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Latino Muslims Growing in Number in the US

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  • Zafar Khan
    Latino Muslims Growing in Number in the US By Greg Flakus Dallas, Texas 13 July 2005 http://author.voanews.com/english/2005-07-13-voa49.cfm Over the Fourth of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2005
      Latino Muslims Growing in Number in the US
      By Greg Flakus
      Dallas, Texas
      13 July 2005


      Over the Fourth of July weekend, several hundred
      American Muslims came together in Dallas, Texas for
      the south-central regional conference of the Islamic
      Society of North America. Among them were many
      Spanish-speaking people who have embraced Islam.

      Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the
      United States and Latinos represent one of the
      fastest-growing minorities. Increasingly, the two
      trends are meeting in the form of Hispanic converts to

      San Antonio native Juan Galvan says the transition to
      Islam is made easy for many Hispanics because of
      historic and cultural traditions dating back to the
      time when Muslims ruled much of Spain.

      "Islam was in Spain for over 700 years. Spanish, as we
      speak it today, has been highly influenced. There are
      over a thousand words which have Arabic roots,” says
      Mr. Galvan. “Muslims and Latinos have a lot of
      similarities. Both appreciate family, both appreciate
      religion and I think that is one of the reasons that a
      lot of Latinos are coming to Islam."

      The Islamic period in Spain came to an end when
      Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella succeeded in
      driving the Muslim Moors from the Iberian Peninsula in

      To this day, many Hispanic Christians maintain a
      negative view of Islam, which has been reinforced by
      images of terrorism and unrest in the predominantly
      Muslim Middle East.

      Muslim converts try to counter that image by
      presenting theirs as a religion of peace and

      Latino Muslims are encouraged by the success of Islam
      among African-Americans. Nearly half of all Muslims in
      the United States today are black, as are around 90
      percent of all new converts to the religion.

      Dallas resident Mustafa Carroll says Islam has spread
      among blacks and other minorities by the example
      Muslims have provided. "We are not out proselytizing
      and we are not asking people to do it. All we do is
      present the word and people take it."

      One of the biggest sources of new converts to Islam is
      the U.S. prison system. Mustafa Carroll says Muslim
      brothers offer support to those inmates who want to
      change their lives.

      "We have a very dynamic inner-prison group right now
      in the Dallas, Texas area, which helps a lot of
      inmates to come out. They start the transformation in
      prison and then they get help to stay out of prison
      once they get out."

      At the Islamic Society conference, one
      Mexican-American man told how his conversion to Islam
      took him away from a life of crime. He says his faith
      and the support of his brother Muslims has given him a
      new life.

      For most Latino Muslim converts the transition is
      generally less dramatic. Reyna Cazares converted some
      months after her husband and daughter. "I was
      undecided in accepting all of it, in accepting the
      part that is very difficult for us Hispanics."

      One of the things that she found difficult at first
      was the role of the Muslim woman, but Reyna says there
      are advantages in this new life she has chosen.

      "The woman has her rights in Islam and they are
      respected by the man. The man and woman cooperate in
      following the rules established by God."

      There are no firm figures on how many Latinos have
      converted to Islam, although there is an estimate of
      around 40,000, a small number compared to the overall
      U.S. Latino population of more than 35 million. But
      Latino Muslims say they believe many more will follow
      in their path as they spread the word about Islam in
      their communities.

      More on Latino Muslims at:

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