The Islamic Post Blog

Haiti’s Real Problem- ‘Negative Spirituality’ by Khalida

Voodoo and witchcraft are no boon to any society.

By Raheemah Atif, Islamic Post Staff Writer

In Haiti, voodoo (fr. voudu), is part and parcel of religious culture which blends one part traditional Christianity with two parts sorcery.  It is estimated that at least seventy-percent of Haiti’s 9.5 million people practice voodoo in some form, and also claim to be adherents of Catholicism or other Christian denominations.
Although more beneficial is the realization that voodoo, or sorcery, makes a wasteland of the soul and, eventually, of the nation;  in 2003, the government of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide officially sanctioned voodoo as a legal religion, granting its priests full rights to perform marriages for the first time.
One voodoo priest confided to the Associated Press that Haiti’s economic stagnation has driven many towards other religious beliefs away from Christianity towards voodoo, which is widely associated with mainstream success; noting that voodoo practice often demands relatively expensive offerings to its deities, in exchange for one’s petition. A notable Islamic text on the subject states, “Evil deeds and corruption bring about worry and sorrow, fear and grief, distress and sickness to the heart. For people who commit such deeds, when their desires have been fulfilled, their souls grow to detest the damaging effects of sin; yet, they continue the practice, only to repel the distress, worry and sorrow they find in their breasts.”
Sin being the most vicious of circles, one can only depart from it by turning to the Almighty Creator for help, offering one’s sincere tauba, completely turning away from the wrong-doing and even those things associated with the person’s weakness.
Preaching efforts.
Canadian sociologist, Andre Corten concluded in a study that roughly thirty percent of Haitian citizens identify themselves as Christian, and adamantly oppose voodoo. Evangelical Christians from America have adopted Haiti as a mission for proselytizing, and have established churches along with thousands from other denominations who come to convert voodoo practitioners.
On the other hand, Haitian Muslim groups estimate that there are between five to seven thousand Muslims in the severely impoverished nation which shares half the island –formerly known as Hispaniola– with the Dominican Republic.
A CNN report found that followers of Islam have recently stepped into the public eye. Nawoon Marcellus, who comes from the northern city of San Raphael,  became the first Muslim elected to the Chamber of Deputies, Haiti’s lower house of parliament. “I returned to Haiti in 1985 just to preach Islam,” said Abdul Al-Ali, the Delmas mosque’s white-bearded, commanding imam, or spiritual leader. “I converted while I was in Canada and we bought the space for the mosque in 1993.”
“Haitians would like to have the truth, and Islam will bring it to them. If we follow Allah, and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I think things can change. (…) Those who don’t have anything tend to help out. It is in some way inborn to us as Haitians, as well as Muslims, to help out. So that principle of responsibility,  of helping those less fortunate, resonated very well.”
In an impoverished Haiti, beset by a faltering economy and political violence, some converts find the attention Islam devotes to charity and social justice particularly appealing. “If you see someone who is in need, the ones who need help, whether it’s education, money or what have you, we Haitians as a whole tend to be very generous in helping one another,” said Racin Ganga, the Imam of the Carrefour Feuille Center, who was introduced to Islam at a college in New York. The Imam, or prayer leader, commented on the unfortunate September 11 attacks, “Allah says that if a man kills another man it is as if he has killed all humanity. The people who did what they did in New York, they are not even human. Islamic people use the weapon of their love, because violence, as we’ve seen here in Haiti, will not take us anywhere.”
Yacine Khelladi, an Algerian economist who has conducted an informal survey of the religion in Haiti, said the true Islam, devoid of interpolations, could address many of Haiti’s needs, including social justice, literacy, and a sense of community. “It even regulates business, land disputes, banking and other things –all of which could be perceived as attractive in Haiti as an alternative model,” Khelladi said.
An influx of Pakistani and Bangladeshi soldiers came to Haiti with the U.S.-led peacekeeping forces in 1994, and were able to further established the Muslim presence when onlookers observed them at prayer and became curious to understand Islamic cultural practices and requirements.
The study of Islam has also clarified some informational errors in Haitian history, including the account of Boukman, a rebel slave who inspired other slaves to rise up against their colonial masters. “Boukman was never a voodoo priest, like they say; he was a Muslim,” said Samaki Foussoyni, a worshiper at Haiti’s Delmas Mosque, one of many that have sprung up over the years.
“When they describe his name, Boukman, in English –as he was from Jamaica, they are really describing ‘book man,’ because of the book he was always reading, which the French here in Haiti always referred to as an “upside-down” book,” Foussoyni said.
“They described it as such because it was the Qur’an, which you read right to left. When they say they had a voodoo ceremony at Bois Cayman, where Boukman lived, it was in fact ‘Bwa Kay Imam,’ or ‘the woods of the house of the imam’ in Creole.” ‘the woods of the house of the imam’ in Creole.”


3 Comments so far
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This article is ABSOLUTELY ridiculouse!To blame the country’s problems on their religeon is disguting. I mean look at what TERRIBLE shape Pakistan, a nation of Islam. I guess it’s cause there muslims there like that? Religeon, what a crazy thing!

Comment by Kate


Could the recent earthquakes have been as punishment for their ways, as Allah had punished the people of Lot etc?

Comment by reason


Could the recent earthquakes have been as punishment for their ways, as Allah had punished the people of Lot etc ?

Comment by reason

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