There are 31 countries in the Caribbean, which are classified linguistically into four regions, such as English speaking, French speaking, Spanish speaking and Dutch speaking Islands. There are 19 English speaking countries;
five French speaking countries; three Spanish speaking countries and four Dutch speaking Islands.
Muslims from different parts of the globe have settled in these regions. Immigrants vary from medical students to traders, from Indo-Pakistan to Indonesian and African countries. Some are very active Islamic view-point on critical issues like break-up in the media in Bahamas. Whereas, in other places, they are economically disadvantages. Most of them have a common problem of getting permanent work permit for their imams and Islamic workers. Some of the countries are getting a lot of pressure from the government which is characterized as the most hostile to Islam in the whole of Caribbean as in Dominico. Some of the countries have built mosques but most of them have no mosques as yet. They have just a prayers place or prayer house. Let us first describe in brief the socio-demographic backgrounds of the different islands of the Caribbean:SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC BACKGROUND
There are Arab and Indo-Pakistani immigrant communities. Arabs have a mosque and a resident Shaikh. Indians are less organized. They need a resident imam as well as books. They can self-finance many of their projects. In Surinam, there are a large number of Muslims where they constitute 28.23 percent of the total population of 425,000 of the country. Three distinct Muslim communities are living in Surirnam. The Javanese from the Indonesian Archipelago have been living in the island for more than 50 years; Indo-Pakistanis came as indentured labour for more than 100 years ago. Besides, there is a growing Afro-Surinamese community here.
There is a Caribbean Islamic Secretariat which was set up in 1988 with an Executive Director and a Board of Directors to carry out Dawah work, Islamic literature distribution, provision of Islamic education and catering to economic development.
Besides the above, there are six million French-speaking Canadians in the Quebec province of Canada and about two Million French-speaking Haitians in the state of Massachusetts, New York and Florida. The French-speaking Canadians are culturally insecure and always fear being absorbed into the predominate English culture. They are very perceptive to Islam and Muslims. They have few prejudices and prejudgments.
The Haitians have many social characteristics that make Islam attractive to them: they are very family-oriented, and are deeply religious. Almost all of them are Catholics. Most are folk Catholics, they are mix aspects of the ancient Indian religions with Catholicism and follow it more as a culture and not as a faith or doctrine and, therefore, have little attachment to it.Most of the Haitians are poor and belong to the lowest socioeconomic classes. There are some highly educated ones who are joining the American mainstream. They are now beginning to acquire political power at state and federal levels.
The French-speaking Africans living in New York and Philadelphia come to look for work. Many work at menial jobs and have poor education. Ignorance of English hampers their advance. They are fighting an uphill struggle to preserve their Islamic identity.
The importance of Dawah work both to the Muslims and the non-Muslims in the United States and the Caribbean region cannot be minimized and overlooked. The Dawah activities carried out by the IIFSO are appreciable and commendable. Its office produced books and pamphlets in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish for distribution among individuals and organizations in and outside the US on request. The Spanish materials were regularly supplied to IIFSO representatives in charge of Spanish Dawah in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Florida and Texas to support their work. There are 23 pamphlets and books languages which are required on and distributed on a regular basis by the IIFSO, Washington DC.
The Muslim World league Journal
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