Brazil...Few Imams, Closed Mosques

June 11, 2009

Author: Hany Salah

Source: Islam Online

Though Muslims enjoy a unique atmosphere of tolerance in Brazil, many of their mosques are closed because of the rarity of imams, something that threatens the Islamic identity of many Muslims, particularly the younger generations.

"One third of the mosques are closed due to the absence of imams," Al-Sadiq Al-Othmani, head of the Islamic Affairs Department at the Sao Paulo-based Center of Islamic Da`wah in Latin America, told over the phone.

There are mosques in all the major capitals of the Brazilian states and some cities in the interior.

In the city of Sao Paulo there are around ten mosques, including the Mosque Brazil, the first built in Latin America whose construction began in 1929.

"Though there are some 120 mosques in Brazil, there are only 40 imams and preachers," asserts Khaled Taqei Ed-Din, an imam of a Sao Paulo mosque.

"Only few of those imams have finished their university degree in Shari`ah, while the rest are only imams by practice."

Despite the massive buildings and unique designs, two thirds of these mosques are almost deserted, with no signs of life.

"Many mosques do not even hold all five prayers of the day," laments Othmani.

Muslim leaders attribute the crisis to the lack of financial aid to Islamic centers and mosques in Brazil, hampering the training of more mosque leaders.