Imam Muslim collected the following Hadeeth in his book:
“أربع في أمتي من أمر الجاهلية لا يتركونهن. الفخر بالاحساب و الطعن في الأنساب و الاستسقاء بالأنواء و النياحة”
“Four things in my nation from Jahileeyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) that the people will not leave. Pride in one’s ancestry, cursing the lineage of others, seeking rain from stars (saying it rained because of so and so star) and wailing over the dead.”
Shaikh Saalih Ibn Fawzaan Al Fawzaan mentioned that cursing the lineage of others in from the Major Sins because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) mentioned it from being a sign of Pre-Islamic ignorance.
Therefore, we as Muslims must beware of this. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also mentioned that there is no virtue of an Arab over a Non-Arab and those of white complexion over those of dark complexion. Indeed our virtue is measured by our service to Allah almighty.
Unfortunately, many Muslims, even in Trinidad, possess some of these characteristics. Therefore, one finds that those of Indian descent look down on those of African descent with the claim that they came with Islam and established it in this country. In addition to this claim being erroneous historically there are some matters that must be addressed:
1. There is a difference between Islaam and culture. Islaam is what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his companions practiced as a religion. As for culture it refers to the customs and habits of a people in a particular region. Hence activities such as the Mawlood, the Tazeem and other things which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) never did are parts of Indo-Trinidian culture (in addition to being innovations in the religion) but they cannot be seen as Islam.
2. Islaam is not owned by any particular race or nation of people. Hence, to claim ownership of a religion which has over one billion adherents is simply ludicrous. Even the Arabs themselves cannot say that it is only their religion because every Arab scholar has to rely upon non-Arab authors such as Imam Bukhari, Imam At Tirmidhi, Imam An Nasaee, Imam Ibn Maajah and Imam Abu Dawood to gain knowledge of the Prophetic narrations. Additionally they have to rely upon the Black Sudani, Ibn Mandhuur, for knowledge of their vocabulary. They have to rely upon a Persian named Sibaway for their grammar and the list goes on.
3. Indo-Islaam is not homogeneous as many wish to reflect. In India there are Ahlul Hadeeth scholars who were there centuries. The likes of the Mubarakpuri family, Shaah Waliyullah Ad Dehlawi, his grandson Shaah Isma’eel Ash Shaheed, Shah Badee Ud Deen As Sindhi, Shah Sadeeq Hasan Khaan and others. Hence, what many posit as “Indo-Islaam” is in fact that which is indigenous to some parts of India and not India as a whole.
4. African Muslims, who mostly came from the region of Guinea and the Gambia, have been in Trinidad since the era of slavery. They also were a visible minority during the period of colonialism after slavery especially in places such as Manzanilla and Mayaro. And although Islaam wasn’t widespread among those of African descent between the late 1800s to the 1950s it became widespread from the 1960s. Hence, between the years 1880-1950 which is a 70 year period African Muslims were not as visible as they were before and as they are now.
Therefore, to make it seem as if African Muslims were a non-entity in Trinidad until the mid-twentieth century is entirely false. As a matter of fact, the Mandingo Muslim society in the 1830s petitioned the Queen of England herself to return to Africa on an armoured fleet. In Belmont there is a street called Bath street named after Jonas Muhammad Bath, who was the head of the Mandingo society at the period of time. They had Qur’anic schools and were literate in the Arabic language.
Therefore it is a must that we know about Islaam so that would would not mistake culture for it and we must know our History so that we do not commit ideological genocide upon others. The words “ideological genocide” may seem quite strong however this is what has been done for many years in Trinidad to the point that even Non-Muslim historians such as Ramesh Deosaran have lamented upon this. In fact, the same Ramesh Deosaran was invited to an event hosted by a certain organization on Indian arrival day. However, when he changed his speech to elucidate upon the African Muslim presence in Trinidad he was never called to speak again.
It is indeed sad when we can’t accept Historical fact because of our own bias and myopic, one dimensional view of how things supposed to be.