The Buenos Aires mosque is huge. It was a gift to the Muslim community of Buenos Aires from the late King of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd. The land was donated by the Argentine government, and the facility was paid for by King Fahd. It’s on four acres of land in the heart of Palermo.
I went for a tour on a Tuesday afternoon to see the inside of the facility, and get more information on this massive building, that quite honestly looks a little out of place in South America. The tour was free, and started at noon. I arrived fifteen minutes early, met an American friend of mine at the gates, and waited for the tour to start. I thought, it being a mosque, that the tours would run on time, and not on ‘Latino time.’ I was wrong. The tour started about twenty minutes late. I guess we’re still in South America, even when visiting something that originates from the Middle East.
We entered the complex, and were greeted by a beautiful fountain in the middle of a courtyard. There were two turrets to our right, a meeting room directly ahead of us, and a school to our left. The space was surprisingly, to me, full of activity. From what I had read before visiting, it was mostly a symbolic place, and there weren’t actually many practicing Muslims in Buenos Aires. Well, from the amount of kids running around, veiled women following said kids, and men going about their business, I can tell you that it is more than just symbolic.
Much of the tour was spent explaining to the group what Islam is about, and how it is represented by the Buenos Aires mosque. Our guide, whom I believe to be from outside of Buenos Aires, because I could understand what he was saying, explained that education was held in high regard in their faith. He outlined the guidelines for entry to the school, and told the group that their children did not have to be Muslims to attend the school. This seemed to interest the group.
The dynamics of the group were interesting. Alex and I were the only non-Argentines on the tour, and the ensuing conflict between a Catholic tour group, and a Muslim tour guide were interesting. Our tour guide made it very clear that Islam was the one true representative of the one true God. That the story of God had not finished with Jesus, but with Mohammed, and that Christians were misguided for not taking Mohammed’s teachings into account.
Quite honestly, the preaching I could have done without. However, you could see that this man was a true believer in his faith, and wanted to share it with fellow Latinos (and me.) If you’re interested in taking the tour of the Buenos Aires mosque, I’d say it’s worthwhile. If you’re not into being proselytized to, and don’t speak Spanish, then you’re in luck. Just enjoy the beautiful buildings, admire the Middle Eastern architecture, and contemplate the world dynamics that brought a mosque to the heart of Buenos Aires.
How to Get to the Buenos Aires Mosque
The King Fahd Mosque or Mezquita de Rey Fahd is located on Juan B Justo between Santa Fe and Libertador in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires. The tours are every Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday at noon(ish).