Islam in Chile

Islam in Chile

The statistics for Islam in Chile estimate a total Muslim population of 3,196, representing 0.02 percent of the population. There are a number of Islamic organizations in Chile, including Sociedad Musulmana de Chile y Mezquita As-Salam ("Muslim Society of Chile and Masjid As-Salam") in Santiago de Chile, Mezquita Bilal ("Bilal Mosque") in Iquique and the Centro Cultural Mohammed VI ("Mohammed VI Cultural Center") in Coquimbo.

According to "Chronicles of the History of Chile" by Aurelio Díaz Meza, there was a man in the expedition of discoverer Diego de Almagro, called Pedro de Gasco who was a morisco, or Moor from al-Andalus in Spain who was forced to convert from Islam to Catholicism. The coming of "moriscos" was covered by history but, recently scholars of Chilean history have started acknowledging the country's Moorish heritage and its effects on the development of Chilean culture and identity.

The first major wave of Muslims to Chile began in 1856, with the arrival of Arab immigrants from the Ottoman Empire territories consisting of today's Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, who founded the Sociedad Unión Musulmana. In 1988 the construction of the mosque of Santiago de Chile was initiated by Sheikh Taufiq Rumie', who had led the Muslim community for more than sixty years. The mosque was finished in 1989 and was inaugurated by a prince of Malaysia in 1996.

By end of the 1980s many indigenous Chileans converted to Islam, which increased after the completion of the mosque. Usama Abu Gazaleh was elected Imam of the mosque following the passing of Taufiq Rumie'in 1998. In 1997 Pakistani retailers purchased land for the construction of the Bilal Mosque and madrasa in Iquique, which was completed in 1999.

[ Centro Islámico de Cultura]

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