Joanna Ferguson

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The Muslim Minority in Jamaica

(taken from USINFO.State.Gov website)

Dressed in a pale pink-coloured hijab, which formed a covering for her hair and shoulders, 26-year-old Rashida Khan, a postgraduate student in the Pure and Applied Sciences Faculty at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, is easily recognized as one of a few Muslims in Jamaica.

“I was born into the Islam faith,” said Khan, whose parents ensured that she and her six siblings were brought up according to this doctrine. From a very early age she learned how to conduct herself as a Muslim. 

Although only a few Muslims are seen on the campus at any given time, Khan said she knew of at least nine practising Muslims, that included medical students, and lecturers, such as Abdullahi Abdulkadri- lecturer in the Economics department, Dr. Sultana Afroz- lecturer in the History department, and Rafi Ahmad and Dr. Faisal Butt, lecturers in the Geology department.

The 2002 International Religious Freedom Report disclosed that there is ‘an estimated 5,000 Muslims’ in Jamaica. However, an article in the Jamaica Observer newspaper with the headline, Media portrays Muslims only as terrorists, says local Islamic head,dated February 22, 2006, said there are “approximately 4,500 Muslims in Jamaica.”

Abdul Baseer, teacher of the fundamental principles of Islam for 15 years at the Islamic Council of Jamaica, said, this figure represents “less than one per cent of the population,” and “there are 12 places of worship in Jamaica.” Mosques, also called masjids, are located in Kingston, (Spanish Town) St. Catherine, (Port Maria and Albany) St. Mary, (Newell) St. Elizabeth, and (Three Miles River) Westmoreland.

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