World Bulletin / News Desk
The people of the Central American Republic of Panama have began construction work on the country’s first ever official mosque for natives, as more and more Panamanians turn to Islam.
The first bricks of the Al Haqq Mosque are now being laid, after a 9 year campaign led by Muslim converts Josefina Bell-Munajj and Khadijah Jackson to get building permission.
Josefina Bell-Munajj and Khadijah Jackson also hope the mosque will be a center for Islamic education in the future. The two women have already been providing Islamic classes for Muslim women in a room borrowed by a local Muslim dentist since 2011.
Having started off as just a group of ten, there are now around thirty women attending classes with them. "We started feeling the urgency to get a new space because we were bursting out the room,” Bell-Munajj told Religion Dispatches magazine on Wednesday.
Although Muslims migrants who have settled in Panama from other countries have already set up a number of mosques, Al Haqq Mosque will be the first set up by native Panamanian Muslims.
Islam has been part of Panama from as early as the mid-16th century, brought over by Africans who were shipped over as part of the slave-trade. The twentieth century also saw migration of Muslims from the Middle-East and South Asia.
Approximately 24,000 Muslims are believed to be residing in Panama today, comprising 1% of the overall population.
According to statistics, the number of Muslims in Latin America is over four million, with 700,000 in Argentina and more than 1,500,000 million in Brazil
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