By Anjalee Khemlani
The Latin Post
Jul 26, 2014
El Cid’s Monument At Burgos City
Latino Muslims have been dubbed one of the fastest growing segments of Islam in the U.S., according to PBS.
The Hispanic population and the Muslim population are each a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population, according to Reuters. There were about 2.6 million Muslims in 2012, and about 17 percent of the U.S. population was Hispanic.
Since then the numbers have grown, and the number of converts to Islam as well.
One Mexican woman told the Huffington Post in 2012 that she converted in 1983.
Marta Khadija, president of La Asociacion Latino Musalmana de America (LAMLA, the Latino Muslim Association of America), said she was unhappy with her spiritual life and felt her first experience in a mosque gave her peace.
“My mother thought I had joined some sort of cult,” Khadija told the Huffing Post. “I kept my culture. I didn’t adopt any dress from the Middle East.”
The latest number of Latino Muslims is estimated at about 250,000, according to PBS. The Islamic Circle of North America reports a majority of them are women.
A public radio station in Miami, WLRN, reported in 2013 that a similar conversion rate was seen in the 1960s with African Americans.
The two regions of the world, Spain and Africa, have a long-standing history with the Arab world.
“Our language is nurtured by more than 4,000 words that come from Arabic,” Wilfredo Ruiz, a Puerto Rican-born Muslim and a lawyer for the South Florida chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations told WLRN. “It’s like rediscovering your past. That area of our past has been hidden from us.”
Arab Muslims ruled Spain for about 800 years during the Middle Ages and made the Iberian Peninsula one of the most advanced civilizations of its time, according to WLRN.
These individuals and their descendants, the Moors, ruled from the 11th to 17th centuries and settled as refugees in northern Africa.
And despite the conversions, the two religions are known to have strong overlaps in beliefs and context.
“Islam, what brings to most of the people is peace. People feel at peace first with themselves, of who they are and their way they have chosen, and a peace knowing what is, what is the purpose of life? ” Ruiz told PBS.