In episode 8 of the “Islam on the Edges” podcast, our host Dr. Ermin Sinanovic talks with Dr. Aliyah Khan and Dr. Kenneth Chitwood about the Muslims of the Caribbean.
There is a country with a relatively small Muslim minority, at only 7 percent, yet a Muslim is its president. The country is Guyana, a small Caribbean country in the north of Latin America. Another country in the region, Trinidad and Tobago, witnessed an attempted coup in 1990, led by a Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr. These attention-catching examples point to the vitality and relevance of Islam in the Caribbean. But the presence of Muslims in the Caribbean is much more than politics. In fact, politics constitutes a minor manifestation of the Muslim faith, cultures, histories, and legacies in the region.
Welcome to episode 8 of Islam on the Edges channel of the Maydan Podcast, a project by the Abu Sulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Virginia. I host Dr. Aliyah Khan and Dr. Kenneth Chitwood in this special episode.
Ermin SinanovicThe episode discusses the coming of Islam to the Caribbean, Muslim diversity, ethnolinguistic differences, material and cultural production, significant historical developments, Muslim politics, and knowledge production. Muslims of the Caribbean is a growing community due to the continued conversion to Islam in the region. This wide-ranging episode briefly introduces this Muslim community’s rich history, legacy, and present.
Aliyah R. Khan is Director of the Global Islamic Studies Center (GISC), and Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her book Far from Mecca: Globalizing the Muslim Caribbean (Rutgers University Press 2020) is the first academic monograph on the comparative literature, music, and histories of enslaved African Muslims and indentured South Asian Indian Muslims in the Caribbean. Dr. Khan’s academic and creative writing also appears in publications including GLQ, the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, Caribbean Quarterly, the Journal of West Indian Literature, Pree: Caribbean Writing, and Guernica. Her interviews on Caribbean and U.S. Islam and Muslim culture have appeared on and in National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Religion News, American Muslim Today, The Polis Project, the Black Agenda Report, Sapelo Square, and Chicago’s Radio Islam.
Ken Chitwood is a Senior Research Fellow with the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative (MPI), an initiative of Lake Institute on Faith and Giving and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. He is also conducting research on the interesections of ethnography and journalism with the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Engaged Spiritality Project. He is the author of the Religion News Association Best Nonfiction Book, The Muslims of Latin America and the Caribbean (Lynne Rienner, 2021).