Reportage

Muslims in São Paulo

227-228

Location:

The state of São Paulo lies in Brazil and its center is the city of São Paulo which lies near the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in the Southeast Region of the country with an elevation of 760 meters.

Area and Population:

The area of São Paulo is about 248, 222, 8 Km2, and its population according to the census of 2017 is about 45,595,497 and its capital is the city of São Paulo.

The local population is one of the most diverse in the country and descended mostly from Italians, who began immigrating to the country in the late 19th century; of the Portuguese, who colonized Brazil and installed the first European settlements in the region; indigenous peoples, a large number of distinct ethnic groups; Africans, who were brought from Africa as slaves in the colonial era and migrants from other regions of the country. In addition, Arabs, Germans, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Greeks also are present in the ethnic composition of the local population.

São Paulo is a most demographically diversified city as many Brazilians from other states migrate to it and its population is multiracial: there are 70% White people, 5% Black people, 24% copper-coloured, and 1% yellow.

The primary language is Portuguese. However, the Portuguese spoken in Brazil differs from the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. Due to the large influx of Italian, English, Spanish, German and Arabic immigrants, the Portuguese idiom spoken in the metropolitan area of São Paulo reflects influences from those languages. The currency is the Brazilian Real.

São Paulo the metropolis – some pronounce it as San Paulo – is an alpha global city and the most populous city in Brazil and Southern America, and the fourth populous city in the world. The city is the largest and most prominent cultural and entertainment center in Brazil and one of wealthiest states in Southern America. Three main rivers pass through the city: Tietê River, Pinheiros River, and Tamanduateí River. It is also considered a link between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

It ranked 19th in the world’s wealthiest cities in 2004, according to the Brazilian Census Center as it is the largest commercial and financial center in Brazil. In the past, the city depended on agriculture and industry, but today it plays a more prominent role as it is the services center in Brazil.

Climate:

The Northern Hemisphere tends to have a tropical weather, while the middle area and the Southern Hemisphere are subtropical. The record low temperature in the state was -10 °C.

History

The state territory was already inhabited by indigenous peoples from approximately 12000 B.C. In the early 16th century, the coast of the region was visited by Portuguese and Spanish explorers and navigators. In 1532, Martim Afonso de Sousa would establish the first Portuguese permanent settlement in the Americas—the village of São Vicente, in the Baixada Santista. In the 18th century, the region began to gain political weight. After independence in the 18th Century, São Paulo began to become a major agricultural producer (mainly coffee) in the newly constituted Empire of Brazil, and its population became one of the most urban of the federation.

Form of Government:

Sao Paulo has a semi-autonomous rule, and it constitutes of all three powers – the legislative, executive, and judicial – following the model proposed by the Federal Constitution. The election law in Brazil determines the number of members representing each state in the Federal Legislation Committee according to conditions that combine the proportional representation norms and the federal regime norms.

Economy

Over 40% of the labour hand in São Paulo works in construction and industry. The city produces more than half of Brazil’s chemical and pharmacy industry, in addition to more than 75% of the state’s electric equipment, machinery, and rubber products.  São Paulo is among the primary producers of automobiles in Brazil. The nearby rivers provide the industries of São Paulo with power, while road and railway networks connect São Paulo with the agricultural areas and the other Brazilian cities.

São Paulo is considered the wealthiest state though its income per capita is less than that in other states such Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

It is seen as a major industrial complex, and it is often dubbed the locomotive of Brazil as the state is responsible for one third of the Brazilian GDP. São Paulo also has the second highest Human Development Index (HDI) and GDP per capital. The economy of São Paulo State is the most developed in Brazil.

 Main Landmarks in São Paulo:

  • São Paulo Aquarium: It is one of the main landmarks in São Paulo and the largest aquarium in South America. The spacious aquarium houses some 3000 animals of 300 different species.
  • The São Paulo Museum of Art: One of the main landmarks of the city that you must visit anytime you come to the capital is the São Paulo Museum of Art.  It is well known for its headquarters, a 1968 concrete and glass structure, whose main body is supported by two lateral beams over a 74 metres-freestanding-space. It is considered a main symbol of modern Brazilian architecture.
  • Botanical Garden of São Paulo: lies in São Paulo›s South zone, next to São Paulo Zoo. It was constructed in 1808. The park spans large green areas and several local and imported trees, plants, and flowers as it comprises 380 various kinds of trees.
  • The São Paulo Zoo: It is in the south of the city of São Paulo. Being the largest zoo in Brazil, it displays all kinds of animals including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and also endangered animals.
  • São Paulo Cathedral da Se: is a cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Paulo. It was designed according to the Gothic Revival architecture. The construction of the cathedral began in 1913 and ended after 4 decades. Some consider it to be the largest cathedral with the neo-gothic structure in the world.
  • Paulista Museum: It comprises a large collection of ancient antiques, documents, and works of art that are historically valuable. It is modelled after the Palace at Versailles in France.
  • Higienópolis: It is a district that contains many large apartment buildings and condominiums built in the 50s of the 20th Century in the style of São Paulo Modern Architecture.
  • The Altino Arantes Building (Portuguese: Edifício Altino Arantes): It is an important skyscraper inspired by the Empire State Building in New York.
  • Ibirapuera Park: It is an urban park known for its beautiful gardens and lakes.
  • Monument to the Bandeiras: It commemorates the first settlers.

History of Islam in São Paulo

The Muslim community in in São Paulo is the largest community in Latin America, estimated at one and a half million Muslims. They are descendants of Shami and some other nationalities and those who converted to Islam from Brazil. Following are the main historic stations of the presence of Muslims in Brazil.

The First Stage: Exploration:

Most records confirm that the explorers of America and Brazil accompanied with them some Muslim guides who were well experienced in marine sciences. Several records mention the escape of some Muscovite Muslims from Inquisition Courts in Spain to Brazil. However, Inquisition Courts were set up for them by the Portuguese in the city of Bahia in 1594 AD.  Definite characteristics were specified to identify the disguised Muslim even if he declared Christianity. Among these characteristics are fasting and clean clothing.

The Second Stage: African Recruitment:

Millions of literate Africans were brought along from the black continent. The Malês, as African Muslims were known, had a high level of education and culture as compared to the Brazilians, and they were able to read and write in Arabic. The Portuguese themselves confessed that was it not for the African slaves they would not have been able to harvest one fruit from Brazil, and they would not have been able to do what they did. Professor Ahmad Shaker said: “The Negros are the ones who made Brazil. This is the big truth. It was not possible for this continent to turn into inhabited and agricultural land, with cities, mines and roads without the Negro who gave it his body and soul together along with his Islamic civilization”.

So we can see that Islam is not strange to Brazil. It had reached it along with the Africans who guarded their Islam and were about to establish their own state after an incessant jihadi movement the last of its actions was the revolution of the slaves in 1835 A.D., but it was extinguished, and the voice of Islam began to fade in this country.

The Third Stage: Modern Migration:

The modern immigration of Arabs to Brazil began in 1867, after a visit by the Emperor of Brazil to Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. The migration of Muslims began in 1914 and increased after 1936, and continued to increase, especially after the setbacks, calamities, and wars witnessed by Muslim countries.

Muslims began to care about their Islamic affairs, as an inevitable result of their settling permanently in Brazil. Most of those who migrated were simple craftsmen and farmers. Their concern was focused on preserving the performance of some religious rites and teaching their children the Arabic language.

The majority of these immigrants came from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and the other Muslim countries. The biggest concentration of Muslims is found in the state of São Paulo (the greater São Paulo), where 70% of Muslims reside, then Paraná, Rio Grande, Dusoul, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro.

The beginnings of the Islamic Work:

Muslims first started migrating to Brazil at the onset of the 20th Century. The emigrants sought to better their living situations and return to their homelands as soon as possible. However, the migration lasted for long years what pushed Muslims to think seriously of establishing an entity that unites their power and organizes their affairs.

When talking about the beginnings of Islamic activity in São Paulo, the narrators had to go back to the earlier projects such as:

The Charitable Society in São Paulo which is considered the oldest Islamic center in Brazil and the first in South America. Known as the mother of societies, the Charitable Society in São Paulo was founded in 1926 by a committee of Muslim immigrants. Among the society›s goals was building a house to mention Allah›s name. The Muslims› poor financial capabilities at that time and World War II prevented that and the mosque construction was delayed until 1957. The society issued several newspapers: the «Nashra» in 1933, «Zikra» in 1937, «Risala» and finally al-Orouba».

In the early seventies, the society founded the first Islamic Arab school of Villa Caron, after the name of the neighborhood it was built in. With Allah›s assistance (be He exalted) the society was able to obtain a large piece of land to be used as cemetery for the deceased Muslims. It is in the Guarolous area around 25 kilometers from the São Paulo Mosque. The society has also bought the building next to the mosque devoting one of its two floors to lectures and the other to holding Muslims› pleasant and sad and occasions.

The Islamic Charity Association donated a wide area to become the seat of the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Brazil. This assembly joins all the sheikhs and scholars in Brazil. It comprises the venue of the Lebanese Dar al Fatwa Branch. This goes with the future vision of the Head of the Association as per having Brazil Mosque the incubator of all the Islamic institutions and mosques in Brazil as in the past.

Brazil Mosque plays an important scientific, cultural, and social role for the Islamic community and the Brazilian society. Besides holding collective prayers, fixed courses are given, and they are attended by a great number of Brazilians; this was the reason behind the guidance of most of them to the Islamic religion. The mosque is regarded as the most active place inside Brazil as per the cases of non-Muslims converting to Islam. Classes for four academic levels are given in the buildings annexed to the mosque, and the classes are equipped with the most advanced means for teaching the Arabic Language, the Islamic Culture, the Portuguese Language, and the English Language for Brazilians and members of the Islamic community.

On the cultural level, thousands of copies of the interpretation of the Holy Quran in the Portuguese Language were printed and distributed.

The Islamic Charity Association strategic vision for the future is represented in establishing 4 schools in São Paulo, an Islamic university, and an Islamic Waqf whose funds would be allotted to administer projects undertaken by Brazil Mosque. This vision requires joining efforts on the internal and external levels, and the Islamic organizations around the world are invited to back and contribute fully to preserve this growing entity.

Muslims Today

São Paulo well deserves to be considered the center of gravity of South America as per the power and organization of the Islamic work. Islamic institutions there were recommended to unite their activities and focus their actions so as to join international Islamic organizations.

Some 700 thousand Muslims live in São Paulo, and they spread in its center and suburbs. It is remarkable that a great number of them work in trade.

This asserts that São Paulo is viewed as a true example of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between different religions. The government guarantees freedom of religion and the freedom of practicing, calling, and spreading a religion. It also helps Islamic institutions that want to build mosques or schools by giving them a land for free to build their projects. Moreover, a republic decision was issued considering March 25 for each year as the Day of the Arab Community. The Parliament of São Paulo also issued a decision which considers June 12 of each year as the Day for Islam. The Parliament of Brazil further issued a decision which considers October 25 of each year as the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

In the same perspective, the Brazilian Constitution ensures for Muslim women issuing official documents such as identity cards and passports bearing their photos while wearing the Hijab. Some differences in orientation and the methodology appear on the geographic level from one district to another; for example, the Islamic institutions and the Muslim community in São Paulo observe the Arabic aspect in its publications and internet website. Moreover, mosques are disjointed from one another as a central system that gather mosques under its supervision is lacked. Perhaps that impedes the existence of a Brazilian Islamic leadership that talks in their name in Brazil, unite their word, and achieve their demands.

In some cities and towns, the percentage of the new converts who had embraced Islam recently is very high as it may reach 40 to 50% of the number of Muslims in this or that town (the number of Muslims in such towns is between 80 and 150). Estimates indicate that the chance is available to spread Islam in the society especially that many of the new converts moved through several religions and sects such as Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhism, and Candomble (an Afro-Brazilian Religion) before they reached Islam. As for the major Muslim communities such as that in São Paulo, they care for Muslim affairs and issues more than for spreading Islam and winning new converts.

The “Table of Islam” Project was launched to distribute copies of the Holy Quran for free for the people of Brazil. In fact, Islamic institutions do not seek to convert people to Islam in a direct way. They call people to know Islam and then to read the Holy Quran, and then the person would decide willingly whether he would embrace Islam or not.

Mosques in São Paulo:

São Paulo has more than ten mosques spread across the state the largest of which is the Mosque of São Paulo which is considered one of the main mosques in Latin America. Besides their religious role and the role they play in spreading the Islamic Dawa, these mosques offer various social services.

Bras Mosque: is located in a neighbourhood that includes the largest textile market in Latin America. It is the destination of tradesmen from all religions and sects. Stores are owned by vendors of all factions and nationalities from all the states in the continent and abroad. It is as if the mosque reflects its neighbourhood. For example, the Portuguese Language classes in the mosque are attended mainly by Syrians and Palestinians. Among the most prominent difficulties is language, finding a job, and obtaining secure dwellings.

Salah AdDin Mosque: It is one of the main mosques in Brazil. It was established in Bras neighbourhood in the city of São Paulo. Next to it a library and a small school were built too. The mosque consists of two floors, and its façade is made of blue faience. It is topped by a striped dome with a pointed peak following the Persian style. Two minarets tower at both sides made of two ornamented stories.

The Names of Some Mosques: São  Bernardo Mosque, São  Miguel Mosque, Mogi das Cruzes Mosque, Brazil Mosque, Ahl Al Bait Mosque, and São  Jose Villa Mosque, besides the mosques in the cities of Guarulhos and Santos.

Muslims and the Islamic Call:

The new Muslims act in an accepted way in general as per the Islamic Call. Some of them are very active, and their enthusiasm pushed them to travel to some Islamic countries to study Islamic sciences, but they did not stay for long there for many reasons, including hardships in the environment that differs from theirs, the difficulty of curricula and methods of teaching, and the strictness of some universities in dealing with students.

Some of them suffer marginalization, lack of attention and even racial discrimination in treatment by some of the Islamic institutions in Brazil.

The Federation of Islamic Institutions launched the «Know Islam» project to introduce Islam. The Federation aims to distribute Islamic books in Portuguese free of charge through the invitation tables and annual exhibitions and through sending books by mail to people and institutions interested in introducing Islam. The Federation also conducted courses for the study of Sharia for new Muslims, and free programs for Hajj and Umrah were given to new Muslims. The Federation further monthly supports some institutions run by such new Muslims. Some preachers have opened the Latin American Institute for Islamic Studies which teaches Islamic sciences through the Internet, and it includes a large number of new Muslims.

The care of new Muslims requires more plans, programs, cooperation, and coordination between the various institutions inside Brazil and abroad. The Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Brazil assumes the greatest responsibility in this perspective, as it must adopt a unified scientific approach to introduce and teach Islam based on moderation and taking into consideration the Brazilian status quo.

Contrary to the offends and prosecution Muslims are subject to in Europe due to the acceleration of racial anti-Islam speech, an article published by the French paper “Le Monde” made clear that the status quo of Muslims in Brazil is better due to the absence of any anti-Islam stances within the largest Catholic country in the world and the increase of the number of Brazilians who embrace Islam.

As per the identities of the people who frequently visit São Paulo Mosque, the article said that one third of them descend from the African continent, the Levant, and the Arab states. A number of them are from among the youth who recently settled in Brazil. However, the overwhelming majority are from among the Brazilians who almost half of them embraced Islam in recent years. To facilitate understanding the teachings of Islam, they take care of putting headphones that offer prompt interpretation for the speeches delivered inside the mosque.

The Islamic Societies in São Paulo:

The Islamic Center in Santos is considered one of the main Islamic centers in Brazil. It is the largest institute for the Islamic Call in Latin America and the Caribbean Sea. It is a bulky building that comprises a spacious ceremony hall, an administrative residence, an Islamic library, and a praying room for ladies in the upper floor. The center is turned into a public meeting place for the various expatriate Islamic communities from all Arab states and the people of Brazil who head to the center from an area some 40 kilometres away to receive the knowledge they seek. The guests are well-received. An Iftar meal and a Suhur meal are offered to them. They are offered places to watch prayers and listen to religious lessons translated to the Portuguese Language.

The Brazilian Islamic School: The “Brazilian Islamic School” was established in 1966, under Sheikh Abdullah Abel Shakour – the envoy of the Egyptian Islamic Endowment (Awqaf) Ministry. The school belongs to the Islamic Charity Institution in São Paulo, and it is still performing its educational role in teaching the children of Muslims. It teaches the Arabic Language and the Islamic teachings during the official learning hours besides the curricula recognized by the Brazilian Ministry of Education.

The Federation of Islamic Associations of BrazilFAMBRAS: It was founded in 1979 under the supervision and sponsorship of the Islamic Embassies in Brasilia, the blessing of the Muslim World League, and the Ministries of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in more than one Islamic country. The Federation includes 40 Islamic centers spread over the various states of Brazil. The Federation aims to promote the affairs of the Muslim community in Brazil, establish Islamic centers, mosques and schools, provide support to Islamic institutions, spread the teachings of Islam in Brazil in good ways, and provide Halal food to Muslims in Brazil and the Islamic world. It has a body specialized in Halal slaughter that includes 450 employees and an administration for the Islamic Affairs led by Sheikh Sadeq Othmani.  It also distributes books in Portuguese for free and works at modern projects in the framework of the Islamic Call.  It includes 8 full-time sheikhs in addition to 5 professional employees.

The Higher Council for Islamic Imams and Affairs in Brazil: This council gathers local sheikhs and callers for Islam besides envoys from the ministries of Islamic Awqaf and Affairs in the Islamic World. The number of Sheikhs and callers for Islam is about 65. The council was established in 2005, and it is considered the reference for the Islamic community in Brazil and the direct side responsible for addressing the Islamic causes. The seat of this council is in “Brazil Mosque” in the city of São Paulo.

The National Islamic Union: This union was established in 2007, and it comprises 20 Islamic institutions most of which are seated in São Paulo. The union has a media and judicial board, and its mission is to answer and refute all the suspicious misrepresentations against Islam and Muslims in Brazil. It also carries several social activities especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. However, this union lacks the necessary financing what makes it crippled and not able to achieve all the goals it was founded for.

Islamic Center of Brazil:

Activities and Services:

1- Setting, announcing, and distributing prayers times and distributing copies of the Holy Quran.

2- Religious sessions daily, weekly, and during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

3- Marriage and divorce contracts and testimonies of announcing Islam.

4- Supervising the personal status of Muslims and the Islamic cemetery.

5- An Arabic School.

6- A diversified Islamic library.

7- Lessons on introducing Islam.

The Islamic Association in Santo Amaro: Some 600 Muslim families reside in Santo Amaro – one of the suburbs of São Paulo. It was established in 1977. Besides the mosque, the association constructed a school that includes Muslim and non-Muslim children. The members of this society are an elite of Arab Muslims.

The Islamic Culture and Welfare Society: It was founded in 1977 in the San Miguel suburb (around 25 kms from São Paulo) in which around 500 Muslim families – most of them from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley – live .The society has its own mosque.

The Charitable Union in Paritos: It was founded in 1962 in the Paritos suburb (52 kms from São Paulo) which is home to around 100 Muslim families. In 1977, the mosque built by the union was officially inaugurated in a big celebration that was attended by Moslems from all over Brazil. In a gesture to honor the Muslim community, the town›s municipality had declared the inauguration day a holiday.

The Charitable Society in Jundiai: This town is around 70 kms from São Paulo. Around 200 Muslim families, most of their members work in commerce, live in the town.

The society which was founded in 1973 was able to build a large mosque with additions and lofty minarets.

The Islamic Center in Campinas: The center was founded in 1977 in the town which is home to 100 families most of them hail from Lebanon and Palestine. The center has a mosque and a school that had been built from community contributions.

Sultan Yaqoubs Club in San Bernardo: The aim of founding this club in 1975 was to enhance the social ties between the sons of the Lebanese town of Sultan Yaqoub besides taking care of their children who were born in Brazil to help them maintain their Arab and Islamic identity amidst the Brazilian society Muslims meet in the club on different occasions in order not to be mixed into a society that is overwhelmed by vice and immoral values. The club has a small prayer house that can take around 60 worshippers and another prayer house for women.

The ArabBrazilian Cultural League: Founded in 1979, the league managed to obtain a 54 thousand sq. meter piece of land in the middle of Guarulhos to build a cultural center. The league was able to contact the Brazilian local authorities and hold an Arab cultural week that covered all Arab cultures.

The Islamic Charitable Society in Guarulhos: Around 250 Muslim families, most of them came from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, live in Guarulhos. They have been here since the pioneer Muslims immigrated to Brazil.

The Muslim community is widely respected by the local authorities. The town›s municipality has presented the Muslims with a 5000 meter piece of land to build their Islamic project which consists of a mosque and its additions. Furthermore, there is a cemetery for Muslims. It is 12000 sq. meters in size.

World Relief and Development Institution: It is an affiliate to the Sacred Land Institution. Its main activities are to relief the afflicted all around the Islamic world especially the people of Palestine and to help Muslim orphans in Brazil. The institute established an Arabic-Islamic school which teaches Muslim children the principles of Islam and the Arabic Language.

The Islamic Invitation Center for Latin America: Founded in 1987, the center publishes al-Fajr magazine and «Mecca» newspaper which covers the news of the Muslim community. The center also publishes Islamic books that are translated into Portuguese and Spanish.

Ibn Sina Islamic Hospital: This Islamic health institution was established in 1991 by a group of Muslim doctors. It offers free health services for poor sick Muslims.

The Islamic Charity Association in Taubate: Some 80 Muslim families from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley Area live in Taubate district. The association built a mosque there.

The Islamic Charity Union in Colina: This union was established in 1981 in Colina where some 90 Muslim families live. The supervisors of the union could establish a mosque and a school after raising funds from the Muslim community there and from the Islamic Action League.

The Islamic Charitable Society for Converted Muslims: This society is located in the Guarulhos area. It is presided by Walter Gomez, a lawyer who names himself Mohammed Gomez after he converted to Islam. There is also a similar society in the Santo Amaro area. The members of the two societies are of African origin.

The Islamic Center of the Salah Eddeen al Ayoubi Youth: It is located in downtown Bras which is regarded as an important commercial center in São Paulo. Muslims own many shops there. Around 400 Muslim families live it this suburb most of them came from the Lebanese town of Tripoli and its suburbs and south Lebanon. There are also a few Palestinian families. The center has several Islamic activities such as the weekly lessons and meetings to teach young men and women about their faith. The center includes a library that has Islamic books and references besides an audio – visual library. It also has an Islamic anthem band that performs at several occasions in São Paulo.

The Islamic Culture and Welfare Society in San Miguel: It was founded in 1977 in the town of San Miguel, almost 25 kms from São Paulo, which is home to around 700 Muslim families – most of them from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley – live .The society has been able to build a mosque and an Islamic school.

The Holy Month of Ramadan in São Paulo:

During the Holy Month of Ramadan – the Month of the Holy Quran – Islamic centers and mosques become a torch that spreads the light of the Islamic intellect, refutes all false fabrications, and guides all those who wish to enter Islam, thanks to the efforts of the envoys sent by Arab Islamic states. Hundreds of São Paulo residents enter Islam annually during the Holy Month of Ramadan after they witness the celebrations held for this month and the scenes of kindness that attract them vehemently to this religion and its teachings which urge them to seek equality, solidarity, and benefaction to parents, prohibits wine, pork, and adultery, and highlights the values of faithfulness, mercy and benefaction to parents. The Islamic community in Brazil marks the Holy Month of Ramadan in a way that does not differ a lot from other Islamic states.

In the framework of reserving each other’s rights and not arguing over the constants in which every Brazilian member believes – as this people is distinguished for their wide recognition and strong belief in intellectual pluralism, accepting the other what makes Brazil a fertile land for the Islamic Call – the native Brazilians do not fight Islam what makes this country characterized by the waning of Islamophobia on behalf of the community.

The “Iftar Meal” project was organized in coordination with the government in São Paulo and the Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil – FAMBRAS. The action covered Iftar dinners over the first week of the Holy Month of Ramadan in several mosques and Islamic centers in São Paulo, to relieve the needy during the Holy Month. The “Iftar Meal” project continues around the Holy Month in the mosques of São Paulo.

Obstacles facing the Islamic Call in Brazil:

1- There are no strategic plans to spread the Islamic Call in Brazil.

2- Lack of coordination between the various institutions to the interest of the Islamic Call.

3- The existence of some institutions or people within Brazil who consider themselves as the guardians of the Islamic Call.

4- The support of some outside support institutions or individuals without experience in the reality of the Islamic Call in Brazil, without consulting the experts or embassies of various Islamic countries.

 

The Shia in Brazil  

The presence of Shia in Brazil goes back to the onset of the 20th Century, and it is represented in those who fled recruitment in the Ottoman State Army. The presence increased with the outbreak of the Lebanese War in 1974 A.D. and even more in 1985 A.D. Shia are present mainly in two states: Paraná and São Paulo. According to Shia sources, Shiites – especially the youth – became proud of their identity as they have by now a good religious level.

Shia has numerous activities which can be wrapped in financial support for religious institutions and the Islamic Call movement as the institutions in São Paulo were founded thanks to the contributions of Shia especially tradesmen. Muslims also have activities for non-Muslims Brazilians. On the cultural level, the Shia have several publications such as small religious books which were translated to the Portuguese Language. Other books were also translated such as Nahj Al Balagha, Women Rights System in Islam, and The Shia in Islam beside other books.

Shia are present mainly in an area called Bras, and around 150 thousand Shiite are present in São Paulo, and they have founded two websites on the internet to spread the culture of Ahlul Bait (Peace be upon them).

The main Shia mosque is “Mohammad – The Prophet of Allah – Mosque”. It is directed by the Islamic Charity Association in Brazil. Its Imam is dispatched from Lebanon. The Islamic Republic in Iran donated the price of the land – some 2500 m2. The kind brothers in São Paulo raised funds to establish the mosque. It was inaugurated in 1986. The mosque hosts about 500 believers, and it has a special prayers room for women.

The mosque comprises a Husseiniyeh in the ground floor in which Islamic occasions are held such as marking Ashura and the birthdays and martyrdoms of the Imams (PBUT), besides holding Iftar meals during the Holy Month of Ramadan, wedding celebrations for the members of the Islamic community who frequently go to the mosque and the Husseiniyeh, and consolation sessions for the deceased among them. The mosque also has a library that comprises several books in Arabic most of which are from Lebanon and Syria. The mosque hold sessions and courses for the youth to interpret the speeches of Nahj Al Balagha for Ameer Al Mumineen Ali (PBUH).

Next to the mosque is a small school that hosts 80 students of various ages in which Quranic Surahs are interpreted and the biography of the Prophet (PBUHH) is narrated.

Some of their most important Institutions and centers:

AhlulBayt (PBUT) Islamic Center: It is an educational, cultural, social institution which contributes in marking the Islamic occasions and the various activities. It also spreads the Islamic intellect and values with good words and kind preaching through lecture. It is worth mentioning that the Islamic Center in São Paulo is considered the most active Shiite Center in South America. In the previous Holy Month of Ramadan, this center witnessed large religious gatherings and performances. The center also partook in the International Book Fair in São Paulo where it exhibited Shiite books such as: Nahj Al Balagha and Shaheed Sader books translated to the Portuguese Language and it issues certificate of Halal meat exported for Shiite communities around the world, it also has a Website on the internet.

Husseiniya of Imam Khomeini: it works under the supervision of the Islamic Charitable Society, it’s considered one of the most important and most active Shiite centers in Brazil.

The Islamic charitable society of Ali Bin Abi Taleb (A.S.): it is located in São Jose neighborhood  (Santo Amaro), which is home to around 70 Muslim families of Lebanese origin the society has managed to build a mosque that it called Ali Bin Abi Taleb’s mosque and an Islamic school.

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