Why So Many U.S. Latinos Are Becoming Muslims

October 10, 2013

 

Most Latinos know the country is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month right now. What far fewer Latinos know is that next week marks Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s most sacred holidays.

And yet the two observances are more related now than most Latinos realize.

Just as the U.S. Latino population is on the rise — Hispanics are now the nation’s largest minority — so is the number of Latino Muslims. And it’s not just a result of Arab Latin Americans emigrating to the United States.

According to organizations like WhyIslam.org, Latinos are one of the fastest growing segments of the Muslim community. About six percent of U.S. Muslims are now Latino — and as many as a fifth of new converts to Islam nationwide are Latino.

The American Muslim Association of North America, based in North Miami, says heavily Hispanic South Florida in particular is home to a rising number of Latino Muslims.

If it’s a surprise that many Latinos are moving from a predominantly Roman Catholic culture to an originally Arab faith, perhaps it shouldn’t be. For one thing, like African-Americans in the 1960s, Latinos are discovering their own historical and cultural ties to Islam and the Arab world. And that starts with what most defines Latinos: Spanish.

“Our language is nurtured by more than 4,000 words that come from Arabic,” says Wilfredo Ruiz, a Puerto Rican-born Muslim who converted a decade ago and is a lawyer for the South Florida chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. “Every word in Spanish that starts with ‘al,’ for example, like alcalde, alcantarilla, almohada.”

“What most Latinos who have embraced Islam find most amazing is their cultural affinity to the Muslim culture,” says Ruiz. “It’s like rediscovering your past. That area of our past has been hidden from us.”

Ruiz points out that both Latinos and Arabs highly value the extended family and traditions like offering hospitality to strangers. In religious terms, Latinos like Gonzalez say Islam provides a simpler, more direct form of worship than Catholicism does. They also feel more structure than they see in the evangelical churches so many Latinos join today.

“The connection I have with God now is better than before,” says Gonzalez.

 

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The City thinks of a new mosque for Muslims

July 23, 2013

Savona – At the suggestion of Luca Martino, the City of Savona has approved during today’s session of the Executive Council to proceed to enter into an agreement with ARTE – Territorial Regional Construction of Savona in order to make available to the Muslim community a suitable premises for social activities and prayer. The Head of Heritage Luca Martino said: “The Community has long called for the availability of premises to which, in recent years, we have responded by providing a gym, however, this does not suffice in times of Ramadan, when the attendance is much higher. Obviously this is an inadequate solution and it is temporary. This is why today we approved the use of a convention pursuant to article 15 of Law 241/90 for the use of premises located in Via Aglietto, owned by ART. ART will provide the premises at a moderate fee. The community has expressed its interest to perform, at its own expense, the necessary maintenance and adjustment to local regulations.”

String of terror arrests in US raises discussions of possible increases in homegrown radicalism

Five men in the last five months have been arrested on terror charges in the US. Their efforts to carry out violent jihad plans varied in sophistication, with more serious plots raising questions as to whether a rise in homegrown radicalism may be taking place in America.

“For the most part, these guys are not totally dangerous on their own,” said Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence at Stratfor, a global intelligence company. “The grass routes guys are amateurish and don’t have the ability to do (large scale) damage… when they get dangerous is when they get a trained operational commander who has skills to plan and do surveillance.”

Jena McNeill, policy analyst for homeland security at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said that while the United States always faces some type of terror threat, the danger of home grown terrorism has not increased.

“I don’t want to downplay the possibility that it could increase, but it is not as bad as Europe,” she said, adding that radical Islam poses a greater danger across the Atlantic than it does in the United States.

UK Remembers Islamic Heritage

CAIRO – To prove that the European country has a century-old Islamic heritage, British Muslims are championing a drive to renovate Britain’s first and oldest mosque, finding help from the local church. “Repairing…(the) mosque with British money, either from the government or the Muslim community, would act as a powerful symbol of British Islam,” Mohammad Akbar Ali, chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, told The Independent on Thursday, August 2. “It is a religious heritage that all British Muslims can be proud of.” Founded by British revert William Quilliam (later Abdullah), the mosque was officially opened on Christmas Day in 1889 on Number 8 Brougham Terrace in Liverpool. “Quilliam is proof that Britain has its own Islamic heritage,” said Ali. Years of neglect have left its toll on the Muslim place of worship.

Winning Hearts and Minds: Working Together to Defeat Extremism

In a speech by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly MP at the Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, she said: “Britain is a country that draws strength from its diversity. Britain’s proud record of respect compares favorably with any country. Far right extremism has never really got a serious foothold here. This is because, at crucial times in our history, the vast majority have come together to speak out against hate and division. But today, alongside the far right, we face another threat that seeks to undermine our shared values, to divide our communities”
The British Government’s strategy for addressing extremism has the following components: Coalitions Against Extremism Uniting Against a New Challenge A New Approach: A Security Response is Not Enough Four Strands – 1. Promoting shared values. – 2. Supporting strong community and national leadership. – 3. Strengthening the role of faith institutions and leaders. – 4. Supporting local solutions. Partnership