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Diversity of Cultures in Mexico May Have Made It More Acceptable of Muslims

Murry Page - The Mazatlan Messenger
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November 11, 2016

In 2014, VICE traveled to San Cristóbal - in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico - to meet Cheb Cheb Ibrahim, one of the first Mexican Indians to convert to Islam and a member of the only indigenous Muslim community in Mexico. (VICE Mexico)

When a person thinks of religion and Mexico, they think of Catholicism. This is not surprising in view of the fact that according to the Pew Research Center, Mexico has the largest number of Catholics in the world, after Brazil.

Not that the Catholic religion is in jeopardy, but Mexico is home to a quickly growing Muslim population. According to the 2010 census conducted by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, there were 3,700 Muslims in the country. However, the Pew Research Center says that in 2011 there were 110,000 practicing Muslims in Mexico.

There have always been Muslims in Mexico, but they were usually immigrants from Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. It wasn’t until 1995 when Mexicans began converting to Islam.

In an interview in 1994 Insurgent Sub commander Marcos, the military chief and spokesman of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) located in the state of Chiapas, was asked, “Are you a Catholic?” He replied, “I will not answer this question. If I said that I am a Muslim, you would write that we are Islamists.”

Whether a coincidence or not it just so happened that Abdalqadir as-Sufi, the founder of the Murabitun World Movement (MWM), and his Muslim brothers arrived in Chiapas shortly after that interview with the mission of making contact with the Zapatistas and taking them the message of Islam. The group of Muslims proposed to the Zapatistas that they massively convert to Islam. The message from MWM to the Zapatista chief was explicit. The invitation read in part:

“(…) the struggle for the freedom of all people must be under the flag of a transformative Islam, following the message revealed and brought to us by Mohammed the last of the prophets, the liberator of humanity.”

The document sent to Sub commander Marcos finished with a radical slogan: “Victory or death!” and was signed “Murabitun World Movement, Mexican community.” The Zapatista, after consulting their bases, politely declined the offer.

Although not the intended recipients of the message of Islam, a group of indigenous families living in Chamula, located just outside of San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas, decided to profess their faith in Islam and their belief in the oneness of God. This conversion meant abandoning Christianity and the Church which had for more than 500 years guided the religious practices of the indigenous communities in Chiapas.

Read the rest at The Mazatlan Messenger

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