Politicians laud Muslims contribution to Guyanese culture

Guyana Chronicle
September 3, 1999

MINISTER of Youth, Sport and Culture, Ms Gail Teixeira and People's National Congress (PNC) Leader, Mr Desmond Hoyte joined others in lauding Islamic traditions last Sunday.

Both politicians, from opposite camps, spoke at the dedication of the Philadelphia, East Bank Essequibo site, where Guyana's Muslim forebears of the 1860s built the first masjid on the South American continent.

President Bharrat Jagdeo was also at the historic ceremony organised by the Anjuman Hifazatul Islam, Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), Guyana Islamic Trust and the Guyana United Sad'r Islamic Anjuman.

Organisers confirmed it was the first time the four Muslim institutions had collaborated on a major project.

Ms Teixeira said dedicating the place was like a symbol of defiance by the enslaved and indentured to keep their religion alive in their new homes and the fight against racial and religious prejudice that existed over the hundreds of years.

She said Muslims have had a long history of presence in Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) as there were "three waves" of them to this part of the world, especially the Caribbean.

The Minister said Sunday's function recognises the very interesting past of that Region.

The place was dedicated to all those who brought Islam to Guyana and she said it is a tribute to the former Muslim community whose experience is still to be explicitly recorded.

Teixeira called on the faithfuls to embark on serious research, so that "we will be able to have a greater pride of our roots and identity as a people and our own understanding of religion, in order to build unity."

She suggested that an application be made to the National Trust to identify with the sentiments expressed in the monument and assured the body will be proud to accord recognition to the monument.

Mr Hoyte said Guyana needs Islamic culture as a "catalyst" for creating a better way of life and to ennoble and enrich the spiritual and moral life of its people.

He urged the Muslim community to work towards expanding Islam, saying it has an important role in the future of this country as in the past.

Hoyte said, if all the precepts, practices and teachings of Islam are promoted, life in Guyana will be much better.

He commended Muslims for identifying and authenticating an important part of their history and said every organisation should record its history correctly.

Noting that Islamic teaching says righteous means doing one's duty, Hoyte said Islam imposes upon the faithful a series of duties or a way of life which teaches that character, integrity and faithfulness of the believer is very important.

The whole structure of Islam requires the faithful to always do deeds of kindness, he reminded.

Hoyte is happy to see the way Islam has expanded and plays a prominent part in every aspect of national life.

Endorsing the call for researching their antecedents, he told Muslims he hopes that, in the years ahead, the faith will grow from strength to strength and continue to enrich and enhance Guyanese life and culture.


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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples