ISLAM ON U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
It was only about 30 years ago that a Muslim community began to grow on the Virgin Islands with the building on St. Thomas of Masjid Muhammad in 1978.
Later it became Masjid Al-Nur located in Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the US Virgin Islands. With a population of about 300 Muslims the Islamic Community in St. Thomas is unique in that it is made of up of indigenous Virgin Islanders, Palestinians, and residents that moved there from the United States mainland.
Much like their US stateside Muslim community counterparts, there is a struggle to maintain a sense of community amongst the indigenous African-Caribbean Muslims along with the other ethnic groups.
Despite some of their struggles in trying to understand one another, they still work to try to come together so that they and their children can have a sense of hope in practicing Islam on such a small predominately Christian island.
At a recent Friday Khutbah Imam Dawood Aygun spoke with a visitor about patience.
"Having faith helps you to increase your inner faith with yourself and with each other," he says. "Allah related to Prophet Musa that having patience will balance out your good deeds, and your good deeds will weigh heavier then your bad deeds."
Imam Dawood emphasizes the importance of having a family life in maintaining faith. "If you have no family life it is very difficult for you to protect your Islam." Family life is a very important aspect in the Caribbean culture and it has a huge impact on how Virgin Islanders practice their Islam. Many fear that when their children leave the Island and go to the United States they may get caught up in the fast life style and forget the basics of their religion from home.
With this in mind, the community established an Islamic daycare on the premises of the Masjid. "It is important to instill a foundation in the children while they are young," says Sister Inshirah Abiff, one of the long term members of the community.
Despite the lack of diverse activities like in the US, the community finds a unique sense of close-knit comfort on a small island.