Meet the Only Indigenous Mexican Tribe to Convert to Islam

credit: Credit: Vice / YouTube

In the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, an indigenous Mexican tribe is living a life based on the Islamic faith.

According to a new mini-doc by Vice, the Tzotzil Indians are the only indigenous Mexican tribe to convert to Islam.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

Ibrahim Chechev, above, is the community’s Imam – their worship leader. “The fact that Islam arrived to this remote and isolated location, socially and demographically, is a true privilege,” said Chechev to VICE. “This community is aware of and practices Islam.”

That’s right. A large indigenous community in Mexico converted to Islam.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

All told, there are 700 Tzotzil Indians living and practicing the Islamic faith.

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How did Islam come to such a secluded part of the world? Aureliano Pérez, a Spaniard, brought the religion with him in the mid-90s.

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Pérez intended to bring Islam to the Zapatistas in Chiapas, but Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos declined Pérez’s attempts to convert the militant group. Pérez then took the issue to church leaders and other members of the community in San Cristobal de las Casas. Eventually, Islam became a part of life for hundreds of Tzotzil tribe members.

Chechev was there during one of the first meetings and helped make Islam what it is today for the Tzotzil tribe.

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As the importance of Islam has grown, members of the Tzotzil tribe are working together to build their very own mosque.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

Architect Percy Moranchel says the creation of the mosque has not faced any opposition from neighbors or others living in the community. Instead, Moranchel says the people are driven by the desire to help those who are choosing the right path, which he says is in line with the Islamic faith.

According to Google Maps, here is where they currently hold their worship, Masjid Medinah.

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Credit: Google Maps

The religious group used to meet in Chechev’s home for prayers and major religious holidays like Ramadan.

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The tribe has figured out how to respect their new religion while sticking to Mexican traditions. Here they are eating chicken tacos during their Ramadan fast break.

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Credit: VICE / YouTube

No carnitas allowed.

Check out the full video below to learn more about Mexican Muslims:

Credit: VICE / YouTube