Islam in Jamaica
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Islam in Jamaica is a minority religious affiliation. Muslims arrived in Jamaica through waves of immigration from Africa and the Indian subcontinent, and today make up a population of about 5,000 with several mosques and festivals.
The first Muslims in Jamaica were West African Moors captured in the Reconquista sold as slaves to traders, and brought to Jamaica on ships. Over time most of them lost their Islamic identity due to forced mixing of ethnic groups. Mu’minun of African descent belonging to the Islamic nations of Mandinka, Fula, Susu, Ashanti and Hausa ceaselessly tried to maintain their Islamic practices in secrecy, while working as slaves on the plantations in Jamaica. By the time the slaves were liberated, much of the Muslim faith of the past had faded, and the freed slaves picked up the faith of their slave masters.
About 16 percent of the 37,000 indentured Indian immigrants who arrived to Jamaica between 1845 and 1917 were Muslims. Muhammad Khan, who came to Jamaica in 1915 at the age of 15, built Masjid Ar-Rahman in Spanish Town in 1957, while Westmoreland's Masjid Hussein was built by Muhammad Golaub, who immigrated with his father at the age of 7. The indentured Muslims laid the foundation of the eight other masjids established in Jamaica since the 1960s, with the advent of an indigenous Jamaican Muslim community that now forms the majority of the Muslim populace on the island.
The statistics for Islam in Jamaica estimate a total Muslim population of about 5,000. There are several Islamic organizations and mosques in Jamaica, including the Islamic Council of Jamaica and the Islamic Education and Dawah Center, both located in Kingston and offering classes in Islamic studies and daily prayers in congregation. Outside Kingston organizations include Masjid Al Haq in Mandeville, Masjid Al-Ihsan in Negril, Masjid-Al-Hikmah in Ocho Rios, the Port Maria Islamic Center in Saint Mary and the Ahmadiyya Mahdi Mosque in Old Harbour.
These are the main Islamic Festivals practised by Jamaican Muslims:
- The Ramadan Fast
- Id al Fitr (or Eid-Ul-Fitr)
- Eid al Adha (or Id-al-Kabir)
- Kettani, A. (1986). Muslim Minorities in the World Today. London: Mansell Publishing
- International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - Jamaica
- Islamic Horizons Sept/Oct 2001
- Afroz, S. (2001) 'The Jihad of 1831–1832: The Misunderstood
- Baptist Rebellion in Jamaica' [Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2001]