Islam in Mauritius

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Muslims constitute over 17.3 per cent of Mauritius population.[1] Muslims of Mauritius are mostly of Indian descent. Muslims arrived to Mauritius during the British regime starting from 1810 as large scale indentured slaves from India.

Mauritius got independence during 1968 and there was no state religion in Mauritius defined in the constitution. The religious organizations present at the time of independence, namely, Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Presbyterian Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Hindus and Muslims are recognized by parliamentary decree.

The largest group of Muslims are the Sunnis, comprising around 80 per cent of the population with sub-sect of Salafis, the Sufis, the Tawhidis and the Tabligh jamaat. Shiaties form a small community with the subgroups of Cocknies, who are believed to have arrived as boat builders from Cochin in India and Creole Lascars, who have intermarried with Cocknies or other communities.

History[edit]

Jumma Masjidin Port Louis

Some scholars believed that Muslims arrived in Mauritius with Dutch from Arabia as slaves, but the view has been disproved as the fellows with Dutch were most Arabian traders. Muslims arrived to Mauritius during the British regime starting from 1810. Large scale indentured slaves from India mostly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bengal, Mumbai and Kolkota. There were a total of 450,000 immigrants during the period of 1835 to 1907 and after 1909, the immigration was stopped. They were sent from India for a period of five years after which they were returned. Till 1922, only 160,000 returned to India, while other settled down in Mauritius. There were wealthy Muslim traders from Gujarat and Chettiars from South India, who also settled along with poor working classes. The population of Muslims was 33% of the total population during 1835, 64% during 1861, but reduced to less than 25% by 1909. Traditionally Sunnis remained a majority, while other groups like Sunni Shafia, Shia and Bohra formed around 20 per cent of the total Muslims in the country.[2] Cocknies, Kodjas, Bohras and Aga-khanities are believed to have arrived in Maurtius during 1910 from East Africa. Tawheed idealogy, which was commonly followed in Mauritius was replaced by Islamic Circle Religious Group which culled out religious practices from India. The trend was changed after the evolution of oil-rich Arab countries in 1970s.[3]

Communities[edit]

Religious census[4]
Faith Total %
Hinduism 48
Roman Catholic 26
Islam 17
Other Christian 6
Others 3
* Others - Buddhism, Animist & others'
* Other Christian - Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Assemblies of God

The largest group of Muslims are the Sunnis, comprising around 80 per cent of the population. Sunnis are divided among various factions such as the Salafis, the Sufis, the Tawhidis and the Tabligh jamaat.[5] While the majority adheres to the Hanafi school of thoughts, there are other factions that follow the Shafe'i school of thought. There are also Muslims who follow the Ahmadism or Shi'ism. Meimons are a small aristocratic group, who control the Jummah Mosque in Port Louis. Shiaties form a small community of around 3 per cent of the total population. One of the subgroups are called Cocknies, who are believed to have arrived as boat builders from Cochin in India. Creole Lascars are a new subgroup, who have intermarried with Cocknies or other communities.[6]

Within the Muslim community, there are three distinct ethnic groups that exist, notably the Memons and the Surtees (who are rich merchants who came from Kutch and Surat province of Gujarat in India), then the "Hindi Calcattias" who came to Mauritius as indentured labourer from Bihar. Creole is the most used language among Muslims other than Arabic and Urdu, while other languages spoken include Bhojpuri, Gujarati, and Tamil.[7]

Government policies[edit]

Roshan Jameer Masjid in Trou d'Eau Douce

Mauritius got independence during 1968 and there was no state religion in Mauritius defined in the constitution. The nation had no indigenous population nor any indigenous tribes or religion. The religious organizations present at the time of independence, namely, Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Presbyterian Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Hindus and Muslims are recognized by parliamentary decree.[8] The constitution and other laws protect freedom of religion. The groups recognized by the government before independence receive an annual sum for paying their adherents. The government allows overseas missionary groups to operate on a case-by-case basis, although there are no rules that prohibit proselytizing activities. The missionaries should obtain both residence permit and work permit to operate, which is provided for a maximum of three years, without any extension. There are lot of government holidays, most of which are religious indicating the heterogeneity of religions.[8] As per the International Religious Freedom report of 2012 published by the United States Department of States, there were no incidence of religious abuses. The report also indicates other religions claim that Hindus have a majority in the government, while Hindus have sought a policy for anti-conversion.[8]

Mosques and administration[edit]

As of 1965, there were 65 mosques in the country.[2] The first purpose-built mosque in Mauritius is the Camp des Lascars Mosque in around 1805. It is now officially known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jummah Mosque in Port Louis was built in the 1850s and is described in the Ministry of Tourism's guide as one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Mauritius. All mosques are controlled by a board called waqf, also a form of charitable organization. The Waqf Board in Mauritisu was created in 1941 and it supervises the finances and administration of all the mosques. Each mosque has a manager named muttanwalli, elected by a congregation. The board helps executing funerals, imparting education in madraasas and all Islamic ceremonies. Major festivals like Bakrid, Eid and Muharram are celebrated with festive floats in the major mosques in the country.[9]

Notable Muslims[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Resident population by religion and sex" (PDF). Statistics Mauritius. p. 68. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Bosworth, Clifford Edmund, ed. (1989). The Encyclopaedia of Islam: Fascicules 111-112 : Masrah Mawlid. BRILL. p. 849. ISBN 9789004092396. 
  3. ^ Oonk, Gijsbert, ed. (2007). Global Indian Diasporas: Exploring Trajectories of Migration and Theory. 
  4. ^ "Mauritius 2012 International religious freedom report" (PDF). United States Department of State , Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 2012. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Islam in Mauritius". Academia. 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2016. [circular reference]
  6. ^ Richards 2011, p. 38
  7. ^ Richards 2011, p. 37
  8. ^ a b c Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark, eds. (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 762. ISBN 9781452266565. 
  9. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr; Khan, Abdul Mabud (eds.). Encyclopaedia of the World Muslims: Tribes, Castes and Communities, Volume 1. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]