Wednesday 19 February 2020

Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Bolivia

Bolivia,  a landlocked country located in western-central South America has a population of 11,428,245 (2019 estimates) of which a very small fraction is Muslims - around two thousand, representing 0.017 % out of the total population to be exact. And perhaps for this very reason, not much information is available about the life of Muslims in the country.

As per Wikipedia, Imam Mahmud Amer Abusharar, who arrived from Palestine in 1974 founded The Bolivian Islamic Center (Spanish: Centro Islámico Boliviano, CIB) in August 1986. In 1992 a commission for the construction of the first mosque in Bolivia was approved, and it was completed in September 1994 in the city of Santa Cruz. 

In 2004 the first official Sunni mosque, the Yebel An Nur Mosque, was founded in 2004 in La Paz. Prior to that Islam was rather unheard of. The Yebel An Nur Mosque remains self-funded with close ties to the Sunni Bolivian Islamic Center of Santa Cruz while the As-Salam Mosque receives both Sunni and Shia followers, connections, and funding.

The majority of the people attending the Friday ceremony are young men and women. This is because most of the adult men have work responsibilities. According to the National Statistical Institute of Bolivia, the majority of Bolivian citizens self-identify as Catholic. ‘Bosses don’t really keep in mind Muslim duties as they do in the Middle East,’ says imam Ayman Altaramsi, the religious leader of the mosque in La Paz. ‘Bolivian society is not structured around Islam.’

Finding Halal food is one of the biggest problem for the Muslims. Naturally for such a small community, arrangements for Halal meat cannot be made. However, the community solved the problem on its own. ‘Five years ago we started producing our own halal meat,’ Altaramsi says proudly. During the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, ‘about one hundred people come to our Mosque to eat this meat and share their spiritual experiences,’ he says.

There are many converts in Bolivia. Morah Bacinello converted eight years ago after growing up Catholic because Christianity didn’t bring her satisfaction. ‘I came to this mosque to try something else,’ she explains. ‘They told me about eternal life, and this especially caught my interest because I lost a son,’ she says. Bacinello adopted her Arabic name and, two years later, her children also converted to Islam. Now Allah is guiding their lives.

Like many Muslim women, Bacinello wears a hijab, but only two years ago she started to use it in public. ‘I never had any experiences with people approaching me in a negative way,’ she says. ‘In general, people in Latin America are more spiritual than usual, and perhaps more tolerant in terms of religion.’

Despite peaceful presence of Bolivian Muslims, I was amazed to find a post by Fox News saying that "Bolivia Becoming a Hotbed of Islamic Extremism." Interesting isn't it? How can a mere 2000 Muslims threaten a country of 11 million and sow seeds of extremism merely because some belong to Palestine and Iran.

Disclaimer: The data for this post has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

To know more about life of Muslims in other non Muslim countries, please visit our page: Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More