Dominica Tropical Islam
Lee Wilburn

By Lee Wilburn
Published on 06/5/2008

The Commonwealth of Dominica is a small island nation located in the Windward Island chain of the Eastern Caribbean. For those who have heard of this relatively obscure nation, they may think of towering mountains and lush rainforests. They may think of typical Caribbean images such as flowing rum, gyrating street jams during Carnival season, and relaxed locals with long dreadlocks. Perhaps they might even think of its colonial history and current population, which is 96% of African slave descent. Certainly, when people think of Dominica, they do not think about Islam.

Muslims do not make up a significant percent of Dominica’s primarily Christian population. They are, however, a vibrant and growing community. The nation’s population, around 70,000, is shrinking. The Muslim population is currently around 300 and is growing. The nation’s first sizable mosque is currently being built. A handful of Dominican Muslims are going to neighbouring countries with larger Muslim populations (like Trinidad and Guyana) to learn more about Islam and about how to minister to the local community. More Dominicans are converting to Islam and being born to Muslim parents than ever before.
The first Muslims in Dominica came on European slave ships. A large portion of the Atlantic Slave trade, beginning in the 1500s, came from Muslim West African areas that today include Senegal, Mali, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. Slavery was disastrous to these transported African cultures and traditions. Slaves of different cultures, language, and religions were intermixed and were not allowed freedom of worship or association. As a result, Islam did not survive during the ensuing generations of Africans in the New World.