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ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IN THE BAHAMAS 

ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IN THE BAHAMAS

 

             

 

There are over one billion Muslims in the world today. Muslims can be found in all parts of today's world like the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe and in the Western Hemisphere of North, South and Central America and the Caribbean Islands.

Some of the countries have populations that are 100% Muslim while others have populations of 1% or less of Muslims. The Islands of the Bahamas is one of those places where the population of Muslims is less than 1%.

In the Bahamas, there is one Masjid (prayer hall) located in Nassau which is nearing completion. Prayers are conducted there, in congregation, five times a day, where as in Freeport Jumah (Friday) prayer is conducted once a week, at the Freeport Islamic center.

The Community of Islam in the Bahamas has a history that started in the early 1970's when a few Bahamian students who had embraced Islam while studying abroad, returned home and started to gather together for prayers and studying the tenets of Islam. As the years passed, some more Bahamians accepted Islam and the numbers are growing steadily.

Local historical evidence shows that a great many Muslims, many of them quite literate, existed here during the slave period, but due to harshness and rigors of slavery and due to the influence of the Slave masters, Islam did not survive during that era. Information about Muslims in the Bahamas during slavery can be found in the Government Public Records Office, Ministry of Educational Culture, "Aspects of Slavery," page 15 the record states, "In 1802 Mr. Rose removed his residence to Exuma and on Christmas Day dedicated "the new Church." After having officiated so long "in old uninhabited houses in Long Island, he felt, in the discharge of his duty under a consecrated house a renovation, as it were, of the clergyman."

The inhabitants then consisted of 140 whites, 35 "free people" and 1,078 Negro and other slaves. On his first coming many of the Negroes "called themselves the followers of Mahomet," a name used in medieval Europe for the Prophet Muhammad," but these, with other blacks, he baptized to the number of 93 adults and 41 infants in less than a year.

On page 25, we see further evidence of a letter written in Arabic from a liberated African living at Carmichael 1831 CO23/84 415-20. The exhibit shows a letter addressed to Governor, Sir James Carmichael Smyth, from a liberated African living at Adelaide. It is believed that this man's name was Abul Keli, an African Prince of the Ibo tribe who had been captured by slave traders as a potential slave. However, he was rescued from this fate by the timely intervention of the Royal Navy who captured the slave ship and brought it to the Bahamas. The letter is believed to be in Arabic and cites passages from the Qur'an, the Muslim Bible.

It is interesting to note that this man's ability to write destroys the myth that all Africans were illiterate.

Michael Craton said, "Taking into account the usual shipping routes; it is probable that most of the Bahamian Negroes came from the more northerly parts of Africa. There were found the brown-skinned Mandingoes, Fulani, and Hausa.." It is a historical and sociological fact that the Mandingoes, Fulani, and Hausa tribes are predominantly Muslim.

Our forefathers who were brought here as slaves, were unable to practice their faith and consequently Islam never flourished. However, conditions now are much more conducive for the growth and development of this faith which emphasizes the worship of one God alone.

 

Islam and Muslims:

Islam is an Arabic word which means total submission to God. As a religion, Islam calls for complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God.

        

A Muslim is one who freely and willingly accepts the supreme power of God and strives to organize his life in total accord with the teachings of God.

Muslims commonly use the word "Allah" for the English word "God". This word Allah is an Arabic word and is used by both Muslims and Christians whose language is Arabic. In Aramaic, a language related closely to Arabic and the language that Jesus (peace be upon him) spoke, God is also referred to as Allah.

The Basic Islamic Beliefs:

Belief in One God

Muslims believe in one, unique, incomparable God. God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, the Sovereign, and the Sustainer of everything in the whole universe. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, and the All-Knowing. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, and the Most Beneficent.

Belief in the Angels

Muslims believe in the existence of the angels and that they are honored creatures. The angels worship God alone, obey Him, and act only by His command. Among the angels is Gabriel, who brought down the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Belief in God revealed Books

Muslims believe that God revealed books to His messengers as proof for mankind and as guidance for them. Among these books is the Quran, which God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Belief in the Prophets and Messengers of God

Muslims believe in the prophets and messengers of God, starting with Adam, including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them). But God final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last prophet sent by God.

Belief in the Day of Judgment

Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment (the Day of Resurrection) when all people will be resurrected for God  judgment according to their beliefs and deeds.

Most people realize that there is only one true God. Throughout history, this one true God has appointed many good men as messengers to tell others about Him so that humans everywhere may turn away from false gods and worship Him alone. Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) all spoke about this one true God.

Moses (peace be upon him) stressed the concept of the Oneness of God in a Biblical passage known as the "Shema," or the Jewish creed of faith: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." (Deuteronomy 6:4).

It was repeated approximately 1500 years later by Jesus (peace be upon him) when he said: "...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mark 12:29)

About 600 years after Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) it was again revealed by God to Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Holy Quran And your God is one God, There is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, (Quran 2:163).

Islam is therefore, not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance, which God revealed to all His previous messengers.

What is a Muslim�s belief about Jesus (peace be upon him)?

Muslims believe:

  • That Jesus was born miraculously, without any male intervention.
  • That Jesus was a "Word" from God.
  • (A Word bestowed on Mary, for he was created by God's word---"Be"-- and he was).
  • That Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virtuous woman, and honored above the women of all nations.
  • That God empowered Jesus to perform miracles even in infancy.
  • That Jesus gave life to the dead by God's permission, and he healed those born blind and the lepers by God's permission, etc.
  • That he was a mighty Prophet, a man with a mission from God, and therefore he is entitled to great honor.
  • That Jesus came to teach the same basic message, which the earlier prophets of God preached: ----that we must shun every false god and worship only the one true God.
  • (In other words he was a messenger whose guidance and teachings were a reaffirmation and extension of the guidance, which the prophets before him had brought).
  • Muslims love Jesus, honor him, and believe in him.
  • Believe that he was the Christ that the Jews were waiting for.
  • In fact, no Muslim can be a Muslim unless he or she believes in Jesus (pbuh).

Source : http://www.freeportbahamasislamiccenter.com/