City of Brass

City of Brass


Islam in Hawai’i

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am attending the ISMRM conference in Honolulu this week, which is why I’ve been understandably distracted these past few days :)

I was rather curious about the muslim presence here in paradise, and it turns out that Hawai’i has a very vibrant muslim community. In hindsight this should have been obvious, given that Hawai’i is culturally and georaphically as connected to Southeast Asia as it is to the mainland United States. Due to its crossroads status, there is a tremendous diversity here, even more so than muslim communities in large cities on the mainland, because of the infusion of culture from east as west. In fact, this diversity has actually been a source of conflict, a microcosm of the cultural and religious dfferences of the global Ummah itself. An intriguing article by Mona Darwich-Gatto (PDF*) for the ISIM discusses these conflicts in detail:

Hawaii’s Muslim community offers the perfect human lab to test the
belief that the Muslim community (ummah) must be united regardless
of individual ethnic background. Yet, based on the case of the single
mosque in Hawaii, Muslims appear to have been unable to build a local
umma within the larger Hawaiian social community. Many members
of Hawaii’s Muslim community identify multiple conflicting cultures in
the Islamic Center as one of the reasons they do not communicate effectively.
Language serves as the principle initial barrier, as many Hawaiian
Muslims choose to speak their native language, rather than the
common language of English. Secondly, some fear that by interchanging
cultural traditions and customs they risk jeopardizing their closely
held ethnic identity. While mosque members meet for social events
such as potlucks, the unspoken norm is to stick to one’s own ethnic
group; and there is generally a sense of individual members competing
to maintain their own ethnic roots by refusing, or lacking the will, to
learn the customs and traditions of others.

It’s quite an interesting read. In a sense, the community is a victim of its own success, which saw a huge jump in converts after 9-11, especially women and military personnel. There’s an active muslim association here, though their website seems to be broken. However, an interview with the president of the association shows Hawaiian muslims, like their mainland counterparts, to be normal and patriotic citizens. I suspect that the diversity of the community is a bulwark against extremism, in contrast to european communities. 

*I have saved a copy of the article here since ISIM has lost its funding as of Jan 1st and it is uncertain whether their content will remain online indefinitely: conflict_Hawaii_muslims_ISIM.pdf

Unrelated – my photos at Flickr from this trip thus far. Enjoy  the colors :)



  • Your Name

    Obama wrote and delivered keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston,Massachusetts,he once asked Americans to
    find unity in diversity,saying,”There is not a liberal America and
    conservative America;there’s the United States of America.”With these
    words of Obama by that time he’s a Senator in Illinois,he wants unity among people regardless of beliefs,race,religion,people who lives under the clouds of the USA should all be of one heart,i believe.So,if anyone fully understand what is unity all about,then,
    let them act as one,no question asks!!!

  • Amilius1970

    as Salaamu Alaikum. This has got to be the most interesting thing that I have found out about in a long time. So, do you mean to say that the muslims in Hawaii can’t get it together? “I made you of many nations so that you may know one another”…..hmmm. What kind of ummah is that? Now I know that it may be hard to talk to strangers but, not inside of the mosque. We are all brothers in Islam. Please try to at least act like it.

  • Your Name

    next time…i surely will act like it!!!!wanna bet???trust me!

  • http://www.iio.org Abdul Rashid Abdullah

    As-Salaamu Alaikum
    I am the webmaster for iio.org. I have been since 1996. Not many Muslim communities can say they have had an online presence for that long.
    The article by Mona Darwich is actually a very biased article. I know her and her former husband personally and I can say that they are both good people but her article is misleading. Anyone who attends the Islamic center there will know how close knit the community truly is.
    I moved away three years ago and I am still webmastering for them and still keep in touch. I know every major piece of news that comes out of the community and when I visit there I am received warmly.
    I miss my Aloha community.
    Ma Salaama
    Abdul Rashid
    PS I fixed the website some time ago. I actually get pretty busy:
    http://www.muslimserver.com

  • Yasmeenah

    Assalumu Alaykum.
    I was born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii. I personally know Mona Darwich-Gatto and her husband, as well as the people in the only mosque that we have on any of the eight islands. From reading Mona’s article and reading the article and comments on this site I can truly state that Mona’s article is right on the money.
    From the first day I stepped foot into the mosque until this very day I can tell you that few people are kind enough to even utter Assalamu Alaykum to you. In my heart I wish the community was more open and loving towards one another but I have never felt that. I truly feel like an outsider and have refused to go to the mosque for several years now.
    My first mosque, or should I say Islamic Center, that I ever attended was located in Oregon, and although I had not yet converted to Islam they made me feel welcomed from the very second I entered. Their community was much smaller than Hawaii’s but the atmosphere of the mosque was “homey” and “comfortable”, and the people made such a positive impression on me that has never left my heart/mind.
    When I think of our mosque here in Hawaii my heart aches, and my eyes swell with tears. I truly wish that we had another mosque or another avenue for Muslims here. May Allah (swt) bless our islands with goodness, kindness, love, and unity because as it stands now I will not go back to the mosque.
    Sadly,
    Yaz

  • NOOR MOHAMMAD

    ASSALAMU ALAIKKUM…
    TO: THE CHAIRMAN,
    FM: THE CHAIRMAN,
    UH EDUCATIONAL TRUST, MADURAI, TAMILNADU, INDIA .
    INDIA HAS BEEN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP EVER BETWEEN 2 COUNTRIES SO WE DISTRIBUTE THE CULTURE AND NEEDS IN ALL SERVICES WITH YOU. WE HAVE SEEN YOUR WEB SITE. WE APPRECIATE YOUR GREAT SERVICES. WE PRAY GOD FOR YOUR LONG SERVICES.
    UHE TRUST IS AN NGO/NPO TRUST. SO WE DO THE PROJECTS WITH YOUR CO ORDINATION IN THE NAME OF “DONOR” KINDLY SANCTION GRANTS TO PART PAYMENT IN LONG TERM PERIOD.
    SUB: REQUIRE CHARITY FUNDS FOR POOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN WELFARE SERVICES-AS BELOW:
    A HOME FOR ORPHAN CHILDREN. A HOME FOR SENIOR CITIZEN. A HOME FOR WIDOS/ABANDED WOMEN .
    A SCHOOL FOR MUSLIM GIRLS. MUSLIM COMMUNITY COLLEGES,A ITI FOR WOMEN.A POLYTECHNIC FOR WOMEN.A COLLEGE FOR WOMEN. AHEALTH SERVICES FOR RURAL PEOPLES NEED AMBULANCE WITH MEDICAL EQUIPMENTS AND INCOME GENERATING COURSES- PROJECTS:
    UH EDUCATIONAL TRUST HAS BEEN LAUNCHED AND DOING WELFARE SERVICES SINCE 2 YEARS. OUR TRUST NEEDS FUNDS FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN WELFARE SERVICES- REG.
    AIM AND OBJECTS: OUR MISSION AND VISION:
    FOOD, HEALTH, EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND EARNING FOR EVERY ONE.
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    USWATHUN HASANA EDUCATIONAL TRUST: ACTIVITIES:
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    * FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR SENIOR HOME PEOPLES IN A WEEK.
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    * CONDUCTING ALL UNITED NATION’S PROGRAMME DAYS. (WHO/, CHILDREN DAY/WOMEN DAY/HUMAN RIGHTS DAYAND ALL OTHER DAYS)
    * DOING ENVIORNMENTAL AWARNESS TO SCHOOL CHILDREN AND PUBLIC.
    (DISTRIBUTE THE PLANTS TO SCHOOL/HOSPITAL/MOSQUE/AND EVERY HOME)
    USWATHUN HASANA EDUCATIONAL TRUST: FUTURE PROJECTS:REQUIRE CHARITABLE FUNDS FOR BUILDINGS IN NAME OF “DONOR:.
    * VOCATIONAL TRAINING COURSES FREE FOR WOMEN.
    (EXTN OF INSTITUTION AND EDUCATIONAL EQUIPMENTS REQUIRE COMPUTER EUROS.243.00 EACH./TYPWRITER EUROS: 125.00EACH.
    SEWING MACHINE EUROS:81.00 EACH.)
    * HEALTH SERVICES REQUIRE AMBULANCE WITH MEDICAL CHECKUP INSTRUMENTS.EROS.29412/-
    (SCHOOL CHILDREN HEALTH CARE EYE CAMP, TENDEL CAMP AND GENERAL CHECKUP)
    *FOOD DISTRIBUTION AT IFTAR ALSO DAILY FOOD FOR ORPHAN CHILDREN HOME/ AND SENIOR CITIZEN HOME. EUROS: 22/-PER DAY.
    *A HOME FOR WOMEN, A HOME FOR AGED PEOPLES. A HOME FOR ORPHNAGE CHILDREN PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR”.
    *MICRO FINANCE PROJECT NEED HUGE FUNDS FOR POOR PEOPLE’S MICRO BUSINESS.
    *A N MUSLIM WOMEN’S COLLEGE- PROJECT ESTIMATED EUROS.728,013/ PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR”.
    *A N ITI SCHOOL FOR WOMEN –PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR” .
    *AN POLYTECHNICAL FOR WOMEN PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR”.
    *AN NURSING COLLEGE FOR WOMEN PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR”.
    *AN TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGE FOR WOMEN PROJECT IMPLEMENT IN NAME OF “DONOR.
    YOU ARE WARM WELCOMES TO INDIA AND VISIT OUR TRUST ON YOUR VACATION.
    JS. SABINAA, M.A.MPHIL.,(TEACHER)
    CHAIRMAN/MANAGING TRUSTEE
    USWATHUN HASANA EDUCATIONAL TRUST (REGN.NUMBER: 2538/4)
    10-A JKA BAHWAN, (1ST FLOOR), NEW COLONY, MADURAI-2, TAMILNADU,INDIA.
    CT:914522530436/9942958536/ 9842156496
    http://www.uhetrust.blogspot.com
    email:barakaths@rediffmail.com
    PS:. WE WELCOMES EDUCATIONAL BASED 2ND COMPUTERS, LIBRARY BOOKS AND USEFUL EDUCATIONAL EQUIPMENTS, MEDICAL EQUIPMENTS WITH AMBULANCE ARE REQUIRE FOR WELFARE SERVICES..
    PS:SMALL CHARITY FUNDS SEND BY WESTERN UNION ,MADURAI.(OR) SEND BY BANK IN FAVOUR OF UHE TRUST INDIAN OVERSEAS BANK,CHENNAI,INDIA ,SWIT CODE – IOBAINBBOO1,CHINNAI, CHOKKIKULAM BR. AT MADURAI IN FAVOUR OF UHE TRUST,SB AC. NO. 001801023727.

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