20 Haziran 2018 Çarşamba

TNT History Mini-Series: Accidental Turks in Brazil & Beyond (1866)/Part X

//Ed. Note: In Part X of this story, İmam Abdurrahman shares
some information about Brazil's fruits, parrots, forests,
natives and other aspects of the nation.  In particular, his 
observations about Brazil's natives and an Easter celebration 
are fascinating.//

Some Fruits 

brazilian fruits 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu

There is a tree in this country that is bigger than the biggest walnut tree, from the 
standpoint of bulk.  The cover of the fruit, which is bigger than a pumpkin, 
resembles the skin of an alligator and its inside is like a pomegranate.  Within the 
seed, which looks like a date seed, there is yet another seed.  The taste is like honey
helva.   Another fruit resembles quince and its inside looks like a sponge filled with 
water.  Since this water is bitter, one drinks it by adding sugar.  Although its taste is 
like that of peppermint, it is more nourishing and pleasant.  There is just one seed 
inside this fruit.

Bazil’s other interesting fruit resembles a bunch of grapes.  Every piece of this fruit,
which is similar in weight to half a Damascus batman (weight varying frm 5-30 lbs.),
is the size of a walnut.  Its color is white and it tastes like turnip.  There is another 
fruit here that resembles an everyday apple.  Its cover is green like the back of a 
hedgehog.  When dried and mixed with coffee it provides a very pleasant smell.
Another fruit resembles corn cob, with a red cover like the back of a snake. Its inside 
is yellow and its taste is pleasantly acid.  It is expensive, costing 2.5 francs for one.  
After being picked from the tree its lasts for only 10 days, before going bad. There 
are about 50 fruits in Brazil that are not found in eastern countries.  Coconuts are 
plentiful and cheap.  Most of the coconut trees live without being cared for.  Even 
though it is said here that the original coconut tree was raised from a seed planted in a
 person’s head, it is quite clear that this is a superstition. 

The Forest That Stretches from Brazil to South America

brazilian rain forest 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu

This forest, having plentiful water, is famous for harboring various wild animals. 
A horserider would not reach the end of the forest even by riding day and night for
a month.  From time to time large snakes in this forest emerge and swallow oxen 
whole, causing great damage to the populace.  With its stomach full, the snake 
cannot move and falls deep asleep.  When this happens the people climb trees and 
shoot or cut the snake to kill it.  The skin from the slaughtered snake is used to make
 hats, shoes and raincoats.  Since these items are quite enduring they are also quite

One time I saw a snake skin about 4 meters wide and 10 meters long that was for sale.
They say there are even bigger ones.  The size of the round spots that resemble fish 
scales on the snake’s back are about an arm’s length. Even in the depths of the forest
at night, a light can be seen from afar.  It is believed that this light eminates from the
sparkle of gold and jewels.

Natives of America

brazil indians 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu

A large population of uncivilized America natives live in the forest.  
No state has yet been able to change or tame their wild lifestyle and 
behavior, bring them under control or impose civilization on them.   
According to what I have been told, they are very big people.  In 
particular, their feet are so big in proportion to their bodies that when 
it rains they lie on their backs and use their feet  sort of as an umbrella 
to protect themselves from the rain. Some of them have been captured by
government  forces and brought to the city.  By chance, I saw one and,
really, the length of his feet was about 45 centimeters.

The native women are quite beautiful, with very long hair.  Because 
they handle men with magic and soothsaying, they don’t trust one another.
Some of the natives are masters at extracting iron and making bows. Their
primary foods are raw fish and various birds.  They don’t know anything 

Previously, when they captured blacks they would eat them.  Later, when 
they realized that the blacks were human like them, they stopped eating them.
Thinking that blacks’ skin color emerged over time, they would put blacks 
they captured in  water and try to erase the blackness by rubbing them with 
stones, subjecting these blacks to horrible torture.  As the poor souls  who 
met this fate screamed and cried,  the natives would enjoy themselves and 
laugh at them.

A black doctor I met in Rio de Janeiro told me about an experience he had.  
According to what he said, in the 1850s he was captured by the natives but he
was saved from torture by the love and friendship shown to him by one of the
native’s wives.  But the woman’s husband made the man serve him for 12 
years  before allowing him to return to his home.  The natives know the 
characteristics  of plants very well and so when the man was released they gave
him some plant  roots he could use for treatments as a sort of going-away 
present.  When the man  came home he began to work as a doctor and, thanks 
to the plant roots, he gained  fame and wealth.

The natives are not tied to any religion or canonical law. They believe in people 
who are wise in the ways of magic and sorcery and act according to what they 
tell them.   Bows, arrows and spears are the main weapons of the natives  
and their quality is quite praiseworthy.  Their speech sounds like bird calls.  
I wanted to minister to them religiously but the Moslems objected to this and 
prevented me from going. 

My Dream Comes True

easter in brazil ile ilgili görsel sonucu

Fifteen years ago, in a dream I saw myself in a church.  My head was uncovered
and I was wearing European clothes.  I was standing in front of a picture of the 
Prophet Jesus , may peace be upon him,  and  I was telling those with me to read 
the İhlâs Sura.  I awoke from this dream scared and quite disconcerted. When I 
told my friends about the dream, some of them said “that was a strange dream.” 
Some others considered the dream to have been a spiritual warning and urged me
to avoid forbidden behavior and sins.

The day that the Prophet Jesus was risen up to the heavens – Christians believe
that this day was the day he was crucified on the cross – is the day that the Brazilian
Emperor and the Patriarch went to church in their mourning clothes to exhibit there 
grief.  All the soldiers put down their weapons and flags and gathered with the 
populace at the church.  I, too, changed my clothes and went to the church together
 with a few Moslems.

The Emperor and the Patriarch were standing to the right of an idol made of gold 
and silver.  They gestured for the people to prostrate themselves before the idol  and 
everyone got down on their knees and raised their hands to their ears.   When I saw 
this, I told my friends to read the İhlâs Sura.  At this point I recalled the dream I had 
fifteen years before.  This dream had now come true. Then, the Patriarch went up to
 a very high spot and spoke at length.  But since I was far away I couldn’t understand
anything  he said.  At the conclusion of his talk, he said, while crying, “...now he 
has died.” and closed the book in his hand.

The idol I referred to above was then moved to another church. The next day, the 
Emperor, ministers, commanders and soldiers came to this church in a state of 
happiness.  With them were about 100 girls, who were from the families of leading
statesmen and commanders , and all the girls were prettier than each other.  If one 
were to say that these girls, who wore beautiful, colorful dresses, were heavenly 
fairies or Earthly ones, because of their peacock feathered wings, he would not be
far off. 

The Patriarch again went up to the high spot and spoke.  At the end of his remarks 
he said “...now he is living.” and closed the book.  After certain orders were given, 
cannons were fired from various locations.  At this point the Patriarch placed the 
statues of the Prophet Jesus and Mary – may peace be upon them both – on silver 
poles.  The Emperor, together with the girls I mentioned, took these statues on foot 
with great pomp and joy back to the first church. 

The City of Ebaiye (Salvador)

salvador brazil map ile ilgili görsel sonucu

Upon receiving an invitation, I left Rio de Janeiro and went to the city of Ebaiye 
(Salvador).   Although the  city is quite large, production is minimal.  It is situated 
at the 17th degree latitude, south, and approximately the 38th parallel longitude, west. 
There is plenty of water and the weather is extremely hot.  The main food of the 
populace here is the farine that I mentioned before.  In one garden in the city I saw
an enormous silver cage, which was filled with various sorts of birds.  The best 
kind of pedigree parrots are raised here.  One parrot that was brought to 
me memorized the call to prayer after hearing it a few times.  But whatever it
 memorizes only lasts in its memory a short while.  According to what some people
 say, there is a type of parrot that doesn’t forget what it has learned but I never saw
 one of these.

There is a great bay here between two mountains.  The width of the bay is 30 miles 
and its length is 200 miles.  A fish called whale is hunted in this bay and large ones 
are sold for up to 1,000 liras.  I went to see one of these whales being hunted.  It is
 quite a strange animal, with a head nearly half the size of its body.   The animal’s 
width was about 5 meters and its length 20 meters.   Since it is a very powerful animal,
when it is hunted it sometimes destroys and sinks the fishing boats.  From its head 
alone, 40 barrels of oil are filled and some people say this amount may be even more.
Hunting whales is quite an adventure.

The Moslems of Ebaiye (Salvador)

salvador brazil moslems 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu

There are more Moslems in Ebaiye (Salvador) than in other cities.  But since
 they are not very interested in learning the rules and information about religion, 
they are no different from those in other cities, from the standpoint of ignorance.  In
 fact, as the example below shows, with regard to their wedding customs, they are
 much worse than other Moslems.

When a Moslem in Ebaiye wants to marry, he brings the girl home to try her out,
 lying down with her before marriage.  The girl is kept in the home until she bears
 a child.  If during this time the girl shows obedience, protects the man’s secrets and
genuinely gains his love then the Moslem agrees to marry her and a marriage is 
conducted.  If it all doesn’t work out, the girl returns to her family with the child.

As soon as I came here my first effort was to try to get rid of this illegitimate 
marriage custom.   As an experiment, I had one or two of these Moslems who had
 such women, get married in exchange for a specified dowry.   Additionally, I 
explained to them the rules of Islam with regard to divorce, when necessary.

The month of Ramazan came and they showed a lot of interest in ‘teravih’ prayers 
(the supererogatory night service in Ramazan performed immediately after the 
prescribed night service of worship.)  In order to make it easy for them, I said 10 
‘rekat’ tevarih prayers (complete act of worship with prescribed postures.) each night.

The Moslem women of Ebaiye don’t wear ‘tesettür’ head coverings and tour
around with their heads uncovered.  When one of them dies their relatives and 
friends go to the church and have the Bible read for the soul of the departed, giving
alms to the priest, as well.  I told them that this was forbidden and prohibited it.

Most of the Moslem children are being converted to Christianity.  The main reasons 
for this are that they live side by side with the Christians and there are many priests. 
When a child sees that no one else opposes the community except his father, 
naturally  the child thinks his father is lying and he conforms with the majority.  For 
this reason,  I told the Moslems to keep their children separate from the Christians 
until Moslems  have wealth and power  and until the children can tell right from 
wrong.  I stayed in  Ebaiye one full year and tried as best I could to teach people the 
tenets of Islam. 

//END of PART X//

19 Haziran 2018 Salı

TNT History Mini-Series: Accidental Turks in Brazil & Beyond (1866)/Part IX

//Ed. Note:  İmam Abdurrahman relates his dealings with 
the Moslems of Brazil in this chapter and describes his
impressions of Brazil and Rio, as well.//

Slave housing Jean-Baptiste Debret

The Former Religions of These Moslems

A great number of the people who became Moslems had previously believed
in various other things.  Some of them worshiped the sea, the wind and the devil, 
and some of them worshiped the sun, the moon, the stars and other things. Their 
brethren who saw the strong love and attachments of Moslems for one another 
quickly became Moslems.  So that the Christians would not learn about this, they 
said their noon and afternoon prayers in secret in their homes. 

I Have Kur’ans Obtained

One day while in the market, I encountered a seller of old books and I went into 
his store to ask about some books I needed.  In the store I saw a Kur’an that had 
been printed in France in Latin letters.  After looking through it and finding no 
mistakes, I asked the book seller to obtain a large number of them.  The price was
one French piece of gold.  A while later the books arrived and the Moslems 
bought all of them for this price.

 Fasting and Some Other Aspects

The Moslems here fast during the month of Şaban and they treat the month of 
Ramazan like any other month.  I declared  that this was forbidden and that 
fasting during the month of Ramazan was unique.  When they fast and pray they 
don’t swallow their spit, but rather spit it into  bowls they have place for this 
purpose.  And besides not engaging in relations with women, until sundown they 
won’t even talk to them.  The eat their “sahur” (morning meal during Ramazan) 
before the sun rises and break their fast at “yatsı” (prayers two hours after sunset).
During the last three days of Ramazan they even fast at night, drinking only a
few cups of licorice sherbet at “iftar” (fast-breaking meal at sunset during Ramazan). 

Women don’t fast at all.  They dress like European women and even drink alcohol.
A woman inherits half of her husband’s estate and the other half  goes equally to 
the  other heirs, regardless of whether they are male or female.  I therefore 
declared to them the rules of Islamic inheritance and the basic principles 
regarding inheritance.  The women, though, would have no part of this.

The Interpreter Confesses That He is a Jew

The interpreter that I have talked about was originally from the Magrib and the 
city of Tanca, in particular.  Because he was in close contact with Moslems he had
learned some things about the Kur’an.  When he came to this country he changed
his name to Ahmet.  The local Moslems,  seeing his Magribi clothing, his swarthy
appearance and hearing him speak Portuguese, assumed that he was a Moslem 
and showed him great respect.

With the exception of butchering a sacrifice and performing circumcisions,
 everything he taught in the name of Islam was contrary to Islamic law.  A while
 later, when I again asked him what his religion was, without blinking he confessed
 that he was a Jew.  He said, as well, that everything he did was based on the enmity
 he felt toward Islam and was done for his own self-interests.   After the local 
Moslems came to understand what kind of a man this interpreter was, they asked
 me what should be done.  In response, I said that they should do nothing and that 
the vengence of God would be imposed upon him in the course of time and based
 on conditions.  They released the man.

Slaves transport their owner in Bahia - 1860 - Marc Ferrez - Instituto Moreira Salles

 Tribal Chiefs

Each Moslem tribe has a chief and some of these chiefs are called Fa and some are 
called İmam.  The members of the tribe appeal to the chiefs on all matters and 
problems.  Because the tribal chiefs are in competition for supremacy with regard to 
influence and prestige, they are always at odds with each other.  I tried to warm their
 hearts and bring them together but without success.  The tribal chiefs are very much 
interested in knowledge about geomancy and alchemy.   Explaining that these were
 forbidden in Islam, I tried to get them to abandon them but this was not possible.

Moslems Give Up Alcohol

All Moslems here shave their mustaches and consider those who don’t to be infidels,
shunning them and refusing to intermarry with their daughters. They consider tobacco 
to be wrong but believe that alcohol is tolerable, drinking it out in the open. One day, 
a tribal chief invited me to dinner.  When I noticed wine on the table I informed him
that this was forbidden.  By the grace of God, they all vowed not to drink  - but some
of them began to smoke tobacco instead.

Some Strange Things

Priests put Moslem children living in Brazil into pools filled with medicated water 
to baptize them and, in this way, convert many people.  They believe that the water 
in the pool will not go bad or smell over time.  Those who want to learn the truth 
about this shoud read the book entitled “Reddü’s-Sarih alâ Ehli’d-Dini’l-Mesih” 
(possibly meaning the book by Abdullah el-Tercüman el-Mayorkî entitled 
“Tuhfetü’l-Erib fi’r-Redd-i alâ Ehlü’s-Salib”.)

One of the main reasons that Moslems cannot avoid Christianity is this: when 
children are baptized the Patriarch gives the family a document that says “this child’s
 baptism was witnessed by notables of such and such tribe.”  When the government 
demands to see this document and it is not available for a particular child, then the 
child is seized spends his life working as a slave.

When a Moslem dies an official from the Patriarchy and a doctor come.  After the
 necessary examination, the dead person’s relatives are given a document.  Without 
this document, cemetery officials will not accept a body for burial.  Once the official 
and the doctor have finished their duties, the dead body is washed and wrapped and
 funeral prayers are said. However, these burials are not done in accordance with 
Islamic principles.  In order to teach them about washing a body, I washed a few 
bodies in front of them.  They don’t allow me to go into the city in my clerical 
clothes and prevent me from doing so.

Hiding Moslem Beliefs

At one time there was a major war between the blacks and the Christians, which 
the Christians won.  Because the Moslems caused this war, subsequenly they had 
to hide their beliefs out of fear.  When someone was exposed as being a Moslem he 
would either be killed on the spot, exiled or jailed for life. When I saw this I was

The Country of Brazil

Brazil comprises a portion of South America.  Initially, the Portuguese state 
occupied and seized this territory, establishing pleasant cities in various areas 
and engaging in intense building efforts almost everywhere.  Later, a member of 
the Portuguese royal family was appointed governor here and he declared 
independence, giving the country the name Brazil, which was linked to himself.

Brazil’s area is about 2,700,000 square miles and the population is 8,500,000.  
The Amazon River, one of the world’s largest rivers, passes through the center of 
the nation from west to east.  The Amazon begins in the Andes Mountains and
 reaches the Atlantic Ocean under the Equator.  Its length is 400 miles and its delta’s
 width is 180 miles.  The depth of the river is 175 fathoms.  The river water goes a
 long way before mixing with sea water.  There are rare and varied animals within 
the Amazon.  Brazil is severely lacking in minerals but, on the other hand, many 
diamonds have been extracted in the country.  Because gold is quite rare, all 
transactions are done with paper money.  Since the national income is weak, 
the government must borrow large sums of money.

 Rio de Janeiro

rio 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s capital city.  Its weather is mild, water is plentiful,
the buildings are sturdy and well-ordered.  There are exquisite gardens and parks.
The city is situated at the 22nd parallel, south, and the 45th meridian, west. 

Commercial life is quite developed but mostly in the hands of foreigners. Since
 the people are ignorant they sew and reap barley and wheat.  They grind the fruit 
of a tree called ‘farine’, which resembles an oak tree, for flour, add bouillon and
 make ‘bulamaç’ (thick soup made with flour, butter and sugar) to eat.  Because it 
is cheap and digestive, it is the main meal for both rich and poor. The eat mostly 
cow’s meat and although vegetables are available, they are quite expensive. 
For example, cucumbers in the early part of the season sell for nearly 10 kuruş 
each. And even when plentiful, the price does not fall below 10.

Each market has a chief, who oversees buying and selling and making sure that
the shopkeepers don’t swindle the customers or treat them badly.  Nevertheless,
Brazil has not reached the level of European civilization.


TNT History Mini-Series: Accidental Turks in Brazil & Beyond (1866)/Part VIII

//Ed. Note: In this episode, İmam Abdurrahman explains how he
came to leave the Bursa corvette and remain in Brazil to teach the
local Moslems about proper Islam.//

blacks in brazil 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu
            Market women in Rio de Janeiro

Blacks in America

Based on the research I have done about the blacks’ situation, they are from among
the peoples of Africa.  Sixty years ago European pirates went to the shores of 
Africa and bought a large number of people from chiefs that they called ‘melik’ 
(king).  These chiefs were constantly at war with one another and in accordance 
with their rules of engagement, they could sell their prisoners to anyone else.  In 
this way, the number of blacks in American countries increased markedly.

Because of the slavery of blacks, a few years ago there was a great war between 
the North and South in America.  In the end, they made peace by agreeing that 
blacks could not be bought and sold.  Now, most of the blacks in America have 
been freed from the chains of slavery.  Those who remain slaves will become free 
after a specified period.  The number of Moslems among the blacks in America 
is quite small.  And since these Moslems left their home countries at a very young
age, they are quite ignorant. When some of these Moslems see me they are very 
pleased and invite me to their homes to teach them the tenets of Islam.

I Go to Their Homes

After I explained the blacks’ situation and their requests to the Captain he gave 
me permission to visit their homes.  They have turned a big house on the outskirts
of the city into a mosque and worship there secretly.  I went with an interpreter 
who is apparently a Jew.  Later, I will relate all of his dastardly deeds and immorality.
I conducted evening prayers as an imam.  After performing the obligatory acts and 
greeting them, the congregation joined me in ‘sünnet’ (sunnah).  They don’t know 
how to pray as a congregation and normally pray by themselves.

I noticed one of them praying by himself.  After saying “Allahü ekber” (God is 
greatest), he bent once to the right and once to the left.   Before ‘rükû’ (bowing 
down and putting the palms of his hands on his knees) he went straight to the ‘secde’
 (prayer rug) and kissed it.  He repeated this a number of times.  Then, he said 
whatever came into his head and left prayers without saying goodbye.   While 
praying he coughed and spit the thing in his mouth into a bowl he had put in place 
beforehand.  Afterwards I realized that the Jew interpreter had taught him this 
illegitimate action, because he showed quite a bit of respect toward the Jew and 
asked his advice on everything.

 When I had the chance I asked the interpreter what his religion was.  In 
response he told me that he was a Moslem but that he had left his country before 
learning the basic tenets of Islam.  He said that he knew the blacks well and that 
since he was in a foreign country he could not perform his religious duties properly.
  Adding that the heat is quite terrible here, he confessed that last year he couldn’t 
fast for 15 days during Ramazan but since he had a valid excuse God would not 
hold him responsible.

I listened to him in amazement but since I needed his services I could not voice 
my objections.  I asked him to tell the blacks that henceforth they must conform 
to everything I say and do.  First of all, I began with a sermon and advice, explaining
  God’s oneness and power and the endless miracles of the Great Prophet, who is 
deserving of the most exalted greeting.  In this way, I stayed with them for 13 days 
and explained to them the mandates and prohibitions of religion, to the best of my 

In any case, within this period I did not see any effect whatsover from the efforts
 I had expended.  I judged that  this stemmed from the interpreter not really 
knowing the Portuguese language very well at all.   But later, after I myself learned 
Portuguese, I understood that this was not the only reason.  Evidently, in accordance
with the villainy of his nature, the interpreter had contorted my statements. Since I
had run out of energy and, in particular, because my leave had expired, I returned
to the ship.

blacks in brazil 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu
     Black slaves attending a family in Brazil, 1860

The Captain’s Fear and Anxiety

Upon returning to the ship I spoke with the Captain.  Having not seen me in many 
days, he reprimanded me, saying “I regret having given you leave. Henceforth, 
you will not meet with the local Moslems.  If the Brazilian Government were to 
hear about this they might create a problem, accusing the Ottoman Government 
of sending missionaries with the ships to create divisions among the people.  And
 I will be the one held responsible.  I have heard that the Moslems here hide their 
religion out of fear.  The people in this country are ignorant and they are known 
for their wickedness.”

In response, I explained to him the state and characteristics of the Moslems I saw,
their ignorance and heresies vis-a-vis basic religious knowledge and how I tried to
motivate their religious feelings.  He then said to me “If I give you permission I 
will be called to account by our government.  If I don’t give you permission, I will
have failed to fulfill the stipulations of Islamic brotherhood.  Since a Moslem like 
us has not set foot in this country since the inception of Islam, it is incumbent upon
us to remedy the shortfalls in this community’s knowledge  of religion.”  For three
days and three nights we considered the matter from all sides.

They Request a Man from the Moslem Captain

Then, a few of the blacks came aboard the ship.  Because the Captain knew 
English, they brought with them an interpreter who knew both English and 
Portuguese.  They addressed the Captain, saying “up till now we thought that all 
the white people in the world were Christians and only blacks were Moslems.  
Therefore, we are very happy to see you.”  Then they requested that someone be 
left behind to teach them about Islam. 

 The Captain Gives Me Permission to Stay

After the Captain spoke with the blacks, he left it up to me as to whether or not 
I would remain here.  I said that  I would remain for the pleasure of God. The 
next day, putting my faith in God, I boarded a rowboat and went to shore.  At 
the pier I was greeted with affection by those who had come. 

Without any delay, we boarded a train and headed toward the outskirts of the city.
They brought the Jew interpreter that I described before with them to help me 
meet them all.  He had me begin by writing down and memorizing some essential
words in Portuguese that I needed to know.  Since there was no one for me to talk
with in my native tongue, in a short time I learned this new language enough to 
get by.

At this point our ships set sell toward their intended route.  Before leaving, 
though, the Captain told the Brazilian authorities that I would be staying in the 
country to tour around.  They had responded by saying that wherever I was I 
would be shown hospitality and sent on.  I only learned about this much later.

blacks in brazil 1860 ile ilgili görsel sonucu
               Black slaves working a field in Brazil.

 I Begin to Give Lessons to the Moslems

I settled into a house that had been prepared for me.  Five hundred people gathered
around me so I began to give lessons a few times a day, at various times. Among 
the people there were none who knew anything beyond the Kur’an’s “Amme cüzü”
(the section of the Kur’an that begins with the 78th sura and contains all the short 
suras to the end of the book, formerly used as the second Arabic reading book in 
schools.)   Those who had knowledge of the Amme cüzü were from the elite members
 of the group, who have been given the title “Fa”, meaning great scholar.

Since their language is quite different, they have difficulty pronouncing Arabic letters.  
They use the European alphabet and there are no equivalents for the Arabic letters se, 
ha, hı, zel, sad, dad, ayın, gayın and he.  They have to pay very high prices for a Kur’an.
But they buy them not for reading or learning.  The Kur’ans they buy are left on top 
of chests merely as a blessing.

I began teaching and training by selecting young people, along with adults who 
were interested.   Each day in the afternoon I had a general meeting to teach them 
all the basic tenets of Islam.  Both the children and the adults memorized the hadis 
relating to praying five times a day.  I prepared a short book in Portuguese, using
 Arabic letters.  To the best of my ability, in the book I translated God’s attributes, 
the prophets – may peace be upon all of them, abdest (washing), praying, fasting, 
the hajj and alms, adding some advise for them, as well.  Most of my students 
memorized the book and behaved accordingly.

Those Who Attain Honor With Islam

One day, one of the leaders of the community came to me with another fellow.  
They greeted me as I had taught them to.  Previously, they would use a special 
way of greeting when meeting a scholar:  they would bow down with their heads
uncovered and then rub their eyes and faces on the ground, maintaining that 
position until given permission to lift their heads from the ground.  With God’s 
grace, I was able to get all the men to abandon this un-Islamic practice but some 
of the women continued to behave this way. In any event, let us return to our 
subject...after accepting the greetings of these men who had come to me, I 
respectfully gave them permission to be seated.  The man began by saying 
“This fellow has wanted to become a Moslem for a long time but since he is 
poor he has been unable to become a Moslem.  But now he has obtained an 
amount of gold.”

When I asked why he obtained the gold, he responded by saying “When a man 
wants to become a Moslem, he pays a gift of money to the guide as an indication 
of the sincerity of his intention.    The guide then gives the man a document 
showing that he is a Moslem, enabling him to be shown respect by other Moslems.
In fact, for this document your interpreter won’t accept a penny less than 20 
pieces of gold and turns the applicant away.  He said that the Prophet – may peace 
be upon him, has ordered this.”

Immediately, I told the man about the “Kelime-i Şahâdet” (Confession of Faith). 
And instead of accepting the money he offered me, I gave him some of my own
money.   After this incident I organized a big meeting and told everyone that it is
 forbidden to take money from someone wanting to become a Moslem.  I asked 
those attending to inform others about this.  As a result, within a short time the 
number of Moslems rose to 19,000.