The Latino Muslim Voice
The April-June 2007 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
God Has No Son
By neQiniso Abdullah
"Jesus is God's only son,"
Don't they know that with this claim
Those who choose to speculate
But any who place on God this lie
Now, if a farmer timely sows
Thus has God with Mary done
They truly know not what they've done
Hispanic Muslim Day
By Najwa Awad
The Beauty of Family in Islam
In the late morning of May 12, 2007, Muslims and non-Muslims, Hispanics and non-Hispanics gathered at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in northern Virginia for an extraordinary event. It was the first ever Hispanic Muslim Day. People of various ages, ethnicities, and religions gathered for a day of meaningful and insightful dialogue.
Although the event was specifically geared toward the Hispanic community, organizers of the event were successful in fostering a friendly environment and welcoming all to participate and contribute to the open discussion.
Introduction to Basic Beliefs
During the first segment of the program, men and women separated into groups, each led by a Hispanic Muslim, to learn about important tenets of Islam. Organizers of the event had put up posters in Spanish briefly explaining the basics in Islam, such as the pillars of faith, tawheed, and the Qur'an.
The group leaders spoke in Spanish and engaged the listeners while at the same time they welcomed questions about the role of women in Islam, what Islam says about terrorism, who was the last prophet, and what the Qur'an says about Jesus and his mother Mary. Pamphlets were distributed among the attendees to supplement the discussion.
Keynote Speaker: Muhammad Isa Gracia
The introduction to Islam was then followed by the keynote speaker Muhammad Isa Garcia. In his presentation, "The Beauty of Family in Islam," he spoke of his journey to Islam and the importance of family. As he narrated his inspiring story in Spanish, non-Spanish speakers eagerly surrounded the interpreters for the translation:
Brother Muhammad Isa Garcia was born in Argentina to a Catholic family. His family were not strict Catholics, but instead held more liberal views.
The children in his area were required to go church in order to get passes to play soccer. Muhammad would go for the soccer, but he did not agree with Catholicism and would ask his priest questions about the fundamentals of the religion.
Muhammad wondered, if God was the Creator, how could He have a mother and who created her? He would sit with his priest and discuss this, but never felt that his questions were answered.
As he grew older he wanted to study the matter further because he did not feel that Catholicism was correct. He looked to many different Christian groups for answers, but was still not satisfied. He then began to study Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but repeatedly failed to find a connection to the Creator.
One night in desperation he raised his hands to the sky and asked God to help him. The very next morning his father's friend came to the door. He told Muhammad that he was Muslim and wanted to teach him about Islam.
The confusion Muhammad had felt all his life was eased after the two spoke for a few hours. He felt the description of God in Islam corresponded to what was in his heart. That same day he went to a masjid and declared his Shahadah.
After this part of the presentation, Muhammad focused upon the importance of kinship and family in Islam. He emphasized that family members should be treated well whether or not they are Muslim. He shared with the audience that although his father remained Christian, his mother accepted Islam ten years later.
Muhammad said that in the beginning he had not been advised to nurture relations with his family. He was so eager to be a good Muslim and do all that was obligatory and Sunnah, that he did not consider how uncomfortable his family was with how he was changing.
No one had advised Muhammad to be patient or to understand that it was difficult for his family to see him change. Over time Muhammad had learned of the importance of family in Islam and wanted to relay this to all who attended.
An Uplifting Moment
The lecture was followed by the noon prayer and lunch. At this time two individuals declared their Shahadah, an uplifting moment shared by all.
Getting to Know Dar Al Hijrah
Following lunch Imam Johari, one of the event's hosts, gave a brief talk about Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center. He explained the times of the prayer, the direction of prayer, and why the mosque is not decorated. He spoke of the food bank operated by Dar Al Hijrah to help those in need and also of the community iftars (meal to break the fast) held during the month of Ramadan. This short talk was important in familiarizing the non-Muslim audience with Dar Al Hijrah and the services it offers.
Following Imam Johari's talk, a panel of Hispanic-American converts spoke in Spanish of their personal experiences finding Islam. Again, the non-Hispanic audience members listened to the translation of the interpreters:
Panelist Yvette Chaupis-Guadalajara is a Mexican-Peruvian revert of six years who began to learn about Islam from her coworkers while she was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska.
There she was invited to attend an event similar to Dar Al Hijrah's Hispanic Muslim Day. Yvette was raised Baptist but could not understand the concept of the Trinity. After three months of studying Islam she became Muslim.
Her mother was present in the audience and remarked how much she respected her daughter for becoming Muslim. Her mother felt that people look at her daughter differently because she wears a scarf and said that the non-Muslim public should not judge Muslims without having any knowledge of Islam. Non-Muslims need to be educated about what Islam really is.
Another one of the panelists, who is of Puerto Rican descent, presented her story while her family sat in the audience. She embraced Islam almost seven years ago.
One of the major things that guided her to Islam was the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Prior to reading the autobiography she had unanswered questions about her religion. The book impressed her so that she began asking about Islam.
She had Muslim friends and would ask them questions in hopes of finding the answers she was looking for. She found the answers according to Islam to be logical, and eventually decided to accept Islam.
A Perfect End to the Day
After the panelists shared their personal journeys to Islam, the floor was opened for questions. During this time panelists gave advice about matters such as how Muslims should interact with family members and how Muslims should give da`wah (invite people to Islam).
One important thing a panelist said to the audience was that if your non-Muslim family is scared of Muslims, then you are doing something wrong. In other words, Muslims should be the prime example in their family of Muslim behavior and ideals.
As the day drew to a close, another person stepped forward to accept Islam. It was a perfect end to the event. That day something momentous had taken place: the Hispanic community was formally received at the mosque, meaningful questions were answered, important stories were shared, and the Muslim community embraced new converts.
The impact of Hispanic Muslim Day continued on into the following week, as the father of one of the men who embraced Islam during the event also became Muslim. As the theme of the event suggested, it is important to show non-Muslim family what Islam is all about.
Najwa Awad is a Palestinian-American who has lived in northern Virginia all her life. She graduated from George Mason University in 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master's degree in social work. She has been a practicing Muslim for about five years.
Brief Recap: Hispanic Muslim Day
By Tariq Nelson
May 14th, 2007
Alhamdulillah, after much planning and preparation, last Saturday we had the Spanish language open house event "Hispanic Muslim Day" at Dar Al Hijrah with our guest speaker Muhammad Isa Garcia from Argentina - who is a graduate of Um Al Qura University in Makkah.
Alhamdulillah, the community was behind the event and we had several Hispanic Muslims (as well as Muslims that are not of Hispanic descent) to bring their family members and friends to the masjid to learn about Islam and break the barriers.
I feel this event was a very important step to community bridge building because Dar Al Hijrah is located in an area that has a large Hispanic population and it is essential that we - as Muslims - reach out to our neighbors - by every means available -to help dispel misconceptions. So even had not a single person accepted Islam, I feel that we had to get this message out - and still do.
This was a very busy day as Dar A Hijrah also co-sponsored a community cleanup that morning in which several of our youth participated in a cleanup with the youth of other faith in the neighborhood. (Alhamdulillah, they brought some of their friends to the event as well)
We put lots of large Spanish language posters (The Discover Islam posters in Spanish) around the masjid and our guests were given a tour of the masjid along with a brief explanation of Islam.
There were then Spanish language lectures and question and answer sessions. I could not understand what was going on, but I was told that it was a good discussion and lots of good questions were asked. The Spanish speakers mixed and mingled with the non-Muslims and made them feel welcome and answered questions as well.
I was really glad to see so many Hispanic Muslims and was particularly touched by one family originally fom Bolivia that lives in this area who Allah has really opened the doors of hidayah to, Masha Allah.
The older brother accepted Islam, then his (blood) brother, his brother-in-law and then his sister (the wife of the brother in law). They tell me that their parents are very supportive and are very close to accepting Islam (Insha Allah) as well. I can only hope to be worthy of such a blessing one day.
By the end of the program, we had four people to embrace Islam (2 Hispanic males, 1 Hispanic female and one white American male who came after hearing about the event from Muslim friends) I know that Nour posted in this post that there were two, but there were two more alhamdulillah
Alhamdulillah, it would have been a wonderful thing to have one person to embrace Islam, but alhamdulillah we had four.
Why-Islam and the brothers that work with Yusef Estes were there giving out Spanish language material and talked to people about Islam with the English speakers that came. It was a great team effort, masha Allah.
Now, we have to work on the hard part: the follow up.
I pray that Allah rewards all those who made this event possible and prayed for its success. However, Insha Allah, this is only the beginning and we hope to have other similar events coming soon as we strive to make our masjids a more open place for our neighbors and lead in breaking the chains of isolation that we - as Muslims in America - have fallen into. It is my hope - in sharing this - to inspire others to do similar events and to encourage those doing it to continue the good work.
Dialogue With a Latino Muslim Prisoner
By Juan Galvan
--Juan: I am from time to time asked about Latino Muslim prisoners. Unfortunately, not much information is available about Latino Muslim prisoners. I have exchanged letters with various Latino Muslim prisoners. I want to share with you letters by a Latino Muslim prisoner from New Mexico. After finding my address in a Muslim magazine, Joe Segura sent me the following letter.
September 20, 2002
Peace be upon you,
A brother in Islam,
--Juan: In my response to his letter, I told him about myself, and I encouraged him to have patience. I included various brochures along with a Spanish version of how to perform Salat. The following is his reply.
October 6, 2002
Assalamu alaykum Brother Juan,
I thank you for sending me the prayer in Spanish, but I was going to ask you if you could send me the same directions in English, because I can't read Spanish that well. I speak it very well but not to worry the other prayer you sent me in Spanish I gave them to my homie Montoya. He's another Mexican-Muslim. I just gave him his first Quran last week. But he reads and speaks Spanish very well. The stuff you sent me helps us out a lot because over here it's hard to get good reading material. Some brothers here think that Chicanos shouldn't be Muslim. But we know that Allah will open their eyes to the truth. I also got the other material you sent. I will put it to good use. I was going to ask you, when does Ramadan start? Is it for 30 days? Please let me know. Also, I was wondering if you could send me the address of a store so I can send for a prayer cap. I thank you my brother for going out of your way to help out a new Muslim brother. May Allah bless you in many ways. Till pen and paper meet again.
Always you brother in Islam,
--Juan: I sent his mailing address to a couple of Muslim companies that offer free catalogues of their products. In my reply to this email, I answered his questions about Ramadan. I also sent him English instructions for performing Salat. I requested that he send me his conversion story. The following is what he sent me.
Why I became a Muslim
My conversion to Islam started when I was very young. My grandma was a "stone cold" Catholic. She always made us go to church with her. Being young and dumb, I would ask her why I needed to pray to all the saints. Can't I just ask God for what I need? She would always get mad at me. She would always reply the same. It's like when you go to your mom and ask her for something or ask her to ask your dad for something for you. I didn't tell her but to me it was dumb to even put Allah in the same matter as a dad or mom. It's like going to someone on the street and asking that person if he could pray to God for me. That would be dumb. I could just pray to God myself.
After my grandma passed away, my mother started taking me to a different Christian church. All this time, I was lost trying to find the truth. I started Bible school but I still had so many questions. I would ask my pastor about the Bible. If Jesus was God, why would he say when he was on the cross, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" If he was God, he would have said, "Why do I forsake myself?" That doesn't sound right. Then I asked him about when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus said, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will. But thine be done." It was hard for me to understand. Why was he praying to himself? There are so many other parts of the Bible that I didn't understand.
If it were God's word, he would help us understand it. Que no? The only thing the pastor said was that we can't understand some of God's word. But I'm sure if it is God's word, He wants us to read and understand it. Que no? Then a homie gave me a Holy Qur'an. I wasn't Muslim yet. I read the Qur'an from cover to cover. And to this date, I fully understand it. I don't have one doubt about the Qur'an. I fell in love with Islam.
Islam just makes more sense. There is only one God. We all pray to Allah at the same time, five times a day. At Friday prayer, Jumah, we all come together to pray at the masjid. For an entire month, we fast together during Ramadan. The Quran's words are still the same since Allah (swt) gave us His word. The words that best explain why I became a Muslim is found in the Forty Haddiths. Haddith 11 states, "Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt." With Islam, I found no doubts.
--Juan: In my reply to his letter, I thanked him a lot for sending me his conversion story. I told him that many Latinos would be as fascinated by his story as I was. I told him that I enjoyed the opportunity to exchange letters with him. I also sent him more brochures.
March 6, 2003
Assalamu Alaikum Brother Juan,
Your brother in Islam,
PS. Salaam to all the brothers.
--Juan: In my response, I told him that I was proud of his commitment to studying Islam. I told him that building a foundation of knowledge would help him after his release. The following letter is his response.
December 14, 2003
Assalaam alaykum bro,
We are out all day over here. I'm getting ready to get out. This is going to be my last year in prison. I should get out by the end of 2004. Thanks be to Allah after 14 years it's going to be good. If Allah wills it, I hope one day to meet you. I always go back to read that Islamic Horizons magazine about Latino Muslims. I sure do want to get hooked up with a place with a lot of Latino Muslims.
I try to tell other Latinos about Islam. Some stop and hear me out. That there is only one God and so on. That stuff you sent me now is going to be a lot of help. Thanks, I make a lot of copies and pass them out to the homies. But I also know that I got a long way to go. I still want to learn a lot more about Islam. I always pray for our brothers and sisters in the war. I wish that Allah would put a stop to all the madness. But I'm sure there is a reason for everything. Que no? Well, my brother, it's time to go till next time. May the peace of Allah always be upon you.
Your brother in Islam,
--Juan: In my response, I told him that I was proud for his commitment to letting others know about Islam. We continued to exchange letters until his release in 2004. And, may Allah SWT continue to touch the hearts of all people wherever they may be.
My Visit to a California Prison
By Daniel Denton
Friday, March 24 2006
Assalamu Aleikum brothers and sisters,
Today I had an opportunity to go to one of the correctional facilities here in California, and I witnessed something that I have NEVER witnessed before. And, if I did not believe in Allah's Greatness, I would have sworn that what I was witnessing was an optical illusion.
It was the brothers' post Eid celebration, and there were about forty brothers in attendance. As I was waiting in the chapel, I noticed African American brothers coming in, and then a few "brown" or Chicano brothers started coming. And, Alhamdulillah, they gave us Salams.
Once the program started, there must have been at least twenty straight Aztec and Mayan warriors from many different gangs from Surenos to Nortenos, and everything in between making Salat with us.
By Allah, Islam is growing with the hard core brothers from all sides of the spectrum. These brothers are under protective custody inside the pen because obviously, what they have done is unacceptable with the prison mentality and politics. These brothers need our support! If you are willing to help send me a note, I'll see how you can support them.
Whether it's visiting them, corresponding with them, or giving them money so that they can get access to some basic materials, any help will go a very long way. I am still in shock from this experience. These brothers are Ajeeb, and they have joined the ranks of the believers against ALL odds. Allahu Akbar!!!!!!!!
Keep them in your duas, and try your best to help however you can.
Behind Bars - Islam Inside and Outside Prison
By Dawud Burgess
Many have written and talked about what it is like to live inside a prison.
Nonetheless, a great number of these authors have never lived in one of these institutions, or even seen the inside. While numerous letters have been written about prisons, and many theories abound on what the prison experience is like, very few of us know first hand what it is like to live inside a prison cell. Very few prisoners talk about the things they saw in that place. To understand what it means to be a Muslim while doing time, or what it means when a prisoner converts to Islam while behind bars, we must understand what happens inside so many of the prisons in the U.S.
A prison, for the most part, is a place where some of the worst people in society are allowed to victimize each other. Firstly, things that are frowned upon in the free world are common occurrences in this place of pure hatred and segregation. Drug use, homosexuality, gang violence and racism are no longer vices, but simply a way to survive. While a man locked up for rape is shunned by society, an inmate who rapes another is often looked up to or feared. Fights, stabbings and harassment from the correctional officers happen everyday in prisons across the nation.
At the same time, of all places in America, it is in the prisons that you can find some of the strongest and most knowledgeable Muslims. Here, you will find men who stand up against the norms of the prison culture to practice a completely alien path. They leave behind the state of ignorance which had plagued them to embark upon the road to true guidance. As stated in the Holy Qur'an, "And Allah guides those whom He wills, and lets go astray whom He wills (6:88)."
It is in prison that groups of people come together simply for the pleasure of Allah, with no concerns of race and creed. To do so, they must battle not only the negative environment around them, but also a prison administration that often wants to destroy them. On the other hand, we have Muslims who are free to practice Islam as they wish, disregarding other Muslims or Islam as a whole, and divided by nationalism, race, ethnicity and cultural differences. Yet does not Allah say in the Qur'an, "We have created you into nations and tribes not that you may hate each other, but so you may know and love each other? (4:13)"
I became a Muslim inside of prison. It was not only the words of Allah that attracted me to Islam, but also the brotherhood that I saw. From the moment that I made it known that I wanted to learn more about Islam, I was welcomed. Normally, this would not need to be mentioned, except for the fact that I am a white American who was entering a predominantly African-American community. This was something that was looked upon unfavorably by both sides, to say the least. Yet these same men took me in as one of their own, risking their lives to teach me about Islam.
I wish I could say the same about how I was treated when I walked into a mosque for the first time. I was stared at, ignored, and betrayed. I had to wonder if the Qur'an I had been reading was actually a whole different book.
When I left the prison and those brothers who had become my family, I was sad. I know that I would not see most of them again in this life. I left there making a promise, that I would not forget what I had learned. I haven't. Often I am reminded of those bars and the brothers that I left behind.
The saddest part of leaving prison was entering a community of Muslims where most people have a chip on their shoulder. While I read verses of Qur'an about brotherhood and unity, what I saw in many a case was a look of pure hatred when a "brother" looked into my face, if he even bothered.
In a way, I had expected such treatment. While I was locked up, I had written many letters to mosques trying to get Islamic literature. More often than not, I would not even get a response. I had been unable to understand this considering the Qur'anic verses regarding treatment of those who have migrated to Islam. With all the knowledge and resources at hand, those who were free ignored my pleas for help. When I was released, I came to find out that many others like me had gone through the same thing.
For some reason, people who were raised as Muslims by their parents cannot figure out that there are many hardships that come with separating oneself from the beliefs of one's parents. Those who are locked up are often abandoned by their family and friends. Worst of all, when they are released, these people who fought for their Islamic identity find themselves shunned by the free Muslim community.
As Muslims, we have no right to look down on anyone. It is an injustice to the Muslim Ummah (global Muslim community) and to Islam as a whole to isolate or ignore any person just because of where he is from or who his parents are.
I did not choose the religion of my parents. None of us chose the land in which we are born or the color of our skin. These matters are from Allah, the Creator of all things. Do any of us know better than the One who has created us?
We as Muslims have the duty to form a unified Ummah. We can not truly call ourselves Muslims, or say that we love each other, if we separate ourselves from each other. In the relationship between those who are imprisoned and those who are not, as Muslims, we must come together. Not only is it important that communities visit the Muslims in prison, they must also form a support system within the community that can give these new Muslims a chance to reenter society after their release. After all that Muslims must battle in prison to simply be Muslim, it is not right for them to have to fight for the respect of their brethren.
As to those who are imprisoned, learn as much as you can and stick together. Learn from and love each other. You can succeed but you must strive continuously to move forward --never retreat, never surrender. Ignore all of the people who say anything negative, and never give up hope in the strength and mercy of Allah.
Originally published in "Al-Talib: The Muslim Newsmagazine" at UCLA, July 1999, p. 21.
Millati Islami - The Islamic 12-Step Self-help Program
What is Millati Islami?
Millati Islami is a 12-step self-help program based on the Al-Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Millati Islami is a fellowship of people joined together on "The Path of Peace." We look to Allah (God) to guide us on Millati Islami, which means the Path of Peace. Millati Islami is designed to help combat the disease of addictions, such as to drugs/alcohol, violence, anger, or food. These addictions are only a few that have taken a firm place in society and have caused a great increase in the prison population.
As recovering addicts, we strive to become rightly guided Muslims, submitting our will to the will and service of Allah. We begin the submitting process through the practice of Islam in our daily lives. Millati Islami strives to equip the individual with the necessary tools of awareness and understanding to break the cycle of addictions. Millati Islami is also based on the sin model. As taught from the Qur'an, addictions are a sin, which have a negative impact on an individual's life. Here people (Muslims, Christians and Jews) can learn to recognize their self-destructive lifestyle patterns by sharing life experiences, strengths, and aspirations in a group setting.
In America, today's society is plagued with many social ills, which cause much moral decay, and social values are a main concern of many people. There are thousands of men, women, and youth under some type of Judicial Supervision. The incarceration rate among these groups has reached epidemic proportions. The Millati Islami program was founded to help recover from what we identify as the "fallen human condition."
Islam tells us clearly that the status of man in this world is that of an "Abd" (slave or servant). We must learn to be slaves and servants only to Allah and not slaves to mind or mood altering chemicals. We must also learn not to be slaves to people, places, things and emotions. Allah tells us that man is "Khalifatullah" or "The deputy and vicegerent of Allah". This means that Allah has entrusted us as human beings with custodianship of his creation. Our own bodies, minds and souls truly belong to Allah. They are only entrusted to us for a time. We are charged with their care while we have them in our possession.
Back in 1989, the late Imam Zaid Imani began this program called Millati Islami (Path of Peace) in Baltimore, MD with a group of believers who sought to stay rooted in the Islamic way of life while remaining focused on recovering from their addictive behaviors. When Islamic principles are included with the traditional 12-step program, they have proven to further enhance the recovery process. For the first few years, the Millati Islami program functioned primary in local communities. Now Millati Islami can be found taught in Islamic centers, schools, churches, recreation centers, prisons, state jails, recovery programs, and homes in many states.
In 1995, the Millati Islami program found its way into the Texas Penal System by way of the Islamic community at the Wynne Unit campus in Huntsville. At that time, just like today, the prison population was booming with individuals who were compulsively and psychologically dependent on habit-forming substances and behaviors that are morally destructive. By 1996, forty-two Millati Islami groups had been established in sixteen states across the nation. This growth has often been attributed to the 1993 publication of the manual outlining the Millati Islami Twelve Step program. Today, the Millati Islami program is even more effective.
On October 27, 2005, the year's graduation theme was "Anger Management" at all Huntsville Unit campuses. The message was provided by Certified Chaplain Br. Abdullah Muhammad-Bey, LCDC/CCJP and Islamic Coordinator Br. Joseph Burnet and Millati Islami Coordinator Br. Grady Sims from the Goree Unit. Each week in this program people become successful in learning to fight back their addiction and become winners, and are successful in learning about the impact of addiction on themselves, family, and society.
Hopefully, the message that was received by the graduates and those in attendance was to live without being a slave to their addictive behaviors. Your past does not have to get in the way of your future. In fact, it is the very essence of your future in terms of learning from your past mistakes. We've all heard about being condemned for forgetting the past. Well, Millati Islami teaches that we must begin rebuilding our lives in such a way as to create fond memories, one that no longer needs to be deleted from our majestic minds.
This process can start here and now. There is no need to wait. We've all made mistakes and we need to forgive ourselves. We need to show real care and concern by building each other up not tearing each other down. We all need to find a common ground sharing our wisdom and insights. Life is short, much too short to waste. Regardless of how you look at it, we must see that we have been given an opportunity to do something worthwhile with our lives. Take full advantage that we are friends to one another who are guided by the belief in the submission to the will of One Creator. Only this belief in one God can give you the power to change your addictive behaviors, attitudes, core beliefs, and criminal thinking.
In our desire to follow the steps of recovery as detailed by Millati Islami, we seek self-acceptance and change from Salat to Salat (prayer to prayer). We have to be able to let go and trust in Allah (oneness of God) and have faith in him alone. As a result, he will fill our hearts with thankfulness and gratitude. We will also begin to experience a sense of PEACE after given the opportunity for this graduation, and we like to thank the wardens and other officials who allowed the Millati Islami program to continue to be successful every year since 1995. By participating in a 24-week intensive group counseling session, many of these men have established a precedent that has changed the way they once viewed addictions.
Breaking the cycle of addiction will allow these men to redefine their futures and elevate their relationships with families and associates. These graduates made a pledge to help clean up drug use and crime in their communities, starting with themselves. The process of this program depends upon people working together. Individuals, who are recovering from their past weakness, need a support system. Millati Islami can help these men rededicate their lives as men, women, fathers and mothers, on the path of peace.
The Whole-Way House, Inc is a support system being offered to those same brothers and sisters being released from prison who have successfully completed the Millati Islami program. The goal of the Whole-Way House Inc is to provide comprehensive, multi-faith and multi-cultural reintegration housing facilities, anywhere in the nation. The Whole-Way House Inc will provide recovery and treatment programs, such as Millati Islami, as well as Life Skills, job search, and a support groups, all within a structured faith based environment. The Whole-Way House Inc also intends to provide assistance for the homeless and indigent.
Due to the lack of funding, we are limited on how many people can be released to this aftercare program. Br. Abdullah Muhammad-Bey is the founder of the Whole-Way House. He is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) who is presently employed with the Gateway Foundation as a Substance Abuse Counselor. He has been a Millati Islami and TPDP Volunteer for many years within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This is a great project offered by the Muslim community and is an excellent way to help sisters and brothers coming back to society and those who may need services from the community at large. Inshallah.
Our goal is to emerge successfully from this test called life as prescribed by Allah. To win His pleasure and reward is our ultimate human objective. May we accomplish sobriety success and peace of mind on Millati Islami.
Are Some Spanish Surnames Islamic?
By Juan Alvarado
This is an interesting list of surnames commonly seen among people of Hispanic descent and among the people of Spain. Juan Galvan sent me this list (most of), which is attributable to Francisco Rodriguez. I have been personally working on my own list of Spanish names, place names, and words, some of which I have interspersed within this list. Many of the names he listed I had also found, so there are many commonalities within our studies. There is also some divergence. Wherever there are names in disagreement, I have placed the name and/or word I think most probable as well as left Francisco's own research on the subject. I'll leave it up to the reader to make up his/her mind on the subject. The names I've added are in italics.
I would like to point out that even though we are eager to see an Islamic connection in everything Hispanic, we should bear in mind that not everything is Islamic or comes from the Moors or their languages (Arabic and Berber). A case in point is the name Alonso which was adopted by the conqueror of that city in Spain after the collapse of Moorish rule there. Other names are Arabized forms of names already in existence such as Zaragoza which was none other than the Arabic pronunciation of Caesarea Augustus (some words not only have an Arabic pronunciation but a North African Arabic pronunciation, hence the surname Amezquita comes from al-masgid which is from the standard al-masjid). Many names and words have a Mozarabic origin â€" an origin that mixes Arabic and Latin/old Spanish such as Guadalupe. Guadalupe comes from Wadi al-Lupus (Wadi being Arabic for River or Valley and Lupus from Latin for Wolf). To further complicate things, many Spanish Muslims shared the same names with their Christian and Jewish compatriots, most of which were not Moorish in origin.
Francisco, a Hispanic Muslim like us, had taken the Islamic name of Ahmad Abdullah Al Birzali. I don't know Francisco but it is my personal opinion is that he took the surname "Al-Birzali" because it has some Moorish significance with regards to old Andalusia. Unfortunately, Juan Galvan lost contact with Francisco Rodriguez. Insha'Allah (or Ojalá) we will be able to contact him again. It would have been great to have collaborated further with him in regards to this most interesting subject. In any case, Francisco posted this curious message to the LADO (www.LatinoDawah.org) Yahoogroup. He sent a list of Spanish names commonly seen today that are derived from old Moorish names from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus). As an example, Juan Galvan's surname is derived from the Arabic word Qalb. â€˜Qalb' literally means "heart" in Arabic.
Francisco wrote to Juan Galvan stating: "It is odd and strange to explain the meaning behind some of these Mudejar and Morisco names simply because the history of the Mudejares and Moriscos of Spain was so diluted and oppressed by Castilian Christians after the Inquisition. But rest assured, I did my research and along with some help from some Mudejares in Spain and Muslims in Morocco. I was able to determine some lost histories and formulate this list. Mind you, this was only a sample of a few that I found and people that I was contacted by! What that means is that there are potentially many more. This is just an example!"
Juan Galvan asked Francisco to translate each of the names and/or words. Francisco told him: â€˜Don't have much time but Al-Mani' means "the Preventer" (also the Withholder, the Shielder, the Defender) and is one of Allah's 99 (most beautiful and perfect) names. Al-Qasr means "the castle." I must tell you that as far the rest of the names, I know most of their meanings but not all. It is probably because they belonged to old Al-Andalus (since lots of Arabic and Berber names and words were Hispanized). When I get more time, insha'Allah, tomorrow, I will try to send you a list of definitions of the meanings of these words. Trust me, Birzali was hard to translate because most Arabs and Berbers did not know much about its origins. Some Berbers, though, say that it sounds more Berber to them. I got lots of the names from the Internet page that had a whole list of old Arabic- Andalusian surnames. Al-Birzali was one of them. A Berber told me at the mosque that it means "worthy one" hence Ahmad 'Abdullah Al Birzali!'
You may find your last name within the following list. I do, however, disagree with some of the findings. Some of the names can be seen to be of Spanish/Latin origin. Others could conceivably be of Moorish origin (from Arabic or Berber or a mixture of these and other languages). Still others are undoubtedly of Moorish origin. Again, that may or may not prove that you have a Moorish background. That should not matter, however, if you are Muslim. What distinguishes us as Muslims to Allah Subhanaahu wa Ta'Ala is not your ancestry but your belief (imán) and piety (taqwa).
The following names have either Arab or Berber origins:
From Arabic to Spanish (Surnames and Places)
By Juan Alvarado
Spanish surnames (and place names) that come from Arabic surnames and origins.
This list originally began just for fun. The list soon took a life of its own. It became a bit of an obsession. As I learned more Arabic, I saw and heard the same words I grew up with in Spanish. Some people of Hispanic descent, who first learn about the history of Moorish Spain, look upon the bearer of this history with incredulity. Apart from showing pictures, what more proof could you give? This is my language â€" a language very much influenced by the Moors.
Toponyms are place names. Many have evolved to become surnames. The ones listed here are mostly found in the Iberian peninsula of Arabic origin.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of toponyms of Arabic origin in Iberia. These include cities, towns, villages, provinces and regions. They even include neighborhoods (barrios) and streets. They may also include geographical features such as mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes. Arabic place names are common in all of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) including much of the North of the country (with the exception of those regions that never came under Moorish rule or where it was for the most part short-lived. Among those regions that didn't come under Moorish rule are Galicia, Asturias, Catalonia, and the Basque country. Most of the places where Arabic toponyms are most common are the eastern coast and the region of Andalusia (Andalucía). Within Portugal, the frequency of Arabic place names proliferate as one travels south in the country.
Those areas that retained their pre-Islamic names during the Moorish period were generally Arabized. The pronunciation of the names were markedly changed and remain noticeable in their modern names: e.g. Caesarea Augusta became (سرقسطة) Saraqustah and then Zaragoza in Spanish.