Latino Muslims: A Growing Population

Latino Muslims are a  population that is relatively unknown within the Muslim American community. While still a small minority within the United States, they are a growing segment of the Muslim community’s population. The American Muslim Council estimates that in 2007  there were 200,000 Latino Muslims, a significant jump from 40,000 in 1997. A study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life in 2008 estimates that Latino Muslim U.S. residents make up 4%  of Muslim Americans.

Many Latino Muslims come to Islam from Roman Catholicism, often saying that they had problems with some practices of the faith and the hierarchy of the church. Some said that they chose Islam because of shared values and traditions between Islamic and Latino culture–the emphasis on family and conservative values.

This group of Muslims face challenges from their families and sometimes from their new community. Mosques that are dominated by particular groups–Arabs, Pakistanis, etc.–do not make a space for their Latino culture. However, many Latino Muslims say that they were drawn to Islam because they could preserve their cultural background alongside their Muslim identity and have found spaces to do that. For example, the North Hudson Islamic Educational Center in Union City, New Jersey holds classes on the Qur’an in Spanish and has an annual Latino Muslim Day. Moreover, 35 % of the congregation is Latino.

Unlike in many Muslim majority countries, the Muslim American community is unique because it is so diverse. Its diversity not only adds another dimension to Muslim American identity, but to American identity in general. As a growing segment of the Muslim American community, Latino Muslims are demonstrating that you can be more than one thing: American, Latino, and Muslim.

Are you a Latino Muslim? What is your experience? What are some of your challenges? Do you think the diversity of the Muslim American community is an asset or an obstacle? Please share your thoughts below.

8 thoughts on “Latino Muslims: A Growing Population

  1. I am not a Latino Muslim (but a Turkish Sunni Muslim) but I appreciate what you are doing here. You are trying to unite all types of people groups under the flag of Islam, unlike others trying to separate muslims into little detached groups saying different things but meaning just the same.
    I thank you again for this post.

  2. I am a 15 year old Latino Muslim soon to be 16. My parents are both Roman Catholic’s that come from Mexico. I went through a lot of problems when I converted to Islam. My parents don’t really accept the fact of me being a Muslim.. they think I want to be a Arab. I love my culture too much to leave it, although I had to make a few changes. At home it’s hard to pray since I’m not allowed to. I have to do it in secret when I’m alone, which is rare. Since my parents are Mexican, a lot of the food has pork in it. Most of the times I have no choice but to eat it. I don’t really mind right now with the struggles I’m going through since in a few years I will be 18 and on my own.
    I’m proud to be Mexican and Muslim (:

  3. I converted very shortly after graduating from high school and only days before joining the military. It is difficult, since my mother is generally oppposed to Islam, and my father, although he respects my decision, does not like my refusal to eat meats that aren’t dhabiha halal. They are seperated, so I’m almost never with both of them at the same time. In the military, there is some bigotry, and it is difficult to keep halal and pray, but I keep on truckin.

  4. Assalamu Alaikum,

    I’m a latino muslim from a catholic upbringing and to tell you the truth its been a blessing since i took my shahada. I used to get caught up with what my family used to think but I’m a bit older and realize it is Allah(swt) who i should depend on and focus on.
    I no longer worry about nationalistic issues I am muslim first and everything else is secondary.

  5. I converted over 10 years and its been a struggle to prove that i am still a Latina and not an Arab or are trying to be an Arab. but by the Grace of God, more and more, you are beginning to see the new generation of Latino Muslims: Muhammad Garcia, Uthman Lopez, etc. so what the Arabs went through at the time of the Prophet (PBUH), the Latinos are going through now in that more and more of our people are coming to the truth. a few years from now, when you meet a Latino Muslim, it will not be such a surprising thing to encounter….

  6. I converted a little over a year ago. I am Mexican and Muslim. I find that it is definitely a challenge trying to reconcile some aspects of my culture (which I love and am very proud of) with my religion. I was brought up Roman Catholic and my mother was very hurt when I converted. However, I tried my best to make her understand that it was a very personal decision and that it is making me a better person. My family accepts it for the most part. I would really like to meet other Latino Muslims! So add me on FB 🙂

  7. I am a Latina Muslim who took shahada in 2001. Lucky for me, my mother had taken her shahada a couple of years before, so I did have that support. As for the rest of the family…she broke the ice and “trained” them for me, essentially. My mother has worn hijab since she reverted and started wearing niqab a couple of years later…but I only recently started wearing hijab. Wearing hijab is a whole different ballgame, because it basically puts a big neon light on your head and opens the door for potential criticism and random opinions. I have not seen my family since I started, but I’m sure I’ll get the typical “oh but you’re so pretty” caca. I’m not worried about it. I don’t live near most of my family so it allows me to live my own life and practice my own religion.

    I will say that an immense comfort for me these days is the support I receive from my husband. I actually met him on a Latino Muslims group on facebook. It is such a comfort to have someone else who knows what it means to be Puerto Rican as much as they know what it means to be Muslim. Inshallah, more of us will see the light so that those of us already here can stop feeling so alone.

    I do feel that (before hijab) when I told people I was Muslim, especially “born Muslims” from Asian/Arab and African countries would look down upon me and give me the cold shoulder, shrug me off, and wouldn’t take me seriously. To them, it was as I wasn’t a “real” Muslim.
    Most of the Muslims my family and I know and associate with are other reverts like us, whether they be black, white, or “other” like us. Our diversity could absolutely be an advantage, but at this point, I don’t think many Muslims allow it to be.

  8. i am a malaysian muslim. alhamdulillah more and more latinos are revert to islam. whether be black,white or “other” we are muslims brothers worldwide. we are the practicing muslims