The Country’s Only Spanish-Speaking Mosque

Centro Islámico, America’s first Spanish-language mosque. Photograph: Ryan Schuessler for the Guardian

Latino convert says, “Islam changed my life.”

Two groups who are each pouring in the US in record numbers are now beginning to merge together – Muslims and Hispanics.  It’s a “roll-up” many were not anticipating.  According to reports, Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion, and Latinos are converting to Islam at a higher rate than any other ethnicity. 

Centro Islamico in Houston, Texas opened on January 30, 2016 and is currently the only Spanish-speaking mosque in the U.S.    Converts gathered recently for its first Cinco de Mayo celebration, saying, “We changed our religion, but not our culture.”  One woman said, we needed to have a place for Hispanic people to learn about Islam.

Ryan Schuessler of The Guardian released a report about the mosque on Monday.  It was founded in 2001 by convert Jaime Fletcher, a Colombian American convert.   Islamic educational materials are produced in Spanish and distributed through the Americas.  Fletcher said, “You can practice Islam and remain a Latino … We want Latinos to be proud of where they come from, to have a strong sense of identity for themselves.”

Estimates of Muslim Hispanics in the U.S. is a wide-range guess of anywhere from 30,000 to 300,000.   Islamists seem to have found a way to appeal to Hispanics.

How are they drawing Latinos to Islam?   Most Latino Americans belong to the Catholic Church, according to Pew Research Center.   International Business Times reports that Jihad Turk, president of an Islamic graduate school in California, said that Islam is most similar to Catholic beliefs.   Many organizations have formed in the U.S. to help the merging of Latino and Muslim cultures and communities.  First they convince them they won’t have to change their culture, and that they hold most of the same basic beliefs.

 







 

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