ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN PARAGUAY
National name : República del Paraguay
Land area : 153,398 sq mi (397,301 sq km); total area: 157,046 sq mi (406,750 sq km)
Population (2007 est.) : 6,667,147
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Asunción, 1,482,200 (metro. area), 525,100
Other large cities : Ciudad del Este, 239,500; San Lorenzo, 210,000
Monetary unit : Guaraní
Languages : Spanish, Guaraní (both official)
Ethnicity/race : Mestizo 95%
Religions : Roman Catholic 90%, Mennonite, other Protestant 10%
Literacy rate : 94% (2003 est.)
Economic summary : GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $26.55 billion; per capita $4,000. Real growth rate: 4.5%. Inflation: 6%.
Paraguay is surrounded by Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. Eastern Paraguay, between the Paraná and Paraguay rivers, is upland country with the thickest population settled on the grassy slope that inclines toward the Paraguay River. Indians speaking Guaraní—the most common language in Paraguay today, after Spanish—were the country's first inhabitants. In 1526 and again in 1529, Sebastian Cabot explored Paraguay when he sailed up the Paraná and Paraguay rivers. From 1608 until their expulsion from the Spanish dominions in 1767, the Jesuits maintained an extensive establishment in the south and east of Paraguay. In 1811, Paraguay revolted against Spanish rule and became a nominal republic under two consuls.
Islamic History and Muslims
The latest statistics for Islam in Paraguay estimate a total Muslim population of 19,507, representing 0.008 percent of the population. Most of the Muslims are descendants of immigrants from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Muslims are concentrated in the capital, Asuncion, with the rest scattered over various other towns and cities of the country, a good many of them living in the border areas with Brazil and Argentina.
The major Islamic organization in Paraguay is the Centro Benéfico Cultural Islámico Asunción, led by Faozi Mohamed Omairi. There are also Omar bin Al-Khattab Mosque, plus the Ali bin Abi Talib School, both of which are supervised by the Islamic-Arabic Cultural Center of that area.
The Muslims of this area have also been able to set up their own television station. There are about 70 Muslim families in the capital, Asuncion, and they have a prayer premises (not a proper mosque) where they congregate for their prayers and other spiritual and social pursuits, plus the Utbah bin Nafe School for their children.
In another city called Cabalero there are about 20 Muslim families, most of them engaged in business and commerce, but like their brethren elsewhere in Paraguay, are finding it difficult to instill in their children proper Islamic cultural and spiritual enthusiasm, and are worried about the future of their children on this score.
The Muslims in this country feel that their children are far removed from the mainstream of Islamic and Arabic influence, add to which the fact that Islamic organizations do not pay much attention to the religious development of their children. They therefore fear that sooner or later their children would be absorbed in the mainstream of Paraguayan life, and thus loose their Islamic identity.
Islamic Centers and Organizations
Muslim Owned Business