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date: 06 December 2023

Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuelalocked

Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuelalocked

  • Philipp BruckmayrPhilipp BruckmayrDepartment of Near Eastern Studies, University of Vienna


The number of Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuela has been steadily growing in the 21st century, and the number of converts is by now undoubtedly in the thousands. Until the 2000s, this process of conversion concerned almost exclusively Creoles (i.e., the white and mestizo Venezuelan majority population) in urban settings with a strong presence of Arab(-descended) Muslims. Islam in Venezuela had long been strongly associated with Arab ethnicity, and its representatives had shown comparably little interest in proselytization among the local population. This changed in the early 1990s, however, with the greater influx of funds from transnational Islamic organizations. Nevertheless, the process only gained traction once also individual Creole converts themselves became active in proselytization. Among Venezuela’s Indigenous peoples, Islam only began to have a limited appeal in the 2000s. The most prominent case in this regard, are the Wayúu people of the Guajira peninsula, which is shared by Colombia and Venezuela. Due to political factors, however, the conversion process among Wayúu has been greatly exaggerated by observers. Despite pervasive reports of mass conversions, the pattern among Wayúu falls in squarely with that among Creoles, in being one of individual and not mass conversions to Islam. This said, the available evidence suggests that Creole and Indigenous Muslims in Venezuela have so far remained primarily urban phenomena. Nevertheless, the Wayúu represent a remarkable case of how Islam has been preached and adopted among Indigenous peoples in Latin America in the 21st century.


  • Islamic Studies

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