Pages For Salvador Bahia Brasil Resources for Travel in Brazil



One of the keys to researching Moorish history is the understanding that the terms "muslim" and "islam" when applied to Africans, especially in the Western Hemisphere, is a code word for Moor.  This is a result of the Spanish Inquisition, which never truly ended.

Muslim slaves in 18th century's Bahia, Brazil
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Cabral did not discovered Brazil; a half of the slaves brought to the Americas must well have been Muslims; the Quilombo of Palmares followed Muslim orientation; Portugal and Spain were Muslims by 800 years until just two years before Cabral having arrived at Brazil ...

This, not to mention that the Reformation had Muslim support ... In short: the history of Brazil and the Americas is undergoing an amazing revision that is still not entirely known even by the Latin American academy and deeply involves the Muslims. This and more is approached through a variety of media in:

Original Article Here:
Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
Muslims' love for education continued in slavery wherever possible. Gilberto Freyre, the Brazilian scholar is quoted as saying "in the slave sheds of Bahia in 1835 there were perhaps more persons who knew how to read and write than up above, in the Big Houses [of slave owners]".

What happened to these Muslims when slavery was officially over? Diouf does report narratives recorded as late as the 1940s about how Islam was practiced by some African-American descendants of slaves in the islands of the North Carolinas. Steven Barboza (1993) also mentions that in 1910 there were some 100,000 African Muslims in Brazil.

Wikipedia, Islam in Brazil
Islam in Brazil was first practiced by African slaves. The early Brazilian Muslims led the largest slave revolt in Brazil, which then had the largest slave population of the world. The next significant migration of Muslims was by Arabs from Syria and Lebanon. The number of Muslims in Brazil according to the 2000 Brazilian census was 27,239[1], or 0.00016% of the total population. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's 2009 report, that number had grown to 191,000[2], or 0.096% of the total population.


Capoeira or the Dance of War by Johann Moritz Rugendas, 1835

The history of Muslims in Brazil begins with the importation of African slave labor to the country. Brazil obtained 37% of all African slaves traded, and more than 3 million slaves were sent to this one country. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade African slaves to work the sugar plantations once the native Tupi people deteriorated. Scholars claim that Brazil received more enslaved Muslims than anywhere else in the Americas.[3]

Malê Revolt

The Muslim uprising of 1835 in Bahia illustrates the condition and legacy of resistance among the community of Malês, as African Muslims were known in 19th century Bahia. The majority of the participants were Nago, the local designation for ethnic Yoruba. Many of the "Malês" had been soldiers and captives in the wars between Oyo, Ilorin and other Yoruba city-states in the early part of the 19th Century. Other participants included Hausa and Nupe clerics, along with Jeje or Dahomean soldiers who had converted to Islam or fought in alliance with Muslims.[4]."

Beginning on the night of January 24, 1835, and continuing the following morning, a group of African born slaves occupied the streets of Salvador and for more than three hours they confronted soldiers and armed civilians.[5][6]

Even though it was short lived, the revolt was the largest slave revolt in Brazil and the largest urban slave revolt in the Americas.[7] About 300 Africans took part and the estimated death toll ranges from fifty to a hundred, although exact numbers are unknown. This number increases even more if the wounded who died in prisons or hospitals are included.[6] Many participants were sentenced to death, prison, whippings, or deportation. The rebellion had nationwide repercussions. Fearing the example might be followed, the Brazilian authorities began to watch the malês very carefully and in subsequent years intensive efforts were made to force conversions to Catholicism and erase the popular memory of and affection towards Islam.[8] However, the African Muslim community was not erased overnight, and as late as 1910 it is estimated there were still some 100,000 African Muslims living in Brazil.[9]

Muslim immigrants in Brazil

Following the assimilation of the Afro-Brazilian Muslim community, the next period of Islam in the country was primarily the result of Muslim immigration from the Middle East and South East Asia. Some 11 million Syrian and Lebanese (mostly Christians) immigrants live throughout Brazil.[10] The biggest concentration of Muslims is found in the greater São Paulo region.

Architecture and cuisine also bear the trademarks of the culture brought to the hemisphere by the Arabs. Not even fast food has escaped the immigrant influence, as the SECOND LARGEST FOOD CHAIN IN BRAZIL (second only to McDonald's) is Habib's, ( which serves Arab food. Habib's menu features kibbeh (a croquette of beef shaped like a rugby ball with either an olive, hummus, or some catupiry cheese inside), sfiha (a small, round flatbread topped with spinach, minced beef, or cheese), kafta, stuffed grape leaves, hummus and tabouli salad. Less adventurous diners could choose more predictable fare: hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, french fries and ice cream.  And the diversity of influence stretches to businesses such as the textile industry, which is dominated by merchants of Syrian-Lebanese origin(mainly of Christian faith).


Mosque in Cuiabá, Brazil.


According to the Brazilian census of 2000[1] there were 27,239 Muslims living in the country, primarily concentrated in the states of São Paulo and Paraná. Muslim community leaders in Brazil estimated that there were between 700,000 and three million Muslims,[12] with the lower figure representing those who actively practiced their religion, while the higher estimate would include also nominal members. There are significant Muslim communities in the industrial suburbs of the city of São Paulo and in the port city of Santos, as well as in smaller communities in Paraná State in the coastal region and in Curitiba and Foz do Iguazu in the Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay triborder area. The community is overwhelmingly Sunni; the Sunnis are almost completely assimilated into broader society. The recent Shi'ite immigrants gravitate to small insular communities in São Paulo, Curitiba, and Foz do Iguazu. There are approximately 60 mosques, Islamic religious centers, and Islamic associations.[12]

A recent trend has been the increase in conversions to Islam among non-Arab citizens.[12] A recent Muslim source estimated that there are close to 10,000 Muslim converts living in Brazil.[10] Brazil may have become a hub for Islam in Latin America. During the past 30 years, Islam has become increasingly noticeable in Brazilian society by building not only mosques, but also libraries, arts centres, and schools and also by funding newspapers.[13] The growth of Islam within Brazil is demonstrated in the fact that 2 of the 3 existing Portuguese translations of the Qur'an were created by Muslim translators in São Paulo.[10]

Malê Revolt

The Malê Revolt (also known as The Great Revolt) is perhaps the most significant slave rebellion in Brazil. On a Sunday during Ramadan in January 1835, in the city of Salvador da Bahia, a small group of black slaves and freedmen, inspired by Muslim teachers, rose up against the government. (Muslims were called malê in Bahia at this time, from Yoruba imale that designated a Yoruba Muslim, which originally meant "a Malian", and bearing talismans containing texts from the Koran.)

Brazilian slaves knew about the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and wore necklaces bearing the image of President Dessalines, who had declared Haitian independence.

The Revolt

While the revolt was scheduled to take place on Sunday, January 25, due to various incidents, it was forced to start before the planned time. On Saturday the 24th, slaves began to hear rumors of an upcoming rebellion.

While there are multiple accounts of freed slaves telling their previous masters about the revolts, only one was reported to the proper authorities. A man named Domingos Fortunato overheard rumors and told his wife, Guilhermina Rosa de Souza, of the rebellion. Guilhermina then proceeded to tell her white neighbor, André Pinto da Silveira. Several of Pinto de Silveira’s friends were present, including Antônio de Souza Guimarães and Francisco Antônio Malheiros, who took it upon themselves to relay the information to the local authorities. All of these events occurred between the hours of 9:30 and 10:30 PM on Saturday the 24th.

The justice of the peace, José Mendes de Costa Coelho, took the necessary precautions; he reinforced the palace guard, alerted the barracks, doubled the night patrol, and ordered boats to watch the bay, all by 11:00 PM. At around 1:00 AM on Sunday, justices of the peace searched the home of Domingos Marinho de Sa. Domingos had reported that there were Africans meeting in his house due to fear for his life. However, sensing Domingos’s fear, the justices asked to see for themselves. They went down into his basement and found the ringleaders, discussing last minute details. However, the Africans were able to turn the officers out into the streets.

Out on the streets, the fighting saw its first real bloodshed; several people were injured and at least one killed. After securing the area, the rebels split up to go in different directions throughout the city. Most of the groups did very little fighting because they were recruiters, calling slaves to war. However, the largest group traveled up the hill toward Palace Square (Praça Municipal today), and continued to fight.

The rebels decided to first attack the city palace of the jail , attempting to free a Muslim leader, Pacifico Licutan. However, the prison guards proved too much for the rebels, who perhaps were looking to supplement their weak supply of arms with the jailers’. Under heavy fire, the slaves withdrew from the prison and retreated to the Largo de Teatro. Reinforcements arrived on the slaves side, and together they attacked a nearby post of soldiers in order to take their weapons. They marched toward the officer's barracks, and put up a good fight, however, the soldiers were able to pull the gate guarding the barracks shut. The slaves had failed.

After failing to take several more key positions, the slaves decided to head through the city, toward Cabrito, the designated meeting spot. However, in between Cabrito and Salvador da Bahia was the Brazilian cavalry.

And when they met in Água de Meninos, the most decisive battle of the revolt took place. At about 3:00 AM, the rebels reached Água de Meninos. The footsoldiers immediately retreated inside the confines of the barracks while the men on horseback stayed outside. The rebels, who now only numbered about 50–60, did not attempt to attack the barracks. Instead, they sought a way around it.

However, they were met with fire from the barracks, followed by a cavalry charge, which proved too powerful for the rebel slaves. After the rebels were completely devastated, more slaves arrived. After assessing the situation, the slaves decided that their only hope would be to attack and take the barracks. However, this desperate attempt proved futile, and the rebels quickly decided to flee. The cavalry mounted one last charge that finished them off.[1][2]


Fearful that the whole state of Bahia would follow the example of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and rise up and revolt, the authorities quickly sentenced four of the rebels to death, sixteen to prison, eight to forced labour, and forty-five to flogging. The remainder of surviving leaders of the revolt were then deported back to Africa by the authorities; it is believed that some members of the Brazilian community in Lagos, Nigeria, Tabom People of Ghana are descended from this deportation, although descendants of these Afro-Brazilian repatriates are reputed to be widespread throughout West Africa (such as Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of Togo).

The term "Aguda" on the other hand refers to the mainstream, predominantly Christian Brazilian returnees to Lagos who brought Roman Catholicism in their wake; which is why that denomination is often referenced in Yoruba as "Ijo Aguda" (The Portuguese Church). Fearing the example might be followed, the Brazilian authorities began to watch the malês very carefully and in subsequent years intensive efforts were made to force conversions to Catholicism and erase the popular memory and affection towards Islam.

However, the African Muslim community was not erased overnight, and as late as 1910 it is estimated there were still some 100,000 African Muslims living in Brazil.[3]

Many consider this rebellion to be the turning point of slavery in Brazil. While slavery existed for more than fifty years following the Malê Revolt, the slave trade was abolished in 1851. Slaves continued to pour into Brazil immediately following the rebellion, which caused fear and unrest among the people of Brazil. They feared that bringing in more slaves would just fuel another rebel army. Although it took a little over fifteen years to happen, the slave trade was abolished in Brazil, due in part to the 1835 rebellion.[4]

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