Jan - Mar 2003, Poems

Our Struggle, Sacrifice

By Abdullah Gonzalez

People wonder what
Hispanic Muslim culture is like
because you already know this…
Nearly every aspect of
Hispanic culture is unIslamic.

The wild bachata, merengue,
cumbia, salsa, and ranchero music
blasting at two in the morning.

The excess wearing of gold…
from gold necklaces to the ever so popular
Central American gold teeth brandishings.
Aay dios mio, los guanacos y chapines.

Sometimes a Hispanic looks at a family gathering
and wonders if his relatives were each born
with a Corona in one hand,
El Presidente if you’re Dominican,
some Bacardi if you’re Boricua, or not.

The sudden burst of
dancing or singing
to a romance song
in public. Aah, I love it
when my uncle does that!

A Hispanic Muslim has to decide whether to give
sadaqah or buy that new air intake valve
that’ll boost his horsepower
in that godforsaken Geo Storm
with purple tinted windows and rims.

He’s gotta peel off those girlie stickers
he has on the back of his pickup truck
from his non-Muslim days.

He has to stop calling
his mother and father
“el viejo y la vieja,”
even if that’s how you
refer to your parents in Peru.

He’s gotta take down
that big crucifix
and drawings of
La Virgen y Jesus Cristo
which seem to sweat
during the summer.

He can’t watch Univision or Telemundo anymore…
good lord!…Imagine if he watched
Telecentro, Santo Domingo’s network…
He’d gain sins every 5 seconds for looking at
some of the stuff they have on there.

He can’t let his cousins and other non-mahram
family members squeeze him to death with a hug
and give him the traditional kisses on the cheek.

He can’t eat much of his mom’s cooking anymore
because it seems that every recipe she makes
sneaks in some haraam ingredients.
Lard in the tortillas…
rum in the cake…
pork in the sancocho.

He can’t whistle
to grab the attention of a relative
across the street because whistling
is something Shaytan does.

He can’t enter his rooster in
a cockfighting bout down in Florida with his uncle
who just came from Cuba
and keeps repeating
“Oye chico, el caballo me quito todo!
Hasta el diente de oro…que babaro!”
Because? Cruelty towards animals
is forbidden in Islam.

So what’s left of his culture?
Maybe the concept of
being close to family,
but that’s about it.
he has to endure his relatives
calling him a traitor for
“betraying his ‘Latinoness.'”

Why? For accepting Allah
as the only one worthy of worship
and Muhammad
as His Messenger.

That’s how it is to be
a Hispanic Muslim…
at least that’s how I feel.

It’s hard for many Hispanics
to conform to Islamic laws
so they’re trying
to compromise Islam
with their culture.

With me…I just took my culture
and flushed it down the toilet.
My culture isn’t the thing that’s
going to save me from Jahannam.

The notion that I’m Hispanic is even in question
because, according to a Central American I met years ago,
Dominicans are “mallates que han emprendido Espanol,”-
“Niggers that have learned Spanish.”

If my family calls me a traitor so be it.
If I have to stop eating my mother’s cooking, fine.
Nothing of my culture
is too important to give up.