Education Among Early Muslims In Trinidad

The Need for Education

The Indian family served as both an economic unit and an agency for the transmission of knowledge, skills and values to the younger generation. Therefore, at this time, the community felt no great need for formal education, especially when this posed a real threat to the maintenance of their religious/cultural identity.  Religious education began at most of the mosques. Very often these maktabs were serviced by those with little formal training. Some of the first mosques were at Tacarigua (1850) and Iere Village (1866). From around the 1930s, the maktab system played a useful in imparting Islamic education mainly to the younger Muslims. These classes, taught by persons in the community with some knowledge of Urdu, Arabic and religious teachings. The classes imparted the basic principles and practices of Islam and were held in simple sheds adjoining the mosques and even at people’s homes.

In addition, several other mechanisms for the transmission of religious knowledge existed. These include the Friday khutbah (sermon), an integral part of all Friday congregational prayers, religious and social functions such as Moulood and Quranic readings on occasions such as the Prophet’s ﷺ birthday, and the Miraj (ascension) of the Prophetﷺ. Such efforts fulfilled the social and educational needs of the community for some time, but were eventually unable to counteract the new challenges posed by the existing Christian missionary efforts and the influence from the dynamic westernized values of the wider society.

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