We will introduce South America’s largest and most populous country, Brazil, from a different perspective – the untold aspects. In our blog post “5 Questions About Islam in Brazil,” you will find intriguing information. Enjoy your reading!
What is the Muslim population in Brazil?
Official sources do not provide precise information about the Muslim population in Brazil. However, they estimate that about 1% of the population is Muslim. Considering the country’s population of 200 million, this percentage translates to approximately 2 million Muslims. Yet, the number of Muslim immigrants to Brazil alone exceeds this figure. According to Muslim estimates, there should be around 3 million Muslims in Brazil.
When and how did Islam reach Brazil?
Islam first arrived in Brazil during the 15th century when Muslim immigrants from the remnants of the Umayyad dynasty in Andalusia, Spain, arrived on its shores. Brazil’s encounter with Islam was a result of Spain’s refusal to accommodate them, leading to their transportation to Brazil. Thus, the rejection in Spain and their arrival in Brazil became a means for this land to be blessed with Islam.
Which are Brazil’s famous mosques?
One of Brazil’s famous mosques is the Zaimah Mosque in Rio with its century-old history. Being located near the Rio Olympic Stadium and built in the early 1900s, it is a historical mosque. Although the mosque was closed for worship in 1983 and remained so for about 27 years, campaigns initiated in 2010 resulted in its reopening. During its closure, graffiti artists adorned the mosque, which was then restored before reopening, funded by donations from a foundation. Another renowned mosque is the Abu Bakr Mosque in São Paulo, which serves the Muslim community residing there.
Who are the prominent figures working for Islam in Brazil?
One of the first figures to work for Islam in Brazil was Baghdad-born Abdurrahman Effendi. He was an imam on one of the two warships departing from Istanbul to Basra in 1865. Due to a storm, the ships had to dock at the port of Rio. As they were portrayed as cannibals by the Spanish, the locals flocked to see them. Among the curious ones were African Muslims who knew Islam as a religion exclusive to blacks. However, upon realizing that these newcomers were not black and had a better understanding of Islam than them, they were astonished. Seeing Abdurrahman Effendi as someone who knew Islam well, they requested him to stay with them and teach them about Islam.
Abdurrahman Effendi considered it a duty to convey Islam to his Muslim brothers and remained in Brazil for about 3.5 years. Although he humbly stated in his travelogue about Brazil, “I tried my best to do something,” his efforts for Islam in Brazil were significant. He corrected their misconceptions about Islam and held daily meetings with young and willing adults to teach them the fundamental principles of Islam, including memorizing hadiths about the five daily prayers. After learning Portuguese, he wrote a book in the language covering topics such as Allah’s attributes, prophets, ablution, fasting, pilgrimage, and almsgiving – essential knowledge for every Muslim. This book also included some advice. Today, Islamic work in Brazil is carried out not on an individual level but under the name of associations and organizations.
What are the challenges faced by Muslims in Brazil?
One of the main challenges faced by Muslims in Brazil is the scarcity of institutions providing religious education to the younger generation. The lack of such institutions leads to easier assimilation of the new generation, which poses a significant threat to the presence of Muslims. Additionally, while the demand for places of worship has been largely met in cities with a dense Muslim population, smaller areas still lack adequate facilities. Moreover, Muslims in Brazil struggle to access Islamic resources, as there is a shortage of translated works in Portuguese and Spanish for the region. The need for Islamic books to be translated correctly into Portuguese and Spanish remains crucial. Let’s hear about the challenges faced by Muslims in Brazil from Imam Khalid Taqiyyuddin, known for his Islamic efforts there:
Brazil is a vast country, covering over 8.5 million square kilometers and hosting a population of over 200 million people. Yet, there are only around 100 mosques throughout the entire country. Only 30% of mosque imams can speak Portuguese, and merely 1% are Brazilian-born.
Given the situation, even if they are not Brazilians, Muslims in Brazil need new Abdurrahman Effendis who will learn Portuguese to convey Islam to their Brazilian Muslim brothers.