Caribbean Muslims of Indian ancestry must embrace and celebrate their heritage.

Newly arrived (1897) Indians under indentured contracts
“O people! Beware of your Lord who created you from a single soul and created from it its mate and spread from those two many men and women and beware of Allah in whose name you ask one another and [beware of] the wombs. Verily, Allah is ever watchful over you.” Qur’an (4:1)

As we take the time out to commemorate  165 years of the presence of people of Indian heritage on this Indian Arrival Day in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Muslims of this nation [and by extension elsewhere in the Caribbean and South America] should embrace and celebrate their heritage alongside the descendants of jahajee bhais and bahins.  The wombs that borne us were from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madras in India, so take heed and show the appropriate respect and gratitude.

In fact Islam encourages us to maintain ties with non-Muslim family members as well. The mother of Asma bintu Abi Bakr (radiyallaahu anha) was a disbeliever. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) commanded Asma to maintain ties with her mother. (Bukhari, #2620).

It has become fashionable to reject all things India and Indian for the unannounced assumption is that all such things are Hindu.  This is a betrayal of the truth and buys into the sentiment that to be Muslim one must adapt to or adopt Arab culture. Despite splashing their money hither and thither all over the globe; the Arabs have no claim to hegemony of any kind, be it cultural, religious interpretation, political, economic etc on the Muslims of the world.  Truth is that the Arabs traveled to Delhi to study the hadith sciences, to seek employment and to seek refuge from the constant turmoil of the Middle East. The Muslims of India lobbied for the retention of the Caliphate when the Arabs attempted to trade their “uprising” against the Ottomans for the seat of power of the Caliph, only to be double crossed and succeeded in its abolishment.

Indian Muslims joined side by side with their compatriots of India to remove the oak of British power and oppression since the late eighteenth century, whereas those with whom they share the bond of faith in the Middle East joined with the British and other western powers to attack and dismantle the Caliphate.  This betrayal was protested by Indian Muslims who were joined by Indians of all faiths in the streets of Lucknow, Lahore and Delhi.

Against this backdrop today we have Arabs giving subversive advice to our youth that democracy is haram, elections are haram and that voting for a woman leader is forbidden.  As we all know that the Middle East is rife with totalitarian and authoritarian forms of government.  Violence is the main instrument that has been used to remove one despotic ruler after another.  Civic society is absent, much less having developed a culture in civic matters in these societies.  It would seem that having lived under these conditions for such a long time, the “scholars of religion” from these parts use the “pulpit” to reinforce the “legitimacy” of these despotic regimes.  The masses do not have access to participation in civic society or basic freedoms of association or assemblies.  Though it’s a human right that everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his/her personality is possible. They are blocked by the nature of the political systems from participation in shaping and influencing their societies. The basis of the authority of their respective governments is not derived from the will of the people but by inheritance or violence. There are no right to freedom of opinion and expression; including the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

Yet amongst us there exist groups who condemn the peaceful and civilized manner that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have chosen to change their government.  They also condemn and discriminate on the basis of gender the chosen leader of one of our political parties.  What alternative mechanisms are these pathetic imbeciles advocating should replace the smooth transition of power that took place in Trinidad and Tobago?  Anarchy? Military government? Monarchy?  Critical thinking or for that matter any type of thinking is unknown to this lot.  Apparently stupidity is elevated to being a pious virtue in their circles.  The scary part of it is that they couch their subversion in sacred language.  Their advocates in this are the “scholars of religion” from these despotic countries.

The partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1948, into two countries, India and Pakistan also cut the psychological ties of local Caribbean Muslims with India.  But we need to know that India today has the third largest number of Muslims at over 160 million after Indonesia and Pakistan.

As Muslims of Indian heritage living in the Caribbean we share a common history with the Muslims of India.  As the reality is that we share the common feature of being minority communities living in democracies.  The latter concept is unknown to the Muslims of the Middle East.  Consequently their scholarship and interpretative understanding of our faith is infused with totalitarianism and devoid of a sense of civic society.  We also share common values with our Indian counterparts. “These values include a stress on the community rather than the individual, the privileging of order and harmony over personal freedom, refusal to compartmentalize religion away from other spheres of life, a particular emphasis on saving and thriftiness, an insistence on hard work, a respect for political leadership, a belief that government and business need not necessarily be natural adversaries, and an emphasis on family loyalty.”   (Anthony Milner)

Additionally both the Muslims of India and the Caribbean share the interpretative school of religious understanding, Hanafi, in the main.

Aside from learning Arabic for religious purposes, we should also learn Urdu and Farsi in order for our communities to gain access to the rich literature (religious and otherwise) of the Indo-Pak subcontinent.

So yes, multiple influences – our Caribbean landscape and experience, our country of heritage, the shared values of the Indian sub-continent and our faith have shaped our identity.  Lets commit to commemorate and honour the sacrifices of those who came before us to build the societies and institutions we enjoy today.

2 Comments on "Caribbean Muslims of Indian ancestry must embrace and celebrate their heritage."

  1. Micheal Edwards | April 25, 2018 at 11:00 am | Reply

    خلافة النبوة ثلاثون سنة ثم يؤتي الله الملك من يشاء
    The Prophetic khilaafah will last for thirty years. Then Allaah will give the dominion to whomever He wills.
    Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Haakim

    reported by Safeenah, the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)
    الخلافة بعدي في أمتي ثلاثون سنة ثم ملك بعد ذلك
    The khilaafah after me in my Ummah will last for thirty years. Then there will be kingship after that.
    Reported in the Musnad Imaam Ahmad, by at-Tirmidhi, Musnad Abi Ya’laa, and Ibn Hibbaan

    While Islam based upon any particular race or region. Allah choose His Last Prophet/ Messenger to be an Arab and He choose the language of the Quran to be in Arabic. Majority of established Imams of the past, had wrote their books in Arabic. Most of Arab culture was influenced by Islam. Language of Jannah is Arabic.

    Regardless if it was Arabs Kingdoms, Turkish Kingdom, indian kingdom, etc. It doesn’t matter, if most muslims call them Caliphate, according to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassallam), whose words and actions was based upon revelation from Allah,
    Surah Najm 2-4
    Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred,Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination, It is not but a revelation revealed
    After 30 years prophetic khalifat, All where Kingdoms.

    The Prophet said on the authority of Ubayy Bin Ka’b: “If anyone proudly asserts his descent in the manner of the pre-Islamic people, tell him to bite his father’s (private part), and do not use a euphemism”
    The hadith only reflects the disgusting nature of nationalim, tribalism and racism. Nationalism is tribalism in a wider sense and racism is even wider.

    With that said, Islam didn’t come to destroy or replace any culture like the Europeans did with every country/ region that they possessed. They enslave the people, raped their resources, tried to replace their culture, religion etc. Islam came to guide mankind from the servitude of the creation to the worship of the Creator Alone. So how we speak, carry about ourselves, eat/drink, sleep, etc, there are guidelines, what is right from the wrong. There are muslims, from india who dress differently from the Arab Muslims, while as well as other regions, once it is based upon the Shariah. Similiar the foods we eat, different styles, tastes, etc, as long as it based halal based upon the Shariah.

    Islam is complete and perfect system for all aspect of a Muslim life, whether we live in Muslim majority or minority. Whether we live in a country that rules based democratic, communism, socialism, kingship, etc All these systems are Man Made. No True Muslims should believe that democracy has any merit over any other system. Democracy was present in the time of Prophet Isa (alai wassallam) but there is Not statement by him, giving any merit to that system. Rather, Islam teaches that we obey those in authority (Govt) regardless if they are muslims or Non Muslims, as long as we are Not prevent from practicing our religion.

    Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them. Then, there will come people after them whose testimony precedes their oaths and their oaths precede their testimony
    Bukhari and Muslim.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.686 Narrated by Zahdam bin Mudarrab

    ‘Imran bin Hussain said, “The Prophet said, ‘The best of you (people) are my generation, and the second best will be those who will follow them, and then those who will follow the second generation.

    Best generation of Muslims who understood and establish Islam correct, based upon the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassallam), First 3 Generation of Muslims. Four Imams were amongst those Generations of Muslims. All scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah that came afterwards, that aligned themselves to the first 3 generations of Muslims, are Rightly Guided, whether they Arabs, indians, asians, Caucasians, etc
    Because it is clearly established that when the Muslims went to different countries, alot of them absorbed the paganism, ignorance that those people have, hence why we have different sects of Muslimms with different interpretations.

  2. Micheal Edwards | April 25, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Reply

    Last Note I forgot to mention. I am not a Revert / convert to Islam.
    I was born to indian parents in the Caribbean, whose fore fathers came from India, but my Love Allah and His Deen is beloved than my love for myself, my people and my country.

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