World Bulletin / News Desk
The number of Panamanians joining Islam is rapidly growing, according to Ahmad Bhattay, a leader at Panama City’s Jama Mosque. He claims that more than 500 Muslims attend the Friday prayer at Jama Mosque, besides two or three new converts attending the mosque every week.
Muslims in Panama first arrived from the Mandinka tribe, brought by the Spaniards to work the gold mines in 1552. Later groups from Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco, India and Pakistan also have settled in Panama, making it a thriving community. According to Pew results, there are 24,000 Muslims in Panama who constitute 0.7 percent of the population, concentrated mostly in Panama City and Colon.
A report in Royame du Maroc explains that in order to preserve the relationship of respect and solidarity between members of the Muslim community in Panama City, the Panamanian Islamic Foundation has organised daily communical iftars in the grounds of the Grand Mosque. Muslims but also people of other religions take part in an atmosphere of piety and altruism.
On this occasion, the benefactors engage in the sacred month in a kind of "virtuous competition" to fill the Iftar tables and help others as a way to pay it forward.
In the city of Colon, which is located at the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Caribbean coast, lives an small but imporant community of Arab origin who have lived in Panama for decades and have become part of Panamanian society, without forgetting the traditions and values of their homeland. For this reason, the Panamanian Islamic Foundation plays a vital role in helping to preserve the cultural identity of the Panamian Muslims.
As well as memorizing the Holy Quran, the Centre also organizes charitable activities to benefit those who are needy of the city and collective iftars with officials and the central government. The center also has a radio station that broadcasts the Holy Quran and religious and educational programs.
Last Mod: 09 Temmuz 2015, 17:30