"Muslimization," Mission, and Modernity in Morelos: The Problem of a Combined Hotel and Prayer Hall for the Muslims of Mexico

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Abstract

A recent visitor to Mexico, from Muslim Aid, commented on the necessity for religious projects to exhibit self-sufficiency. In such a climate, the need for entrepreneurial ingenuity is essential to the successful operation of any religious enterprise. Dar as Salām is the product of a pioneering Mexican project to bring a place of worship and conference center to the Mexican Muslim convert community. To provide itself with some revenue, it opened the doors of its residential accommodation to the public for visitors to the popular Mexican weekend retreat of Tequesquitengo in Morelos. With the opening of these doors coincided a critique of the relationship between the place's Mexican and Muslim identities. Tequesquitengo provides the Muslim converts of Mexico with a retreat from the ordinary pressures of Mexican life, which has been likened to the hijra, or exile, performed by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Yet, non-Muslim visitors who come to stay have brought with them the indulgences of their modern lifestyle, including the drinking of alcohol, "inappropriate" dress, and fornication. Some Muslim visitors to the mosque have therefore been critical of the harām, or forbidden, nature to some of the activities taking place there, yet the center remains dependent on such sources of revenue for its existence. In this article, I examine how, through a process I call "Muslimization," moral critiques of tourism practices at Dar as Salam are employed as a mode of situating the individual in relation to varying dynamics of power existing between competing elements within Mexico's Muslim community. Yet this contention is an inevitable product of the desire of external investors to minimize a venture's dependency on external resources in a context where the Muslim community is still developing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-96
JournalTourism, Culture and Communication
Volume8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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