Brasilia – The Muslim community in Brazil observes the holy month of Ramadan with joy and piety with engaging in supplications and recitation of the Holy Qur'an after gathering in their mosques. It is an opportunity for the members of the community to achieve spiritual salvation through participation in congregational prayers, giving donations and volunteer in charity projects.
There are 120 mosques and prayer rooms throughout Brazil. Members of the community are keen to frequenting these mosques to perform prayers, especially the Taraweeh and Night prayers, where some mosques revive the sunnah of i'tikaaf (seclusion in the mosque) and Laylat al-Qadr, which has special program in all Brazilian mosques.
In an exclusive interview with the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), Sheikh Khalid Taqi Al-Din, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Brazil, said that the Muslim community in Brazil has a deep emotional state of nostalgia and longing for the lands of Islam. Any of the immigrants to this country holds in his mind the memories and pictures of Ramadan in the country of his origin. So, Ramadan is colored up with all the cultures that show the intermingling among different peoples who have settled in Brazil and maintained their cultures.
Sheikh Taqi Al-Din pointed out that historical accounts show that the first congregational prayer of Taraweeh in Brazil was performed in 1867 in the city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia. He added that Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi led the worshipers in that Taraweeh prayer when he visited the Latin American country. Sheikh al-Baghdadi stated in his manuscript, entitled "Amusement of a Strange of all that is Amazing", that he prayed 10 rak'ahs to make it easier for the Muslims at that time.
Activities and events
Ramadan in Brazil has a particular whiff and a special scent, represented in many Islamic manifestations. In this regard, Sheikh Khalid Taqi Al-Din said Brazil’s Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs – the supreme legal reference for the Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaah – carries out during this holy month, in collaboration with other associations, several activities and events including charitable projects, such as mass iftars, arrangements for alms distribution, visiting mosques to educate people and assign sheikhs and preachers to the mosques in need, and honoring reciters, especially those who come from Islamic countries, in addition to holding cultural competitions.
He noted that the Council, which comprises scholars, sheikhs and preachers from the local community or those dispatched from Islamic countries to care for Brazil’s Muslim community, carried out a dawa convoy before Ramadan, in coordination with the Islamic Charity Society in Rio de Janeiro. The convoy was attended by representatives of all religions.
During the convoy, a press conference was held to send a message of peace to the world before the start of the Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer. President of the Council Dr. Abdul Hameed Metwally highlighted, at the press conference, that Islam is a religion of peace and love, and that it has nothing to do with those who seek to associate terrorism with Islam.
Initiatives to consolidate the values of tolerance and coexistence.
In the endeavor to consolidate the values of tolerance and coexistence among the Brazilian people, the Council’s Secretary-General said the religious institutions have launched some positive initiatives, such as extending invitation to Brazilian political and social leaders to take part in mass iftars and learn more about Islam, as well as undertaking social activities each weekend during the month of Ramadan to serve the poor and middle classes. These include offering free health care, covering free tests of eye, teeth and blood pressure, in addition to recreational activities for kids.
Sheikh Taqi Al-Din added that thousands of local residents respond to these activities, and the other activities to introduce Islam through distribution of books and pamphlets and responses to various inquiries about the religion of Islam. This project is one of the best ways for advocating to the tolerance of Islam and eliminating the phenomenon of Islamophobia, according to the Secretary General.
Challenges facing the community
Sheikh Taqi al-Din stated that the main problems facing the Muslim community in Brazil is the fear of their children being involved in delinquency, as well as self-indulgence in the waves of materialism and lusts. Therefore, he added, members of the Muslim community are keen to accompany their children to mosques.
He identified among the obstacles of preaching that the preachers are not full-time employees, and some of them lack understanding of the reality of the society in which they live, a matter which leads to conflict with the community and resignation of the preacher or limitations in his role.
It may be mentioned here that the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs was established in Brazil on 3 June 2005, and it is based in Sao Paulo city located in the country's southeast region.
The Council's primary objective is the dawa work, away from partisanship and delving into political issues. It works for convergence among the imams of Islamic institutions in Brazil and helping them to overcome challenges they face, besides defending their rights.
It also aims to unify the jurisprudence views between the sheikhs and preachers, disseminate legal research and studies that address emerging issues, validate the sighting of Ramadan crescent moon, establish a uniform system for celebrating the two Islamic religious festivals (Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) and make available of Islamic religious instruction for Brazilian Muslims in general and youths in particular.
The Council further takes care of making available of slamic books and translation matters and gives the legal ratification to them, in addition to developing dawa plans and programs in line with the concept of moderation in Islam, and establishing the Zakat Fund.
Please write: COMMENT in this box to verify that you are human