The Second Annual Hispanic Muslim Day
By Shinoa Matos
Bismillah ArRahman ArRahim”We share family values,” said Imam Mohammad Al-Hayek, referring to the many commonalties that Latinos and Arabs share. “We even look alike.” This foundation of similarities was laid down at the 2nd Annual Latino Muslim Day Event that took place on Sunday, October 3rd, at the Islamic Educational Center of North Hudson in Union City New Jersey.The event held a succession of speakers, Qur’anic recitations, Q&A, trivia with prizes, food, and a gigantic cake with a replica of a Mosque on top of it. Each guest was given a folder containing Islamic materials in Spanish touching on various topics and even included a CD-ROM biography of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life.
There were several speakers, including Juan Galvan from the LADO group and the renowned Imam Yahya Suquillo, an Ecuadorian convert for over 23 years, who is now at the Islamic Educational Center providing classes for Spanish-speaking converts. “Islam is a total way of life,” said Imam Yahya. “From the time we wake and attend to our daily activities, to praying, our Islamic values are present.”Imam Yahya went on to discuss need for Islam in the Latino culture and explained to the over 200 guests (60 of which were nonMuslims) of the importance of spirituality. “We feed our bodies and eat three times a day, but we don’t feed our souls” said the Imam.Brother Juan Galvan provided powerful statistics on converts from all races and nationalities and stressed the need for the continuation of da’wah amongst the Latino community. “Years ago only a handful of people were doing this work” said Galvan. “Now, we have many Latino Muslims doing this work in various cities around the US. Latino Muslims need help from the general Muslim community to ensure that da’wah activities continue.”
Sister Nylka Vargas, an organizer for the event, gave her account of her conversion and life as it stands now as a Hijab-wearing Muslimah and Brother Victor Muhammad retold his experience upon reading the Qur’an for the very first time.
The program began with a beautiful Qur’anic recitation, which was soon followed by the various speakers. A few guests were gifted with bags filled with a prayer outfit, Islamic literature, prayer rugs and more. Even the kids got something out it. The Imam called out a few questions on Islamic history and two children answered correctly, receiving prizes.
At the time of Asr prayer, the nonMuslims were encouraged to follow the men and women to the prayer area and watch how the Islamic prayer was performed. The evening was topped off with food cooked by the sisters as well as cake and drinks. The official end time of the program was 5pm, but guests happily stayed well past 6:30pm.