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    Photos Islam in Guyana 1931


    As we approach the end of yet another holy month of Ramadan and prepare to welcome the Eid-ul Fitr celebrations, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the history of Islam in Guyana. According to geographer and historian, Al Bakri, Islam reached Africa by the 8th century through the trans-Sahara trade that included the Kingdoms of Mali, Kanem Bornu, Songhai and Ghana. By the 16th and 17th centuries Islam had firmly taken hold in North, West and other pockets in Africa.  Al-Bakri “painted” the following picture of the Empire of Ghana (from where the majority of our Afro-Guyanese ancestors came from) – By the year 1068 Ghana was highly advanced, economically and a very prosperous country. The “city” of Ghana consists of two towns lying on a plain, one of which was inhabited by Muslims, and possessing 12 mosques (one was a congregational mosque for Friday Jummah namaaz), each with its own Imam, Muezzin and paid reciters of the Koran. Bakri also wrote about the later influence of Islam in the Malian Empire (which included Ghana) in the 13th century under Mansa Musa, whose fame spread to Sudan, North Africa and all the way to Europe. Musa was the wealthiest ruler during that period in Africa.

    Ramzaan in Guyana

    From the abode of Islam in Arabia, and through two great historical trajectory, slavery and indentureship, Ramzaan (Ramadhan) made its way to Guyana.  Guyanese Muslims like the rest of the Umma takes seriously the holy month of Ramzaan.  Muslims make up about 12% of Guyana’s population, and while Ramzaan is not a nation wide event, it is well known because everyone in the country comes in contact with a Muslim.  Ramzaan has been part of the Guyana landscape since the dawn of slavery when West African Muslims brought the practice to its shores in the 1700s, and the practice continues to this day.  Islam virtually disappeared with the forced conversion of Muslim Africans, but was later resurrected with the second arrival of Islam in Guyana in 1838 with the arrival of South Asian Muslims from Mughal Hindustan, bringing with them aspects of nawabi (royal) culture to our shores.

    This is an extremely important book as it gives a snapshot of British Guiana almost 160 years ago…. in 1853.  It is interesting, even with its biased analysis of the colony as viewed by a landowner and colonist.

    The writer gives a brief history of the three colonies – Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice – that were combined to form British Guiana now Guyana.

    He highlights the difficult geography, drainage and irrigation problems and the shifting coastlines are expalined in detail, and the use of steam pumps for drainage. Many of the same problems of  drainage remain to this day.

    Most of all he notes the falling production of sugar, coffee and cotton after abolition, and the efforts to recruit workers to fill the labour needs. Workers were recruited from other West Indian islands, Africa, Madeira, China and most of all India.

     Original Published by: T. Bosworth in 1853 in 133 pages; Subjects: Slaves; Blacks; Guyana; Labor; Working class; Labor and laboring classes; Business & Economics / Labor; History / Latin America / South America; Political Science / Labor & Industrial Relations; Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies; Social Science / Slavery.

    170th Anniversary of the Arrival of the First Hindustani Muslims from India to British Guiana

    Abstract: For the first time in 170 years after the arrival of the first Hindustani Muslims in British Guiana, an attempt is being made to document the arrival of about 94Muslims in 1838. This account will dissipate the myth that Muslims were not among the first set of indentured immigrants to the colony. We hope that this paper will fill the academic void of an important chapter in the history of Islam and Muslims in Guyana. This essay traces the arrival of Muslims from British India to British Guiana as early as the first batch who came on board the first two ships—the Whitby and the Hesperus in 1838. The essay also highlights the fact that the first East Indians to rebel against the slave-like conditions were two Muslims—Jumun and Pultun—both indentured to Gladstone Plantation,Vreed-en-hoop. Upon abolition of slavery in 1834 in the British West Indies, the sugar plantations in the region were faced with a severe labor shortage when the freed Africans refused to work following emancipation. The plantation owners were forced to seek alternative sources of cheap labor and the majority of these“replacements” were recruited from the Indian sub-continent as indentured immigrants.This essay further attempts to chronicle the resurgence of Islam in British Guiana as well as some of the challenges faced by the East Indian indentured immigrants,notwithstanding the many obstacles that they faced in their new homeland.

    Dinner and Awards - Queenstown Masjid Restoration Project

    The Queenstown Jama Masjid was the first Muslim place of worship to be  built in Georgetown, Guyana back in 1895. It remains the principal Masjid in the capital city, and in Guyana.  The  Masjid has been deteriorating over the years and in essence falling apart.  The foundation of  the Masjid has also become weakened.  To address these concerns, a Building Committee was formed  and a project proposal and subsequently a project plan were developed.  The project outlines the plans for a new two-storeyed building which is expected to be completed within  a year at a cost of US $2M, will be equipped with air conditioning units and a stand-by generator among  other items. The top floor will be occupied by women, while the bottom floor will accommodate the male worshippers.

    On September 12th 2010, a Dinner is being hosted by expat Guyanese to raise funds to support the Reconstruction project.  Your financial contribution to the project will be through the purchase of tickets.  The “Net  Proceeds” of all tickets will go directly towards the project fund.

    At the dinner, a presentation will be made by the Chairperson of the Project Building Committee, Br.  Naeem Nasir on the development and status of the project.  The dinner will also feature a keynote speaker Maulana Siddiq Nasir, Quranic recitations by the World Renowned Qari, Syed Sadaqat Ali and nasheeds by   Nadir Khan.  A feature presentation will be made  to recognize the Lifetime Achievements of Imams, Scholars and Community Workers from Guyana.

    An excellent read on the shipping companies taking indentured servants from India to Guyana

    History-Glimpses of Guyanese History

    The British Guiana Centenary Year Book, 1831-1931, edited by E. Sievewright Stoby, was published in 1931 to celebrate the centenary of the unification of the colony of British Guiana in 1831. The Year Book contained a series of essays under the title “Our Place in Guiana,” written by four prominent citizens – African, Chinese, Indian and Portuguese. Guyana Review reprinted the essay on “The East Indians” exactly as it appeared in the Yearbook seventy-eight years ago. It was written by the Honourable Dr Jung Bahadur Singh, a prominent East Indian member of the Legislative Council.

    When Muhammad Ali visited Guyana

    Muhammad Ali in picture with the Muslim leadership of Guyana

    Zimeena grateful upon receiving her exam score

    Georgetown June 30 2008:

    As reported in Guyana Chronicle:

    Outgoing, brave, and sensitive Zimeena Rasheed gives credit to Mr. Wilfred Success of West Ruimveldt Primary School at C. V. Nunes Primary School for her success.   She said her best subjects are mathematics, science, and she like participating in debates and dramatic poetry.

    She said that by phone Mr Success, a close friend of the grandmother, would discuss the various areas of study with her, sometimes for long periods.

    Like her classmate her parents are to decide whether they would further their education in the city.

    As reported in Starbroek News:

    Eleven-year-old Zimeena Rasheed of Queenstown, Essequibo Coast, and pupil of CV Nunes Primary, who is also in fifth place, told Stabroek News that she feels contented since she worked very hard towards her success. The confident and well spoken Zimeena said she took extra lessons and studied early in the mornings leading up to her exams. She said her siblings along with her parents stayed up late and encouraged her throughout her studies.

    She said the exams were not all easy; Science, Mathematics and English were okay, but Social Studies was very challenging.

    Zimeena expressed sincere gratitude to her family, teacher and friends. She also congratulated her colleague, top pupil Yogeeta Persaud, with whom she had always competed.

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