The Latino Muslim Voice
The July-September 2009 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
My Flag Endured the Aftershock of 9-11
By Khadijah Rivera
Miami is well known for its Latino population and prominent bilingualism. Similar to most Latino Muslims, I lived in a major U.S. city that had a large population of Hispanics. Although I wore a Muslim veil, for the most part, I blended in. I didn't go to the beaches, clubs or popular Latino spots which were prohibited to me as a practitioner of Islam. But Miami would not be the place to be in the Aftermath of 9-11.
I remember growing up in New Jersey and as a girl I use to salute the American flag with pride "orgullo" as we say in my language. I would look at the colors and see the beauty of their significance and immediately recall my own personal flag, the flag of Puerto Rico! Both of these flags shared the same colors. In my heart, gazing upon it sent shivers of intense love of country..Patria. My island is made up of a mosaic of people and color. The darker you are the more beloved as a true countryman. From the original inhabitants of Tainos to the invaders from Spain, and their slave trade of Africans. Eventually, we assimilated to a proud people without racism and full of spirituality and patriotism. Even today, half a century since my birth, I long for the "Independista" movement to reign. I consider myself a true patriot with two sons as USMC and heroes to all Americans.
But on that dark and gloomy morning of September 11th my heart sank in utter pain as did millions who watched in horror. Although the American flag became a soaring symbol of patriotism, left unbridled it attacked innocence and destroyed lives. For days, I mourned like millions of Americans, yet in the streets I became the symbol of hate and bigotry. I was warned by Muslim clergymen to remove my religious veil to avoid personal attacks and to never go out alone. As a divorcee, I had to feed my family so this meant taking public transportation, in Miami, by my self and having people spit and curse me behind vehicles like cowards. On the buses people shunned me and would not sit beside me. Many more stared and whispered to each other. They cursed me in Spanish, sure that I did not understand their hateful words.
Just a few years earlier a young Cuban boy had illegally entered the shores of Miami Beach, all alone, since his mother died during the journey. He had left Cuba without his father's consent, so the Cuban government supported the father in retrieving the child, Elian Gonzalez. In rage Cuban refugees had been disrespecting the flag and turning it upside down in storefront windows. They hated the US but they must have hated me more because later, they considered themselves "Americans" and I a foreign devil.
Everywhere I looked the American flag was hung in buildings, homes and millions of cars. But this Boricua girl could not stand up and salute it; on the contrary I had to duck from eggs and saliva. The smallest American flag made me secretly tremble, was it a symbol of sincere patriotism or bigotry?
Soon the mourning for victims stopped, as I had to defend my right to work and worship in America. My land of "freedom of speech' became a venue of hatred and loathing. I had to work among people who despised me for what they thought I represented. My Latino Christian family made Blog comments to the effect of "How could I continue to be a Muslim in a religion of hate". The irony of this made me laugh, providing brief relief for my broken heart.
So I decided to fight back by standing up for my God given rights as a human being. Allah knows I am patient but humans have limits and I had reached mine. I went on a Spanish broadcasting station called Telemundo. It is seen throughout Latin America not just, Miami. It was the catalyst I needed to strengthen my self, my family and other Muslims. It was also an amazing opportunity to educate others. The moment I spoke in Spanish the look of astonishment was there from everyone in the newsroom. Imagine that people were telling me to GO BACK HOME! Where to? Rio Piedras, I wondered"
My son Andre' accompanied me "live" on the set wearing his Marine Dress blues. He eloquently confided on his incredulity of society and the audacity to spit upon his mother while he fought for the Nations security. Certainly it was a shot at the media I had to take and I did!
Soon after we went on the infamous Christina show, which is the Latino version of Oprah. I stopped after that as I had made my point and did not want publicity except with purpose. I was not speaking only for the Latino Muslims or even just for the Muslims. During the disturbing aftermath racist jumped at the chance to beat up Mexicans and Hindus. To them all dark skinned people could easily be mistaken for Muslim terrorist. Hate crimes soared and were pouring in from every major city in the United States. The American flag became to my dismay the equivalent of the Confederate flag to African Americans. The media helped to repress the storm of violence to Muslims and soon even the President realized that it had to stop; therefore he went on to address the Nation. This brought a temporary peace to what could have escalated to encampments and racial riots. Unfortunately to this day, if you drive past me with a flag and stare at me, I am not sure if I should duck or smile.
Who Are the Real Terrorists?
By Ghadah Ali Gutierrez
Many moons ago, my people lived. We existed peacefully in a beautiful land unmarred by progress. Although occasional inter-tribal conflicts arose, they were quickly dealt with and life continued. We had no highways, no televisions, no computers, and yet we were happy. Food was plentiful, as was clean water and air. We lived by the seasons and moved according to the movement of the buffalo. The entire continent was our home, and we lived in harmony with her. Grandmother earth extended her arms to enfold us, and the people were well.
Then they came. Came with their manifest destiny and declaration of independence. Independence for whom? Our freedom was taken, our children were taken, and our land was taken. Many things were given to us as well, alcohol which out bodies were not equipped to metabolize, diseases for which there were no cures and to which we had no resistance. We were relegated to inhospitable plots of land where nothing would ever have a hope of growing and expected to make a life there. We became a people lost.
Nearly 500 of our tribes became extinct. Our children grew up not with fresh air and water, but with concrete and drugs. Our elders were no longer allowed to die in the comfort of their homes, but were put into white man's nursing homes. Our warriors were good enough to fight in wars of the white man's making, but were not good enough to be treated like men in their own country. Our families disintegrated and became dependent on the white man's welfare system. Our mothers grew fat, our fathers lazy. We were shunned by society and made ashamed of who we were, in our own land.
In the time of Five Rabbit, my people lived. We were an advanced society, well versed in medicine, in astrology, and in art. We were a creative society, producing some of the most beautiful objects the world has ever seen. Our gardens were fragrant and enticing beyond imagination. Our crops grew with the help of an advanced irrigation system of our own invention. We had sophisticated systems of government and military. We were a spiritual people, our religion was tightly interwoven with our every day lives. Our great temples, architectural marvels, rose in tribute to our deities. We had cities fabled as built of gold; while not truly of gold, our cities were large and flourishing. Our warriors fought bravely and our enemies captured and sacrificed to appease the never-ending appetite of our gods. We were a mighty people, brave and feared, but above all, respected.
But then they came, tall, pale men covered in hair and metal. Pretending to be our friends, they raped our women, murdered our warriors, and enslaved our children. All was lost to their greed for gold. The great rulers, Montezuma and Cuauhtémoc, were overtaken and killed. They knew nothing of respect or honor. Lies and deception were the most effective tools they possessed. No regard was given to our sciences, we were nothing but a lot of backwards pagans. When the smoke settled, our people were extinct, never again to walk the earth.
On the plains of Serengeti, our people lived. Proud and strong; hunters and warriors. We needed nothing from the outside and asked nothing of anyone. We were a brave people, content to fight for only what we believed to be ours without the thought of impinging upon the rights of the other tribes. We worshiped, we celebrated, and we danced. Our world was safe and our way of life ancient. We loved and admired nature and respected all of her powers and her ability to provide for us while asking nothing in return. Stately giraffes, regal lions, and immense elephants roamed freely through the land that we knew was not ours, but only ours to borrow for a time.
And then a great change came over the land. Our kings were captured and sent in tiny, filthy ships to a strange land far, far away. Woman were sold to traders for slavery in a land we had never heard of. Never again would we have families - or freedom. Those that did not die onboard the ships, went on to live a life not fit for an animal. We were bought and sold like cattle and treated with less respect than livestock. Our women were raped repeatedly and forced to bear the children of our oppressors while our own children were sold off. The men were beaten savagely until nothing remained of their will and their memories of a better time.
Now our people live. In our great country where freedom is valued above all else, our right to practice our religion and dress as we please is in grave danger. Our mosques are counted and watched, our leaders suspect. Organizations that provide for the needy and helpless are accused of financing terrorists. All immigrant men of certain races are required to register with authorities and yet their permission to be here can be revoked on a whim. Their potential contributions to society are ignored. Even Americans are no longer exempt from harassment, both by common people and politicians.
Because of the acts of a few, our entire way of life is in danger. Our religion is one of beauty and peace, and yet daily we are portrayed as bloodthirsty savages. Our contributions to science, medicine, and the arts are downplayed as an aberration or downright ignored. Our women, once free to walk the streets garbed in modesty and secure in the protection of their garments are now shamed while brazen, half-dressed women are admired and respected. Our children are heckled in the street and called such names as "bin Laden lover" or "habib." Jokes circulate through all gatherings and on the Internet defiling our way of life. Even the politically correct feel that it is all right to defame our way of life. Daily, we lose more of our basic freedoms, those freedoms by law guaranteed to all who reside within these shores.
Webster's dictionary defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." The entire history of the United States and Mexico could well be defined within these terms. The numbers speak for themselves.
During the period of 1865-1890, the so-called Indian Wars, an estimated 35,000 Natives were killed. According to Selected Statistics on Slavery in the United States (http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/stat.html), there were 3,953,696 slaves in the U.S. in the year 1860 alone. Because slaves were considered livestock, mortality records are difficult to come by, but it is a well-known fact that millions of slaves died from disease, malnutrition, abuse, and hundreds of other causes. Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire, had a population of 300,000 when Cortes put an end to life, as they had known it. As only one city in Pre-Columbian South and Central America, it nonetheless puts into context exactly how many lives were lost by colonization.
There is no denying that the events of 9/11 were tragic; 5000 innocent lives were lost needlessly. But before casting stones and declaring wars against other countries, perhaps the United States needs to glance back in its history books. The government of the United States has demonstrated over and over again their willingness to commit genocide. Who are the real terrorists?
Another American Muslim Perspective
By Insaan A. Solorzano
The United States has its share of visitors every year. Some men and women are here to work, others come to study, while others are tourists; I am here to stay. Like it or not, I am bound to the land through my work and memories. The constant reminder that my religion is under siege here in the United States has not wavered my loyalties to my country. Islam and the United States had a shotgun wedding on September 11, 2001. Separated by centuries of misunderstanding and neglect, the two are now struggling to understand each other over night. The suspicions and lack of trust between Muslims and the United States government has the ability to escalate into nationwide civil unrest; that is, unless a strong effort to diffuse the existing tension is supported by the American people. Unlike the visitors who are passing through, I am here for the duration of my life. The responsibility of fixing what went wrong between Islam and the United States falls to the Muslims, who are already home.
I do not believe it is impossible to mend the relationship between Islam and the United States government. The task seems epic in complexity, and still it is a challenge waiting to be overcome by those who will champion our cause. The need for accurate recognition of Islam in the West has never been stronger. This is not the time to shy away, hoping everything will turn out all right. As an American Muslim, I have the responsibility of spanning the gap of intolerance that has been left unchecked between my faith and my country. It is time to get involved in shaping the future of the United States policy towards Islam. It is time to take sensible action to improve our public image. We can speak out in our local communities against those who would use Islam as a punch line to hide their malevolent intentions. Educated Muslims in the United States must leave the safety of their own homes, and go out into the world to teach true Islam to those who will listen. Personally I recommend targeting the media machine that fires the negative propaganda war against Islam. Reform the Medias speculative reporting, and positive change will begin to take hold. Show the western media a united Muslim front against intolerance, racism, and religious oppression. Every man and woman in the United States is entitled to their inalienable rights to practice their faith in peace. Are Muslims so different that our own rights can be overlooked, because of public ignorance towards our religion?
All relationships have compromises. It is easy to blame the United Stated government for the Western outlook on Islam. Truth is Muslims are as much at fault for our current plight as anyone else. Too many times I have heard an immigrant Muslim put down the United States because they are upset about something. As an American Muslim, I agree with a person's right to their views; on the other hand, I will not join them in putting down my country. The parallel to this scenario would be me visiting a foreign country and publicly expressing disgust for their policies and people. That's not right, in fact it's disrespectful. It is easy for me to tell people visiting the United States, who dislike the country, to "Get Out!" This one-sided demand would not resolve anything; in fact I would be taking a step in the wrong direction. Instead of asking people to leave, I say, "Please stay and learn more about my culture and my country." Ostracizing people who don't agree with me only builds intolerance. To the Muslims who are just visiting, I ask you to remember why you left behind the people and places you knew to begin your life again in the United States? If you are leaving and going back home share your positive memories of the United States with your family, friends, and neighbors. Tell them about the civil liberties you enjoyed, show them pictures of our neighborhoods, and tell them about the people you met here. Encourage those who want to visit to come here and experience our way of life for themselves. To think we are all bad people who wish to control the world is completely inaccurate. Generalization always leads to myths and misguided rumors. Americans are very diverse in our faith, ethnicity, and experiences that the only thing keeping us together is our laws and constitution. Treat us as individuals - each one a possibility to make a new friend or confidant.
There are reasons why people become disillusioned by the United States. Maybe they have lost a family member or their business failed because of an American? Are these reasons to hate an entire country of several million individuals? Sometimes problems arise that seem to have no alternative answer, other than, violent retaliation. It is exactly at this time that Muslims should seek guidance from the Qur'an. Ask yourself is violence your only means of expression, keeping in mind that killing someone else does not resurrect the dead, and taking a life does not produce new capital over night. Islam condemns the wholesale slaughter of innocent lives. A pilot might be guilty of taking an innocent life. That man should be punished, not thousands of lives that had nothing to do with the incident. On the other hand, the Islamophobia Americans carry around is unjustified. Their suspicions and intolerance for a religion they do not understand must be remedied with facts. Speaking for myself, I don't want to hurt anyone, and I don't want war. The United States and Islam have reached an impasse. The only way out of this stalemate is to reason with another, to hear each other's grievances, and to work together to mend our civil and religious misunderstandings.
Men and women, who hate the United States as a whole, do so without moral boundaries. Muhammad Atta believed he would strike a righteous blow for Islam against the United States when he piloted a plane into the World Trade Center. Atta must have shown some concern for the Muslims aboard the same plane he was flying. He must have stopped to think about the Muslim working inside the towers that morning. Even after pondering the outcome of his actions on innocent Muslim lives, he continued with his plans. He was destined to make his point, and no one was going to deter him from completing his political agenda. How many Muslim families lost a loved one during the terrible events on September the 11th? I don't believe one of those Muslim victims woke up that morning and thought "Today I am going to martyr myself by sitting in my office and having a jetliner end my life." This is the story we don't hear about. When extremists take justice into their own hands, they are blinded by their single mindedness and lose sight of their intended target. Here in the United States a Muslim runs the same risk of losing his or her life to an extremist attack, as does a Gentile or a Jew. If you live within the borders of the United States and applaud the actions of extremist cells that call themselves warriors of god, you are inviting death on yourself and your family.
It may be hard for others to accept my views on the United States. Why should I support a government that seems bent on causing strife to Muslim countries? I do not support the killing of innocent people, especially if they are Muslim or my countrymen. What I do support is the removal of tyrants and the introduction of the democratic way of life to countries that have been denied its shelter. Saddam Hussein had to be removed from power. Any man, who would sanction the use of cyanide and mustard gas against non-combatants, like he did on the town of Halabaja in 1988, does not deserve to remain in power. Speak with Iraqi citizens and with Kurdish refugees, they will tell you the real story about Saddam controlled Iraq. The first four Muslim Caliphates were all founded as democracies. Is it a fantasy to want a democratic government for the Iraqi? Governments around the world know the level of human suffering in Iraq, and they did nothing to prevent the horrors and atrocities that went on under Hussein's rule. I do not believe Saddam Hussein was a good Muslim or that he governed Iraq as a Muslim state. With the creation of a new democratic Iraqi government, the people will once again have an opportunity to be led by Muslims with a strong base in Islam. I have to support my country because I have lived under its rule and experienced a life of freedom unheard of in some parts of the world. If United States intervention in the Middle East means that Iraqis will have an opportunity to experience life as I have, then yes, I support my government's decision to give Iraq back to its people.
Currently, the United States is lashing out against its perceived enemies. After the 9/11 attacks, Americans pleaded with their leadership by demanding action be taken for the destruction of the Twin Towers. The government replied by creating a campaign against well-known extremists. If the government had done nothing, extremists around the world would have seen that as a sign of weakness. This would have encouraged those contemplating terror attacks on the United States to implement their plans. The Taliban were targeted because of their close links to extremist groups. They were defeated, and a new Afghani government was instated to help build the country back to its former self. Under the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction, the United States attacked Iraq. We were wrong to use the treat of biological and nuclear weapons as the reason to instigate a war. What the United States should have said from the very beginning is "We are going to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and give the Iraqi people back their right to rule themselves as they see fit." The campaign in Iraq will soon be over. A new Iraqi government has since been instated. The Iraqi people have a new constitution, economic embargoes have been lifted, and foreign political sanctions against the country have ended. Iraq has a bright, prosperous future to look forward to - a future in which it is led by qualified Muslim leaders who seek peace with the West and peace within its own borders.
The United States government is not perfect, which is why we have laws to aid us in replacing those who abuse their power. As a Muslim, I feel my rights to practice Islam are being compromised by bigotry and prejudice, but it's not being taken away. This is a far cry from what is currently happening to people in other countries struggling for religious recognition. Take, for instance, the believers of Falun Gong in China. Whereas I may endure hate crimes in the future, Falun Gong believers have to endure imprisonment, the horrors of torture, brain washing, and the inevitable denouncement of their faith to please their government. I consider myself lucky to live in a country where the government does not force me to give up my religion under treat of death. This is why I support my government and why I must show solidarity with my leaders.
I believe American suffers from imperial hubris. The governing body believes it can fix the world's problems by simply waving money around, dispatching troops, or sweeping unmentionables out of the way. The global community has bred this overseer mentality into the United States for almost a century. How many times in the past has a foreign sovereignty requested aid from the United States to resolve its domestic problems? Let us not forget WWI, WWII, or Kuwait. I doubt the world would be a safer place if the United States decided to close its borders to outside influences and recall their overseas military forces. Remember the countries of the world have been oppressed by European, Middle Eastern, and Asian powers far longer then they have from the United States. The United States is slowly learning how to cooperate with Muslim countries. Eventually the wars will end, and peace will prevail. The more the United States interacts with the Middle East, the more insight it will gain on Islam. With time new laws will be drafted, and new policies will be created to help the two coexist peacefully, Insha'Allah.
I hope the United States is fighting a war against oppression and political extremists, not a war against Islam. There is a distinction between political extremists and every day Muslims, just like there is a difference between Islam and Middle Eastern culture. The United States momentum generated out of fear and ignorance towards Islam must be curbed through the intervention of its citizens. The responsibility of American Muslims is to focus our resources into educating our leaders, politicians, and children. We have to show them the true face of Islam. The only thing I can do to alleviate the suffering of Muslims and United States personnel overseas is by pressing my government to reevaluate its objectives and to bring the war to an end as soon as possible. Regardless of my personal views on the United States government, I am not at liberty to turn my back on her, not when she needs me the most. I am an American Muslim, and I love my country.
Better Than a Thousand Months
By Ashley Makar
September 13, 2009
The holiest night of the year for a Nuyorican Muslim.
Rushing to Manhattan's 96th Street mosque in the white gallabiya he promised Allah he would wear, toting leftover dates in tupperware, Abdu Alim did a good deed. In Spanish-inflected Arabic, "Salamm'alaikum," he said, to a kid he didn't know running out of the mosque. They exchanged peace like a high five, and Alim explained that that was an act of charity. And that every move you make toward the mosque and every letter you pronounce from the Qur'an is an act of worship, which is especially important during Ramadan, when every good deed yields one hundred times more blessings than usual, especially on that night, the Night of Power, in which Muslims all over the world remember when Allah first spoke to the holy Prophet Muhammad.
Though Alim calls himself a Nuyorican, he told me he is more a brother to the Pakistani he "salaamed" than the Hispanic teenagers who tried to distract him on the way to mosque one evening: "Look at this fool," they said. "He looks like bin Laden, or Jesus Christ." Alim told me he feels more fellowship with the Egyptian imam who invites him to the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge than the Pentecostal preacher who condemned him for bringing a Qur'an to church. His Arab, African, and Asian brothers and sisters in Islam are more family to him now than his nine nominally Catholic but not religious siblings.
No one knows for certain which night is Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, when Muhammad received the first utterances of the Qur'an, "the recitation" in Arabic that began the twenty-three year miracle of revelation delivered by the angel Gabriel. According to hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, it probably falls on one of the odd nights during the last ten days of Ramadan, and "he who spends the night in prayer"and seeking rewards from Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven." In anticipation of Laylat al-Qadr, Muslims are to strive especially in worship, through charity, prayer, and Qur'anic recitation, during the last part of Ramadan, which is "release from hellfire." (The beginning is mercy; the middle forgiveness.) Islamic scholars determine which of the possible nights Laylat al-Qadr will be observed at each mosque, with an all-night prayer vigil that is said to be equivalent to more than 80 years of worship: This night is better than a thousand months. Alim said a brother explained to him that the Night of Power is decided when a majority of Muslims agree, judged by a moon sighting in Saudi. On this side of the world, a clear quiet night is a sign of Laylat al Qadr, according to Nagla Elbadawy, who teaches religion at Al Noor, "The Light," the largest Islamic school in New York.
On a clear quiet night near the end of his second Ramadan, Alim left early from Islam Fashion, the women's clothing shop where he was working, and broke fast at a Brooklyn water fountain on his way to the four train. (He knows it is recommended to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set, with anything, even water, which is precious in Islam. He consults other Muslims to make sure it's okay to break the fast, and if none are around, he consults by cell phone.) Alim made it the 96th Street mosque in time for tarawih, the congregational prayer in which the entire Qur'an is recited at least once through, verse by verse, night by night.
While hanging up his coat and removing his shoes, Alim heard a young lady embracing Islam over the loudspeaker: laa ilaha illa Allah, wa Muhammad(un) rasul Allah, she repeated after the imam in two-word increments. Then, she professed Islam in English: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." Alim looked up, as if he were hearing angels, which he knew would be flocking down to earth that night to encourage acts of worship and supplicate to God on behalf of those who prayed. Shahada, the declaration of the faith in front of at least two witnesses, is a blessing, he told me. "When a people take shahada, all prior sins are erased, and they are considered like a child being born into the world."
Abdu Alim took shahada twice first out of curiosity, and, more than a decade later, out of conviction. He was a Christian called Edwin all his life, until he embraced Islam in September 2002. He said he was "mis-raised" because his family didn't bring him up religiously: Catholicism wasn't a way of life in his family. But he was known to be the religious one among his six brothers and three sisters. In his twenties he began to seek the spirituality he lacked growing up in Spanish Harlem. He started going to different kinds of churches mostly Baptist and Pentecostal, "a little bit of everything," he said. As he went along, he encountered different schools of thought in Christianity: "You have some people that will say Jesus is divine and man and those that believe He's totally God. These different views started shaping me, my beliefs"I accepted the full conviction that Jesus is divine; He's God, but that he was also man," he said. Edwin got baptized during this time in a Church of God, but "I was really confused," he said. "I would literally cry at times."
In his late twenties Edwin started getting involved with the Seventh-day Adventists. He was studying with a man named David and started taking a correspondence course from an Adventist church in California. With the lessons he was getting in the mail were tests asking existential questions: "Why is man here? What is the soul? What is hell?" When he recounts the questions, his stress lands hard on the last words. He was acing them and getting diplomas. From the Seventh-day Adventists, he learned that the soul is the body. "They taught me that there's a grave, and when you die, your soul, which is your body, is terminated, and your spirit, which is the light-force that sustains your body, goes back to the Creator. This was logical, and I accepted it."
Comparing different verses of scripture, Edwin noticed that, throughout the Bible, "Jesus is considered an apostle of God, a servant of God, a slave of God." He said this got him curious about Islam, and he began to read the Qur'an. At the time it was "like a plaything, a sport," he said. "I was not really developed spiritually."
Edwin lived in an Adventist fellowship community for a while in upstate New York. But he couldn't stand it. He had a problem with the fact that they stressed the issue of the Sabbath, and with their strict vegan diet; there were times in the middle of the night he wanted to get up and go to the store and buy himself a cheeseburger. And "even at that time, there was something about Islam, about the book, the Qur'an, that really attracted me, especially when they speak of God as the most gracious, the most merciful. These words, they really took my heart."
It was in upstate New York where Edwin took shahada for the first time, with no intention of becoming a Muslim: "I had a bad motive because I was just curious about what they had to say about Christianity, Jesus Christ, this and that"I was being like a spy, if you will." But when Muslims were telling him that Jesus is not God, he started debating it more seriously. "I was curious. I was searching. I wanted to understand," Alim said, and he got a lot of backlash for it: "I had Christians that would pray for me "cause they thought I had demons inside of me"They thought I was crazy. I thought I was too," he told me in a low tone, as if let down after confessing his excited curiosity, a timbre of pathos that seemed to trail off alone.
Edwin was still engaging in bible study with David, who lead him to doubt the divinity of Jesus in 1982: "He gave me these notes speaking about God and His name. He said Jehovah. So the minute that he said Jehovah, in my mind I was like "what's this Jehovah?' Now he's not a Jehovah's Witness. He's a Seventh-day Adventist, a very loyal individual. And I said, "What is this?' He said, "This is another name for Jesus. He has many names. He has many titles.'"
Struck by skepticism, Edwin started studying different translations of the Bible. At the 42nd Street library he found the New World Translation, used only by Jehovah's Witnesses, denying what he had believed all his life: that Jesus is the son of God and also God himself. "I saw it with my own eyes," he said, almost gasping. "So I learned from the Jehovah's Witnesses that Jesus is not divine." Edwin said the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is an angel "Michael or Miguel? I get mixed up, "and just like God. The Qur'an says that there is no one who resembles Allah "not the angels, no one, nothing in the whole creation," and we cannot conceive of the form of Allah. This knowledge came to Alim like meat to a baby, he told me. He had a hard time accepting it at first. But "Jesus said to His disciples: I have many things to tell you, but yet you cannot bear them right now," he said with the cadence of an evangelical preacher. "I was getting deep into the meat of the Word, if you will." But he wasn't ready to take the powerful information he was reading.
In the fall of 2002, curiosity led Edwin from the Kennedy Chicken around the corner from the Jehovah's Witness church near his home in the Bronx to "the shock of [his] life." There was a Muslim named Muhammad working at the chicken joint, where Edwin would go eat and talk about religion after church. He would tell Muhammad, "Your Qur'an is wrong; you've got it all wrong." Then, one day he asked, "Muhammad where's your mosque?" Just out of curiosity, he told me. "But Allah turned that curiosity into something big." Muhammad directed him to the African mosque in Western Treemont, and Edwin went in and started arguing with the imam about hellfire. He said the Jehovah's Witnesses had brainwashed him into thinking there's no hell "They really got me with that one." He had a problem with scary Muslim descriptions of hellfire. A man at the mosque looked at him and told him he needed to become Muslim. Edwin said "No, I can't be a Muslim," and left the mosque discouraged.
His next time at Kennedy Chicken he told Muhammad the story, and Muhammad said, "If you become a Muslim, I'll buy you nice clothes." Alim was laughing as he told it. Muhammad gave him a film about the life of the Prophet, (A Message, starring Anthony Quinn) and a lecture tape by Ahmad Dida, an Indian scholar whose parents were Hindu.
"When I heard him, that was it," Alim said. The brother talks in detail about the Qur'an and the Bible "Which is God's word?" Muhammad was written about in the Bible, Alim said in a prophetic tone, so the Qur'an is the complete revelation. Two weeks later Edwin went to Muhammad and said, "I'll take you up on that offer." Muhammad sent him to the store, where Edwin chose a white gallabiya, because white symbolizes purity. He took shahada again "as a test, but with conviction" and started his life over as Abdu Alim.
He likened his time with the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Seventh-day Adventists, and the Jehovah's Witnesses to surfing the Internet; he was never satisfied with the answers he got to the questions he posed. "Now I got most of the answers," he said. "I got the main ingredients to this religion; my mind is so clear like a blue sky with no clouds."
Alim climbed the stairs to the large atrium of the 96th Street mosque on the thin black prayer slippers he got on discount from Islam Fashion. He entered, turned-off cell phone in hand because he didn't have anywhere to clip it, and joined the last line of men, about four feet in front of the rows of women. He stood, pale and solemn with upright posture, shoulder to shoulder, soles solid on the ground, the sides of his feet pressed against those of his brothers in Islam. He was first told that Muslims pray side by side, toe to toe, heel to heel, "so the shaytan cannot go in between." But the Egyptian imam in Bay Ridge explained to him the real reason: All nationalities of the world are praying together. It's about the brotherhood of humanity, Alim elaborated. "The main idea of Islam is to bond the whole human race together, to share in the peace that God gives us by means of our obedience to Him." 5' 9" and of slight build, Alim is smaller than most of the brothers he joined in prayer that night. Many of the blacks, whites, Arabs, and Asians in the front part of the mosque were not wearing gallabiyas, but sweaters and jeans, pinstriped suits, black leather jackets, hooded sweatshirts, and most were clean shaven. Alim doesn't clip his beard, because that's the way Allah made him. And he wears his robe of purity and a small white cap (so people won't mistake him for a Jew) for Friday prayers and special occasions. He ran into his mother's sister and her son once "dressed up like a Muslim." As far as Alim knows, that's the only inkling any of his blood relatives has of his conversion to Islam. He thinks it's possible that his aunt conveyed that to the rest of the family. But she may not have recognized him as a Muslim: "Believe it or not, people don't know what you into."
Alim is an example of a demographic trend among new Muslims. The American Muslim Council estimates that there are up to 60,000 Hispanic-American Muslims, up from 40,000 in 1997. Ali has noticed more and more Latinos flocking to the Al Faruq mosque in Brooklyn, and he thinks it's a miracle from God. But he's less concerned with the demographics than the fact that so many people have embraced Islam since September 11, 2001. He believes that God is maneuvering to turn things around: "Those who are embracing Islam are replacing Muslims who are not practicing properly. They will be great models for humanity. The Muslim is the model for the whole human race: We're like a light."
Under the 99 candles, for the 99 names of Allah, Alim did a few rakas on his own while most of the congregation were sitting on their knees listening to the recitation. He learned the motions by imitating other Muslims: hands to the knees at the first Allahu Akbar; then upright; down to the knees; "God is great" again; forehead and nose to the floor; then back up to the knees; "salaam allekum" side to side. Alim knows that prostration is a form of humbleness to Allah, and he knows it's good for him: "All my life up and down, up and down, five times a day, physically and mentally it has a psychological effect." He was depressed earlier in the week about his wife, who is suffering from meningitis. But children at the mosque raised his spirits by showing him how to pray and teaching him a few verses from the Qur'an. He has memorized most of the first chapter, which Muslims recite before every prayer, in Arabic. He is careful to say only what he knows, which he learned mostly by ear, so as not contaminate the book by adding or leaving out any word.
At the pizza place around the corner, on a break from praying, Alim found the hadith on charity to which he had referred on his way to the mosque: "A good word is charity; every step you take to the mosque is charity; removing harmful things from the way is also charity," he read with a magnifying glass, over a regular slice and a coffee, light and sweet. "Now watch what it says" on the husband's right with regard to his wife: The righteous woman is obedient to Allah and her husband; neglecting the husband is a sin; having relations is a blessing. "This amazing, this little book," he said. "I was reading it on the train yesterday, and I couldn't stop."
Back at the mosque, close to midnight, Sheikh Bayran Mulich lectured the congregation: "If we can be good Muslims, if we can be the Qur'an that walks, the world can change"Right now the Qur'an can change the whole human history"Islam is coming"It's tough. It's painful. But it's coming"Allah creates hardship to test you"This is the night of repentance. We have to put the finger to ourselves, to our hearts. This is Adam's way"This is the Night of Power because this is the night Allah has spoken. Read in the name of thy Lord. Read! Educate"Study".When you study Allah gives you wings."
Alim strives to be the Qur'an that walks. He wears his faith on his make-shift satchel bag, in white block letters on a green background: "No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself," his favorite quote from the Qur'an. He tailored the black briefcase he found with the stickers from Islam Fashion and a purple nylon strap, left over from the years he spent taking care of canines in veterinary clinics all over Manhattan, to suit his new purpose in life: to practice and teach Islam wherever he goes. Inside he carries a roll-up mini prayer carpet. When he has to pray on the go, he finds a place without too much traffic, removes his shoes, and does his duty to Allah. He also totes a chart that tells him the windows of time in which he should pray, a paperback of abridged hadith, and The Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur"an, a pocket sized English-Arabic translation zipped in a gold-colored cover. Alim is well aware of his duties to his creator and his society: "No one is a Muslim unless he teaches what God has given to him every piece of that knowledge, every piece of my humanity, every piece of me, I have to give to somebody."
Abdu Alim found his own way in Islam, and he believes it was for his own good. The difficulty of learning Islam "becomes a part of you," he said. "It begins like a burden, but in reality it's not a burden." It is part of fitna: "the struggle, the trial to find your own way"tests your patience, perseverance, tolerance." Ali explained that this is especially true during Ramadan. At times he is tempted to break his fast. Then he reflects on the suffering of those in the world who are deprived of food, and he sympathizes in his own body.
This Ramadan, Abdu Alim would begin fasting when he went to sleep. He didn't have a predawn meal like many of his brothers and sisters in Islam: He can't tell "when the white thread becomes distinct" from the black thread of dawn." And it's too early for him, anyway. Usually, he would have a piece of carrot cake with milk before bed, making sure to brush his teeth at night so as not to break his fast with toothpaste in the daylight.
Often he would wake up around two or three in the morning and pour his heart out to God. He would beg Allah for forgiveness, to save us from the hellfire, and pray for the innocent in the midst of injustice: God have mercy and help your people; help me to be a good Muslim, a good human being. Making your petitions known to God, Alim said, "you could be crying, or just say it in your heart."
His second holy month was 100 percent better than the first, when he had to miss 13 days of fasting because he got bronchitis. You are not to fast when it becomes a burden, he explained, "because God is not trying to do that to you." (The traveler, the ill, the elderly, the insane, the pregnant, and breast-feeding women are permitted not to fast.) During his second Ramadan, Alim missed only the first day of fasting, because he hadn't heard that the crescent moon had been sighted. But he knows Allah will forgive him, because he had the good intention to fast.
Abdu Alim said he's not very knowledgeable about the Islamic calendar, and that the average Muslim shouldn't concern himself too much with this. In Islam, he explained, "everything is by intention;" prayer begins with purification, "which takes place with the intentions of your heart"And every time you do purification, sins fall from your body like leaves from a tree." And from the moment you intend to pray, "every step you take to the mosque, God is wiping out your sin."
The entire honor, blessings, and peace of the Night of Power continue in every second of the night until Fijr. But Abdu Ali didn't make it until dawn. He needed to go home and attend to his wife, to make sure she had her medicine and take her to the clinic early in the morning. "You have to be practical in Islam," he said, "to take it at your own pace." One woman told him taking Islam is like a baby taking milk. Abdu Alim says he feels like a child learning to walk.
Welcoming Ramadan in Ecuador
By Shahzady Suquillo
August 18, 2009
A Young Latin American Girl Shares Her Thoughts
In Quito, Ecuador, very soon all the members of the Muslim community will start preparing themselves in body and soul for the happy arrival of the sacred month of Ramadan. How fast this year has gone by!
Considering some aspects of the Western culture here in Ecuador, where no observance for division at social events is taking place, Assalam Mosque has become a unique place for sisters to feel solace and relax.
Another particular aspect is that Ramadan at the Equator in Latin America is a blessing due to daylight and night time being almost equal in length all the year round.
Even though Latino Muslims are a minority segment in the society, their joy starts when they remember that the struggle in Ramadan is being shared by one fourth of the entire world population.
Everyone needs a break in every aspect of life. Just knowing that Satan will be away for the whole month, makes us feel alleviated from his whispering. At the same time, this very same belief is an encouragement to keep up good work.
For the past seven years, Ramadan has given me the opportunity to talk about my religion to my fellow classmates, teachers, and non-Muslim friends. I try to exercise patience by telling them "I cannot eat at this time of the day", or "I cannot drink for the sake of Allah."
We try to explain to our classmates that our fasting is prescribed in the Quran, but not because of parents' pressure.
Here in the Western Hemisphere, things were not that easy at the beginning.
Our parents try to use different methods in explaining the fasting of Ramadan to our school teachers. These methods range from writing daily explanations to the teachers, meetings with the school supervisors, and lately, the Imam of the mosque wrote a guide booklet for educators called, "What to expect when having Muslim children in school."
This booklet is distributed to all teachers and school professors at the beginning of each academic year.
This educating material was very useful for all kinds of students in towns because it explains all the external aspects of Muslim fasting, especially since I am the only girl among 500 students at school who prays, fasts, and wears hijab.
I thank Allah who gives me the strength at my age, which is 16, to be capable enough to lift up the flag of Islam.
I learned in my early childhood to integrate all aspects of my Muslim life into a non-Muslim environment, because at the end of the day, I know for certain that Allah will reward me, as well as all the believers who seek His guidance and obedience.
By the blessing of Allah this coming Ramadan will be another amazing and unforgettable one.
A blessed Ramadan to all.
Shahzady Suquillo is the Muslim Youth Trustee at the Islamic Center of Ecuador Masjid Assalam in Quito, Ecuador. www.centroislamico.org.ec.
Ramadán en Latinoamérica
Durante esta temporada de Ramadán, www.Islamweb.net, reunió artículos de alrededor del mundo para ensenar la diversidad del Islam. Los siguientes cinco países fueron entre los demás en este reportaje especial.
La comunidad musulmana en Bolivia es pequeña, pero, Al Hamdulil-lah, está creciendo poco a poco.
Desde que fundamos el Centro Cultural Islámico de México en 1994, hemos comenzado a elaborar programas de actividades especiales para llevarse a cabo durante el mes de Ramadán. Antes de la fundación de la CCIM, la comunidad musulmana en México era muy pequeña y dispersa; por esta razón, y con el fin de lograr la unión, el crecimiento y fortalecimiento de la comunidad, empezamos a invitar a la gente a hacer la oración en grupo y a participar en nuestro programa diario de Iftar durante Ramadán.
En los últimos años hemos organizado programas de Iftar en diferentes lugares de la República mexicana. Después del Iftar, se dictan clases sobre Islam para los nuevos musulmanes; se intenta pasar el mayor tiempo posible en dichas clases debido a que la mayoría de los miembros de la comunidad son musulmanes nuevos. Luego de las clases, se reza el Tarawih en grupo.
Cuando la comunidad cuenta con el presupuesto suficiente durante Ramadán, se organizan Iftares públicos: se renta un auditorio y se invita a la mayor cantidad posible de gente no musulmana para que escuchen charlas sobre el Islam mientras compartimos algunos bocadillos, de esta manera aprovechamos la ocasión para hacer Dawa. Al hamdulil-lah, Ramadán siempre está lleno de bendiciones y es la fecha en que más mexicanos aceptan el Islam.
Al-lah abre los corazones de las personas y ayuda a Sus siervos que se esfuerzan por Su causa durante este sagrado mes.
La comunidad musulmana de Colón está conformada en su mayoría por emigrantes de origen libanés de primera, segunda, tercera y cuarta generación. Cuentan con entidades de carácter religioso, educativo y cultural: La Mezquita del Centro Cultural Islámico de Colón, la Academia Bilingüe Árabe Panameña y el Club Unión Árabe.
Antes de la llegada del Ramadán el Imam de la mezquita en conjunto con los miembros de la junta directiva del Centro Cultural Islámico de Colón, profesores de educación islámica de la Academia y personas activas de la comunidad preparan un programa de actividades dirigidas a todos los habitantes de la ciudad de Colón, es decir, musulmanes y no musulmanes.
En cuanto a las actividades dirigidas a los no musulmanes, como se entrevé de lo anterior, la mayoría de estas tienen que ver con las personas que no siguen nuestra religión directa o indirectamente, pues las actividades de carácter social y humanitario van dirigidas a ellas.
Un Ramadán Porteño
En nombre de Al-lah, el Clemente el Misericordioso.
Alabado sea Al-lah, Quien nos guió, y no hubiéramos podido encaminarnos de no haber sido por Él. Atestiguo que no hay otra divinidad excepto Al-lah, Único, sin asociados; y atestiguo que Muhammad es Su siervo y Mensajero.
Al Hamdu lil-lah ha llegado otro Ramadán, y la comunidad islámica de Buenos Aires lo espera pleno de actividades. Antes de empezar Ramadán nos visitamos mutuamente más a menudo y programamos cómo será este mes in sha Al-lah. También, el que puede asiste a la mezquita de Palermo, que estos últimos años estuvo haciendo un seminario antes de Ramadán donde se explican las virtudes y normas del ayuno; y el que no puede ir simplemente se comienza a interiorizar por sí mismo en el mes que vendrá y cuán provechoso quiere que este sea.
Para quien no vive en un país islámico este mes puede ser solitario, de ahí la importancia de reunirnos en comunidad, no tan solo en familia, dado que muchos porteños prácticamente no tienen una familia islámica, y otros son los únicos musulmanes en su casa, trabajo o escuela.
Al vivir en una ciudad donde las religiones predominantes son la cristiana y la judía, para el ciudadano no musulmán puede que este mes pase desapercibido, pero para nosotros los musulmanes es el mes más lindo del año y lo esperamos ansiosos todos los años.
En otras mezquitas, como en el "Centro Cultural Islámico Rey Fahd", hay "Halaqa de Corán" todos los días; 15 minutos antes del rompimiento del ayuno se da una clase relacionada con el ayuno. También, antes del Adhan del "Isha, y hasta 15 minutos después, hay clases donde se relatan "Historias de los Sahabas". Respecto a estas clases, en los últimos días de Ramadán se hace un concurso con premios para todos los participantes. En ambas mezquitas todas las noches de este mes se realiza la oración del Tarawih en comunidad, teniendo estas oraciones un lugar central en la vida del musulmán porteño que procura concurrir a estas oraciones asiduamente.
Al hamdulil-lah contamos con la gracia de tener dos hermosas mezquitas en donde podemos desayunar gratis todos los días de Ramadán, gracias a las gentiles donaciones de nuestros hermanos en la fe, que Al-lah se Complazca de ellos y les Dé el bien en esta vida y en la otra.
Durante el Suhur la mayoría nos levantamos y prendemos la radio para escuchar un programa que ha comenzado a difundir el CIRA, y que también se realiza poniendo todos nuestro granito de arena, en donde escuchamos sobre nuestro Din, recitación del Corán, y nos hace sentir acompañados.
Los días miércoles, entre los jóvenes hacen un Iftar en el Centro Islámico, donde todos colaboramos para tomar el desayuno entre amigos y así fomentar que los jóvenes musulmanes se conozcan y formen lazos de amistad.
Familias enteras se reúnen en la mezquita, argentinos, árabes, asiáticos, africanos, europeos y otros; compartimos momentos de hermandad casi únicos en el año. Compartimos todos, sin distinción de razas o idiomas, charlas alrededor de un té o un mate bien espumoso.
A veces, la vida islámica aumenta tanto que uno se siente un extranjero en su propio país cuando todos sus compañeros de trabajo o estudio viven este mes sagrado con total inconsciencia del mismo; pero, Al hamdulil-lah, cuando se aproxima el momento de cortar ayuno y uno se reúne con sus amigos y familia en una mezquita o en una casa, nos invade una inmensa alegría de haber sido bendecidos con este hermoso Din y poder llevar nuestra vida de acuerdo a lo que Al-lah Manda a pesar de las vicisitudes.
En una sociedad donde el mundo no se detiene ni un poquito porque es Ramadán y muchos te tildan de loco por ayunar, donde los horarios del 99% de los trabajos no cambian ni los colegios tienen vacaciones, donde las universidades siguen tomando exámenes finales, nosotros ayunamos alegres y confiados en Al-lah, Subhanahu wa ta'ala. Y en el momento de cortar ayuno el agua es más fresca y los dátiles más sabrosos, porque controlamos nuestros impulsos más allá de la ardua tarea cotidiana.
Cuando llega el "Id Al Fitr nos reunimos en las mezquitas para el Salat y la Jutba del "Id; luego de esto se realiza un ágape, donde hay juegos para los más chicos, asado, pochoclo (palomitas de maíz), algodones de azúcar, delicias árabes y argentinas que disfrutamos todos juntos, y al fin comemos durante el día rogando a Al-lah que Haya aceptado nuestro ayuno.
Que la Paz y las bendiciones de Al-lah sean con el Profeta Muhammad, su familia, sus compañeros y todo los que sigan su guía hasta el Día del Juicio Final.
Agustina Velazco El Sayer
Año tras año, la comunidad islámica de Maicao espera la llegada del Ramadán con ansias y muchas expectativas. Por ello; con tiempo los miembros de la junta directiva de la Asociación Benéfica Islámica de Maicao, en conjunto con el Imam y los profesores de religión y árabe, preparan un programa de actividades para la comunidad en la mezquita 'Omar Ibn Al Jattab, que Al-lah esté complacido con él, y para los estudiantes del Colegio Colombo Árabe "Dar El Arkam".
Se aprovecha el canal televisivo con el que cuenta la asociación para transmitir programas referentes al mes del ayuno, las actividades que se realizan y la oración del viernes y del Tarawih. Se organiza un Iftar colectivo diariamente en la mezquita, además muchos de los miembros de nuestra comunidad voluntariamente, buscando la recompensa de Al-lah, organizan cenas a las que invitan el mayor numero de ayunantes posible.
En el colegio cada mañana durante la formación diaria, se hacen pequeñas alusiones a lo que es el ayuno, centrándose específicamente en resaltar los valores y virtudes que cada uno de nosotros debe fortalecer y aplicar en su vida, y que se aprenden y fortalecen en Ramadán. En los actos cívicos se busca destacar a los estudiantes que han practicado mejor estos valores a los que nos referimos.
Se realizan charlas, clases y conferencias para las mujeres en particular, y para toda la comunidad antes del Iftar y en la mitad de la oración del Tarawih. Se organiza un concurso de Corán para los estudiantes del colegio, mismo que se premia la noche 27 del mes de Ramadán. Así mismo; se hacen vigilias en especial en las últimas noches del sagrado mes.
En la medida de lo posible se busca reunir donaciones de los miembros de la comunidad con el fin de hacerlas llegar a las personas que las necesitan que por lo general no son musulmanes, pero que viven con nosotros en nuestra ciudad.
Para el 'Id Al Fitr, luego de hecha la oración, se brinda un refrigerio a los asistentes en el salón de conferencias de la mezquita. Por lo general, la Asociación de Padres de Familia del colegio, organiza un día familiar en el que se ofrece un almuerzo a toda la comunidad, juegos y entretenimiento para niños y jóvenes.
"¿Y no puedes comer en todo el día?", preguntó una de las compañeras de escuela de Shaden. "No, hasta que anochezca", contestó Shaden, una pequeña de 8 años, con aire serio. Su compañera de clase, en el tercer año igual que ella, pareció sorprendida. Nunca antes había oído sobre ayunar y no sabía lo que era. "¿Ni siquiera agua?", insistió nuevamente. "No", replicó Shaden, orgullosa de sí misma. Shaden estaba tratando de ayunar durante unas cuantas horas en Ramadán. Siendo la más pequeña de una familia de siete miembros, no le gustaba sentirse excluida de la alegría de Ramadán por su edad. Por eso, deseaba ayunar tal y como hacen los adultos. Sí, definitivamente ayunaría. Sin embargo, no todos los musulmanes de Ecuador gozan de este tipo de ambiente familiar estimulante. La familia musulmana de Shaden es algo muy inusual en Quito. Si bien el número de familias musulmanas en Ecuador está creciendo lentamente, aún son muy pocas. Los musulmanes ecuatorianos, conversos en su mayoría, son por lo general las únicas personas musulmanas dentro de familias católicas. Cada día de Ramadán, tienen que ayunar y romper el ayuno solos. Esto no es algo fácil debido a que en Ecuador hay muy poco conocimiento sobre el Islam y aun menos sobre Ramadán.
Imam Warith Deen Mohammed
By Yusef Maisonet
As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatullah,
Warith Deen Mohammed (October 30, 1933 - September 9, 2008) was a scholar and a reformer.
A world traveler and known to all from Pope John Paul II to the President - all the way to Jerusalem, his opposition against his father's teachings is widely known. His father was Elijah Muhammad who was the leader of the Nation of Islam from 1933 to 1975. Although excommunicated several times, the love of father and son are very strong and the deep respect that he had with his father was profound and that deep love and respect is what kept them in touch with each other.
He refused induction into the military and spent fourteen months in a Minnesota prison in 1961. He made the most of his time by studying the Quran. His entire life was about change, about a progressive way of life. After taking leadership of his father's organization in 1975, we saw the biggest conversion to Al-Islam in America, numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
He rejected the NOI belief about the divinity of W.D. Fard, which stated that he was God on earth. However, W.D. Mohammed is better known for rejecting Black supremacist ideology. Schools were opened for the seekers of knowledge and for the hardliners that refused to give him due credit.
Most people fail to realize his significant influence on the Latino community. Many Latinos became Muslim through his teachings and not just Latinos on the East Coast or West Coast but from Chicago to every big city in America. How many brothers, including myself, came to believe Islam would have a bright future in America because of his teachings? I took advantage of his teachings and hit the international circuit of knowledge by going as far as China to seek knowledge.
The imam stressed that it is incumbent upon all people to acknowledge that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammed is the last Prophet, the seal of the Prophets. He emphasized that we must do our best to make this a better society to live in for all, regardless of what they believe in. Allah makes Muslims, and all we do is propagate Allah's message of unity, His Oneness.
The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) led by example. I am blessed to be able to have acquired some insight to his teachings. As an American Latino Muslim, I am proud and committed to spreading the word of Allah (SWT) in the most beautiful way possible - by staying positive and optimistic about the future of the Latino Muslim community in America and the world.
I have been a Muslim for over 40 years and the last 20 of those years I have been a student of W.D. Mohammed. You could say being one of his students has given me what some might call freedom of religion. I have the freedom to summit to Allah alone, and this knowledge ensures that I do not have to worry about whether or not what I'm doing is right or wrong.
Because Allah gives man what he strives for, be careful for what you strive for. I've even returned to college. I'm just pointing out these things to show the influence that the imam's teachings have had upon me as a Muslim. There has never been a point that I didn't acknowledge that I was Latino, that I spoke Spanish, or that I was born in New York. I took traveling around the world seriously. I have developed serious relationships with people of different cultures.
"O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into tribes and nations that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that believer who has At Taqwa, he is one of the Muttaqun (pious). Verily Allah is all knowing, Well Acquainted (with all things)." -Surah All Hujurat 49:13.
The Prophet (SAW) said: "Shall I tell you who a true believers is? A person with whom others entrust their money and lives. A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands others are safe. A true fighter in the path of Allah is one who strives against the inner yearnings of his self in order to obey Allah, and the true emigrant (one who leaves a land of disbelief and emigrates to a land of belief) is one who leaves sins and wrongful acts." (Ibn Hibban).
And, this was within the teachings of the imam. Although he's not with us physically, his teachings will remain with us forever.
Islam at a Crossroads to America - Latino Renaissance workshop
International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC)
July 10 -12, 2009
The Muslim American community is one of the fastest growing religious-cultural communities in America. This community is very diverse. It represents indigenous Americans to include African Americans, European Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans--and immigrant Americans who migrated from every continent and country of the world. This ethnic melting pot shares a common belief and way of life, Islam. However, they represent very diverse Ethnic and cultural communities that are assimilating within the American culture. As the Muslim community continues to progress in America, they face many challenges that can also provide opportunities to positively influence America.
This conference and national dialogue comes on the heels of President Barack Obama's European tour and strategic visit to Turkey, where he extended a friendly hand of partnership to the Muslim world. Thus, the conference begins the dialogue of addressing this "partnership with America" among the Muslim American leadership. The conference theme, "Islam at a Crossroads in America", begins addressing the challenges that Muslims in America face and how they can utilize their way of life and faith as a vehicle to positively influence and contribute to the American story. The conference's emphasis is on how Muslims can become more fully engaged within America, among its many cultural and faith communities. The goal of the conference is to explore how and where our challenges as Muslims intersect concerns of the American society as a whole. The conference themes include broadly that of Islamic leadership, its diversity, and finding unity and a leadership model in America equipped to forge this partnership with America; civil rights and civic responsibility; the Latino Renaissance; the Timbuktu Roundtable: A conversation about the historical role of Islamic African leadership in Africa's development and its prospects for African Americans today; Youth's Islam: Hip-Hop, Spirituality and the Arts; Islamic Banking and the Economic Crisis; Healthy Family and Marriage Relationships; and Interfaith Dialogue: the Global Call for Peace.
"Latino Renaissance workshop"
The Renaissance (from French Renaissance, meaning "rebirth";was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. To the Muslim world, "Latino Renaissance" is a catch phrase for the "rebirth' of Islam among Spanish-speaking people. For 700 years the glory of Muslim Spain was heard around the world. The fear that Islam would be a global power shook Europe into the most horrendous period in history the "Inquisition". In response, genocide and torture worked hand in hand to destroy the art, literary works, medical contributions and architecture of a unique and vibrant society. Today from Cuba to Spain, Latino Muslims are taking charge of history by spreading Islam from East coast to West. They are involved with art, Hip Hop, and the political forefront, in addition to spreading the teachings of Islam and attending learning centers throughout the world. This workshop will touch upon the contributions of Hajj Malik Shabazz aka Malcolm X to present day.
About the International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC)
The goals of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC) are to educate the public about Islamic history and civilization and to help provide educational tools for teaching global consciousness, historical literacy, and multicultural appreciation. IMMC seeks to continue to grow as a cultural tourism destination and serve the community as an educational and research center as well as a repository for Islamic objects having cultural, artistic, aesthetic, and historical significance. Additionally, IMMC seeks to facilitate multicultural and interfaith understanding; reduce cultural, religious, and racial bigotry; and advance Mississippi and America's cultural, religious, and civic discussions to provide a better atmosphere for working together for the common good. IMMC's inaugural exhibit, which opened in April 2001, is titled "Islamic Moorish Spain: Its Legacy to Europe and the West."
This reproduction of an antique astrolabe may be seen in the Museum's Islamic Moorish Spain exhibit. The astrolabe originated in Greece and was introduced to the Islamic world during the eighth century. Astronomers and mapmakers used it to determine time of day or night and the location of celestial bodies.
El Centro Islamico Casa De Paz (Dar-Us-Salam) en Dallas
The Islamic Center Dar-us-Salaam, located in Dallas, Texas, is a not-for-profit organization that was founded to help the community in general to help resolve some of the few problems that plague it. At the same time, it has made a dawa project for the Spanish-speaking community. The facilities with which the center has are a small musala, with an area for men and women. Muslims from all nationalities attend, alhamdulillah.
If you live in the area of Dallas, Texas, and want to be part of this beautiful project, insha'Allah, come and share with us - be a volunteer. Share this project with your brothers, sisters, friends, and family. Become enthusiastic and obtain blessings from Allah S.W.T.
Sir. Blanca &
Bismillahi Ar-Rahmani, Ar-Rahim
En El Nombre De Dios El Mas Clemente El Misericordioso
El "Centro Islamico Casa De Paz (Dar-Us-Salam)" con sede en Dallas, Texas, es una organizacion sin fines de lucro que fue creada para ayudar a la comunidad en general a tratar de resolver un poco los problemas que le aquejan, al mismo tiempo crea un proyecto de dawa para la comunidad de habla hispana. Las instalaciones con que cuenta el centro albergan una pequeña musala, con su area para hombres y mujeres; a ella asisten hermanos musulmanes de todas las nacionalidades, alhamdulillah.
Si vives en el area de Dallas Texas, y quieres ser parte de este hermoso proyecto, insha allah, ven, comparte con nosotros, se voluntario, difunde este proyeto entre tus hermanos, hermanas, amigos y familiares, animate y obten las bendiciones de Allah S.W.T.
Sir. Blanca &
Open House for Non-Muslims in Spanish - Dallas, Tx
As-salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,
Insha'Allah there will be an Open House for Non-Muslims In Spanish on Saturday, July 25 at 7:00 pm at Casa de Paz.
Please see the attached flyers for more details. You will find the flyers in both in Spanish & English.
We would appreciate if you could, please spread the word by passing this info on to other masajids, groups, friends, family members and neighbors. If you know an speaking Spanish person that want to know about Islam, please let them know about this event.
Jazak Allahu Khairan for your support and cooperation.
Sir. Blanca &
P.S. Parking is limited, please carpool if possible.
Open House en Espanol para No-Musulmanes - Dallas, Tx
As salamu aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Dios mediante tendremos un Open House en Espanol para No-Musulmanes este proximo Sabado 25 de Julio a las 7:00 pm en Casa de Paz.
Por favor vea los archivos adjuntos para mas detalles. Hay informacion en Ingles y en Espanol.
Les agradeceremos si pudieran expandir la noticia pasando la informacion a otras Masjids, grupos, familia y vecinos. Si usted conoce a alguna persona hispano parlante que quiera conocer acerca del ISLAM, dejele saber sobre este evento.
Gracias por su apoyo y cooperacion Dios se lo recompensara.
Sir. Blanca &
P.D. El estacionamiento es limitado.
Centro Islamico Casa De Paz
Cordialmente Invita a Toda la Comunidad de habla Hispana a una Charla sobre el Islam.
Join Us August 29th at Casa de Paz
Insha'Allah again there will be an Open House for Muslims and Non-Muslims (In Spanish) Saturday, August 29 at 7:00 pm at Casa de Paz Islamic Center.
Please see the attached flyers for more details. You will find the flyers in both in Spanish & English.
We would appreciate if you could, please spread the word by passing this info on to other masajid, groups, friends, family members and neighbors. If you know any Spanish-speaking person that want to know about Islam, please let them know about this event.
Jazak Allahu Khairan for your support and cooperation.
Sir. Blanca &
P.S. Parking is limited, please carpool if possible.
As salamu aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Dios mediante nuevamente tendremos un Open House en Espanol para Musulmanes y No-Musulmanes este proximo Sabado 29 de Agosto a las 7:00 pm en Centro Islamico Casa de Paz.
Por favor vea los archivos adjuntos para mas detalles. Hay informacion en Ingles y en Espanol.
Les agradeceremos si pudieran expandir la noticia pasando la informacion a otras Masjids, grupos, familia y vecinos. Si usted conoce a alguna persona hispano parlante que quiera conocer acerca del Islam, dejele saber sobre este evento.
Gracias por su apoyo y cooperacion Dios se lo recompensara.
Sir. Blanca &
P.D. El estacionamiento es limitado.
Centro Islamico Casa De Paz
Cordialmente invita a toda la comunidad de habla hispana a una charla sobre el Islam.
Sabado, 29 De Agosto
Ven y trae a toda tu familia.
Disfruta de una deliciosa comida mexicana con nosotros.