Had a conversation with a Jamaican
Posted On July 28, 2019
2: Hi there.
1: What’s up?
2: Good sir, you?
1: Not much. It’s 10 PM. What are you doing here?
2: Just got back from Christian camp.
1: Oh yeah.
2: Yeah. Just wanted to get some gummies…Do you have $2?
1: Uhm. Yeah. Grab it.
1: So what else?
2: Yeah just got back from camp. Learned a lot. Feel pumped up. Feel the holy spirit.
1: Really? What is that?
2: It’s kinda like a force.
1: But that’s what’s confusing about the Trinity. What is it exactly? Like you have the father, son, and holy spirit. How can Jesus be God on earth, and pray to himself?
2: Yeah, not sure. But Jesus came to earth to save us. But I see what you mean, how is he God and Human at the same time.
1: That’s one of the major differences in Islam. You have a direct telephone line to Allah. It’s clean. Lots of Christian converts like this aspect.
2. Oh yeah?
1. Yeah…you said you’re Jamaican right?
2: Yeah, my parents.
1: You know Islam was in Jamaica when the “slaves” first got there.
2: Really? I didn’t know that.
1: I’m just saying. Islam is as old as Jamaica. There was a guy called Muhammad Kaba, a slave, who wrote book in Arabic. There were also slaves who communicated secretly with each other through Arabic letters.
2: Cool. I’m going to look into this.
Islam in Jamaica:
The first Muslims in Jamaica were West African slaves, sold to traders, and brought to Jamaica on ships. Over time most of them lost their Islamic identity due to forced mixing
of ethnic groups. Mu’minun (believers) of African descent belonging to the Islamic nations of Mandinka, Fula, Susu, Ashanti and Hausa ceaselessly tried to maintain their Islamic practices in secrecy, while working as slaves on the plantations in Jamaica. By the time the slaves were liberated, much of the Muslim faith of the past had faded, and the freed slaves picked up the faith of their slave masters.
About 16 percent of the 37,000 indentured Indian immigrants who arrived to Jamaica between 1845 and 1917 were Muslims. Muhammad Khan, who came to Jamaica in 1915 at the age of 15, built Masjid Ar-Rahman in Spanish Town in 1957, while Westmoreland’s Masjid Hussein was built by Muhammad Golaub, who immigrated with his father at the age of 7. The indentured Muslims laid the foundation of the eight other masjids established in Jamaica since the 1960s, with the advent of an indigenous Jamaican Muslim community that now forms the majority of the Muslim populace on the island.
Slave accounts/ Jihad/rebellion of 1832
The accounts left by Bryan Edwards, a planter historian, and Magistrate Robert Madden are clear testimonies that Islam was the religion of hundreds of African slaves who were brought to Jamaica from the Muslim nations of Africa. Bryan Edwards, writing on the national customs and manners of Muslim slaves, states as follows:
An old and faithful Mandinka servant, who stands at my elbow while I write
this, relates that the natives practice circumcision, and that he himself has undergone that operation; and he has not forgotten the morning and evening prayer which his father taught him. In proof of this assertion, he chants in an audible and shrill tone, a sentence that I conceive to be part of the Al-Koran, ‘La Illa ill illa’! (i.e. La Ilaha Illallah, there is no god but Allah) which he says they sing aloud at first appearance of the new moon. He relates, moreover, that in his own country Friday was constantly made a strict fasting. It was 214 Sultana Afroz almost a sin, he observes, on that day to swallow his spittle; such is his expression.16 The narrative left by Magistrate Robert Madden further reveals the faithfulness of the Muslim slaves to Islam and their exertion in the Way of Allah, despite forceful baptism.
He records the presence of a considerable number of Muslims in Jamaica in a letter written to J. F. Savory, Esq., Jamaica, on 30 March 1835:
I had a visit one Sunday morning very lately, from three Mandingo negroes,
natives of Africa. They could all read and write Arabic; and one of them
showed me a Koran written, from memory by himself—but written, he
assured me, before he became a Christian. I had my doubts on this point. One
of them, Benjamin Cockrane, a free negro was in the habit of coming to me on Sundays…His history is that of hundreds of others in Jamaica… [emphasis added by author] Cockrane says his father was a chief in the Mandingo country …I (Madden) have not the time to give you an account of his religious opinions; but though very singular, they were expressed with infinitely more energy and eloquence than his sentiments on other subjects. He professed to be an occasional follower of one of the sectarian ministers here, and so did each of his two friends. I had my doubts thereupon. I expressed them to my wife…and told her to prepare for a demonstration of Mohometanism. I took up a book, as if by accident, and commenced repeating the well-known Mussalman Salaam to Prophet Allah (sic.) Illah Mohammed Rasul Allah! In an instant, I had a Mussalman trio, long and loud:
my Neophytes were chanting their names with irrepressible fervour, and Mr. Benjamin Cockrane I thought, would have inflicted the whole of ‘the perspicuous book’ of Islam on me, if I had not taken advantage of the opportunity for giving him and his companions reproof for pretending to be that which they were not.17 Despite the systematic and brutal suppression of the West African Islamic heritage by the plantocracy, the metropolitan powers and the various established Christian churches, the community of the mu’minun nonetheless responded to the call for an island-wide jihad made through a wathiqah, a pastoral letter, in 1832.18 Slave leaders like Mohammad Kaba, Sam Sharpe and George Lewis were all crypto-Muslims
working as local leaders, marabouts or imams. These marabouts were apparently the so-called ‘deacons’ in the less established or nonconformist churches such as the Baptist, Moravians and Wesleyen, 17 of which were destroyed following the outbreak of the rebellion in 1832 by the Colonial Church Union run by the Anglican Reverend
George Bridges. Although ruthlessly suppressed, the Jihad of 1832, commonly known as the Baptist Rebellion, hastened the Emancipation Act of 1833.