Source: The Washington Times
WASHINGTON, January 6, 2014 — While the Middle East appears to dominate much of the discourse relating to Islam and Muslims, the growth of Muslim communities in countries such as Brazil seems to go unnoticed.
The rise of the religion in the country has become so widespread, that it has permeated the entertainment industry. A popular “telenovela” called “O Clone” features a heroic Muslim woman, who wears the Islamic hijab (scarf), as the main character.
Paulo Pinto, of Brazil’s Fuminense Federal University, believes that O Clone introduced many fascinated Brazilians to Islam and its practices. The show was highly regarded in the country, and taught many Brazilians common Islamic phrases, such as “Alhamdullilah” (Praise be to God), which was said by characters on the show after sneezing and other situations indicating happiness; “Inshallah” (God willing), used for planning future events; and “Mashallah” (It was God’s will), typically used for congratulating someone on a particular accomplishment.
Young Muslims shorten the three on various forms of social media, and it is not uncommon to see the phrases abbreviated as “aA”, “iA”, and “mA” on Facebook. The second letter is intentionally capitalized because it refers to Allah, which is the Arabic word for God. The well-known Islamic greeting “Salaam Alaikum” (Peace be to you) becomes “SA” or even “ASA.” The show has been syndicated to several countries, and even airs on Telemundo in the United States. In typical fashion for modern television, an updated remake is being filmed.
According to Imam Khaled Taqi el-Din, founder of the Ali bin Abi Taleb Islamic Center in Sao Paolo, and current President of the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Brazil and the Manager of Islamic Affairs at the Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil, Latin Muslims are fiercely patriotic.
He told OnIslam.net, in an interview “Brazil is famous for maintaining good relations with Arabs and Muslims… Moreover, it is a state based on freedom, law, and citizenship rights.
“Arabs -both Muslims and non-Muslims- played a large role in the economic and political advancement of Brazil. There are about 10 to 12 million Brazilians from Arab origins which is a large number. They enjoy a lot of freedom. It is a country that recognizes all sects and religions on equal basis. There are many organizations protected by the state with the mandate of opposing all kinds of religious discrimination.