Trinidad and Tobago

Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 1,980 square miles, and its population is approximately 1.3 million.

There is no dominant faith among the multiethnic population, which is 40 percent African and 40 percent East Indian; the remainder are of European, Syrian, Lebanese, and Chinese descent. According to the latest official statistics (1990), about 29 percent of the population are practicing or nominally Roman Catholic; 24 percent are Hindu; 6 percent are Muslim; and 31 percent are Protestant (including 11 percent Anglican,

7 percent Pentecostal, 4 percent Seventh-Day Adventist, 3 percent Presbyterian/Congregational, and 3 percent Baptist). A small number of individuals follow Obeah and other traditional Caribbean religions with African roots; sometimes these are practiced together with other faiths.

Foreign missionaries present include members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Baptists, Mennonites, and Muslims. The Mormons maintain the maximum total allowed (30) of foreign missionaries per religious denomination in the country, while other denominations maintain between 5 and 10 foreign missionaries.

{Extracted from International Religious Freedom Report

Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago constitute only 8 percent of the population and are mostly of East Indian descent, but they play an important political, economic, and social role: numerous elected officials are Muslim, and many businesses are Muslim-owned. In 1990 Trinidad was briefly thrust into the world spotlight when an obscure Black Muslim group attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government by force. There are about eighty-five mosques on Trinidad but only one or two on Tobago. The government officially recognizes several Muslim holidays and sponsors an annual Id al-Fitr celebration. Islamic leaders have begun to join with Christians and Hindus in calling attention to growing problems with alcoholism, drug abuse, violent crime, and AIDS.

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    "Walking time bombs!" That's how University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh described underachieving males in Trinidad. Dr. Teelucksingh was speaking to a small audience at the JFK lecture hall, UWI, on Saturday 14th September in the on-going Islamic Awareness Week (IAW) organised by the Islamic Dawah Movement (IDM). Citing the nation's high murder rate, (278 at the time of writing) Dr. Teelucksingh warned that the nation is at serious risk from this marginalised and alienated sector.  "School and academic attainment hold no attraction for these drop-outs who lack vision and goals. They prefer image..... bling ," the lecturer disclosed.

    1946: The Need for Greater Effort

    Writing in the 1946 Eid-ul-Fitr brochure Mr. Tajmool Hosein laments the disinterest of young Muslims in their religion and the disunity in the community.  Thanks to Maulana Kavir Mohammed for providing the copy.

    This article is extracted from a 1946 Eid-ul-Fitr brochure.  It is written in a manner representative of the contemporary reflection and knowledge of the author.  Eid-ul-Fitr brochures are not academic papers thus the article would lack the rigour of such. These are commemorative publications that are printed and distributed at communal festive occasions.  The article is to be treated as a contemporary report akin to an eye witness report and not to be judged on its historical accuracy.  Thanks to Maulana Kavir Mohammed for providing the copy.


    Often as Muslims we are challenged to find Muslim friendly holiday accommodation. The Green Palm Hotel in Bon Accord, Tobago, definitively eliminates that issue if you are planning a vacation on the island of Tobago.  An on site restaurant that provides halal food, or if you are inclined to prepared your own meals there is small kitchenette, a musalla (place to perform pray), clean rooms and great hospitality.  A few minutes from the best beaches in Tobago and the airport. Green Palm can also provide custom vacation packages inclusive of airport pick up, meals and island tours.  A great place to have a halal vacation.  Note that Green Palm does cater to a multi-faith clientele and is not an exclusive Muslim hotel.

    This 1994 research project sought to obtain information through a mailed questionnaire on various issues and problems encountered by Muslims of Trinidad ancestry in transition as they settle into the Canadian environment. The results indicate there is a core of non-negotiable elements which are held firm. For example: all respondents claim belief in the oneness of God and Muhammed as His Prophet (--the testimony of faith that defines the Muslim); the Quran is the revealed word of God to Muhammad; acceptance of the Quran and some or all of the Hadith; there is life after death; angels exist; and that Christianity and Judaism are also acceptable to God.

    At the same time, several aspects of their religious practices appear negotiable, perhaps for survival or simply getting along in the larger society. The frequency distribution of responses indicates, for example, that the socio-cultural environment in Canada tends to hinder the exercise of some basic injunctions. Political or governmental agencies may find it of interest to note concerns related to finding suitable education for children (including facilities for the imparting of Islamic instruction, Arabic and Urdu or Hindustani languages), obtaining proper burial sites, avoiding religious and racial prejudices. Also problematic are efforts geared at maintaining the extended family with parents and elders held in high respect

    There is a disenchantment with the practice of arranged marriages, preferring pre-marital mixing of the sexes, dating and mate selection. The appeal of skimpy clothes, calypso dancing, pre-marital and extra-marital sexual affairs are also noteworthy. Respondents, while regarding themselves as less religious than their parents, see themselves as definitely more religious than their children, an obvious decline over generations. The cross-tabulations indicate that while the immigrants from Trinidad tended over time to modify their religious tradition and practices, their Canadian-born children (i.e., the next generation), caught between two cultures and no doubt experiencing tension between minority-majority cultures as they live in the culture of their parents at home but experience a different one in school, the neighbourhood and through the media, were influenced further by the dominant culture in attitudes to their religion and related issues and practices.

    Further, among the Trinidad Muslim respondents in Canada, the overall watering down in Islamic traditions and practices seems more prevalent among those respondents who are university educated, are professionals, and have high salaries, as anticipated by the tested hypotheses which are thereby confirmed. It is noteworthy, too, that by the second generation born in Canada, there is a swing-back (reversion) to enhanced involvement in their religion; and while interesting in itself, it seems to suggest a hope of rescuing and developing their ethnic identity and religiosity. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

    Iere Village Princes Town

    Iere Village is a small village in southern Trinidad, north west of Princes Town. Though small in size the village is rich in history. It is the site of the first Presbyterian church, the first Islamic mosque and the first government funded school in Trinidad. The village is located on the Naparima Mayaro Road just outside Princes Town

    Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago;  Mr. Jack Warner, Minister of Works, Transportation and UNC Chairman; Mr. Winston Dookeran, Minister of Finance and Political Leader of the Congress of the People; each issued Ramadan messages to the Muslims and people of Trinidad and Tobago.

    The Story of Muhammad Sisei (1788 - 1838)

    The following story has its roots in Manding Muslim civilization which dominated West Africa for three hundred years and stretched from beyond Timbuctu to the Atlantic. It helps to explain why Muslims in Trinidad are still called 'Madingas'.

    In his address at the Maha Sabha function, he touched on two areas of East Indian indentureship in T&T - the status of the immigrants who arrived here in 1845 and the ship that brought them here. Dr Moore’s contention is that the first Indian immigrants who came to T&T were free men, not indentured labourers.

    Eid Treats and Sweets

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