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Latino Muslims: Islam's appeal spans many cultures

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  • Zafar Khan
    Islam s appeal spans many cultures By Mark Petix Staff Writer Whittier, CA, 10/10/2006 http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_4454856 CHINO - When the sun
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2006
      Islam's appeal spans many cultures
      By Mark Petix Staff Writer
      Whittier, CA, 10/10/2006

      http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_4454856

      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 peace.

      That includes Latinos like Malik, a Catholic by birth,
      who found solace in Islam in the days after Sept. 11,
      2001.

      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
      conversion.

      "They saw a transformation in my life," he said. "I
      married just the past year, to a very traditional
      Muslim lady."

      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
      to sunset.

      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
      accept it."

      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
      Ramadan."

      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
      meal.

      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
      me happy."

      mark.petix@...

      (909) 597-8250
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      http://www.islamawareness.net/LatinAmerica/
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