Erline Andrews

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PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - The Nur-e-Islam masjid, a sprawling green and white building running along a side street in a busy, crowded town on the outskirts of the capital, has approximately 5,000 members and is probably the biggest mosque in the country. It may not be for long.

“There are bigger ones being built,” said Nur-e-Islam Imam Sheraz Ali. Seated behind his desk, his large, commanding presence made his small office look even smaller. He didn’t seem to mind his mosque losing its size supremacy. His voice had a hint of glee.

This small island state of a little more than one million people has 126 mosques and counting, according to one of the administrators of, a web site that keeps a tally. The country’s Caribbean neighbour Guyana, with a population of a little more than 700,000, sees “two to three” new mosques a year, said a representative of the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana.

The pace of construction is evidence of the growing influence and visibility of Caribbean Muslims in recent years, a visibility that is both the cause and result of a slew of new converts from various walks of life.

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