Huff Post: Throughout my entire life, I have always been surrounded by others who share my Muslim faith: my very large Indian family, my friends from Connecticut, the thriving Muslim population at Georgetown and around Washington, D.C. For this reason, the biggest challenge for me while studying abroad in Rio de Janeiro since January has been, without a doubt, the lack of a Muslim community. Given that about 0.02 percent of Brazil’s population identifies as Muslim and that the majority of this small group lives in the center of the country, I never would have expected to find other Muslims in Rio. However, after several months of searching I finally found some at a masjid-cum-community center in Tijuca, a northern district of the city.
I discovered the center, called the Sociedade Beneficente Muçulmana (Society for the Benefit of Muslims) partially by chance. After searching “Mosques in Brazil” and other variations online, I found a phone number and email contact. Unfortunately, both of these were several years out-of-date, and none of my Brazilian friends (none of whom are Muslim) had any ideas, either. The website did have an address, so I decided to make the one-hour bus journey there from my residence and hopefully, uncover more information. I arrived to find a dilapidated building undergoing heavy construction, and a notice from the Society’s leader dated from 2009 that the masjid would be closed indefinitely. Frustrated, I wrote about my disappointment with the masjid’s outdated contact information on my study abroad blog and gave up any hope of finding a Muslim community in Rio de Janeiro.