My name is Erin and now I’m living in Colombia for 4 months as a part of ELE Focalae Program. Normally, I live in Indonesia, which has the most muslim population in the world, so it’s not hard to pray or to eat halal food.
Like other non-muslim country, Colombia is one of those, which has a really small amount of muslim population. There are only few mosques (La Mesquita) in here. Even in the capital there’s only one. In the city where I live, luckily I found a mesquita, which I think look like a Musholla, a smaller version of mosque for Indonesian people.
Here I’ll share 5 Tips needed as a Muslim to live in Colombia.
1. Praying Time (Sholat)
I use application such as Athan Pro ir Prayer Plus in order to know Qibla (praying direction) and praying time. However, to find a place to pray is quite a challenge, some places that I’ve tried: classrooms (por supuesto), beach, fitting room and parks. Luckily, my generous professor always allow me to pray in our classroom 🙂 Be ready to be stared by people from head to toe when you are praying in open places, and be careful to choose place to pray in public places like centro commercial, sometimes the securities (vigilante) don’t allow you. So, it’s recommended to pray in a close area than in open one and it’s also more comfortable for you.
For food, there is no choice for pure halal food. I haven’t found any halal store/ halal meat store. But in restaurants they always have option for non-pork items. Just always ask what kind of beef and ask more detail what kind of broth in their soup as well. To be safe better order vegetarian menu of course. And for drinks, here the Colombians drink a lot of beers but it won’t be a problem for Muslims since they always have other choices for drinks.
3. Muslim People (The Musulmans)
For the Muslim community, I’ve only met few people in the mosque. Some of them have just converted to be Moslems, but others have confide to Islam for more than 6 years. There are also many Lebanese Muslim here in Bucaramanga and he was even the Imam of the Shalat Ied when we were celebrating Idul Adha in September 2016.
4. Know More about Islam
Remember, always be ready to explain more about Islam, as a good Muslim ambassador. Colombians know so little things about La Islamita, but they know that some principals are similar like the principals in Catholique, which is the major religion in here.
But who knows within next few years there will be more Muslims or more Islamic culture here in Colombia?
5. Speak Spanish
In order to practice tips number 1-4, it’s just better of course if you can speak Spanish fluently. This is actually the most important tips above all.
Erin. Oiba, 15 Oct 2016.