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Islam gaining traction in Brazil | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Supreme Council for Imams and Islamic Affairs [SCIIA] in Brazil achieved a major victory recently after it was approved by the Brazilian government as the legitimate higher Islamic reference for Brazil’s Muslim community. This occurred after SCIIA was registered as a civil organization with no political objectives by the state of Sao Paulo, which houses Brazil’s largest Muslim community.

SCIIA now has the right to represent Brazil’s Muslim community to different state apparatus, as well as to different international Islamic organizations. SCIIA also has the right to establish branches within the country and outside; SCIIA will be responsible for Islamic Dawa [missionary] issues in Brazil, as well as related issues such as fatwas, zakat, and any other issues involving the country’s 1.5 million Muslims.

SCIIA Secretary-General Sheikh Khalid Taqi al-Din informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this represents a good start for Islam and Muslims in Brazil. He also revealed that the SCIIA website will be officially launched in the near future, and will be available in three languages: Portuguese, English, and Arabic.

Sheikh Khalid said that this website will be a beacon for Islamic scholarship, derived from the teachings of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet, with the understanding of the Prophet’s Companions, and Muslim clerics.

He also stressed that this website will serve as a protective shield against the illogical and undocumented claims and views that are made against Islam on the internet, particularly all of the misinformation and distortion that is present in the Portuguese language.

Sheikh Khalid told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the call to Islam in western states requires those who are concerned with this issue, and the use of creative ways, to inform the general public about the word of God.”

Sheikh Khalid Taqi al-Din is also the director of the Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil [FMAB], which is made up of 37 Islamic associations and organizations in Brazil. FMAB issued its annual report entitled “Excellence in Islamic Dawa is our goal” recently. This report aims to develop FMAB’s operations and dealings with Islamic affairs, by harnessing the organization’s financial and logistical potential to invite Brazilians to Islam utilizing modern tools and strategies.

Sheikh Khalid stressed that FMAB’s major objective is to create an integrated model or framework for Islamic organizations operating in Brazil to emulate and coordinate, in order to continue the spread of Islam in Brazil and raise awareness about Islam and Brazil’s Muslim community, as well as help Brazil’s Muslim community to carry out its duty with regards to Islamic dawa, education, and culture. He added “FMAB issues a report every year containing a summary of its most important work and achievements. This month we issued the report of our achievements this year in the field of Islamic Dawa, as well as the assistance we provided to [Muslim] organizations and individuals during 2011.”

Sheikh Khalid informed Asharq Al-Awsat that FMAB had made a number of major achievements during 2011, particularly in the field of Islamic Dawa. He revealed that the “Know Islam” project had worked to raise awareness about Islam and the Islamic community in Brazil.

He also revealed that FMAB had worked to provide free Portuguese-language books about Islam to Brazilian citizens seeking to learn more about the religion during 2011. He said that FMAB had established 16 Islamic information desks in different locations around Brazil, and they had distributed a total of approximately 20,000 books about Islam to Brazilian citizens throughout the year.

Sheikh Khalid also revealed that FMAB had participated in numerous book fairs, which represented an important means of raising awareness about Islam amongst academic circles in Brazil in 2011. He said that FMAB had participated in two major book fairs during 2011, distributing approximately 50,000 books about Islam. He said that the most prominent book fair FMAB attended in 2011 was the Sao Paulo International Book Fair, which is visited by more than 10 million people over a period of 10 days.

FMAB director Sheikh Khalid Taqi al-Din also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the organization had sent 143,000 Portuguese-language Islamic books to Islamic centers, organizations and mosques throughout Brazil, in addition to 34,000 Spanish-language Islamic books to other Latin American states, namely Paraguay, Peru, and Ecuador. He also revealed that FMAB has sent an additional 20,000 Islamic books requested via e-mail by post to recipients throughout Brazil.

This means that FMAB has distributed a total of approximately 267,000 books raising awareness about Islam across Latin America in 2011, which represents an important and unprecedented achievement.

Sheikh Khalid also revealed that FMAB had also made achievements in the field of education, and the organization has established Muslim youth centers in Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina. The organization also participated in large-scale protests, including one demonstration attended by approximately 200,000 followers of different religions protesting against religious discrimination.

As for FMAB’s political relations, it hosted a huge festival in honor of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and which was attended by thousands of people, including members of the Brazilian and international diplomatic community, Brazilian and Arab ministers, Brazilian governors, as well as religious figures. Sheikh Khalid stressed that this represented an important step in the history of the Brazilian Muslim community.

FMAB was also keen to provide services to Brazil’s Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan, from raising awareness about the importance of this month to distributing prayer timetables and organizing iftar banquets. In addition to this, FMAB also distributed food to the country’s poor, as well as distributing Zakat.

FMAB director Sheikh Khalid Taqi al-Din also revealed that the organization provided charitable contributions to 15 charity organizations throughout 2011; whilst also increasing the number of Muslim preachers affiliated to the organization, with this figure now standing at 6. FMAB also provided academic scholarships to 80 Muslim primary school students of limited income, as well as 15 undergraduate students.

Sheikh Khalid said “FMAB was able to strengthen its relations with some organizations in the Islamic world in order to develop and increase its charitable projects, building on a new policy in the field of philanthropy within the state of Brazil, working with complete transparency with the assistance that comes from these charitable organizations.”

He added “we are also working to ensure that the embassy of the country providing the charitable donations [to FMAB] is able to follow up with how this is implemented. This allows the Islamic organizations that are benefiting from this support in Brazil to identify the type of the aid, and how best to distribute it.”

Utilizing such charitable donations, FMAB was able to expand its iftar project to include 13 Islamic organizations in various regions of Brazil. In addition to this, 38 Brazilian Muslims were also provided with a free hajj pilgrimage. FMAB also helped 10 mosques in Brazil be completely refurbished.

Sheikh Khalid revealed that FMAB is currently in the process of a project to translate Islamic books into Portuguese, as well as to publish books about Islam for children. He thanked all Muslim institutes around the world who have extended a hand to the Brazil’s Islamic community.