Islam in Cuba

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According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, there were then 9,000 Muslims in Cuba who constitute 0.1% of the population.[1] As of 2012, most of the nearly 10,000 Cuban Muslims were converts to the religion.[2]

At a certain point there were many Muslim students entering the nation of Cuba interested in studying at Cuba's prestigious schools. The amount of students was approximately 1500-2000. Among that group were students of Pakistani origin, among others. It is known that the dominant population that went to study at Cuba was the Pakistani students who were about 936 in strength. In 2001, Sheikh Muhammad bin Nassir Al-Aboudy, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) travelled to Cuba to obtain permission from the Cuban authorities to establish an Islamic organization that would support Cuba’s Muslim community. Among the other aims of the proposed organization would be constructing mosques and the dissemination of Islamic culture among Muslims.

As of July 2015 the Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation had opened the first prayer room for Cuban Muslims and the first mosque in Cuba was under construction with Turkish funding.[3]


Cuban Muslims learned Islam through embassies of Middle Eastern countries as well as through students coming to study in Cuba from Muslim countries. Islam started to spread among Cubans in the 1970s and '80s. Printed and audio-visual Islamic resources are now almost nonexistent in Cuba. Spanish translation of the Quran and other major Islamic books are not available in the country. The Muslim community of Cuba even lacks educated religious cadres.[4]

"Mezquita Abdallah"[edit]

There is now a masjid in Old Havana open to everyone for all daily prayers. Elsewhere, Cuba’s Muslims usually pray in their homes. Although former President Fidel Castro was reported to have promised to build a mosque for his country’s Muslims, according to members of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) who visited Cuba,.[5] In the past, the only prayers performed in public were the Friday Prayers that were conducted in a place known as Casa de los Árabes ("The Arab House") in old Havana. The Arab House belonged to a wealthy Arab immigrant who lived in Cuba during the 1940s, and it was built on Andalusian architectural designs. The House encompasses an Arab museum and restaurant. Qatar donated US$40,000 for the remodeling of the House, but it was only opened for Friday prayers, and Cuban Muslims were not allowed to use the facilities; only reserved for non-Cuban Muslims, such as tourists and diplomats, may pray there.[6]

Religious Groups[edit]

There are two Islamic groups in Cuba: the Cuban Islamic Union, which is headed by its president, Imam Yahya Pedro,[4] and the Islamic Association of Cuba, in Havana.[7]

Notable Muslims[edit]

  • Alí Nicolás Cossío - Former foreign ministry official who now reports for the "Voice of Islam", a radio station[8]
  • Juan Carlos Gomez - Professional Boxer and former Cruiserweight Champion


External links[edit]