Islam

The estimated population of Haitian Muslims is about 3000, representing approximately 0.04 percent of the population, although local Muslims disagree and claim the actual number is near 5000 since inaccessibility or unavailability may exclude Muslims in the count.

Islamic organizations in Haiti include the and Islamic Center in Cap-Haïtien, which offers programs in Islamic studies and daily prayers, Byllal Miragoâne Mosque in Miragoâne and the Centre Spirituel Allah ou Akbar in Port-au-Prince.

Bilal Mosque

The foundation stone of the first mosque in Gonaïves has been laid and is near completion, named Mosque-ul-Munawwar, dedicated on his father’s name by a Pakistan Army officer serving in MINUSTAH. After the 2010 earthquake a number of Islamic organisations and relief groups visited the country with the purpose of rendering aid and assistance to those affected.

This influx saw an interjection of help and assistance to the local Muslims and their Jamaats. Resulting from this response one scholar from Trinidad (Mufti Shaheed Mohammed) has also established a Darul Uloom in the Miragoâne area which caters for Muslims of the entire country. The object of this Islamic Institute is to teach the authentic doctrines of Islam.

The history of Islam on the island of Hispaniola (which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic) begins with the slavery in Haïti. Many Muslims were imported as slaves to Haiti. Although many were forced to abandon Islam over time, their Islamic heritage has persisted in the culture of native Haitians. Additionally, a revisionist history of Dutty Boukman, whose death is largely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution, suggests that he was Muslim. In the early portion of the 20th century, a wave of Arab immigrants came to the Americas, in which a large amount settled in Haiti (and other countries as well).

It is said that the first to arrive in Haiti around 1920 was a man hailing from the Moroccan village of Fes along with 19 other families. Today, the majority of the country’s Muslims are indigenous Haitians, followed by the ethnic Moroccans.

As a result of limited financial resources, they were unable to build a mosque or school until 1985, when a residence was converted into a mosque and a minaret was constructed.

In 2000, Nawoon Marcellus, a member of Fanmi Lavalas from San Raphael, became the first Muslim elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Haïti.

Majority of the Muslims in Haiti are Sunni Muslims, with a minority of Ahmadi Muslims.

Judaism

Sephardic Jews arrived in St. Domingue during the first days of the colonial period, despite that they were banned in the official Catholic edicts. They became merchants and integrated themselves into the French Catholic society. Waves of Jews continued to immigrate to the Haiti, including a group of Ashkenazis escaping Hitler’s Germany in the 1940s; Haiti was one of the few countries to welcome them openly. Haitian Catholics had idiosyncratic ideas about Jews, stemming from Catholic anti-Judaism, although many Vodou practitioners imagined themselves to be the descendants of Jews and to hold esoteric Judaic knowledge.

There is a group of Judaism predominately residing in Port-au-Prince, where the community today meets at the home of businessman billionaire Gilbert Bigio, a Haitian of Syrian descent. Bigio’s father first settled in Haiti in 1925 and was active in the Jewish community. In November 1947, his father played a significant role in Haiti’s support for the statehood of Israel in a vote to the United Nations. Every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, services are held at his residence.

Source: Jewish virtual library. Wikipedia, Islam Center

 

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