April - June 2008, Latino Muslims, Mexico

What Latino Muslims Can Learn From Mexican Muslims

By Tania Tahira Canales

Islamic Center of Mexico

Before September 2001, Islam was largely viewed as a religion for Arabs. Most Mexicans could not identify a woman wearing hijab with Islam if they saw her walking down a Mexican street. After September 11, Mexican people received all kinds of information about Islam. They heard good information, half-true information, biased information, and misconceptions about Islam. But many Mexicans wanted to know more about Islam. They wanted to know what we Mexican Muslims had to say about Islam.

After understanding Islam, many Mexicans understand why some of their countrymen have embraced Islam. Once you remove all misconceptions of Islam, Mexican people stop thinking that Allah is an invented deity, that Muslims are terrorists, and that Muslimahs are oppressed. Instead, Mexicans begin to realize that Islam is a suitable way of life for any Mexican and for all people. They also realize Muhammad’s life (pbuh) is the best example to follow. I want to share what we Mexican Muslims have learned with Latino Muslims and all American Muslims.

We must be ready to present Islam to whoever wants to hear it. Stating that we are Mexican Muslims surprises almost everyone, even Muslims. During the last ten years, around eight hundred Mexicans have embraced Islam. Mexican Muslims find in Islam truth that was not found in the beliefs and traditions of their parents and closest relatives. They have found that Allah (swt) and His last Messenger (saws) are the truth.

We inform Mexican people about Islam in all possible ways including radio programs, TV shows, and university lectures. Sometimes we simply go out to the street and wait for people to ask us where we were born. Mexican people want to know why we Mexican Muslimahs dress the way we do. Mexican people ask the men why they wear beards and strange sombreros. A smile always brings the best out of people and is charity as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would say.

The best way to call people to Tawheed is with patience, Islamic manners, and a gentle way of speaking. Although almost every Mexican professes to be a Roman Catholic, introducing Islam is an easy task. Mexicans are open-minded and curious. They are amazed to learn that both Muslims and Catholics believe in the Day of Judgment, Virgin Mary, Angels, Paradise, and Hell. Every Christian has wondered about the rational of the Trinity, but fear Hellfire for questioning their current beliefs.

Fortunately, many Mexicans are beginning to believe in only One God and in the line of Prophets. After Jesus Christ (as) left, Muhammad (as) came as a mercy of Allah (swt) to revive the true universal message of God. Mexicans are beginning to learn that all humans are born Muslim. Consequently, many Mexicans understand that nothing is wrong with reverting back to Islam. They are neither betraying God nor rejecting Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Islam is clear and pure without priests, without original sin, and without all the rituals.

We must remember that only Allah (swt) is the guide. We tend to think that we can change a person’s life and way of thinking. We assume that by showing the truth all people will say Shahada. Our assumptions are not true and can be very dangerous. We cannot try to force Islam on people. We are not selling houses to Paradise. Nor are we the sales staff of “Islam Inc.” If someone accepts Islam, only Allah has guided him or her.

Bringing people to Allah (swt) was the mission of our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). We must accomplish this mission using the methods he would adopt. We must not adapt Islam to what nonbelievers will accept and want to hear. The Deen should not be weakened for the sake of converting more nonbelievers. We need Muslims with the right understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh). The search for true knowledge creates the Muslim character. We must be open to knowledge.

The best way to spread Islam is by practicing Islam as Prophet Muhammad and his companions would practice it. Dawah begins with us. Muslims cannot talk about something they have no idea how to do. All Muslims must be positive examples by correctly practicing Islam. Practicing our faith often takes courage. Many misconceptions about Islam come from bad Muslims exhibiting bad behavior. The beautiful Muslim character should stand out within every crowd. How effectively can a Muslim invite people to Islam if he or she drinks, lies, steals, is impatient, and does not pray? Islam is the only way of life that pleases Allah.

By continuously learning and practicing Islam, we will be ready to spread Islam within our homes, our families and friends, our neighborhoods, and to the world. Our dream as Mexican Muslims is to present Islam to all Mexican people. Mexican people have the right to know that Islam is their birthright. We must all struggle to build a strong, Allah-fearing community.

Through our own struggle, we have built a mosque and a study center for Mexican Muslims at Tequesquitengo, Morelos, just a half and hour away from Mexico City. This place seeks to provide the ideal environment for Mexicans searching Islamic knowledge, inshaAllah. At this location, we have started and intend to start more courses about a variety of needed subjects such as Qur’an recitation, introduction to fiqh, and science of haddith. We still need your assistance to continue working for Dawah in Mexico.

Make dua for us and for Islam in Mexico. Help us to please Allah (swt) by visiting www.islam.com.mx to learn about how you can join our struggle.