Muslim, Indian, and Caribbean: No Contradiction
Updated: Jun 25
Part of the "What does being Muslim Indo-Caribbean mean to you?" Series
"Muslim, Indian, and Caribbean: No Contradiction"
My instagram page @musaho_books is dedicated to my love of literature. I am particularly invested in reading books by authors of colour, especially Caribbean and Muslim authors, and I use my page as an opportunity to uplift and support works by such voices. I also have a YouTube channel, 'Books are my Social Life', where I do the same. Some of my favrouite Indo-Caribbean Muslim works of fiction featured in my content include 'A Silent Life' by Guyanese author Ryhaan Shah, and 'The Yard' by Trinidadian author Aliyah Eniath.These works have been instrumental for me, as seeing the likeness of Indo-Caribbean Muslims in the media I consume is not something that I experience often.
For me, being at the intersection of Indian, Caribbean and Muslim is not something I ever felt needed to be reconciled. I always was, am, and will forever be just that. I think many Indo-Muslims in and of the region feel the same. While such an intersection may seem strange to outsiders (as it may contradict globally conventional notions of what Muslims, Indians and West Indians are), it's quite simply our reality. My queerness has coloured my experience being from this community as well, but not in ways that are defined by violence and complete rejection. Though challenging, I have - over the course of my life - learned to embrace my sexuality and gender identity whilst holding steadfast to my faith and not allowing homophobic and anti-LGBT narratives in my community to affect my self-perception. I think it's important for all Indo-Caribbean Muslims, whether regional or diasporic, to acknowledge all facets of their identity and heritage. There have been many attempts by some to globally homogenize the Muslim idenity and Islamic faith but our communities, histories, practices and individual experiences are far from homogenous, and my Muslim experience is just as valid as all others.
My investment in Indo-Caribbean Muslim identity and history has also led me to my currently pursuit, an MPhil. in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies with a focus on Indo-Trinidadian Muslim masculinities for my thesis. My work is aimed at exploring and deconstructing the ideals of masculinity that exist amongst Muslim men in our communities. Pursuing this degree is quite an enlightening experience as I am, for the first time, truly familiarising myself with the complex and dynamic history of the Indo-Trinidadian Muslim community. We might be a 'minority' but our presence in the Caribbean community is formidable.
While there have been significant scholarly, literary, artistic and digital contributions from Caribbean Muslims over the years, there is still room for a lot more.
The views in this article reflect the lived experiences and positionality of this author based on the intersections of what being both Muslim and Indo-Caribbean means to them.