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Latinos face kin's fears over Islam - Denver Post, USA

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  • Zafar Khan
    Latinos face kin s fears over Islam Converts gather in Denver to share their stories of adjusting to loved ones who misunderstand the religion. By Virginia
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2005
      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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