Islam on Lands of Ancient Maya: Closer Look at Muslim Community in Mexico

Machu_Picchu

Machu Picchu.  Suggested reading: Discovering Islam in South America

Source: Sputnik International

Few would be surprised at seeing a girl wearing a hijab in Mexico’s San Cristóbal, as for more than 20 years there have been Muslim communities living there. Today the city may be considered the unofficial center of Muslims in the state of Chiapas.

Sputnik has spoke to a leader of one of these communities to understand how Islam came to prosper in the lands of the ancient Maya.

The history of Islam in Chiapas is linked, oddly enough, to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. Shortly after the rebellion, a group of Spanish preachers suggested converting the rebels to Islam to Subcomandante Marcos, the main ideologist of the group. However, the Zapatista leader refused to meet with the preachers from Spain and hence they started converting local people on their own.

Over time, the local Muslims separated into four groups. Among the members of the Chiapas Muslim community, the majority consists of Maya and Tzotzil peoples.

According to the last census of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), in 2010 there were 3,760 Muslims in the country, 110 of whom lived in Chiapas.

However, these data may be considered obsolete. According to some Muslim groups, there are currently around 12,000 Muslims in Mexico. However, these figures are pending confirmation.

One of the Muslim groups with a large presence in the state of Chiapas is the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Ibrahim Chechev, an imam from San Cristóbal, told Sputnik of the community’s origin and prospects.

Today the Ahmadiyya community is made up of 60 families and this number is increasing.

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