Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 4th 2013 Contents Dr Nasser Mustapha is a senior
lecturer in Sociology and deputy
dean, Graduate Studies, The Uni-
versity of the West Indies, St
Augustine. He has served as con-
sulting editor for the Encyclopedia
of Caribbean Religions (a York Uni-
He is the author of two widely
used textbooks on Sociology for
Caribbean Students. He has served
as a member of the subject panel
and as chief examiner for Cape
Sociology and has published several
journal articles on drug abuse, edu-
cation and stratification, and the
sociology of health.
He is also the president general
of the Trinidad Muslim League
(TML).Q: What message would
you like to give to T&T
and our readers in this
the most holy month in the Islamic
calendar for Muslims?
A: This is a special month
to Muslims worldwide, in
which we are expected to
fast from dawn to sunset. I wish to
urge everyone to be more patient
and co-operative and to be careful
in our speech, actions and thoughts.
Let us try to serve God by doing as
much as possible to enhance and
improve the condition of those
around us, especially the less for-
Most people will not know what
life as a religious leader is like, what
would you say to them?
I do not consider myself to be a
religious leader in the traditional
sense. I have been given the respon-
sibility to lead the Trinidad Muslim
League. The TML is a unique, non-
sectarian and moderate Muslim
group that tries to achieve change
through education and moral devel-
opment. It is our policy to keep away
from religious controversies. I try to
do my best at all times, to help wher-
ever possible and to intervene when
necessary. Of course, circumstances
do not permit me to achieve all my
goals, but I just have to keep on try-
Tell us about your inspiration to
be such a leader?
I never see leadership as wielding
power or controlling the lives of oth-
ers. I see it as a tremendous respon-
sibility for which we are accountable
to the Almighty God. This is a seri-
ous undertaking indeed. I am
inspired by the plight of humanity,
the daily suffering of people all
around us, and the need to get people
to treat each other in a humane and
Islam is perceived by some (given
the many acts of violence especially
around the world) as a religion with
an increasing number of fanatics
and terrorists...what are you doing
to counter these perceptions?
It is unfortunate that these acts
of violence take place. I firmly believe
that God created the world for a
noble purpose, and that human
beings are the most intelligent of
God s creation. People should fulfill
God s expectations of us, and live in
peace, love and harmony despite
ethnic, cultural and religious differ-
ences. It is unfortunate that violence
and fanaticism exist. The Qur an
tells us that "there is no compulsion;
truth stands out clear from error."
Terrorism and violence are certainly
not the way of the Qur an and the
traditions of Prophet Muhammad
(Upon whom be peace).
Why does mankind continually
act inhumanely towards one anoth-
er, and why is there so much suf-
fering generally? Is this God s plan
to allow this?
The Qur an tells us that "God does
not change the condition of a people
until they first change what is within
themselves." People must consciously
turn to God, to increased spirituality
and higher ethical and moral prin-
ciples. In so doing, God s blessings
will descend upon all humanity.
Chaos, disorder and discontent result
from human errors and misgivings.
We reap the results of the seeds we
What are the biggest challenges
The biggest challenges emanate
from among the Muslims themselves
with the biased and distorted inter-
pretations of the scriptures; problems
of integration in multicultural social
milieu, the emphasis on peripheral
issues, and the neglect of the plight
of the less fortunate.
What advice would you give to
a young person who is wondering
about becoming a religious leader
in your religion?
One does not aspire to be a leader.
Aspire to be the follower of a great
leader, serve God in all aspects of
life, and eventually if leadership is
thrust upon you, accept the respon-
Where were you born, where did
you grow up, and what was it like?
I was born in San Juan. In my day,
most of the youth were involved in
sports, particularly football and
cricket. The youth at my time were
also involved in flying kites, pitching
marbles, fishing, backyard gardening,
spinning tops and hiking. I was a
regular participant and spectator of
all the major sporting competitions
at the Aranguez Savannah. I must
say there was never a dull moment
during my teenage years. Unfortu-
nately today s youth are preoccupied
with the trappings of the electronic
age and are less involved in these
What would you say is your
Humility. I hate to say this since
this is not being humble.
What daily motto do you live by?
I try to learn something new every
learn something new, I feel bored
and stagnant. I try to read a lot, pon-
der over the condition of the world
and pray for peace.
At what schools/institutions did
you receive your education?
I attended the El Socorro North
Government School, The El Socorro
TIA Islamia School, St Mary s Col-
lege, Port-of-Spain, and the Uni-
versity of the West Indies, St Augus-
Nasser Mustapha wants to see T&T in...
... I believe that Trinidad and Tobago has
the potential to be a model nation with
so much talent and intellectual potential,
but we spend all our energies wrangling
over issues such as the distribution of
resources and power-sharing.
WITH NASSER KHAN
Continued on Page B6
Dr Nasser Mustapha
Royal visit in 1920 left
Tips to give your
pair in 2 Guns---Page B27
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