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.”