Latinos face kin's fears over Islam - Denver Post, USA
- Latinos face kin's fears over Islam
Converts gather in Denver to share their stories of
adjusting to loved ones who misunderstand the
By Virginia Culver
Denver Post Staff Writer
Latino Muslims say it's a lot easier to convert to
Islam than to convince family members it's a good
Some Latino Muslim converts gathered in Denver on
Saturday to discuss problems they have in adjusting to
their new religion, keeping up family relationships
and putting up with rejection from people who fear
Misunderstandings about Islam are rampant, said the
converts, many of whom were reared as Catholics.
Juan Galvan of San Antonio said that after the 2001
terrorist attacks, his sister asked: "Who's your pope?
Is it Osama bin Laden? He started a holy war."
Galvan tried to explain to her that Muslims have no
central leader, and if they did, it wouldn't be bin
Galvan, who is with the Latino American Dawah
Association, the organization for Latino Muslims, said
no one knows the number of Latino Muslims, but
estimates are from 25,000 to 75,000 in the United
There are only a handful in Denver.
But Dilsher Nawaz, a board member of the Colorado
Muslim Society, said Latino Muslims are not unusual.
"They are absolutely welcome in our mosque," Nawaz
A Pakistani, Nawaz said there are Chinese and South
Asian and even American Indian Muslims.
Judith Martinez said her mother was "shocked" that she
had become a Muslim.
"My family thinks it's a phase I'll snap out of," she
But the Denver-area converts, ranging in age from 24
to 38, said Islam isn't something they're going to
leave anytime soon.
"I feel complete now," Martinez said. "And I think my
mother sees the changes in me. I'm a better person."
Luzviminda Arguello of Aurora said she has found her
purpose in life.
"It is to serve God," she said.
Latinos come to Islam through various routes. Some
have dated or married Muslims, others were on a
religious search and settled on Islam, and others
began studying the religion after the 2001 attacks
because they wanted to understand the religion. Many
take Muslim first names.
"Roman Catholicism never sat well with me. I always
felt we were praying to saints and statues. Now I pray
to God," said Missy "Nada" Sandoval, who married a
Khalid Rosa said he was reared a Catholic but studied
several religions. At one time, he was studying to
become an Episcopal priest but decided the church "was
too focused on politics and power and not on bringing
people to church."
"I like the beliefs in Islam: God, Mohammed,
community," Rosa said.
"I like Islam because it's a way of life," said
Christina Ennayer. "Muslims believe in ethics in all
parts of our lives."
Staff writer Virginia Culver can be reached at
303-820-1223 or vculver@....
More about Latino Muslims at:
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