the Moslems of Brazil in this chapter and describes his
impressions of Brazil and Rio, as well.//
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.
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 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.
//END OF PART IX//