At least 5,500 native Mexicans have converted to Islam since 1989 in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. It is cause for tremendous excitement at a time when Islamophobia is on the rise and Muslims are exposed to falsely associated with terror groups.
The number of Muslims in Mexico has been growing exponentially over the last decade as more Mexicans embrace the religion and its message of peace and coexistence.
The arrival of Muslim immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and even Spanish Sufi Muslims has contributed to spreading the message of Islam throughout Mexico, according to The Muslim Vibe.
One of the most unique Muslim urban centers was established in a village of southern Chiapas, the heartland of the indigenous Mayan people who identify as Roman Catholic. A growing number of indigenous Mexicans have converted to Islam in this village located around San Cristobal de las Casas, which identify as indigenous Tzotzil community.
The word ‘’Tzotzil’’ reportedly means ‘’people of the bat’’ in the native Tzotzil language. With a population of less than 300,000, the Tzotzil community represent one of the last remaining strongholds of descendants from the ancient Mayan empire of Central America.
Muslims there have been blending their indigenous ways of life with the customs required by Islam, including the traditional Mayan scarf for women and prayer caps or kufis for men. ‘’I want to speak my language, I want to put on the indigenous dress, but I also want to believe in Allah’’ a Muslim member told the The Muslim Vibe.
Islam in Mexico has been largely adopted by native Mexicans because it highlights the most beautiful aspects of Mexican culture and morality. ‘’People gave us weird looks when we converted, they thought we were terrorists and were scared of us. But with the passage of time and our own actions, that opinion has changed’’ another Muslim member said.
Islam, along with traditional Mayan beliefs, Spanish-influenced Roman Catholicism, and a variety of other indigenous religions peacefully coexist in the city. This colorful tapestry is a testament to the power of diversity.