Here is a methodical post/article submitted by Margaret (India), Aug 8, 2007 at 11:35 at danielpipes.org/comments/105700 titled “Islamisation of Fiji Islands , New Caledonia , Papua New Guinea , Maluku Islands , Solomon Islands , Torres Strait Islands , Vanuatu , Palau Islands , Nauru , Timor , Flores Islands , Sumba Islands and other Islands in the region”.
The writer, an Indian lady, seems to be a Christian and very analytical. I appreciate her keen observation and copy/paste it here for the public good and benefit of the members. I have summarized the article into the bullet-points to make it convenient for the readers, with a little editing at some places:
For several years Melanesia has witnessed a phenomenon all but ignored by the international community; amongst the Pacific islands the diffusion of Islam has obtained highly successful results and in every country in the region an Umma, Islamic community, has been founded.
The term Melanesia indicates the region that extends for the western side of the Western Pacific to the sea of Arafura which touches the northern and north-eastern coasts of Australia. The islands belonging to the area are: the Bismark archipelago, the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, the Solomon Islands the Torres Strait Islands, Vanuatu and Palau Islands. Nauru, Timor, Flores Islands and Sumba are not entirely part of the region.
Islam is the religion that diffuses itself faster than any other and this tendency has been confirmed in the Pacific. Islamic organizations from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are actively promoting Islam in the region and are actively involved in creating numerous Ummah in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
The level of diffusion is unparalleled throughout the world.
• It is estimated that thousands of natives have chosen to convert to Islam in the states of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji alone. In New Caledonia there is a consistent presence of Islamic communities that have appeared following migratory flows from the Francophile world over the last 100 years.
• Parallels and cultural differences; There are numerous point that link the Islamic culture to that of the Pacific.
• First and foremost the fact that Islam developed from the Arab tribal culture and maintains decisional bodies (shura) that, in the social organization and in their non hierarchical nature, are similar to the chief’s councils in Melanesia.
• Even the concept of ‘an eye for an eye’ is common to both cultures, while Jesus’ example of ‘turning the other cheek’ had never been taken into consideration by the Melanesians despite the strong Christian influence throughout the region.
• Western law has never been fully accepted in that it does not, as opposed to Islamic and Pacific traditions, offer compensation to the victim.
• Polygamy and the division of the sexes, such as separate structures for men and women, are other common points.
• In addition given that the Melanesian population is used to sitting on the ground, the mosque results as being a more natural environment than a church.
• Westerners tend to be more secular and give greater importance to the role of the State, give greater importance to corruption and unemployment, while a Melanesian’s view of life tends to be based on the principals of Kastom, religious obligations, and agriculture.
Little emphasis is placed on the role of the State in as much as it is a concept of recent implementation and only really of interest in the major cities.
• It can be deduced that in this region there is no great concept of the separation between religion and state.
• It is clear that the Muslim communities continue to augment in number, as happens with Christian organizations, the Islamic counterparts supply medical assistance, schooling, morals and religion, and access to global networks capable of facilitating political and social goals.
The conversion to Christianity has also been guided by practical considerations and the very same is happening with Islam.
• The violent tsunami that struck the Solomon Islands last April demonstrated the presence of Islamic organizations, the International Muslim Aid Organization acted swiftly in supplying medicines and aid to the most damaged areas and, as is obvious, this was greatly appreciated.
• Another factor that has facilitated the penetration of Islam as opposed to other religions consists in the fact that the process of becoming a Muslim is easy: to be accepted all that is asked for is to take a conscious decision and to recite, three times, the basic dogma of the religion in the presence of other members of the faith.
• Missionaries believe that this is not a conversion but an invitation to come closer to ancestral traditions. It is in any case difficult to understand how Islam can separate religion and philosophy from the practices of Islamic culture. Those interested in preserving Kastom are skeptical and believe that the rise of Islam risks damaging local traditions in the same way Christianity did during the past century.
• It is important to underline that these Pacific islands are not entirely knowledgeable of the ‘varieties’ of Islam which range from the most tolerant to militant Salafism.
• Islam is spreading rapidly and thus it is in the interests of these nations to encourage the penetration of non violent groups.
continued in the next post