The number of Muslims in southern Mexico is visibly increasing day by day. In recent years, immigrants from Lebanon, Syria, and even Spanish Sufi Muslims have arrived in the region. Their consistent efforts to convey the message of Islam have played a significant role in the adoption of Islam. Currently, the country hosts approximately 110,000 Mexican Muslims, according to recent reports.
A village located in the Chiapas state, in the south of Mexico, has become one of the centers of Islam in the region. The surprising aspect is the growing number of indigenous Maya tribe members who, originally Roman Catholics, have embraced Islam. This small community, known as the Tzotzil, has established their own Muslim communities in the mountainous terrain of Southern Chiapas.
The Tzotzil people are an ethnic indigenous Maya group specific to the Chiapas state in southern Mexico. The word “Tzotzil” in their local Tzotzil language, known as Bats’i K’op, translates to “bat people.” They have a population of fewer than 300,000. The Tzotzil people represent one of the last strongholds of the ancient Maya Empire in Central America.
Many indigenous people mention that the shift to Islam increased in the 1980s when the Zapatista movement in Mexico began criticizing Christianity and U.S.-influenced capitalism. Families who chose Islam strive to impart both Muslim and indigenous Maya Mexican identities to their children. This is not only a challenge for the people trying to live a Muslim life here but also a similar path that Muslims in a non-Muslim-majority country navigate as they balance their Muslim identity.
Mexico’s Cultural Diversity
Mexico is known for being a country influenced by Spanish-influenced Roman Catholicism, indigenous religions, and traditional Maya beliefs. However, the increasing adoption of Islam by Mexicans is commendable. Moreover, it is appreciated that there are no movements hindering Islam from influencing Mexican culture. In a world where hatred against Muslims and the Islamic faith is rising in various parts of the globe, let’s celebrate the tranquil beauty of a small village in southern Mexico that encompasses the true strength of diversity and tolerance.