Sunday, January 17, 2010


Islam in Haiti

The estimated population of Haitian Muslims is about 3250, representing approximately 0.04 percent of the population, although local Muslims claim the actual number is larger, nearing 5000 due to many Muslims that supposedly aren't counted due to inaccessibility or unavailability. Islamic organizations in Haiti include the Bilal Mosque and Islamic Center in Cap-Haïtien, which offers programs in Islamic studies and daily prayers, and the Centre Spirituel Allah ou Akbar in Port au Prince.

The history of Islam on the island of Hispaniola (which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic) begins with the slavery in Haïti. Many Muslims were imported as slaves to Haiti. Although many were forced to abandon Islam over time, their Islamic heritage has persisted in the culture of native Haitians. Additionally, a revisionist history of Dutty Boukman, whose death is largely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution, suggests that he was Muslim. In the early portion of the 20th century, a wave of Arab immigrants came to the Americas, in which a surprisingly noticeable amount settled in Haiti (and other countries as well). It is said that the first to arrive in Haiti around 1920 was a man hailing from the Palestinian village of Aizariya, near Jerusalem, along with 19 other families. Today, the majority of the country's Muslims are indigenous Haitians, followed by the ethnic Middle Easterners. As a result of limited financial resources, they were unable to build a mosque or school until 1985, when a residence was converted into a mosque and a minaret was constructed. In 2000, Nawoon Marcellus, a member of Fanmi Lavalas from San Raphael, became the first Muslim elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Haïti.

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