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.[1] Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an and by the Sunnah of Muhammad, who is believed to be a messenger to Muslims. 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.[2]

Reasons for conversion[edit]

As true with other religious converts, Latinos convert to Islam primarily due to their newfound belief in the teachings of Islam. For Muslims, this consists of acceptance in the belief of tawhid, which is Islamic monotheism, and a belief that Muhammad is a messenger of God. This is the basis of the shahada, or declaration of faith.[3]

For example, Latinos have argued that Islamic values harmonize with the traditional values of Latino culture. Converts have cited such similarities as respect for social solidarity, the family, the importance of religion, and education.[2]

Some Latino Muslims had difficulty with the church, believing in original sin, and in the Holy Trinity. Islam solves the problems many Latinos have with the Catholic Church. 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.[4]

Some Latino Muslims claim conversion to Islam as a return to their true heritage. Muslim Moors invaded Spain in 711 and their last stronghold fell in 1492.[4]

Statistics and demographics[edit]

The terms Latino and Hispanic denote an ethnicity, not a race. Many Latino Muslims live in various cities within the United States and have shown a growing presence in states like New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida.[5] The Latino Muslim community is estimated to be between 40,000 and 200,000.[6]

In 2002 the Islamic Society of North America stated that there were 40,000 Hispanic Muslims in the United States.[7] The population of Hispanic Muslims has increased 30 percent to some 200,000 since 1999, estimates Ali Khan, national director of the American Muslim Council in Chicago.[8]

Since the United States Census Bureau does not provide statistics on religion, statistics are scarce and wide ranging.[7] A 2011 study conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that Latino Muslims accounted for an estimated 6 percent out of the Muslims living in the U.S.[9] In 2015, the Pew Research Center estimated that there were about 3.3 million Muslims in the U.S. [10]

The majority of Hispanic converts to Islam are women.[7] Hispanic and Latino Muslims also include people with Middle Eastern descent from Latin America.[citation needed]

This is a photo of Alianza Islámica at a New York City parade.


For many Latino Muslims, converting to Islam was an easy process because of the overall similarities between their new and old religions. Despite all of these similarities, most converts may experience rejection and criticism from their Latino families and friends. Like other Muslims, Latinos who practice Islam may face a barrage of harassment and threats. [11]

Latino Muslim communities have created support systems, both physically and virtually, through the presence of small mosques and online sites that provide support systems for Latino Muslims, including www.HispanicMuslims.com, www.Latinodawah.org, and www.piedadonline.com.[12]

Alianza Islámica was established after a group of Latino Muslims in New York felt that their "particular culture, languages, social situations, and contributions to Islamic history" were not well addressed in the African-American or immigrant Muslim communities.[13]

In 2013 IslamInSpanish began providing khutbahs (sermons) in Spanish at two locations in the Houston area. The weekly sessions are broadcast online to the worldwide Spanish-speaking Muslim population.[14] In 2016, IslamInSpanish opened up the first Houston-based Spanish-speaking mosque. [15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Latina/o Muslims Since 1920: From “Moors” to “Latino Muslims”". Journal of Religious History. Retrieved 17 Jan 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Morales, Harold Daniel (2012). Latino Muslim by Design. University of California, Riverside. ISBN 9781267729910. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Shahada". Religionfacts.com. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Viscidi, Lisa (June 2003). "Latino Muslims a Growing Presence in America". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: 56, 58. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Martinez-Vazquez, Hjamil A. (2010). Latina/o y Musulmán. Wipf & Stock Publisher. ISBN 9781608990900. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Mort, Steve. "More Hispanic Americans are Converting to Islam". Voice of America. Retrieved 13 February 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c Martin, Rachel. "Latinas Choosing Islam over Catholicism". NPR. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Green, Amy. "More US Hispanics drawn to Islam". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  11. ^ REICHARD, RAQUEL. "8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT LATINOS AND ISLAM". Latina.com. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  12. ^ Dotson-Renta, Lara N. "Latino Muslims in the United States After 9/11: The Triple Bind". Muftah. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Bowen, Patrick (June 2013). "U.S. Latina/o Muslims Since 1920: From 'Moors' to 'Latino Muslims'". Journal of Religious History. doi:10.1111/1467-9809.12026. 
  14. ^ "Friday Weekly Spanish Khutbah @ Centro Islamico". IslamInSpanish. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  15. ^ "First Spanish-Speaking Islamic Center Opens for Growing Muslim Latino Community". Vivala.com. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 

Further reading[edit]

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