Islam in Guyana

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Islam in Guyana is the third largest religion in the country after Christianity and Hinduism, respectively. According to the 2002 census, 7.3% of the country is Muslim.[1] However, a Pew Research survey from 2010 estimates that 6.4% of the country is Muslim.[2]

Islam was first introduced to Guyana via slaves from West Africa, but was suppressed on plantations. Thus, the religion really gained a foothold after the mid 19th century when indentured servants and slaves from South Asia were brought to the country.[3] After Guyana gained its independence in 1966, the country strengthened its ties with the Middle East and other parts of the greater Muslim world. In 1998, Guyana joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.[4]

The Islamic holidays of Eid al-Adha (the feast of sacrifice) and Mawlid (the birthday of Muhammad) are nationally recognized in Guyana. The dates for these holidays vary according to the Islamic calendar.[3]


As with most South American countries, Islam spread to Guyana through the transtlantic slave trade. Mandingo and Fulani Muslims were brought from West Africa to work as slaves in Guyana's sugar plantations. However, the oppressive conditions of slavery in the colony led the practice of Islam to essentially disappear until 1838 when 240,000 South Asians were brought from modern-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.[5] Records from the time show that while overwhelming majority of these servants were Hindu, a significant minority were Sunni Muslim.[6] After Guyana's independence from the British in 1966, Guyana established diplomatic relations with Arab countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Libya who opened embassies in the capital of Georgetown. Some Muslim youths went to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya to study Islamic theology and the Arabic language. In 1996, President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana toured Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon and appointed a Middle Eastern envoy. In the same year, Guyana officially became a permanent observer in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). In 1998, Guyana became the 56th full member state of the OIC.[4]


Urdu is popular among Indo-Guyanese Muslims who watch films and listen to music from Bollywood.[7]


According to a 2013 survey by the Caribbean Development Research Services Inc., 48% of Muslim consider themselves to be actively religious, while 39% consider themselves to be passive. The study concluded that Muslims were more religious than Non-Evangelical Christians, but less religious than Evangelical Christians and Hindus.[8]

Interfaith cooperation[edit]

According to Guyanese-American professor Raymond Chickrie, Hindus and Muslims in Guyana have always had "a cordial relationship among themselves. It would seem that these two groups had come to a mutual understanding of respecting each other's space while culturally and even linguistically identifying with each other."[3] Civic leader Richard David states that interfaith marriages between Muslims and Christians or Muslims and Hindus is common.[9]


Central Islamic Organization of Guyana[edit]

The Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG) is the oldest Islamic group in Guyana. They are involved in relief work and orphan sponsorships.[10]

Guyana Islamic Trust[edit]

The Guyana Islamic Trust (GIT) is a multi-faceted, nonprofit organization which has been established since 1978. The GIT has dedicated itself to the process of bringing about intellectual, moral and spiritual improvement to individuals, families and communities in Guyana. Their goal is education, since they believe "ignorance is the root cause of the intolerance, racism, immorality and criminality that pervades our society and our world." The Guyana Islamic Trust manages its grass root work through fourteen Administrative Districts. Some of the areas of operations of the districts include:[11]

  • Organize Classes to educate the Muslims-young and elderly- on Islam
  • Regular Family forums and Social activities
  • Organize and Manage Islamic Societies in schools
  • Youth Programs
  • Partnership with Jamaats
  • Da’wah to Non-Muslims
  • Social Welfare programs
  • Women’s Skills Enhancement and Educational Activities
  • Medical Programs

National Islamic Sisters Association[edit]

The National Islamic Sisters Association (NISA) is the women's arm of the GIT. General areas of NISA's work include:[12]

  • Promoting the teachings and values of Islam among the women of Guyana
  • Reviving the practices of the Qur'an and Sunnah in the lives of Muslim women
  • Providing assistance to Muslim Women in helping them fulfill their Islamic Obligations
  • Advocating the Islamic family values and the rights gifted by Islam to women in the process of reorganization of Islamic life in Guyana *and in National policy formation
  • Providing counseling where necessary and providing orientation in jobs and role enhancement skills to women
  • Raise funds to carry out its projects by investment, soliciting donations and executing fund raising activities.

Guyana Islamic Institute[edit]

The Guyana Islamic Institute (GII) remains one of the Caribbean's premier Islamic centers of learning. Since its establishment in 1986, scores of students from Guyana and the Caribbean have graduated from a wide range of courses including Arabic Language, Qur'anic Sciences and Islamic Studies. Many of these graduates have since become Shuyukh, Imaams and Du'at and today are serving the Ummah in Guyana, the Caribbean, North America and other parts of the world.[citation needed]

The GII will continue to orient and equip its students to be Du'at in their respective communities, and for further studies at higher institutions of learning; will inculcate in them a sound exposition, understanding and knowledge of the Islamic concepts of life, death and the Hereafter; will imbue in them mannerisms, attitudes and social graces which will encourage Muslims to improve themselves and will proselytize Non-Muslims; will enhance the understanding of Islam based on the Qur'an and Sunnah; will offer the resources and training opportunities for Muslims to improve their understanding and practice of Islam.[citation needed]

The GII concurrently offers two one year residential programs: one for secondary school graduates and the other being an advanced course for students completing the initial one year at the GII or having the necessary prerequisite knowledge base.[citation needed]

Students of these programs are given in-depth tutoring in the areas of:[citation needed]

Students of the GII are given hands-on experience in:[citation needed]

  • Teaching
  • Delivering Khutbahs
  • Da'wah to Non-Muslims
  • Organizing and participating in youth activities.
  • Scholarship

National United Halaal Authority of Guyana (NUHA)[edit]

The National United Halaal Authority of Guyana was established in 2011. This organisation is dedicated to the inspection and certification of Halal products and food establishments in Guyana.[10]

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Guyana[edit]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in the country in the 1960s and has several mosques across the country including Georgetown, Rosignol, New Amsterdam and Sisters Village.[13]

Organization of Islamic Cooperation[edit]

Guyana (since 1998) and Suriname (since 1996) are the only American countries which are member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.[14]


Muslims were not allowed to vote in Guyana until 1994.[3] Shabnam Alli notes that while "Muslims contribute tremendously to the socio-economic sector of Guyana today," they are underrepresented in government.[15]

Notable Muslims[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benjamin, Lennox (2002). "The Republic of Guyana: The Census Road" (PDF). Bureau of Statistics. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d Chickrie 1999, p. 181.
  4. ^ a b Chickrie 1999, p. 188.
  5. ^ Chickrie 1999, p. 182.
  6. ^ Chickrie 1999, p. 183.
  7. ^ Chickrie 1999, p. 185.
  8. ^ Wickham, Peter W.; Hinds, Kristen C. (2013). "Attitudes toward Homosexuals in Guyana" (PDF). Caribbean Development Research Services Inc. p. 14. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  9. ^ Cronin, Jon (26 May 2016). "Guyanese In New York: From A Small Country Came Immigrants With Big Dreams". Queens Tribune. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Chickrie, Ml.Abdullah,M.Sajid (2011). "History and Politics Islamic Organizations in Guyana, 1936-2006" (PDF). Guyana News and Information. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "About". Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  12. ^ "National Islamic Sisters Association". Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  13. ^ "Facing Persecution in Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community finds sanctuary in Guyana". Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  14. ^ Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Archived 9 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Alli, Shabnam (2014-07-28). "Muslims are marginalized in Guyana - Stabroek News". Stabroek News. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 


External links[edit]