The LADO Group - Latino Muslims

In the name of Allah SWT

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The Latino Muslim Voice

The April-June 2006 newsletter features:

1. Quotes of the Month
2. "Jahannamburgers" By Isa Lima
3. "E-Dawah: Fundamentals and Methods" By Juan Galvan
4. "In Between Religions (Regressa a tu Senior y tu Cultura Latino)" By Raheel Rojas
5. "Do Muslims have a Sense of Humor?" By Juan Alvarado
6. "Latino Muslims in Chicago" By Juan Galvan
7. "The Great Sixth Annual Sisterhood Event in Chicago" By Rebecca AbuQaoud
8. "Latinos Musulmanes: Un Grupo en Crecimiento" Por Pilar Marrero
9. "Cero Tolerancia" Por Sh. Yahya Juan Suquillo
10. "Response by a Cristina Show producer"

Quotes of the Month

"The servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, 'Peace!'" - Qur'an 25:63.

"And they spend not any sum, small or great, nor do they traverse a valley, but it is written down for them, among their good works, that Allah may give them the best reward for what they did." - Quran 9:121.

Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, "Be on your guard against committing oppression, for oppression is a darkness on the Day of Resurrection. And, be on your guard against small-mindedness for (it) destroyed those who were before you, (by inciting) them to shed blood and to make lawful what was unlawful." - Sahih Muslim 32.6248. Narrated by Jabir b. Abdullah.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbor and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet." - Sahih Bukhari 8.73.158. Narrated by Abu Huraira.

"When you die, if you go somewhere where they ask you a bunch of questions about your life and what you learned and all, I think a good way to get out of it is just to say, 'No speaka English.'" - Jack Handey. Deep Thoughts.

Jahannamburgers

By Isa Lima

It's time for lunch so I'm racing to the spot,
I got the windows down because dang it's hot.
Summertime's here and I have plenty of time,
asr ain't two hours after dhuhr so I'll be fine.

But on the horizon I see what makes me run,
a lot of t.a. walking around everywhere spoiling my fun.
That nasty eye candy'll rot your eyes,
if you keep staring at it it'll be your demise.

Jannahamburgers you taste so bad,
the very sight of you makes me all sad.
I'll never get with you so I'm really glad,
on the day of judgment your haramness will go out like a fad.

They're everywhere I go, I pass them in the hall,
they're at work during the week, Saturday at the mall.
Want to look like them? Why would any Muslim dare?
Who the heck likes it when people stare?

Jannahamburgers you taste so bad,
the very sight of you makes me all sad.
I'll never get with you so I'm really glad,
on the day of judgment your haramness will go out like a fad.

You might ask why I'm paying attention to them in the first place,
I'm not really, they're just freaking everywhere, get off my case.
I'm an expert on flooring because I stare at it all day,
when I don't respond to their flirting they think I'm gay.

Jannahamburgers you taste so bad,
the very sight of you makes me all sad.
I'll never get with you so I'm really glad,
on the day of judgment your haramness will go out like a fad.

So pshh, lower your gaze, and don't look at the fuel of hellfire.

E-Dawah: Fundamentals and Methods

By Juan Galvan

The Internet is revolutionizing the everyday life of ordinary people. Many Muslims do not recognize the unique opportunity the Internet offers for conveying Islam. Many non-Muslims searching for truth also benefit from the Internet. The Internet will never replace face-to-face dawah and direct mailing of Islamic literature, but the Internet will continue to broaden dawah opportunities in new ways that benefit both Muslims and non-Muslims. With the growth of the Internet, we have seen an amazing growth of business conducted over the Internet, or E-Commerce. I want to encourage using the Internet to convey the guidance of Islam, or E-Dawah. Electronic Dawah (E-Dawah) is using the Internet for dawah purposes. There are many benefits of E-Dawah. E-Dawah can make dawah more efficient, effective, and less expensive.

The Internet allows information to be easily and inexpensively distributed to anywhere and accessed from anywhere. Traditional dawah methods have included the distribution of Islamic knowledge through printed and audiovisual literature, usually in the form of brochures, books, audiocassettes, CDs, VCR tapes, and DVDs. Much time and money can be spent to purchase, produce, print, and mail literature. The Web offers worldwide resources as text, images, audio, and video. Consequently, the Web makes learning more accessible. Muslims are no longer totally dependent upon a teacher, classroom, or library. Using the Internet to perform research can help cut research costs and is often quicker. The Internet offers year around, up-to-the-minute information.

The Internet allows you to easily and inexpensively communicate with people from around the world. Traditional networking among Muslims for dawah purposes has occurred in mosques and other Islamic institutions. The Web enables Muslims to network with Muslims and non-Muslims from any where at any time who share similar interests and concerns. Much time and money can be spent regularly calling people and keeping a staff available at a physical location to answer questions. Oftentimes, the Islamic institutions that are much needed for dawah simply do not exist. Using the Internet, traditional means of communication are transformed into electronic messages, such as e-mail and chat, and physical locations are transformed into online locations, such as websites for chat rooms and discussion forums.

The Internet is the largest communication network ever produced. Before accessing the Internet, your computer must be connected to the Internet. Connections to the Internet include dial-up, cable modem, and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). A dial-up Internet connection is less expensive but much slower than a cable modem or DSL connection. A DSL connection is generally recommended over a cable modem connection. With DSL or cable modem, you do not have to reestablish a connection each time you want to access the Internet. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides a connection to the Internet. For a monthly fee, an ISP gives you a username and password along with a software package and customer support. For an ISP near you, search the Yellow Pages for Internet Service Providers or Internet Access Providers. ISPs are often called Internet Access Providers (IAPs). Many free online services, such as American Online (AOL) and Microsoft Network (MSN), also offer a paid subscription to access the Internet.

Once you have access to the Internet, you can use websites, e-mail, search engines, chatting, discussion forums, Usenet newsgroups, and newslists. Therefore, E-Dawah includes creating websites, writing e-mail, online research and education, chatting, and joining online communities to promote Islam. Methods for online communication are helping to break down barriers that have traditionally separated many communities from Islam. Perhaps, the biggest challenge for the Internet is getting rid of computer phobia. Nevertheless, Muslims should be conscious about the many dangers that exist on the Internet. We should keep in mind that dawah means "to call or invite people to Islam." Dawah is essentially about conveying the knowledge of Islam. E-Dawah is one of the most important aspects of CyberIslam. CyberIslam is the presence of Islam and Muslims on the Internet. Regardless of the methods, Muslims must continue to adhere to proper Islamic principles when calling people to Islam. For example, Muslims must maintain the best character, such as by being patient and truthful. This paper is only meant to be a starting point.

Websites

A website is a location on the World Wide Web (WWW). The World Wide Web, or the Web, is the best-known feature of the Internet. A website consists of web pages that can contain text, graphics, sounds, and videos. Web pages can also contain links to web pages and e-mail addresses within and outside the current website. Web pages are created using HTML. A web page is often divided into sections, such as a header, body, footer, and navigation menu. A website may serve various purposes, depending on the individual or organization that manages the website.

You use software called a web browser to access websites. Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, and Opera Browser are among the most popular web browsers. Each of these browsers can be downloaded for free. Web browsers make the Web full of colors, filled with graphics, sound, and video. Other main features of web browsers include a bookmarks list, a history list, and options for changing various browser and privacy settings. The bookmarks list is the list of your selected website addresses that is used for quickly revisiting your favorite websites. The bookmarks list is also known as the favorites list. The history list consists of your recently visited websites. Today, it is difficult to believe that web browsers did not begin to be widely used until 1994 with the release of NCSA Mosaic and Netscape Navigator. Since the late 1990s, Internet Explorer has been the most popular web browser. Mozilla FireFox and Opera Browser are popular for their usability and flexibility.

When you are viewing web pages, you are browsing, or surfing, the Web. The Web can also be used for e-mail, discussion forums, and file transfer. Each web page has an address called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). For example, the URL for the website of the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO) is http://www.latinodawah.org. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the most common means of file transfer on the Web. HTTPS, often used with financial transactions, is the secure-encrypted version of HTTP. File transfer is simply the moving of files between two computers over a network, such as the Internet. To download means to transfer a copy of a file from another computer 'down' to your own computer over the Internet. The opposite of download is upload.

Creating your own website offers many benefits. Websites are an important form of communication, because people from across the globe can access your website. Web pages on your website can be printed from any computer connected to the Internet. People can also download information found on your website. Links to your website can also be e-mailed. Updating anything that you publish on the Web is simple and inexpensive. For Muslims, websites are an inexpensive way to distribute Islamic information. For example, anyone with access to the Internet can listen to Islamic lectures, print out Islamic articles, and download Islamic software, such as how to perform Salat. For Muslim organizations, websites are an important tool for common activities, such as marketing, fundraising, and distributing literature. Among the most popular Islamic websites are WhyIslam.org, IslamicFinder.com, TheTrueReligion.org, IslamiCity.com, IslamOnline.net, IslamForToday.com, and RadioIslam.com.

You can build and maintain a free website at geocities.yahoo.com, angelfire.lycos.com, tripod.lycos.com, or fortunecity.com. These are examples of free website hosting companies. The downside to free websites are annoying banner or popup ads. These ads can be removed by upgrading to a payment plan. After purchasing a domain name such as name.com, www.name.org, or www.name.edu, you can find services that will host your domain name inexpensively if not for free. Many website hosting companies make developing a website easy by offering users a selection of website templates. A website template is a ready-made web design template, which are used to control the standard items for each page, such as the color scheme, the fonts, and the layout of the website.

Although most website hosting companies provide a way to transfer files over a website, many website developers prefer to use FTP clients, such as WS FTP, to update their websites. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a way of transferring files between computers, which requires login as either anonymous or with a username and password. SSH (Secure Shell) is similar to FTP except that SSH offers a secure connection. FTP should not to be confused with Telnet and Kermit, which are better known for terminal emulation. Until 1994, Telnet was used more often than the Web. HTTP, FTP, and e-mail are the most common means of file transfer on the Web.

Weblogs

A weblog is a type of website that contains periodic postings. Basically, a weblog is an online journal. A weblog is commonly referred to as a blog. Blog can also be used as a verb, such as in "I blog," "I blogged," and "I am blogging." Many terms relating to blogs have been developed. For example, the entire network of blogs and bloggers is referred to as the blogosphere. People who blog are known as bloggers. A blogger creates and maintains a blog. That is, a blogger selects the blog's content and look.

The most common features of a blog are the blog posts, reader comments, blog archive, and blogroll. The blog posts are the blog entries, which can be short or long postings about anything. The most recent blog posts are on the front page toward the top. Readers may also add their own comments to each blog post. The blog archive categorizes all the blog posts by month and year. The blog archive may be searched. All posts have a permanent link known as a permalink. The blogroll is a list of website links to other blogs. The blog archive and blogroll are found on the front page of the blog.

You can develop a blog in the same way you would build any website. In 1999, the founding of free blog services, such as Blogger.com and Pitas.com, would later encourage millions of people to begin their own blogs. You may also create a free weblog at Bloglines.com, Xanga.com, Modblog.com, and Blogsome.com. Many websites you may use regularly offer free blogging services. Yahoo offers Yahoo! 360° at 360.yahoo.com, AOL offers AOL Journals at journals.aol.com, MSN offers Windows Live Spaces at spaces.live.com, and Google offers Orkut at orkut.com. All of these free services allow users to select a website template for their blog.

The benefits of maintaining a blog are similar to those for maintaining a website. However, blogs are becoming the most popular form of website for people. Group blogs are also becoming more popular. Group blogs are blogs maintained by more than one person, such as by family members, friends, and coworkers. For a Muslim, a blog is a good way to share your personal stories about life as a Muslim as well as your thoughts on current events. A Muslim group blog generally focuses on the stories and thoughts of the group and its members.

A blog should not be confused with a wiki. A wiki is a type of a website that allows others to edit the content and presentation of any page found on the website, including adding and removing pages. For example, Wikipedia at Wikipedia.org is an encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. You can create your own wiki at Wikia.com, PBwiki.com, WikiSpaces.com, etc. The main benefit of a wiki is for collaboration with others on writing projects.

E-mail

Electronic mail (e-mail) is used to send and receive messages over the Internet. The e-mail messages are usually notes typed using a keyboard. E-mail systems offer various services such an address book for e-mail addresses, folders for saving messages, and the ability to send the same message to many people at once. You can also e-mail attachments such as documents, pictures, and sounds. After reading your e-mail, you can reply to it, forward it, store it, or delete it. E-mail can also be printed out on a printer.

All Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and online services such as AOL offer e-mail. An e-mail client is used to read and send e-mail. An e-mail client may be a web-based e-mail service, a stand-alone program such as MS Outlook, or built into other programs such as web browsers. Many people and organizations offer free e-mail accounts as a way to promote their websites. You can sign up for free web-based e-mail at mail.yahoo.com, hotmail.com, mail.google.com, and mail.aol.com. I prefer the Yahoo e-mail service. Due to greater competition, the free e-mail services are adding additional or enhanced services to attract new users. For example, free e-mail services now offer a greater amount of storage space. They may also include online scanning for computer viruses. They also include advanced email filters that work toward limiting unwanted and unsolicited messages, also known as spam.

Unfortunately, e-mail is vulnerable to problems common with regular mail, such as unsolicited mail and mail fraud. E-mail spam, or junk e-mail, is typically advertising sent out simultaneously by e-mail to numerous people. Phishing scams are an example of spam. Phishing is a type of Internet fraud that involves tricking people into disclosing private information, such as credit card, bank account, and social security numbers as well as usernames and passwords. Typically, the phishers will pretend to be a representative, such as for a banking institution, requesting verification of personal information, and any obtained information is used for identity theft.

E-mail is also susceptible to malicious software (malware). Malware is used to display ads, break into, monitor, or possibly damage a computer. Malware is installed and executed without permission, but is not always circulated through e-mail. Computer viruses, such as trojan horses and worms, are one type of malware; other types of malware include spyware and adware. Computer viruses are potentially harmful programs that spread, commonly by self-replication, throughout the Internet. In addition to online tools, free and commercial stand-alone products, such as McAfee VirusScan, Norton AntiVirus, and AVG Anti-Virus Free, are available that identify and eliminate computer viruses. Anti-Virus programs do not necessarily focus on fighting spyware and adware. Popular software that identify and eliminate spyware and adware include Windows Defender, Lavasoft Ad-Aware, and Spybot Search & Destroy.

Regardless of potential issues, e-mail continues to be the most commonly used means of communication over the Internet. E-mail users can send and receive e-mail any time of the day from anywhere in the world. E-mail is also highly reliable. The recipient generally receives your e-mail within a few seconds or minutes. Consequently, e-mail is a valuable tool for networking. You can e-mail Islam-related information to Muslims and non-Muslim friends. You can use e-mail to contact and to be contacted. You can e-mail a letter to newspaper editors, television producers, and leaders of Muslim organizations. You can visit the websites of organizations to find the e-mail addresses you need. Many organizations actively seek suggestions, comments, and questions. For example, the media is always seeking interesting, news worthy topics to report as well as contact information for people who can contribute to the story.

Search engines

A search engine is an online tool used for searching the Web. After entering keywords in a search engine, a search engine returns a list of the web pages where the keywords were found. You can visit the web pages that contain the information you are seeking. For a more refined search, enter more detailed keywords. For example, rather than entering 'Muslim' in a search engine, you may want to enter 'Latino Muslims.' Keywords can be anything you want to research.

Google.com, Yahoo.com, MSN.com, AltaVista.com, Ask.com, Excite.com, and Lycos.com are popular search engines. Search.com and DogPile.com bring together search results from multiple search engines. Most popular search engines allow you to search for images, audio, and video files. I use Google.com on a regular basis. Most popular search engines also allow you to search for news topics of interest from anywhere in the world. You may find driving directions using maps.google.com, earth.google.com (satellite views), maps.yahoo.com, and mapquest.com.

Part of CNET Central (Cnet.com), Download.com is perhaps the best source to find a variety of software. Blogdigger.com, Daypop.com, Blogsearch.google.com, and Ysearchblog.com are popular search engines for blogs. I recommend using FindArticles.com to search over 300 magazines for articles covering various subjects. FindArticles.com also contains a comprehensive list of websites for various magazines and journals categorized by subject. If you need to search an online dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia, check out Reference.com and Bartleby.com.

Almost all search engines are now also portals. The most popular search engines including Yahoo, Google, and MSN are horizontal portals. These websites serve as a starting point for anything anyone wants to do on the Web. For example, Yahoo attempts to provide for your entire Internet needs through its website. In addition to a free e-mail account, Yahoo allows you to search the yellow pages at yp.yahoo.com and to shop online at shopping.yahoo.com. You can also search for phone numbers at people.yahoo.com, television listings at tv.yahoo.com, play online games at games.yahoo.com, plan vacations at travel.yahoo.com, and check the weather at weather.yahoo.com. You can use Yahoo Briefcase to store and share files online at briefcase.yahoo.com. To take full advantage of Yahoo services, you must register for a Yahoo ID by registering for a free Yahoo e-mail address at mail.yahoo.com. To take advantage of MSN services, you must register for a .NET Passport by registering for a free Hotmail e-mail address at hotmail.com or by registering any e-mail address as a .NET Passport at register.passport.net. MSN and other portals offers services similar to Yahoo.

Whereas horizontal portals attempt to be for every purpose and audience, vertical portals cater their content and services to a particular audience from a particular industry, topic of interest, or location. For example, IslamiCity.com focuses on everything about Islam whereas Garden.com is centered on everything about plants. Both websites are created with a different audience in mind and attempt to meet the needs of that particular audience. Both horizontal and vertical portals typically have search engines, and sometimes searching a vertical portal may yield the most accurate and relevant information you are seeking. Regardless, search engines are essential for navigating through the Web to find exactly the information you need. You may add a search engine to your own website with free and commercial tools offered by search engines and by software developers.

Search engines should not be confused with Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks. A Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network is a type of file sharing network in which files are shared (downloaded and uploaded) between computer users over the Internet. Although all types of files may be transferred, P2P networks are best known for the exchange of audio and video files. Well-known P2P networks include Gnutella, OpenNap, FreeNet, and Bittorrent. P2P file-sharing programs include Limewire, Kazaa, and FreeNet. Bittorrent is most popular for the transfer of large video files. Each of these file-sharing programs allows users to search for files to download. Hence, the confusion of P2P networks with search engines. IslamicTorrents.net is the largest Islamic P2P network. Compression programs, such as WinZip and WinRar, may be needed to compress multiple files into a single file or to uncompress a single file into multiple files. For example, WinZip is often used to compress multiple files into a single Zip file for easier distribution as an e-mail attachment. WinZip is available at WinZip.com, and WinRar is available at WinRar.com.

Chatting

Chatting is an online process that consists of sending and receiving messages by typing on a keyboard and the entered message will instantaneously appear on the monitor of anyone participating in the chat session. Anyone who receives your message can reply, and you will see the message instantaneously. In other words, a chat session occurs live and in real-time as in an actual conversation. You can chat by using an Instant Messenger (IMer or IM) or by visiting a chat room.

The most popular Instant Messengers are AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients. A typical Instant Messenger chat session involves only two users, and both people must use the same IMer to begin a chat session. In addition to sending text messages, Instant Messengers allow you to transfer files such as documents, images, and movies. You can also use emoticons, such as a smiling or sad face. Instant Messengers also give you a contacts list, also known as a buddy list, to add screen names of other IM users. Although Imers now allow multiple people to chat simultaneously, communication is still essentially restricted to the contacts list. Instant Messengers allow you to search for other IM users and to accept messages from only the IM users you want. If you don't want certain IM users to send you instant messages, you can block their screen names.

The most popular Instant Messengers can be downloaded and installed for free. AIM is available at aim.com. Yahoo Messenger is available at messenger.yahoo.com. Windows Live Messenger is available at messenger.msn.com. Google Talk is available at talk.google.com. The two most popular IRC clients are ICQ and mIRC, which are available at icq.com and mIRC.com, respectively. You must setup a username before beginning a chat session. For example, you need a Yahoo ID to use Yahoo Messenger. You need a .NET Passport to use Windows Live Messenger. Multi-protocol IM programs, such as Trillian and PalTalk, allow you to use all four IMer options simultaneously. They are available at CeruleanStudios.com and PalTalk.com, respectively. Although Jabber is widely believed to be a multi-protocol IM program, Jabber is actually an open-source instant messaging platform. When run on a server, Jabber allows people and organizations to run their own IM services. Jabber is available at Jabber.org.

A chat room is an online 'room' where you can chat with many people at the same time. A chat room is often given a name to reflect its purpose, such as discussion on a particular subject or by certain like-minded people. Therefore, you may search for a chat room that suits your interests. Once you have entered a chat room, everyone can see what everyone else writes. Most chat rooms also allow users to send private messages to others in the chat room. Instant Messengers are generally not considered true chat rooms even though a chat session on an IMer is technically a chat room. A true chat room is typically a website that is accessible at any time by anyone. However, chat sessions on Instant Messengers require the use of an IMer and are limited to users found in an IMer contacts list. I am referring to true chat rooms in my discussion about chat rooms.

Some chat rooms have moderators who monitor the online discussion. The responsibility of moderators varies depending on the chat room. Some chat rooms have moderators who determine which messages are ultimately sent out to the chat room. Moderators may also be responsible for warning or kicking users who misbehave out of the room. Some chat rooms have no moderation. Most chat rooms have at least some informal moderation, in which members take responsibility in encouraging appropriate chat room behavior. Although true with the Internet in general, chat rooms are notorious for having people pretending to be someone they are not. Requiring username and password verification can minimize such issues.

You can access chat rooms at chat.yahoo.com, chat.msn.com, and chat.icq.com. You must sign up for a username to access these services with the exception of Icq.com. Some chat room services, such as PalTalk.com, TalkCity.com, and ChatFamily.com, require a paid subscription for complete access to services offered. You can access 3D chat rooms at ActiveWorlds.com, CyberTown.com, and PalacePlanet.net. Some ISPs offer chat rooms that are available only to subscribers. Instant Messengers, such as Yahoo Messenger, Paltalk, and IRC clients, provide access to chat rooms. Although IRC clients are commonly used for one-to-one chat, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was created mainly for accessing multi-user chat rooms, also known as channels. Technically, chat rooms and channels are synonymous terms.

Chatting provides an inexpensive way for you to communicate rapidly and easily with old friends and to make new friends from anywhere. With a webcam and microphone, you can let others see and hear you in addition to chatting with text messages. Most major Instant Messengers now offer free voice and video chat services. Paltalk is among the first Imers to introduce voice and video chat rooms. Many websites of organizations offer free chat rooms to attract more visitors. Chat rooms also offer a unique way for organizations to be easily reached by members, employees, customers, distributors, etc. Organizations and people can even run their own IM services with Jabber. Today, adding a chat room to your personal website is uncomplicated. As true with other free online services, free chat room services usually come with annoying banner or popup ads.

For Muslims, Instant Messengers and chat rooms offer a unique way to discuss Islam with non-Muslims. Because it occurs in real-time, chatting is a quick way to ask and answer questions about Islam. Because it is popular, chatting provides a way of getting a large audience to present information about Islam. Furthermore, because Muslims and non-Muslims can communicate anonymously rather than in person, they are more inclined to communicate freely without being shy or nervous. For Muslim organizations, chatting provides a method of communication that can be used for networking, planning, and implementing ideas that is comparable to teleconferencing and face-to-face meetings. However, face-to-face meetings are always more preferable in Islam.

Discussion forums

A discussion forum is an online location intended for discussions. The term 'board' is often associated with discussion forums because like a notice board, people can communicate by asking or responding to questions, comments, thoughts, and ideas by posting messages on the 'board.' Consequently, discussion forums may be called bulletin boards, message boards, discussion boards, and even electronic billboards. Discussion forums may also be referred to as Internet forums, web forums, or online forums to emphasize their online presence. They may also be simply called forums.

A discussion forum is composed of message threads that are categorized by various subjects. A message thread is a series of posts that make up a discussion on a discussion forum, Usenet newsgroup, newslist, or blog. Each new post on the forum begins a new thread, and the thread gets longer as more responses are added to the original post. For example, a discussion forum on computers could include categories about hardware and software. In one category, a message thread could be a computer question that was posted along with all discussion about that particular question.

An archive is one of the main benefits of discussion forums. An archive consisting of old and new message threads is available for others to read, respond, and search. Therefore, an archive can save organizations and people time and money by providing answers to previously asked questions found on the discussion forums of organizations, such as Dell and Microsoft. Because each has a static URL, a message thread may be easily sent over e-mail. Many discussion forums allow you to be notified about new posts to message threads that you choose to follow. A forum can be a means for people with similar interests to meet and communicate, but unlike chatting, personal exchanges tend to be avoided and discouraged. The most popular forums can be accessed through Big-Boards.com. Big-Boards.com also contains a search engine for finding all kinds of discussion forums. Many websites, such as EZboard.com and PhpBB.com, offer free discussion forum services.

Discussion forums have also been called discussion groups and newsgroups. However, the term newsgroup is most associated with Usenet. Usenet is a worldwide system containing thousands of newsgroups hosted all over the world, covering every imaginable topic. Usenet newsgroups are used daily by millions of people around the world. Like discussion forums, you can read, post, and reply to messages. Unlike most discussion forums, you may also use Usenet newsgroups to transfer image, audio, and video files in addition to posting text messages. Unlike most discussion forums, the Usenet newsgroups are organized into hierarchies of topics. The most popular top-level hierarchies include alt, biz, comp, misc, news, rec, soc, and talk. For example, newsgroups you may want to visit include those within alt.religion.*, soc.culture.*, soc.religion.*, and alt.politics.* Categories under alt.religion.* include alt.religion.islam.* and alt.religion.christian.* The wildcard '*' indicates that these categories contain subcategories.

The main difference between Usenet newsgroups and discussion forums is that you need to use a newsreader to access Usenet newsgroups. A newsreader may be a stand-alone program, a part of an e-mail client such MS Outlook, or built into a web browser such as with Opera and Netscape. Stand-alone newsreaders, such as Omea Reader and Forte Agent, have more functionality than those built into programs. As with e-mail service, most ISPs provide access to Usenet newsgroups as part of their service. You may also choose to find a service that provides free or paid access to Usenet newsgroups. The largest Usenet archive dating back to 1981 is available by Google at groups.google.com. When many people refer to Usenet newsgroups, they are actually referring to Google's Usenet service. Therefore, you may use the Web to access Usenet by using any web browser as a newsreader. Unfortunately, the Usenet on Google cannot be accessed with a regular newsreader nor used for file transfer. Although you may read messages, you must register on Google's Usenet service to post messages and to create a personal profile. A personal profile lets other users know a little about you. All types of newsreaders may be used to search Usenet newsgroups.

As true with chat rooms, discussion forums and Usenet newsgroups may have moderators who monitor online discussion. As a general rule, forums should be somewhat moderated to prevent them from becoming useless for discussion, especially to limit acts of flaming. Flaming is posting messages that are intentionally hostile and offensive. These messages, or flames, generally do not contribute to the discussion. People who post such messages are called flamers. Flame wars, or a sequence of flames among various people, should also be avoided. Often, flame wars are started because people do not understand each other's intention. Flamers may also be called Internet trolls. An Internet troll is used to describe someone who deliberately attempts to disturb discussion by posting disruptive, unrelated, and annoying messages, such as repetitive posts, humorous posts, and flames. The best way to deal with Internet trolls is to ignore them, which is more commonly stated as, "Do not feed the trolls." This is also the best way to deal with spam and phishing scams. Although most associated with e-mail, spam and phishing scams may be found all methods of online communication.

Because of their centralized nature, discussion forums are typically easier to moderate and are moderated better than Usenet newsgroups. Most discussion forums have at least one formal moderator whereas Usenet newsgroups typically depend on informal moderation. Forum software may come with many advanced features to ensure proper behavior. A forum moderator has at least the ability to approve, delete, move, or edit messages. Even requesting assistance with these basic tasks on a Usenet message thread can be a complicated progress. However, posts on discussion forums and Usenet newsgroups are generally not deleted unless requested by the person who originally posted the message, and a valid reason may be required.

For Muslims, discussion forums and Usenet newsgroups provide many of the same benefits of chat rooms. Many non-Muslims often post general questions and comments about Islam on discussion forums and Usenet newsgroups. Muslims can respond to these questions and comments about Islam. Muslims and non-Muslims can also focus on subjects of interest, because discussion forums are categorized by topic. They can add new questions, answers, ideas, and information to any existing message threads. In fact, many discussion forums found on Islamic websites contain valuable information by knowledgeable Islamic scholars. Personal profiles also offer an opportunity for people to get to know each other. Among the most popular Muslim discussion forums are WhyIslam.org/forum, IslamiCity.com/forum, IslamOnline.net/discussione, Yanabi.com/forum, and IslamicaWeb.com.

Discussion forums should not be confused with bulletin board systems (BBSs) or with website guestbooks. Before Internet Service Providers and modern web browsers, bulletin board systems were the method used by the general public for e-mail, chatting, forums, file transfer, etc. Today's bulletin board systems are accessed primarily by Telnet rather than by dial-up. Website guestbooks are used mostly for collecting feedback from visitor comments rather than as a place for discussion. Unlike discussion forums, a guestbook is essentially a list of comments with the most recent on top, and you do not have an option to create a user account.

Newslists

A newslist is essentially a list of names and e-mail addresses used to send e-mail messages to several people simultaneously. A newslist may be referred to as an e-mailing list, an e-mail list, and even a mailing list. The newslist can be compared to the traditional mailing list, which usually involves the transfer of mail to several people concurrently through the U.S. Postal System. The names and e-mail addresses of the people who make up a newslist are called members or subscribers. By sending an e-mail to the newslist, a member sends the message to the entire group of newslist members. The list address is the e-mail address used to send messages to the newslist.

Subscribing to a newslist is an easy process. You usually have to send an e-mail to a newslist administrative address that may look something like 'subscribe-me@organization.com.' Depending on the newslist, you may need to include on the subject line something such as 'Subscribe FirstName LastName.' Afterward, you may receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription. This e-mail will explain how to complete the subscription process. This e-mail will also explain how to unsubscribe from the list. You can also subscribe to some newslists on the Web using an online form. Administrative addresses are used to perform newslist functions such as subscribing and unsubscribing from newslists and changing newslist options.

Although they are technically different, a newslist may also be referred to as a distribution list. Unlike a newslist, a distribution list is created using an e-mail client to send the same message to many people at once. The term may also refer to an email client's ability to create such lists. Consequently, a message is sent to a distribution list using an e-mail client rather than sent to a list address. A distribution list does not have an automated method for subscribing and unsubscribing from the list, because a newslist program does not operate distribution lists. Furthermore, a distribution list also lacks the flexible options that a newslist program may offer.

Before modern web browsers, ListServ, ListProc, and Majordomo were the most popular newlist programs. ListServ, which was founded in 1986, is the first newslist program. Today, the term 'listserv' is often used to mean any newslist. Like ListServ, ListProc and Majordomo were commonly found on UNIX operating systems. Many mailing lists still run using Majordomo or ListProc, both of which today may be configured for the Web. Currently, the most popular free newslist services are Yahoo Groups at groups.yahoo.com, Google Groups at groups.google.com, MSN Groups at groups.msn.com and Groups@AOL at groups.aol.com. These groups are newslists with added functionality and may be referred to as discussion forums.

I recommend Yahoo Groups, because the service is exceptional. Anyone can join a Yahoo Group by browsing or searching the Yahoo Groups directory at groups.yahoo.com. Most newslist groups are categorized by topic in the directory for a particular newslist service. Anyone with an e-mail account can subscribe to a Yahoo Group by e-mailing NAME-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, unsubscribe by e-mailing NAME-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com, post messages by e-mailing NAME@yahoogroups.com, and e-mail the group owner by e-mailing NAME-owner@yahoogroups.com where 'NAME' denotes the Yahoo Group name. Notice that the list address is NAME@yahoogroups.com. The e-mail address for the group owner is called the list manager address.

To take full advantage of Yahoo Groups, you have to get a Yahoo ID. You can change settings for your Yahoo Groups at groups.yahoo.com/mygroups. For example, members can select to read messages posted to a newslist as individual e-mails, as a daily digest, or at the newslist website. Each Yahoo Group has a website where you can access previous newslist postings at groups.yahoo.com/group/NAME where 'NAME' denotes the Yahoo Group name. This searchable collection of newslist postings is called a newslist archive. The website for each Yahoo Group also contains a chat room, a polls and surveys area, areas for sharing files and website links, and a photo album for sharing images. You must have a Yahoo ID to start your own Yahoo Group and to create a personal profile. Google Groups, MSN Groups, and Groups@AOL offer optional services that are similar to those offered by Yahoo Groups. You need to create a user account or register your e-mail address to take full advantage of those services.

Most newslists have at least one moderator. The moderator is similar to those found in chat rooms and on discussion forums. The moderator is responsible for enforcing the rules of the newslist. The moderator decides what ultimately gets posted, decides who can join the newslist, and can kick people off the list who violate rules. Some newslists are not moderated. For example, the moderator of a Yahoo Group is usually the person who is the creator, or owner, of the newslist. The creator of a Yahoo Group may assign additional moderators and decides how much influence over the Yahoo Group to assign to the additional moderators. Depending on the newslist, a moderator may also have the ability to make changes to the general appearance of the newslist and its website. Moderators may also choose whether or not to include their newslist in the directory.

Newslists are a very important and effective communication tool. The popularity of newslist can be attributed to the popularity of e-mail, because a newslist is essentially messages that regularly and conveniently arrive in an e-mail account. For Muslims, newslists hold the same benefits of other methods of online communication. For example, newslists make Islam and Muslims accessible to non-Muslims. Newslists also provide a way for staying in touch with friends and making new friends. Muslims can send an e-mail message, which may even include an attachment, to all of their friends at the same time using a newslist. Muslims and non-Muslims can subscribe to newslists that focus on topics of interest. Newslists about almost every topic and interest pertaining to Islam exists. Many Muslim organizations use newslists to discuss, plan, and announce events, and to discuss recent news. The most popular Muslim newslists are those by the largest American Muslim organizations. As with discussion forums and Usenet newsgroups, you should keep in mind that posts to newslists can remain accessible to the general public for many years.

Web syndication

Web syndication is about distributing the same content to many outlets over the Internet. When considering syndication, most people think about television or printed media syndication. As with web syndication, both types of syndication are methods for distributing the same content to several outlets at the same time. For example, a television show is distributed to several TV stations whereas a newspaper column is distributed to several newspapers. An example of web syndication is content, such as articles, images, audio, or video, licensed by the Associated Press to be used on various websites. People may also be more familiar with web syndication as the means for distributing content found on blogs. All types of websites now offer syndication of their online content. The online content is referred to as a web feed, news feed, or simply as a feed. Consequently, web syndication has also been called news feed syndication. Web syndication is now more commonly used to refer to aggregation.

Aggregation is the process of receiving syndicated web feeds using an aggregator. Aggregators are stand-alone programs, a part of other programs, and websites that automatically check for updates of content from its feed list. The feed list is the list of website addresses for your selected web feeds. An aggregator receives its name for bringing together updated content from various websites. After receiving an update on the content, you may choose to read the new content in the aggregator or on the website where the content is found. You have to visit the website when only an excerpt or summary of the updated content is provided to the aggregator. Although used mostly for bringing together syndicated text files, aggregators can also bring together syndicated audio and video files. In other words, any type of Web content can be syndicated as a web feed.

Aggregators are also known as feed readers and news readers, because an aggregator reads XML files after receiving web feeds, or news feeds. Web feeds are technically XML files. Currently, RSS and Atom files are the most popular types of XML files used for web syndication. A website may choose to make its web feeds available as RSS and/or as Atom files. Aggregators that receive RSS feeds are called RSS feed readers. Atom was created as a response to concerns about RSS. Websites that provide web feeds often have small buttons stating XML, RSS, or Atom that often lead to the website address of the web feed. Unlike newslists, intermediaries do not exist in the subscription process. When you add a website link to your feed list, you are subscribing to a web feed. And, you remove a website link from your feed list to unsubscribe from a web feed.

As mentioned previously, there are different kinds of aggregators. Aggregators can be stand-alone programs, such as Omea Reader, Newsgator, and Feed Demon. Omea Reader is a free aggregator that can be used to access both web feeds and Usenet newsgroups. Stand-alone programs, such as Apple's iTunes and Windows Media Player, can be used specifically for audio and video aggregation. Aggregators can also be part of other programs, such as web browsers and e-mail clients. Websites that operate as online aggregators are My Yahoo at my.yahoo.com and My MSN at my.msn.com. Google offers a free online aggregator called Google Reader at reader.google.com. Bloglines.com is a free online service used primarily for reading web feeds and publishing blogs. Websites that receive web feeds from media outlets, such as the Associated Press, also act as online aggregators.

Web syndication has become more important with the growing number of websites that offer web feeds, such as blogs. Websites that receive web feeds benefit because they receive content from multiple websites. A Muslim website can receive automatic updates of content from various Muslim and non-Muslim websites. Websites that provide web feeds have an opportunity to reach a wider audience by presenting their content on multiple outlets through various aggregators and websites. Web syndication enables Muslims to share their blogs with more people. Websites that provide web feeds also do not have to depend on subscribers to visit their websites to receive updated content. Web syndication enables automatic access to updated content from Muslim and non-Muslim websites in one place, which can be read whenever they choose without visiting each website individually. New blog entries are automatically available to all of its subscribers.

Online communities

An online community is similar to a typical community in that both can be described as a group of people with something in common. For example, an online community is often based on race, ethnicity, religion, profession, income, age, and various common interests. However, most people consider a typical community to be based on location, especially when the group of people currently lives in the same area. Like typical communities, online communities experience different levels of communication and participation. Members may have little in common and may even be complete strangers. On the other hand, members may be like best friends or family.

However, because they exist on the Internet, online communities are rarely defined explicitly by location. Rather than face-to-face interaction, the members of online communities interact using online methods, such as blogs, wikis, P2P networks, chat rooms, discussion forums, and newslists. Xanga.com and Bloglines.com, for example, are very popular blog communities. Collectively, the actual members may be referred to as the online community. An online community may also be called an online network because online communities present many networking opportunities. Portals, such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL are well known for offering free services that enable people to form online communities.

However, online communities are largely considered to be websites, such as MySpace.com, Hi5.com, Friendster.com, and Facebook.com. These popular online communities are based on all types of people and interests. Other online communities focus on common identity such as MiGente.com for Latinos and BlackPlanet.com for African-Americans. The most popular online communities for Muslims are MuslimSpace.com and Naseeb.com. Other online communities may focus on common interests. Popular online communities for file sharing include Flickr.com and Ringo.com for photo sharing and YouTube.com for video sharing. Classmates.com is used for reconnecting with former friends from school, college, work, and even the military, whereas Reunion.com is used for reconnecting with both friends and family. Ebay.com and Amazon.com are popular commercial online communities.

Online communities, such as MySpace and Hi5, have common similarities. They consist of various online communication methods that revolve around individual members. Members can create a blog, personal profile, and photo album. Members can usually create, join, and contribute to groups similar to Yahoo Groups and to discussion forums. These online communities also offer an internal messaging system that is similar to e-mail. They provide internal search engines to explore all aspects of the online community. Some online communities even offer chat services. Members can invite other community members to join their friends list. Members can also invite their friends to become members of the online community. These online communities provide members with a personal website for accessing their profile, blog, groups, forums, photo album, friends list, and messages. Members act as moderators for their personal websites.

Online communities offer many advantages regardless of how they may be defined. Online communities are an important way to network with other people by encouraging interaction among people from around the world. Other community members may contact you based on your personal profile and by your community involvement. For example, a Muslim male can find other Muslim men with similar interests and skills that live in his city by searching personal profiles by gender, location, interests, and skills. By becoming reachable, you can connect with diverse groups of Muslims and non-Muslims. Online communities are an important means for obtaining and providing assistance. Unfortunately, people who are eager to exploit community members may take advantage of their kindness.

Internet etiquette (netiquette) should be respected properly on all online communities. Netiquette means to have manners on the Internet. With the growth of the Internet, netiquette was needed to assist in ensuring observance of socially acceptable behavior on the Internet. Understanding netiquette may help you avoid being perceived as impolite, lazy, complicated, or arrogant. Netiquette consists of recommendations and informal rules. For example, one netiquette suggestion is to avoid shouting. Shouting means using all capital letters when posting messages. Another netiquette suggestion is to use relevant subject titles for messages when possible. Spamming, flaming, and trolling are obviously against netiquette principles.

As true with etiquette, netiquette can vary widely among different groups of people. Islamic netiquette is founded on basic Islamic principles concerning manners. Islamic netiquette assists in maintaining the Islamic culture that is characteristic of the Muslim community. One important example of Islamic netiquette is to always greet fellow Muslims with the customary greeting of peace. The CyberUmmah should seek to maintain proper manners on the Internet as they would in the real world. The CyberUmmah is the entire online community of Muslims. CyberUmmah is derived from Ummah, which means 'community' in Arabic. In Islam, the Ummah refers to the entire Muslim community regardless of all other considerations. The CyberUmmah merely represents a small fraction of the entire Ummah. The CyberUmmah must make considerations with respect to Islam and Muslims.

Online communities present many challenges to the Ummah. Members of online communities must volunteer much time and energy to increase the size and participation of online communities. Resources should not be diverted from building important Islamic institutions, such as mosques and Islamic schools. Instead, methods of online communication should be viewed as complimentary tools for Muslims. Online interaction should supplement rather than completely substitute face-to-face interaction. The mosque must continue to be the center of Islamic life. Online communities may also provide only a limited view of Islam and may even provide much false information. Furthermore, because they can be very addictive, online communities have the potential to take you away from your basic Islamic responsibilities. Therefore, participation on online communities can have a negative impact on the Ummah as a whole.

Communication

As Muslims, we must continue to communicate the message of Islam. Methods for online communication provide a way to collect, store, present, and distribute Islamic information. These methods also facilitate communication among various groups of people. However, we must always continue to use traditional means of communication. You will still use the telephone, postal service, and meet at physical locations for dawah purposes. You will continue to mail Islamic CDs, brochures, and books. You will also continue to hold interfaith dialogues at churches and universities. You will also continue to educate yourself at your mosque's library.

However, now you can also write e-mail to Muslims and non-Muslims around the world. You can create an Islamic website, e-mail its link, and syndicate its content around the world. You can use a newslist or discussion forum for planning activities. After finding an interesting article on the Web, you can print the article to distribute among friends. You can have interfaith dialogues in religion chat rooms. You can use a search engine to answer your questions about Islam. You can join online communities to meet Muslims and non-Muslims. Regardless of the means, we must continue to communicate the guidance without deviation, distortion, and innovation, inshaAllah.

Original 2002. Updated 2006.

In Between Religions (Regressa a tu Senior y tu Cultura Latino)

By Raheel Rojas

Bismillah ar Rahman hir Raheem

MY WANDERINGS

When I was wandering the land between Christianity and Islam a long time ago I used to visit a lot of Muslim chat sites. I met many people who knew about Islam but did not revert. It was strange that I met these people during that time of my life. A Sikh (The religion that wears turbans) was telling me that he wanted to be a Muslim but he loved and honored his family so he remained a Sikh. He called me a coward for thinking of becoming a Muslim and rejecting my family and ancestry.

Later I had a chat with a woman who knew so much about Islam that I thought she was giving me dawah. She said that she was not a Muslim because in her heart she did not feel that it was true. In some strange way she thought that she was honoring Islam by not entering it in that state. She had such high respect for Islam but did not accept it as her religion.

For both of them, if they remain in this state until death, it will not help them one bit.

NO MANS LAND

I don't know how many of you are out there, those who are considering reverting to Islam, this is for you. I wandered for 4 years not being not fully Muslim meaning I did not take the Shahada, simply I did not consider myself a Muslim. People of the Book you have come this far but there is the final step in which you will consider yourself a Muslim. I don't know your reasons but you have to ask yourself how long are you willing to stay in that state, another day, another week, another year? Also knowing that we are ignorant of our time of death, how can we procrastinate? If you don't consider yourself a Muslim before you die nor will Allah consider you a Muslim when you are raised from your grave.

BELIEF IN ALLAH NOT ENOUGH

Belief in Allah is not enough. Most of the world believes in God. But just what do they do with that knowledge?

Abu Talib, the uncle of Muhammad(pbuh) defended Islam, helped it and protected Muhammad (pbuh) but he never accepted Islam. On his death bed he was about to accept Islam but Abu Jahel( father of ignorance) said "you wish to abandon the religion of your fore fathers?". Abu Talib is in Hellfire but is the least punished of all the residents of Hellfire because of the his relation to Islam and the supplications of Muhammad(pbuh).

The Pharaoh deep in his heart knew that the religion of Musa was telling the truth but he did not accept it as his religion because he was arrogant and loved this world much more and thinking himself God himself. When he was drowning in the red sea he was going to take his Shahada but could not because his mouth filled with mud, it was too late.

Shaytan believes in Allah, Shaytan believes in the day of Judgement, Shaytan has fear of Allah but he disobeyed a direct order of Allah. Shaytan was once the most pious creature on earth so much so that he was in the company of the Angels. But he considers himself far superior to humans that he could not prostrate to Adam as a prostration of magnification. For arrogance and disobedience and for what he has done to mankind, He will be the most punished in Hellfire.

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Do you believe with certainty of Allah like Shaytan but are not willing to submit? Do you know Islam is the truth but wish to remain with your life as it is for a while, like Pharaoh? Or are you hesitant to revert to Islam like Abu Talib in order to remain loyal to the faith of your ancestors?

ENTER ISLAM

My sincere advice is not to delay your Shahada like I did or consider your self Muslim and start praying. I was single then and had lots of time. Now I have little time and a family to take care of. I can only imagine what I could have done for Islam during all that time of wandering.

HERMANOS Y HERMANAS EL REGRESO

What can be more Latino that being Muslim. Spain was predominantly Muslim for 800 years. The shining light of Islam belonged to people who spoke Spanish, mashallah. Europeans came to Spain to learn sciences. Spain brought the renassance of Christian Europe. Islam spread in Spain through reversion of the indigenous people not mass immigration of Moors as they have you believe. It was only when the Muslims forgot their duty to Allah that Allah removed Muslims from power and removed His protection and gave it to the Kufar. In a few years Muslims were wiped out from Spain, such is the punishment of Allah.

LATINOS YOU ALREADY KNOW SOME ARABIC

I have been starting to learn some Arabic in order to understand the book of Allah al-Quran. Some words I found.

Aruz, rice, Arroz
Inshallah, I hope Godwilling, Ojalah
Allah, Allah, Ole
Baqara, cow, vaca
kuzina, kitchen, cocina
SebbaT, shoe, zapato
Roppa, dress, ropa

As Spanish speaking people we are not far from the language of Islam. We even can roll the r's like the Arabs. Say rabb = lord = senior.

NOS ANCESTROS

Sorry for writing too much. I try not to. I edited this quite abit for length. But I hope you can see Islam as more of a homecoming for Latinos. If a family member says "don't abandon the religion of you ancestors" you can tell them "I am not, *you* have abandoned the religion of your ancestors, I am coming back." If anyone should be more comfortable becoming a Muslim it is the Latino, inshallah.

DOUBTS

If you are considering Islam, bear witness. If you have doubts about Islam investigate. If there are remnants of Christainty that you cannot let go, investigate them. Who said what, why and when. Be truthful to yourself and to Allah.

YOU ARE VERY CLOSE

From the emails I have recieved, many are so close to Islam. They greet me with Salams and know Arabic words. They have surpassed me in knoweldge when I reverted to Islam a long time ago. But I bore witness and so should you (my advice). You did not travel this far to not embrace your destination.

QUESTIONS

If you need to know more or need some help, Inshallah I am here for you Latinos and all the children of Adam. I only want the best for you all and the best is submission to God. With that we can never go wrong.

May Allah SWT guide you all and may we all be successful on Judgment Day, Insh'allah (Ojala) AMEEN

Do Muslims have a Sense of Humor?

By Juan Alvarado

Ever since I came to Islam, I've been struggling with this question. I tried to find out if there were Muslim comedians and in the beginning, I found none. Then I realized there were comedians. The problem was that they did not speak English. Well, that's a relief. At least there are Muslims who try to make others laugh. Much later I found that there are English-speaking Muslim comedians. What does this matter? Lots of times, I've gotten the feeling that most Muslims are stodgy, unfunny characters. I'm sure others must have gotten the same feeling. We know why we're here. We know that we must be serious about gaining Allah's pleasure. However, there are times when we must let go. This is one of those times. This will be about funny stories I've heard throughout the years as a Muslim.

A cousin of mine, who has been a Muslim for longer than I, was in the habit of putting on a white jalabiyya during his salaat. During the time of this story, he lived with his family, which included his grandmother. Now if you don't know that Hispanics are superstitious, you better learn that many of them are. Well, one day this pious brother wakes up early to do his Fajr prayers. It's early of course and he has a stunning white jalabiyya. His grandmother walks in on him doing his salaat and thinks she sees a ghost. She gasps and moves as quickly as she can back to her bedroom. In the morning she then relates the story of how she saw "un muerto" " a ghost.

How many of you new Muslim converts from Roman Catholicism have unintentionally made the sign of the cross? Old habits are difficult to break. Many of us grew up making the sign of the prayer almost on a regular basis. Now, as Muslims, we try to take on new ways and leave behind some old ways. Unfortunately, little habits like that have cropped up in a mosque full of Muslims. Fortunately, I have never caught myself looking for the holy water upon entering a mosque.

It's summertime, and it's time for salaat. It must be about a 100F. Two brothers are in a fast-food restaurant. They decide its time to do wudu. Now, being that guys can exaggerate their need to cool off, the sight of splashing water over themselves is not surprising. That is until they start wetting their feet. A redneck goes to the bathroom and comments, "Damn, you guys must really feel hot!"

Many people are ignorant of Islam. They don't know our beliefs, and we cannot blame them for this. Lots of people think that Muslims have the same beliefs as Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. I know " I've been on the butt end of bean pie jokes a couple of times. Anyway, what do you say to someone who asks if God is black?

There are lots of things that Muslims do that other people do not. Showing others what Muslims do and how we do it can be a challenge. I've taken non-Muslims to the masjid and shown them how we do wudu. The classic experience that happens which I've heard others mention as well is the snuffing of water into the nostrils. Since they are not accustomed to doing this on a regular basis, they inevitably snuff the water up so hard that they get that burning sensation at the base of the nose that throws them back. They feel as though they're drowning.

Another story from a friend goes like this. He takes a non-Muslim to a masjid. He shows this person around. The prayers are about to begin. The Muslim tells the non-Muslim to wait and observe in the back. After the prayers are finished, the brother looks for his guest. He's looking all over the place but cannot find him. He waits a little longer before deciding to leave. Right before he decides that his guest probably left him, the guy comes out from behind the curtain separating the men's and women's prayer areas! His explanation? "I got lost." He also thought that non-Muslim visitors were supposed to stay behind the curtain while the Muslims pray together.

Way before I even thought of becoming a Muslim, I learned about the Muslim universal greeting "as-salaamu alaykum." This is a most beautiful greeting. I have no problem with it. The problem is the way I learned about this greeting. Normally, maybe one should learn from another Muslim how to say it. As for me, I learned from a non-Muslim how to say it. I learned how to say it as part of a rhyme: "As-salaam aleikum -- ham, cheese, and bacon!"

This story is from a friend who was faithfully attending to his salaat. His brother-in-law who is not Muslim was visiting his home at the time. The brother-in-law had never seen him doing salaat. Every time the brother would lower his head in prostration, his brother-in-law started looking around the floor. Apparently, he thought the Muslim brother had lost something and was trying to help him look for it. What "it" was, I don't know.

A Sudanese brother asked another Latino Muslim friend of mine to teach him something in Spanish to tell people as a way of giving da'wah. So, he asked, "How do you say, 'What's the meaning of life?'" My friend responded, "Cual es el proposito de la vida?" Then, the Sudanese brother asked, "Now, how do you say to worship Allah?" My friend responded, "Adorar a Allah." One day my Latino friend heard him saying this to people on the street. Everyone thought he was crazy.

He also told me another funny story. An Imam was giving a lecture at a masjid after fajr during Ramadan. Suddenly, his speech was interrupted over the loudspeaker by someone from the masjid administrative announcing that a van with such and such license plate was being towed. The imam said, "That's my van " wait; I'm almost done." The administration said, "No, it's being towed right now. We can't." "Can't you wait just a minute," exclaimed the Imam. "No." So, the imam said, "Make du'a for my van please."

As Latinos and as Muslims, we have had many unique experiences that many people will never share. As Latinos, we get to hear and share jokes about Latinos. As Muslims, we get to hear and share jokes about Muslims. Some jokes are completely exaggerated. One common joke is about the Latino and Muslim habit of showing up late, hence, the Latino Standard Time (LST) or Muslim Standard Time (MST). Now with the rise in numbers of Latino Muslims, perhaps, we can begin to implement the new Latino Muslim Standard Time (LMST). InshaAllah, only time will tell. Or, as many Latino Muslims like to say, "Enchilada."

Latino Muslims in Chicago

By Juan Galvan

I have personally been blessed to have met several Latino Muslims from Chicago. I met Brother Ricardo Pena, Sister Diana Pena, and Brother Yahya Lopez in 2002 at the ISNA Latino Muslims Conference. Husband and wife, Brother Ricardo and Sister Diana, have been involved in the local Chicago Muslim community volunteering, for example, with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Brother Yahya Lopez is responsible for translating much of the Spanish Islamic literature distributed by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E). A year later, I would meet Brother Edmund Arroyo who works extensively with the Nawawi Foundation. I would later meet Sisters Ruth Saleh in Dallas and Rebecca AbuQaoud in Chicago. These two sisters have been working together in organizing Latina Muslims in Chicago for over a decade.

It is perhaps quite logical that in time they would all come together to help found the Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims (CALAM). Latino Muslims in Chicago are a small but growing community. Latino Muslims in Chicago estimate that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 to 1,000 Latino Muslims in the Chicago area but they do not know for sure. Latino Muslims in Chicago are from all kinds of Latino backgrounds from Mexican, Puerto Rican, Columbian to Brazilian, Peruvian, and more. Quite remarkably, Chicago with its rich history of Islam among Americans, particularly among African-Americans, has added a new chapter to that history with the inclusion of Latino Muslims.

The Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims (CALAM) is an organization dedicated to conveying the message of Islam to the Latino community in Chicago. CALAM organizes events, participates in local Latino festivals, distributes literature, and holds Islamic study classes. CALAM is an acronym that is phonetically equivalent to the Arabic word "Qalam", which means "pen". It is a very significant word for them in many ways.

The pen was mentioned in the very first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In the Quran 96:1-5, God states, "Read! In the name of your Lord and Cherisher who created - Created man out of a clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And your Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught man that which he did not know."

These blessed verses are the famous first five verses revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) at a time when he did not know he was to be appointed a Prophet and Messenger of God. Indeed, Islam was first introduced, even to him, with these very words. God "taught" Muhammad "that which he did not know." He taught him that which is written by the Pen - our Holy Quran. And, today the Quran is preserved in the hearts and minds of Muslims.

Therefore, CALAM is a quite fitting name for these Latino Muslims who seek to introduce Islam to those who do not know, as the Quran eloquently explains. The pen, for them, represents knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment. CALAM hopes to bring what the pen represents to Latinos. Embodied in this instrument is the concept and purpose for their organization. Consequently, the pen is the symbol they use for their logo.

From this commitment, CALAM encourages Muslims to travel the middle road and to avoid extremes, which is not limited to so-called "Islamic extremism." They place an emphasis on traveling the middle road when it comes to our Deen, that is, our way of life. They encourage Muslims to be steadfast in what they believe and to be understanding when their brothers and sisters have a different opinion.

They encourage non-Muslims to explore Islam by exploring God in general. They believe that it makes no difference what the religions of this world have to offer if a person doubts the existence of God in the first place. After coming to the conclusion that the universe cannot exist without a Creator, they encourage a person to seek for God's guidance by exploring Islam with sincerity. Only God knows what will happen after that. God guides whom He will.

CALAM is best known for their annual Latino Eid festivals. CALAM organizes festivals to celebrate the two most important holidays for Muslims, Eid Al'Fitr and Eid Al'Adha. CALAM organizes these two events because they believe that it is important for those with common backgrounds to connect and celebrate on these holidays. They also want to express the importance of these holidays to their children. They always make sure the children have a great time playing games and receiving presents. They also weave the Latino culture into the festival by bringing a variety of Latino foods in a potluck style dinner. And, of course, for the children, they bring out a piñata! The event has grown in tremendous popularity. Although they call it the "Latino Eid Festival," all are welcome, and the event is by no means limited to Latinos.

The founders of CALAM hope to see it grow into an organization that can stand on its own in a significant way. They have learned what a true challenge it is to establish a Latino Muslim organization. They have been making slow progress because they are lacking serious funding and the dedication of free time by various members. On the positive side, they see their numbers growing more and more every year. Overall, they believe that founding CALAM has been a challenging yet rewarding experience. While the members of CALAM sustain its activities for the most part, with limited resources, they can only do so much. Some founders of CALAM fear that the dedication of its members will whither away. They know much work needs to be done towards introducing Islam to the Latino community and believe that Latino Muslims are the best capable for the job. Even if CALAM does not grow as an organization, they at least hope to keep up with what they are doing now. Insha'Allah.

Organizations such as CALAM are certainly needed to dispel common myths about Islam. A couple of summers ago, CALAM had a table under the community organization tent at the Puerto Rican Festival. They displayed a large banner with their organization's name and website address. Signs were displayed that explained a few interesting facts that typically catch the interest of Latinos and that most Latinos do not know about, such as our belief in the Biblical Prophets. They also set literature out on the table to give away free.

One day at this five-day festival, a Puerto Rican lady stopped at their table. Without reading any of the signs posted, she asked who they were and what they were doing. Members kindly explained that they were a community of Latino Muslims and that they were there to introduce Islam to their fellow Latinos in an effort to build bridges of understanding in these times of confusion about Islam. Upon explaining that to her she said, "Oh...well...Muslims don't believe in God. Right?" Moments such as these exemplify just how much work Latino Muslims have to accomplish.

May our Creator bless the Latino Muslims of Chicago with all that is needed to allow them to continue in their wonderful endeavor.

The Great Sixth Annual Sisterhood Event in Chicago

By Rebecca AbuQaoud

An unforgettable reunion of women reflected their togetherness and unity in cooperation, effort, organization, and preparation. Because of their togetherness and unity, they had an amazing event. Some brothers also joined the sisters to help in the arrangement on the day of the sister's event.

Around three o'clock in the afternoon, a group of sisters and brothers set up the tables, arranging and preparing the Red Banquet Room for the special occasion. At the entrance, next to the main door, a big banner read - "Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims." Meanwhile, bright lights inside the banquet room indicated a grand display of a long food table with coffee, desserts, beverages and several round tables covered with orange table clothes, each table had a green jar of water. Next to the door, there was a table of Islamic literature in English and Spanish. A projector was set up for a Power Point presentation. As the time approached for the event to begin, all the arrangements were completed on time, and a great audience of women were congregated ready to enjoy the event.

The Great Sixth Annual event took place on Saturday, May 27 2006 at the Muslim Community Center in Chicago, IL. The program began at 4:05 PM, and it was delivered in English and Spanish. The event was organized and sponsored by the Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims (CALAM). Sister Ruth Saleh and I hosted the program. First, we welcomed the audience, which represented the splendor of diversity. There were Americans, Arabs, Pakistanis, Latinas, and more. After welcoming the sisters, Surah Al-Fatihah was recited in Arabic, English, and Spanish by Sisters Ruth Saleh and Vilma Lopez.

After the introduction, the audience was reminded that Latina Muslim sisters have been always getting together, and they have been attending the mosques. Thus, six years ago, a group of Latina sisters started to get together formally, annually and regularly. They first started meeting in a house then at the MCC (Muslim Community Center). They started to get together with the purpose of learning Islam, welcoming and integrating the new sisters in Islam. It is very important for the new sisters and all Muslims to be part of the family, be part of the Islamic Community, or Ummah. Insha'Allah, new sisters will be introduced, and the sisters can greet and welcome them at dinnertime or social time.

The program continued by introducing Sister Mary Ali, one of the speakers. Sister Ali has a long history of Dawah. She is qualified in Islamic studies in addition to her academic degree. She has always been a great support to the Latina Muslim sisters.

During her presentation entitled 'The Challenges of Contemporary Muslim Women', Sister Ali displayed a list of ten rights of the Muslim woman. One of the rights that she mentioned was that in Islam, a woman has the basic freedom of expression based on recognition of her individual personality.

She shared a personal experience. She worked outside the house and earned her own salary. Her husband told her that she could keep her earned salary, and he would not take her money. He explained that in Islam and the Qu'ran this issue is very clear - "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because they support them for their means." (S-4:34)

Sister Ali saved her money and bought a computer. Her family got the benefit by using the computer. Sister Ali explained that a woman who contributes to the family something that is not her obligation she earns a double reward in front of Allah SWT. Meanwhile, a man who fulfills his familial obligations earns one reward in front of Allah SWT.

Another fascinating point that Sister Ali mentioned was the translation of Surah 4:34. Surah 4:34 states "..As those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill- conduct, admonish them (first), next refuse to share theirs beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all)." Because the word "beating" is used in this verse, she was intrigued by this word for several years. How could the case be to beat the wife as the last alternative if she is disobedient?

After studying the Arabic language, Sister Ali had a better understanding of the Arabic word 'edrib' which was translated as 'beat'. She learned that the word 'edrib' has other meanings, which do not necessarily have anything to do with "to beat."

She referred to various hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged his followers to treat their wives with kindness, respect, and discouraged extreme repulsive behaviors. She explained that the teachings of the Messenger of Allah cannot contradict the Quran, the revelation of Allah SWT. On the other hand, the word 'beating' found in Surah 4:34 is a matter of translation. Sister Mary Ali highlighted points that contradict traditional misconceptions of women in Islam.

After Sister Mary Ali's presentation, the new sisters in Islam were given a special welcome. Sisters Carmen Garcia, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Luzdary Galeano stood up when their names were called. They were introduced to the audience. Three new sisters were absent when they were called from the sister's list.

The program continued with an announcement about Islamic classes in Spanish for sisters. This announcement segment was remarkable because it emphasized how the Latina Muslim sisters took an active role in educating themselves. The sisters at the MCC started a new structured plan of Islamic studies recently. Since last September 2005, they have upgraded their Islamic studies from ISLAM 101 to ISLAM 205. The objective of the new structured plan is to study more deeply each Islamic topic beyond the basic.

Islamic classes in Spanish for sisters were provided at the MCC and at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, IL. Islamic classes at the MCC began three years ago on every other Saturday. While the Islamic classes at the Mosque Foundation started two years ago on every Sunday.

In this segment of the program, dedicated students who consistently attended the Islamic classes, passed their tests, or completed their assignments were recognized and acknowledged for their effort and achievement. A bright smile came from the audience when the names of the students were called. The teachers, Sisters Vilma Lopez and Celia Snowber, gave gifts to the dedicated students. Sisters Idalia Nieves, Carmen Garcia, and Magdalena Hanafi received their gifts. Teachers and students hugged one another among the many smiles and some tears of emotion found in the audience.

The next segment of the program was a sisters' presentation by members of CALAM. This specific presentation was held in Spanish. The idea of presenting in Spanish was considered in order to benefit the Spanish-speaking ladies that did not understand English fully. Thus, Spanish-speaking ladies could grasp and have a better understanding of the topic. This event was a Dawah-oriented program.

Sisters Diana Pena, Celia Snowber, and I presented the Spanish version of "The Challenges of Contemporary Muslim Women" and "The Virgin Mary." Sister Diana Pena and I discussed the most common misconceptions that contemporary Muslim women face.

On the screen, five points of our presentation were displayed.

MISCONCEPTION # 1. The Muslim woman is oppressed.
FACT.- The woman in Islam is liberated.

MISCONCEPTION # 2. The Muslim woman is inferior.
FACT.- The message of Islam is that men and women are morally and spiritually equal in front of Allah SWT.

MISCONCEPTION # 3. The Muslim woman is old fashion.
FACT.- Her headscarf (Hijab) is the liberation and her identity as a Muslim woman.

MISCONCEPTION # 4. The Muslim woman has no rights.
FACT.- The Muslim woman has the right to education, property, inheritance, to own a business or manage her business, and has a right to paid work.

MISCONCEPTION # 5. The Muslim woman has no role in the politics and economy.
FACT.- The woman in Islam has a role in the politics and economy.

I began my part of the presentation by asking two questions to the audience, "Is the Muslim woman oppressed? And, is the woman in Islam oppressed?"

I wanted the audience to understand the difference between these two questions because both questions have different answers. I also asked the audience, "How long ago did the women's liberation start according to history?"

I continued by presenting the status of women from the Colonial period to the most recent period of American history. In brief, according to history "the discrimination against women in any public capacity was deeply rooted in American culture." "A wife's legal status was definitely inferior to that of her husband. For example, she was not permitted to vote; the control of her property passed at the time of marriage to her husband." (Rippa, An American History 222.)

Before 1830 in the United States, colleges and universities were strictly for men; women were denied these institutions. (Rippa, 224) In 1920, women won the right to vote. Thus, according to U.S. history, the women's liberation movement began in the 20th century. On the other hand, the women's liberation movement began in the seventh century (610 D.C.) when Allah SWT revealed to Prophet Muhammad for 23 years through the Angel Jibrail. The Qu'ran and Hadith or Sunnah (Traditions of the Prophet) are the sources from which every Muslim woman derives her rights and duties.

I explained how Islam elevates the status of women. I cited various hadith in which the position of woman as wife and mother are held in high-esteem. I also mentioned about how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged women to understand the importance to education. Once the Prophet said, "The acquisition of knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female)."

I mentioned that great Muslim women made important achievements and greatly influenced the early history of Islam. Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, was an extraordinary woman who had a remarkable memory. Due to her extraordinary intelligence, she excelled in the understanding of the Shariah (Islamic Laws), economy, medicine, mathematic, Arab history, and its genealogy. On several occasions, she was consulted in the various fields mentioned above. Another remarkable woman was Shifa' bint Abdullah for her political intelligence. In fact, Caliph Umar often consulted with her for her valuable knowledge. She had the responsibility of running the affairs of the state related to trade and commerce. (Ghadanfar, 13-14.)

I had a list of wonderful and important women in Islam who excelled in character, conduct, and whose influence made a great contribution in early Islamic history. I realized I was running out of time for my presentation, so I did not mention their names. I continued by citing the Qu'ran chapters 4:7, 4:124, and 74:38 to clarify misconception # 2 - 'The Muslim woman is inferior.' Indeed, the message of Islam is that men and women are fundamental moral and spiritually equal. I reinforced this statement by mentioning one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who once said, "All people are equal. They are equal as the teeth on a comb."

The third point of my presentation was to correct the wrong notion that 'the Muslim woman has no role in the politics and economy.' I again referred to prominent Muslim women Aishah and Shifa bint Abdullah for their roles, one in the economy and the other in politics and finances. In Islam, women are an important and integral part of society. Women are encouraged in Islam to contribute their ideas and opinions. In many hadith, women directly ask Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and offer their opinions regarding religion, economics, and social matters. In addition, women in Islam have had the right to vote since fourteen centuries ago.

I concluded by mentioning that while it is true that many women are oppressed by men and by certain cultural beliefs, Islam is not responsible for this oppression. After stating my response to the various stereotypes, I would say that the woman in Islam is not inferior, nor oppressed; on the other hand, the woman in Islam is liberated!

Sister Diana Pena discussed two common misconceptions that a Muslim woman faces. First, "a Muslim woman with Hijab (headscarf) is old fashion." In the West, the veil or headscarf is seen as a symbol of submission or oppression. Sister Pena explained that her veil or headscarf is her liberation and submission to Allah SWT. She remarked that her hijab was her identity as a Muslim woman. She did not feel out of fashion at all when she wears a hijab that compliments her outfit. In addition, she found a difference in treatment. Men treat her more respectfully when she wears hijab.

She shared a personal experience that encouraged her to wear her hijab daily. Her teenage daughter refused wearing hijab. Her daughter asked Sister Diana, "How can I wear the hijab if you don't wear it?" Since that episode in her life, she thought that she would be a good example for her daughter. Sister Diana Pena was very proud and happy to mention that both mother and daughter now wear hijab at all times.

Sister Diana mentioned how in soap operas the main character of the women is reflected in how they dress. The villain dresses very revealing and provocative while the woman with good character dresses very conservative.

Her second point of presentation was to clarify another misconception of Muslim woman: "The Muslim woman has no rights." Major women's rights were displayed on a screen. Sister Pena clearly emphasized the rights of women in Islam. She also read the ten rights in Spanish that Sister Mary Ali has previously mentioned. In short, women in Islam have the right to education, property, inheritance, to own and manage a business, and to paid work.

Sisters Celia Snowber and Ameena Sayeed presented the fascinating story of the Virgin Mary. Sister Snowber mentioned three amazing points of the story. First, she explained that the Virgin Mary was blessed before she was born. This part of the story is cited in Surah 3:35-36. Second, Sister Snowber explained that Zakariya had custody of Mary. Her third point is very amazing. When Zakariya would enter the chamber to see Mary, she was always well supplied, and she was found with fruits that were out of season. Sister Snowber cited Sura 3:37 in which Zakariya asks, "Oh Mary! Whence comes this to you?" Mary responds, "From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure."

Sister Snowber said that Zakariya started to reflect about how the Virgin Mary was provided with Allah's sustenance and had fruits out of season. Then, Zakariya prayed for some child from Allah. Although he and his wife were very old, he had the possibility of being granted from Allah the gift of a child. Because Allah listened to his supplication, Zakariya and his wife had their son, Yahya. Yahya is known as 'John the Baptist' in the Bible.

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus (AS), was a virtuous woman who reminds us that sustenance without measure comes from Allah SWT.

After Sister Celia Snowber's presentation, the program continued with a segment for questions and answers. One lady from the audience asked why a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim. A sister from the audience responded that when a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim, the Muslim woman is unable to exercise her rights as a woman in Islam. The non-Muslim husband is unable to understand her beliefs. And, the husband usually has leadership over the woman in a marriage. More questions were related to 'hijab.'

After the answer and question segment, the time for Asar prayer had arrived. After the sisters went to pray, the program continued with Sister Ameena Sayeed's presentation. Sister Sayeed is an excellent speaker who has spent extensive time studying Islam under qualified scholars around the world. In addition, she is a professionally trained educator with experience in teaching and school management.

She presented the story of the Virgin Mary in English. She did her best not to repeat the same points already presented by Sister Celia Snowber. Sister Sayeed emphasized the commonalities that non-Muslim and Muslim women share regardless of faith or ethnic background. This point was very fascinating because Christians and Muslims believe in the Virgin Mary. In fact, both Christians, especially Roman Catholics, and Muslims share a common fascination with the Virgin Mary for similar reasons.

After Sister Ameena Sayeed's presentation, Sister Vilma Lopez made a Du'a to conclude the program. However, the event continued with the audience witnessing a Shahada, or the declaration of faith. A young Mexican lady embraced Islam! She had already made up her mind to take Shahada before the event. She waited for the event because she wanted other sisters to be with her during her most important decision in life. After she took Shahada, the audience of about fifty women repeated "'Takbir!' 'Allahu Akbar!'" and stood up. The sisters went up to congratulate and hug their new sister in Islam.

This moment was very emotional. Many sisters wept. Witnessing a Shahada was a moment of tremendous celebration and joy. After this exciting and emotional moment, the sisters enjoyed a delicious dinner. Alhamdulillah!

Many Muslim women came together to put their energy and enthusiasm into making the event a wonderful reunion of women. They gathered to engage the hearts and minds of the attendees. Certainly, Islam elevates the status of women. Seeing the new sisters in Islam was a great joy. Many are very dedicated students in Islam. The most exciting moment of the event was seeing the joy of the sisters when the young lady took Shahada. This moment left a very vivid and profound memory in the hearts of the women. The sisters were reminded that Islam brought their hearts and minds together. Subhana'Allah!

A Note of Appreciation

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Sister Diana Pena who was very involved in the entire arrangement and organization of the annual sisterhood event. Our gratitude and appreciation also goes out to Sister Norma Belbachir and her husband, Rasheed Belbachir. They helped in the promotion of the sisterhood event by printing a great deal of flyers. We would like to thank Sister Mary Ali for reserving the Red Banquet Room. In addition, we must send a big 'thank you' to the Muslim Community Center for providing a room for the Latina Muslims.

We would like to thank Sister Elizabeth Rodriguez for contributing toward the promotion of the event by sending letters of invitation. Our gratitude and appreciation goes out to Sisters Esmeralda Munoz and Sarah Belmontez for the beautiful arrangement of the tables. A special thank you goes out to brothers Ricardo Pena and Muhammad. Finally, our gratitude and appreciation goes out to all the sisters who brought exquisite dishes and desserts.

Works Cited

1. Rippa Alexander S. "Education In A Free Society: An American History." New York: Longman, 1992.

2. Sarwar Ghulam. "ISLAM: Beliefs and Teachings." London: Muslim E.T., 2000.

3. Ghadanfar Mahmood Ahmad. "Great Women In Islam: Who Were Given The Good News of Paradise." London:Darussalam, 2001.

4. Abdalati Hammudah. "Luces Sobre El Islam." Riyadh: I.I.P.H., 1997.

Gran Confraternidad Para Las Latinas Musulmanas

Por Rebecca AbuQaoud

Una manana de invierno recibi una llamada telefonica de la hermana Fatima. Una hermana que trabajaba en el Comite de Dawah de la Mosque Foundation en Bridgeview, IL. Me dijo que habia oido del programa reciente que las hermanas habian tenido en Chicago. Y me dijo: 'hermana, ud. que es activa hable con el Shekh de su mezquita, digale que hay varias hermanas Latinas musulmanes que necesitan educarse mas del Islam y que empiecen las clases en Espanol.'

La hermana Fatima Natour tambien estaba coordinando para iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol en el Mosque Foundation.

Su llamada telefonica para mi fue impactante porque yo habia estado posponiendo por varios meses esta idea de iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol. Algunas hermanas me habian manifestado que seria bueno y necesario tener clases Islamicas por lo menos dos meses por mes. Este interes de las hermanas se manifesto despues del programa: La Segunda Confraternidad Anual para Las Hermanas Latinas Musulmanes. Este evento se llevo a cabo el 14 de Setiembre del ano 2002 en el Muslim Community Center.

La primera Reunion o Confraternidad Anual se llevo a cabo en mi casa el 8 de Setiembre del 2001. Para los preparativos de esta reunion de hermanas, previamente extendi una invitacion a la hermana Mary Ali para la presentacion de un tema para las hermanas. Llame a las hermanas que tenia en una lista de cuaderno. Envie cartas de invitacion a las hermanas por correo. Aquella carta se titulaba "Gran Confraternidad para las Hermanas Latinas Musulmanes" y al final del mensaje mencionaba que era una vision, insha'Allah, de reunirnos anualmente.

Para esta reunion alrededor de 18 mujeres nos reunimos en la sala de mi casa. Tuvimos un tema Islamico que se trataba de Los Deberes y Derechos de la esposa en el Islam presentada por la hermana Mary Ali. Despues de la presentacion de la hermana M. Ali, cenamos juntas. Comparti con las hermanas la comida que habia cocinado que fue macarroni, guiso vegetariano mixto y pollo con arroz.

Lo que mas me agrado ver como laas hermanas formulaban preguntas a la hermana Mary mientras teniamos la cena. Fueron momentos de aprendizaje, convivencia y hermandad. Yo estaba feliz por haber compartido aquella primera reunion con mis hermanas en casa y mi anhelo era que se repitiera otra vez.

Para la Segunda Confraternidad Anual, tuve la gran colaboracion de la hermana Saraliz Kazmi. A ella la conoci por primera vez cuando vino a mi casa. Yo habia invitado a algunas hermanas a mi casa para leer el Coran juntas y compartir te con galletas. Para aquella reunion solo vino Saraliz. Ella tenia un ano de ser Musulmana y yo tenia tres anos de ser Musulmana. Compartirmos nuestras experiencias como musulmana y como el Islam habia impactado nuestras vidas.

Saraliz estaba fascinada de enterarse de que habia varias musulmanas Latinas en Chicago. Le ensene una lista de hermanas que yo tenia apuntada en un cuaderno y le conte de como me fue en la primera reunion en mi casa con las hermanas. Ella anhelaba tambien conocer a las demas hermanas, pues ella pensaba que era la unica Latina Musulmana. Yo tambien le dije que cuando me converti al Islam, yo pense que seria la unica Latina en la mezquita, pues estabamos equivocadas. Masha'Allah, ya habia varias Musulmanas Latinas. Le dije que me gustaria tener otra Gran Confraternidad de hermanas, pero que seria bueno tener comida o cena. La cena da la sensacion de que habra fiesta le comente a Saraliz y que la proxima reunion seria bueno hacer en un local mas grande.

Saraliz me expreso que le encantaria colaborar y ayudarme a organizar la gran reunion de hermanas. Y asi fue, ella y yo intercambiamos ideas de como programar La Segunda Confraternidad Anual de Hermanas Latinas Musulmanas. Tuvimos dos objetivos primordiales. El primer objetivo fue dar la especial bienvenida y felicitar a las nuevas en el Islam. Este objetivo surgio debido a que vimos y percibimos que las convertidas musulmanas no tenian el suficiente apoyo en integrarse a la comunidad Islamica. El segundo objetivo fue tener un tema que impulse y motive a la mujer Musulmana a tener un papel importante en la comunidad. Nos pusimos a coordinar la importancia de preparar cartas de invitacion a las hermanas comunicandoles del motivo de la confraternidad anual de hermanas.

Le envie por fax a Saraliz una lista de hermanas que en aquella vez eran 22 hermanas. Ella se encargo de enviar las cartas de invitacion por correo. Tambien logro encontrar patrocinadores que donaron comida para la cena. Los restaurantes Pita House de Lombard, IL y Sabri Nihari Restaurant de Lombard, IL, donaron comida para la cena de aquel evento.

Saraliz tambien se encargo de imprimir una presentable y organizada agenda del programa. En la portada del programa, hay dos damas saludandose y decia: 'Gran Confraternidad Para Las Latinas Musulmanas (Gran Reunion For Muslim Latinas, 2nd Annual Event). Y dentro del programa estaba la agenda que decia:

Salam Alaikum!
5:00 PM Bienvenida e Introduccion
* Presentacion de las hermanas nuevas
5:30 PM Sister Mary C. Ali
Tema: La Importancia de la Mujer Musulmana en el Principio del Islam y Cual es
El Rol de la Mujer Musulmana.
6:10 PM PREGUNTAS Y RESPUESTAS
6:45 PM Tiempo Social - Cena

Ambas nos encargamos tambien de hacer las llamadas telefonicas animandoles y recordandoles la importancia del programa de la reunion de hermanas. Y aquel ansiado y preparado dia llego, un Sabado 14 de Setiembre del 2002. Alrededor de 22 hermanas nos reunimos en el Muslim Community Center de la avenida Elston. Y se llevo a cabo el programa como se habia planificado. Dando la bienvenida a todas las hermanas y presentando a las nuevas en el Islam. Cinco hermanas nuevas se presentaron y sus nombres fueron llamados para verlas. Como presentadora del programa, tuve la oportunidad de mencionar en la importancia de saludar y acercarse a las hermanas nuevas a la hora de la cena, de intercambiar numeros de telefono e invitarles para romper el Ayuno juntas pues Ramadan ya se acercaba.

La hermana Mary C. Ali presento el tema para las hermanas. Fue un tema muy motivador y alentador porque menciono que nosotras las mujeres podemos organizar programas de Dawah para las mujeres y que podemos traducir materiales Islamicos al Espanol. Enfatizo en la importancia de nuestro papel como musulmanas en la comunidad. Despues de su presentacion, la audiencia tuvo la oportunidad de hacer preguntas. Aquella vez en medio de las preguntas y respuestas de las hermanas pude captar el entusiasmo de las hermanas de integrarnos en la comunidad musulmana. Alguien dijo por alli, que nosotras las Latinas estabamos esparcidas y seria bueno juntarnos con el fin de aprender de la religion.

Casi de cerrar y finalizar el programa para irnos a cenar, una joven Mexicana se levanto de su asiento para decirnos que le gustaria aceptar Islam en su vida. Aquella joven tomo su Shajad y fueron momentos de regocijo para nosotras que estuvimos presente en su decision.

Este evento fue grandemente bendecido, gracias a Allah que dio frutos. Porque a raiz de esta reunion de mujeres, surgio el interes de iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas. Hubo el programa de Ramadan y Ayuno organizada por la hermana Ruth Saleh. Este evento se llevo a cabo el 26 de Octubre del 2002 en el Universal School de Bridgeview, IL. Este evento tuvo gran concurrencia donde se congregaron las hermanas del Sur y Norte de Chicago.

Tambien presencie y asisti a principios del ano 2003 a varias reuniones de Dawah delegado por el hermano Yahya Lopez, quien se encargo de invitar y reunir a los hermanos y hermanas Latinos Musulmanes. El proposito de estas reuniones era de hacer Dawah en la comunidad Hispana.

LAS CLASES ISLAMICAS EN ESPANOL

Las Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas se inauguro un sabado, 29 de Marzo del 2003 en el MCC, Muslim Community Center en el 4380 de N. Elston Ave. Chicago, IL.

Los preparativos antes de la inauguracion de las clases Islamicas en Espanol llevaron aproximadamente un mes y medio. Mencione el interes de las hermanas por tener las clases Islamicas a la hermana Vilma Lopez. Ella habia impartido clases Islamicas en espanol en el ano 2000 por algunos meses que por razones desconocidas no continuaron las clases.

Debido a la experiencia en la ensenanza de la hermana Vilma, le invite a impartir temas Islamicos a las hermanas. Le mencione que las hermanas nuevas eran las que mas estaban animadas por tener clases. La hermana Vilma acepto con mucho gusto la invitacion en la presentacion de los temas. Ella y yo coordinamos para enviar bolantes, cartas de invitacion, hacer llamadas telefonicas a las hermanas anunciadonles de las clases Islamicas en Espanol. Esta invitacion se extendio a las hermanas que residian en el norte de Chicago y suburbios cercanos.

En la carta de invitacion se adjunto un plan de leccion de Pasos Basicos y a esto se llamo ISLAM 101. Este plan de leccion se dividio en cuatro partes. La parte A incluia El Concepto del Islam, Los Cinco Pilares del Islam y La Importancia de aprender y Memorizar la Oracion Fatiha. La Parte B incluia, La Vida del Profeta Muhamad (Paz y Bendicion sean sobre el), y esta partes a su vez estaba subdividido con una serie de preguntas como: Donde Nacio?, Quienes fueron sus padres?, A que edad fue escogido como Profeta?. La Parte C incluia Coran, y esta parte tambien estaba subdividido en una serie de preguntas: Cuando se revelo el Coran?, Cuanto tiempo llevo en revelarse el Coran?, y La Primera surah revelada. La Parte D incluia Hadices: Que son Hadices?, Los Hadices auntenticos y Hadiz Qudsi.

Para este plan de lecciones, la hermana Vilma y yo, nos reunimos para coordinar y escribir esta serie de pasos a seguir para el inicio de las clases. Pense en la importancia de incluir una carta motivacional de porque tener clases Islamicas. En la carta que redacte mencione que sugerieran temas de interes que les gustaria tratar. Tambien mencione que la mujer desempena diferentes roles en la sociedad. Ella es la hija, la madre, la estudiante, la maestra, la trabajadora, la amiga, la vecina y que en el Islam estamos incentivadas a sobresalir en cada papel que la mujer desempena en la sociedad. Tambien mencione en un parrafo de la carta que muchas de nosotras que hemos abrazado el Islam o nos hemos convertido al Islam vamos aprendiendo poco a poco y vamos incorporando a nuestra vida cotidiana aquello prescrito por Allah. Que gratificante es aprender!!!

La hermana Vilma y yo estabamos muy entusiasmadas con este proyecto de las clases para las hermanas. Teniamos un local donde llevar a cabo las clases. Cada detalle de los preparativos de la clase ya era anticipado. Le habia mencionado a la hermana Vilma que ya teniamos un salon donde tener las clases. Que debido al interes de las hermanas por las clases, le pedi a la hermana Mary Ali si podria ayudarnos a reservar un salon para las clases. El presidente de Dawah de la MCC, ya habia reservado un salon para las hermanas me informo la hermana Mary. Alhamdulillah! ya teniamos un lugar de estudio.

Despues de anunciar las Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas, llego la tal anunciada 29 de Marzo del 2003. A las 4 de la tarde, quince hermanas y entre ellas no musulmanas, nos reunimos en el Muslim Community Center. Aquella tarde se inicio las clases dando la bienvenida a las presentes. Cada una de ellas se presento diciendo su nombre, nacionalidad y cuanto tiempo ya eran musulmanas.

La hermana Vilmaa presento el tema de los Cinco Pilares del Islam. Cuando llego la hora de la oracion, nos fuimos juntas para orar. Luego de la oracion regresamos al salon para continuar y concluir la clase de ese dia. Despues de concluir la clase tuvimos cafe y postres y nos despedimos recordandonos que nos reuniremos cada otro Sabado para la clase.

Alhamdulillah! Gracias a Allah, han transcurrido tres anos consecutivos que tenemo las clases Islamicas en Espanol cada otro Sabado. Aunque algunas veces se ha cancelado o pospuesto, las clases continuan consistentemente. Es algo que habiamos planeado y conversado con la hermana Vilma que las clases tenian que ser consistentes aunque hubiera baja de asistencia.

El ano 2003 fue un ano repleto de bendiciones, gracias a Allah, Altisimo. Para ese ano se programo tener gran reunion de hermanas. Tuvimos otra confraternidad anual organizado por las hermanas Latinas Musulmanes. Las hermanas del Sur de Chicago, y de los suburbios cercano de Bridgeview,IL., fueron invitadas para este programa. Ellas siempre estuvieron presentes acompanandonos desde las primeras reuniones anuales.

Para ese evento la hermana Mary C. Ali fue invitada para traernos un tema titulado: El Concepto de Jihab. Se envio cartas de invitacion por correo a todas las hermanas que teniamos en la lista, anunciandoles del evento de las hermanas. El objetivo era educar e informar de este mal entendido concepto de Jihab por musulmanes y no musulmanes. Se promovio la invitacion a mujeres no musulmanas y tambien se extendio invitacion a todas las hermanas de toda nacionalidad. El programa fue presentado en Ingles. Las hermanas de las clases Islamicas en Espanol trajeron sus platillos para tener cena al final del programa.

Cuando llego la epoca de Verano las hermanas de la clase planificamos tener un picnic familiar. Los ninos y los esposos de las hermanas se reunieron en un gran parque, donde tuvimos barbecue y mucha comidad, alhamdulillah!

Para la epoca de Ramadan y Ayuno, las hermanas coordinamos tener Iftar o romper el ayuno en diferentes casas. Para mi era una experiencia bella pasar el mes de Ramadan con las hermanas rompiendo juntas. El mes de Ramadan tenia un sabor mas especial para mi, pues antes sentia que lo hacia aisladamente. Senti un fervor y una atmosfera de convivencia con mis hermanas. Aquel ano tambien las hermanas se pusieron de acuerdo para pasar en vigilia en la Noche Laylatul Qader coordinada por la hermana Leticia Chehayber que ya era el segundo ano consecutivo que lo organizaba en su casa.

Dos semanas antes que concluyera el Mes de Ramadan, los hermanos Latinos Musulmanes habian sugerido tener un Eid Festival. Los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena fueron los que coordinaron y organizaron el Eid Festival con la colaboracion de las hermanas quienes se encargaron de traer los platillos y tener un Buffet. Los familiares de las hermanas y hermanos y la comunidad en general fueron invitados para este gran evento. Los ninos tuvieron regalos y pinata. Y es asi que se llevo a cabo el Primer Eid Festival organizado por Latinos Musulmanes en el Muslim Community Center, el 29 de Noviembre del 2003.

El ano 2004, tambien fue otro ano muy bendecido porque aquel ano, se establecio la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. con la fundacion de el hermano Ricardo Pena y su esposa la hermana Diana Pena. C.A.L.A.M. significa Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims. El hermano Ricardo Pena selecciono este nombre para la organizacion. Tambien abrio un website: latinomuslims.com. En este website se pone los programas y eventos organizado por Latinos Musulmanes y especialmente programas que acontecen en Chicago.

Los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena organizaron un picnic orientado a Dawah en el mes de Agosto de aquel ano. Esto se llevo a cabo en la entrada del Islamic Foundation en Villa Park, IL. Fue un programa muy bendecido. Masha'Allah, ellos llevan a cabo eventos de Dawah al aire libre cada ano en la comunidad Hispana.

Cada programa o evento lleva una previa preparacion y coordinacion donde detras de cada programa hay un gran esfuerzo por alcanzar metas. Que Allah SWT bendiga grandemente a los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena quienes tuvieron la iniciativa de hacer Dawah en la comunidad Hispana. El resultado de sus esfuerzos es cada ano se realiza los Eid Festivals. Para estos eventos las familias de Latinos Musulmanes son invitados. Entre las familias hay no musulmanes y ellos pueden presenciar como los musulmanes celebran eid. Tambien hermanos y hermanas de diferentes etnias atienden a estos eventos. Ya es tradicional los eventos de Eid Festival y esta vez auspiciada por la organizacion C.A.L.A.M.

Las hermanas tambien continuan trabajando juntas para alcanzar metas. Alhamdulillah, desde que se inicio los programas de las Confraternidades Anuales, Ramadan y Ayuno, estos se llevan a cabo cada ano y se planifica anticipadamente.

En estas ocasiones las hermanas de la comunidad del norte y sur de Chicago se reunen para compartir y disfrutar de dichos eventos.

Tambien se organiza otra serie de programas que estan orientado a educar, fortalecer el conocimiento Islamic, a extender Dawah, a ir integrando a los nuevos musulmanes a la comunidad.

A partir del nacimiento de la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. varios programas orientados a la educacion Islamica y a la extension de Dawah se ha auspiciado y promovido por esta organizacion. C.A.L.A.M. es una organizacion que esta orientado a extender Dawah viendo la necesidad de los latinos musulmanes a integrarse a la comunidad Islamica.

Actualmente las Clases Islamicas en espanol impartidas en el Muslim Community Center (MCC), esta auspiciada por la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. Tambien hay clases Islamicas en espanol en el Mosque Foundation en Bridgeview, IL por mas de dos anos. Estas clases son impartidas por la hermana Celia Snowber cada domingo.

SUBHANA'ALLAH ! GLORIFICADO SEA ALLAH !

Estoy muy agradecida a Allah SWT por sus bendiciones en la comunidad Musulmana. Me alegra ver hermanas, hermanos Latinos Musulmanes con el anhelo de cooperacion, compromiso, respeto, honestidad, comprension, compasion, y el anhelo de aferrarse todos juntos a la cuerda de Allah SWT. Dice Allah en Surah 3:103 "Oh creyentes! Tened paciencia y sed perseverantes y luchad constantemente (contra el enemigo) y temed a Dios con el fin que tengais exito."

Indudablemente Allah SWT nos esta bendiciendo considerando estas advertencias de Allah de temor hacia El. Allah da exito a los que le temen y obedecen a El. Si somos pacientes, perseverantes, luchando constantemente para servirle y agradarle a El. Porque toda la alabanza y la Gloria es hacia El.

Alhamdulillah! Ya han transcurrido tres anos consecutivos de Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas en el Muslim Community Center. Han sido tres anos constantes de esfuerzo y dedicacion de parte de las hermanas de aprender mas del Islam, de fortalecer su fe y confianza en Allah SWT.

El ano pasado 2005, a partir del mes de Setiembre, las Clases Islamicas en Espanol se elevo del ISLAM 101 a ISLAM 205. Se considero la importancia de estudiar cada tema Islamico mas minuciosamente. Un tema de estudio lleva varias semanas de presentacion. Anteriormente se presentaba un tema para un determinado dia. Tenemos un plan de tomar cursos intensivos que insha'Allah, nos ayudara a nuestro crecimiento en conocimiento Islamico. Para este plan de estudio me encargue de preparar un paquete que incluye una serie de cursos intensivos que se tomara en un periodo de tiempo. Otro objetivo es que los estudiantes que tomen los cursos intensivos y terminen satisfactoriamente de acuerdo a los requisitos necesarios obtendran Diplomas o certificados de C.A.L.A.M. cuando esta organizacion este oficialmente registrada.

Latinos Musulmanes: Un Grupo en Crecimiento

Por Pilar Marrero

La Opinion

9 de Mayo de 2006

Es domingo por la tarde y un pequeño grupo de devotos musulmanes se reúne, como cada dos semanas, a compartir las enseñanzas de su libro sagrado, el Corán, en un salón del Centro Islámico de Los Ángeles, en la calle Vermont.

Lo particular de este grupo es que el idioma en el que llevan a cabo la discusión es el español y que los participantes son de México, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador y otros países de América Latina.

Marta Felícitas, quien lleva como segundo nombre el musulmán Khadija, es de Guerrero, México, y se convirtió al islam en 1983, tras un viaje en el que conoció a varios musulmanes de Malasia y trabó amistad con ellos.

"Me impresionó mucho lo respetuosos que eran hacia la mujer, lo cordiales, lo amables. Al final del viaje me regalaron unos libros sobre la religión", comenta Marta, quien lleva la cabeza cubierta con la pañoleta o hijab tradicional. "Luego seguimos la amistad por carta y yo les pregunté que cómo le rezaban a su Dios, porque pensaba que lo que ellos adoraban era un ídolo y no a un Dios único, como es en realidad".

Como muchos, Marta no tenía un conocimiento real del islam, a pesar de que es una de las religiones más grandes y antiguas de la humanidad, pero al entrar en contacto con personas que la practicaban, sintió curiosidad, y al mudarse a Estados Unidos, comenzó a frecuentar el Centro Islámico.

Posteriormente se convirtió al islam y en 1999, junto con otros tres compañeros, fundó la Asociación Musulmana Latinoamericana de Los Ángeles (www.lalma.org), una organización cuyo objetivo es no sólo reunir a los latinos que abrazan la religión musulmana, sino a cualquiera que necesite ayuda con la transición a una nueva práctica religiosa.

El Centro Islámico también es una de las 52 mezquitas "centros de práctica del islam" existentes en Los Ángeles, y está enclavada en pleno centro urbano, en una zona mayoritariamente latina. Hace unos años, Marta y otros comenzaron a notar que entre las personas que entraban por curiosidad, pidiendo información, muchos eran latinos.

La organización promueve clases en español de introducción al islam, lectura del Corán (el libro sagrado musulmán) y clases de árabe, idioma clave en la práctica del islam por ser la lengua en que está escrito originalmente el Corán.

El árabe como lengua de práctica religiosa es, según los expertos, lo que lleva a la confusión de que el islam es una religión de los árabes o personas del Medio Oriente, aun cuando hay muchos árabes que no son musulmanes (los hay cristianos y judíos, por ejemplo) y muchos musulmanes que no son árabes, como los iraníes, paquistaníes e indios, bosnios, somalíes o nigerianos, entre otros.

En Estados Unidos, la tercera parte de los musulmanes son afroamericanos, una religión que tienen como herencia cultural de sus antepasados del oeste de África.

Pero el surgimiento de pequeños, pero crecientes, grupos de latinos que se están convirtiendo al islam, ha llamado la atención de la comunidad musulmana de Los Ángeles y de otros rincones del país.

Afinidad cultural

Aunque en América Latina ha habido durante años grupos de inmigrantes musulmanes, sobretodo personas del Medio Oriente como Líbano, Turquía y otros países, la mayoría de los latinos no nace en el islam y los que se convierten lo hacen porque sienten una atracción personal por la forma en que se practica.

César Domínguez, quien nació en San Diego y se crió en el D.F. y Baja California, explica que antes de convertirse al islam era católico practicante, "pero de una forma muy privada", explica. Pero tras un viaje turístico a Egipto, tras visitar mezquitas y convivir por unos días con los musulmanes, comenzó a sentirse atraído por la religión.

"En realidad, fue una luz que me llegó y me permitió comunicarme con Dios de una manera muy reconfortante. Me llamó la atención que rezan a diario, cinco veces al día. El hecho de que se estudia mucho y que he ampliado mi conocimiento", explica.

Lo que también le llamó la atención fueron las influencias del árabe en el idioma español. "Un día, en Egipto, entré a una tienda a comprar jabón y después de mucho luchar para que me entendieran, me enteré que la palabra árabe para jabón es savón, muy parecido al español. Luego me di cuenta de que hay muchas otras palabras de nuestro idioma que vienen del árabe".

La razón está en la historia. Los árabes ocuparon España durante 800 años, entre los años 711 hasta 1610. De allí las influencias árabes en la lengua, la música "el baile flamenco es similar en gestos a los bailes del Medio Oriente" y la arquitectura.

Entre los que acompañaron a Cristóbal Colón a América venían algunos musulmanes, quienes aplicaron su conocimiento de arquitectura en la construcción de templos católicos, a instancias de la Corona Española, de allí que algunas iglesias antiguas de Centro y Sudamérica lucieran como mezquitas.

Hoy, muchos latinos ven esos antecedentes históricos como una razón por la cual tienen afinidad con el islam.

"Los latinos parecen musulmanes naturales, creo que tienen muchos valores culturales que son afines con el islam, como la unión familiar. Los católicos también tienen muchos de estos valores, la ética de trabajo, el mantenerse cerca de la familia, el ayudarse mutuamente’, explica Dafer Dhakil, director de relaciones públicas de la Fundación Omar Ibn Al Khattab, con sede en la mezquita del mismo nombre ubicada en Exposition Blvd., en Los Ángeles.

Otros, simplemente lo ven como una expresión de la amplitud del islam.

"Muchos estadounidenses se extrañarán de que haya latinos musulmanes", señala Reza Aslan, autor del bestseller No god but God, quien explica la evolución del islamismo a lo largo de la historia. "De hecho, la religion musulmana es una de las más amplias del mundo y gentes de todas las nacionalidades, etnias y esquinas de la Tierra la practican".

Cero Tolerancia

Por Sh. Yahya Juan Suquillo

Ser consecuentes con los preceptos de nuestro Dîn "religión", como constituye para los musulmanes el sumo respeto y amor al profeta Muhammad -Paz y bendiciones de A-lâh sean con el- es un deber ineludible y un Amana "encargo sagrado" que cumplen los musulmanes y por el que seremos contabilizados en el Día del Juicio Final.

A-lâh dice:

"Di: si vuestros padres, hijos, hermanos, esposas, vuestro clan familiar, los bienes que habéis obtenido, el negocio cuya falta de beneficio teméis, las moradas que os satisfacen, os son más queridos que A-lâh, Su mensajero y la lucha en su camino….. Esperad hasta que A-lâh llegue con Su orden." (Sura At-Tauba 9/24)

También dice:

"El profeta, para los creyentes, está antes que ellos mismos" (Al-Ahzab 33/ 6)

Amarle, quererle, respetarle en una forma suprema al Profeta, incluso antes que la persona misma, es parte de la sabiduría que A-lâh dictamina para los creyentes.

Las auto-denominadas potencias de occidente se preguntan estupefactas ¿De qué se trata toda esta indignación por el Profeta Muhammad? ¿Por qué la tolerancia de los musulmanes se vuelve cero? ¿Es que de verdad son fanáticos?.

La respuesta es que los musulmanes no son fanáticos, la tolerancia se vuelve cero cuando de por medio están siendo agredidos los valores religiosos, el honor, la honra, el orgullo. Este insulto proferido no solo es contra el Profeta sino contra mil quinientos millones de musulmanes o un quinto de la población mundial.

A-lâh dice:

"Os ha llegado un Mensajero salido de vosotros mismos. Le duele que sufráis, anhela vuestro bien. Con los creyentes es benévolo y compasivo". (Sura At-Tauba 9/128).

Entonces, cuando la Ummah del Islam protesta por la difamación gráfica hecha contra el Profeta -paz y bendiciones de A-lâh sobre el- está siendo consecuente con los preceptos de su religión, esta siendo consecuente con el "encargo sagrado" que Dios Único así ordena a sus creyentes.

De igual forma, cuando los musulmanes escuchan burlas y acusaciones falsas contra otros profetas como Noe, Moisés, Jesús -la paz sea con ellos-, también este irrespeto es rechazado. A través de los tiempos A-lâh -Dios Único- se ha pronunciado pidiendo a la gente respeto, amor, entrega por quienes son Sus Enviados. En el evangelio canónico de Mateo capítulo 10 versículo 37 observamos que Jesús -paz sobre El- Dice: "El que ama padre o madre más que a mí no es digno de mí; el que ama hijo o hija más que a mí, no es digno de mi." También en el libro de Marcos 10:29 dice Jesús -paz sobre El-: "de cierto os digno que no hay ninguno que haya dejado casa o hermanos o hermanas, o padre, o madre, o mujer, o hijos, o heredades, por causa de mi." Los mensajes tanto del profeta Jesús- la paz sea con el- como del profeta Muhammad - paz y bendiciones de Dios sean con el-son similares en su contenido y fondo, pues ambos provienen del mismo Dios Único.

¿Entonces porque el doble estándar de medida? ¿Por qué cuando el musulmán es consecuente con los preceptos de su fe y defiende al Profeta más que a sí mismo, como está ordenado por Dios, es acusado de fanático? ¿Porque la tolerancia del no musulmán se reduce a cero y no trata de entender que el pináculo máximo de la consagración de sus valores para un musulmán están los valores de Dios y luego los valores que ocupa el Profeta?.

Para un musulmán de Medio Oriente sería paradójico, un tanto ridículo y sin sentido de que en la tribuna de un estadio de fútbol se agreda con botellas a otra persona por la diferencia en el resultado deportivo; peor aún como sucedió que en Centroamérica donde dos países se fueron a las armas por una contienda deportiva; eso se debe porque este deporte para muchos ha ocupado el lugar de su religión.

El precio que ha pagado occidente por alejarse de la Guía Divina permitiendo que los procesos laicistas tomen cuerpo con tantos "ismos" que han controlado sus sociedades en los últimos tiempos, como son: el materialismo, el evolucionismo, el secularismo, el ateísmo, etc.

El alejamiento de la Guía Divina de occidente le ha ocasionado serios y profundos desajustes y trastornos en su sistema de valores, como en el presente caso que la libertad de prensa se confunde con "libertinaje" o "modernización".

Las administraciones gubernamentales de las naciones abanderadas del mundo occidental deberían revisar sus conceptos civilizatorios, sus políticas internacionales, el concepto de los derechos humanos, la libertad de expresión, la igualdad de gobernados y gobernantes ante la ley, no pasa de ser un simple discurso político.

En cuanto a la libertad de expresión como valor consagrado, no debe arremeter contra la honra, el honor, el pudor, como lo conceptúan otros pueblos y otras naciones. El mundo musulmán, consagra como sumo valor, el respeto y el amor hacia el Profeta -paz y bendiciones de A-lâh sean sobre el-.

Cierto es que la libertad de expresión en algunos países de mayoría musulmana tiene mucho que desear, también no es menos cierto que la libertad de expresión de algunos países de occidente ha perdido credibilidad debido a la falta de práctica, y doble discurso. La libertad de expresión entre oriente y occidente debe buscar un punto de encuentro y equilibrio donde no se hieran valores consagrados en las dos culturas.

Uno de los errores graves del mal entendido concepto de "modernización" es creer que el hombre de hoy y su sistema de valores que lo gobiernan son la cúspide máxima a la que pudo llegar el ser humano, la tesis de Francis Fukuyama y su modelo de formulación "el fin de la historia", hace creer que la humanidad ha llegado al final de su evolución ideológica, a la universalización de la llamada democracia liberal de occidente, la que constituye la ultima forma de gobierno experimentado por la raza humana. Creer que los procesos civilizatorios anteriores no tienen valor, o se reducen a una expresión mínima comparado con el concepto de "progreso" que tienen las auto-denominadas potencias de occidente, esto es un grave error que minimiza los extraordinarios esfuerzos que hicieron nuestros antepasados para que estuviéramos en el lugar que estamos. Con un sesgo muy arrogante e inoportuno Samuel Huntington en su libro "el choque de civilizaciones" simplemente quiere reemplazar a la rivalidad de las superpotencias, y hacer ver al mundo musulmán como antagonista de occidente o viceversa, esto es otro error. Lo que sí es elocuente en el discurso de quienes lo pregonan, es que dentro de estas dos culturas hay un choque de ignorancias, de orgullos malentendidos de parte y parte. Por principio el Islam rechaza el concepto de choque de civilizaciones, pues concibe al género humano como hermanos venidos de un solo Dios, con ancestros comunes, aceptando las diferencias de los demás; no particularmente como lo enfoca este escritor, midiendo la supervivencia de occidente en la reafirmación americana para que su sistema de valores sean aceptados universalmente por todo el resto del mundo.

Paradójicamente para muchos, los países latinos y los países árabes nos encontramos unidos, segregados a pertenecer al grupo de naciones "del tercer mundo", que comparten desde el siglo pasado una serie de discriminaciones, atropellos, arbitrariedades por las "denominadas potencias". Los inmigrantes ecuatorianos y marroquíes son maltratados en Europa, junto con otras nacionalidades de Sudamérica y árabes del norte de África. El muro construido para evitar el paso de los mexicanos a los Estados Unidos, se parece en mucho al otro muro de la infamia construido para evitar que crucen los palestinos a los territorios ocupados.

En el caso del pueblo árabe, su protesta se hace sentir; en el caso del pueblo latino, no avanza todavía no tener una voz fuerte; cualquier intento de levantar la cabeza es tratado como "desestabilizador democrático de la región". La diferencia real, no ficticia, esta en el puesto que ocupa sus valores de coraje, de rebeldía ante la injusticia que otorga la balanza de la religión para el un pueblo y para el otro.

Inshallah los musulmanes no claudicaremos en nuestra firme posición de cero tolerancia, hasta que los gobiernos de las prensas irresponsables garanticen con hechos, el respeto correspondiente al profeta Muhammad - paz y bendiciones de Dios sean con el- y hasta que no sea resarcida la dignidad y el compromiso de amarle y vivir según su Sunnah -tradición.

www.centroislamico.org.ec

Response by a Cristina Show producer

---------- Original Message ----------------
Subject: Musulmanes y amores multiples
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006
From: "Martin Fernandez"
To: Grupo LADO

Thank you for your response. I am aware of your practices and the reason why girlfriend are mentioned in this email was because it was a general email not only to you but in general to everyone not only to the Muslim community. I know it is a rare practice but you get no where if you don't try. I found one men in Puerto Rico who has 4 wives and 12 children who is not a Muslim and is willing to come.

I continue my search and hope that when the show airs you will see that the focus of this show is very news oriented and not "sensational" as you may put it. We do produce these kinds of shows but this will not be one of them.

Again thank you for your time.

Martin Fernandez
Producer
Cristina Show
Univision Communications Inc.
9405 NW 41 Street
Miami, Florida 33178

---------- Original Message ----------------
Subject: Musulmanes y amores multiples
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006
From: Grupo LADO
To: Martin Fernandez

Mr. Fernandez:

My apologies for the late reply. We thank you for your request for information and interest in Islam. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with the names of Latino Muslims who are involved in plural marriage. Today, the practice is very rare among Muslims, even within the Muslim world.

It is clear from the letter you wrote that this aspect of Islam is a mystery to you and the people interested in making this show. Let us clarify that it is not within our religion to allow a man to have several women as girlfriends but he is allowed to have up to four legitimate spouses within the bounds dictated by Allah (that is God). The reasons why it is permitted and the conditions needed to establish such households deserve an in-depth study that unfortunately cannot be transmitted very well by e-mail.

Finally, Muslims respect the laws of the countries in which we live, and therefore, it is not recommended for Muslims to be involved in plural marriages in the United States nor in any country where it is illegal. Polygyny is a permission granted by Allah in Islam. It is not a requirement to fully practice our faith. Since the Christina Show usually focuses on the sensational, we hope that future episodes will show Islam and Muslims in a respectful and unbiased manner.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

On behalf of LADO
Maria Enriqueta Romero
Seattle, WA
www.latinodawah.org

En Español -

Sr. Fernandez:

Mi disculpa por escribirle tan tarde. Les agradecemos su pedido e interés en el Islam. Desafortunadamente, no es posible brindarle los nombres de Musulmanes Latinos que tienen más de una esposa. Esta práctica no es muy común en países Islámicos, mucho menos en países occidentales.

Por la letra de su carta se nota que este aspecto de nuestra religión es un misterio para usted y los escritores del Show de Christina. Deje aclararle que no es permitido dentro de nuestra religión que un hombre tenga más de una mujer (o en otras palabras, novias) pero si se permite tener hasta cuatro esposas legitimas dentro de lo que dicta Alá (o sea Dios). Las razones y las condiciones para formar más de una familia merecen un buen estudio que desafortunadamente no se puede transmitir muy bien por correo electrónico.

Finalmente, como Musulmanes se nos impone respetar las leyes de los países en que vivimos, y por lo tanto no se recomienda casarse con mas de una esposa en los Estados Unidos ni en cualquier país donde sea ilegal. La poligamia es un permiso dado por Dios en el Islam y no es un requisito para practicar nuestra fe. Ya que el Show de Christina se enfoca en temas sensacionalistas, esperamos que en el futuro que el Show de Christina podrá mostrar al Islam y los Musulmanes en una manera respetuosa y sin prejuicios.

Gracias por su tiempo.

Sinceramente,

Por parte de LADO
Maria Enriqueta Romero
Seattle, WA
www.latinodawah.org

---------- Original Message ----------------

Subject: Show de Cristina
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006
From: "Martin Fernandez"
To: Grupo LADO

Hola,

Me dirijo a ustedes hoy para ver si me pueden brindar una ayuda. Este 18 de enero estamos produciendo un show periodistico titulado "Amores Multiples" como sabes es muy comun entre los musulmanes tener mas de una esposa o mas de una mujer. Seria un show muy interesante y periodistico. Yo se que algunas veces hacemos shows amarillistas pero este no seria uno de ellos. Conocen a alguien Latino Musulman que tenga mas de una esposa o practicante?

Gracias,

Martin Fernandez
Producer
Cristina Show
Univision Communications Inc.
9405 NW 41 Street
Miami, Florida 33178

In English -

Subject: Show de Cristina
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006
From: "Martin Fernandez"
To: Grupo LADO

Hello

I direct myself to you all today to see if you can lend me some help. This January 18th we're going to produce a show entitled "Multiple Loves." As you know it's very common among Muslims to have more than one wife or more than one woman. It would be a very interesting and timely show. I know that we sometimes make sensationalist shows but this one wouldn't be one of them. Do you know of a Latino Muslim who has more than one wife or practicing?

Thank you,

Martin Fernandez
Producer
Cristina Show
Univision Communications Inc.
9405 NW 41 Street
Miami, Florida 33178

Another English version using a PC translation software -

Subject: Show de Cristina
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006
From: "Martin Fernandez"
To: Grupo LADO

Hello,

I go to you today to see if they can offer me a help. January 18 are producing a show journalistic titled Multiple" "Loves as you know it is very common among the Muslims to have but of a wife or but of a woman. Serious a show very interesting and journalistic. Me you that sometimes we not make shows amarillistas but this serious one of them. They know somebody Muslim Latin that has but of a wife or practitioner?

Thank you,

Martin Fernandez
Producer
Cristina Show
Univision Communications Inc.
9405 NW 41 Street
Miami, Florida 33178

Shahada
 

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