The Latino Muslim Voice
The January-March 2002 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
By Khadijah Rivera
During the first days of the September 11 catastrophe, Muslims were targeted in many different ways. I was spat upon and insulted at work and while traveling to and from work. For a week or two I felt like a victim of 9-11 and could not justify their treatment of sisters around the USA. I was also disappointed in the way a Fatwa was given by Qaradawi and Warith deen Mohammed to take off the veil. Many sisters did and the brothers shaved off their beards.
Fortunately, some of us fought back the media by playing them against themselves we went on the air and exposed their humiliation and accusations. Telemundo and Univision aired our stories nationally and internationally. We can't rest until they begin to treat us with respect!
My breath returns as I check my masked smile
How can I be trembling when the Prophet taught us strength?
By Linnet Caban
I wrote this poem after I was harassed by nonMuslim brothers on my way to work.
Islamic Influence in Spain
By Kenny Yusuf Rodriguez
As a nineteen-year-old Dominican Muslim who recently accepted Islam a couple of years ago, I personally know how difficult it is to be a Muslim in this country (nonetheless a Latino Muslim at that). Everyday, not only do we face numerous conflicts living in Western society, but we oftentimes also find ourselves having to defend our beliefs in our own households! Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
"Islam? That's a religion for Arabs!"
These are just some of the things that I had the misfortune of hearing when I first announced my acceptance of Islam. Unfortunately, most of the people who said this were my own blood relatives. It's sad that our own families can at times set up some of the most difficult obstacles for us.
It seems that a lot of people have forgotten that Islamic and Spanish culture were once closely knit. Many fail to realize how big a role Islam has played in Spanish culture, as well as in Latin American culture. How many Latino/a people have you met with the name Medina or Yahaira? How many times have you said or heard somebody say: "Ojala?" How many times have you eaten a fajita? People tend to think of these things as being Spanish or Latin American foods; however, all of the above stated have Islamic origins.
Islam and Spanish culture have been interlocked for many decades after the Prophet's (saws) death. Islam was first introduced into Spain by the North African Moors who ruled over Spain (which they renamed Al-Andalus) for close to eight centuries. From 710 to 1492, the Muslim Moors spread Islam throughout the European continent. Regardless of what some people think, historians are now admitting that this was not done through violence as was once believed, but through peaceful meetings and word-of-mouth.
At the height of Moorish rule, the marvelous cities of Cordova, Toledo, Seville and Granada were respected by scholars from around the world. People would travel from far off distances just to study in one the cities. Education was universal in Moorish Spain. It was even given to the poorest people, while in Christian European countries ninety-nine percent of the people were illiterate, and even some kings could neither read nor write.
At a time when the rest of the Western world was debating whether women were even human or not, many Islamic countries educated girls as well as boys, and numerous Moorish women became prominent in literary and artistic fields; there were Moorish women who were doctors, lawyers, professors and librarians (so much for the claim that Islam is misogynistic).
Ever since the Moors first entered Europe, Islam has grown to influence almost every facet of Spanish culture, from architecture and science down to language and clothing. For instance, as far as Spanish food is concerned, rice, tortillas, fajitas and salsa all have Islamic origins. The Spanish word for rice (arroz) actually comes from the Arabic word al-Aruzz, and it was first introduced into Europe by the Muslim Moors. Even Christopher Columbus, the so-called "discoverer" of the Americas, in his own words considered Arabic to be "the mother of all languages." In fact, nowadays it is said that Columbus wouldn't even have been able to make it over to the Americas if it wasn't for the advancements in navigation that the Muslim Moors brought to Spain centuries before him.
In the Western Hemisphere, many historians are now realizing that Muslims have had direct contact with Latin America way before Columbus's arrival. Historians have found Islamic inscriptions throughout Cuba, Mexico, and Texas that date back before 1492. In fact, the name "Cuba" comes from the same Arabic root as the word "Ka'bah." There is a significant amount of evidence that shows that African Muslims traveled to the Americas centuries before Columbus was even born. According to Dr. Youssef Mroueh, "a careful study of the names of the native Indian tribes revealed that many names are derived from Arab and Islamic roots and origins, i.e. Anasazi, Apache, Arawak, Arikana, Chavin Cherokee, Cree, Hohokam, Hupa, Hopi, Makkah, Mahigan, Mohawk, Nazca, Zulu, Zuni, etc." Scientists have found Native American tablets with the Kufic inscriptions "Laa ilaaha illa llaah" on them. Also, other tablets found have Soorah al-Fatihah inscribed on them. All of these date back before the supposed "discovery" of the Americas.
Even though we have been pounded with images of Native Americans as being half-naked since we were in grade school, this is not a universal truth throughout the Americas. In fact, when Spaniards first came to the Americas, they found certain tribes of people where the women were dressed in garments and veils that resembled the Muslim gowns of the East. In the Caribbean, the Taino Indians were said to have performed certain types of bathing rituals numerous times a day ( wudoo', perhaps?).
There are many other findings that point to Muslim presence in the Americas before the arrival of the Spaniards. The point that I am trying to make is this: do not be discouraged when you hear people say that Islam is a religion for only a specific group of people. Statistics show that out of the 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, only 20 percent of them have an Arab background. Muslims can be found in all parts of the world, from China to Ireland, from Australia to Colombia, from Puerto Rico to Morocco; and statistics show that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.
If I had to offer a piece of advice, it would be this: be proud of your Islamic beliefs, for Muslims have and continue to do great things in the world. Many of the advancements that Europe takes credit for were actually introduced by Muslims centuries before them. I cannot possibly list them all in this short article, but I advise that you go out and research it for yourselves. Regardless of what the media or the average person tells you, Muslims have and still do contribute much to the present world and oftentimes we do not receive the credit that we rightfully deserve. May Allah (swt) give us the strength to overcome whatever obstacles come in our way and may He increase us in knowledge.
Anything true that I have said is by the mercy of Allah (swt); anything wrong I have said is from my own error. May Allah (swt) forgive our wrongdoings and guide us closer to the straight path. Ameen.
Dawah Beneath the Palm Tree
By Khadijah Rivera
Throughout our illustrious Islamic history, various messengers were sent to different lands to spread the teachings of Al Islam. The beginning of a convert's Islamic duty is to spread the message in their own land! As Hispanic Americans, we believe we should utilize our gift of a second language to teach our brethren right here in the USA, our adopted homeland. Hispanic Muslims are generally pious people who have taken religion seriously throughout history. Our ancestors have always sought a deeper commitment to a higher truth.
The horrendous tragedy of September 11th brought out the worst in many Americans. I experienced verbal abuse and housing discrimination in Miami. Someone spit on my face. All my experiences have made me stronger. I am proud to be a Muslimah and to live my life as a Muslim. Many Latinas who embrace Islam lack assistance from their Islamic community or their Muslim husbands. PIEDAD (Propagacion Islamica para la Educasion de devosion a Ala' el Divino) mobilized to address issues affecting female converts. We have helped young and older Muslimahs. Since 1987, we have held various seminars with the assistance of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organization (IIFSO). Our Miami Muslim community has helped us support great speakers including Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Jamal Badawi, Aisha Mohammad, Dr. T B Irving, and Dr. Omar Kasule. These lectures were presented in New York, Virginia, Illinois, and Texas.
At one time, we had five toll-free phone lines throughout the USA to provide Islamic related information and referrals and contacts at local masjids. PIEDAD has outstanding sheikhs and imams assisting 24/7. We have run newspaper ads to provide free literature and to encourage non-Muslims to contact us with questions. Within a year, we distributed 10,000 pieces of literature to correction facilities, Islamic centers, and da'wah groups throughout the USA. Although we are best-known for our seminars, our one-on-one da'wah has proven to be our most effective dawah method. When working with woman, we offer our own experiences as converts to show patience and perseverance.
Certainly, da'wah is enriching but also involves lots of frustration. I remember the day I met Br Yasin. He was 17 years old. He wanted us to convince his family to allow him to go to Afghanistan. We make plans but Allah swt also makes plans. His parents were afraid of his new religion and believed Islam was fanaticism that could get his son killed. We spent what seemed to be hours trying to explain to this humble couple the virtues of Islam. They complained how their son had taken down their portraits and the Christmas tree. His parents thought he was totally crazy! Why he didn't even eat! We asked him if he was eating at night. "Oh yes," answered his father, "He is like a little mouse and eats when we are in bed." We then explained the virtues of fasting. Clearly, this brother was truly in the Deen. At this point, we stopped and listened closely. They needed their son home. We asked how Yasin was before he embraced Islam.
"Oh," the father said, "I was getting him out of jail constantly, he was stealing hubcaps and getting drunk."
That day, Yasin's father converted to Al Islam during Jumaah. Soon, Yasin's nieces and his mother would also convert. Islam is as beautiful as it is wondrous. I sincerely look past differences of religion, color, or ethnicity. I sincerely feel a human kinship. I want to reach out to assist anyone in need. Although I was a female executive in New York, only Islam would bring me happiness and an inner glow of supreme peace. As I relax beneath a palm tree, I imagine the future of Islam in America.
A Short Biography on Hasan Al-Banna -
By Kenny Yusuf Rodriguez
Al-Imam Hasan Al-Banna (1906-1949) was one of the most influential Islamic leaders in the 20th century. He was a respected teacher and the founder of Jami'at al-Ikhwaan al-Muslimoon (The Society of Muslim Brotherhood), the largest and most influential Sunni revivalist organization in recent history. Al-Banna only lived to be 43 years old, and although his accomplishments are often overlooked in the West, he is honored and well respected in the Islamic world.
Hasan Al-Banna was born in October 1906 in the southern Egyptian town of al-Mahmudiyya. The eldest son in a well-educated family, Al-Banna's father was a watch repairman who also served as a prayer leader and Qur'anic teacher in a local masjid. His family followed a very strict Islamic lifestyle, and this had an effect on Al-Banna at an early age. During his high school years, Al-Banna joined several religious groups dedicated to the promotion of Islamic principles and values. Al-Banna memorized the Qur'an at a very young age and in 1923, despite being only 16 years of age, he was admitted to Cairo University.
The four years that Al-Banna spent in Cairo exposed him to the political side of Egypt, and it was during his college career that Al-Banna became preoccupied with what he saw as the young generation's drift away from Islam. Egypt was very much British-influenced, and at the same time, the nation's living conditions were declining. Illiteracy rates were exceedingly high, poverty had almost become an epidemic, and disease and sickness were widespread throughout the country. The Egyptian standard of living was at a low point, and Al-Banna believed that the decline of Islamic civilization was a direct result of Western influence on Egypt's government and society. Al-Banna began to call for social reforms, particularly a return to an unadulterated Islam, free from all the innovations and outside influence that had diluted the strength of its original message. Al-Banna urged the rejection of all Western notions, emphasizing instead the revitalization of the foundations and original purity of Islam.
In 1927, at the age of 21, he became a high school teacher in the city of Isma'iliyya, near the Suez Canal. There he conducted night classes for his students' parents and led informal discussions and lectures in many masjids, coffeehouses, clubs and private homes. His basic message was that Egypt had lost its soul; it had become politically subservient and economically dependent because it had strayed from the path that had been laid down by Allah (swt). The only remedy to the decadence of state and society, especially at a time when the Islamic Khilafah no longer existed, was to reassert Islamic values back into society. He preached to people of all classes, and he emphasized the Islamic education of both sexes. He helped establish many organizations, including The Muslims' Mothers Institute for educating girls according to Islamic teachings.
When asked why he commenced the work of da'wah, Hasan Al-Banna once commented: Only Allah knows how many nights we four (his colleagues) spent reflecting on the situation of the Ummah: what stages it has passed through and the sickness that has reduced it to its present state. And we pondered on the cures for all the Ummah's illnesses, difficulties and pains so much so that we would often end up crying during these nights.
In March 1928 Al-Banna, along with his brother and five other workers, gathered at his house and created the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood which aimed at a rejuvenation of Islam in a world where the purity of the Deen was dwindling by the day. The Muslim Brotherhood would grow to become the first mass-based political movement to oppose the secular ideals of the Western in the Middle East. The Brotherhood saw in these ideas the root of the decay of Islamic societies in the modern world, and it advocated a return to Islam as a solution to the ills that had befallen upon them. They began to spread the principal idea: that Islam is "creed and state, book and sword, and a way of life." Even though the idea of Islam being "a way of life" seems to be common sense in the present day, at the time this principle was uncommon among many Muslim scholars who believed that Islam was to be restricted within the walls of the masjid.
The work of the Brotherhood transcended national borders by setting up branches throughout Syria, Sudan and Jordan, and its influence extended as far away as the Gulf and to non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and parts of North Africa. They preached anti-nationalism and called for worldwide Muslim unity, regardless of race, creed, class status or sex. In addition to this, they set up numerous schools, masjids and factories for the working class.
When the Israeli-Palestine conflict began in 1948, the Brotherhood played an active part in the defense of the Palestinian people. They sent thousands of volunteer fighters in the war against Israel, and this was applauded and supported by Muslims from all over the world.
Despite of this, Prime Minister Nuqrashi Pasha soon banned the Brotherhood, fearing that they would unite and usurp the Egyptian government. A journalist once asked Al-Banna about the ban and he replied: "...when words are banned, hands make their move." Less than three weeks later, the Prime Minister was assassinated, and the Brotherhood was immediately blamed for it. In the following months, the properties of the movement were confiscated and thousands of youth were imprisoned.
As the Brotherhood continued to grow and became militant in the 1930s and 40s, Al-Banna was viewed as a threat to the Egyptian central government, and they began to plot against him. On the 12th of February 1949, on a sunny crowded market in Cairo, Imam Hasan Al-Banna was shot by an anonymous assassin. After he was carried to the nearest hospital, he was left on the floor with no one trying to save him. Two hours after he was shot, he died from internal bleeding. No one was ever charged with the murder. He was only 43 years old at the time, and his last daughter was born on the same day of his death. Her mother named her "Esteshhaad", Arabic for "martyrdom."
There are not many books written by Al-Banna because it is said that he preferred "gathering men over gathering information in books", but the books that he did write have been translated into several languages. These writings have shaped two generations of Sunni religious activists across the Islamic world. Since the martyrdom of Hasan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood has survived all attempts to stifle it. Not only did it grow even stronger in Egypt, but it created branches that spanned throughout the Arab world, at one time having over 300,000 members and as many as 3 million supporters worldwide. The Brotherhood still exists today, and many of its members have grown to become prominent Muslim scholars, including Sayyid Qutb, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi and Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali. The Brotherhood itself has become much more clandestine than it was before, and it has teetered back and forth from promoting non-violent protests to inciting violent uprisings.
At a time when fundamentalism is usually synonymous with extremism, it would be a disservice to refer to Al-Banna as such. In a way he was a fundamentalist, as he called for a return to the authority of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), but he was by no means an extremist. Like many leaders before and after him, he was oftentimes demonized and misrepresented by the same forces that he was fighting against. Even though his importance oftentimes goes unnoticed in the West, he has played a major role in the Islamic world. The Islamic resurgence manifest in the world today owes much of its origin directly or indirectly to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hasan Al-Banna.
Finding Allah in Texas
By Juan Galvan
In high school, I received a jolt to my long-held belief when a Christian friend told me that the Holy Trinity was not true and that Jesus was not God. "He was wrong" I told myself. Jesus had to be God. God and humanity were disconnected by the sin committed by Adam and Eve. God sent his only 'begotten' son to die because He loved us so much. Because only God forgives, Jesus had to be God. I even had the Bible quotes to prove it! Indeed, being a devout Roman Catholic Christian, I have read almost the entire Bible. In high school, I was a lecturer, usher, Eucharistic minister, and CCD teacher. I am the godfather for a nephew and a niece. The idea that Jesus was God made much sense.
I am a Mexican-American who comes from a modest background. I spent my adolescent and teenage years in such small Texas Panhandle towns as Quitaque, Turkey, Lakeview, and Memphis. None of them has a mall, a movie theater, or a McDonald's. Memphis, Texas, population 2,300, proudly proclaims itself "The Cotton Capital of the World." In Memphis, if you hear a fire truck or police car, either your neighbor's house is on fire or your neighbor is being arrested. Growing up in small communities gave me much appreciation for the simplicity in God's creations.
I graduated from Memphis High School in Memphis, Texas in 1994. I did well in high school and would attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock. In 1998 I began attending the University of Texas at Austin. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in MIS in December 2001. Not bad for a kid who had to hoe cotton most of his junior high and high school summers to pay for his clothes and school supplies! My dad was a cotton ginner. Now, he is a custodian at a junior high school in Pampa, Texas. I had eight siblings, but in 2000 my 17-year old sister died in a car wreck.
I have always had respect for other religions. I would often attend other Christian churches and join interfaith Bible study groups. While in one such group, I told my friend Chris that I was a Catholic. Chris blatantly told me that the Catholic Church was "a false doctrine." As you can imagine, I defended my religion. Chris accused me of worshipping Mary, Saints, and the Pope. I argued that we only revere them. Around this time, I happened to see a man praying. His knees, hands, and forehead were touching the ground, and he was barefoot. After he finished praying, I introduced myself to him. He said his name was Armando, and that he was a Muslim. I thought to myself: "Ok, freaky, you're Muslim. You can't be Muslim. What's this Hispanic guy doing praying to Allah?" He later told me that Spain was Muslim for over 700 years and that thousands of Spanish words have Arabic roots. The ruins of mosques with Qur'anic writings have been found in Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada.
Most importantly, Armando spoke to me about Islam. I began to realize that my reverence for Mary and Saints was much more than mere reverence. Chris was right. However, we were both worshipping Jesus! Armando said that Jesus was only a prophet and that nothing and no one is worthy of worship but Allah. Allah literally means "The God" in English and "El Dios" in Spanish. Muhammad (pbuh) perfected religion. Islam is the true, universal religion of God.
Many of my questions were answered! What is the purpose of life? How can the Father be the Son? Why can't God just forgive anyone He wants? What happens to babies who die before baptism? In Qur'an 5:83, Allah states: "And when they (who call themselves Christian) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized. They say: 'Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.'"
Indeed, my eyes overflowed with tears as I read that verse. Yet I did not embrace Islam until three years after meeting Armando, because I did not want to change. A struggle occurs within everyone, everyday, and everywhere. We struggle to attain what is most important for us. By embracing Islam, we tell Allah (swt) that He is most important and that we are prepared to struggle to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong. I am a Mexican-American Muslim.
My First Family Visit As a Muslim
By Juan Galvan
As I fly home to Austin, Texas, I remember the days before my conversion to Islam. I am reminded of Armando, a Latino Muslim. He helped introduce me to Islam. While pointing to the East and then the West, Armando said, "Look what God has given us. He created everything. God is All-Powerful." He had just finished praying magrib. The beauty of the sunset is still present in my mind. "Truly, in remembering Allah do hearts find rest," Allah states in the Qur'an 13:28. Looking outside this window, I cannot help grinning as I look to my left and then to my right. I found the true purpose of life. The purpose is not to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Instead, we must accept God as God. We Muslims acknowledge the true nature of our Creator. By doing so, we accept our own purpose as slaves to our Creator.
I am on my way home after visiting my family for the first time after my reversion to Islam. People who knew nothing about Islam surrounded me. My fourteen-year-old sister Cathy asked, "Isn't Muhammad your God?" "Uh, no," I replied. My parents, my brother, and my five sisters all live in Pampa, Texas. My dad and I joked about each other's religion. "Why are you praying to that carpet?" he asked.
"Why do you have statues of dead people on your wall?" I asked, pointing to the large Jesus cross in the living room. On my first day home, I went to Cathy's room to pray after seeing a cross and religious images on my parent's wall. No crosses or Jesus pictures in her room. However, there was a huge Backstreet Boy's poster. I figured it was a lesser of two evils. My parent's have statutes or pictures of Jesus and Mary on almost every wall in their house. I have a great relationship with my family. Mexican-American households are well known for their love of family and religion.
During my visit to Pampa, I spent much of my time discussing Islam. People who ask you why you chose "that religion" are asking for Dawah. I gladly provided answers. My dad said, "My mom was Catholic, and I'll be a Catholic when I die." Mexican-Americans seem to think that their ancestors have always been Roman Catholic. Our ancestors from Spain were Muslim. Our ancestors from Mexico were pagan. Clinging on to a religion simply because of tradition is insane. I refuse to be a blind follower. I am Muslim because Islam is true. While visiting my family, I spoke frequently about Islam. If you love something, you discuss it any chance you get. I hope I did not annoy my family. I gave my brother a copy of the Qur'an and a small introductory book about Islam. I bookmarked www.LatinoDawah.org and www.HispanicMuslims.com on my family's computers. I copied several Islamic related files to their computers hoping they would accidentally run across them. I asked questions that only the true religion of God can answer. God is three? Jesus is God? Original sin? We find the answers to such questions by studying the fundamentals of Islam: the Oneness of God, Prophethood, and the Day of Judgment.
I spent much time trying to clear up misconceptions about Islam. Why aren't Americans better informed about Islam? Americans have many questions about Islam. Many times, it is good to bring those questions out in the open. I wanted my sister to understand that Islam is not oppressive to women. I wanted to explain why Muslim women cover. Eventually, I would ask her, "Do you know why women wear scarves?" She simply replied, "Nuh uh." I feared her reply would be, "What? You think I dress like a slut or something?" I explained that Muslims believe that women should not be treated as sexual objects. I also explained that Islam is like risk management. Men and women are both instructed to lower their gaze.
On my way to Pampa, the airport security was very tight. A security guard checked my bags. He saw my Qur'an, my Islamic literature, my Islamic audiotapes, and my prayer rug. I hope I did not scare the security guard. I considered praying at the Austin airport before stepping onboard the plane but I did not want to give any passengers a heart attack. I skipped fajr prayer for America. George Bush, Jr would be proud. After telling my brother about this, he suggested that I return home with a flight instructor's manual. Soon after the attacks, my dad asked my mom, "What'd he get himself into?" They had not heard from me in a while so they were a little concerned. People act as if some Arab in Saudi Arabia has a long list of Muslims and can call anyone on the list when he wants to blow up a building.
On my return to Austin, not only were my bags checked but my shoes as well. Most Americans are happy to see increased security. The camouflaged military guys who carry machine guns seem rather unnecessary. The airlines will do whatever it takes to make Americans feel safe and secure. Before takeoff, airline attendants reminded us that our seats could be used as a floatation device although we knew chances of hitting a body of water were slim. Suppose we had to jump ship. A witness would point to the sky saying, "Oh my God look at all those weirdoes up there holding on to their seats!"
My mom cried after hugging me goodbye. I tried to hold back my tears. I hope that she cried because she would miss me and not because she feared I would join the Taliban. As I look outside my window, I see glimpses of the Texas Panhandle. I see canyons then farms and deserted roads then canyons again. I am reminded of Father Dale. During a Sunday sermon, he admitted, "While I was a priest in Hawaii, I would see a beautiful beach and palm trees on my way to work. Now, I see miles and miles of cotton on my way to work!" Father Dale has since left the priesthood and has gotten married. Maybe he will embrace Islam next. You never know. Looking outside my window, I must thank Allah for the canyons, the cotton, and the other gifts He has given us.
Latinos, Islam, and New York City
By Saraji Umm Zaid
New York City is home to the first masjid specifically for Spanish speaking people, the Alianza Islamica, originally located in el Barrio (E Harlem) of Manhattan, but now in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. However, September 11 has proven to us that Muslims, especially those of Latino descent, can not rest on this accomplishment and expect the Alianza to take up the business of telling the Latino community about Islam. Hundreds of the victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were Latinos, many of them working in the service industry and administrative professions, many of them immigrants, some of them illegal. Among the thousands of the survivors of the attacks are many Latinos, who are not likely to ever forget the horrors they witnessed that day.
The 800,000 Muslims in New York City and its surrounding suburbs are now faced with a dilemma. Although we have for years lived side by side with Latinos, even done business with them, there has been a definite barrier between our communities. Many Muslims, especially shopkeepers, view Latinos as lazy, dishonest, and promiscuous. Many Latinos view the Muslims as isolationist, greedy, and rude. Both view one another as exotic. It is time for us to break through these stereotypes, for the survival of both of our communities. In all of the time that our people have lived next door to one another, there has never been a conscientious effort to reach out to the Latino community with the message of Islam, or to seek mutual understanding.
After September 11, many Islamic centers around New York City area realized that they had failed in reaching out to the Latino community. While many Muslims distributed books and pamphlets in English to neighbors and co-workers, others remembered their Spanish-speaking neighbors. The manager of the Bronx Muslim Center, located in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, reports distributing 3,000 Spanish language materials in the weeks after September 11th, and has thousands more on order. Bronx Muslim Center has also seen at least one Latino take their shahada since September 11, as well as a nikkah between two Latino Muslims.
However, to truly spread the message of Islam to the Latino community, Muslims cannot pass this responsibility off onto the masjid leadership. We must learn to talk to and answer questions from our Latino neighbors, customers, co-workers, and family members. Spanish speaking television has done Islam a grave disservice with numerous shows promoting the old "Islam is terror and oppresses women" view. This only sets us back as far as our dialogue with Latinos goes. Whatever ignorance you think the "Anglo" or White non Muslim community has about Islam, it is even more extensive in the Latino community, due to the lack of books and television programs and interviews that are available to them.
Prior to September 11, the only thing my cousin knew about Islam was that the men were allowed to marry more than one wife, the women have scarves, and "it's from India or something." She wasn't really interested in hearing what I had to say about Islam, no matter how I approached it. After the attacks, she has become more curious, asking me questions about the Qur'an and violence, the place of Usama bin Ladin in the community, and the roots of the Palestinian -Israeli conflict. She was pleasantly surprised to learn about the central place that Mary and Jesus (peace be upon them) hold in Islam, something she never would have learned from the "news" programs about Islam on Spanish language television. Because of our discussions, she is now able to correct the misconceptions of her co-workers, friends, and family members when the topic comes up.
In order to reach the Latino population of New York City (and elsewhere), the Muslim community in New York needs to shed the painful and inaccurate stereotypes they hold about Latinos. Our close proximity to one another in this city should be an opportunity for dawah, not a case of "too close for comfort." Those serious about Islam and dawah to Latinos also need to start reminding their brothers that selling liquor, cigarettes, pornography, and other haram materials to non Muslim Latino customers sends a very bad signal about Islam, Muslims, and hypocrisy.
In order to make dawah to Latinos easier, each masjid should have the phone numbers of at least one Spanish speaking and one Portuguese-speaking member in the Rolodex. Spanish and Portuguese language materials should be easily accessible, and attractively displayed on shelves. A sign in the masjid door or window letting Latino passerby know that Spanish materials are available would also be extremely practical. Finally, the masajid of the New York City area should take advantage of the opportunities offered by LADO. We have offered to do speaker / da'iyee training for Muslims speaking to Latinos, host new Muslim classes in English and Spanish, and distribute materials in English and Spanish.
In a city where Latinos hold the majority of the population, there is absolutely no excuse that every masjid should not have these materials and resources on hand. There is no reason that Muslims should not be reaching out to the Latino who lives next door, or works in the next cubicle. September 11th has shown us that we cannot afford to be complacent and lackadaisical about reaching out to non Muslims. This should be doubly true about reaching out to Latinos in New York, a community in pain, mourning, and confusion about Islam. Curiosity about Islam is at an all time high, in Latino and non-Latino communities. If we concentrate on reaching "Anglo" communities at the expense of reaching the Latino communities, it will come back to haunt us.
The Juan and Juan interview
Juan did a great job. I listened on the other line
3. Do you think John Walker is a traitor?
I couldn't believe he was asked those questions. I
I asked Juan to repeat the answers to the top three
Response to Questions
>2. Do you pray at the mosque three to five times a day?
>3. Do you think John Walker is a traitor?
Not Without Her Make-Up
By Tazin Abdullah
This is a satire written to mimic articles, reports and stories generally written about Muslim women by women from Western non-Muslim backgrounds. It is, to some extent, an attempt to convey to the readers how it feels to be 'othered' and to be judged superficially in accordance with only one's own perceptions. I hope you take it for what it is - a satire.
(Note: Words referencing to Australia and Sydney have been replaced with America and Miami. Written by a Muslimah student attending a university in Australia.)
I do not clearly remember the first time I was here. My earliest memories of America start when I was around six or seven, probably my first trip after I was born in the city of Miami. My parents were not particularly happy with the idea of me growing up there. So, they took me out to Iran at the first opportunity.
As I grew up, my impressions of Miami were formed from stories I heard from my parents, shows I watched on television and of course, what I saw on my trips. From my first trip at the age of seven, I vaguely remember the people I met and the places I visited. I remember more from my second trip, though, which was at the age of fourteen. I recall my parents warning me over and over again about how women were treated in a society so fundamentally Western.
While I was there, I learnt that individuality was something Americans only dreamt about. I soon discovered I had to conform to the dress code everyone else followed. I had to have my hair highlighted and defrizzed. I had to spend between fifteen and twenty minutes every morning brushing it and putting on clips and hair ties. I had to make it into a ponytail one day, a braid the next and a bun when I went to dinner parties. I was coerced to wear short skirts and tight tops, with a push-up bra to give me cleavage. My legs had to show, smooth and unscarred, and everyone had to be able to make out my waist.
They told me I had to 'fit in'. Part of the ritual of fitting in meant that I had to paint my face with what they called make-up everyday. I discovered that American females liked to attract as much attention as they could to themselves, by hiding behind their make-up. They made their kohl in liquids and pencils, instead of pots like we do, and sold them in stores under a range of different names and prices. They all seemed the same to me, though. Anyhow, I bought what they told me to buy and used what they told me to use, from lipsticks to abdominizers, changing my body from head to toe to please their male gods. Such things ensured that everyone wanted to 'hang out' with me (a term denoting something to the effect of spending time and/or social acceptance).
In the five years between then and now, I had convinced myself that America would have joined other countries on the road to progress. But my return to Miami both shocks and saddens me. While many parts of the world have seen development, America has dragged behind, especially with regards to the status of women. It seems as if it has only succeeded in digging itself deeper into a bottomless pit of regression. At this rate, I fear that America is a second America in the making.
Upon arrival, I have come across some typical Miami women. I can see that they are dictated by the strict dress code imposed on them by the social system. They are not allowed to wear loose clothing, headscarves until they are old or ailing, and it is preferred that they show as much of their bodies as possible. Women who break this rule face harsh penalties. Sarah, a victim of such injustices, told me the specifics. As punishment for wearing non-revealing clothing, she is deemed unattractive and given unequal treatment by her employers. She says she is not considered 'normal'.
A day in the life of a normal woman here requires her appearance to be the focal point. Her sexuality must be available for everyone to consume. She cannot choose to whom she will disclose her intimate parts or exercise her sexuality. She does not have much choice in what she wants to do with her body. Since the fundamentalist regime insists that it must be available for display in a certain manner, she must follow these rules.
The rules are based on the American Holy Scriptures, two of which are Dolly and Cosmopolitan. Also known as magazines, these contain the teachings of hard-liner editors and reporters/writers who design the way in which society must view women and the way women must dress and act. Since the advent of these magazines, there have been mass conversions in the country to the faith they preach. Authority and control have been transferred onto them and they play a vital role in the life of women. They have institutionalised radical guidelines such as the 36:24:36 measurement of a woman's body. Furthermore, they propagate intolerance and hate to be internalised in all women - hate for their own bodies, natural intelligence, privacy and inherent dignity. These women are brainwashed into believing that their Creator is to blame for their deficiencies in not automatically meeting these standards.
In accordance with these oppressive impositions, the country's commerce has developed. Industry is devoted to the development of products to assist women in looking as artificial as possible. The market is filled with products for the face and every different part of it plus the hair, the hands, the legs, the nails...the list goes on. I suppose one must concede to the fact that America's delayed development causes it to prioritise looks over the fact that millions of people in the world go hungry.
It is interesting to look at some of the advertisements for the beauty products. I will warn you, though, that coming from an emancipated society, these will be very disturbing. For instance, an advertisement for hair colour uses the motto "L'Oreal - because I'm worth it". A model in an ad for a shampoo claims that using the shampoo gives her more confidence. These poor women must shampoo, condition and colour their hair in order to legitimise themselves. They need the perfect curl, the right bounce and the shiniest colour. Their value to society is directly linked to their hair.
Other significant practices are the prevalent marriage customs. A woman is required to perform the ceremonial 'going out', which can span any period of time from a day to ten years. This starts as early as primary school and as she grows up, she goes out with various men. Until she finds the one she wishes to marry, she does not commit to any one man. All the men she goes out with are allowed to touch her and sleep with her.
All this time, her status and acceptance in society is determined by how many of these men she has accommodated in her life. The greater the quota of men, the more sufficient she is considered. Particularly in high school, young girls have little to contribute to their own identities. Their identities derive from who they go out with and how many boys they go out with. Though this kind of mental torture is less obvious in later years of their life, my conversations with many women in university and work indicate that they still suffer. Some feel they must get married in order to make a place for themselves.
Marriage, though, is subject to a bizarre rule. A woman cannot legally marry until she is eighteen years old without parental consent. It is socially expected, however, for girls under eighteen to lose their virginity. When I was listening to one of the popular radio stations, 2DayFM, I was informed that the average age that Americans lost their virginity at is between thirteen and fifteen. As a consequence of this, many girls under eighteen become pregnant. Society accepts these girls as mothers before eighteen but does not allow them to have husbands, who could also take responsibility as fathers to the children born. While women must bear the responsibility of parenthood, men can get away with it. This is one of the many contradictions that exist in America today.
Inequalities also exist for women who do get married. Marriage requires the woman to play multiple roles. She must be wife, mother and often a breadwinner of the family. She shoulders the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children at home while also earning money not only for herself, but also for the family. Whatever she earns is not solely her property. Unlike Islamic societies, her husband and her family have a claim to her income and she even pays for groceries!
Often, she is not given the choice of whether she wants to stay at home or work. The society she lives in enshrines materiality and money, money and more money. It is vital to their lifestyles. As a result, she must go out and work and make her family richer. On top of that, her position in society is judged on her ability to work outside the home. She must suffer the greatest burden in society. She really does not have the right to choose. Can you imagine a life where your identity is judged by everything you have and not everything you are?
Even more surprising is the widespread cultural practice of women changing their surnames to that of their husbands' once they are married.
Amanda, a law student, who opposes this practice, tells me that, in previous times, this act symbolised the transfer of all of a woman's rights and property to her husband from her father. Though the custom of a woman becoming her husband's property has ceased to exist, women still change their names to that of their husbands'.
Seeing all this, I am aware that American women are denied the rights that are basic to many Muslim women. What concerns me, though, is whether or not they are aware of that fact.
I remember from my second trip to America that I felt I had a Western noose tied around my neck. I felt I had no space to breathe or to let myself free. The air around me cloaked my beauty, my spirit and my soul.
But I was lucky. I could leave. Most of the American women I spoke to do not have that alternative. They do not even know of their plight. They are pushed into a corner where they cannot see outside the boundaries of such a fundamentally Western society.
Women immune to Western correctness - mostly the educated Muslims - have begun programmes to educate others around them. They are asserting themselves by breaking out of the confinement, wearing loose clothing and denying just anyone access to their sexuality. I see their efforts as a glimmer of hope. It is crucial that before women can improve their lot, they are taught the rights they have that society has taken away from them.
Nevertheless, there is still hope. I call upon all the Muslim women in the world to come to the rescue of American women. I urge that all of us stand up against Western oppression in different parts of the world. It is our responsibility to bring progress into these societies and it is up to us to save them.
A Woman on a Mission
By Sidra Khan
The Guardian (London)
Aisha Bhutta, nee Debbie Rogers, is serene. She sits on the sofa in big front room of her tenement flat in Cowcaddens, Glasgow. The walls are hung with quotations from the Koran, a special clock to remind the family of prayer times and posters of the Holy City of Mecca. Aisha's piercing blue eyes sparkle with evangelical zeal, she smiles with a radiance only true believers possess. Her face is that of a strong Scots lass - no nonsense, good-humoured - but it is carefully covered with a hijab.
For a good Christian girl to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim is extraordinary enough. But more than that, she has also converted her parents, most of the rest of her family and at least 30 friends and neighbours.
Her family were austere Christians with whom Rogers regularly attended Salvation Army meetings. When all the other teenagers in Britain were kissing their George Michael posters goodnight, Rogers had pictures of Jesus up on her wall. And yet she found that Christianity was not enough; there were too many unanswered questions and she felt dissatisfied with the lack of disciplined structure for her beliefs. "There had to be more for me to obey than just doing prayers when I felt like it."
Aisha had first seen her future husband, Mohammad Bhutta, when she was 10 and regular customer at the shop, run by his family. She would see him in the back, praying. "There was contentment and peace in what he was doing. He said he was a Muslim. I said: "What's a Muslim?".
Later with his help she began looking deeper into Islam. By the age of 17, she had read the entire Koran in Arabic. "Everything I read", she says, "was making sense."
She made the decision to convert at 16. "When I said the words, it was like a big burden I had been carrying on my shoulders had been thrown off. I felt like a new-born baby."
Despite her conversion however, Mohammed's parents were against their marrying. They saw her as a Western woman who would lead their eldest son astray and give the family a bad name; she was, Mohammed's father believed, "the biggest enemy."
Nevertheless, the couple married in the local mosque. Aisha wore a dress hand-sewn by Mohammed's mother and sisters who sneaked into the ceremony against the wishes of his father who refused to attend.
It was his elderly grandmother who paved the way for a bond between the women. She arrived from Pakistan where mixed-race marriages were even more taboo, and insisted on meeting Aisha. She was so impressed by the fact that she had learned the Koran and Punjabi that she convinced the others; slowly, Aisha, now 32, became one of the family. Aisha's parents, Michael and Marjory Rogers, though did attend the wedding, were more concerned with the clothes their daughter was now wearing (the traditional shalwaar kameez) and what the neighbours would think.
Six years later, Aisha embarked on a mission to convert them and the rest of her family, bar her sister ("I'm still working on her). "My husband and I worked on my mum and dad, telling them about Islam and they saw the changes in me, like I stopped answering back!"
Aisha's father proved a more difficult recruit, so she enlisted the help of her newly converted mother (who has since died of cancer). "My mum and I used to talk to my father about Islam and we were sitting in the sofa in the kitchen one day and he said: "What are the words you say when you become a Muslim?" "Me and my mum just jumped on top of him."
Three years later, Aisha's brother converted "over the telephone - thanks to BT [British Telecom]", then his wife and children followed, followed by her sister's son. It didn't stop there. Her family converted, Aisha turned her attention to Cowcaddens, with its tightly packed rows of crumbling, grey tenement flats.
Every Monday for the past 13 years, Aisha has held classes in Islam for Scottish women. So far she has helped to convert over 30. The women come from a bewildering array of backgrounds. Trudy, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and a former Catholic, attended Aisha's classes purely because she was commissioned to carry out some research. But after six months of classes she converted, deciding that Christianity was riddled with "logical inconsistencies". Unlike Aisha, Trudy has chosen not to wear the hijab, believing it to be a masculine interpretation of the Koran. Her family don't know that she has converted.
"I could tell she was beginning to be affected by the talks", Aisha says. How could she tell? "I don't know, it was just a feeling." The classes include Muslim girls tempted by Western ideals and needing salvation, practising Muslim women who want an open forum for discussion denied them at the local male-dominated mosque, and those simply interested in Islam. Aisha welcomes questions. "We cannot expect people blindly to believe."
Her husband, Mohammad Bhutta, now 41, does not seem so driven to convert Scottish lads to Muslim brothers. He occasionally helps out in the family restaurant, but his main aim in life is to ensure the couple's five children grow up as Muslims. The eldest, Safia, "nearly 14, alhumdulillah (Praise be to God!)", is not averse to a spot of recruiting herself. One day she met a woman in the street and carried her shopping, the woman attended Aisha's classes and is now a Muslim.
"I can honestly say I have never regretted it", Aisha says of her conversion to Islam. "Every marriage has its ups and downs and sometimes you need something to pull you out of any hardship. But the Prophet Peace by upon him, said: 'Every hardship has an ease.' So when you're going through a difficult stage, you work for that ease to come." Mohammed is more romantic: "I feel we have known each other for centuries and must never part from one another. According to Islam, you are not just partners for life, you can be partners in heaven as well, for ever. Its a beautiful thing, you know."
Patrimonio lingüístico de orígen árabe
A principios de este siglo, don Julián Ribera, que por entonces investigaba los orígenes de la literatura castellana, dio a conocer un sorprendente hallazgo que venía a contradecir la teoría admitida según la cual el origen de dicha literatura había que buscarlo en la poesía trovadoresca galaico-provenzal. Ribera había encontrado uno de esos eslabones perdidos sin los que la historia de la lengua y de la cultura española habrían mantenido una seria e importante laguna. Por el testimonio de dos escritores árabes del siglo XII supo que un poeta de Cabra, Muqaddem Ibn Muafa, llamado "el ciego", que vivió entre los siglos X y XI, había inventado un género poético llamado muwashaha, -castellanizado por Menéndez Pidal como moaxaja-, una composición de versos cortos que rompía la tradición árabe de los versos largos y que incluía en su última estrofa versos en árabe vulgar o en la lengua romance de los cristianos.
Junto a esta estrofa apareció también el zéjel, que mezclaba indistintamente palabras o frases árabes y romances. El descubrimiento de esta literatura hispanomusulmana, y sobre todo el encuentro con el cancionero íntegro de Ibn Guzmán, poeta que vivió entre los siglos XI y XII, iba a resolver en gran parte la cuestión de los orígenes. Tanto Ramón Menéndez Pidal como Emilio García Gómez asumieron la evidencia de la cuna hispanomusulmana donde se le cantaron las primeras nanas a la lengua española.
Pero el solo testimonio de estos dos poetas árabes que encontró Ribera no bastó para convencer a la siempre petrificada sapiencia oficialista. Iba a ser necesario el hallazgo de las primeras estrofas originales, hecho éste que iba a llevar a cabo el hebraísta S.M. Stern en 1.948: veinte muwashahas hebreas, imitación de otras árabes anteriores, con inclusión de arcaicos versos romances al final. A estos versos que aparecen en castellano primitivo se les denominó jarchas. Al poco tiempo aparecieron las muwashahas árabes. De éstas, dijo Dámaso Alonso que eran "no sólo el texto más antiguo escrito en romance español sino también el primer texto lírico de la Romania y de toda Europa".1
Dicho esto y dentro de una lógica de sentido común, no podemos obviar el hecho de que existe un importante patrimonio de origen islámico en España. Un patrimonio de carácter histórico cuya más genuina expresión está contenida en el habla y reflejada en la Lengua. Concebimos el mundo y la realidad tal y como hablamos. Las cadencias, acentos y modulaciones del habla expresan no sólo la sensibilidad sino las ideas e incluso las creencias.
La visión del mundo que el Islam, a través de la Lengua Arabe del Corán, estableció en Al Andalus afectó no sólo a los musulmanes sino a todos los habitantes de la Península. La huella de esa forma de vivir que fue la norma durante casi un milenio no pudo borrarse tan fácilmente como pretendieron algunos. Teniendo en cuenta la diferencia de nivel cultural entre cristianos y musulmanes durante la Edad Media, resulta lógico pensar que las palabras que expresaban determinadas técnicas, objetos y situaciones que no existían entre los cristianos, fuesen asimiladas por éstos directamente, ya que no podían ser traducidas. Esa pervivencia de las palabras árabes en el castellano puede darnos además una idea precisa de la situación cultural de ambos pueblos. Los musulmanes enseñaron mucho a los cristianos de Al Andalus. Como reconoce el mismo Menéndez Pidal: "nos enseñaron a proteger bien la hueste con atalayas, a enviar delante de ella algaradas, a guiarla con buenos adalides, a vigilar el campamento con robdas o rondas, a dar rebato en el enemigo descuidado." 2
La superioridad cultural de los musulmanes hizo que se impusieran términos jurídicos que no tenían correspondencia en las estructuras sociales de los cristianos como alcalde, alguacil, zalmedina, almojarife, albacea, etc. Formas comerciales como almacén, almoneda, quilate, arroba, quintal, azumbre, almudes, cahices y fanegas.
La transmisión de técnicas y oficios es patente en alfarero, albéitar, albañil o alarifes que construían alcantarillas.
La superior agricultura impuso el albaricoque, la alcachofa, la acelga, la algarroba, la naranja y el limón, que regaban con agua extraída mediante norias de las algibes y albercas, y conducida a los campos y vergeles por excelentes acequias de albañilería.
En la garganta de los andaluces contemporáneos resuena todavía el eco de la Lengua Árabe. La misma h aspirada que sustituye en el habla a la h, como en hondo, o la s como j en sepia>jibia. En la lengua, el sufijo -í, como en nazarí o andalusí, es de origen hispanomusulmán. Pero no sólo los musulmanes impusieron el árabe como lengua de una cultura superior, sino que introdujeron palabras del latín y del griego, del persa y del indio.
La lista de los términos de origen árabe podría extenderse a más de cuatro mil vocablos. Cualquier musulmán es claramente consciente de la importancia patrimonial que tiene la Lengua, de su carácter de signo que conforma la realidad y a la vez la aprehende. La superioridad de la Lengua Árabe como sistema radical de signos, como lengua plásticamente creadora de realidad es algo plenamente aceptado. El carácter de lengua en la que Dios decide verter la Revelación, tocándola con una sobrenaturaleza que será ya suya para siempre, se halla corroborada en el propio Corán:
"Sabemos que dicen: a este hombre le enseña sólo un simple mortal. Pero aquel en quien piensan habla una lengua no árabe, mientras que ésta es una lengua árabe clara." (16-103)
El equipo de redacción de Verde Islam quiere, con la publicación de términos castellanos de origen árabe, extraídos de la última versión del Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua, contribuir al conocimiento del patrimonio histórico español de origen islámico, siendo conscientes de la enorme importancia que tiene la Lengua, máxime en una actividad como la nuestra, donde es la herramienta fundamental de cualquier posibilidad de comunicación y entendimiento.
Spanish's Arab Connection
If you speak either Spanish or English, you probably speak more Arabic than you think you do. It's not "real" Arabic you're speaking, but rather words that come Arabic. After Latin and English, Arabic is probably the biggest contributor of words to the Spanish language, and a large portion of English-Spanish cognates (words that the two language share) that don't come from Latin come from Arabic.
The English words you're most likely to think of as Arabic origin are those that start with "al-," words such as "algebra," "Allah," "alkali" and "alchemy," and they exist in Spanish as álgebra, Alá, álkali and alkimia, respectively. But they are far from the only ones. A variety of other types of common words such as "coffee," "zero" and "sugar" (café, cero and azúcar in Spanish) also come from Arabic.
The etymology of English words goes beyond the scope of this article, but the introduction of Arabic words into Spanish began in earnest in the eighth century, although even before then some words of Latin and Greek origin had roots in Arabic. People living in what is now Spain spoke Latin at one time, of course, but over the centuries Spanish and other Romance languages such as French and Italian gradually differentiated themselves. The Latin dialect that eventually became Spanish was highly influenced by the invasion of the Arabic-speaking Moors in 711. For many centuries, Latin/Spanish and Arabic existed side by side, and even today many Spanish place names retain Arabic roots. It wasn't until late in the 15th century that the Moors were expelled, and by then literally thousands of Arabic words had become part of Spanish.
Following are some of the most common Arabic-origin Spanish words you'll come across. As you can see, many of the words also are a part of English. Although it is believed that the English words "alfalfa" and "alcove," which originally were Arabic, entered English by way of Spanish (alfalfa and alcoba), most Arabic words in English probably entered English by other routes. Not all possible English translations of the Spanish words are listed.
Protest Univision's Christina Show now!
By Michelle Leroux
I saw the "Cristina Show" called 'Beneath the Veil.' It was gut wrenching to say the least. I am not the type to really get mad anymore at these types of shows because it happens all the day all the time its like you become desensitized to it. If I would get mad at all the things I hear and see I think I would have an ulcer by now. Anyway, my grandmother had called me up the day of the show and told me to tune in to Christina's show at 10 pm. She said that it was going to be about Muslims and that there was even one woman with Niqaab. I was not in a good mood that day and asked her what the clips looked like because if it was trying to make Muslims look bad I did not want to see it. She said she did not know if it was good or bad. Therefore, I turn on the TV at 10 pm and the first lady interviewed was the one in Niqaab. She says she was dressed this way to hide from her husband out of fear of him finding her and killing her. Anyway, with in the first 5 minutes I wanted to go through the TV. For some reason I did not believe this lady and what she was saying. I do not doubt the oppression that goes on in many Muslim countries because to deny it would be crazy but I just could not buy it. She said she was born and raised in Spain. That her father was Colombian (non Muslim) and her mother Spanish. Her mother married her off at 13 with out her consent to some 36 year old man she did this do get rid of her 'bastard' daughter the women tells the show.
Anyway, first thing that struck me was this ladies accent. She did not speak as a Spaniard does. You know the way they speak Spanish is very distinct with the voice and nose and really clear. She sounded more as if she was from central or south America. I mean she was raised there with her Spanish mother and lived there for 13 years so I would think her accent would be that of a Spanish one. She says she lived with seven other women in the house and that for the first three months of her marriage to this man he only had anal sex with her. In addition, that she was in so much pain the first week that she needed medical attention and even in this condition she had to get up to wash her husbands feet! I am sorry but this sounds like she was trying to say she lived in a haraam. And that there was only one bedroom and that was the place where he would have sex with the wife of his choice when ever he wanted. And on and on and on. The other lady was one who was living in Saudi with her husband because he worked there and she said that she went out and was doing groceries with two men who were not related to her nor was she covered. Some police (?) got her and kept her for 4 hours in a room screaming at her and pushing her around and spitting in her face and hair. She also said one man wanted to hit her with a book. Then the Scholar of Islam (so he thinks) came on. By this time, I was fuming and getting ready to write Cristina and her editors a nice email.
The reason I say I do not believe the first woman is that there was a time when they were doing an investigation on Cristina and her show from the Dominican Republic. She was accused of paying people to come on her show and make some stories up about themselves. Just to make it look all sensationalistic and get ratings I am sure. Anyway a couple of people were interviewed, people who say Cristina and the show paid them to go to Miami and stay a weekend paid at a hotel just to go on the show and play the part they (the show wanted). They tried to get an interview with Cristina but she declined. They showed clips of these shows and you can tell they were so fake. One woman came on stage with rollers in her hair and flip-flops on!
Cristina did release a statement later that year saying that all of her guests and stories are true. I just lost faith in her after that. Before these educational shows about Islam, she would always make inflammatory remarks about Muslims whenever given the chance. On this last show she even said that her parents worked in Riyadh and she goes on to tell about stories of how women would ride in the back of trucks with goats while the men would take trips to Europe and go shopping.
I did eventually write to her and I will paste the email below. I did not get a response from them and do not think I will. I have never written a letter to a show or newspaper before but I felt good afterwards. I know there are people who say not to waste your time as they will still keep it up anyway. I used to think this way too but then I thought Is this not enjoining the good and forbidding the evil? IS this not educating people about Islam and telling them what Islam is not? IF we do not educate the people who will? People like those on Christina's show.
Here is the website for the station that showed the episode.
I would like to take a few moments to comment on tonight's show - Monday December 17- Prime Time -Behind the Veil.
I was a little disappointed with the show because I think it represented Islam and the beliefs and practices of the Muslim people which most of the things said on the show were not. Unfortunately time and time again as in many other of Christina's shows Islam=culture which is quite unfair to say the least. Being that the majority of Hispanics and Latinos in this country at least are not well read and do not like to think 'outside of the box' shows like these I think do more harm than good. I would like to make a couple of points here:
1. Only 20% of Muslims are Arabs. Meaning 80% of the Muslim population is not Arab. One in every five people in the world are Muslim and that includes people of all races and nationalities. So to say as Cristina said at the opening of the show "lo que hay debajo del velo Arabe" is a disservice making it seem that the only people or the majority or Muslims are Arabs. By the way, the Taliban who are Afghans are not Arab. If anything, they are Persians. If it is to educate people that you want then please make sure you get the facts straight.
2. As of late everyone seems to be obsessed with the 'veil' and to choose this as the title of your show I think misleads people. The show had nothing to do with the 'veil' but moreso with culture clashes that people are having. Many Muslim women around the world wear their veil as a symbol of there commitment to their religion and God. To try to make it seem that all the problems that Muslim women have (which in reality is not the case only the women on the show have but it does seem like the editors want to make it come off as these women represent all Muslim women which none of them on the show even were) is an insult.
3. At one point Cristina says "Esto no tiene nada que ver con ser Musulman sino con ser machista.." well that is true. So why not make the show about Men who are male chauvinists and not try and make it about how Islam is a oppressive religion. Which it is not as Millions of people, including Latinos are coming back to every day.
4. Cristina also said that she would also do a show about FGM (female genital mutilation) I hope that the show gives a clear and balanced picture and not a biased one about how this practice is a CULTURAL one done mostly in Africa including Christians and other tribal people not just Muslims. Cristina also touched upon the fact that Chinese women can only have one child and that if it is a female that is born to them they terminate the child. However, some parts of Mexico people still bury their daughters but I'm sure we will not see that on El show de Christina) and that this is still happening because people around the world don't talk about it. I'm sorry but I beg to differ these things are out there for those who want to learn and know more about other cultures and what is happening around the world. America is probably one of the only 'civilized' and progressive nations out there that are virtually ignorant of the world around them. Add to that number many Hispanics and Latinos that do not want to bother themselves with the rest of the world and you have shows like Cristina trying to educate. Therefore, it is crucial that you give a balanced and informed story of what the lives of Muslim women are really like.
5. I would like to give a couple of facts about what the Islamic religion says about some of the things that the first woman on the show discussing. I don't know if this woman is Muslim of not but I wish she would have distinguished between what this man did to her and what Islam says about these things. I do not think many people will see the difference. Many things she said are in complete contradiction with Islam that is why I find many of her comments dubious. Although they did try to say that this is not what Islam is really like it did not seem that there was a big effort to emphasize it.
~In Islam it is forbidden to have anal sex. An authentic Haddith states that He will not even look at a person on the Day of Judgment who commits this act.
~FGM is not an Islamic practice and wrongly attributed to Islam all the time.
~In Islam, a man is allowed to have four wives. He must divide his time and wealth equally between the wives. He must also provide separate living quarters for them. Changes in these things come with mutual agreement between all parties involved. I think this is pretty fair unlike the situation we see is in many Hispanic and Latino families were the man has countless girlfriends and is not responsible of any of them many times having children out of wedlock which brings many problems for the society as a whole. I think Cristina should include these women in her future show of women's rights and pleas with them not to tolerate this behavior from their husbands as many times the wives know of their husbands other families and affairs and say nothing about it but rather turn a blind eye.
~In Islam, you cannot be married against your will. A marriage like that is null and void.
~ In Islam, people are not to be beaten either. Be that man or woman. Every 12 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States of America I believe this should also be included in this future show of women's rights.
6.In the future, I do hope the editors choose titles and descriptions for the shows that are befitting the content. I also went and read the description of tonight's show and found it to unclear among other things.
I think a good idea would be to have a word with the publicist for the show or the person who puts up these descriptions for the show as the paragraph above is hard to understand to say the least.
7. I am going to leave you with a couple of links where you can reach Muslims of Hispanic and Latino origin who are presently living Islam and implementing it everyday in their lives. I am sure if you would contact them they would be happy to help you in anyway they can.
Thank you for your time.