Islam in Brazil
Overview
 
Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

was first practiced by African slaves. The early Brazilian Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s led the largest slave revolt in Brazil, which then had the largest slave population of the world. The next significant migration of Muslims was by Arabs
Arab Brazilian
An Arab Brazilian is a Brazilian citizen born in an Arabic country, or a Brazilian-born person of Arab descent, who is aware of such ancestry and remains connected, in some degree, to Arabic culture.- Immigration to Brazil :...

 from Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. The number of Muslims in Brazil according to the 2000 Brazilian census was 27,239.
The history of Muslims in Brazil begins with the importation of African slave labor to the country.
Encyclopedia
Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

was first practiced by African slaves. The early Brazilian Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s led the largest slave revolt in Brazil, which then had the largest slave population of the world. The next significant migration of Muslims was by Arabs
Arab Brazilian
An Arab Brazilian is a Brazilian citizen born in an Arabic country, or a Brazilian-born person of Arab descent, who is aware of such ancestry and remains connected, in some degree, to Arabic culture.- Immigration to Brazil :...

 from Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. The number of Muslims in Brazil according to the 2000 Brazilian census was 27,239.

African Immigration

The history of Muslims in Brazil begins with the importation of African slave labor to the country. Brazil obtained 37% of all African slaves traded, and more than 3 million slaves were sent to this one country. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 began to trade African slaves to work the sugar plantations once the native Tupi people deteriorated. Scholars claim that Brazil received more enslaved Muslims than anywhere else in the Americas.

Malê Revolt

The Muslim uprising of 1835 in Bahia
Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

 illustrates the condition and legacy of resistance among the community of Malês, as African Muslims were known in 19th century Bahia. The majority of the participants were Nago, the local designation for ethnic Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

. Many of the "Malês" had been soldiers and captives in the wars between Oyo
Oyo
- Places :In Nigeria* The Oyo Empire or Kingdom, a former West-African empire that covered parts of modern-day Nigeria and Benin* Oyo State, a present-day state of Nigeria named after the Oyo Empire...

, Ilorin
Ilorin
Ilorin is one of the largest cities in Nigeria and is the capital of Kwara State. As of 2007 it had a population of 847,582.-History:Ilorin was founded by the Yoruba, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, in 1450...

 and other Yoruba city-states in the early part of the 19th Century. Other participants included Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 and Nupe clerics, along with Jeje or Dahomean soldiers who had converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 or fought in alliance with Muslims."

Beginning on the night of January 24, 1835, and continuing the following morning, a group of African born slaves occupied the streets of Salvador and for more than three hours they confronted soldiers and armed civilians.

Even though it was short lived, the revolt was the largest slave revolt in Brazil and the largest urban slave revolt in the Americas. About 300 Africans took part and the estimated death toll ranges from fifty to a hundred, although exact numbers are unknown. This number increases even more if the wounded who died in prisons or hospitals are included. Many participants were sentenced to death, prison, whippings, or deportation. The rebellion had nationwide repercussions. Fearing the example might be followed, the Brazilian authorities began to watch the malês very carefully and in subsequent years intensive efforts were made to force conversions to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 and erase the popular memory of and affection towards Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. However, the African Muslim community was not erased overnight, and as late as 1910 it is estimated there were still some 100,000 African Muslims living in Brazil.

Muslim immigrants in Brazil

Following the assimilation of the Afro-Brazilian
Afro-Brazilian
In Brazil, the term "preto" is one of the five categories used by the Brazilian Census, along with "branco" , "pardo" , "amarelo" and "indígena"...

 Muslim community, the next period of Islam in the country was primarily the result of Muslim immigration from the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and South East Asia. Some 11 million Syrian
Demographics of Syria
Syrians today are an overall indigenous Levantine people. While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history...

 and Lebanese (mostly Christians) immigrants live throughout Brazil. The biggest concentration of Muslims is found in the greater São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 region.

Architecture and cuisine also bear the trademarks of the culture brought to the hemisphere by the Arabs. Not even fast food has escaped the immigrant influence, as the second largest fast food chain in Brazil is Habib's
Habib's
Habib's is a Brazilian fast food franchising specialised in Middle Eastern cuisine. It has more than 300 outlets across the country and has recently begun expansion into foreign markets. It is known for very low prices and exotic dishes...

, which serves Arab food. And the diversity of influence stretches to businesses such as the textile industry, which is dominated by merchants of Syrian-Lebanese origin(mainly of Christian faith). The São Paulo city council even has a Muslim Councillor by the name of Mohammad Murad, who is a lawyer by profession. A number of mosques dot the greater São Paulo area. The oldest and most popular of these is found on Av. Do Estado. Since its establishment over seventy years ago, the mosque has added a Quranic school, library, kitchen and meeting hall for various functions.

Population

According to the Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 of 2000 there were 27,239 Muslims living in the country, primarily concentrated in the states of São Paulo
São Paulo (state)
São Paulo is a state in Brazil. It is the major industrial and economic powerhouse of the Brazilian economy. Named after Saint Paul, São Paulo has the largest population, industrial complex, and economic production in the country. It is the richest state in Brazil...

 and Paraná
Paraná (state)
Paraná is one of the states of Brazil, located in the South of the country, bordered on the north by São Paulo state, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Santa Catarina state and the Misiones Province of Argentina, and on the west by Mato Grosso do Sul and the republic of Paraguay,...

. Muslim community leaders in Brazil estimated that there were between 70,000 and three hundred thousand Muslims, with the lower figure representing those who actively practiced their religion, while the higher estimate would include also nominal members. There are significant Muslim communities in the industrial suburb
Suburb
The word suburb mostly refers to a residential area, either existing as part of a city or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city . Some suburbs have a degree of administrative autonomy, and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods...

s of the city of São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 and in the port city of Santos, as well as in smaller communities in Paraná State in the coastal region and in Curitiba
Curitiba
Curitiba is the capital of the Brazilian state of Paraná. It is the largest city with the biggest economy of both Paraná and southern Brazil. The population of Curitiba numbers approximately 1.75 million people and the latest GDP figures for the city surpass US$61 billion according to...

 and Foz do Iguazu in the Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

-Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

-Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 triborder area. The community is overwhelmingly Sunni; the Sunnis are almost completely assimilated into broader society. The recent Shi'ite immigrants gravitate to small insular communities in São Paulo, Curitiba, and Foz do Iguazu. There are approximately 60 mosques, Islamic religious centers, and Islamic associations, however the history of the Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious revivalist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century, originating with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad , who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies about the world reformer of the end times, who was to herald the Eschaton as...

 community only began in the late 20th century, when the community was established in Brazil in 1986.

A recent trend has been the increase in conversions to Islam among non-Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 citizens. A recent Muslim source estimated that there are close to 10,000 Muslim converts living in Brazil. Brazil may have become a hub for Islam in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. During the past 30 years, Islam has become increasingly noticeable in Brazilian society by building not only mosques, but also libraries, arts centres, and school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

s and also by funding newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s. The growth of Islam within Brazil is demonstrated in the fact that 2 of the 3 existing Portuguese translations of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 were created by Muslim translators in São Paulo.

Infrastructure

As has been the case in many of the larger metropolitan mosques in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, foreign assistance and individual effort have played major roles in the sustainability of the mosques in the greater São Paulo area. For example the Imam of the Av. Do Estado Mosque is from the Middle East and often Imams are chosen jointly by the Mosques' management committees and the Arab governments that pay for the Imam's services. Ismail Hatia, a South African who came to Brazil in 1956, built a mosque in Campinas
Campinas
Campinas is a city and municipality located in the coastal interior of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. is the administrative center of the meso-region of the same name, with 3,783,597 inhabitants as of the 2010 Census, consisting of 49 cities....

 many years ago. Hatia, who also runs a language school, felt that the approximately 50 Muslim families in Campinas were in dire need of some community organization to help provide cohesion and direction for the Muslims. The Campinas mosque now holds regular Friday juma'at prayers.

External links

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