Wednesday 11 March 2020

Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Puerto Rico

Muslims in Puerto Rico, located in Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory, constitute a very tiny presence: a mere 5,000 heads (2007 estimate). Islam found its way to this part of the world as early as 1493 and was carried across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by Spaniards, who were forced to take on the Christian faith yet remained Muslim in their own right, and by Africans, who were forced to come to the Americas yet maintained their faith and sense of identity.  Many “Moriscos,” or Iberian Muslims, came to the Caribbean bypassing several Spanish laws that prohibited them from coming to the Americas and served as merchants and explorers. Some were taken as slaves. However, despite this early presence, the growth of Muslims in Puerto Rico has been very negligible, though their presence brought the second monotheist religion to the island.

As per Wikipedia, the present Muslim community largely consists of immigrants from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, with some descendants who arrived between 1958 and 1962. At the time, the vast majority of Puerto Rico's Muslims lives in Caguas – a city in the island's central region located south of San Juan – where they operate restaurants, jewelry stores and clothing outlets.

Islam is not very well known in the Caribbean. Although Puerto Rico currently holds a Palestinian, Pakistani, and Egyptian community, a new Latin Caribbean community is growing and is in the spot light. This provides Dawah, invitation to Islam, to their own people from all over the island. Thanks to social media, Islam has already been accepted by so many Latinos. Social media has gradually informed the natives about Islam, creating more education and attacking the idea of Islamophobia caused by the media and a lack of education. 

Despite the small Muslim population, there are nine mosques (masjids) in Puerto Rico. Initially,  a storefront mosque on Calle Padre Colón in the Río Piedras district of San Juan served the entire religious community on the island during earlier years, however, today there are mosques and Islamic centers in Aguadilla, Arecibo, Hatillo, Ponce, Vega Alta, and San Juan.
IMG_3392 - Centro Islamico de Ponce, PR
Puerto Rico Islamic Center at Ponce in Barrio Cuarto, Ponce [Photo]

In recent years some Puerto Ricons have been reverting to the religion of their ancestors: Islam. In each of Puerto Rico’s nine mosques, researchers have found an increasing number of recent local converts. There is no accurate measure, but anecdotal evidence suggests rising numbers. 
For Juan, a reverted Muslim, Catholicism, the religion adopted by his ancestors when they converted, was too confusing. The doctrine of “tawhid” in Islam – the oneness of God – was, as he saw it, simpler than what he believed to be the complex theology of the Trinity. Furthermore, he felt that Islam called for a higher morality and sense of self-discipline. And so, he “reverted” – that is, returned to the faith of his birth and the heritage of his Iberian forebears in al-Andalus, in what is modern-day Spain.

Most Muslims keep two elements of identity: One that of Puerto Ricon national and other as a Muslim. As  per a report, Muslims in Puerto Rico have a deep history and a rich narrative that expands the understanding of what it means to be Muslim on the one hand, and, on the other, Puerto Ricon. 
An iconic representative of Islam in the island has been Khaled Alkhatib, born in Caguas and raised by Muslim parents, he has dedicated his life to spread his word.
Although the Muslim community is merely 0.1% of he total population of the Island, in December 2015, Destiny Vélez, the newly crowned Miss Puerto Rico was suspended by the Miss Puerto Rico organization after an anti-Muslim rant on Twitter, as a result of strong Muslim protest.

I could not find much material about Muslims in Puerto Rico, but herein under is a video showing various mosques across the island:
Disclaimer: The data for this post has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

To know more about life of Muslims in other non Muslim countries, please visit our page: Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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