By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Situated in a little street in Tijuca is an under-construction building with a door made up of several nailed planks holding up the entrance gate. This humble structure is the site for the Tijuca Mosque – home of the Sociedade Beneficente Muculmana SBMRJ (Beneficent Muslim Society) – which was formed in 1951. The mosque is called Mesquita da Luz, which means the Mosque of Light.

Sociedade Beneficente Muculmana, SBMRJ (Beneficent Muslim Society) at the Mesquita da Luz, which means the Mosque of Light, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Sociedade Beneficente Muculmana, SBMRJ (Beneficent Muslim Society) at the Mesquita da Luz, which means the Mosque of Light, photo by SBMRJ.

The mosque originally operated from a much smaller space that was located in Centro. It then moved to the Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) to a much larger structure to accommodate the growing number of Muslims in attendance. According to the mosque representative there are about 500 Muslim families in Rio, comprised of immigrants as well as locals.

Islam first came to Brazil with the large number of African slaves that were brought in by the Portuguese – a number, some scholars argue, much higher than any Muslim-African slave trade in any other part of the Americas.

Today, the Muslims of Brazil are in a much better place, and like many cosmopolitan cities of the world, Rio is a multicultural hotspot where people of all nationalities, races, ethnicity and beliefs come together. What sets Rio among the warmest of cities is the way the Cariocas embrace this diversity with friendly heart.

In a city famed for its Carnival and skimpy beachwear it is remarkable to see how well they react to meeting with a Muslim. Many locals have expressed fascination and shown respect to this minority. Last year, the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil CCBB also put up two major Islamic Art exhibits of local and international renowned Muslim artists.

The Mesquita da Luz mosque does not only serve as a  house of worship, it also doubles up as a community center and a place of learning and sharing. “It is like home”, explains Tamara, a convert, while shuffling around to make sure everyone is comfortable and looked after.

In an average gathering of about fifty or so odd people on a Friday, there are people from Morocco, India, Pakistan, Egypt and many other countries. In the din of the chattering one can hear numerous languages being spoken, with Portuguese much more common, but English serves as the main cohesive language. 

One of the worshipers is a PhD student in Rio and has come a long way from his city in Pakistan.  He talks of his experience at the mosque and says, “It’s been two years since I’ve been away from home and I have made many Brazilian friends. But I really missed my people and until I discovered this mosque I had felt very alone.”

People greeting each other for Eid, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
People greeting each other for Eid, photo by SBMRJ.

These days the mosque is very busy with Ramadan (also known as Ramazan), the month of fasting. In accordance with the lunar calendar followed by Muslims, Ramadan coincided with the present month of August.

In this month Muslims eat their fill until sunrise and then do not eat or drink anything until sunset. According to Rio timings this meant a complete fast from 5AM till 5:30 PM, approximately.

According to the lunar calendars laws, when the new moon is sighted, the month of Ramadan will officially end and Muslims across the world will celebrate Eid, a festive holiday occasion similar to Christmas.

Everybody will gather at the mosque and Eid prayers will be offered together at 7AM. Across the world, Muslims dressed in their finest clothes will then spend the entire day meeting friends and family, eating sweets and exchanging gifts.

The Muslims in Rio will also celebrate the festivities with their friends and family at the Mosque of Light. On behalf of the Muslim community of Rio, and The Rio Times, have a very happy Eid!


  1. Hello
    I’m from Mauritius.I would like to know if thers is an Islamic Authority in Brazil that delivers Halaal slaughtering certificates.Please contact me on my mail address:
    Thank you


  3. Assalamualaikum Brothers and Sisters,

    I have no comment but while reading the information about Islam in Rio i feel so close to them. I hope that i can join them and teach them Quran because the only things i can share my knowledge about Quran.

    Thank you

  4. AoA,

    I am about to move to rio i wanted to know that is halal food availabe in rio and are there halal resturant and if yes where if any body can give the address of them.Thanks brothers and sisters

  5. Assalam-0-Alikum… brothers/sister,

    i would like to know about muslims in brazil, and there places where they live.

    i will be happy if someone let me know.

    my id is: or contact me on skype: accountravian

    fi aman ALLAH

  6. Salaam

    Zeeshan, I also will be moving to Rio next month.I may want to live near to the muslim community/mosque.
    Any info on Halaal foods and Restaurants.
    Any tips on living conditions for my family

  7. Dear brothers,

    Iam muslim and Hajj. i came to RIO for training, i am sade because i missed two Friday prayers because i could not find where and how to go to the Mosque of Rio .
    Please assist me
    Shukran wa jazakum’Allah Khairann !

  8. Asslamualikum,
    I shall be appreciate , If some one can tell me about Muslim Resturants in Rio De Janeiro, Near Copacabana . Or If any one share his experience about this city and about Muslim food.
    Thanks & Regards

  9. Al Salamu Alykom

    Here is the Mosque adress and phone number – Please confirm by calling since i just searched it on google

    77 Rua Gonzaga Bastos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 20541-000

  10. Hello brothers and sisters,

    I live in barra da tijuca. Where can i find halal food especially meat?
    I know a place in Copacabana where they serve halal food but its quite far from where i stay.

    Thanks syukran

  11. Hi…Assalamoalaikum

    I’m from Mauritius will be in Rio from 2nd July – 5th july 2014 staying in Hotel monte Algere…Please guide me a mosque specially for my Friday salaat…Any halal food restaurant….
    Thanks Ally.

  12. Hello
    I live in Ipanema. I would like to know if there is an Islamic Authority in Brazil that delivers meat Halaal slaughtering certificates or restaurant.Please contact me on my mail address:

    Thank you
    My email :

  13. Salaams

    We are in Rio for 10 days from 10.12.15 – 20.12.15. We would like visit the Mosque and meet members of the Muslim community in Rio inshaAllah. We are staying at Windsor Atlantica. What is the best way to get to the Mosque and what are the opening times.

  14. Hi, I am in Rio for 2 weeks. Travelling from uk. Would love to eat at some nice halal restaurants and meet with the muslim community.

    Please share your knowledge and experiences so we can all benefit.


  15. Salam Alikom
    I like to visit RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL in June 2016 with my family. I need someone that can speak Arabic or English to help us out during our stay.

  16. I say happy Eid el Fitr 2016 to all the Muslim communities in Brazil. A fellow Muslim from Nigeria. Peace unto you….


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