Discovering Masjid El Nur in Rio de Janeiro!!!

A Masjid in Rio

Walking on Copacabana beach, with sand on my feet and the coolness of the water washing away the sand every time a wave comes to shore, I wondered whether there are mosques in Rio de Janeiro and, if so, where they are located. The answer is, of course, very near. With the ubiquitous Google Map, I managed to locate Masjid El Nur (Mesquita da Luz).

And, before I knew it, my curiosity was awakened. Almost immediately, I hailed a cab and informed the driver to take me there. He had never heard of it. So I shared with him the location. He informed me that it would take approximately 40 minutes to get there although it is a Sunday! Regardless, I was determined to see it.

Initially, we made idle conversation in the car. But, as curious as I was about finding a mosque in Rio, he was just as curious about my headscarf as he had never seen anyone covering their head before. Given that more than 90% of Brazilians are Christians; this was not a surprise to me. We continued to talk whilst he navigated through dense traffic, as Sunday is “beach day”, and most families take to the beach to spend their day with their families, all the while he had so many questions. Fifty-five minutes later, we arrived at our destination. Lo and behold, I was standing in front of a masjid in the heart of Rio de Janeiro!

The tall façade of the mosque with its distinctive stained-glass windows stood out. I was let in, and shown where the ladies ablution room was located. 2 souls were praying in the prayer hall, a mother and son, side by side, oblivious to my presence, at peace with God.

Followed by Tahayyat-al-Masjid, I was greeted by Juliana and her son Tiago. We talked for sometime, I had so many questions and so did she. Her warm personality made me feel right at home. I had asked her about the congregation, she indicated that most had gone to Maracanã stadium where they had a space. They went to spread the word of Islam.(Da’wah).


When I asked when they held classes for the children, I was informed that they didn’t have any. However every Saturday they had informative programs throughout the day. Adults that attend these programs share this information when they get home.

Throughout our conversation, all I could think about was how immensely privileged my children were, being raised in a country (South Africa), where Islamic knowledge is so readily available in just about every suburb, the “luxury” of having a transmitter in our homes allowing us to listen to the Adhaan, better still the multitude of Hufaz South Africa has, the comprehensive knowledge all the Muslim children in South Africa are privy too.

When I got back to Bayt Qatar (House of Qatar specially put up to showcase Qatar during the Rio Olympics) I was informed that members of our amazing team had already begun a drive to collect funds to provide basic facilities(carpets, books, etc…) to Masjid El Nur. Subhanallah!

To all my friends and family in South Africa, Mozambique and Portugal, Qatar kindly share this post and contact the Masjid directly to assist them –


The Quran states, “And among [Allah’s] signs is … diversity in [mankind’s] languages and colors,” and that “[Allah] has created mankind into nations and tribes so that we would come to know one another.”


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So much has been written about expat friendships…

I dedicate this post to all my friends old and new…

Friendships take years to establish. Basically, friendship, the kind that remains intact through all of life’s ups and downs, marriages, babies, divorces, etc., requires a foundation those experiences surely formed what is now the foundation of a friendship guaranteed to stand the test of time, right?? And foundation requires time Memories made with that person can’t be taken away. My childhood friends will always be in my life. I’m grateful that they still talk to me regularly.

I have read so much about it and even visualized it trying to prepare myself in the event that my own friends return to their own home countries or move elsewhere.I know it might seem like an odd thing to do, but I somehow felt that if I did this I would be better prepared for the eventuality.

Nothing could have prepared be for the numbers in which they left.

With some I had time to “adjust” my mind to it and others just so sudden.I have been asking myself what’s the point of making new friends when they or you might leave?

As an expat (out of choice), you “forge” so many friendships in your home country, friendships and bonds that lasted almost the same age of your adult children.The excitement of the first skype with your family and friends back home, sharing just about every detail, the giggle and laughter. Although living in the 21st century, technology makes things feasible that were considered beyond the bounds of possibility one hundred years ago. With time expats relate differently to their old friends and family back home, which can be problematic at times, overcome with the feelings of missing out, not being involved and not understanding what is happening aren’t unusual , these are all part of the “separation anxiety” process. The skype calls soon become less frequent and you build new friendships out of necessity.

While you might be preoccupied about how to complete your residency process or opening up your new bank account, getting a car, your friend at home might be going over her plans of her next friends gathering or trying to plan her next holiday.

With the friends back home there are basically two outcomes. You might meet and it’s as if you just saw each other a week ago and everything is as it was before you left the country — one of the greatest experiences! In my opinion those friendships that survive the distance are the friendships that will last for a lifetime, no matter if you have contact every week, every other month or less than that.

And as with all expats, you’ll need to readjust, too, when you come back home. While you are generally still the same person as before, your life might be completely different in your home country, which can complicate friendships.

Another possibility is that you encounter your old friend, but you don’t really relate to each other anymore. Too many things have changed, let alone the friendship. Losing friends is, unfortunately, part of being an expat, and accepting that can be tough.

Having said that, while making the most of your time abroad by default you gain a new sense of identity, sometimes struggling to redefine and assimilate back into our own society

Now the challenge behind Expat Friendships?

One of the best things about being an expat is the friendships you form with other expats and locals of your new country of residence.

Expat friendships form fast. Imagine feeling isolated in a foreign country, everything is different, you’re homesick, when suddenly you meet someone who looks like you, acts like you, and misses the same things as you. Of course, you’re going to be friends. Usually, when expats arrive in their new country of residence, amidst the sometimes chaotic orientation process and the adrenaline, they forget fear and inhibition, becoming bold and outward trying to find their space and eventually mark their “territory” all the while “making” new friends, first the local supermarket who will lead you to the nearest Laundromat and the pharmacist and so on… sometimes your first friendships are made during these visits and slowly you make new ones at work or as you explore the social scenes, this process takes awhile but you finally make one or two really awesome friends – friends you feel like you’ve had your entire life.

You do everything with them, you travel together, navigate your new surroundings together, help each other deal with the culture shock, you confide everything in them, share your good and bad moments it doesn’t matter if you don’t really have much in common – all that matters in you’re both in the same place at the same time, for others who already have friends in new country of residence they are afforded a softer and more pleasant beginning.

Well, you’ll probably try to stay in touch. It’s going to be difficult to maintain the same level of friendship you had before, no doubt.

Being overwhelmed by sadness, followed by the need to become a recluse it is all understandable and it is all part of the process.

This could translate into projects that you immersed yourself in completely and enjoy it, yet when it’s over you feel exhausted have withdrawal symptoms and eventually settle back in. This does not stop you from getting involved in new projects, you go back head first and so it continues…..

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