Centro Islamico in Houston, Texas, a mosque for Latino Muslims, celebrated their first Cinco de Mayo last week.
In the wake of the events happening in relation to America's 2016 Presidential election, it is only fair to say that America's political and racial environment has become quite intense, and quite intolerant as well. However, amidst all the Islamophobia and other discrimination, a lot of positive things are also happening in the country. One of it is the rise of Muslim Latinos. According to a report by NPR, Latinos in America are considered as the fastest growing group of Muslims in the country.
Last January, IslamInSpanish, a non-profit organization, opened its first ever Spanish-speaking mosque, Centro Islamico, in America. Previously, Alianza Islamica, a New York city registered mosque founded in the year 1987, held this distinction, however, the mosque shuttered in 2003. Last Saturday, the Centro Islamico mosque held its first ever Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Community members with roots in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and several other countries took part in celebrating the Mexican Army's defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla in the year 1862. They celebrated their shared identity as Muslims, and served several versions of their traditional foods, halal foods, of course.
The interior of Centro Islamico is decorated with motifs. It echoes La Mezquita de Cordoba's striped arches. La Mezquita de Cordoba is a 10th-century mosque in southern Spain that is still intact.
IslamInSpanish is an educational, non-profit organization that is dedicated to teaching Latinos about Islam in the Spanish language, on a global basis, via audiovisual media. According to the CEO of IslamInSpanish, Jaimie Mujahid Fletcher, the inspiration for starting the organization came as a result of the ever growing need for information on Islam in Spanish.
So beautiful! Centro Islámico, America’s only Spanish-language mosque in Houston celebrates first ever Cinco de Mayo https://t.co/9U6sQuNeyp
— Faiza N. Ali (@faiza_n_ali) May 9, 2016
From the time it opened, 18 people have taken the shahada (an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet) at Centro Islamico.
According to Ken Chitwood, a PhD student at the University of Florida, research he conducted about the growing Latino Muslim community showed that most of the Latino Muslims are converts from Christianity. Chitwood says that spiritual dissatisfaction within their own religion is what prompted most of the converts to look for another religion.
According to Jalil Navarro, who has been a devout Muslim for the past three years, Islam changed his life for good.
Magidel Morris, a Latino Muslim, whose hijab has colors of the Mexican flag (red, white, and green) says that even though they changed their religion, they did not change their culture. They still remain proud Mexicans.