Islam in Portugal

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According to the 1991 census recorded by Instituto Nacional de Estatística (the National Statistical Institute of Portugal), there were 9,134 Muslims in Portugal, about 0.1% of the total population.[1] The Muslim population in 2019 was approximately 65,000 people.[2] The majority of Muslims in the country are Sunni, followed by approximately 5,000 to 7,000 Shias Muslims.[3] There is also a small number of Ahmadiyya Muslims.[4] Most of the Muslim population originates from the former Portuguese overseas provinces of Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, most of the latter having their origin in the Indian subcontinent. Most of the Muslims are from Syria and Mozambique.


Old Mosque in Mértola. Converted into a church

From 711 to 1249, much of the territory of what is now Portugal (namely south of the Mondego river, but particularly in the Alentejo and the Algarve) was colonized by Arab Muslims, and was called Gharb Al-Andalus (the west of Al-Andalus). The Portuguese Reconquista forced the Arabs out of Algarve in 1249. However, their presence in Andalusia, a neighboring Spanish region, would stay strong for another 250 years.[5] This presence has left some cultural heritage in Portugal, such as Islamic art. The town of Mértola, in the Alentejo, possesses the only partial remains in the country of an ancient mosque, changed and converted into a Catholic church (Church of Nossa Senhora da Anunciação) after the Reconquista.

Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims[edit]

The Aga Khan Development Network has been present in Portugal since 1983. Agreements were established between the Ismaili Imamat and Portugal, particularly the Protocol of Cooperation with the Portuguese Government signed in 2005 as well as the Protocol of International Cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was signed in 2008.

In 2015, Lisbon was chosen to be the global seat of the Nizari Shi'a community; the second largest Shi'a denomination in the world. In July 11th, 2018 the Aga Khan decided to move his global headquarters along with his official residence to Portugal. On June 3rd, 2015 Portugal's Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Rui Machete and His Highness the Aga Khan signed a landmark Agreement between the Republic of Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat for the establishment of a formal Seat of the Aga Khan in Portugal. [6] The accord, which was approved by Portugal's Parliament and the President of the Portuguese Republic, will result in intensified cooperation between Portugal and the Aga Khan Development Network in supporting research and the knowledge society as well as improving the quality of life of Portugal's inhabitants. His Highness the Aga Khan recently acquired the Henrique Mendonça Palace, a 12-million-euro estate, to take place as the new Global Headquarters and serve as an administrative structure to coordinate the Aga Khan Development Network.[7] Rui Machete told the Portuguese daily national newspaper Público, “It is natural that an institution with an annual budget of between €600-€900 million will bring something to Portugal." [8] The Aga Khan stated that he also has goals to, “plough money into health and social protection services in Portugal." [8] The Aga Khan is followed by more than 15 million Muslims worldwide, of which 15 thousand who live in Portugal.[7]

The Aga Khan Development Network moving its headquarters to Lisbon, Portugal allows there to be a connection between Lisbon and the rest the world in which the Aga Khan Development Network is affiliated. The international organization has many ties to Lisbon, not only because the Ismaili population is one of the biggest there, but also because most funding is coming from private sector partners which are located within Lisbon. Through various programs and initiatives, The Aga Khan Development Network is drastically changing the quality of life in Portugal in ways that are beneficial to people living there. The Aga Khan Development Network has been present in Portugal since 1983 focusing on research and innovative direct intervention in the areas of early childhood education, social exclusion and urban poverty. [7] The activities in Portugal operate within the framework of the agreements established between the Aga Khan Development Network and the Protocol of Cooperation with the Portuguese Government.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statistics Portugal - Web Portal". Archived from the original on 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  2. ^ "Muslim Population By Country 2020". World Population Review.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Charles (2002). Islam, Europe's Second Religion: The New Social, Cultural, and Political Landscape. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-97608-8.
  4. ^ Shireen Hunter (2002). Islam, Europe's Second Religion: The New Social, Cultural, and Political Landscapes. Praeger Publishers. p. 193. ISBN 0-275-97608-4. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ "The Islamic heritage in Portugal's past". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  6. ^ "Aga Khan Moves to Portugal". Portugal Resident.
  7. ^ a b c "Historic agreement establishes Global Seat of Ismaili Imamat in Portugal". The Ismaili News. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b Pincha, João Pedro. "Obras no palacete de Aga Khan ainda não começaram e já causam preocupação". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2019-11-12.

External links[edit]