Ibrahim Benjamin Perez Mahomah (1933-2009)
Widely Sharing Love of Islam
Hajji Ibrahim Benjamin Perez Mahomah passed away peacefully in his sleep on 8 Dec. 2009 after a fight with brain and stomach cancer. He was laid to rest in Livermore, CA.
One of the first, if not the first, Hispanic converts to what he thought was Islam in the San Francisco/Bay Area back in the 1950s, he told Deborah Kong of the Associated Press in June 2002 about his conversion.
A Puerto Rican, he was nevertheless drawn to the Nation of Islam meeting in 1957 out of curiosity. The only Latino at the meetings of dozens, then hundreds, of African Americans, he reminisced: “Their food was delicious. They were friendly. I liked it there and I stayed.”
Eventually joining mainstream Sunni Islam, he traveled around the country introducing Islam to Hispanic and Native American peoples, especially in the California prison system. The first president of the California Latino Muslim Association, a speaker at various Islamic conventions and conferences, as well as a contributor of several articles to Islamic magazines, he was widely known as Imam Perez.
He leaves his wife of fifty-four years, Cecilia Perez, daughters Diana Perez, Patricia Perez Navarro, and Rachel (Perez) Juarez – his son Benajmin Perez Jr. died in 2004; nine grandchildren: Lina Perez Vega, Leticia Ochoa, Marianna Juarez, Benjamin Perez III, Melinda Perez, Cecilia Navarro, Sophia Perez, Raul Juarez III, and Nicolasa Navarro; and one great-granddaughter.
Islamic Horizons is the bi-monthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).