Islam in Cuba

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According to a 2011 Pew Research Center report, there were then 10,000 Muslims in Cuba who constitute 0.1% of the population.[1] As of 2012, most of the 10,000 Cuban Muslims were converts to the religion.[2]

At a certain point there were many Muslim students entering the nation of Cuba interested in studying at Cuba's prestigious schools. The number of students was approximately 1500-2000. That group included students of Pakistani origin, among others. It is known that the dominant population that went to study at Cuba was the Pakistani students who were about 936 in strength. In 2001, Sheikh Muhammad bin Nassir Al-Aboudy, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) travelled to Cuba to obtain permission from the Cuban authorities to establish an Islamic organization that would support Cuba's Muslim community. Among the other aims of the proposed organization would be constructing mosques and the dissemination of Islamic culture among Muslims.

As of July 2015 the Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation had opened the first prayer room for Cuban Muslims and the first mosque in Cuba was under construction with Turkish funding.[3]


Islam was largely introduced to Cuba during the colonial times (the late sixteenth century to the nineteenth century).[4] This introduction, though, was not from colonists, but from Muslim Western African slaves who arrived in Cuba. Between 1808 and 1848, 49.4% (20,654) of the enslaved Muslim Africans who were captured and brought to the Americas arrived in Cuba, and many more who lack proper documentation have been suggested to have arrived.[5]

The majority of these slaves were Mandingo from Senegambia or, as the British colonists called them, Mohammedanists. Many different groups of Africans arrived in Cuba in the nineteenth century and joined with the Mandingas because of a jihad in Western Africa.[4] Little formal records exist on the impact of Islam on Cuba in the colonial times, but the Registry of the Court of Mixed Commission of Havana does confirm the Muslim African slaves' arrival in Cuba by documented records which included a unique number to each individual, sex, name, age, height, and from which the slaves came.[6] 

Also, evidence pointing to African origins of Islam in Cuba comes from the many Islamic names found by scholars, such as Henry Lovejoy, belonging to these slaves, such as Mohammed, Hausa, and Nupe.[7] In 2011, Islam scholars also analyzed the different names found on the records from the Mixed Commission Courts of Havana to identify the names of Muslim and Arabic origin.[5] It's been reported that there was more than 5,000 Muslims in Cuba before 1959 but most (around 80 percent) emigrated after the Cuban Revolution.[8]

Cuban Muslims learned Islam through embassies of Middle Eastern countries as well as through students coming to study in Cuba from Muslim countries. Islam started to spread among Cubans in the 1970s and '80s. Printed and audio-visual Islamic resources are now almost nonexistent in Cuba. Spanish translation of the Quran and other major Islamic books are not available in the country. The Muslim community of Cuba even lacks educated religious cadres.[9]

"Mezquita Abdallah"[edit]

There is now a masjid in Old Havana open to everyone for all daily prayers. Elsewhere, Cuba's Muslims usually pray in their homes. Although former President Fidel Castro was reported to have promised to build a mosque for his country's Muslims, according to members of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) who visited Cuba,.[10] In the past, the only prayers performed in public were the Friday Prayers that were conducted in a place known as Casa de los Árabes ("The Arab House") in old Havana. The Arab House belonged to a wealthy Arab immigrant who lived in Cuba during the 1940s, and it was built on Andalusian architectural designs. The House encompasses an Arab museum and restaurant. Qatar donated US$40,000 for the remodeling of the House, but it was only opened for Friday prayers.[11]

Religious Groups[edit]

There are two Islamic groups in Cuba: the Cuban Islamic Union, which is headed by its president, Imam Yahya Pedro,[9] and Cuban Association for the Diffusion of Islam, which is headed by its president, Abu Duyanah.[12]

Other Sunnis are concentrated in the Malcolm X Center, in the home of the Muslim Hassan AbdulGafur, in Cerro, in Havana. Hassan AbdulGafur was the first to form an Islamic organization in Cuba in 1994.[13]

Notable Muslims[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ John Andrew Morrow (15 Mar 2012). Religion and Revolution: Spiritual and Political Islam in Ernesto Cardenal. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 116. ISBN 9781443838337.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Barcia, Manuel (2013). "Western African Islam in Colonial Cuba". Slavery & Abolition. 35: 292–305.
  5. ^ a b Silva, Daniel (2017). "The Transatlantic Muslim Diaspora to Latin America in the Nineteenth Century". Colonial Latin American Review. 26: 528–545.
  6. ^ Lovejoy, Henry (2016). "The Registers of Liberated Africans of the Havana Slave Trade Commission: Implementation and Policy, 1824-1841". Slavery & Abolition. 37: 23–44.
  7. ^ Lovejoy, Henry (2016). "The Registers of Liberated Africans of the Havana Slave Trade Commission: Implementation and Policy, 1824-1841". Slavery & Abolition. 37: 23–44.
  8. ^ al-Ahari, Muhammed Abdullah (1999). "The Caribbean and Latin America". In Westerlund, David; Svanberg, Ingvar (eds.). Islam Outside the Arab World. London: Routledge. p. 447. ISBN 0-7007-1124-4.
  9. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Islam in Cuba".
  12. ^ "Quiénes Somos?" (in Spanish). 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  13. ^ "¿Cómo celebran los musulmanes cubanos el Ramadán?" (in Spanish). 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  14. ^ "Some Cubans are converting to Islam".

External links[edit]