Islam in Argentina

Historical presence in Latin America and the Río de la Plata

There are several studies on the arrival of the first Muslims to our continent, infiltrated in the boats of the conquerors after the fall of the Islamic civilization of Al-Ándalus, of Muslim Spain (711-1492).

Many of the "Moors" who were expelled at the Inquisition stage of the Spanish Empire of the Iberian Peninsula found their hopes of life on the "new" continent. The new land was nourished by Moorish population, as evidenced by different documents and historical accounts as well as some very serious anthropological research.
A large part of the slaves brought from the African continent professed their own religion and had their belief (Period 1518-1873). The Islamic heritage of these roots is undeniable. We can say that the Muslims played a very important role in much of the Middle Ages, during the European Renaissance, and also had its presence in America.

The Islamic community in Argentina


Centuries ago, the Islamic community has a presence in Argentina. Like other ethnic-religious groups originated in the migratory stage, it has had some difficulties in witnessing its own history, often confused with the history of the Arab Community.
The Islamic community in Argentina (as a Republic) originated in the framework of Arab immigration that came in the nineteenth century from the Middle East.
The first Muslim immigrants of which there is official registration came from the Sham region (Syria-Lebanon, among others) between 1850 and 1860 abandoning the bad economic situation they were going through in the territories administered by the Ottoman Empire (already in decline).
A second wave of Muslims arrived between 1870 and the First World War and another, between 1919 and 1926 when the European colonial domination (mainly of France and England) of the Arab territories of the recently disappeared Ottoman Empire consolidated..

Denomination: Muslim-Arab:


It is very common in the West for confusion to identify Muslims as Arabs, and Arabs as Muslims. But as is known, they are two different terms and concepts. The Arabic refers to a Historical-Cultural-Geographical identity of a people that today are several countries in North Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the rest of the Middle East.
That is why it is common for newcomers to be Arabs or not to call them Turks (for the original passport).
Being a Muslim is independent of the nationality, or the cultural identity to which it belongs.
Being a Muslim is independent of the nationality, or the cultural identity to which it belongs.
So we find Arabs of Muslim religion, but also profess other beliefs such as Jews, Christians (People of the Book) or any other and non-Arab Muslims, such as Turks, Indians, Afghans, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Bosnians, Chinese, among others.

Islam is the religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached and unites in a Faith (1) people of multiple origins and cultures. The faithful of this Faith make up men with the same principles, foundations and precepts.
The confusion is understandable since Islam emerged in Arab territories and the Holy Quran was revealed in Arabic and most Arabs are Muslims. However, the majority of Muslims in the world is not Arab (2) Given the shortage of immigration from other countries that were not Arabs, the identification between Arab culture and Muslim religion was built in the Argentine imaginary. Significant fact that is repeated in other countries.
But, for the average Argentine, all Arabs, of any religion, are simply "Turks." In a country where all Spaniards are called "Galicians", the Italians "Tanos", the "Russian" Jews, even without being born in Galicia, Naples, or Russia. So the name for Arab immigrants was not so wrong.
In fact until the end of the First World War, they were Turks (as the passports say) for deriving territories under Ottoman rule.
In 1872 an official of the Central Immigration Commission mentioned the arrival of "Turks" (documented fact). In 1899 the mention of "Arab" would appear in the registers and only in 1920 the distinction between "Turks", "Arabs", "Syrians", or even "Muslims" more precisely. That is to say that in giving credit to these classifications we must take into account both the identity of the respondents and the rigor, often doubtful of the officials(3).
The transformation of immigrants' last names was very common, not only with the Muslim Arabs but with all the newcomers. This question, that is to say, the performance of the migratory officials of that time (then the capacity and instruction of the same ones would be improved) led to the registration of many emigrants who did not speak Spanish with a deformed name. Relatives among themselves were legally separated in their documentation, even to this day.
The little education of the immigrants of the last stage of the Ottoman Empire, (already decadent) and the way in which they interrelated perfectly with the rest of the local population contributed to a loss of identity of the origin to which they belonged. Loss of family cultural heritage (so important, especially in Muslim Arabs).
In other words, the children and grandchildren of these Muslim immigrants who did not speak the language of their ancestors and who could not receive instruction from them were trained to the customs and customs of the country. Losing their religion and all traces of Islamic identity they had (4).

In some cases the emigrants sought the prosperity of this blessed land without worrying about the cultural legacy or the beliefs of their ancestors, so their descendants lost contact with their relatives in the region from which they came, the language they spoke and so little a generation after generation he disassociated himself from Islam.
Even so, these immigrants founded institutions in every corner of the country in which they settled, they tried harder to maintain their social customs than to instruct the new generations, the lack of mosques and schools in this period led to a cultural orphanhood of many families Muslims A legacy of identity that goes beyond food customs or folklore and songs, but with the Culture and Islamic Civilization that made great contributions to humanity.

According to "the official records" between 1850 and 1950, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East arrived in Argentina. There were censuses in 1914 that did not lead to reliable data.
A question is sure and well recognized is that until the 70 'the most numerous and important community in the country was the Italian (main), followed by the Spanish (2nd in number), the 3rd most important Community in the Argentine Republic is the Arab being currently the sixth (many of them Muslims).

From the middle of the decade of the 90 'and until the 2000 there were immigrants from North Africa (Algeria, especially) and Middle East.
From the year 2000 to the present, new Muslim immigrants arrived from southern Africa to the Argentine Republic, especially from Senegal, but also from other nationalities.

The largest wave of immigration occurred in the early twentieth century because of the First World War, followed by the Second World War, which brought these countries inconvenient in their economic and social aspect, as well as political and cultural problems, which contributed to greater immigration.
The immigrant current from the former Ottoman Empire was formed by Lebanese Arabs (a large part of them Maronite Christians) and Syrians, Christians and Muslims. The first immigrants were young farmers, laborers, farmers and braceros, Christians and Muslims who were motivated by the news that came from America and also by the job offers that the English and French railway companies were doing in their respective countries, to carry out work of day laborers in the laying of railway tracks in different places of Buenos Aires and the interior of the country. They arrived with Turkish documentation first, being received in the port of Buenos Aires by the Turkish Consulate, unique at that time.
All of them settled throughout the country, but preferred, in addition to Buenos Aires and Cordoba, by the Northwest, Northeast (Formosa, Corrientes and Entre Ríos) and Cuyo (San Juan and Mendoza) and part of Patagonia. The six provinces of the Argentine Northwest: Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, Salta, La Rioja, Catamarca and Jujuy attracted the greatest number of Arabs. Until the arrival of the Arabs, these provinces had not known large migratory contingents, in comparison with those of Buenos Aires.
The Syrians and Lebanese were linked in common institutions, motivating them to be mistakenly known as Syrian-Lebanese. The Syrian Lebanese Bank of the Río de la Plata (or later the Argentine Rural Credit Bank) was the expression of this, the Syrian Lebanese Hospital of Buenos Aires, among others. In the interior of the country, institutions such as the Arab Islamic Society of Mendoza (now the Islamic Center of Mendoza) were formed, in Córdoba the Arab Muslim Association among others that have one of the most numerous communities in the country after Buenos Aires.
In Rosario there is also the Islamic Union of Rosario that represents the main local Islamic activities.
The important thing to note is that both in Buenos Aires, as in Mendoza, Córdoba, Santa Fe, and all those places where there are Mosques and places of Prayer (Musállah), the approach of Argentines to Islam is constant and continuous. Hence the need to plan activities to contain these needs.

The Islamic community is composed at the present time by Argentines fundamentally, descendants of Arabs (Syria-Lebanon-Jordan-Palestine), Africans (Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone), Asians (India, Pakistan, Indonesia) among others. The influx of the Arab population had such a dimension that currently ten percent of the population of the country is of Arab origin.


Current calculations such as that recently published by the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram indicate that there are some 17 million Arabs and descendants of Arabs in the region