Latino Muslims: Islam's appeal spans many cultures
- Islam's appeal spans many cultures
By Mark Petix Staff Writer
Whittier, CA, 10/10/2006
CHINO - When the sun finally sets and the fast of
Ramadan ends for the day, Luqman Malik joins the
faithful at the Baitul Hameed Mosque for a feast of
chicken, rice, potatoes.
And Mexican food.
Islam is a tapestry, Imam Shamshad A. Nasir says, a
religion that attracts men and women of many cultures.
More Latinos are embracing the faith, said Hussam
Ayloush, a Corona man who is spokesman for the
Southern California chapter of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations. While he has has no exact
numbers, he said the shift is clear.
"Go to the mosque in downtown L.A. and you'll see a
large number of Latinos," he said. "People are seeking
a place where they feel the spirit of peace."
He said they are willing to make sacrifices to find
That includes Latinos like Malik, a Catholic by birth,
who found solace in Islam in the days after Sept. 11,
He was in college, and didn't like the way his Muslim
friends were being treated.
"People were saying they were not good people," he
said. "That's not true."
It made him want to learn more about Islam, and he
found himself drawn to its teachings and traditions.
After much study and thought, the 26-year-old
Chino man decided to convert.
Malik comes from a traditional Catholic family.
"When I told my mom, she was like, `I don't see it,"'
he said. "I actually had to move out of the house. My
brothers and sisters were not pleased. I left home to
make it easier."
After about a year, his family accepted his
"They saw a transformation in my life," he said. "I
married just the past year, to a very traditional
Malik has embraced his new religion, including the
monthlong fast of Ramadan, when all but the young,
sick, pregnant, nursing or those on a journey are
expected to abstain from food and water from sunrise
Malik said it isn't easy. An inspector for an
aerospace company, Malik says he likes to work out and
usually drinks plenty of water each day.
"My first year, it was pretty rough," he said. "Now I
Nasir said it is not supposed to be easy.
"This is called sacrifice," he said.
Nasir said Ramadan is a time of reflection.
"The idea is to spend as much time at the mosque as
possible - to pray and to learn," he said. "To study
and be peaceful, because this is the purpose of the
During Ramadan, the mosque is the focus of the
faithful. Every evening they gather for the prayer
that breaks the fast.
Then as many as 300 men and women will gather in
separate areas of the Chino mosque to eat the meal
prepared by a different family each night.
There will be more prayers later and a talk given by
Nasir on a different religious topic each night.
But for about 40 minutes, the faithful fill empty
bellies and rejoice at the simple goodness of hot
Nasir said it is a joyous time.
"We feel happy we have done something for God," he
said. "We are obeying the command of God, so it makes