The Latino Muslim Voice
The July-September 2003 newsletter
1. Quotes of the Month
2. "The Life of Jealously and Envy" By Jason Perez
3. "I-S-L-A-M" By Jay, A Muslim child
4. "I am a Muslim Woman" By Jenn Zaghloul
5. "The Changing Face of Islam in America" By S.Sanchez and J.Galvan
6. "Musulmanes Latinos: El Cambio del Islam en América" Por S.Sanchez y J.Galvan
7. "Fallout from 9-11-2001" By Khadijah Rivera
8. "The Latino Muslims Conference in Dallas" By Juan Galvan
9. "First Annual Hispanic Muslim Day" By Shinoa Matos
10. "Musulmanes En La Peninsula Iberica" Por Mariam S. Garcia
11. "Averroes, Maimonides, and Aquinas" By Jacob Bender
12. "Why to Reject Jesus' Divinity" By Shahid Bin Waheed
13. "Nike Unveils New Logo" By Choam Von Nomsky
14. "10 Reasons Why Latinos Can't be Terrorists" By Unknown
15. "Check it Out! The LADO website" By Natasha Quraishi
Quotes of the Month
"Surely, a Messenger has come unto you from among yourselves; grievous to him is it that you should fall into trouble; he is ardently desirous of your welfare; and to the believers he is specially compassionate and merciful. But if they turn away, say, `Allah is sufficient for me. There is no god but He. In Him do I put my trust, and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.'" - Quran 9:128-9.
"And He has put affection between their (believers') hearts. If thou hadst expended all that is in the earth, thou couldst not have put affection between their hearts, but Allah has put affection between them. Surely, He is Mighty, Wise." - Quran 8:64.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "O God, I seek refuge in You from knowledge that does not benefit anyone, a heart that is not submissive, a soul that is dissatisfied, and a prayer that is not heard." - Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1260.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Shall I tell you who is kept away from Hell and from whom Hell is kept away? From everyone who is gentle and kindly, approachable and of an easy disposition." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1315.
An article in the 1986 Reader's Digest 'Almanac' gave the statistics of the increase of the major world religions in half a century from 1934 to 1984. At the top was Islam, which increased by 235%, and Christianity had increased by 47%. No major war took place in this century that converted millions of people to Islam.
The Life of Jealously and Envy
By Jason Perez aka Sidi Hamza Abdul Mummit
There was this kid named Jealousy who had gun weaponry.
Who ever lived life better than him was his enemy.
He walked the streets like a centipede.
Frustrated with his destiny
Living life like a dark legacy.
He had a brother named Envy whose pockets were empty.
But he had a 45 caliber with a clip that holds twenty.
They made a plan to rob some drug slangers.
They ran into a drug dealer named Anger,
Known for his short temper by gang bangers.
And for his new cars and new clothes on the hangers,
They shot Anger and left him dead in the street.
But they left a witness. It was Anger's girlfriend Conceit.
Conceit picked up the phone and talked. As she cried,
She called up a big drug dealer name Pride.
She told him that Anger had died,
And that she seen Jealousy and Envy with her own two eyes.
Pride picked up the phone and called his main man Hate.
They looked for Jealousy and Envy till the night got late.
They found Jealousy and Envy coming out the liquor store.
They shot them dead and left them bleeding on the floor.
These are the diseases of the poor.
And the Deen of Allah is the only true cure.
By Jay, A Muslim child
I is for I believe in Allah
S is for Satan is my worst enemy
L is for loyal am, I Inshallah
A is for Allah is my creator
M is for Muslim am I
From the author: "Please smile while reading."
Being a Muslim is so great
You don't get in trouble even if your late
We love Allah we love our Prophet
Because being a Muslim is so great
I am a Muslim Woman
By Jenn Zaghloul
I am a Muslim woman. Feel free to ask me why.
When I walk, I walk with dignity
When I speak I do not lie
I am a Muslim woman. Not all of me you'll see
But what you should appreciate. Is that the choice I make is free
I'm not plagued with depression. I'm neither cheated nor abused.
I don't envy other women. And I'm certainly not confused.
Note, I speak perfect English. Et un petit peu de Francais aussi.
I'm majoring in Linguistics. So you need not speak slowly.
I run my own small business. Every cent I earn is mine.
I drive my Chevy to school & work. And no, that's not a crime!
You often stare as I walk by. You don't understand my veil.
But peace and power I have found. As I am equal to any male!
I am a Muslim woman. So please don't pity me.
For God has guided me to truth. And now I'm finally free!
(c)1999 Jenn Zaghloul
Latino Muslims: The Changing Face of Islam in America
By Samantha Sanchez and Juan Galvan
Islamic Horizons Magazine
July/August 1423/2002, Pp 22-30.
The face of Islam is changing in the U.S. as more and more people revert. While there have always been record numbers of African American and Caucasian American reverts, the Muslim community is becoming even more diverse. In recent years, the number of Latino revert has increased significantly. Estimated reports claim that 40,000 Latino Muslims live in the U.S.
Latino Muslims have been gaining media attention. Headlines such as "A New Minority Makes Itself Known: Hispanic Muslims" and "Hispanos musulmanes de Nueva York" are just a few that signify that America is realizing what Latino Muslims have known for quite a while...that we exist! While it may still seem strange for the Muslim community to hear about us, the general public in such places as New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami is becoming more aware of this fact thanks to organizations supporting the Latino Muslim community.
The need for da'wah to Latinos is evident when we look at the relevant statistics. According to Dr. Ihsan Bagby's "The Mosque In America: A National Portrait" (CAIR. April 2001 www.cair-net.org/mosquereport/Masjid_Study_Project_2000_Report.pdf), the average number of American reverts per mosque is approximately16 per year. He estimates an annual national growth of 20,000 reverts: 63% African-American, 27% White, and 6% Hispanic. According to the 2000 U.S. Census (U.S. Census. Ethnic and Hispanic Statistics Branch. "U.S. Hispanic Population: 2000." www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/p20-535/p20-535.pdf), 75% of Americans are White, 12% are Hispanic, and 12% are African-American. The low Hispanic reversion rate deserves our attention.
The U.S Census Bureau classifies Hispanics into five categories: Mexican, Central and South American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other Hispanics. A Census Bureau study states that the Mexican-American population nearly doubled between 1970 and 1980, nearly doubled again by 1990, and...doubled by 2000! Considerable immigration and a birth rate higher than the rest of the population are the primary factors for this. The U.S. Latino population is expected to grow to 63 million by 2030, and 88 million by 2050. By then, one-quarter of all Americans will be Latino! Latinos are changing the face of America, and so da'wah directed at them is necessary. The correlation between Latinos as the fastest growing population and Islam as the fastest growing religion deserves our attention.
Who are the Latinos? The terms Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably. In March 2000, 32.8 million Hispanics lived in the U.S. According to the 2000 Census, Mexican-Americans (21.7 million) comprise the majority, followed by Central and South Americans (4.7 million), Puerto Ricans (3 million), Cubans (1.3 million), and other Hispanics (2.1 million). Mexican-Americans make up about 66 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population.
The Hispanic population is younger and has fewer elderly than the non-Hispanic White population. Half of all Hispanics are under 26; more than one-third are under 18. Among Hispanics, Mexican-Americans have the largest proportion of people under age 18 (38%). However, Cuban-Americans have the largest proportion of people aged 65 or over (21%). Hispanic households are more likely than non-Hispanic White households to be headed by a single female. Among Hispanic households, Puerto Ricans have the largest proportion of single female-headed households.
The educational attainment of Hispanics lags behind non-Hispanic Whites. Among Hispanics, Mexican-Americans 25 years and older have the lowest proportion of people with a high school diploma or more. Cubans 25 years and older have the highest proportion of Hispanics with a bachelor's degree or more. Hispanics are more likely to be unemployed compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Service workers, transportation, and precision production, craft, and repair were the most common occupations among employed Hispanics. Hispanics are more likely to be living in poverty than non-Hispanic Whites.
Approximately 16.4 million (or half) of the Hispanic population lives inside the central cities of metropolitan areas. About 45% of the Hispanic population lives in the West and 33% in the South. Hispanics are concentrated in several states. In 1990, nearly 9 out of 10 Hispanics lived in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado, and Massachusetts-in that order. Half of all Latinos live in California or Texas.
We must consider such demographic trends when designing da'wah programs. These programs must target the major cities of the states listed above. All Muslims should struggle to eliminate problems within the Latino community.
Who is a Latino Muslim? Sounds easy enough, right? Well, maybe not. First, the word Latino encompasses all people with a Latin American heritage, whether they are from the U.S. or Latin and South America. They may also speak various languages, including but not limited to Spanish, Portuguese, English, Aymara, Nahuatl, and Quechua.
It is also hard to define Muslim. Latino Muslims here and abroad follow all Islamic madhahib and sects, and so there are Shi'as, Sunnis, Sufis, and so on. Most Latino Muslims are Sunni. But not all Latino Muslims are reverts, for some are second- and third-generation Muslims or are born Muslim in their home countries.
Much research about Latino Muslims is needed. Various estimates have claimed anywhere from 25,000 to 75,000 Latino Muslims. Perhaps the most accurate estimate is 40,000. More research is needed to find accurate numbers and reversion rates over the last 30 years among all Hispanic groups. We would also like to know what percentage of Latino Muslims are Mexican, Central and South American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other Hispanics. Much demographic information about Latino Muslims is needed such as age, gender, state, and education/income levels.
According to Bagby, most American reverts are men (68%) compared to women (32%). The typical revert is an African-American male. From our own observations, most Latino Muslims are college-educated, between the ages of 20 and 30, and female.
Although a mosque's ethnic diversity does not coincide with high reversion rates, the largest mosques have the best reversion rates. Larger mosques are more likely to be found in largely populated Muslim cities. Within these cities, Muslims have greater interaction with non-Muslims. The resulting interaction most likely positively influences reversion rates. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Miami have the largest Hispanic populations. Not surprisingly, we find most Latino Muslims and higher Latino reversion rates within these metropolitan cities.
Why do Latinos revert? Religious conversion remains a personal choice. Samantha Sanchez, in the first research conducted on Latino Muslims, states that most reverts were seeking a new religious orientation. But some were doing this more actively than others. In her study, 25% reverted as a result of personal exploration (actively seeking a new faith) and had considered other religions before Islam, such as various Protestant sects, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For many Latinos, embracing Islam took between 3 to 12 years. While conversions to Christianity are typically emotional, reversions to Islam are primarily intellectual.
For the most part, most new Latino Muslims were not practicing their former faith (73% of them were Catholic) before reversion. This helps prove the relationship before between Latinos and Catholicism, which is the major part of their ethnic culture. Lewis Rambo, a scholar of conversion, says that "a person who is deeply attached to a family that is uniformly committed to a certain religious orientation is less likely to convert to a new option unless there are compelling forces to counteract the power of the family."
In Sanchez's study, many Latino converts stated that Islam offers a sense of spirituality that they did not find in their former religious affiliation. First, they expressed some dislikes with the Catholic Church that led them to seek a new faith, such as the concentration on Jesus (especially as the Son of God), Christianity's polytheistic nature (worshipping Mary and saints), and the idea of the Trinity. Moreover, many Latinos claimed that they disagreed with papal infallibility and the Church hierarchy. A few claimed that their families were not religious, and that attending Mass was not incumbent upon them, which led them to seek out their own faith. Surprisingly, Latino women are coming to Islam in larger numbers. They also claim that Islam offers a perspective on women that they have long sought after.
When we look under the surface, Islamic monotheism (tawhid) is generally the guiding factor for reversion. Consider the following quotes by Latino Muslims from newspaper articles about Latino Muslims:
- Mercedes Zeenni (Los Angeles): "I was Catholic. But from the start, it seemed that Islam gave more answers to my questions, was more direct, without mysteries, and making it easier for me to understand what it meant to believe in God."
- Nicole Ballivian (Los Angeles): "I remember getting in trouble in Catholic school for debating things like the concept of original sin at a really young age. When I actually studied Islam, it made it all simple."
- Vita Rivera (Miami) said: "I always wanted to read the Bible and learn more, but it was all about the catechism. You just have to believe it, not understand it. For me, Islam gave me answers, made sense."
- Mariam Montalvo (Los Angeles): "With Islam, it was so pure. I found there were no intermediaries. Everything goes straight to God."
- Abdulhadi Bazurto (Fresno, CA): "Ask a child, and he will tell you that God is one. Period. Ask a theologian how many gods there are and he will have you going in circles."
- Guadalupe Martinez (Houston): "When we find Islam, we don't have to waste energy. It's like if I call the operator to get a number, I waste energy. But with Islam, I have the number. I get connected directly to God."
- Domy Garcia (Los Angeles): "Viewing Jesus as a prophet and a political leader, and not a God, made more sense to me."
- Aminah Martinez (Virginia): "As I got older, I felt there were too many distractions in the church. Islam, to me, was a more direct faith where I felt a strong sense of belonging."
- Ali Medina (California): "Before I had no direction in my life, I was ruining my life, and I had left school in the eleventh grade."
- Ricardo Pena (Chicago): "I looked at it as joining a larger brotherhood. We don't look at each other as Mexicans or Arabs. We look at each other as Muslims."
- Sumayyah Ikhil (New York City): "We are all Muslim under one faith, one God."
In Sanchez's study, 76% of the Latinos reverted due to da'wah. Dr. Larry Poston (Islamic Da'wah in the West: Muslim Missionary Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) defines da'wah as missionary activity. Dr. John L. Esposito (Islam: The Straight Path. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) more accurately identifies what most Latino Muslims experience. Most Latino Muslims received da'wah only after a little personal exploration. As a result of a sparked interest, they sought out people who could answer their questions, and Muslims responded by sharing information and donating time and literature. Esposito states that this is how Muslims propagate their faith. Da'wah came in many forms: reverted Muslim family and friends, love relationships, and total strangers. People, places, and events are all significant factors that affect a Latino's decision to embrace Islam.
According to Yahiya Emerick (How to Tell Others About Islam. New York: International Books and Tapes Supply, 1996, 98-99), the Latino community presents a special challenge, for Latinos are left to network for themselves. First, most Muslims do not speak Spanish. Second, most Muslims are unaware of the size and importance of Latinos. Efforts have been made to rectify this by printing Spanish-language material. Many Latino Muslims have formed their own organizations to meet the needs of Latinos interested in Islam. Emerick points out that the major problem is that a very large, significant group is not being served effectively.
Almost all Latino Muslims looked into several religions before Islam probably because they knew nothing about Islam prior to that point. Many stated that they knew no Muslims before reverting. Although some Latino Muslims stumble onto Islam or actively research it on their own, most embrace Islam through da'wah. Thus, da'wah work is very important for this community.
What can we learn from reverts? The general Muslim community is still awakening to the concern for da'wah to the Latino Muslim community. Unfortunately, the larger community remains unprepared to serve and support the Latino community's growing numbers. Some, but thankfully not many, Latinos have complained that they are not well received in some masajid due to a particular ethnic makeup. However, the major point of contention is that da'wah committees and imams are ill-trained to meet their needs, especially for those who need more information, speak little English, or need some type of support.
In the community's defense, however, Latino Muslims have only recently (in large numbers) begun to express their needs and help masajid at large learn more about our community. Years ago only a handful of people were doing this work; now we have several organizations. ISNA helped create a Latino Coordinating Committee to foster communication between organizations and the national Muslim community. Latino Muslims desperately need help from the general Muslim community to ensure that da'wah activities continue.
How you can help. The Latino Muslim population is quite diverse, but its basic needs help create a unified community. The Muslim community at large can help foster relations with the Latino Muslim community, as well as with its outreach and da'wah, in the following ways:
- Greater interaction between Muslims and Latinos.
- All masajid should have information about local Latino Muslims and national Latino Muslim information and support organizations.
- Masajid should have basic materials in Spanish and other languages readily available, including Qur'ans, books, cassettes, and instructional CDs.
- Masajid should identify Spanish-speaking Muslims (not necessarily Latino) if needed to train Latinos how to pray, read the Qur'an, and teach them about Islam in general.
- Da'wah committees should work with local Latino Muslims to ensure more effective da'wah.
- Da'wah should be available in Spanish or in other languages, depending on the community.
- Local communities should create forums to discuss matters of importance to Latino Muslims and Latinos in general.
- Muslims and Latino Muslims should participate in interfaith dialogues at churches, primarily Catholic Churches.
- Muslims and Latino Muslims should volunteer to aid Latinos within heavily populated Latino neighborhoods and schools.
- Donate time, money, or materials to local organizations and masajid for the purposes listed above.
© 2002 Islamic Horizons, Islamic Society of North America.
Musulmanes Latinos: El Cambio del Islam en América
Por Samantha Sanchez y Juan Galvan
Islamic Horizons Magazine
Julio/Agosto 1423/2002 Pág. 22-30.
La imagen del Islam en Estados Unidos esta cambiando debido a más y más gente que se revierte a dicha religión. Aun y cuando siempre han existido grandes cantidades tanto de población Africana-Americana como de Caucásea-Americana que se revierten al Islam, la población Musulmana se esta haciendo cada vez más diversa. En años recientes, el número de Latinos que se revierten ha incrementado tremendamente. Algunas cifras revelan que 40,000 Musulmanes Latinos viven en Estados Unidos.
Los Musulmanes Latinos han ido ganando la atención de los medios de comunicación. Titulares como "Una Nueva Minoría se hace llamar: Hispanos Musulmanes" e "Hispanos musulmanes de Nueva York" son tan solo algunos ejemplos de que los Americanos se están percatando de lo que los Musulmanes Latinos han sabido ya por cierto tiempo…¡Que existimos! Aun y cuando todavía se ve extraño entre los mismos Musulmanes el escuchar de nosotros, la población de algunas ciudades tales como Nueva York, Chicago, Houston, Los Ángeles y Miami se están percatando más a cerca de este hecho gracias a organizaciones que apoyan a la Comunidad de Musulmanes Latinos.
La necesidad de da'wah a través de Latinos es evidente cuando uno ve las tan sorprendentes estadísticas. De acuerdo al Dr. Ihsan Bagby "La Mezquita en América: Un Retrato Nacional" (CAIR. Abril 2001 www.cair- net.org/mosquereport/Masjid_Study_Project_2000_Report.pdf), el número promedio de Americanos que se revierten al Islam por cada mezquita es aproximadamente de 16 por año. Él calcula un crecimiento anual nacional de 20,000 personas que se revierten al Islam: 63% Africanos-Americanos, 27% Blancos, y 6% Hispanos. De acuerdo al Censo de Estados Unidos del año 2000 (Censo de EU División de Razas y Estadísticas Hispanas, "US Hispanic Population: 2000," www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/p20-535/p20-535.pdf) 75% de la población de Americanos ciudadanos son Blancos, 12% son Hispanos, y 12% son Africanos-Americanos. El porcentaje de la población que se revierte al Islam es tan bajo que es digno de nuestra atención.
El departamento del Censo de Estados Unidos clasifica a los Hispanos en cinco categorías: Mexicanos, Latinos de América Central y América del Sur, Puertorriqueños, Cubanos, y otros Hispanos. El departamento del Censo estudia detalladamente a los estados en los que la población de Mexicanos-Americanos casi dobla su número entre los años 1970 y 1980, y que casi doblan otra vez en 1990, y a la vez doblan el número para el año 2000! Inmigración considerablemente alta y un porcentaje de nacimiento más alto que el resto de la población son el principal factor. La población Latina en Estados Unidos se espera que crezca a 63 millones para el año 2030, y 88 millones para el 2050. ¡Para entonces, una cuarta parte de la población de Estados Unidos serán Latinos! Los Latinos están cambiando la imagen de Estados Unidos, así que da'wah dirigida a ellos es crucial y necesaria. La correlación entre Latinos, como la población de mayor crecimiento, y el Islam, como la religión de mayor crecimiento, merece de nuestra atención.
¿Quiénes son los Latinos? Los términos Latino y Hispano son usados intercambiablemente. En marzo del 2000, 32.8 millones de Hispanos vivían en Estados Unidos. De acuerdo al Censo del 2000, la población Mexicano-Americano (21.7 millones) abarcan la mayoría, seguido por la gente de Centro y Sudamérica (4.7 millones), Puertorriqueños (3 millones), Cubanos (1.3 millones) y otros Hispanos (2.1 millones.) Los México-Americanos forman un total del 66% de la población Hispana de Estados Unidos.
La población Hispana esta comprendida principalmente por jóvenes y tiene menos cantidad de personas de la tercera edad que la población de blancos no-Hispanos. La mitad de todos los Hispanos tienen menos de 26 años de edad; más de una tercera parte tienen menos de 18 años de edad. Entre los Hispanos, los México-Americanos tienen la mayor población de menores de 18 años (38%.) Sin embargo, los Cubanos-Americanos tienen la mayor población de mayores de 65 años (21%.) Los jefes de familia en la comunidad Hispana esta comprendida en su mayoría por mujeres únicas, más que la población blanca no-Hispana, los Puertorriqueños tienen la proporción más alta de mujeres solteras como sostén de la casa.
Los logros educativos entre los Hispanos tiene un enorme retrazo comparado al de la población de Blancos no-Hispanos. Entre los Hispanos, los México-Americanos de 25 años o más tienen la más baja cifra en tener diploma de preparatoria. Los Cubanos de 25 años o más, de entre los demás Hispanos, tienen él más alto nivel en tener diploma de preparatoria. Los Hispanos tienden a ser más desempleados que la raza Blanca no-Hispana. Trabajadores de servicio, transporte, y producción de precisión, artesanías, y reparación fueron la mayoría de las ocupaciones de entre los empleados Hispanos. Los Hispanos tienden a vivir en pobreza más que la población Blanca no-Hispana.
Aproximadamente 17.4 millones (o la mitad) de la población Hispana vive dentro de las ciudades grandes o áreas metropolitanas. Alrededor del 45% de la población Hispana vive en el Oeste de Estados Unidos y el 33% viven en el sur. La población Hispana esta concentrada en varios estados. En 1990, casi 9 de cada 10 Hispanos vivían en California, Texas, Nueva York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Nueva Jersey, Nuevo México, Colorado, y Massachussets (en ese orden.) La mitad de la población Latina vive en California o Texas.
Debemos considerar tal tendencia demográfica cuando se asigne algún programa de da'wah. Estos programas deben de enfocarse a las mayores ciudades o estados nombrados anteriormente. Todos los Musulmanes deben luchar por eliminar cualquier problema dentro de la comunidad Latina.
¿Quién es un Musulmán Latino? Suena así de fácil, ¿cierto? Pero tal vez no sea así. Primero, la palabra Latino abarca toda la población con herencia Latino-Americana, ya sean de los Estados Unidos, de América Central o de América del Sur. Puede que hablen varios idiomas, incluyendo, pero a la vez no limitando, al Español, Portugués, Inglés, Aymara, Nahuatl, y Quechua.
También es difícil definir a un Musulmán. Los Musulmanes Latinos, tanto dentro como fuera del país, siguen al Madhahib3 Islámico y sectas, y son Shi'as4, Sunnis5, Sufis6, o de cualquier otro. La mayoría de los Musulmanes Latinos son Sunni. Pero no todos los Musulmanes Latinos se han revertido al Islam, algunos son Segunda o tercera generación de Musulmanes o nacieron Musulmanes en su país natal.
Investigación a cerca de Musulmanes Latinos es necesaria. Se han estimado alrededor de 25,000 a 75,000 Musulmanes Latinos. Siendo que el número más certero es de 40,000. Más investigación es necesaria para determinar números más aproximados y la cantidad de población Latina que se revierte al Islam desde hace 30 años. También nos gustaría saber cual es el porcentaje de Musulmanes Latinos Mexicanos, de América Central y de América del Sur, cuantos son Puertorriqueños, Cubanos y de otros lugares. Más información demográfica a cerca de Musulmanes Latinos es necesaria, tal como edades, genero, estado civil, educación y niveles económicos según salarios.
De acuerdo a Bagby, la mayoría de los Americanos que se revierten al Islam son hombres (68%) comparado a la cifra de mujeres (32%.) El estereotipo de personas que se revierten son hombres Africano-Americanos. Según nuestras observaciones, la mayoría de los Musulmanes Latinos tienen un nivel educativo profesional, y son de entre 20 y 30 años de edad y además son mujeres.
Aunque la diversidad étnica de una Mezquita no coincide con el número tan alto de reversión, las Mezquitas más grandes tienen las cifras más altas de reversión. Las Mezquitas más grandes se encuentran, en su mayoría, en ciudades grandes con poblaciones grandes de Musulmanes. Dentro de las mismas ciudades, los Musulmanes tienen una gran interacción con personas no-Musulmanas. Esta misma interacción resulta en influencias muy positivas que llevan a personas a revertirse a la religión del Islam. Nueva York, Los Ángeles, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, y Miami son las ciudades con mayor cantidad de población Hispana. Por consiguiente, encontramos la más alta población de Musulmanes Latinos que se han revertido al Islam en estas mismas ciudades metropolitanas.
¿Porque los Latinos se revierten al Islam? La conversión a otra religión sigue siendo una opción personal de cada individuo. Samantha Sanchez, en su primera investigación a cerca de Musulmanes Latinos, asegura que la mayoría de las personas que se revierten al Islam era porque buscaban una nueva orientación religiosa. Algunas personas lo hacen más activamente que otras. En su investigación, 25% lo hacen como resultado a una exploración personal (activamente buscando una nueva fe) y han considerado otras religiones antes que el Islam, tales como la religión Judía, Hindú, y Budista. Para muchos Latinos, el aceptar el Islam les tomo de 3 a 12 años. Cuando las personas que se convierten al Cristianismo es típicamente guiado por lo emocional, las reversiones al Islam son por lo general más intelectuales.
En la mayoría de los casos, los Musulmanes Latinos no practicaban su religión anterior antes de revertirse al Islam (73% Católicos.) Este mismo aspecto ayuda a probar la relación entre los Latinos y el Cristianismo, la cual es en su mayoría, parte de la misma cultura étnica. Lewis Rambo, un escolar en conversión, dice que "una persona que esta íntimamente ligada a su familia, la cual esta comprometida a cierta orientación religiosa, tiene menos probabilidades de convertirse a una nueva religión a menos que exista alguna fuerza que contrarreste con el poder que tiene la familia."
En el estudio de Sanchez, muchos Latinos revertidos al Islam mencionan que esta religión ofrece un sentido de espiritualidad que no encontraban en su religión anterior. Primero, manifiestan cierta antipatía con la Iglesia Católica lo cual los llevo a buscar una nueva fe, tal como la concentración a Jesús (especialmente por tomar a Jesús como el hijo de Dios), la naturaleza politeísta del Cristianismo (alabar a la Virgen María y a los Santos), y la idea de la Trinidad. Aun más, muchos Latinos remarcan su desacuerdo con la infalibilidad del Papa y la jerarquía de la Iglesia. Otros añaden que al no ser sus familias muy religiosas, y que el atender Misa no era muy relevante, los llevo a buscar por ellos mismos otra religión. Sorprendentemente, mayores cantidades de mujeres Latinas se están revirtiendo al Islam. También reiteran que Islam ofrece una perspectiva a la mujer que habían ya buscado anteriormente.
Cuando vemos sobre la superficie, el monoteísmo del Islam (Tawhid) es generalmente un factor importante que guía a revertirse a esta religión. Hay que considerar los siguientes comentarios hechas por Musulmanes Latinos para periódicos:
- Mercedes Zeenni (Los Ángeles): "Yo era Católica. Pero para empezar, parece ser que Islam le dio más respuestas a más de mis preguntas, fue más directa, sin misterios, y lo hizo más fácil para mí de entender lo que significaba el creer en un Dios."
- Nicole Ballivian (Los Ángeles): "Recuerdo cuando me metia en problemas en la escuela Católica por debatir conceptos tales como el del pecado original cuando todavía yo era muy joven. Cuando estudié Islam, lo hizo todo más fácil."
- Vita Rivera (Miami) dijo: "Siempre quise leer la Biblia y aprender más, pero era todo acerca del catecismo, Solo tienes que creerlo, mas no entenderlo. A mi Islam me dio respuestas, fue lógico."
- Mariam Montalvo (Los Ángeles): "Con Islam, todo fue tan puro. Encontré que ahí no había intermediarios. Todo va dirigido a Dios."
- Abdulhadi Bazurto (Fresno, CA): "Pregúntale a un niño, y el te dirá que Dios es único. Punto. Pregúntale a un Teólogo cuantos Dioses existen y te dará respuestas vacías."
- Guadalupe Martínez (Houston): "Cuando encontramos el Islam, no necesitamos gastar energía. Es como si le hablara a la operadora para pedir un numero, ahí se gasta energía. Pero con Islam tengo el número que busco. Tengo conexión directa con Dios."
- Domy García (Los Ángeles): "Tuvo más logica el ver a Jesús como un Profeta y como un lider politico, y no como un Dios."
- Aminah Martínez (Virginia): "Conforme fui creciendo, senti que habian muchas distracciones en la Iglesia. Islam, para mí, fue una fe más directa donde percibí un sentimiento de pertenencia."
- Ali Medina (California): "Antes no tenia dirección en mi vida, iba llevando mi vida, y había dejado la escuela en el 11avo grado escolar."
- Ricardo Pena (Chicago): "Lo veo como entrar a una comunidad más grande de hermanos. No nos vemos los unos a los otros como Mexicanos o Árabes, nos vemos como Musulmanes."
- Sumayyah Ikhil (Nueva York): "Todos somos Musulmanes bajo una misma fé, un Dios."
En el estudio de Sanchez, 76% de los Latinos se revierten al Islam gracias a Da'wah1. El Dr. Larry Poston (Da'wah del Islam en el Oeste: Actividad de Misionarios Musulmanes y la Dinamica de Conversión al Islam. Nueva York: Prensa de la Universidad de Oxford, 1992) define da'wah como la misión activa. El Dr. John L. Esposito (Islam: El Camino directo. Nueva York: Prensa de la Universidad de Oxford, 1991) más certeramente identifica que la mayoría de los Musulmanes Latinos experimentan. La mayoría de los Musulmanes Latinos reciben da'wah después una pequeña exploración personal. Como resultado de un radiante interés, buscaron a gente que pudiera responderle a sus preguntas, y los Musulmanes respondieron compartiendo información y donando su tiempo y su literatura. Esposito añade que así es como los Musulmanes propagan su fe. Da'wah viene de muchas formas: familias y amigos que se revierten al Islam, relaciones entre pareja, y de extraños. La gente, los lugares, y los eventos son todos factores significativos que afectan a la decisión de un Latino de tomar al Islam como su nueva religión.
De acuerdo a Yahiya Emerick (Como decirles a los demás a cerca del Islam. New York: International Books and Tapes Supply, 1996, 98-99), la comunidad Latina se enfrenta a un reto en especial, para los Latinos el unico medio de interacción es entre ellos mismos. Primero, la mayoría de los Musulmanes no hablan español. Segundo, la mayoría de los Musulmanes ignoran la importancia y el tamaño de la comunidad Latina. Se han impreso documentos en Islam en español para rectificar el esfuerzo para saber más de la comunidad Latina. Algunos Musulmanes Latinos han formado sus propias organizaciones para satisfacer su necesidad de saber más acerca del Islam. Emerick asegura que el principal problema es que existe un grupo bastante grande de Musulmanes Latinos que no son escuchados y guiados a la información correcta.
La mayoría de los Musulmanes Latinos buscan en otras religiones antes de llegar al Islam sin saber nada a cerca de esta religión. Muchos dicen que no conocían a ningún Musulmán antes de revertirse a la religión del Islam. Aunque algunos Latinos supieron a cerca del Islam por coincidencia, otros buscaron activamente por su propia cuenta, otros se acercaron al Islam gracias a da'wah. Por lo tanto el trabajo de promover más da'wah es muy importante para esta comunidad en particular.
¿Que podemos aprender a la gente que se revierte a la religión del Islam? La comunidad musulmana esta todavía percatándose de lo importante que es da'wah entre la comunidad Latina. Desafortunadamente, la comunidad más grande de Musulmanes se encuentra no preparada a servir a ayudar a la comunidad Latina la cual sigue creciendo. Algunos Latinos han mostrado su desagrado de que en algunas Mezquitas la aceptación hacia ellos no es muy grata debido a su apariencia étnica. Sin embargo, el mayor argumento es de que tanto los grupos que dan da'wah tanto como los Imams2 no están entrenados a satisfacer sus necesidades, especialmente para aquellos que necesitan más información, hablan poco Inglés, o necesitan algún tipo de ayuda.
La comunidad no es la única culpable, los Musulmanes Latinos hasta recientemente han empezado a expresar sus necesidades y a ayudar a sus Mezquitas a aprender a cerca de su comunidad. Hace pocos años, solo algunos Musulmanes Latinos estaban haciendo dicho trabajo. Hoy en día existen ya varias organizaciones. ISNA ayudo a crear un Comité de Coordinación Latina para fomentar la comunicación entre organizaciones y la Comunidad Nacional Musulmana. Los Musulmanes Latinos necesitan ayuda urgente de la comunidad general Musulmana para asegurarse que las actividades de da'wah continúen.
¿Cómo puedes tu ayudar?. La población de Musulmanes Latinos es algo diversa, pero sus necesidades básicas ayudan a crear una comunidad unificada. La comunidad Musulmana puede fomentar relacionarse con la comunidad Musulmana Latina, así como con da'wah1, de las siguientes maneras:
- Más interacción entre Musulmanes y Latinos.
- Todas las Mezquitas deben tener información a cerca de su comunidad Latino-Musulmana así como información y organizaciones Nacionales de ayuda y soporte a Musulmanes Latinos.
- Las mezquitas deben tener a la mano materiales básicos en Español así como en otros idiomas, incluyendo Corán, libros, casetes, y CD's educativos.
- Las mezquitas deben de identificar a los Musulmanes de habla hispana (no necesariamente Latinos), para así poder orientarlos a saber como rezar, leer el Corán, y enseñarlos a cerca del Islam en general.
- Comités de da'wah deben trabajar con más Musulmanes Latinos locales para así asegurarse que reciban da'wah efectivamente.
- Da'wah debe estar disponible en Español y otras lenguas, dependiendo del tipo de comunidad.
- Comunidades locales deben crear foros de discusión a cerca de temas de importancia hacia Musulmanes Latinos y a Latinos en general.
- Los Musulmanes y Musulmanes Latinos deben participar en diálogos de fe en iglesias, principalmente Católicas.
- Los Musulmanes y Musulmanes Latinos deben de hacer trabajo de voluntariado para ayudar a las poblaciones densas de Latinos tanto en escuelas como en colonias.
- Donar tiempo, dinero, y materiales a organizaciones locales y a Mezquitas para satisfacer las necesidades mencionadas anteriormente.
© 2002 Islamic Horizons, Islamic Society of North América.
Traducido por Rocío Martínez-Mendoza, 2003.
1. Da'wah es el trabajo que todo Musulmán debe hacer para difundir el Islam, ya sea por medio de palabras o acciones.
2. Imam es la persona que dirige los rezos en una Mezquita, por lo general es una persona que tiene conocimiento en Islam (escolar) y algunas veces es contratado por la Mezquita para dar cursos o clases o platicas con respecto a Islam.
3. Madhahib son las escuelas del Islam del pensamiento, principalmente son cuatro: Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki y Hanbali.
4. Shi'as son el grupo de los musulmanes que siguen a Ali (primo del Profeta Mohamed, que la paz y bendiciones estén con él) y forman una escuela del pensamiento por sí mismos y difieren de la raíz del Islam.
5. Sunnis son el grupo de Musulmanes que siguen estrictamente el Corán y el Sunnah (del Profeta Mohamed, que la paz y bendiciones estén con él.)
6. Sufism, o el misticismo islámico, es una organización comunal islámica que da alta importancia a los shaykhs. Shaykhs tienen autoridad absoluta y pasan esta autoridad a sus discípulos. (The Oxford History of Islam, by John Esposito, Ed. Oxford University Press, 1999)
Fallout from 9-11-2001
Fallout from 9-11-2001
from the prospective of a Latino Muslim.
By Khadijah Rivera
The World stood still and watched in horror.
"Verily with every difficulty there is relief." - Quran 94:5-6.
It was a regular workday across the USA, and most of us were at work. Then, the world stood still in horror as we discovered that the two World Trade buildings in New York City had been attacked by airplane crashes. The news came slowly as we exchanged bits and pieces of information. Our faces showed the grief of humanity falling apart. Pain was written in our faces and body talk. We dropped our work to listen to communication devices that could give us details. One by one my coworkers cried out and wept openly. Lastly we were told to go home because as federal employees we might be likely targets. It felt like the World Trade buildings had fallen in our own city, thousands of miles away from ground zero.
Americans ran home to their loved ones and news poured in with details but no one had been arrested. Ya ALLAH, what was this all about? We all searched for answers. And later as is the usual case, everyone blamed the "terrorist Muslims." As the "evidence poured in" so did the atrocities against a peaceful and religious people. Painfully, we the Muslim Americans spent more time protecting our families than mourning the victims of the tragedy.
It was precise and thorough. First, the media exploited us and blamed us without a shred of evidence. They were responsible for a whole slew of indignations. Then, our neighbors, coworkers, and nonMuslim families shunned us and humiliated us. In the street, we were pulled over by 'Patriotic Americans" who wanted to bring the war home. They pulled off scarves from Muslim women, spit upon them, and finally raped one. They went like crazed mobs in the street beating up on dark skinned Latinos and bearded men. One Mexican was followed home and beaten in front of his family. I met a young boy whose only crime was a Muslim surname but his schoolmates harassed him and profiled him as an accessory to the crime. Of course, all their victims were blameless but that did not stop them.
The FBI, INS, and local police were all working for the common cause. The FBI and all security forces were on the alert for Arab looking men who might hijack planes. Immigrants from Muslim countries were under intense scrutiny. Many immigrants were arrested and then deported in a furious vendetta. Many Latinos innocently paid the price. The deportations against Muslim immigrants and Latinos tore many families apart. If the USA had something to prove, it was that Muslims were an adversary. Don't mess with the USA.
Now I must tell you my personal experience during 9-11 in Miami, Florida. While my American coworkers were anguishing from the news of the tragedy, all eyes were on me! I was the only Muslimah working in the state office wearing a hijab. Whispers could be heard as loud as an explosion. As I glanced around for answers, no one would explain what had just occurred in New York City, and so I called my nonMuslim sister-in-law. As soon as we began speaking, she blurted out that the Muslims had started a war against America! "Come on," I said in disbelief. "Every time something unexplainable happens it's ALWAYS the Muslims." We must remain tenacious in our duties as neighbors and be strong role models for the world to respect us. Islam is the largest growing religion in the world. To our benefit, thousands more have come to Islam than were harassed. In Miami, we had five Hispanic women take shahadah in one day. Islam is logical even to ignorant nations and once educated they flourish.
CAIR has compiled a list of 9-11 victims. The statistics are only based on reported incidents. Many more were committed but not reported including mine. Consider the following numbers of victims.
356 Public Harrasment
315 Hate mail
289 Physical assault/property damage
224 FBI/Police/Immigration Intimidation
191 Airport profiling
166 Discrimination in the workplace
74 Discrimination at school
56 Death Threats
16 Bomb threats
During World War II, the USA considered the Japanese Americans security threats. Holding cells were built across America to encamp them, many Muslims feared a similar situation. Even though we Muslims aren't in actual holding cells, we are incarcerated in some ways. The days that followed were unbearable. I was spit upon in the face by a teenager. Insults were hurled at me, followed by housing discrimination. My Hispanic family shunned me and asked me to explain "MY actions." I was harassed daily at work, and local Muslims told me to stop wearing my veil of modesty. A fearful Pakistani businessman told me that I was not professional looking because I wore a veil. My friends who took off their hijabs also placed American flags on their cars and would not be caught dead with me in their cars. In fact, many national Muslim leaders actually told Muslimahs that this was the safest route to take. What wimps I thought, and I never took off my veil!
Disgusted, I began to speak out on the impact of this discrimination on Muslim Americans. I invited the media to the local mosque and into my home. Telemundo, Univision, and a German station broadcast our side of the tragedy. On one program, I appeared with one of my sons who is in the military. He stated that he was ready to go to war if necessary but could not bear to see his mother and family harassed while he laid down his life for his beloved country. On the popular Latino show, "Christina" I had to "defend" Islam against a slander that "Islam is to be watched carefully as one of the most dangerous religions of all times." I spoke with Latina Muslims from across America and began an online petition against discrimination by the Spanish media. Presently, we have over 700 signatures. And, you will be happy to know that the infamous episode of the "Christina Show" has been struck down. Even if we do not get the apology we requested, we want television producers to think twice before allowing slander of our beautiful religion.
We finally began to see light at the end of the tunnel when church groups and political leaders began preaching to stop the discrimination. Some say that 9-11 hit Muslims twice, the tragedy itself and the tragedy that followed. Everyone was getting tired of seeing many innocent victims. You didn't even have to been a Muslim to be a victim. Latino men in Los Angeles and a Hindu in Chicago had been badly beaten. Violence against Muslims was so blatant that President Bush went on the air and pleaded on behalf of Muslims. He said that Islam is a peaceful religion. Eventually, I made Hijrah to another state but it took me three months to find a job in my field. I had to leave behind half of my family and went through financial instability. Allah (swt) made me strong and my faith pushed me to the edge of jihad and back. I am a stronger Muslimah now than I ever was before.
The Latino Muslims Conference in Dallas
By Juan Galvan
"We're here to stay," I proclaimed. I said those words three times throughout my speech. Afterwards, I wondered how I could say something so ignorant, corny, and so often. Maybe I was simply nervous and searching for words to fill the silence. I wondered and wondered. If I could change things, I would have said, "We're Latino Muslims, and we're here to stay. We will create our future regardless, and we need your help to ensure it's the best future." However, our Prophet (pbuh) said to avoid using "if", and Allah (swt) knows best. ISNA's Latino Muslims conference was a reminder of the importance of our dawah work. The Latino Muslim conference is part of ISNA's annual Islam in America Conferences. This year ISNA held the Islam in America Conferences in Dallas, Texas.
After my speech, Br. Benjamin Perez spoke about how he came to Islam. He grew up in New Mexico but now lives in California. He was once a member of the Nation of Islam. Yes, some Latinos are members of the NOI. He even met Malcolm X. Much of his dawah work revolves around working with incarcerated Muslims. Br. Abdul Khabeer Muhammad spoke after Br. Perez. He grew up in Panama and studied in Saudi Arabia. He has translated several important pieces of Islamic literature to Spanish. Omar Weston, an imam from Mexico City, was the moderator of the session. He spoke about Islam in Latin America. I remember the first time I heard him speak. He said, "We go to villages to talk to people about Islam. One Mexican lady said to us, 'Why didn't anyone tell us about this before?'"
My speech was about how I got involved in promoting Islam to Latinos. After my conversion, I was obsessed with two questions. Am I the only Latino Muslim? Why aren't there more of us? As many new Latino converts do, I searched the Internet for "others" like me. I wanted to know how I could help. I began to learn about the various American Muslim organizations. Who is out there? What are they doing? What's working, and what's not? What's needed? What can I do? I wanted to encourage these organizations to get involved in promoting Islam to Latinos, directly or indirectly. I would come to learn about an organization called the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO). The organization has had a significant impact in bringing Islam to America's Latinos.
After our session, a sister asked us speakers what we actually do to promote Islam to Latinos. Abdul Khabeer Muhammad's response was essentially that Latino Muslims actually do a variety of things but you do not really hear about their work. I was thinking to myself, "I write and answer e-mail to questions from Muslims and nonMuslims. I introduced two Latino Muslims from Florida to each other. I also donated some Spanish Qurans to the local mosques." However, who really cares about these things? Small contributions can assist many people, and if more people help, we will see one huge impact. Small deeds performed daily are better than big deeds performed twice a year. We can all do something.
Although we may all agree that much work needs to be done, we may be unwilling to perform the work for a variety of reasons. While living in Lubbock, I would work each Saturday with Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for low-income families. While some volunteers were putting together the frame of the house, my friends and I were busy shoveling and wheel barreling bits of concrete. A friend said, "I told my mom I would be building a house today." We laughed. Although shoveling and wheel barreling seemed meaningless, our contribution was another step toward the completion of the house. Today, a family lives in that house thanks to all the volunteers including the concrete shovelers. We committed our time and energy to the project and understood that our level of commitment meant the difference between completing the house in two months or six months.
Along with super activities, many Muslims are also looking for super Latino Muslims and their super organizations. Last year I listened to a Dominican Latino Muslim deliver the Friday Khutbah during Jumaah prayer at a local Washington DC mosque. I could not help but look around at the various Muslims, who were mostly immigrant, listening closely in hope of learning from this 21 year old Latino Muslim. I was in awe. He was involved in helping young Muslims learn how to read Quran as well. You also do not hear about the various Latinos who work within their local Muslim Student Associations. I have heard of Latina Muslim MSA presidents in Tennessee and Florida. Another Latino Muslim brother is a MSA high school advisor in the Chicago area. We also overlook the Canadian Latino who converted to Islam but then had to leave his home but regardless of his struggles, he continues to hold firm to his newfound faith. We have not recognized many Latino Muslims but they are all our unsung heroes.
I thank ISNA for organizing the Islam in America conferences. The Latino Muslims conference has given many Latinos from around the country an opportunity to network with other Latinos. We have to let other Muslims know we exist and that we want to help. I fear that isolating ourselves from other people for whatever reasons does a much more disservice to Islam because those people are those who need us the most. At ISNA conferences, you will see a full spectrum of Muslims who want to network and meet other Muslims who share similar ideals. It is always great to meet people through the Internet and then meet them in real life. Even if I were the only Latino Muslim in the world, I would have attended this year to let the general Muslim population know that they are needed. Many Latinos have suggested putting together their own conference, and I certainly encourage more Latino Muslim related events. Of course, we would face the same difficulties that other organizations have experienced in the past. The dinero and marketing aspects are among the complexities.
I was very happy to share ideas and knowledge with other Muslims. A Latina from Chicago said to me, "Dawah is a huge responsibility. I am terrified about having to face God on the Day of Judgment if I mislead people." True, we will be judged for what we do, what we do not do, and for our intentions as well. She told me that a Muslim group she once worked with became very political. We all hate politics and controversy, but you will find it in every group. We are all imperfect people trying to fulfill the duties that our Creator has required of us. The more you do the more people who will not like you. At the end of the day, I hope that more nonMuslims dislike me than do Muslims. I knew about her work with Latinas in Chicago. "Sometimes, I'll call some sisters together, and we'll have a halaqa," she said. Although her group does not have a name, I would like to know that I direct Latinas to her when they contact me about their interest in Islam. Many Latino groups similar to this one can be found around the US and networking with these Latino groups is certainly needed.
Islam has the potential for enormous growth in America, particularly among Latino Muslims. Much of our work at this stage consists of spreading our religion, or planting seeds. Some seeds will never sprout, and some seeds will sprout. I see a number of Latino Muslims who are frustrated, and I worry that their frustration and desperation will lead them to seek help from anyone who offers it. During the weekend, my friend Robert said, "Islam is very powerful." Someone will fulfill our needs because we need them, and they need us. Obstacles we face today should not lead us in a mistaken direction. While walking, we do not usually stop to see the path we have walked. Every step counts, and we do not realize the extent of our actions. We need to call each other with wisdom, patience, and courage.
"Where can I get some Spanish literature?" I was asked. I replied, "You can purchase Spanish literature online. You can also find it at many Islamic bookstores. I will gladly e-mail you a few websites where Spanish literature is available." I was asked that 'Where' question at least three times while at the Latino Muslims table. I was giving away all the literature at the table including brochures, Qurans, and booklets. I hope that whoever received the literature will benefit from it in one-way or another. We should not underemphasize the need to make Islamic literature available to nonMuslims.
While setting up the Latino Muslims table, I ran into this one Latino brother studying in Medina. He is reluctant to speak until he is more knowledgeable about Islam. Another Latino brother from New York is studying in Mecca. I also know of two other Latino brothers studying in the Middle East. I have just given you more reasons to feel optimistic about the potential for Islam among American Latinos. The sky's the limit. Other brothers from South American countries are also studying in the Middle East. In time, American Muslims will enhance their own Islamic institutions of learning to lessen the need to study overseas.
During the weekend, one nonLatino brother told me that he prints articles from Latino Muslim websites to give to all his nonMuslim friends. His enthusiasm was beautiful. He said, "In time, there will be a Latino Muslim community in Kansas City. Insh'Allah." I grew up in small towns in the Texas panhandle, and my parents continue to live in a small town in the Texas panhandle. The first time I met a Muslim was in college. I have a question for you to consider. How do you bring Islam to nonMuslims where there are no Muslims? The answer holds much more importance for me than it does for many other converts.
Saturday night I missed hearing a Muslim comedian named Azhar Usman. He was one of the performers at Saturday's entertainment night. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. Azhar was quoted in a newspaper as saying: "I am a Muslim. I am an American Muslim. American and Muslim at the same time. He prays and eats hamburgers!" While imitating a recent convert, Azhar says, "Man, you sure it's called Is-lam? I can't drink. I can't be with girls. I can't even have a ham sandwich. It should be called Is-hard." During one of my speeches, I said, "Soon after the attacks, my dad asked my mom, 'What'd he get himself into?' They hadn't heard from me in a while so they were a little concerned. I reminded my parents that Muslims aren't a gang of fifty members." After the speech, a sister commented, "It's like your parents thought you had joined a cholo gang." True, Islam is not a cholo gang, but I have met a Latino Muslim who was a former cholo gang member.
While at the Latino Muslims table, a vice-president for Astrolabe Productions approached me. He asked, "Do you think there's much interest from the Latino Muslim community for a Spanish version of Yusuf Islam's "Life of the Last Prophet" CD. Yusuf Islam is the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. Of course, I got excited. Yusuf Islam's CD in Spanish? Wow! He told me that Yusuf Islam's CD has already been translated into some other languages. If I had the money, I would have written him a check for all production costs associated with the project. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find an audio cassette or CD about the principles of Islam in Spanish.
In the afternoon session, a couple of Muslim sisters Gihan AlGindy, an Egyptian American, and Reham Nasr, a Pakistani American, presented a speech about Latino Muslims. They talked about who Latinos are, reasons for their conversion, and made suggestions for dawah to them. They were interrupted a few times throughout their speech. We all have to be as accurate as possible when discussing Latinos and Christianity. After making a correction, one Latina sister added, "You aren't Latino." She replied, "I was born like this. But I can still help." Although it's great to hear speeches from Latino Muslims, we cannot expect Latinos to do all the work. Many Latino Muslims had an opportunity to present and chose not to do so. I was very happy that they spoke. They gave interesting and helpful information. They also encouraged the audience to educate themselves and the Muslims around them about Islam.
After their presentation, Aisha Samad Matias, Cuban American, spoke. She is a Latina professor from New York City. Her speech was very interesting. She spoke mostly about the Spanish Inquisition. She mentioned that Muslims were persecuted for refusing to eat pork, for taking daily bathes, or for eating only with their right hands. These were all proof of one's Islam. In high school, I concluded that the Spanish Inquisition was essentially a Salem witch trial situation in Spanish history. I thought that those most affected were witches and sorcerers. During the Inquisition, Jews and Muslims were forced to either convert or leave the country. She told me that she intends to speak about Latino Muslims as part of her course on Latino history.
As I was being introduced, I whispered to the Muslim sitting next to me, "I don't want to present now." I did not want to be rudely interrupted and especially not humiliated during my speech. I am shy and sensitive. Furthermore, the time allotted to the session had already passed, and I was a bit exhausted. Alhamdulila, I mustered up the courage to speak. I discussed Latino Muslims, in general. During my speech, I said, "We Latino Muslims are educating the next generation of Latino Muslims to become a stronger generation. In a few generations, Latino Muslim scholars will be found in most major cities in America." Afterward, I could see faces light up with excitement throughout the audience. We have to give Latino Muslims hope about our tomorrow. I am very optimistic about the future of Islam in America. As always, if you've benefited from anything I've written alhamdulila.
|The picture on the left was taken after the first Latino Muslims session. Select an image to enlarge.|
First Annual Hispanic Muslim Day
By Shinoa Matos
July 27, 2003, North Hudson, NJ--On a beautiful
Sunday morning(Alhamudullah), North Hudson’s Islamic
Educational Center hosted a Latino Muslim event filled
with lectures, open discussions, free literature, and
dinner to celebrate Islam as part of their Latino
With a huge Latino/Hispanic population in the area,
the local Masjid held the event to explain Islam’s
deep root in Latino culture and thus how the two are
very similar from holding the same values regarding
morals and family to the Arabic origins of many
After Zhuhr prayer, over 60-70 brothers and sisters
from all nationalities as well as many non-Muslims
filled the main hall as moderators informed them of
what the day’s event held. Each person was given a
folder filled with flyers and brochures both in
English and Spanish, touching on many specific
subjects such as "What is Islam?", "Jesus in Islam"
and more. Those who did not understand Spanish were
given electronic earpieces where they could listen to
a translator in English.
Sister Mariam Santos Garcia walked everyone through a
PowerPoint presentation reflecting on Islamic Spain,
the prosperity and knowledge that grew out of that
specific period, and the legacy it left behind. "Islam
is part of our heritage and we must stand up and be
proud of that" said Garcia. Refreshments were handed
out as Omar Pacheco special guest spoke on his life in
Argentina, his conversion, and towards the later part
of the day, held a Q&A with the audience and Imam
Mohamed Al Hayek, the Imam of the Mosque.
In between speakers, a youth Choir performed songs
in Arabic and English encompassing their faith in the
One God (Subhanna Watallah) and the Prophet Muhammad
(Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him). Daycare was
provided on another floor so parents could enjoy the
event at ease. The Islamic Center is located at 4613
Cottage Place (47th Street between Kennedy and
Bergenline Avenues) Union City, NJ 07306.
Musulmanes En La Peninsula Iberica
Por Mariam Santos Garcia
En el Nombre de Dios, El Clemente, Misericordioso,
Esta presentacion esta dedicada a nuestros hermanos musulmanes de Espana
De el 1492 quienes dieron sus vidas para proteger a Al Andalus mientras trataban
De mantener su fe en el Islam.
Probablemente se estaran preguntando por que el titulo de mi discurso se llama musulmanes en la peninsula iberica y no en Espana, bueno simplemente por que
No habia espana, ni tampoco se hablaba espanol en aquel entonces, el territorio de peninsula iberica estaba ocupada por los visigodos, una tribu de godos occidentales que procedia de la actual Alemania, mientras duro su gobierno trataron a los habitantes que por sierto se les llamaba Ibero-Romanos curioso verdad, bueno los trataban como si fueran esclavos .Es por eso que el gobernador de la area Ibero -Romana pidio ayuda a
Los Berebere que eran la tribu de el norte de Africa hoy se llama a esa region Marruecos para que los liberaran de las persecuciones de los Visigodo.
En 711 Yebel Tarik, Lugarteniente de el Gobernador de el Norte de Africa Musa ben Nusayr, parte de Tanger a la cabeza de un ejercito de 9.000 mil hombre y desembarcan en
Gibraltar( Yebel Tarik) que significa la Montana de tarik, la conquista solo tomo 8 anos la razon para esto fue que la mayoria de la poblacion, decendiente de Hispano- romanos y de visigodos, se habia convertido al islam, recibiendo el nombre de MULADI, solo en la ciudades quedo una parte de la poblacion que se mantuvo cristiana llamada MOZARABES, que fue muy respetada y igual a la judia, se les dejo practicar su religion
Libremente y poder trabajar en el poder judicial, me refiero que formaban parte de la corte judicial.
La estancia de los musulmanes en la peninsula Iberica llamada Al Andalus se divide en cinco periodos:
EL EMIRATO (711-756)
EL CALIFATO OMEYA (756-929)
REINOS DE TAIFAS (929-1031)
DINASTIAS NORTEAFRICANAS (1031-1130) ALMORAVIDE Y ALMOHADE
DINASTIA NAZARI (1130-1492)
EL EMIRATO (711-756)
Durante la Segunda mitad de el siglo VIII (8) se produjo fuertes cambios en el imperio musulman, una serie de ruptures que termino con los Omeyas que gobernaban en Damasco, para comenzar el reinado de los abasies que se acentaron en Bagdad, pero un principe Omeya huido de Damasco Abderrahman I penetrando en el Al Andalus
Formando un Nuevo estado con base en Cordoba : El Emirato independizado de la politica en Bagdad.
EL CALIFATO OMEYA (756-929)
Ocho emires sucedieron en el trascurso de tiempo desde el 756-926, fue una epoca brillante culturarmen hasta que Abderrahman III decidio fundar un califato, declarandose Emir al-Muminin (principe de los creyentes), lo cual le otorgaba
Ademas de el poder terrenal, el poder espiritual sobre la comunidad de creyentes (umma)
Este califa y su sucesedor AL HAKAM II, supo favorecer la integracion etnico-cultural
Entre bereberes, arabes, hispanos y judios, en esta epoca se hizo un pacto con los cristianos para construir y ampliar la mezquita de Cordoba al igual que una gran mayoria de edificios que cosa tan marabillosa yo creo que ni siquiera las Naciones unidas pueden o an logrado algo asin.
REINOS DE TARIFAS (929-1031)
No todos los sucesores de estos brillantes califas siguieron tan hacertada politica, sino hubiera sido por que dejaron desbocar el caballo de el poder, tras 22 anos de separaciones y guerras civiles se termino el califato al rededor de el ano 1031.
Al suceder esto todas las grandes familias arabes, bereberes y muladis (los hispano romanos que se convirtieron al Islam)quisieron hacerse con las riendas o al menos de su ciudad surguindo asin por toda partes Reyes de Taifas (pequenos reinos) proclamandose duenos y senores de las principales plazas esto supuso el principio de el fin de Al Andalus y ante este deteriodo en el sur, el enemigo que era el norte compuesto y dirijido por los Castellanos, Aragoneses y Vascos se organizaron y unieron como nunca antes lo habian echo para combatir a los musulmanes.Esto provoco la primera gran Victoria sobre
El islam en la peninsula protagonizado por Alfonso VI (6) cuando en 1085 se hizo con la importante ciudad de Toledo.
DINASTIAS NORTEAFRICANAS ALMORAVIDE Y ALMOHADE (1031-1130)
A finales de el siglo XI(11) en el Magreb occidental, hoy Marruecos, surguio un Nuevo movimiento politico y religioso en el seno de una tribu bereber de el sur los Lamtuna, que fundaron la dinastia Almoravide esta penetro en la peninsula derrotando a las tropas de Alfonso VI (6), recuperando Toledo de Nuevo y acabando con los reyes de taifas y consiquen el control de AL Andalus, mientras tanto los castellanos aragoneses dirijidos por Alfonso I de Aragon, conquistan Zaragoza en 1118, al mismo tiempo los almoravides esperimenta una amenaza de su propia supremacia por un Nuevo movimiento religioso surguido en el Magreb; Almohade esta nueva dinastia se genero en el seno de una de las tribus bereber que tomo el poder y goberno con prosperidad economica y cultural al igual que fueron grandes constructores y grandes cientificos de la epoca, sin embargo al igual que los almoravides terminaron de sucumbir ante la dejadez espiritual y el relajamiento de costumbres que casi siempre caracterizo a al Andalus.
LA DINASTIA NAZARI (1130-1492)
Cuando ya todo parecia perdido y el avance castellano era imparable haciendose Fernando III con una gran parte de las ciudades andalusies en el siglo XIII (13)
Surguiendo en Jaen una nueva dinastia la Nazari fundada por el celebre Abenamar
Que les dio un gran respiro a los musulmanes de Granada, acentandoce en Granada su reino, los nazaries establecieron un reino basado en la inestabilidad, a pesar de todo esto Granada fue una de las mejores ciudades que acojio a musulamnes de todos los confines en la que se levantaron los mejores palacios como LA ALHAMBRA mezquitas y banos publicos, Granada tenia mas 600 banos 28 escuelas y 200 librerias.
Mientras que en el resto de europa el 99% no sabia leer ni escribir, donde la mujeres iban a la escuela cuando el resto de europa no las concideraban para tener ninguntipo de educacion y tenian los mejores hospitales los reyes de toda europa venian a Granada a consegir tratamiento. Todo esto duro asta el 1492 tras 800 anos en Guerra con los castellanos aragonenses de el norte, lo musumanes perdieron a Al Andalus, el rey Boabdil se vio obligado a entregar las llaves de Granada a los Reyes Catolicos de castilla y aragon, con lagrimas en los ojos su madre le decia No llores como una mujer lo que no que no has podido defender como un hombre, esta frace hoy en dia se llama el ultimo suspiro de el moro. Bueno esto fue el principio de percecuciones masivas maltratos, quema de pocesiones, violaciones ect. este fue el cominenzo de la inquicicion Espanola, esta hizo que se expulsaran todos los musulmanes y judios de la tierra Espanola esta ley duro hasta los 60 con la muerte de franco, puso final a este infierno.
Bueno os dejo con un pensamiento en mente busquemos en nuestros origenes, fortalescamos nuestras raices, aprendamos de nuetro pasado para hacer un precente mejor
Sin olvidar que es el ALLAH el que nos da la oportunidad de entender nuetro pasado y futuro, y seamos orgullosos de lo que somos, decendientes de Hispano musulmanes.
Averroes, Maimonides, and Aquinas
By Jacob Bender
Presented on July 5, 2003 at the
ISNA Islam in America Conferences
event in Dallas, Texas
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
It is truly an honor for me, an American Jew, to stand before this great gathering of Muslims in America this afternoon and recite these sacred words of greetings and peace. I come before you not as a scholar, but as a humble student of the three great traditions that spring from our common father Abraham, peace be upon him, and of the bonds that tie Jew to Christian, Christian to Muslim, Muslim to Jew. I also stand before you as an artist, one who has attempted to utilize his art as an instrument of understanding, as a weapon in the struggle to create a world where, as the Biblical prophet tell us, "justice will flow down like water, and righteousness as a mighty river"; a world where we are obligated, in the words of the Holy Qur'an, to "do justice between human beings"; a world where, Jesus said, "the peacemakers are blessed."
Yet truly, these are dark and difficult times, and we live in an age when war has replaced dialogue, when terrorism has replaced tolerance, when ignorance has replaced understanding.
We have been told in the mass media that 9/11 changed everything. I am not sure about this, but one small change was the number of books about Islam that suddenly began to appear on the counters of bookstores across the nation. And suddenly, countless commentators and columnists began to try to answer the question that seemed to be on the lips of millions of Americans: "Why do they hate us?" and to attempt to explain to America what, in their supposedly learned opinion, this strange and exotic religion of Islam was all about.
Yet, as Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr writes in his newest book, The Heart of Islam, "the torrent of information about Islam that has flooded the media from books to journals, radio, and television, is largely based on ignorance, misinformation, and even disinformation."
My own response to the events of 9/11 was to begin work on a documentary film that I entitled "Reason and Revelation: Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas in Their Time and Ours." Reason and revelation ¾ Al-shai`ah wa-al Hikmah, or the more modern Al`Aql wa-al-Naql. These are the two pillars upon which rest the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam: on the one hand, the sacred revelations that have come to humankind from the time of Abraham to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and on the other hand, the ability of human beings to reason and explore the world in which they live; for as Ibn Rushd wrote, "reflect (upon the world), for you have vision."
Yet who were these three men -Averroes, the Muslim, Moses Maimonides the Jew and Thomas Aquinas the Christian - these three geniuses from a long-ago age, and what, if anything, do they have to teach us today? Before we can answer that question, we must first explore, as will my film, the world into which they were born. In the case of Averroes and Maimonides, that world was Al-Andalus, the splendor of Spain, the centuries of Islam in Iberia.
I believe there are three reasons that learning about Al-Andalus is crucial to the world today:
First, the level of civilization that Al-Andalus achieved. At a time when the rest of Europe was shrouded in the Dark Ages, the Muslim city of Cordoba in Al-Andalus was the most advanced city on the entire European Continent, boasting some 400 libraries, public gardens, hundreds of mosques and synagogues, and street lightening that kept the city alive until the wee hours of the night. In philosophy, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, poetry, theology, and numerous other fields of human endeavor, medieval Islam was the world's most advanced civilization.
Second, Al-Andalus in particular, and Islamic civilization in general, served as both the repository of ancient Greek knowledge and science, and the transmission point in its journey to the Christian-dominated West. The writings of philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, mathematicians like Euclid, physicians like Galen, first came to the attention of the West only when translated into Latin from their Arabic versions.
And third, the culture of Al-Andalus is now justly celebrated for the extent that religious pluralism and tolerance were hallmarks of this most glorious age. I do not have to remind this audience, I am sure, of the respect that Islam, both textually and historically, has shown for Jews and Christians, the "People of the Book," ahl al-kitab. Allow me to cite just one example that you may not be familiar with.
When Al Gore choose Senator Joseph Leiberman, an Orthodox Jew, as his running mate for vice-president, American Jews, and other commentators, tried to outdo each other in their praise of "American tolerance," and to argue that in no other country had Jews reached such heights. Yet, over nine centuries ago, in Muslim Spain, a Jew named Ishmail ibn Nagrel'a, (who is known in Jewish history as Shmuel HaNagid) was vizier, or prime minister, of the Muslim-ruled state of Granada and commander of her armies for over thirty years.
Now let us turn to our three wise men: Averroes, Moses Maimonides, and Thomas Aquinas.
Abû al-Walîd Muhammad Ibn Rushd, known in the West by as Averroës, was born in Cordoba in southern Spain in the year 1126 and died in 1198. He is without question the greatest mind produced by Islamic civilization in Al-Andalus. As a young man, Ibn Rushd already excelled in theology, religious law, astronomy, literature, mathematics, music, zoology, medicine and philosophy. Like his father and grandfather before him, Ibn Rushd also became a religious judge, a qadi.
It is in the field of philosophy, however, that Ibn Rushd left an indelible mark upon the intellectual history of Western civilization. In the year 1169, Ibn Rushd was asked by the Caliph to undertake new and up-to-date Arabic translations and commentaries of the works of Aristotle. Ibn Rushd's commentaries on Aristotle have had an immense impact upon both Christian and Jewish philosophy for hundreds of years. They were translated into Latin and Hebrew, and become the standard text on Aristotle in European universities well into the Eighteenth Century; as a result, Ibn Rushd became known throughout Christian Europe simply as "The Commentator." Indeed, in the century after the death of Ibn Rushd, a new school of philosophy arose in the West, known as "Latin Averroism," and which played no small part advancing the cause of rationalism and scientific rationalism in the Christian West. Throughout the 13th century, the University of Paris was a stronghold of Averroism. It is here that the young Thomas Aquinas came into contact with his writings for the first time, and it is clear how much of his own understanding and assimilation of the Greek philosopher owes to his Muslim predecessor from Spain. The medieval philosophers Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon were all avid readers of Ibn Rushd, and Bacon himself declared that "philosophy has come to us from the Arabs."
Ibn Rushd's two most important works of philosophy are his "The Incoherence of the Incoherence," his defense of rationalism in Islam and his answer to Al-Ghazzali's attack on philosophy, and "On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy." In both of these works he attempts to balance the reveled truths of the Holy Qur'an with the scientific truths that he believes he finds in Aristotle, and to advance the concept of taw'il, or the right to allegorically interpret verses of the sacred texts.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides was born 12 years after Ibn Rushd. His real name was Musa ibn Maymun al-Qurtubi, and he is universally considered the most important Jewish thinker in the last 2,000 years. Please note the similarities between Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa: both were born in Cordoba in Al-Andalus; both became "philosopher/theologians" and the foremost interpreters of Aristotle within Islam and Judaism, with both attempting to harmonize the truths of reason with the revelations of the Holy Qur'an and the Torah; both became jurists and authorities in religious law that is still central to Muslim and Jewish observance the sharia in Islam, the halakhah in Judaism; both lived part of their lives in Fez in Morocco; and both became physicians to their local rulers, Ibn Rushd to the Caliph of Cordoba, Rabbi Musa becoming court physician to the great Salah-ah-Din in Egypt.
It is a great tragedy, I believe, that most Jews, especially in America, are ignorant of the biography of Rabbi Musa, and that his native language and the language of almost all his many books, including those on particularly Jewish topics, was Arabic, that he lived all his life within Muslim societies, and that his works make frequent reference to the great Muslim thinkers of medieval Islam, including Ibn Sina and Al-Farabi.
Thomas Aquinas was born near Naples, Italy in the year 1225. He is the most important and influential Christian philosopher of the Middle Ages. His masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae, is widely considered the most comprehensive exploration of philosophy and theology in the entire history of Christianity. And like Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa before him, Thomas was primarily concerned with finding a way of incorporating Aristotle's rationalism into Christian theology. Aquinas is also the patron saint of Catholic universities, colleges and schools around the world.
Although Aquinas believed, as did nearly all Christians in the Middle Ages, in the superiority of Christianity over all other faiths, it is abundantly clear in his writings how indebted he is to Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa, both of whom he quotes on numerous occasions. Even the present Pope, John Paul II, has recognized this, when he specifically mentions that one of the influences on Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian in Catholic history, was, "the dialogue that Thomas carried on with the Arab and Jewish thinkers of his time."
One of the first things I did when I began to work on the film was to compile an Advisory Board of scholars from around the world who I could not only consult with about the writings of the three wise men, but who would also appear in the film as experts offering commentary. This Advisory Board, which is listed in the material I have brought with me, includes some of the most respected scholars of Islam writing today.
There have also been two articles published about "Reason and Revelation" in the press. The first was an article that appeared in December in The Arab News, the English-language newspaper of Saudi Arabia. The second was a column I wrote in The Daily Star of Beirut, Lebanon.
After both of these articles appeared, I received over a hundred emails from all over the world about my film project. I would like to read just a few:
Dear Mr. Bender,
If we have 100 films like yours about the three religions of Prophet Abraham (Peace Be Upon him), the problems of today around the world ¾ war, terrorism, hatred ¾ will vanish and peace will prevail.
Please continue this kind of work and encourage like-minded people from Islam and Christianity to join you.
We need more of these kinds of documentaries which create common bond among believers of the same God. May Allah help you in your project.
Your Muslim friend,
Of course, I also received a few emails like the following:
You should be ashamed of yourself for criticizing Israel. Will you next defend Islamic terrorists blowing up women and children on Israeli buses? You are a traitor to your people and your religion!
David, An American Jew
Now, given all that was achieved in Al-Andalus, given the immeasurable influence of Islam in the creation of the West, given the abundance of textual and historical evidence of Islamic tolerance, it is at first glance rather curious that there are those who today insist upon a "clash of civilizations" between what they view as "the freedom loving West and fundamentalist Islam."
First, one wonders how those who now advocate this "clash" would react if they knew that their very own civilization of the West had at its core a Muslim and Arab foundation? Second, for many conservative commentators, 9/11 offered America what it had missed since the fall of communism a decade earlier, that is, a public enemy that could unite the nation around a military "crusade," to use the rather unfortunate word uttered by our president shortly after the terror attacks. Third, at the root of this conservative opposition to Islam, perhaps best represented by Daniel Pipes and Richard Perle, is the question: "Is Islam compatible with democracy?""
Now, this is an important question, and those who are honest and truthful while surveying the Muslim and Arab worlds will surely see numerous societies that would benefit by greater democratic governance and greater human rights.
However, the question of whether Islam is compatible with democracy is not the only question that is relevant to America's and the world's future, and those who repeatedly ask this question should also have the honesty to ask:
· Is the Israeli settlement policy compatible with democracy, when it has robbed the Palestinians in the occupied territories of their land, destroyed their homes, uprooted their farms and orchards, and created an apartheid system of injustice?
· After the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in India: Is Hindu nationalism compatible with democracy?
· After the massacre of over 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica, we can ask: Is Serbian nationalism compatible with democracy?
· After Oklahoma City and Timothy McVeigh, we can ask: Is Christian fundamentalism compatible with democracy?
· And with all due respect to our hosts in the great state of Texas, we can also ask as well: Is the death penalty compatible with democracy?
· And finally, we might conclude by asking, given the wide infringement of the civil liberties of Muslims in America, is Attorney General Ashcroft compatible with democracy?
Now, what has all this has to do with our three medieval philosophers? I would answer: everything. Ibn Rushd, Rabbi Musa and Thomas Aquinas were not ivory-tower intellectuals, sequestered in some secret library, writing about how many angels one can fit on the point of a needle. They were men of this world, and while they wrote philosophy, they also wrote about the law. For all three, the law ¾ sharia for Ibn Rushd, halakhah for Rabbi Musa, natural law for Thomas ¾ was the means to create human societies endowed with justice.
Just one example: American civil liberties were greatly enhanced by the 1966 Miranda Decision of the United States Supreme Court which held that an arrested suspect must be read their constitutional rights. We have seen this scene dramatized countless times on TV cop shows and in the movies. And there in the Miranda Decision, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren himself, we find the following quote from Rabbi Musa: "The principle that no man is to be declared guilty on his own admission is a divine decree." American justice is therefore immeasurably enhanced by a reference to Musa ibn Maymun, an 11th century rabbi, writing in Arabic, born in Muslim Spain, and who served for many years as the personal physician to the great Muslim ruler Salah-ah-Din.
But it is not only the writings of these three great thinkers that speak to us today; it is their life stories and their courage in pursuing, in the words of Rabbi Musa, "the truth from whatever source it proceeds." Herein lies part of the contemporary importance of our three wise men, for they dared to advance the notion that wisdom about the universe was not the exclusive property of one tradition, one people, one faith.
In the Middle Ages, this was a controversial and even heretical idea, for the malevolence of intolerance and fanaticism, all too prevalent even in our own time, was there in the Middle Ages as well. And so Ibn Rushd was exiled from his beloved Al-Andalus, and his books were burned by other Muslims. And so Rabbi Musa, now celebrated as the greatest Jewish philosopher who ever lived, had his books burnt at the order of other rabbis. And so Thomas Aquinas, was denounced by church leaders at the University of Paris for daring to incorporate the writings of a pagan into Christianity.
Just as our three wise men were not afraid to challenge prevailing opinion within their own religious community in the Middle Ages, so today I believe we must also be willing to openly criticize our co-religionists when they engage in extremism and intolerance. Thus Muslim religious leaders around the world condemned the Taliban's destruction of the ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan and the 9/11 terror attacks by Al-Qaeda. Thus many Christian ministers in the US denounced the bigoted attacks on Islam by Reverends Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell and Franklin Graham (all friends of the current Bush administration). And thus many Jews, like myself, have for decades supported the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state and condemned Israel's brutal occupation with its assassinations, house demolitions, closures, and illegal settlement policy.
While working on this talk in New York, I found a poem from the Islamic Sufi tradition on the web. It reads:
I am like the sea;
many ships sail across the sea,
but who knows the depth of the ocean?
When I move through the streets,
I watch the sons of truth pass me by;
I do not say anything,
but I open my heart,
and they enter.
I believe that some eight hundred years after they lived, Ibn Rushd the Muslim, Rabbi Musa the Jew, and Thomas Aquinas the Christian can still all enter both our hearts and minds if we let them. Their words, and their life stories, can both inform and inspire us about some of the greatest issues confronting us at the beginning of this new century: the relationship between religion and the state, between faith and science, between reason and revelation; the dangers of political extremism; and the courage it often takes to oppose injustice and search for truth. By reading and interpreting their writings, we can discover that we - Muslims, Jews and Christians - are all Ibnu Ibrahim, the children of Abraham, peace be upon him. We can discover that in the struggle to create a more just and peaceful world, we may perhaps have more in common with those in other traditions who share our values of justice than with the more extreme followers within our own religious families.
Allow me finally to conclude with a verse from the Holy Qur'an:
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Bismi'llah ir-rahman ir-rahim
For every one of you (Jews, Christians, Muslims), We have appointed a path and a way. If God had willed, He would have made you but one community; but that, He has not done, in order that He may try you in what has come to you. So compete with one another in good works.
For me, an American Jew and an artist, my film is merely an attempt in good works, an attempt to build bridges of understanding, illumination, and compassion, and I am most thankful to this great gathering for allowing me to speak to you this afternoon about "Reason and Revelation: Ibn Rushd, Rabbi Musa, and Thomas Aquinas in Their Time and Ours."
Shalom. Salaam. Shukran.
Jacob Bender, a New York City-based documentary film-maker, can be reached at ReasonRevelation@aol.com.
Copyright 2003, Jacob Bender.
Why to Reject Jesus' Divinity
Why to Reject Jesus' Divinity, A Top Ten List According to the Bible
By Shahid Bin Waheed
The Bible gives proof to the Oneness of God, "The Only True God."
1. In Mark 12:29, Jesus said "Here, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." [This confirms that Jesus called people to worship the One and Only God, not the trinity.
2. In John 20:17, Jesus said I ascend to my God and your God. [Jesus has a God according to him; we know that a God can’t have a God.]
3. In John 8:28, Jesus said, "I do nothing of myself." [Can a God be this dependent?]
4. In John 14:28, Jesus said, "My Father (GOD) is greater than I am." [So, how can Jesus himself be a God?]
5. In Luke 23:46, Jesus said "Father (GOD), into thy hands I commend my spirit." [God does not have a spirit like Jesus did.]
6. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus told his followers that no one (including Jesus) knows when the judgment day will come, only GOD knows. [Or Jesus was lying to his followers, if he was GOD?]
7. In John 5:30, Jesus told his followers that he couldn’t do a single thing of his own. [Can GOD be this helpless?]
8. In John 5:32, Jesus told his followers that they have never seen GOD at anytime nor ever heard his voice. [Or Jesus was lying again here, if he was GOD?]
9. In Luke 5:16, Jesus prays to God. [Funny, if Jesus was God, then why is he praying to God? Since when and how can God have a God?
10. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus fell on his face and prayed to his GOD like Muslims do. [How would you explain this from the Bible?
Checkmate! John 17:3 refers to the "Only True God."
Nike Unveils New Logo
NIKE UNVEILS NEW LOGO From Swoosh to Shwoosh
A Parody. For more Muslim humor check out: azhar.com.
Monday Sept 9, 2002 8:37PM ET
By Choam Von Nomsky
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Multinational athletic footwear and apparel giant Nike, Inc. [NYSE: NKE] unveiled its new logo today, during a much anticipated press conference held in downtown Chicago at the company's Michigan Avenue "Nike Town" location. The company announced that its new logo, a mere adaptation of the all-too-familiar "swoosh", is known as a "shwoosh," because it incorporates three diacritical marks in the shape of a triangle, just above the fading tail of the swoosh. The addition of the three dots, explained Mr. Charles Denson, 45, President of the Nike Brand, is in honor of the Arabic letter "shin," the pattern, shape, and form of which served as the basis for the new logo.
Above: A pair of Max Airs featuring Nike's
new shwoosh logo, which is modeled
after the Arabic letter shin.
"I recently visited Morocco," explains Denson, "and there I observed the most beautiful calligraphic work I have ever seen." The company has been in search of a new logo since the year 2000 due to the growth of negative brand associations owing to Nike's outright oppressive business practices in the developing world. "Throughout my stay in Morocco, I felt like this one Arabic letter kept following me everywhere. It was almost as if it was haunting me - with its sharp, razor-like edges and its intimidating triple dot arrangement," said Denson. "But when I arrived in Indonesia, a country where we have several plants set up to exploit young children and uneducated women workers, I started seeing the letter again, this time in more friendly environments." Denson claims that he saw a dream late one night at his Hilton hotel room in Tangerang, and the letter shin "beckoned him," begging to become the company's new logo.
Business and political leaders from the Arab and Muslim worlds praised Nike for adapting the swoosh inhonor of an Arabic letter. "We so habby that American combany is liking our letter shin. We so broud of Arabic language, and we love everything American - we just wanna be Americans," said King Fahd bin Abd al-Aziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and despotic leader of Saudi Arabia. President Parvez Musharraf of Pakistan, the United States' most recent ally in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, could not be reached for comment concerning Nike's announcement, although a spokesman for his administration said that Musharraf was "absolutely and unconditionally pleased with, and supportive of, everything that America, its corporations, allies, friends, and basically anyone in the world except America's sworn enemies, had to do or say concerning just about anything whatsoever." Most Pakistanis seem genuinely pleased with Nike's new shwoosh, especially since the Arabic letter shin exists in the same shape, form, usage, and pronunciation in the Urdu language, which is the national tongue of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Members of the anti-corporate movement and some NGOs have condemned the new logo, however, claiming that it is an "affront to Arabian culture" and "disrespectful and insensitive" in this time of "heightened sensitivity across cultures." Jim Keady and Leslie Kretzu, makers of the upcoming film Sweat: A Story of Solidarity, denounced Nike's new shwoosh, calling it "yet another pathetic attempt to divert the public's attention away from the real issue - that Nike is a tyrannical corporation that puts profit before people." Their film, Sweat, is a chronicle of their journey through Nike's Indonesian sweatshops and the horrific conditions facing workers there.
In 1997, just five short years ago, Nike found itself under fire from the Muslim community for releasing a shoe that featured an insignia resembling the word "Allah," which is the name of God in Arabic. When the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group in Washington D.C., threatened the company with boycotts and litigation, the dispute was settled and the offending shoe was recalled.
Nike stock closed at just under $41 today, giving the company a nearly $11 billion market capitalization.
10 Reasons Why Latinos Can't be Terrorists
- Because 8:45am is too early for us to be up.
- Because we are always late, we would have missed all 4 flights.
- Because pretty people on the plane would distract us.
- Because we would talk loudly and bring attention to ourselves.
- Because with food and drinks on the plane, we would forget why we're
- Because we talk with our hands, we would have put our weapons down.
- Because we would ALL want to fly the plane.
- Because we would argue and start a fight in the plane.
- Because we would have told everyone a week before doing it.
- Because we would have put our country's flag on the windshield.
Check it Out! The LADO website
By Natasha Quraishi
Illumination Magazine, June 2003. Pg 3.
The Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO) is a
non-profit organization founded in 1997 that is
commited to providing information about Islam,
particularly to the Latino American community. With
the increasing number of Latino Americans discovering
or rediscovering Islam, it is a much needed
organization. LADO's motto is '¡A su LADO!' which
means 'At your side!' The LADO website, at
www.latinodawah.org, contains a wealth of information
for prospective reverts and non-Muslims. The site
contains LADO’s monthly newsletter, useful links on
Islamic information and websites, and a library with
Islamic resources for beginners in English, Spanish,
and Portuguese. From the LADO's 'Contact Us' page, you
can find Latino Muslims from around the country. Help
acknowledge the diversity of Islam by checking out the
site and giving feedback to LADO!