January 23, 2021

Islam takes root in the religious plurality of the Mexican state of Chiapas

Islam takes root in the religious plurality of the Mexican state of Chiapas



Ibrahim Chechev was born as Anastasio Gómez, learned to speak Tzeltal language and today he prays his prayers in Arabic and converted to Islam, a creed that takes root in the religious plurality of the Mexican state of Chiapas.

All his family, parents, wife and children, have converted to Islam, a religion that by embracing them led them to leave their community of San Juan Chamula to prevent religious conflicts with traditionalist Catholics, a Christianity mixed with Mayan beliefs and rituals.

With Ibrahim, who has made several pilgrimages to Mecca, a trip considered one of the pillars of Islam, there are more than 2,000 Muslims in Chiapas, a state of great religious dynamism where Catholics, Protestants and evangelists coexist.

When converted, the Muslim Tzotzil adopted some of the Muslim customs such as clothing and food in their daily lives.

It is common to see women who cover their heads with a Muslim-style cloak and men with turbans or kufi (short caps), just like Ibrahim, who is representative of the Ahmadia community in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Chiapas

In this area of ​​Chiapas, the Muslim community has taken root so deep that there is already a group of minors who are educated with these religious precepts, they learn the Koran and many have already adopted an Arabic name.

Tzotzil is their mother tongue, Spanish is used regularly but at the time of their religious services, they use the Arabic language with expressions such as "As-salumu Alaikum" which means "may the peace and blessings of God be with we".

"Fortunately San Cristóbal de las Casas is multicultural and there are many religions, Islam is one of them and has been part (of this plurality) since 1996," said Ibrahim,

In San Cristóbal de las Casas there are four groups of Muslims that are spread out in the neighborhoods of Esperanza, Ojo de Agua, Nueva Palestina and Molino de los Arcos.

"We are talking about the progress of Islam progressing and several converts have become, in fact the number is increasing, we, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, are approximately between 70 and 80 members," said Ibrahim.

Imam Mafiz Umar, of the Mailk Imam mosque in San Cristobal de las Casas, says that Islam has been widely accepted in the state of Chiapas, where there are around 2,000 Muslims.

"One thing we admire about the people of Mexico is their fear of God and Islam does not come to take away Christianity, does not come to change their religion or to mislead them, it comes to offer them prophetic knowledge through the last prophet and messenger sent by God to humanity, Muhammad, "says the imam.

Esteban Lopez is dedicated to teaching the Koran to indigenous children and argues that as Muslims they have to know some parts in Arabic, "small but necessary parts for prayer to Allah," he says.

Evangelical pastor Esdras Alonso points out that in Chiapas some 450 religious associations are registered among Buddhists, Jews, Presbyterians, God's assembly, Jehovah's Witnesses, Nazarenes and Islam.

The number of religious groups considers it as a result of the disagreement and abandonment of many communities, in addition to expressions of religious intolerance that have developed a spirit of opposition.

Every week, the Tzotzil Muslims gather in their mosque in San Cristobal de las Casas for the so-called Friday prayer (Yummu'a), barefoot, prostrate, with Arab-style mats. They also eat and drink together to live together as Muslim brothers.

Prayer is very important in the Muslim religion, it is practiced five times a day, only that the Yummu'ah is special for every Friday of the week, as is the importance of Ramadan, the annual celebration, says Ibrahim.

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