April - June 2006, USA

The Great Sixth Annual Sisterhood Event in Chicago

By Rebecca AbuQaoud

An unforgettable reunion of women reflected their togetherness and unity in cooperation, effort, organization, and preparation. Because of their togetherness and unity, they had an amazing event. Some brothers also joined the sisters to help in the arrangement on the day of the sister’s event.

Around three o’clock in the afternoon, a group of sisters and brothers set up the tables, arranging and preparing the Red Banquet Room for the special occasion. At the entrance, next to the main door, a big banner read – “Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims.” Meanwhile, bright lights inside the banquet room indicated a grand display of a long food table with coffee, desserts, beverages and several round tables covered with orange table clothes, each table had a green jar of water. Next to the door, there was a table of Islamic literature in English and Spanish. A projector was set up for a Power Point presentation. As the time approached for the event to begin, all the arrangements were completed on time, and a great audience of women were congregated ready to enjoy the event.

The Great Sixth Annual event took place on Saturday, May 27 2006 at the Muslim Community Center in Chicago, IL. The program began at 4:05 PM, and it was delivered in English and Spanish. The event was organized and sponsored by the Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims (CALAM). Sister Ruth Saleh and I hosted the program. First, we welcomed the audience, which represented the splendor of diversity. There were Americans, Arabs, Pakistanis, Latinas, and more. After welcoming the sisters, Surah Al-Fatihah was recited in Arabic, English, and Spanish by Sisters Ruth Saleh and Vilma Lopez.

After the introduction, the audience was reminded that Latina Muslim sisters have been always getting together, and they have been attending the mosques. Thus, six years ago, a group of Latina sisters started to get together formally, annually and regularly. They first started meeting in a house then at the MCC (Muslim Community Center). They started to get together with the purpose of learning Islam, welcoming and integrating the new sisters in Islam. It is very important for the new sisters and all Muslims to be part of the family, be part of the Islamic Community, or Ummah. Insha’Allah, new sisters will be introduced, and the sisters can greet and welcome them at dinnertime or social time.

The program continued by introducing Sister Mary Ali, one of the speakers. Sister Ali has a long history of Dawah. She is qualified in Islamic studies in addition to her academic degree. She has always been a great support to the Latina Muslim sisters.

During her presentation entitled ‘The Challenges of Contemporary Muslim Women’, Sister Ali displayed a list of ten rights of the Muslim woman. One of the rights that she mentioned was that in Islam, a woman has the basic freedom of expression based on recognition of her individual personality.

She shared a personal experience. She worked outside the house and earned her own salary. Her husband told her that she could keep her earned salary, and he would not take her money. He explained that in Islam and the Qu’ran this issue is very clear – “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because they support them for their means.” (S-4:34)

Sister Ali saved her money and bought a computer. Her family got the benefit by using the computer. Sister Ali explained that a woman who contributes to the family something that is not her obligation she earns a double reward in front of Allah SWT. Meanwhile, a man who fulfills his familial obligations earns one reward in front of Allah SWT.

Another fascinating point that Sister Ali mentioned was the translation of Surah 4:34. Surah 4:34 states “..As those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill- conduct, admonish them (first), next refuse to share theirs beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all).” Because the word “beating” is used in this verse, she was intrigued by this word for several years. How could the case be to beat the wife as the last alternative if she is disobedient?

After studying the Arabic language, Sister Ali had a better understanding of the Arabic word ‘edrib’ which was translated as ‘beat’. She learned that the word ‘edrib’ has other meanings, which do not necessarily have anything to do with “to beat.”

She referred to various hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged his followers to treat their wives with kindness, respect, and discouraged extreme repulsive behaviors. She explained that the teachings of the Messenger of Allah cannot contradict the Quran, the revelation of Allah SWT. On the other hand, the word ‘beating’ found in Surah 4:34 is a matter of translation. Sister Mary Ali highlighted points that contradict traditional misconceptions of women in Islam.

After Sister Mary Ali’s presentation, the new sisters in Islam were given a special welcome. Sisters Carmen Garcia, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Luzdary Galeano stood up when their names were called. They were introduced to the audience. Three new sisters were absent when they were called from the sister’s list.

The program continued with an announcement about Islamic classes in Spanish for sisters. This announcement segment was remarkable because it emphasized how the Latina Muslim sisters took an active role in educating themselves. The sisters at the MCC started a new structured plan of Islamic studies recently. Since last September 2005, they have upgraded their Islamic studies from ISLAM 101 to ISLAM 205. The objective of the new structured plan is to study more deeply each Islamic topic beyond the basic.

Islamic classes in Spanish for sisters were provided at the MCC and at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, IL. Islamic classes at the MCC began three years ago on every other Saturday. While the Islamic classes at the Mosque Foundation started two years ago on every Sunday.

In this segment of the program, dedicated students who consistently attended the Islamic classes, passed their tests, or completed their assignments were recognized and acknowledged for their effort and achievement. A bright smile came from the audience when the names of the students were called. The teachers, Sisters Vilma Lopez and Celia Snowber, gave gifts to the dedicated students. Sisters Idalia Nieves, Carmen Garcia, and Magdalena Hanafi received their gifts. Teachers and students hugged one another among the many smiles and some tears of emotion found in the audience.

The next segment of the program was a sisters’ presentation by members of CALAM. This specific presentation was held in Spanish. The idea of presenting in Spanish was considered in order to benefit the Spanish-speaking ladies that did not understand English fully. Thus, Spanish-speaking ladies could grasp and have a better understanding of the topic. This event was a Dawah-oriented program.

Sisters Diana Pena, Celia Snowber, and I presented the Spanish version of “The Challenges of Contemporary Muslim Women” and “The Virgin Mary.” Sister Diana Pena and I discussed the most common misconceptions that contemporary Muslim women face.

On the screen, five points of our presentation were displayed.

MISCONCEPTION # 1. The Muslim woman is oppressed.
FACT.- The woman in Islam is liberated.

MISCONCEPTION # 2. The Muslim woman is inferior.
FACT.- The message of Islam is that men and women are morally and spiritually equal in front of Allah SWT.

MISCONCEPTION # 3. The Muslim woman is old fashion.
FACT.- Her headscarf (Hijab) is the liberation and her identity as a Muslim woman.

MISCONCEPTION # 4. The Muslim woman has no rights.
FACT.- The Muslim woman has the right to education, property, inheritance, to own a business or manage her business, and has a right to paid work.

MISCONCEPTION # 5. The Muslim woman has no role in the politics and economy.
FACT.- The woman in Islam has a role in the politics and economy.

I began my part of the presentation by asking two questions to the audience, “Is the Muslim woman oppressed? And, is the woman in Islam oppressed?”

I wanted the audience to understand the difference between these two questions because both questions have different answers. I also asked the audience, “How long ago did the women’s liberation start according to history?”

I continued by presenting the status of women from the Colonial period to the most recent period of American history. In brief, according to history “the discrimination against women in any public capacity was deeply rooted in American culture.” “A wife’s legal status was definitely inferior to that of her husband. For example, she was not permitted to vote; the control of her property passed at the time of marriage to her husband.” (Rippa, An American History 222.)

Before 1830 in the United States, colleges and universities were strictly for men; women were denied these institutions. (Rippa, 224) In 1920, women won the right to vote. Thus, according to U.S. history, the women’s liberation movement began in the 20th century. On the other hand, the women’s liberation movement began in the seventh century (610 D.C.) when Allah SWT revealed to Prophet Muhammad for 23 years through the Angel Jibrail. The Qu’ran and Hadith or Sunnah (Traditions of the Prophet) are the sources from which every Muslim woman derives her rights and duties.

I explained how Islam elevates the status of women. I cited various hadith in which the position of woman as wife and mother are held in high-esteem. I also mentioned about how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged women to understand the importance to education. Once the Prophet said, “The acquisition of knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female).”

I mentioned that great Muslim women made important achievements and greatly influenced the early history of Islam. Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, was an extraordinary woman who had a remarkable memory. Due to her extraordinary intelligence, she excelled in the understanding of the Shariah (Islamic Laws), economy, medicine, mathematic, Arab history, and its genealogy. On several occasions, she was consulted in the various fields mentioned above. Another remarkable woman was Shifa’ bint Abdullah for her political intelligence. In fact, Caliph Umar often consulted with her for her valuable knowledge. She had the responsibility of running the affairs of the state related to trade and commerce. (Ghadanfar, 13-14.)

I had a list of wonderful and important women in Islam who excelled in character, conduct, and whose influence made a great contribution in early Islamic history. I realized I was running out of time for my presentation, so I did not mention their names. I continued by citing the Qu’ran chapters 4:7, 4:124, and 74:38 to clarify misconception # 2 – ‘The Muslim woman is inferior.’ Indeed, the message of Islam is that men and women are fundamental moral and spiritually equal. I reinforced this statement by mentioning one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who once said, “All people are equal. They are equal as the teeth on a comb.”

The third point of my presentation was to correct the wrong notion that ‘the Muslim woman has no role in the politics and economy.’ I again referred to prominent Muslim women Aishah and Shifa bint Abdullah for their roles, one in the economy and the other in politics and finances. In Islam, women are an important and integral part of society. Women are encouraged in Islam to contribute their ideas and opinions. In many hadith, women directly ask Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and offer their opinions regarding religion, economics, and social matters. In addition, women in Islam have had the right to vote since fourteen centuries ago.

I concluded by mentioning that while it is true that many women are oppressed by men and by certain cultural beliefs, Islam is not responsible for this oppression. After stating my response to the various stereotypes, I would say that the woman in Islam is not inferior, nor oppressed; on the other hand, the woman in Islam is liberated!

Sister Diana Pena discussed two common misconceptions that a Muslim woman faces. First, “a Muslim woman with Hijab (headscarf) is old fashion.” In the West, the veil or headscarf is seen as a symbol of submission or oppression. Sister Pena explained that her veil or headscarf is her liberation and submission to Allah SWT. She remarked that her hijab was her identity as a Muslim woman. She did not feel out of fashion at all when she wears a hijab that compliments her outfit. In addition, she found a difference in treatment. Men treat her more respectfully when she wears hijab.

She shared a personal experience that encouraged her to wear her hijab daily. Her teenage daughter refused wearing hijab. Her daughter asked Sister Diana, “How can I wear the hijab if you don’t wear it?” Since that episode in her life, she thought that she would be a good example for her daughter. Sister Diana Pena was very proud and happy to mention that both mother and daughter now wear hijab at all times.

Sister Diana mentioned how in soap operas the main character of the women is reflected in how they dress. The villain dresses very revealing and provocative while the woman with good character dresses very conservative.

Her second point of presentation was to clarify another misconception of Muslim woman: “The Muslim woman has no rights.” Major women’s rights were displayed on a screen. Sister Pena clearly emphasized the rights of women in Islam. She also read the ten rights in Spanish that Sister Mary Ali has previously mentioned. In short, women in Islam have the right to education, property, inheritance, to own and manage a business, and to paid work.

Sisters Celia Snowber and Ameena Sayeed presented the fascinating story of the Virgin Mary. Sister Snowber mentioned three amazing points of the story. First, she explained that the Virgin Mary was blessed before she was born. This part of the story is cited in Surah 3:35-36. Second, Sister Snowber explained that Zakariya had custody of Mary. Her third point is very amazing. When Zakariya would enter the chamber to see Mary, she was always well supplied, and she was found with fruits that were out of season. Sister Snowber cited Sura 3:37 in which Zakariya asks, “Oh Mary! Whence comes this to you?” Mary responds, “From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure.”

Sister Snowber said that Zakariya started to reflect about how the Virgin Mary was provided with Allah’s sustenance and had fruits out of season. Then, Zakariya prayed for some child from Allah. Although he and his wife were very old, he had the possibility of being granted from Allah the gift of a child. Because Allah listened to his supplication, Zakariya and his wife had their son, Yahya. Yahya is known as ‘John the Baptist’ in the Bible.

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus (AS), was a virtuous woman who reminds us that sustenance without measure comes from Allah SWT.

After Sister Celia Snowber’s presentation, the program continued with a segment for questions and answers. One lady from the audience asked why a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim. A sister from the audience responded that when a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim, the Muslim woman is unable to exercise her rights as a woman in Islam. The non-Muslim husband is unable to understand her beliefs. And, the husband usually has leadership over the woman in a marriage. More questions were related to ‘hijab.’

After the answer and question segment, the time for Asar prayer had arrived. After the sisters went to pray, the program continued with Sister Ameena Sayeed’s presentation. Sister Sayeed is an excellent speaker who has spent extensive time studying Islam under qualified scholars around the world. In addition, she is a professionally trained educator with experience in teaching and school management.

She presented the story of the Virgin Mary in English. She did her best not to repeat the same points already presented by Sister Celia Snowber. Sister Sayeed emphasized the commonalities that non-Muslim and Muslim women share regardless of faith or ethnic background. This point was very fascinating because Christians and Muslims believe in the Virgin Mary. In fact, both Christians, especially Roman Catholics, and Muslims share a common fascination with the Virgin Mary for similar reasons.

After Sister Ameena Sayeed’s presentation, Sister Vilma Lopez made a Du’a to conclude the program. However, the event continued with the audience witnessing a Shahada, or the declaration of faith. A young Mexican lady embraced Islam! She had already made up her mind to take Shahada before the event. She waited for the event because she wanted other sisters to be with her during her most important decision in life. After she took Shahada, the audience of about fifty women repeated “‘Takbir!’ ‘Allahu Akbar!'” and stood up. The sisters went up to congratulate and hug their new sister in Islam.

This moment was very emotional. Many sisters wept. Witnessing a Shahada was a moment of tremendous celebration and joy. After this exciting and emotional moment, the sisters enjoyed a delicious dinner. Alhamdulillah!

Many Muslim women came together to put their energy and enthusiasm into making the event a wonderful reunion of women. They gathered to engage the hearts and minds of the attendees. Certainly, Islam elevates the status of women. Seeing the new sisters in Islam was a great joy. Many are very dedicated students in Islam. The most exciting moment of the event was seeing the joy of the sisters when the young lady took Shahada. This moment left a very vivid and profound memory in the hearts of the women. The sisters were reminded that Islam brought their hearts and minds together. Subhana’Allah!

A Note of Appreciation

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Sister Diana Pena who was very involved in the entire arrangement and organization of the annual sisterhood event. Our gratitude and appreciation also goes out to Sister Norma Belbachir and her husband, Rasheed Belbachir. They helped in the promotion of the sisterhood event by printing a great deal of flyers. We would like to thank Sister Mary Ali for reserving the Red Banquet Room. In addition, we must send a big ‘thank you’ to the Muslim Community Center for providing a room for the Latina Muslims.

We would like to thank Sister Elizabeth Rodriguez for contributing toward the promotion of the event by sending letters of invitation. Our gratitude and appreciation goes out to Sisters Esmeralda Munoz and Sarah Belmontez for the beautiful arrangement of the tables. A special thank you goes out to brothers Ricardo Pena and Muhammad. Finally, our gratitude and appreciation goes out to all the sisters who brought exquisite dishes and desserts.

Works Cited

1. Rippa Alexander S. “Education In A Free Society: An American History.” New York: Longman, 1992.

2. Sarwar Ghulam. “ISLAM: Beliefs and Teachings.” London: Muslim E.T., 2000.

3. Ghadanfar Mahmood Ahmad. “Great Women In Islam: Who Were Given The Good News of Paradise.” London:Darussalam, 2001.

4. Abdalati Hammudah. “Luces Sobre El Islam.” Riyadh: I.I.P.H., 1997.

Gran Confraternidad Para Las Latinas Musulmanas

Por Rebecca AbuQaoud

Una manana de invierno recibi una llamada telefonica de la hermana Fatima. Una hermana que trabajaba en el Comite de Dawah de la Mosque Foundation en Bridgeview, IL. Me dijo que habia oido del programa reciente que las hermanas habian tenido en Chicago. Y me dijo: ‘hermana, ud. que es activa hable con el Shekh de su mezquita, digale que hay varias hermanas Latinas musulmanes que necesitan educarse mas del Islam y que empiecen las clases en Espanol.’

La hermana Fatima Natour tambien estaba coordinando para iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol en el Mosque Foundation.

Su llamada telefonica para mi fue impactante porque yo habia estado posponiendo por varios meses esta idea de iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol. Algunas hermanas me habian manifestado que seria bueno y necesario tener clases Islamicas por lo menos dos meses por mes. Este interes de las hermanas se manifesto despues del programa: La Segunda Confraternidad Anual para Las Hermanas Latinas Musulmanes. Este evento se llevo a cabo el 14 de Setiembre del ano 2002 en el Muslim Community Center.

La primera Reunion o Confraternidad Anual se llevo a cabo en mi casa el 8 de Setiembre del 2001. Para los preparativos de esta reunion de hermanas, previamente extendi una invitacion a la hermana Mary Ali para la presentacion de un tema para las hermanas. Llame a las hermanas que tenia en una lista de cuaderno. Envie cartas de invitacion a las hermanas por correo. Aquella carta se titulaba “Gran Confraternidad para las Hermanas Latinas Musulmanes” y al final del mensaje mencionaba que era una vision, insha’Allah, de reunirnos anualmente.

Para esta reunion alrededor de 18 mujeres nos reunimos en la sala de mi casa. Tuvimos un tema Islamico que se trataba de Los Deberes y Derechos de la esposa en el Islam presentada por la hermana Mary Ali. Despues de la presentacion de la hermana M. Ali, cenamos juntas. Comparti con las hermanas la comida que habia cocinado que fue macarroni, guiso vegetariano mixto y pollo con arroz.

Lo que mas me agrado ver como laas hermanas formulaban preguntas a la hermana Mary mientras teniamos la cena. Fueron momentos de aprendizaje, convivencia y hermandad. Yo estaba feliz por haber compartido aquella primera reunion con mis hermanas en casa y mi anhelo era que se repitiera otra vez.

Para la Segunda Confraternidad Anual, tuve la gran colaboracion de la hermana Saraliz Kazmi. A ella la conoci por primera vez cuando vino a mi casa. Yo habia invitado a algunas hermanas a mi casa para leer el Coran juntas y compartir te con galletas. Para aquella reunion solo vino Saraliz. Ella tenia un ano de ser Musulmana y yo tenia tres anos de ser Musulmana. Compartirmos nuestras experiencias como musulmana y como el Islam habia impactado nuestras vidas.

Saraliz estaba fascinada de enterarse de que habia varias musulmanas Latinas en Chicago. Le ensene una lista de hermanas que yo tenia apuntada en un cuaderno y le conte de como me fue en la primera reunion en mi casa con las hermanas. Ella anhelaba tambien conocer a las demas hermanas, pues ella pensaba que era la unica Latina Musulmana. Yo tambien le dije que cuando me converti al Islam, yo pense que seria la unica Latina en la mezquita, pues estabamos equivocadas. Masha’Allah, ya habia varias Musulmanas Latinas. Le dije que me gustaria tener otra Gran Confraternidad de hermanas, pero que seria bueno tener comida o cena. La cena da la sensacion de que habra fiesta le comente a Saraliz y que la proxima reunion seria bueno hacer en un local mas grande.

Saraliz me expreso que le encantaria colaborar y ayudarme a organizar la gran reunion de hermanas. Y asi fue, ella y yo intercambiamos ideas de como programar La Segunda Confraternidad Anual de Hermanas Latinas Musulmanas. Tuvimos dos objetivos primordiales. El primer objetivo fue dar la especial bienvenida y felicitar a las nuevas en el Islam. Este objetivo surgio debido a que vimos y percibimos que las convertidas musulmanas no tenian el suficiente apoyo en integrarse a la comunidad Islamica. El segundo objetivo fue tener un tema que impulse y motive a la mujer Musulmana a tener un papel importante en la comunidad. Nos pusimos a coordinar la importancia de preparar cartas de invitacion a las hermanas comunicandoles del motivo de la confraternidad anual de hermanas.

Le envie por fax a Saraliz una lista de hermanas que en aquella vez eran 22 hermanas. Ella se encargo de enviar las cartas de invitacion por correo. Tambien logro encontrar patrocinadores que donaron comida para la cena. Los restaurantes Pita House de Lombard, IL y Sabri Nihari Restaurant de Lombard, IL, donaron comida para la cena de aquel evento.

Saraliz tambien se encargo de imprimir una presentable y organizada agenda del programa. En la portada del programa, hay dos damas saludandose y decia: ‘Gran Confraternidad Para Las Latinas Musulmanas (Gran Reunion For Muslim Latinas, 2nd Annual Event). Y dentro del programa estaba la agenda que decia:

Salam Alaikum!
5:00 PM Bienvenida e Introduccion
* Presentacion de las hermanas nuevas
5:30 PM Sister Mary C. Ali
Tema: La Importancia de la Mujer Musulmana en el Principio del Islam y Cual es
El Rol de la Mujer Musulmana.
6:45 PM Tiempo Social – Cena

Ambas nos encargamos tambien de hacer las llamadas telefonicas animandoles y recordandoles la importancia del programa de la reunion de hermanas. Y aquel ansiado y preparado dia llego, un Sabado 14 de Setiembre del 2002. Alrededor de 22 hermanas nos reunimos en el Muslim Community Center de la avenida Elston. Y se llevo a cabo el programa como se habia planificado. Dando la bienvenida a todas las hermanas y presentando a las nuevas en el Islam. Cinco hermanas nuevas se presentaron y sus nombres fueron llamados para verlas. Como presentadora del programa, tuve la oportunidad de mencionar en la importancia de saludar y acercarse a las hermanas nuevas a la hora de la cena, de intercambiar numeros de telefono e invitarles para romper el Ayuno juntas pues Ramadan ya se acercaba.

La hermana Mary C. Ali presento el tema para las hermanas. Fue un tema muy motivador y alentador porque menciono que nosotras las mujeres podemos organizar programas de Dawah para las mujeres y que podemos traducir materiales Islamicos al Espanol. Enfatizo en la importancia de nuestro papel como musulmanas en la comunidad. Despues de su presentacion, la audiencia tuvo la oportunidad de hacer preguntas. Aquella vez en medio de las preguntas y respuestas de las hermanas pude captar el entusiasmo de las hermanas de integrarnos en la comunidad musulmana. Alguien dijo por alli, que nosotras las Latinas estabamos esparcidas y seria bueno juntarnos con el fin de aprender de la religion.

Casi de cerrar y finalizar el programa para irnos a cenar, una joven Mexicana se levanto de su asiento para decirnos que le gustaria aceptar Islam en su vida. Aquella joven tomo su Shajad y fueron momentos de regocijo para nosotras que estuvimos presente en su decision.

Este evento fue grandemente bendecido, gracias a Allah que dio frutos. Porque a raiz de esta reunion de mujeres, surgio el interes de iniciar las clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas. Hubo el programa de Ramadan y Ayuno organizada por la hermana Ruth Saleh. Este evento se llevo a cabo el 26 de Octubre del 2002 en el Universal School de Bridgeview, IL. Este evento tuvo gran concurrencia donde se congregaron las hermanas del Sur y Norte de Chicago.

Tambien presencie y asisti a principios del ano 2003 a varias reuniones de Dawah delegado por el hermano Yahya Lopez, quien se encargo de invitar y reunir a los hermanos y hermanas Latinos Musulmanes. El proposito de estas reuniones era de hacer Dawah en la comunidad Hispana.


Las Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas se inauguro un sabado, 29 de Marzo del 2003 en el MCC, Muslim Community Center en el 4380 de N. Elston Ave. Chicago, IL.

Los preparativos antes de la inauguracion de las clases Islamicas en Espanol llevaron aproximadamente un mes y medio. Mencione el interes de las hermanas por tener las clases Islamicas a la hermana Vilma Lopez. Ella habia impartido clases Islamicas en espanol en el ano 2000 por algunos meses que por razones desconocidas no continuaron las clases.

Debido a la experiencia en la ensenanza de la hermana Vilma, le invite a impartir temas Islamicos a las hermanas. Le mencione que las hermanas nuevas eran las que mas estaban animadas por tener clases. La hermana Vilma acepto con mucho gusto la invitacion en la presentacion de los temas. Ella y yo coordinamos para enviar bolantes, cartas de invitacion, hacer llamadas telefonicas a las hermanas anunciadonles de las clases Islamicas en Espanol. Esta invitacion se extendio a las hermanas que residian en el norte de Chicago y suburbios cercanos.

En la carta de invitacion se adjunto un plan de leccion de Pasos Basicos y a esto se llamo ISLAM 101. Este plan de leccion se dividio en cuatro partes. La parte A incluia El Concepto del Islam, Los Cinco Pilares del Islam y La Importancia de aprender y Memorizar la Oracion Fatiha. La Parte B incluia, La Vida del Profeta Muhamad (Paz y Bendicion sean sobre el), y esta partes a su vez estaba subdividido con una serie de preguntas como: Donde Nacio?, Quienes fueron sus padres?, A que edad fue escogido como Profeta?. La Parte C incluia Coran, y esta parte tambien estaba subdividido en una serie de preguntas: Cuando se revelo el Coran?, Cuanto tiempo llevo en revelarse el Coran?, y La Primera surah revelada. La Parte D incluia Hadices: Que son Hadices?, Los Hadices auntenticos y Hadiz Qudsi.

Para este plan de lecciones, la hermana Vilma y yo, nos reunimos para coordinar y escribir esta serie de pasos a seguir para el inicio de las clases. Pense en la importancia de incluir una carta motivacional de porque tener clases Islamicas. En la carta que redacte mencione que sugerieran temas de interes que les gustaria tratar. Tambien mencione que la mujer desempena diferentes roles en la sociedad. Ella es la hija, la madre, la estudiante, la maestra, la trabajadora, la amiga, la vecina y que en el Islam estamos incentivadas a sobresalir en cada papel que la mujer desempena en la sociedad. Tambien mencione en un parrafo de la carta que muchas de nosotras que hemos abrazado el Islam o nos hemos convertido al Islam vamos aprendiendo poco a poco y vamos incorporando a nuestra vida cotidiana aquello prescrito por Allah. Que gratificante es aprender!!!

La hermana Vilma y yo estabamos muy entusiasmadas con este proyecto de las clases para las hermanas. Teniamos un local donde llevar a cabo las clases. Cada detalle de los preparativos de la clase ya era anticipado. Le habia mencionado a la hermana Vilma que ya teniamos un salon donde tener las clases. Que debido al interes de las hermanas por las clases, le pedi a la hermana Mary Ali si podria ayudarnos a reservar un salon para las clases. El presidente de Dawah de la MCC, ya habia reservado un salon para las hermanas me informo la hermana Mary. Alhamdulillah! ya teniamos un lugar de estudio.

Despues de anunciar las Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas, llego la tal anunciada 29 de Marzo del 2003. A las 4 de la tarde, quince hermanas y entre ellas no musulmanas, nos reunimos en el Muslim Community Center. Aquella tarde se inicio las clases dando la bienvenida a las presentes. Cada una de ellas se presento diciendo su nombre, nacionalidad y cuanto tiempo ya eran musulmanas.

La hermana Vilmaa presento el tema de los Cinco Pilares del Islam. Cuando llego la hora de la oracion, nos fuimos juntas para orar. Luego de la oracion regresamos al salon para continuar y concluir la clase de ese dia. Despues de concluir la clase tuvimos cafe y postres y nos despedimos recordandonos que nos reuniremos cada otro Sabado para la clase.

Alhamdulillah! Gracias a Allah, han transcurrido tres anos consecutivos que tenemo las clases Islamicas en Espanol cada otro Sabado. Aunque algunas veces se ha cancelado o pospuesto, las clases continuan consistentemente. Es algo que habiamos planeado y conversado con la hermana Vilma que las clases tenian que ser consistentes aunque hubiera baja de asistencia.

El ano 2003 fue un ano repleto de bendiciones, gracias a Allah, Altisimo. Para ese ano se programo tener gran reunion de hermanas. Tuvimos otra confraternidad anual organizado por las hermanas Latinas Musulmanes. Las hermanas del Sur de Chicago, y de los suburbios cercano de Bridgeview,IL., fueron invitadas para este programa. Ellas siempre estuvieron presentes acompanandonos desde las primeras reuniones anuales.

Para ese evento la hermana Mary C. Ali fue invitada para traernos un tema titulado: El Concepto de Jihab. Se envio cartas de invitacion por correo a todas las hermanas que teniamos en la lista, anunciandoles del evento de las hermanas. El objetivo era educar e informar de este mal entendido concepto de Jihab por musulmanes y no musulmanes. Se promovio la invitacion a mujeres no musulmanas y tambien se extendio invitacion a todas las hermanas de toda nacionalidad. El programa fue presentado en Ingles. Las hermanas de las clases Islamicas en Espanol trajeron sus platillos para tener cena al final del programa.

Cuando llego la epoca de Verano las hermanas de la clase planificamos tener un picnic familiar. Los ninos y los esposos de las hermanas se reunieron en un gran parque, donde tuvimos barbecue y mucha comidad, alhamdulillah!

Para la epoca de Ramadan y Ayuno, las hermanas coordinamos tener Iftar o romper el ayuno en diferentes casas. Para mi era una experiencia bella pasar el mes de Ramadan con las hermanas rompiendo juntas. El mes de Ramadan tenia un sabor mas especial para mi, pues antes sentia que lo hacia aisladamente. Senti un fervor y una atmosfera de convivencia con mis hermanas. Aquel ano tambien las hermanas se pusieron de acuerdo para pasar en vigilia en la Noche Laylatul Qader coordinada por la hermana Leticia Chehayber que ya era el segundo ano consecutivo que lo organizaba en su casa.

Dos semanas antes que concluyera el Mes de Ramadan, los hermanos Latinos Musulmanes habian sugerido tener un Eid Festival. Los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena fueron los que coordinaron y organizaron el Eid Festival con la colaboracion de las hermanas quienes se encargaron de traer los platillos y tener un Buffet. Los familiares de las hermanas y hermanos y la comunidad en general fueron invitados para este gran evento. Los ninos tuvieron regalos y pinata. Y es asi que se llevo a cabo el Primer Eid Festival organizado por Latinos Musulmanes en el Muslim Community Center, el 29 de Noviembre del 2003.

El ano 2004, tambien fue otro ano muy bendecido porque aquel ano, se establecio la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. con la fundacion de el hermano Ricardo Pena y su esposa la hermana Diana Pena. C.A.L.A.M. significa Chicago Association of Latino American Muslims. El hermano Ricardo Pena selecciono este nombre para la organizacion. Tambien abrio un website: latinomuslims.com. En este website se pone los programas y eventos organizado por Latinos Musulmanes y especialmente programas que acontecen en Chicago.

Los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena organizaron un picnic orientado a Dawah en el mes de Agosto de aquel ano. Esto se llevo a cabo en la entrada del Islamic Foundation en Villa Park, IL. Fue un programa muy bendecido. Masha’Allah, ellos llevan a cabo eventos de Dawah al aire libre cada ano en la comunidad Hispana.

Cada programa o evento lleva una previa preparacion y coordinacion donde detras de cada programa hay un gran esfuerzo por alcanzar metas. Que Allah SWT bendiga grandemente a los hermanos Yahya Lopez y Ricardo Pena quienes tuvieron la iniciativa de hacer Dawah en la comunidad Hispana. El resultado de sus esfuerzos es cada ano se realiza los Eid Festivals. Para estos eventos las familias de Latinos Musulmanes son invitados. Entre las familias hay no musulmanes y ellos pueden presenciar como los musulmanes celebran eid. Tambien hermanos y hermanas de diferentes etnias atienden a estos eventos. Ya es tradicional los eventos de Eid Festival y esta vez auspiciada por la organizacion C.A.L.A.M.

Las hermanas tambien continuan trabajando juntas para alcanzar metas. Alhamdulillah, desde que se inicio los programas de las Confraternidades Anuales, Ramadan y Ayuno, estos se llevan a cabo cada ano y se planifica anticipadamente.

En estas ocasiones las hermanas de la comunidad del norte y sur de Chicago se reunen para compartir y disfrutar de dichos eventos.

Tambien se organiza otra serie de programas que estan orientado a educar, fortalecer el conocimiento Islamic, a extender Dawah, a ir integrando a los nuevos musulmanes a la comunidad.

A partir del nacimiento de la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. varios programas orientados a la educacion Islamica y a la extension de Dawah se ha auspiciado y promovido por esta organizacion. C.A.L.A.M. es una organizacion que esta orientado a extender Dawah viendo la necesidad de los latinos musulmanes a integrarse a la comunidad Islamica.

Actualmente las Clases Islamicas en espanol impartidas en el Muslim Community Center (MCC), esta auspiciada por la organizacion C.A.L.A.M. Tambien hay clases Islamicas en espanol en el Mosque Foundation en Bridgeview, IL por mas de dos anos. Estas clases son impartidas por la hermana Celia Snowber cada domingo.


Estoy muy agradecida a Allah SWT por sus bendiciones en la comunidad Musulmana. Me alegra ver hermanas, hermanos Latinos Musulmanes con el anhelo de cooperacion, compromiso, respeto, honestidad, comprension, compasion, y el anhelo de aferrarse todos juntos a la cuerda de Allah SWT. Dice Allah en Surah 3:103 “Oh creyentes! Tened paciencia y sed perseverantes y luchad constantemente (contra el enemigo) y temed a Dios con el fin que tengais exito.”

Indudablemente Allah SWT nos esta bendiciendo considerando estas advertencias de Allah de temor hacia El. Allah da exito a los que le temen y obedecen a El. Si somos pacientes, perseverantes, luchando constantemente para servirle y agradarle a El. Porque toda la alabanza y la Gloria es hacia El.

Alhamdulillah! Ya han transcurrido tres anos consecutivos de Clases Islamicas en Espanol para las hermanas en el Muslim Community Center. Han sido tres anos constantes de esfuerzo y dedicacion de parte de las hermanas de aprender mas del Islam, de fortalecer su fe y confianza en Allah SWT.

El ano pasado 2005, a partir del mes de Setiembre, las Clases Islamicas en Espanol se elevo del ISLAM 101 a ISLAM 205. Se considero la importancia de estudiar cada tema Islamico mas minuciosamente. Un tema de estudio lleva varias semanas de presentacion. Anteriormente se presentaba un tema para un determinado dia. Tenemos un plan de tomar cursos intensivos que insha’Allah, nos ayudara a nuestro crecimiento en conocimiento Islamico. Para este plan de estudio me encargue de preparar un paquete que incluye una serie de cursos intensivos que se tomara en un periodo de tiempo. Otro objetivo es que los estudiantes que tomen los cursos intensivos y terminen satisfactoriamente de acuerdo a los requisitos necesarios obtendran Diplomas o certificados de C.A.L.A.M. cuando esta organizacion este oficialmente registrada.