In this installment of the Islam around the World series, we explore Argentina, the Latin American country with the largest Muslim population. Discover how Islam reached Argentina, the number of Muslims living there, famous mosques, prominent figures, and the challenges faced by Muslims in the country.
How many Muslims live in Argentina?
Religion significantly influences the culture and traditions in Argentina. While the country does not have an official religion, the majority of the population is Catholic, with approximately 11.3% identifying as atheists or agnostics and around 9% as Protestants. Though exact numbers are unknown, Muslims are estimated to constitute about 1% of the population, which suggests that the Muslim minority in Argentina is close to half a million. Some reliable sources, like the TDV Islamic Encyclopedia, even put the number at around 900,000.
When and how did Islam reach Argentina?
The first Muslim group in Argentina is believed to have arrived in the 16th century, comprising those who migrated from Andalusia (Spain) to Latin America. However, significant Muslim migration began in the mid-20th century, mainly from Syria and Lebanon. Muslim immigrants from these regions are commonly referred to as “Turks” by the Argentine population. Presently, there are approximately 3.5 million Arab immigrants residing in the country.
What are Argentina’s most famous mosques?
Argentina boasts several Islamic structures, with the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center being the most prominent one. As the name suggests, it serves both as a mosque and a cultural center. Constructed in 2000 as a gift from the Saudi government to Argentina, this mosque holds great importance for Muslims, with a main prayer hall capable of accommodating 1,200 men and 400 women, as well as a dormitory for 50 students. The “Al Ahmad Mosque” in Buenos Aires is the country’s second-oldest mosque. Another well-known mosque is the Argentina Islamic Center(CIRA).
Who are the significant figures working for Islam in Argentina?
There is no specific individual prominently known for their work in the name of Islam in this Latin American country. Islamic activities are generally conducted through Islamic Cultural Centers, as
mentioned in the previous answer. Notably, the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center plays a significant role in this regard.
What challenges do Muslims face in Argentina?
Presently, Muslims in Argentina generally enjoy a peaceful life. Despite being a minority, the government endeavors to ensure that Argentine Muslims can freely express their religion without discrimination. However, the Muslim population is decreasing due to certain factors. One of the primary reasons is the decline in Arabic language and Islamic education. Many Muslims in Argentina do not know Arabic, and there is a shortage of Spanish translations of Islamic sources, particularly the Holy Quran. Furthermore, there are very few madrasas where Muslims can receive religious education. Some Muslims in Argentina also mention challenges related to media representations of Islam, making it difficult to practice their religion. Despite these challenges, Argentina Muslims strive to maintain a devout Islamic way of life.