Recent News

CALL FOR PEACE IN ENTERPRISE

Chaguanas, Trinidad:

The Imam (Leader of the congregation) of the Enterprise Community Masjid desperately tried to host a meeting with the Muslim men suspected of involvement in the deadly feuding in an attempt to put an end to the bloody fighting between warring gangs in Enterprise, Chaguanas.  Imam Talib Searles distanced the mosque from recent reports of gun violence between members of the Muslim and Rasta City gangs which has shattered the relative peace in the Chaguanas community.

However, Imam Taulib Searles admitted that the meeting was rejected by his Muslim brothers. Fearing that things would worsen, Searles said he was now trying to organise another meeting in hopes of brokering some kind of peace accord.

He made the comment at a press conference at the masjid on Boodram Street, Enterprise, where he publicly distanced the masjid from the actions of the men purporting to be Muslims in the area. 

“An attempt was made last Friday to hold a meeting with the Muslims who have been allegedly involved in these misgivings to answer and clear their names against what is being reported...The meetings did not happen,” Searles said.

“However, a request was made by the group’s leader to reschedule with other demands for an alternate venue and mediator.”

“The Masjid publicly states that its role in the community is to represent Islamic belief and practices. We are also duty bound to follow the laws of the State once they (these laws) are not demanding we go against the teachings of Islam,” Imam Searles said. He said the masjid which has a membership of 400, was also investigating residents’ complaints saying an attempt had been made last Friday to hold a meeting with those Muslims who have been allegedly involved, “in these misgivings to answer and clear their names against what is being reported. “Two other Imams were invited to be present and they both made themselves available. The meeting did not happen. However a request was made by the group’s leader to reschedule with other demands for an alternate venue and mediator,” Searles said.

“The fact remains that as a leader in the community who voluntarily accepted the office of Imam, I must now take some responsibility for the behaviour of the youths, some of whom I know,” Searles said.

“Based on this reality, I would like to apologise sincerely to the broader Muslim community for our lack of ability to call to account or control these individuals. My apologies also extend to the villagers who may now have a different perception about Islam and Muslims...it is now our duty to correct this,” Searles said.

“We the leadership would continue to represent the true teachings of Islam and condemn in the strongest possible manner any and all behaviour that contradicts Islam,” he said.

“We need to distance ourselves from the behaviour and action of most of the individuals. We need to say what we teach and preach is this and not that. When the media go ahead and print and show faces with big firearms and rifles...if we stay quiet, it looks as though from the leadership, these things are being organised. We want to distance ourselves from that particular behaviour and action,” Searles said.

This group of Muslims did not even perform their worship at the masjid and instead use a tent.

Both Searles and another well-known Muslim from the Enterprise community, Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis, were also asked about Daniel Bostic, who was shot dead on Wednesday night when he was about to step into the Jama Masjid in San Fernando.

The 28-year-old father of two, of Drayton Street, San Fernando, is said to have visited an Enterprise mosque hours before being killed, but both Searles and Alexis said they did not know his name and his face was not known to them.

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MURDER AT THE MOSQUE

San Fernando, Trinidad:

“YOU IS OMAR?”

With this question, an assassin raised his gun and fired several times at convert to Islam Daniel Kenneth Bostic on Wednesday July 1st.  Bostic was walking up a flight of stairs en route to a prayer room inside the Jama Masjid at Mucurapo Street in San Fernando. Bostic died minutes later.

The popping sound of gunshots outside the mosque is said to have left worshippers including a number of women and children in a state of panic. 

Daniel Bostic of Drayton Street, San Fernando, had just broken his fast and was preparing for prayer when the hooded gunman followed him to the ground level of the mosque,  to head to the upper level and shot him in the back of his head. 

As he slumped to the ground, the gunman stood over him and fired four more shots at point- blank range, hitting him in the chest and head.

The women on realising what was happening outside immediately locked the gates leading to the prayer room while those downstairs also secured themselves. So scared were some of the worhsippers that they vomited while others screamed. About 150 people were said to be inside the mosque when the shooting occurred

“Everyone was here, the place was filled,” one senior member at the mosque said. “It was 7.50 pm and it was the last call to prayer. For the month of Ramadan it usually lasts till around 9.30 pm and people will stay and pray until that time. So imagine you are in a state of worship for an hour-and-a-half just calling Allah’s name and thinking about God and this just happened?”

President of the San Fernando Jama Masjid Waheed Majid said since the shooting security had been beefed up at the mosque on Mucurapo Street. 

“Allah controls everything and we take solace in the fact that no one else was injured,” he said.

Majid said during the month of Ramadan the masjid was usually open and accessible to the public.

“We don’t have any way of knowing who should not be there,” Majid said, adding that the call to prayer was made at the same time that Bostic was killed so worshippers continued to engage in their prayer while the police continued their investigations outside.

“We hope the family could find solace in knowing that he died during an auspicious time. It is a blessing, as he would have been given the death of a martyr,” he added. 

President of the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jammat Association (ASJA) of Trinidad and Tobago Yacoob Ali said of the killing yesterday: “It is an unfortunate incident that has happened during the month of Ramadan. There should be greater tolerance, patience and understanding by all in this holy month.”

San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein, who is a member of the mosque, has promised to work with various city agencies to ensure safety in the city.

In a news release, Hosein stated: “Our hearts are broken by the loss of life and this traumatic act inflicted on the Jama Masjid's worshippers, who were driven into panic and forced to lock themselves away over fears for their safety.

“As this city's mayor and a follower of Islam, I am very saddened by the violent attack at the compound of a mosque in San Fernando, especially during this holiest month of Ramadan. As a city and a community, we have to act now to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.

“No citizen or member of any church, mosque or temple in our city or our nation deserves to be targeted in this way. Security has always been a focus of my work as mayor. I promise to do everything in my power to work with the city's security agencies for the safety of the people of San Fernando.

“I encourage my fellow Muslims to not let this isolated incident deter them from practising their faith. This is a test from Allah which we must rise together to meet. The greatest blessing is the blessing of faith,” Hosein said.


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Recent Articles

What is it like to be a Muslim in Cuba?

There are just 4,000 people in Cuba's small, but growing Muslim community.

But how easy is it to follow the Islamic way of life in a country with no halal butchers, where alcohol and pork are popular and - crucially - with no Mosque?


The Islamic Council of Jamaica

Propagating the true message of Islam

ISLAM IS one of the world's largest religions, with much of its converts living in the Eastern Hemisphere. Islam is also strong in some Western hemispheric countries.

And right here in Jamaica, regarded a Christian country, Islam has taken root. There are 12 places of worship, including the masjid (mosque) at the Islamic Council of Jamaica (ICOJ) headquarters, located at 24 Camp Road, Kingston 4.


Introduction
This lecture, A Young Soldier of lslam: Haji Ruknudeen Sahib, examines the contributions made by this indentured immigrant who came to these shores some 120 years ago and spent 75 years in service to the Muslim community. A humble man, dedicated to the cause of lslam he joins the legions of other men such as Syed Abdul Aziz, Yacoob Ali Meer Hassan, Beekham Syne, Zahoor Khan, lshmile Khan, Hafiz Naziruddeen, Baboo Meah, Abdul Ghany (Gany), Yacoob Khan, Subrate Meah, Mohammed Ibrahim, John Mohammed, etc. who made sterling contributions to the consolidation and propagation of lslam in Trinidad and whose stories also need to be written and understood by my generation and younger generations. Like many of my generation, had it not been for the legacy I grew-up surrounded by, the trials, the tribulations and the triumphs of the Muslim community would have been largely ignored, for I benefited from the struggles of our fore parents and did not need to interrogate what existed. It is also a struggle that takes on new twists and turns in my generation and those after me.  How to be Muslim in a globalized world with its distinct myriad images of individuality and modernization, with attendant norms and values that runs counter to the very principles of Islam; submission to the will of Allah, humility, goodwill, community, cooperation and service? This challenge is made even more acute as we also live in an lslamophobic (as defined by Runnymede Trust, 1997) world. The struggle to constantly adapt, to live a life in service of lslam in a new world by Ruknudeen provides lessons for all of us even fifty years after his death.


Causes Of Extremism

Occupation with Side Issues:

Intellectual shallowness and lack of religious insight result in an intense interest in marginal issues like giving excessive importance to the growing of beard, the wearing of cloths below the ankle, so on and so forth. What is more dangerous is attempting to impose these on others. Sometimes what is fard (obligatory) is superseded by what is recommended, and this is against the spirit of Islam.

Excessive Extension of Prohibitions:

An extremist, due to lack of knowledge, may be seen to force others to drink while sitting. Since the hadeeth, which permits drinking water while standing, are more authentic as cited by Bukhari. It is mainly due to lack of thorough knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence and of Shariah.

Emphasis on Allegorical Texts:


Ignoring the Qur’anic verses which are straightforward and clear and giving more stress on the allegorical ones is another cause of extremism. (ref. Qur’an, 3:7)

Lack of Respect for Specialization:

One of the causes of extremism is a reluctance to listen to people who hold different views. Extremists have little interest in dialogues, as they never imagine that their views could be tested in the light of others, and be either contradicted or refuted. They may have received SEMI-knowledge. These devout young people ignore the fact that if they want to study Shariah, they must SEEK help of reliable Muslim scholars.

Lack of Insight into History, Reality and the Sunnah of Allah:

Some people continue to seek or demand the impossible and the unavailable, want to change the whole fabric of society by illusory means and imaginary methods. Prophet (SAWS) spent 13 years in Makkah, performed salah and tawaf on the premises of Ka’bah, though it was surrounded at that time by more than 360 idols.

Two Important Sunan:

1. Gradation: Allah created the universe in stages. In dawah, initially, Prophet (SAWS) gradually introduced the basic teachings of Islam.
2. To achieve targeted goals, giving the allowance of due time is important.

Extremists seem to ignore these two important ways.

Islam: A Stranger in Its Homeland:


Perhaps the most alarming and unbearable factor for any ardent and devout Muslim is that in many Muslim countries, perversion, corruption, and falsehood are rampant. Their opinion is that all the rulers of Arab Muslim countries are mere Pieces On A Chessboards and puppets in the hands of the secret powers that rule the world. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Muslims to be indifferent to the tragic mishaps that beset this Ummah (or to watch their brothers in Islam being SLAUGHTERED like animals, and their sisters being abused and raped). This state of affairs also contribute to the generating of extremist views.

Impediments Imposed On Da'wah And Du'at:


This cause of extremism pertains to the freedom to CALL people to Islam. Islam does not want a Muslim to work alone. Islam not only teaches a person to be pious and righteous but also enjoins them to try to reform others. So Muslims regard this vocation of calling people to Islam as a religiously mandated duty.  The gravest sins committed by some of the Muslim Governments are the censorship on the freedom to call people to Islam as a deen and a system of beliefs and a way of life. The intimidation of du’at and of those who call for the application of shariah, the establishment of the Islamic state, the unity of the Ummah, the liberation of the Muslim land, and the support of all Islamic causes leave few options open for Muslim youths other than desperate measures. This pressure generates extremism. Is it logical, therefore, to blame the youth who – despairing of being allowed to call for Islam with wisdom and nice preaching – have resorted to violent means? In Egypt, in 1954 and 1965, devout Muslims were subjected to nightmarish, hair-raising, unbelievable tortures in the military prisons: they were lashed, exposed to flames, their flesh burned with cigarettes; men and women were being hung upside down like slaughtered animals, while the executioners took turn scorching them until their bodies swelled up in heaps of blood and pus. Why? Why are they subjected to this torture? What crime have they committed?

 ... these cause extremism.

(Source: 'Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism', by Yusuf al Qaradawi, summary by Atiq Ahad) This article does not necessarily reflect the views of CaribbeanMuslims.com. Above author takes full responsibility of it. 

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”

This is not the first time Muslim leaders have joined to condemn the Islamic State. The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, for example, last week told the nation’s Muslims that they should speak out against the “terrorist and murderers” who fight for the Islamic State and who have dragged Islam “through the mud.”

But the Muslim leaders who endorsed Wednesday’s letter called it an unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology from a collaboration of religious scholars. It is addressed to the group’s self-anointed leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State.’”

But the words “Islamic State” are in quotes, and the Muslim leaders who released the letter asked people to stop using the term, arguing that it plays into the group’s unfounded logic that it is protecting Muslim lands from non-Muslims and is resurrecting the caliphate — a state governed by a Muslim leader that once controlled vast swaths of the Middle East.


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