“Wherever sugar went, slavery followed it like a parasite.” Dr. Umar Faruq Abd’Allah, scholar-in-residence at the Nawawi Foundation,Chicago, U.S.A.
Between March 26 and April 7, 2010 Nazim Baksh, a Guyanese-born award-winning Canadian Journalist, accompanied Dr. Umar Faruq Abd’Allah, an American Islamic scholar and author, on a historic fact-finding trip to the Caribbean. Their first stop was the twin-island nation state of Trinidad and Tobago where they held discussions with some of the country’s leading Muslims scholars, Imams, activists and academics. After just a few days, Dr. Umar was beginning to understand the nuances of ‘Trini’ patois and was eager to explore the island’s cuisine. He once attempted a spicy ‘doubles’ for breakfast and relished a ‘shark and bake’ at Maracus Beach. And between exploring the historical presence of Muslims in Trinidad with lecturers at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Umar found time to explore the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Next stop was the island of Barbados. Judging from the amount of notes Dr. Umar took during the hours we spent with local historian Trevor Marshall, it was evident the trip was bearing fruits. And talking about fruits, mangoes were not the only things that Dr. Umar tried. Water coconuts, it turns out, are not only delicious, but are the best cure for dehydration and they have an incredible amount of electrolytes, far greater than a bottle of Gatorade.
The final stop was Guyana where Dr. Umar gave a brilliant Khutbah on Good Friday. The theme of which was the Islamic approach to the Christian belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus, upon him be peace and blessings. The Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG) like the Anjuman Sunnatul Jamaat Organization (ASJA) in Trinidad and the Barbados Muslim Association, proved to be gracious hosts. In Guyana Dr. Umar visited the region of Berbice where a major slave uprising took place in the late 1800’s led by Kofi (Cuffy) who it is rumored corresponded with the European slave owners in Arabic. Dr. Umar gave several amazing talks in Berbice, Linden and Georgetown in the five days we spent in Guyana.