Earlier this month, Latino Muslims gathered to honor Cinco de Mayo at the only Spanish-speaking mosque in the country.
The doors to Houston’s Centro Islamico first opened early this year with the help of IslamInSpanish, an educational non-profit organization. IslamInSpanish was founded by Colombian convert Mujahid Fletcher, who ultimately discovered the need for education about Islam in the Latino community following the tragic events of 9/11.
Together, community members of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Colombian and other Latin descent celebrated the Mexican Army’s victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Traditional food dishes honoring their Latin roots were served, and decorations in vibrant colors of their country’s flags were displayed.
“Even though we changed our religion, we did not change our culture,” said Magidel Morris, a Muslim convert whose red, white, and green hijab proudly represents her Mexican heritage.
Ana Ortiz, a Puerto Rican Muslim originally from New Jersey, served food at the event and described the community as a family.
While groups of Latino Muslims have been present across the country for years, few mosques have been built specifically with their communities in mind. Alianza Islamica, the first Spanish-speaking masjid, was created in New York after the founders realized there was no place that addressed their culture or contribution to Islamic history. Unfortunately, the Puerto Rican-founded mosque closed its doors to the public in 2005.
A total of 18 people have declared their belief in the oneness of God at the Centro Islamico since it’s opening on January 30th, 2016.
“Islam changed my life for good,” says Jalil Navarro, a devout Muslim of three years.
Latinos in America are not only the fastest growing group of Muslims in the country, but the majority are converts from Christianity. According to new research from the University of Florida, Latinos who choose to convert do so out of spiritual dissatisfaction in their own religion.
There are currently more than 55 million people of Hispanic origin in the United States, and more than 3 million Muslims.
Photo Credit: Ryan Schuessler for the Guardian