Friday, December 09, 2005

islam in latin america

The Murabitun have come up on Grenada before, mainly in the entries islam and mexico and laughing lions as well as several of the links in my link section. Here is a more recent piece which mentions the activities of the Murabitun and other Muslims in Latin America.

Islam in Latin America

Latin America is home to a sizeable and diverse Muslim population with deep roots throughout the region. Most Muslims are of Arab descent, typically of Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian origin, although Christian Arabs from the Levant far outnumber their Muslim kin. There are also sizeable South and Southeast Asian Muslim communities with roots in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Indonesia in Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere in the Caribbean Basin. The region is also experiencing a steady stream of migration from the Middle East and South Asia in recent years, especially in vibrant free-trade zones such as Iquique, Chile and Colon, Panama.

As a result of intermarriage and conversion, Islam is becoming one of the fastest growing religions in Latin America. There is evidence to suggest that Muslim missionaries based in Spain and their regional affiliates are making inroads into disenfranchised and underserved indigenous communities that were once the target of evangelical Christian sects for conversion [6]. The competition between Muslim and Christian missionaries for prospective converts has even led to confrontation and violent clashes in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Spain’s al-Murabitun (The Almoravids, after the African Muslim dynasty that ruled North Africa and Spain in 11th and 12th century) is believed to be the most prolific missionary movement operating in Latin America [7]. The group is an international Sufi order founded in the 1970s by Sheikh Abdel Qader as-Sufi al-Murabit, a controversial Scottish Muslim convert born Ian Dallas. Although no hard evidence has surfaced tying the group to international terrorism, let alone al-Qaeda, Dallas has been accused of harboring extremist leanings. Aurelino Perez heads the Murabitun’s campaign in Chiapas, where he competes with Omar Weston, a British-born Muslim convert who resides in Mexico City and heads the Centro Cultural Islamico de Mexico (CCIM), for adherents in Chiapas and the rest of Mexico. Known locally as Muhammed Nafia, Perez is a Spanish convert to Islam who hails from the southern Spanish city of Granada in Andalusia.

The Murabitun’s ambitious efforts to gain adherents in Mexico include an unsuccessful attempt to forge an alliance with Subcommandante Marcos and his Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), following the group’s armed rebellion in Chiapas in 1994 [8]. The Murabitun are comprised predominantly of Spanish and European converts to Islam. There are also reports that Muslim missionaries are finding adherents among indigenous peoples in Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America [9].

In an effort to win over converts in Latin America, the Murabtiun emphasize the cultural links between the Arab world and Latin America through Spain’s Moorish heritage. In doing so, the Murabitun and like-minded movements advocate a collective reversion to Islam, which in their view signifies a return to the region’s true heritage, as opposed to what many see as conversion to the Muslim faith. In this sense, Islam not only represents an alternative to the colonial traditions imposed on the indigenous and mestizo peoples of Latin America, namely the Roman Catholic Church, but is also a nativist tradition that has been suppressed. The Murabitun also claim that Islam is not tainted by European and Western colonialism and imperialism, but instead serves as a remedy for the oppression and destruction brought about by the Spanish conquest.

Given al-Qaeda’s documented successes in recruiting Muslim converts in Europe and the U.S. to its cause, many observers worry that Muslim converts in Latin America provide fertile ground for new recruits due to their perceived ability to circumvent travel restrictions and blend into Western cities more effectively.

There is no evidence to suggest that the recent trend toward conversion to Islam in Latin America stems from a turn to political and religious radicalism. On the contrary, most Muslim converts see Islam as a vehicle for reasserting their identity. They also see conversion as a form of social and political protest in societies where they are marginalized and experience discrimination [10]. In this context, it is no surprise that groups such as the Murabitun, with their message of social, political, and cultural empowerment, are making inroads into disenfranchised and impoverished indigenous communities. The group also supports local education, social welfare, and other projects that include Arabic language instruction and the publication of the Qur’an in Spanish and other local languages.

From, Radical Islam in Latin America by Chris Zambelis


Silencer said...

i see you also have a link to abdulqader al sufi's page.

you're not one of the murabitoon are you?

Abdul-Halim V. said...

I also have links to League of the Black Stone and Aisha Bewley's webpage, but no I"m not one of the Murabitun. I just find some of their writings interesting and not without benefit. At the same time, some things I've heard about the organization give me some reservations but in some that's true of many Islamic organizations. Every group does positive things but has their flaws and limitations.

What do you think about the Murabitun?

Silencer said...

sorry i totally forgot about this post.

um... ive heard bad things about abdulqadir al murabit (al sufi).

my cousin's shaykha, who lives in the same building i live in, told me about him. she said her father met him a long time ago in saudi arabia, where he translated for him as he talked to some saudi. abdalqader al sufi was looking for a huge monetary grant from the saudi, as they sometimes give out money to shaykhs all over the world, so the saudi asked him what he thought of sufis. in order to get the money, abdalqader al sufi (calling himself al murabit) told him that he wasnt sufi and that sufis are kuffar. i dont remember if he actually got the money. that man who translated for him was really shocked and disgusted by the lie, and told his daughter about it (the shaykha of my cousin and his wife).

also there's a website by this guy claiming that abdalqader is almost a nazi in his hatred of Jews.

so i think its better to stay away. i did really enjoy reading his The Hundred Steps tho, but im pretty sure he just copied it all from his shaikh or something. there wasnt anything original in it anyway, just definitions of sufi states and stations. and in it he said that he himself can verify the existence of the four qutbs or something. i think he says he's one of them, or the greatest of all qutbs or something... maybe that was the whole hidden reason he wrote that little book.

its very strange tho that so many ppl convert from the da'was of corrupt sufi shaykhs (abdalqadir al sufi and nazim al qubrusi).

Abdul-Halim V. said...

What is wrong with Sheikh Nazim? For the most part, the overwhelming majority of the Sufis I've actually met in person have been Naqshbandis who followed Sheikh Nazim. I've heard of vague accusations from other Naqshbandis online, or other Sufis, but I don't know what the specific criticisms are.

Silencer said...

i dunno if you'll be reading this since its now an old post, but just in case you were waiting for an answer.

the first issue i had with shaikh nazim turned out to be false. someone had told me that they heard him on tv sayig that all sufi tariqas are bad except the naqshbadi tariqa because its the only one that goes through abu bakr and no ali! but now she tells me she never heard him say that and got me all confused.

i also heard that there were bad rumors about him but i will not speak of anything i cannot confirm myself again, so i dont wanna mention anything.

but there is one thing that i found very... questionable, to say the least. when i first found out about him i subscribed to his yahoo group in which they emailed us things he wrote and said. one of them, the first year of the american attack on iraq, he said that all the souls of the dead awliya in iraq could have driven the americans back and destroyed them but they have allowed them to stay in iraq thus far because we were living in the period of God's forgiveness. But, he said, we have now entered the time of God's wrath, and that he will persoally destroy all the american soldiers in iraq. Of course no sufi can ever say he has the power to do anything, for all power belong to God, and of course he did not destroy the americans presence in iraq.

finally, there are many sufis who criticized him and i read that when he decided to start a large da'wa in the west many sufis in turkey got worried and voiced their concerns about it changing or harming him, or his ego.

finally, there is a book online by a sufi shaikh called "the irrefutable proof that nazim al qubrusi negates islam" you can read it and make your own judgment.

and i know of a sufi muslim organization in italy that finds him heretical.

maybe what i know isnt enough, but he just doesnt give me a good feeling about him....

and i too know two great people who are in his tariqa.. but that doesnt make him a good shaikh.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

well.. you don't have to worry about me not reading the comments... even if you comment to an old post I get an e-mail version of it in my account...

But I guess I would say that in general, I don't think I know of any contemporary Muslim group which isn't criticized by some other contemporary Muslim group.

I've heard about several of the arguments you refer to, and I would have my own reservations about *those* groups too.

Although I think I would agree with you in the sense that maybe this case is harder to brush off because the critics of Sheikh Nazim are not just Salafis (Who would oppose Sufis in general anyway) but other Sufis or even other Naqshbandis who have more specific concerns.

But then at the same time, I personally don't have any real basis for making negative comments so I'd try to think positively of him.