Hispanic and Latino American Muslims
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Hispanic and Latino American Muslims are Hispanic and Latino Americans who are of the Islamic faith. Hispanic and Latino Americans are an ethnolinguistic group of citizens of the United States with origins in the countries of Latin America or the Iberian peninsula. Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an and by the Sunnah and of Muhammad, who is believed to be a messenger to Muslims. Latinos are largely Roman Catholic and estimates suggest that fewer than 0.5% of them are Muslim.
Reasons for conversion
Latinos may argue that Islamic values harmonize with the traditional values of Latino culture. Converts may, for example, cite such similarities as respect for social solidarity, the family, the importance of religion, and education.
The Spaniards took the Roman Catholic faith to Latin America, and Roman Catholicism continues to be the largest, but not the only, religious denomination amongst most Hispanics. However, some Latinos leave the Roman Catholic Church for a wide variety of reasons.
Dr. Fathi Osman, resident scholar at the Omar Foundation, says "in their own countries Hispanics did not see the Church supporting the rights of the poor. Rather it sided with the rich and the influential." This, he argues, has contributed to some Latinos converting to Islam.
Other reasons for conversion include belief in Islamic teachings. Among such reasons include an acceptance in the belief of tawhid, which is Islamic monotheism, and a belief that Muhammad is a messenger of God. Conversion is largely a personal choice, so reasons for conversion vary widely.
Statistics and demographics
The terms Latino and Hispanic denote an ethnicity, not a race. Many Latino Muslims live in various cities within the United States, their numbers estimated to be between 70,000 and 200,000. Conversion has had a growing presence in states like New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida. Since the United States Census Bureau does not provide statistics on religion, statistics are scarce and wide ranging. Some estimates say there are between 15,000 to 50,000 Hispanic Muslims in the United States. In 2002 the Islamic Society of North America stated that there were 40,000 Hispanic Muslims in the United States. The majority of Hispanic converts to Islam are women. Hispanic and Latino Muslims also include people with Middle Eastern descent from Latin America.
Latino Muslims may become ostracized by three different sectors of society: fellow Latinos who see conversion as cultural betrayal, people of Muslim-majority origin who may see them as ingenuine, and Americans of any backgrounds who are suspicious of Islam. The latter may be as a result of Latino Muslims who have been arrested on terror-related crimes, such as José Padilla.
Latino Muslim organizations include the Latino American Dawah Organization and Alianza Islámica. The Alianza Islámica is the oldest Latino Muslim organization in the United States. It was founded in 1975 by a group of Puerto Rican Islamic converts. Other Latino Muslim organizations include the La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América (LALMA), Latino Muslims of Chicago, the Latino Muslim Association of the San Fernando Valley (LMASFV), Alameda Islamica: Latino Muslims of the Bay Area, PIEDAD, the Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA), and IslamInSpanish.
- Islam in the United States
- Latin American Muslims
- Islam in Mexico
- Islam in Spain
- Black Muslims
- Viscidi, Lisa (June 2003). "Latino Muslims a Growing Presence in America". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: 56, 58. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- "More Hispanic Americans are Converting to Islam" - Voice of America, Steve Mort (Orlando, Florida). Retrieved on 13 February 2007.
- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6133579 "Latinas Choosing Islam over Catholicism" by Rachel Martin.
- Latino American Dawah Organization
- La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América
- Latino Muslims of Chicago
- Information on Latino Muslims in the greater Los Angeles area.
- Alameda Islamica of Northern California