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Charlotte Amalie
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Faith Matters: Islam in the USVI

Faith Matters is an occasional feature designed to provide insight into different faiths and generate discussion about the role played by faith in the territory. Coverage of a particular faith is not an indication of advocacy for that faith.

The Abu Baker As-Sideek Mosque on St. Croix, built in 1984.Islam is a religion that often gets negative media attention, particularly after religious extremists who claimed to be faithful Muslims hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. However, Islam is a peaceful religion at its core; in fact, it abhors anyone committing violence upon innocent people.

Beliefs

Jaime Fletcher, a renowned Islamic scholar who recently visited St. Croix, wanted to dispel the myths surrounding the idea that Islam is a violent religion.

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“The truth is that Islam brings about true submission to God and offers a pure sanctuary, which brings about peace for an individual and society,” he said.

As Islam’s holy book, the Quran, points out, “We decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all people,” 5:32.

Fletcher continued: “We follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad’s revelation (as written in the Quran.) There are at least 25 prophets mentioned, including Moses, Noah, Abraham, and Jesus. We worship God – Allah – alone in the manner that Allah ordered: to prostrate and give complete submission. To surrender one’s will means to live in accordance with Allah’s laws in every action in his or her life.”

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger of God. In approximately the year 610, he received his first revelation and shortly thereafter the first Islamic conversions began. However, Fletcher emphasized that Islam really goes back to the Book of Genesis, because the Bible’s revelations are also part of Muslim’s beliefs, but the Quran encompasses all and completes the full message of Allah.

The word Allah means “the Being Who comprises all the attributes of perfection,” and includes total and complete love and dependence of God.

Unlike many religions that assign a particular gender to God, Muslims believe Allah is genderless and carries the unique singular nature of only one true entity.

The tenets of their faith are laid in five pillars:

• Faith or belief in the oneness of God – that is, bearing witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah and the Prophet is the messenger.

• Establishment of the daily prayers. Muslims pray five times a day.

• Giving Zakat, or charity, to the needy.

• Fasting during the month of Ramadan.

• The Hajj, or Pilgrimage to Mecca. All those who are able must do it once in a lifetime.

The most basic belief Muslims adhere to is that there is nothing in creation comparable to God. Therefore they submit to Allah to benefit themselves and humanity. When praying, they prostrate – that is they touch their face to the ground to fully submit themselves before God – “like Moses and Jesus did,” Fletcher said.

As far as belief in an afterlife, Fletcher said: “If we don’t worship anything other than God and we follow the Prophet, peace be upon Him, which means following all previous messengers, then we will all be raised up on the day of Judgment and be questioned according to our deeds. Allah may forgive sins and give Paradise and everlasting enjoyment.”

The Quran says in 5:69, “Those who believe (in the Quran,) those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians – any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness – on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

Local History

St. Croix and St. Thomas have had growing Muslim populations since the early 1960s. Many Muslims traveled from other Caribbean islands and the Middle East seeking work, and while at first it was to be temporary, many Muslims stayed and brought their entire families to what became home.

In 1984 the first mosque, or masjid, which literally means "a place for prostration," was built on St. Croix, and in 1994 St. Thomas opened its own. For many years prior, Muslims would gather at individual homes and work places for congregational prayer and worship. With the help of a Riyadh University graduate who became an imam, or spiritual leader, St. Croix’s Muslim community continued to flourish and it became apparent that a full-time Islamic school was needed. The IQRA’ Academy opened on St. Croix in 1998 – today it carries students from pre-school all the way to 12th grade.

Students at the Iqra’ Academy ready themselves for one of their five daily prayers.The Muslim population worldwide is 1.2 billion people, and Islam is currently one of the fastest growing religions in the world. The U.S. Virgin Islands boasts a Muslim population of approximately 1,200, according to rough estimates.

Fletcher is originally from Colombia. He studied Arabic and Quranic studies in Egypt and lectures throughout the United States. He is also owner and CEO of FocusPoint Studios Advertising Agency in Houston, and founder of IslamInSpanish, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to reproducing Quranic studies in Spanish. Further information about his role in the Islamic world can be found online at www.IslaminSpanish.org or www.AndaluciaCenter.org.

Further information about Islam in the Virgin Islands can be obtained by contacting the Virgin Islands International Islamic Society in St. Croix at 340-713-9835 or Masjid Nur in St. Thomas at 340-776-3097. Information about IQRA’ Academy can be found at www.iqravi.org.

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Faith Matters is an occasional feature designed to provide insight into different faiths and generate discussion about the role played by faith in the territory. Coverage of a particular faith is not an indication of advocacy for that faith.

The Abu Baker As-Sideek Mosque on St. Croix, built in 1984.Islam is a religion that often gets negative media attention, particularly after religious extremists who claimed to be faithful Muslims hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. However, Islam is a peaceful religion at its core; in fact, it abhors anyone committing violence upon innocent people.

Beliefs

Jaime Fletcher, a renowned Islamic scholar who recently visited St. Croix, wanted to dispel the myths surrounding the idea that Islam is a violent religion.

“The truth is that Islam brings about true submission to God and offers a pure sanctuary, which brings about peace for an individual and society,” he said.

As Islam’s holy book, the Quran, points out, “We decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all people,” 5:32.

Fletcher continued: “We follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad’s revelation (as written in the Quran.) There are at least 25 prophets mentioned, including Moses, Noah, Abraham, and Jesus. We worship God – Allah – alone in the manner that Allah ordered: to prostrate and give complete submission. To surrender one’s will means to live in accordance with Allah’s laws in every action in his or her life.”

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger of God. In approximately the year 610, he received his first revelation and shortly thereafter the first Islamic conversions began. However, Fletcher emphasized that Islam really goes back to the Book of Genesis, because the Bible’s revelations are also part of Muslim’s beliefs, but the Quran encompasses all and completes the full message of Allah.

The word Allah means “the Being Who comprises all the attributes of perfection,” and includes total and complete love and dependence of God.

Unlike many religions that assign a particular gender to God, Muslims believe Allah is genderless and carries the unique singular nature of only one true entity.

The tenets of their faith are laid in five pillars:

• Faith or belief in the oneness of God - that is, bearing witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah and the Prophet is the messenger.

• Establishment of the daily prayers. Muslims pray five times a day.

• Giving Zakat, or charity, to the needy.

• Fasting during the month of Ramadan.

• The Hajj, or Pilgrimage to Mecca. All those who are able must do it once in a lifetime.

The most basic belief Muslims adhere to is that there is nothing in creation comparable to God. Therefore they submit to Allah to benefit themselves and humanity. When praying, they prostrate – that is they touch their face to the ground to fully submit themselves before God – “like Moses and Jesus did,” Fletcher said.

As far as belief in an afterlife, Fletcher said: “If we don’t worship anything other than God and we follow the Prophet, peace be upon Him, which means following all previous messengers, then we will all be raised up on the day of Judgment and be questioned according to our deeds. Allah may forgive sins and give Paradise and everlasting enjoyment.”

The Quran says in 5:69, “Those who believe (in the Quran,) those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians – any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness – on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

Local History

St. Croix and St. Thomas have had growing Muslim populations since the early 1960s. Many Muslims traveled from other Caribbean islands and the Middle East seeking work, and while at first it was to be temporary, many Muslims stayed and brought their entire families to what became home.

In 1984 the first mosque, or masjid, which literally means "a place for prostration," was built on St. Croix, and in 1994 St. Thomas opened its own. For many years prior, Muslims would gather at individual homes and work places for congregational prayer and worship. With the help of a Riyadh University graduate who became an imam, or spiritual leader, St. Croix’s Muslim community continued to flourish and it became apparent that a full-time Islamic school was needed. The IQRA’ Academy opened on St. Croix in 1998 – today it carries students from pre-school all the way to 12th grade.

Students at the Iqra’ Academy ready themselves for one of their five daily prayers.The Muslim population worldwide is 1.2 billion people, and Islam is currently one of the fastest growing religions in the world. The U.S. Virgin Islands boasts a Muslim population of approximately 1,200, according to rough estimates.

Fletcher is originally from Colombia. He studied Arabic and Quranic studies in Egypt and lectures throughout the United States. He is also owner and CEO of FocusPoint Studios Advertising Agency in Houston, and founder of IslamInSpanish, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to reproducing Quranic studies in Spanish. Further information about his role in the Islamic world can be found online at www.IslaminSpanish.org or www.AndaluciaCenter.org.

Further information about Islam in the Virgin Islands can be obtained by contacting the Virgin Islands International Islamic Society in St. Croix at 340-713-9835 or Masjid Nur in St. Thomas at 340-776-3097. Information about IQRA’ Academy can be found at www.iqravi.org.