Suriname, Paramaribo: The Synagogue next to the Mosque
Suriname is one of the few countries in the world where a synagogue is located next to a mosque.
The two buildings are located next to each other in the center of Paramaribo and have been known to share a parking facility during their respective religious rites, should they happen to coincide with one another.
The Neveh Shalom Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת נווה שלום) is the only synagogue of the Ashkenazi community in Suriname.
It was constructed in 1842 and is successor of an wooden one and one of the oldest in occidental hemisphere built in 1665 in Jodensavanne.
A very unique characteristic of the Neveh Shalom Synagogue is its sandy floor. According to tradition, the sand is:
– a reminder of the Hebrews’ 40 years in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, and
– the days of the Inquisition when practicing Judaism was punishable by death. During those days, marranos (those who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition but however, continued to practice their Judaism) met in cellars to practice their Judaism. They covered the floor with sand to muffle the sounds of their prayers.
The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Mosque on Keizerstraat is the Headquarter of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam in Paramaribo in Suriname, “Surinaamse Islamitische Vereniging” (SIV).
The Muslim community of Paramaribo was established in 1929. Its first mosque, a wooden rectangular building with minarets, was completed in 1932.
The current mosque was completed in 1984.
Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Mosque
As a Reformed Mosque, women are allowed to pray inside, in fact the mosque is quite unusual in that the women’s section at the rear of the hall is raised above that of the men’s area at the front.
The mosque took 20 years to build as the use of machinery was not allowed and everything had to be constructed by hand.
It is the largest mosque in the Caribbean.