Culture

Latino Muslims Are Talking About Their Experience At The Intersection Of Latino And Muslim

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Latinos are one of the fastest growing segments within the Muslim community. As the U.S. Latino population is on the rise as the nation’s largest minority so is the number of Latino Muslims. Yet many don’t acknowledge or are aware of this growing demographic in U.S and the conversation surrounding how these two identities intersect tends to be overlooked. That’s why last year PEN America took to Twitter to begin dialogue with users to discuss their identities and began this long overdue conversation. As Ramadan begins, we want to revisit this conversation and ask everyone to get involved.

Twitter users created #LatinxRamadan to spread awareness of the common struggles of Latinx Muslims.

For many in the intersectional community, the hashtag created a place to talk and experience the deep layers of being Latinx and Muslim. What better time to do that than during Ramadan.

Some people shared about the difficulty of being Latinx in the Muslim community.

People who live at intersections of different identities can have a hard time fitting in with either community. By having this intersectional conversation, the community is able to break down the walls and grow into their own space.

One of the many traditions of Ramadan consists of fasting from dawn till dusk and following with a community meal known as Iftar, used to break their fast together.

People shared some of the various meals that they break fast with showing the intersectionality between Latino and Muslim culture. Last year activists Rida Hamida and Benjamin Vazquez came up with the idea of bringing taco trucks to mosques all over Orange County, California in an attempt to help bridge the divide between the Latino and Muslim communities. The event was called #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque which included a food truck that served halal food.

 Fasting during Ramadan means no eating and no drinking, not even water.

Not only is is tough to be Latinx in the Muslim community, according to some tweets, it can be just as challenging to be Muslim in the Latino community.

Pen America asked people how they integrate Latino culture into their Ramadan experience.

Whether it is through language, food, or family tradition, these people have fully developed their own way of celebrating the sacred holiday.

This year, Ramadan is from Tuesday, May 15 to Thursday, June 14.

For 30 days, Muslims will fast every day from sunrise to sunset in observance of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

Happy Ramadan, everyone.

How do you celebrate Ramadan?


READ: Latinos And Muslims Are Having Cross-Cultural Exchanges During Ramadan Thanks To Halal Tacos

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Latinos Are Shattering Stereotypes As They Convert To Islam In Record Numbers

Culture

Latinos Are Shattering Stereotypes As They Convert To Islam In Record Numbers

Camisa, pantalon, azucar. These are just a few of the more than 4,000 Spanish words that derive from the Arabic language. These few words highlight the complex similarities between the Latino and Muslim cultures.

And as Latinos continue to flock to Islam, Latinos currently make up the fastest growing group of converts to Islam, those similarities will only continue to grow.

Latinos currently make up the fasted growing segment of the US Muslim population.

Credit: @AsyaEnglish / Twitter

According to some estimates, there are between 89,000 and 250,000 Latinos practicing Islam in the country.

Latino Muslims are a particularly vulnerable group as the Trump administration takes cruel and discriminatory measures against both segments of the population. One of the administration’s first moves was a ban on Muslim refugees while a border wall and increased ICE patrols remain consistent threats.

From Houston to Santa Ana and Philly to Chicago, Latino Muslims are forming communities.

Credit: @Suntimes / Twitter

In a mosque on Chicago’s North Side, you’ll find that alongside Pakistani and Indian dishes – daal, butter chicken and endless naan – are Mexican dishes like molé y arroz. Chicago is also home to a chapter of Islam In Spanish – an organization founded in Houston.

The group, which formed in 2001 to provide Qurans, pamphlets, and videos to people who wanted to learn about the religion in their native language, has seen 160 Spanish-speakers convert in the Houston area in the last three years.

In 2009, only 1 percent of Muslims identified as Hispanic. By 2018, it was 7 percent.

Credit: islaminspanish / Instagram

According to the study, most Latino converts to Islam are women. Roughly 73 percent of participants were women. And many of them are leaders in their community, including women like Nylka Vargas who has helped develop some of the earliest Latino Muslim communities in the country.

Along with Jewish Americans, Latinos hold largely positive views of Muslims, according to a new study.

It was revealed that Hispanic Americans are fives times more likely to favorable views of Muslims as they are to have negative attitudes. This favorability rating is second only to the Jewish community.

Many Latinos have embraced Islam after discovering the hip-hop culture of the 1990s.

Credit: betogonz / Instagram

Malcolm X, as a civil rights leader, was an instrumental figure in driving various communities to Islam. In an interview with LatinoUSA, Parada, 43, discussed how on a school trip to New York he saw friends greeting each other with “As-salaam-Alaikum.” He wanted to be a part of that.

Other reasons that Latinos have converted to Islam range from the search for renewed spirituality in a religion that rings true to a resurgence in Latinos exploring their Andalusian roots, when Muslims governed Spain for 700 years until 1492.

Some converts families worry about their choices.

Credit: islaminspanish / Instagram

Parada was born to Salvadorean parents and was an altar boy at his family’s Roman Catholic church. His parents voiced concern about his choice to join the Islamic faith so he asked them to read a chapter in the Quran about Mary and Jesus. “Most Latinos think Muslims don’t believe in Jesus and Mary,” Parada told LatinoUSA. “That gave them a different perspective of Islam.”

Dangerous stereotypes about Muslims continue to create friction, even among Latinos.

Some converts from devout Catholic families say they sometimes are faced with skepticism and ignorance from their own relatives: “Oh, what are you an Arab now?” “Why did you join a black religion?” “Did you join ISIS?” “Take that thing off your head,” according to Parada.

But Latinos and Muslims are working hard to build bridges between the communities.

Like any good abuela, the way too make friends is with food. And that’s just what is helping connect the two communities.

From #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque – a movement that began back in 2017 to show solidarity with the Muslim community – to community potlucks and asadas, connecting people through food is helping them find their similarities.

READ: Latinos And Muslims Are Having Cross-Cultural Exchanges During Ramadan Thanks To Halal Tacos

Latinos Are Here For Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, The Muslim Woman Who Smiled For Islamophobic Protestors

Culture

Latinos Are Here For Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, The Muslim Woman Who Smiled For Islamophobic Protestors

If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve met Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, a 24-year-old woman, whose photos of her smiling in front of homophobic islamophobic protesters went viral. In the three days since she her tweet, the post has had over 310,000 likes and 85,000 retweet–the vast majority of which are positive and supportive.

Here’s the scoop and all the ways Latinos are showing their support.

“On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment.”

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Twitter

That’s it. That’s the caption for her viral post and it’s inspiring people everywhere.

Shaymaa was visiting Washington D.C. for the Islamic Circle of North America (INCA)’s annual convention.

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Twitter

The nonprofit organization is here to build a community for Muslim-Americans. Shaymaa remembers similar anti-Islam protesters were at the convention two years ago. When she first saw them, she was shocked, and later when she wanted to take a photo in front of them, they were gone.

But it’s 2019 and the Islamophobes are out of hiding questioning if she really did the thing.

CREDIT: @human_cookies / Twitter

Not only did Shaymaa get the chance to take this photo at this year’s convention, but haters don’t feel she’s trustworthy enough to believe the photos are real. This is the most polite hater we could find.

This led Shaymaa to post a follow up of her original tweet.

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Twitter

The ensuing thread is filled with people tweeting all caps #FAKENEWS. But we’re not going to talk about the very vocal minority of haters. We are here to talk about the people showing this young woman support and love.

Shaymaa spends her day job at a school working with children on the autism spectrum.

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Instagram

However, on weekends, she’s giving us lewks and bravery like no other. She told Teen Vogue, “Us youth, we need to actually see people who aren’t so apologetic, who aren’t so scared. It is hard to be Muslim in this day and time.”

She also let everyone know that she has to be confident in herself because her identity is visible at all time.

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Twitter

“I’m an African-American woman, so I can’t be white passing,” she tells Teen Vogue, “even if I take my hijab off — I still have struggles. You have to know your strength. A lot of youth need to understand that and just think about that a little bit.”

Latino Twitter came out strong for her story.

CREDIT: @CommunityUnity / Twitter

According to a 2007 report from Voice of America, the Latino-Muslim community is between 40,000 and 200,000 in the U.S. alone. Being Latino means being diverse and intersectional because we have an intersection of all faiths, all skin tones, and all genders in our community, and we get to stand with each other, for each other.

Folks are calling her an American hero.

CREDIT: @SergioAntonio / Twitter

Shaymaa told Teen Vogue that she knew “talking to someone like that is talking to a brick wall. You kind of can’t really do anything to combat it.”

It was also Easter Sunday the day the protesters arrived, which just adds layers to this story.

CREDIT: @CavScoutVeteran / Twitter

“We were wrapping up the second day of the convention and the first thing I saw was there they are,” Shaymaa tells Teen Vogue. “I showed my friend and she was like, ‘It’s Sunday. It’s Easter. Don’t they have something better to do?’ I was like, ‘Clearly, they need something from us.’”

“Kindness is a mark of faith. Those who aren’t kind have no faith.”

CREDIT: @Emma_Aurora_ / Twitter

She posted the same photo on Instagram with the above caption, and that also went viral. She has over 377,000 likes on the Instagram post proving that people want to see more love in this world.

“They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, you need to cover your face, too.’”

CREDIT: @its_carlos801 / Twitter

As she was walking away from taking the photo, she tells Teen Vogue that the protesters started to make fun of her. “And then someone was like, ‘You know it’s a cult when everyone’s walking around in pajamas.’ I was like, ‘Hmm, is he saying that because I’m wearing loose pants?’ I love sarcasm, so I was like, ‘Thank you for that.’”

The tables have turned because The Internet is now making fun of the protesters.

CREDIT: @adam_casto / Twitter

“I did not know that JC Penney sells draperies in denim,” writes one user. 😂Several people started posting timed selfies of them mimicking that same posture.

Other folks thought he looked familiar.

CREDIT: @freemedusa / Twitter

Some were saying he’s a Westboro Baptist Church protester. Others thought he looked like their sleep paralysis demon.

Is sleep paralysis contagious?

CREDIT: @rosie_rosella / Twitter

Have you ever noticed that the people who hold those specific protest signs always look the same? Is it just one group that travels around the country protesting? Or do all Christian protest extremist look the same?

Lizy Rodriguez was over here revving up the inner mami in her.

CREDIT: @lizyrodriguezzz / Twitter

I mean… if rejoicing in Jesus’ resurrection looks like you making fun of a black woman in a hijab then you might be practicing a different religion than you think. Preach, Lizy.

Then there’s the obvious solution to this kind of bigotry.

CREDIT: @mapofsoulnicole / Twitter

Most Churches, Mosques, and Temples often work together to create multi-faith events. Islamophobia, like anti-Semitism, works off an assumption that an entire religion is a threat. That’s fake news.

Just like radical Islam makes a mockery out of the faith, this version of radical Christianity does the same.

CREDIT: @mzxzzz / Twitter

So like, do they see how they’re doing the exact same thing that they’re protesting against? 🤔

Islamophobia is a serious threat to our Muslim-American brothers and sisters.

CREDIT: @joepequenotv / Twitter

Hate crimes have escalated since Trump ran his campaign and enacted his Muslim Ban. Many Twitter user were scared for her–to simply be an African American woman in a hijab smiling.

“I wanted them to see the smile on my face, and see how happy I was to be me and walk around being a Muslim woman.”

CREDIT: @jftaveira1993 / Twitter

Ultimately, Shaymaa’s message shines brighter than any blemish of bigotry. She told The Guardian, “I wanted to show them that we are going to remain kind and unapologetic, and continue to spread love in the face of bigotry.”

And for all her positivity and freedom to just be, we thank you, Shaymaa.

CREDIT: @shaymaadarling / Twitter

So many of us can relate to kissing our loved out in front of homophobic protesters, smiling your brown face at the MAGA hat guy and overall just doing as our mama taught us by “killing with kindness”. Shaymaa, you are a shining, beautiful example of what it means to be American. Gracias.

READ: Latino Muslims Are Talking About Their Experience At The Intersection Of Latino And Muslim

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