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Glimpse into lives of Bermuda’s Muslim women

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Sense of community: Muslims all over the world recently celebrated the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (Photograph supplied)

After being invited to one of Bermuda’s three mosques for the first time, I learnt much about the women in Bermuda’s Muslim community.

I attended during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ran from March 10 to April 9, a time of fasting and prayer.

Being in the mosque and observing the women come together in what seemed like a joyful, tight-knit community, catching up and embracing each other, reminded me of a family get-together.

The women's hospitality was refreshing, and the simple plate to break the fast was delightful. When it came time to observe the women in prayer, the room transformed into an atmosphere of reverence as the prayers sang through the speakers and the women participated in worship.

Following that experience was more delightful food, but even more so, the opportunity to fellowship with these beautiful women and hear their experiences of life and Ramadan in the Muslim community in Bermuda.

Holy month: Ramadan cup cakes made by Samira Saya for her duaghter’s school friends (Photograph supplied)

I listened to how these women were introduced to the Muslim community in Bermuda, with three women willing to share their experiences.

Maida Coleman said: “I moved here 23 years ago after getting married to a Bermudian Muslim. Living in Bermuda, one always feels a sense of community, but the Muslim community here is very tight knit.

“We do everything together which makes us more like family.”

Another said: “Quite serendipitously! I had just got to the island in 2019, and my mother (who wears a hijab) was with me in Marketplace when we were spotted by an older Bermudian lady (also in a hijab).

“She said salam to us and enveloped me in a warm welcome to the island, immediately gathering my contact details to disseminate to other Muslim community members in Bermuda. It is often a moment I reflect on fondly.”

“That’s the Bermuda charm; it is that easy to be integrated and connected,” said Aqsa Zubair.

Samira Saya shared, “I was introduced to the Muslim community when I started attending Friday prayers at Masjid Mohammed in Hamilton when I moved to Bermuda several years ago. Meeting people at the mosque has led to long-lasting friendships.”

Celebration: Bermuda Youth Library marked Ramadan with this display (Photograph supplied)

Ms Zubair added: “The fellowship of the Muslim community greatly enriches my experience in Bermuda, offering a sense of home away from home and belonging that is truly invaluable.

“This tight-knit community is a supportive family network for me, providing spiritual guidance and practical assistance whenever needed.

“Through various community events, educational programmes, and social gatherings, I have had the opportunity to connect with others who share my values and beliefs, which deepens my sense of connection to the island.

“Additionally, the principles of our faith, such as charity, compassion, and community service, inspire me (and us) to contribute positively to the wider Bermudian society.

“Whether organising clean-up drives, participating in interfaith dialogues, or offering outreach programmes, our community actively seeks ways to give back and build bridges with other cultural groups.

“This involvement enhances my personal experience and helps foster a more inclusive and cohesive environment across Bermuda.”

Ms Saya added: “The Muslim community has enriched me both on a cultural and spiritual level and has provided a connection to a broader community, especially when moving to a place with no extended family. In addition, it has helped to expose my children to the religious holidays and experiences I had growing up in Pakistan.

“Over the last 17 years in Bermuda, I have witnessed increased social events in and around the mosques. A few years ago, we would attend Eid prayers, and the kids would go back to school, but we are now taking the day off, and they enjoy a wide variety of events organised by the community in Bermuda.”

Discussing what Ramadan means to them, Mrs Coleman said, “Ramadan means everything to me. It's a time to reflect and be grateful for everything you have. It's a time for giving.”

Ms Saya added, “ Being able to participate in the iftar (break of fast meals) and also the night prayers (Taraweeh) has been an amazing experience for myself as well as my kids.

“There is an incredible sense of community, as people share food from different places and listen to the recitation of the Koran daily. It is an incredibly special time for us as a family to experience this in Bermuda; my kids look forward to this month every year.”

Sharing what the Muslim community is like in Bermuda, Ms Zubair said: “I would like Bermuda to know that the Muslim community here is vibrant, diverse, and deeply committed to the values of kindness, charity, and community service.

“We are a group of individuals from various backgrounds, each bringing unique perspectives and traditions that enrich the fabric of Bermudian society.

“Our faith teaches us the importance of hospitality, generosity, and the pursuit of knowledge, principles that guide our daily interactions and contributions to the community and beyond.”

She continued, “Our mosques are not just places for prayer but centres of learning and hubs for social services, open to anyone seeking assistance or knowledge about Islam or seeking to understand better how we observe our traditions.

“We’re really proud of our cultural diversity and always look for ways to connect with other communities, share our traditions, and understand our differences better. By sharing in each other's traditions and respecting our differences, we believe we can foster a more inclusive and harmonious Bermuda.”

Ms Saya added: “It is a very inclusive community, and people from many different parts of the world make up the Muslim community in Bermuda.

“It is a very welcoming community, and through the Bermuda Muslim portal Facebook group, many people have visited the mosques during the month of Ramadan to experience and learn about Islam and the Muslim community.”

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Published April 20, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 22, 2024 at 1:07 pm)

Glimpse into lives of Bermuda’s Muslim women

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