SHAFAQNA – Mexico, was first discovered by the Europeans in their quest for the New World and once they stepped foot on the land, introduced them to the Catholic religion and today in absolute terms it has the second largest Catholic community in the world whereby an Orthodox version of Christianity is practised.
Kenyan politician M.Jomo Kenyatta succintly stated that, ‘’When the Europeans came in the land, they were held the Bible in their hands and we had the soil in ours. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. And when we open our eyes we see that the bible was in our hands and the soil was in the hands of the white man”.
The same scenes also took place also in the territory of the Maya and Inca, with their wealth taken over by the Europeans and the Bible being left in the hands of the local people.
However, how it can be possible to imagine the presence of Muslims in this land amongst a Catholic population of 120 million?
According to official statistics, there are approximately 4,000 Muslims in Mexico today. These numbers do not includes those who have come from Turkish or Arab countries. The community of Muslims are due to a group who invited them to Islam in 1994 -1995 and they heeded the call to Islam and chose to become Muslims. This group is located in the southern tip of the state of Chiapas in Mexico. What stands out is that Chiapas was the centre for the Zapatista Uprising of 1994.
Immediatley after this uprising, Muslim missionary Muhammad Nafi, a Spanish missionary and a student of Scottish convert Abdalqadir as-Sufi – previously known as Ian Dallas – leader of the Murabitun World Movement, began to visits areas where there was a heavy Maya population and invited them to Islam with some converting to Islam. Subcomandante Marcos, the leader of the uprising, refused to respond to letters sent to him by the Muslims and did not speak to them. One wonders whether he may have been reluctant to be persuaded by the Muslims…
The Muslim community at this stage are now making an effort to fulfilll their Islamic obligations. Their names are now Mustafa, Ibrahim, Abdullah, Nura and Fatma. One by one, they explain Islam to their circle of friends and families with a large number converting to Islam. Today, it is one of the largest Muslim populated area in Mexico with a commune also established in the city of San Cristóbal.
Today there are 12 mosques in Mexico with half of them in Chiapas alone. Leading an empty and meaningless life was the main factor for the conversion of the Mayan Muslims with excommunication by the church capping it off. The Mayan community see Islam not just as a religion to be practised in a mosque but a lifestyle, which is how it should be. Today, in San Cristóbal, the Mayan Muslims run a pizzeria and a carpentry workshop. In a Quranic school (madrasa), children learn Arabic and five times a day they pray in the backroom of a residential building.