Latino Open House in New Orleans
By C.K. Harpole
The Latino Open House was held on Sunday, April 25, 2004 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM. It was one of the first events of its kind to take place in our area. The open house took place at Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. It was sponsored by Muslim American Society of New Orleans.
The Latino Muslims are a group that follows Ahl-sunnah wal-jamaat. Sister Jenny Yanez hosted the event with the help of the Islamic community. Her mother is from Spain but lived in Cuba for many years. Her father and stepfather are Cuban. Her grandparents were also mixed Spanish and Cuban. She and her sister were raised in Miami. Her mother, stepfather, sister, all reverted to Islam, albeit at different times. Alhamdulillah.
Sister Jenny’s talk consisted of an in-depth Power Point presentation, which included basic information about Islam. What is Islam? Who are Muslims? She also discussed Tawheed, the oneness of Allah (SWT), using excerpts from Surah Mariam to describe Esa (AS). She also gave an overview of the Five Pillars. The presentation included various pictures of Latino Muslims in the United States praying, etc found at HispanicMuslims.com among other sites. The presentation was done totally in Spanish. Sister Jenny and other sisters did a great job.
Although we were prepared, we couldn’t prepare for the weather. The open house went on as planned even though there was a tornado warning, a thunderstorm, and some flooding in the area. At one point, the lights went out for a few seconds. A few attendees arrived soaking wet; however, the event was a success and went on without any major setbacks. Alhamdullilah, looking on the bright side, the weather allowed us to speak one-on-one with our guests.
We gave away several Spanish Qurans. One gentleman told someone that he had been searching for a Spanish Quran for some time, and was happy to have finally received one. Many cultural and Islamic items were on display, and posters were everywhere. At the end of the presentation the guests were treated to nice tuna sandwiches, fruit and cheese trays, tres leches, chips and dips, and juices. The visitors were very nice, and open to Islam.
We consider the event to be a success even though the turnout was lower than expected. The weather played a part in the outcome. We advertised in two local community papers, one was “El Vocero” which is the largest bilingual paper in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We also sent personal invitations in the mail. Word of mouth was most effective for us. New Orleans has a large Latino population, especially from Honduras.
We expected a larger turnout among the Latino women. Many brothers who are married to Muslim or nonMuslim Latinas didn’t bring them to the event. Many new Muslims need to learn about Islam as much as the nonMuslims do. Perhaps when we have another Latino open house, more emphasis could be placed on personal involvement by bringing family members and friends to the open house. How to make future events relevant and important to them is a question to answer before next time, insha’Allah.
We did get two very interested brothers who would not have otherwise found us. One Latina who is married to a Muslim came seemingly to please him. Jenny sat with her personally and talked to her about Maria (RA) because she believed praying to Maria (RA) was important. She discussed the virgin birth with her. “Would Mariam (RA) ask someone to pray to her or to pray to the Creator of this miracle?” The Latina began to get interested after being asked this question.
We received good feedback from our guests. They were very grateful and gave their e-mail addresses so that we may contact them in the future. I hope that all who participated receive great rewards for their efforts. Jazakum AllahuKhairan.
The Power Point presentation (10.7MB) is available online at www.nolashura.org. Then, downloads link -> presentations link. Or, you may download the file now.