the efforts not only to survive but to maintain a visible presence, amidst the challenges faced. The arrival of missionaries, the formation of organizations, and the subsequent fragmentation of the community based on ideological and theological differences are discussed. Data largely from secondary sources and interviews of key persons by the author provides insights into this community’s attempts to preserve its heritage. The Muslim community’s resistance to assimilation is also discussed.
International attention was focused on Trinidad and Tobago in 1990 and around 2016/2017 when it was reported that per capita Trinidad and Tobago had the highest number of persons in the Western Hemisphere being recruited to join ISIS, an alarming situation giving the wrong impression that there is much local support for terrorism.
KeywordsIslam Muslim Trinidad Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean African Indian
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