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NY Times:Trying to Stanch Trinidad's Flow of Young Recruits to ISIS

ENTERPRISE, Trinidad and Tobago — By the time he was 17, Fahyim Sabur had memorized the Quran.

At 23, he was shunning calypso parties and giving private Arabic lessons in his neighborhood here in Enterprise, about 20 miles south of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

A year later, he was on the battlefield in Syria, where he died fighting for the Islamic State.

“He never spoke to me about it,” said his father, Abdus Sabur, 56, who sells meat patties on the street. “National Security called me one day and told me, ‘Your son is dead.’ ”

Muslims Were Banned From the Americas as Early as the 16th Century

Long before today’s anxiety about terror attacks, Spain and England feared that enslaved Africans would be more susceptible to revolt if they were Muslim

On Christmas Day, 1522, 20 enslaved Muslim Africans used machetes to attack their Christian masters on the island of Hispaniola, then governed by the son of Christopher Columbus. The assailants, condemned to the grinding toil of a Caribbean sugar plantation, killed several Spanish and freed a dozen enslaved Native Americans in what was the first recorded slave revolt in the New World.

The uprising was quickly suppressed, but it prompted the newly crowned Charles V of Spain to exclude from the Americas “slaves suspected of Islamic leanings.” He blamed the revolt on their radical ideology rather than the harsh realities of living a life of slavery.


Trinis warned about Middle East

“T&T is a nice place, let’s stay out of fighting any war and live peacefully. The way things are going, you have to keep your distance. I see a lot of western countries becoming like Middle Eastern ones and people not being able to live normal lives.” Tariq Mohammed,

Caribbean to 'Caliphate': The Trinidadians fighting for the Islamic State

Trinidad and Tobago is among the countries that have contributed the most fighters to IS per capita. MEE went there to find out why, and how the government is preparing for their return

PORT OF SPAIN - Joan Crawford was at home waiting for her son, Shane Crawford, to return from the police station.

It was October 2011 and scores of young people in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago had been detained under state of emergency powers introduced by the government to tackle a surge in violent crime and gang activity.

But nothing could prepare her for what was to come.

“And then I get the call that they [the police were] holding him for plotting to assassinate the prime minister!” She breaks into an incredulous laugh and claps her hands.

A media frenzy followed.

"All they wanted to find out was ‘who is Shane Crawford?' I went by my mum, the radio was on and every station was the same ting [thing].”

Haj slowdown hits Saudi businesses

Saudi businesses catering to haj visitor have taken a hit this year as far fewer pilgrims arrive and those who come have less cash to spend.

Saudi authorities say only about 1.86 million pilgrims, including around 1.3 million coming from outside the country, are attending this year's haj, down from peak figures that approached 3 million a few years ago.

The number of visitors from abroad has fallen by around 20 percent and the number from within Saudi Arabia has fallen by half, said Marwan Abbas Shaaban, head of the kingdom's National Committee for Haj and Umrah. Overall, haj-related business was down by half, he said.


JEDDAH – The Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, on Monday took a series of decisions to revise visa fees and penalties for traffic violations.

The revised fees will come into force from Oct. 2 (Muharram 1).  The first entry of Haj and Umrah pilgrims will be free, but for second entry they will be charged SR2,000 (USD$535; XCD $1,450; TT$3,600; GYD$110,000; at today's exchange rate). 

Islam thrives in communist Cuba

HAVANA — As Cuban salsa beats pulsate along Obispo Street in the oldest section of this Caribbean capital, bearded men raise their hands to their ears and face east toward Mecca.

They whisper in union "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic). They recite verses of the Koran. They bend down and place their head, knees and hands on Oriental rugs.

Together, they represent a thriving group of Islamic followers in the most unlikely of places: communist Cuba.

As Muslims across the globe celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, which kicked off in early June, they are joined by a small but vibrant community of Muslims — about 10,000, based on their own estimate — who are blending Islamic values and Latin American customs in Cuba. They are now holding their daily prayers inside Cuba's first mosque on an island more associated with Catholicism and Santeria.

"Islam has been important in Cuban culture since the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the island," said Marta Linares Gonzalez, 60, who converted to Islam and picked the Islamic name Fatima. "He came with Moorish slaves, who are part of the Spanish culture."

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MUSLIMS last evening started commemorations marking the month of Ramadan. At sunset, the month of Sha’ban ended and the period of special observances commenced.

During this period, Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset, refraining from a range of activities including the consumption of food, the drinking of liquids, smoking and other sensual pleasures. Particular emphasis is placed on abstaining from bad deeds. It is a period of sacrifice, prayer and renewal. The month will end with the sighting of the crescent moon or, if that does not occur, once 30 days have elapsed. The end of the period will be marked with the Eidal- Fitr holiday


Joan Alvado photographed Muslims in Cuba, where an estimated 85% of the population is Catholic.  Photographer Joan Alvado said the Muslims he met in Cuba were converts. "Many of them were Christians before or some other religion, or a few of them were atheists as well," Alvado said.


Bridgetown, Barbados, January 20, 2016: The warm reception of a leading Muslim scholar at Codrington College, a prestigious Christian seminary in Barbados, reinforced the idea that Islam and Christianity shared a core set of values.
Visiting Eritrean born Muslim scholar Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said was welcomed yesterday by the seminary's Principal, Reverend Dr. Michael Clarke along with other priests and theological students.   
Shaykh Faid was on his first ever visit to Barbados, his final stop on a three country tour of the Caribbean that took him first to Guyana then Trinidad. Shaykh Faid is a classical Islamic Scholar who have spent many years in the study of Islam and its related sciences and knowledge. He is based in London, United Kingdom.
Principal of Codrington College, Reverend Dr. Michael Clarke with Shaykh Faid
on college grounds
Reverend Dr. Clarke invited Shaykh Faid to deliver a lecture on the Spiritual Tradition in Islam. Codrington College located on very scenic surroundings made the perfect spot for the gathering of Christians and Muslims learning from each other’s faith-based traditions. 
Prior to the lecture a donation of park benches was made by the Barbados Muslim Association to be utilized by persons using the facilities at the College.  Additionally, author Sabir Nakhuda presented a gift of a 200 year old Bible from his private collection of books to the library of the College.
The tradition of cooperation between Christians and Muslims goes back many centuries but regrettably interrupted by periods of destructive behavior on both sides by individuals who take a narrow view of the world and an even narrower view of what their religious beliefs teach. 
Shaykh Faid put the question of spirituality in perspective and several in the audience, representing a cross-section of Christian denominations on the island observed that many of those spiritual principles intersect between Christianity and Islam.  Understanding the Creator, Almighty God and one’s faith better ensures that one would live a life in service not only to God but to the creation of God.  He said that human beings cannot claim to be in the service of God and at the same time be a harm to others and cause destruction on the earth.
The acts of prayers, fasting and charity all help to build one spirituality. Especially prayer that is done in solace with sincere devotion.  He noted that the action of Muslims and putting their faces on the ground in complete submission to the Almighty while in prayer serves as a practical lesson in humility.  He said he observed similar acts with some orthodox Christian groups in his country of Eritrea.  He mentioned that he had spent one year in a church in his country studying a very old sematic language.
In response to a question about those who say their act in the name of Islam but carry out brutal acts of murder, terrorism and other such deviant behaviours Shaykh Faid pointed out that there was a major disconnect with these people and their understanding of the faith and his and the majority of the Muslims and their understanding of the same faith.  He said these deviant persons are misinformed and have a wrong interpretation of the teachings.  He noted that scholars like himself are working to reverse these corrupt ideologies from spreading among the younger generation.
Principal of Codrington College, Reverend Dr. Michael Clarke being presented with a gift of a 200 year old Bible by author Sabir Nakhuda from his private collection of books to the library of the college.
On the issue of fear by some people of Muslims he said that fear was the worst enemy for human beings.  With fear, persons are capable of doing anything.  He said it was natural to have fear in light of all the negative portrayed about Islam and Muslims but he made the point that this issue concerns everyone, not only Muslims and we should all work hand in hand to combat extremism. Religion is being regarded as outdated and so today the focus is on Islam but tomorrow it will be another religion.
Shaykh Faid’s gave another lecture last night at the Grand Salle.  Here he reminded Muslims to go back to the teachings and examples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for in those teachings one would find the way to live a wholesome life even in today’s modern world.
The audience at both lectures represented a cross section of the Barbadian community.  From priests to professionals, Muslims and persons of other faith.  Shaykh Faid’s message of following the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) true message resounded with all the audience.  An attendee commented that he was extremely happy to have attended and felt that Muslim should do more on the island to educate Barbadians to the teachings of Islam.  Another comment from the night lecture included one priest saying: “Totally enjoyed tonight.  The presentation represented true Islamic scholarship. Fantastic!”
Shaykh Faid was interviewed on the local television station which was well received by the viewing public. Nazim Baksh, a journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who accompanied the Shaykh on his trip to the Caribbean, also did an interview on television and examined the role of the media in directing the narrative on Islam and Muslims.
The Shaykh’s visit came at a time when there have been much public discussion in Barbados on the issue of Muslim females wearing hijab for official photographs.  The local press covered the Shaykh’s visit and published several articles. Contributed by Suleiman Bulbulia

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