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May 16, 2008

Muslim community officially opens Belize City Mosque

Story PictureA local religious group marked an important milestone today and News Five’s Kendra Griffith was on hand for the celebrations.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
Amidst singing and prayers this morning Islamic Mission of Belize officially inaugurated its newly constructed Masjid or Place of Worship.

Imam Kaleem El-Amin, Amir, Islamic Mission of Belize
“The whole world we say is a Masjid and you might notice sometimes Muslims they have a small carpet, they spread it on the ground in a park, in a room, wherever they want they can pray but when you have an enclosure, this protects us from the element. The greatest Masjid for the Muslims doesn’t have a cover. If you ever look at a picture of Mecca, it’s an open place. So we say whole world is a Masjid but we’re dedicating this building specially and only for prayer.”

C.J. Abdulai Conteh, Honourary Chairman, Belize Masjid Foundation
“This is a house of God; it is a house of prayer. No politics, no status, all prostrate ourselves in recognition of the one Supreme Being. Prayer, as we all know, is essential to all religions.”

But while the ground floor is dedicated for praying, the mission intends to build two more storeys to house community facilities, classrooms, and office space. The structure was designed by Morrison and Associates and is being built by R&F Brickmakers.

Rushiel Bevans, Project Manager
“The most distinctive to me personally is the bricks because it’s a dominant piece of the building and it’s also locally made. We have our factory right in the back and we produce our own bricks and we build our own stone and columns. We make everything locally from local materials. We are proud to have this as a heritage for us and all Belizeans.”

According to records, Muslims have been in Belize since the 1700s when they were brought over as slaves from Africa … today they account for one percent of the country’s population.

Imam Kaleem El-Amin
“The Muslim community in the country of Belize is between four thousand, five hundred to five thousand. They are scattered from the Free Zone down to Barranco and from the San Pedro to Benque Viejo.”

This morning the Islamic Mission recognised some of their pioneering members … Among them is Ismail Omar Shabazz.

Kendra Griffith
“What drew you to the Muslim religion?”

Ismail Omar Shabazz, IMB Shura Member
“I saw this advertisement in the Belize Times in 1962 and you notice what it says here? It was a liberty hall meeting. The brother used to have his meetings five days for the week; Monday to Friday and when I saw this advertisement it had a two days left at the liberty hall. That’s when I went and began to look at the program and eventually over the years it got stronger and I became one of the first convert and begin to help in the struggle.”

And although not every Belizean understands the religion, that struggle has been a peaceful one, something that their fellow brothers and sisters in other countries cannot say.

Imam Kaleem El-Amin
“Here in Belize, we don’t have too much misconception. Internationally now there is the misconception that the religion is terroristic or that it’s aggressive or anti-other people or it’s antiquated. But that is basically lack of knowledge and anyone who comes in contact with Muslims will find that we are just like you, no different. The same thing that you are, I am.”

Mustafa Tooure’, Shura, Islamic Mission of Belize
“We Muslims are the cousins of the Christians and this I think is one of the main misconceptions. Most people say those people don’t believe in God but we believe in the same God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Joseph, Jesus; all of the prophets of the bible. In fact, as Muslims we require that you believe in all of the prophets of the bible. You can’t be a Muslim if you do not believe in Jesus.”

Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh
“In Belize we are fortunate that our multi-ethnicity sits well with our growing religious diversity. This I make bold to say, is the measure of the maturation of our Belizean society.”

The completed Masjid is expected to be completely finished in early 2009. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Muslim community officially opens Belize City Mosque”

  1. says:

    May you provide Da-ood (mr. Jimmy ) or your phone number please ? I will like to speak to mr.jimmy thanks

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