The International Symposium on the “History and Legacy of Muslims in the Caribbean” organized by IRCICA, OIC General Secretariat, the Government of Guyana and Guyana University was opened by President H.E. Mohamed Irfaan Ali with a Feature Address on 4 September 2023. IRCICA Director General Prof. Mahmud Erol Kılıç gave an address at the opening ceremony. Moderated by Mr. Al Creighton, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education of the University of Guyana, the ceremony started with Quran recitation and translation by Hafiz Salih Rahim, and heard the opening remarks of H.E. Mr. Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, Special Envoy of IRCICA to the Caribbean; Dr. Alhoucine Rhazoui, Director of Cultural Affairs, OIC General Sceretariat, as well as cultural items, consisting of the Islamic Chant in Urdu recited by Mr. Imran Ali, Deputy President of the Muslim Youth Organization, and the Islamic Chant in Yoruba language presented by Mr. Toyib Hamza. A press conference followed the opening session. The ceremony and the working sessions were held at Arthur Chung Conference Center in Georgetown.
Subsequently, the same day, IRCICA Director General Prof. Mahmud Erol Kılıç was received by H.E. President Mohamed Irfaan Ali for a welcoming meeting. Professor Kılıç briefed H.E. the President about IRCICA’s objectives and activities. Mr. Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, high officials from Guyana, and the IRCICA delegation members, were also present at the meeting. Director General Prof. Kılıç presented H.E. President Irfaan Ali and Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Hugh Todd with samples of IRCICA’s publications in the series of studies on the Holy Qur’an.
The working sessions of the symposium, spread over three days, were on the following themes:
First day, Session I: Globalization and Localization in the Caribbean: Aliyah Khan, University of Michigan, | The Qasida and Muslim Devotional Music in Guyana and Trinidad; Frank J. Korom, Boston University | The Current State of Hosay (Moharram) Observances in the Caribbean; Abdin Chande, Adelphi University | Migration and Identity of South Asians of the Caribbean and East African Indian Ocean Region: A Comparative Analysis; Maurits S. Hassankhan, Anton de Kom University of Suriname | Localization and Globalization of Religion: The Case of Hindustani Muslims in Suriname.
Session II: Islam in the Greater Caribbean from Early History to Today: Abdullah Hakim Quick, The Islamic Institute of Toronto | Aspects of Muslim History and Legacy in Pre-Columbian America; Juan Thomas Ordóñez, Universidad del Rosario | Caribbean Lebanon: The Muslim Experience on the Colombia/Venezuela Border; Mohamed A. Hakim, Islamic Educator and Social Activist in Haiti | History of Muslims in Haiti; Nuri Muhammad, Imam, Radio Commentator and Social Activist | The Evolution of Muslim Presence in Belize and the Significance of Garifuna Cultural Retrieval;
Session III: Panel on Black Atlantic Muslim Movements – Remapping and Theorizing Global South Migrations: Youssef Carter, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill | Western Sunrise in the Global South: The Islamic Party comes to the Caribbean; Tasneem Siddiqui, Drexel University | The Caribbean Is No Island: Rethinking Black Geographies through Muslim Resistance Movements; Nsenga Knight, Artist & Storyteller | Irregular Black Muslims: Diasporic Exchange & The Caribbean Elsewhere.
Second day, Session I: Guyanese Experience: Ateeka Khan, McMaster University | East Indians, Religion, and Politics in 20th Century Guyana; Nazim Baksh, Former Investigative Producer with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) | Conflict, Continuity and Change of Religious Narratives and Practices of Muslims in Guyana (1977-1981); Ahmad Hamid, Imam and Researcher | The Challenges and Role of CIOG in the Transformation of the Muslim Community of Guyana from Chaos to Stability; Wazir Baksh, Historian and Community Activist | The Masjid as an Essential Institution to Preserve Faith and Social Cohesion: The Case of Guyana.
Session II: Voices from Trinidad and Tobago: Halima-Sa’adia Kassim, University of the West Indies | An Evaluation of the Resultant Negotiations of Living in an Alien Society: The Indo-Muslims of Trinidad Claiming Their Place; Nasser Mustapha & Mirza Ali Mohammad, University of the West Indies | Race and Ethnic Relations in Trinidad and Tobago; Anand Rampersad, University of the West Indies | Successful Muslim Cricketers in Trinidad and Tobago.
Session III: Economy, Identity and Decolonization in the Caribbean: Ibraheem Musa Tijani, International Islamic University Malaysia | The Economic Development and Commerce of the Muslim Communities in the Caribbean and the Emergence of Islamic Finance in the Region; Stanley L. Soeropawiro, Policy Advisor Religious Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs (Suriname) | Economic Development among the Javanese Muslims in Suriname; Karimah Rahman, Toronto Metropolitan University | Decolonizing Muslim Indo-Caribbean Mental Health; Suleiman Bulbulia & Sabir Nakhuda, Historians and Authors | The Muslims of Barbados: Sustaining A Muslim Identity.
Third Day, Special Presentation at the University of Guyana by: Abdullah Hakim Quick, Nuri Muhammad, Mohamed A. Hakim and Stanley L. Soeropowero.
The closing ceremony of the symposium was conducted with the remarks of Prof. Dr. Aboubacar Abdullah Senghore, Assistant Director General, IRCICA and Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana.
On 5 September 2023, IRCICA Director General Prof. Mahmud Erol Kılıç had a meeting with Professor Paloma Mohamed Martin, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana. The meeting was a fruitful occasion to exchange views on research and education in Islamic studies.
During the symposium period, Director General Prof. Mahmud Erol Kılıç held contacts and meetings with Muslim cultural institutions and educational organizations in Guyana including the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG), Guyana Islamic Trust and the ISA School.