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The FIRST EVER National Latino Convention

By: Olivia May 4, 2017

(Picture: Abu Mujahid Fletcher accepting a Pioneer Lifetime Award with son Jaime Mujahid Fletcher, Founder of Islam in Spanish.)

“We are a minority within a minority,” was echoed through the halls by Mexican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Salvadorian brothers and sisters (just to name a few). It was like coming home, when we realized we were no longer converts out there by ourselves.

There was a buzz in the Texas air the last week of December, and it was a declaration new for Muslim reverts, because for the first time in American history there stood before us all a pioneering spirit for Latino Muslims. “You matter,” they said to us upon arriving for the first ever National Latino Muslim Convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston.

“We are a minority within a minority,” was echoed through the halls by Mexican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Salvadorian brothers and sisters (just to name a few). It was like coming home, when we realized we were no longer converts out there by ourselves.

Female leaders like Mariam Saada, who taught us about Al-Andalus in our DNA, and Ruth and Blanca Saleh, who now serve Islam in Spanish out of Chicago, were there to encourage sisters into action. Tammy Croan and Asmaa Mansour, both from Texas and there to build relationships, stood out among the sisters looking to get more involved. It was as if we had known each other our entire life, and had been called to gather at just this point in time for a greater purpose.

“How can we explain to people who we are if we ourselves are not united?” challenged Jaime Mujahid Fletcher, Founder of Islam in Spanish, the nonprofit organization that, for the past ten years, has produced audiovisual multimedia Islamic material in Spanish to educate Latinos about Islam worldwide and was responsible for the Texas Dawah Convention’s Latino program. “It takes effort to learn to work together. By serving humanity as a whole, we serve Allah.”

 His words resonated in the hearts of many in attendance, because after his speech the rooms were bursting with brothers and sisters offering hugs and handshakes, exchanging e-mails and phone numbers and, over all, the overwhelming real necessity to unite the Latin Ummah.

Latinos, from all over the United States, flew in and drove for days to attend the bilingual programs and draw inspiration from Latin Muslim Pioneers in attendance, such as:

Jaime Mujahid Fletcher and his father, Abu Mujahid Fletcher, who also converted and has gone on to produce the first 26 CD set of a Spanish translation of the Quran, as well as many other Spanish translation audio books that the Ummah has never had access to before.

Professor Omar Pena, a Cuban revert from New Jersey, who has been an active Muslim for twenty years, reminding us that there are people in Cuba who hunger for the opportunity to sit and discuss their faith on the island.

Sheikh Reymundo Nour, from the Islamic Society of Palm Springs, California, who converted to Islam at the age of twelve, and urged us not to lose our Latin culture in the process of practicing our religion.  

Strong leaders like Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, the Communications Director for CAIR (The Council on American Islamic Relations, Florida), who offered us his hope as he shared, “I pray that there will be a day when Islam isn’t seen through the lens of extremism. We have not surpassed the hurdle of being reactive to the media. We only speak to them when something bad happens because they want our reaction. We need more coverage on how Muslims serve America.”

Imam Omar Hernandez, who reminded us how important it is to hold ourselves accountable, but to be patient with ourselves, as converts, because “the struggle is part of the reformation.”

We listened, took notes and discussed our cultural and religious challenges, and that’s when it dawned on me that this isn’t a singular effort anymore. A voice formed there that weekend; and it was peaceful, yet strong, with an understanding power that stirred us to serve beyond our local capacity. 

We understood that weekend that things were never going to be the same again for any of us because there was no longer any reason to ever feel alone. Serving our community is not a lighthearted notion, it is a necessity, and it’s not enough to just be a part of the Islamic community, as Jaime Mujahid stressed. We are a new community. We have to put aside our differences and – BUILD.

 


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