Belize: A Culturally Rich and Diverse Land



Belize is a small country in Northeastern Central America bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatamala to the south and west, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea, with a population of about 333,000. It is the only country in the region where the official language is English, though Spanish and Creole are also spoken.


Belize is also the only country in the region that was a colony of Great Britain from the 1860’s until 1981. It is a culturally and ecologically diverse land with an equally rich history which ranges from its first Mayan and Spanish settlers, through European settlers and eventually British domination over the claims of Guatamala and Spain.
Islam was brought to the land now known as Belize by African Muslims who were brought as slaves. Today, Belize is home to more than 5,000 Muslims. An Islamic center was completed in 2009, and was constructed solely of local materials. According to Rashiel Bevens, the project manager, the bricks were made in a facility near the building site, and all of the rock and other materials were procured locally. Several local Muslim leaders commented on this historical event to the press. C.J. Abdulai Conteh, Honorary Chairman of the Belize Masjid Foundation remarked, “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.” The ground floor of the structure is dedicated to prayer, with the second story being used for meetings and classes.
Seminars and other events are held to educate the community at large about the Islamic faith. Mustafa Tooure’, a member of the Shura, or Islamic governing council of the Islamic Mission of Belize stated, “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.”
Belizean Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh, commented, “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.”
Some material for this report was obtained from an interview by News Channel Five of Belize.
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This  center  was  established  by  East  Indian  Muslims  whose   grandparents  came  to  Belize  as  indentured  servants  on  plantations.