April - June 2012, Dawah

Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO)

From Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History


Founded in September 1997 by a handful of U.S. Latina/o Muslims in New York City, LADO, the Latino American Dawah Organization, has become one of the most important and influential organizations among Latina/o Muslims in the United States. Juan Alvarado, Samantha Sánchez, and Saraji Umm Zaid, its founders, formed the organization to promote Islam among Latina/os in the United States and to create a network of support among them. From LADO’s inception, the Internet has played an important role in the organization’s attempt to create a sense of Latina/o-Muslim community. A month after forming this grassroots organization, the leaders created a Web site and an online newsletter, which features conversion stories and the testimonies of Latinao Muslims across the United States.

From 1997 to 2001, LADO focused on forming alliances with local organizations throughout the country. In 2001, Juan Galvan, who later became executive director, helped to shift the direction of the movement. Galvan sought to raise the public profile of the organization, and in July 2001, LADO obtained endorsements from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and began working closely with the ISNA’s own Latina/o coordinating committee. As part of this new approach, Galvan began to rethink and redesign the Web site, which was finally unveiled in May 2005.

LADO also coordinated the first magazine issue dedicated to the presence of Latina/o Muslims in the United States, which appeared in ISNA’s Islamic Horizons in July-August 2002. Included was the first comprehensive history of the community by Galvan and Samantha Sanchez. The mainstream press noticed the issue and followed up by interviewing members of LADO and other U.S. Latina/o Muslims. LADO also coordinated the coverage of the community in the November-December 2004 and the December 2005-January 2006 editions of the Message International, the monthly magazine of ICNA.

Since December 2003, LADO has also written and translated materials about Islam into Spanish and has given an increasing number of public presentations on the topic of Latina/o Muslims. According to some observers, this highprofile coverage has turned LADO into the most popular missionary organization among Latina/o Muslims in the United States. Their Web site and newsletter have been used not only for education but to make connections with other members of the community across the country. LADO has publicized the conversion stories of Latina/o Muslims in the United States, which has in turn created a better understanding of Latina/o Muslims among non-Muslims.

Further Information:

Galvan, Juan. “Who Are Latino Muslims?” Islamic Horizons (July-August 2008): 26—30.

Islamic Horizons (July-August 2002): 22—42.

Latino American Dawah Organization. Available online. URL:http://www.latinodawah.org. Accessed March 20, 2009.

The Message International (November-December 2004).

The Message International (December 2005—January 2006).

Citation Information:

Text Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format):

Martinez-Vazquez, Hjamil A. “Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO).” In Curtis, Edward E., IV, ed. Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?

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