July - Sept 2005, Other

Third Annual Hispanic Muslim Day

By Mariam Abbassi

The third annual Hispanic Muslim Day was held on September 25, 2005 at the Islamic Education Center of North Hudson. The celebration was held on behalf of all the converts who have accepted Islam as the guide to their lives. Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, but to some it is a misunderstood religion. Our responsibility is to educate those who remain unaware of what Islam truly signifies. As Imam AlHayek, the president of the Da’wah Committee of North Hudson stated while he stood in front of 200 reverts and more than 50 non-Muslims, “I do not need to defend this great religion.” Most of the converts embraced Islam on their own free will and studied the logic behind the religion as was evident by the numerous nods in agreement during the speeches of the day.

The program began with a recitation of the Quran. The recitation was translated by the Co-Founder/Deputy Director of the Latino Muslim Outreach Program (LMOP), Brother Diego Guadalupe. Brother Diego Guadalupe converted to Islam four years ago.

Speakers were given the opportunity to share with the audience their experiences and reasoning behind their conversion to Islam. Melvin Reveron embraced Islam approximately one year ago. He stated, “Islam enlightened me and helped me resolve my crisis.” He also spoke about the progression of messages received by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Melvin explained that the Quran is the last testament that reaffirms faith and clarifies the way of life. The Quran is the reminder of God, the Almighty Creator. The Quran is divinely inspired. The Quran testifies to the belief in one God and acknowledges Muhammad as a Prophet sent by God.

“This is a pure and clean religion. Allah gave me a second chance,” stated Sister Orbelina Acsosia from El Salvador as she shed tears speaking in her native tongue. She shared with the attendees her search for truth and how Islam changed her life. Sister Acsosia expressed her feelings on how protected she feels by wearing Hijab. Sister Sonia Lasso stated firmly, “We chose to wear the Hijab; it was not by force, but rather a privilege which I sought.”

The program continued with great information about Hispanic history in Spain presented by Brother Omar Pacheco. Our guest from Philadelphia, Brother Hamza Jason Perez, along with four other guest speakers, spoke about the past and the hostility towards the Islamic Masajid. Before Brother Perez realized the truth about Islam, he would throw rocks at the Masajid out of ignorance. He later became friends with Muslims, which led him to search the religion in earnest. After embracing the Islamic faith, he was instrumental in the conversion of twenty other families of Puerto Rican descent living in the same community.

A children’s play depicted by our Hispanic brothers and sisters demonstrated the birth of Islam in Spain. The children were dressed in clothing from the medieval time. The play by Sister Linda Rodriguez is about a Muslim man who marries a Christian convert to Islam. Her brother converts to Islam after he realizes how good and peaceful Muslims are. The play illustrates how Muslims positively influenced Spain.

As the day wound down, the Latino Muslim community would include a new Cuban brother. Baptized as a Catholic, Pedro Fernandez declared his Shahada before the attendees. In Arabic, he repeated after the Imam, “I bear witness that there is one God and Muhammad is His Messenger…Jesus Christ is a Prophet of God.” Then, he repeated the Shahada in Spanish. The Shahada was translated into Spanish by Alex Robayo who converted to Islam at the age of 21. Now 29, Robayo teachers physics at East Rutherford High School. “I found a lot of logic in Islam and the Quran,” commented Robayo. Fernandez said, “I felt a calling from Allah.”

At the close of the ceremony, thirty Shahada certificates and gifts were awarded to new Muslim converts in recognition of their declaration of faith.

The Islamic Center of North Hudson is dedicated to serving the entire Muslim and non-Muslim communities regardless of ethnic background. Material was provided in both English and Spanish to anyone interested. The information packets included pamphlets, CDs about the biography of Muhammad PBUH (Peace be Upon Him), and tapes about performing prayer. This year we gave away CDs with Quranic recitation in Arabic with Spanish translation by Imam Yahya Suquillo.

Mariam Abbassi is the vice-president of the Da’wah committee at the Islamic Education Center of North Hudson.