Growing Latino Muslim Community Thriving in Dallas - North Dallas Gazette
Take a closer look at the diversity within the Muslim community and how the Latino Muslims have helped bring Latinos back to their Islamic roots by reading this article written by Badees Nouiouat, from the North Dallas Gazette. Full Article below.
By 2050, almost 1 in 3 Americans are predicted to be of Hispanic origin. Within that demographic, another minority is on the rise; Latino Muslims. Jalil Navarro, a Mexican immigrant who embraced Islam in the United States, is the Director of the IslamInSpanish Outreach Center of Dallas.
Jalil remembers meeting Jaime Mujahid Fletcher, a Colombian Imam from Houston, in Dallas in 2014. Jaime was giving a Friday sermon at the Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson at the time. After the prayer, Jalil approached Jaime to inquire about finding more Islamic content in Spanish. Jaime introduced Jalil to his new project, IslamInSpanish.
Fast forward to 2017, and Jalil was now working with Jaime in distributing materials and organizing local gatherings for Spanish-speaking Muslims in Dallas. Jalil felt it was time to open an official center in Dallas, one was also opened in Houston. By 2018, he secured a location at the bustling intersection of IH-635 and US 75.
The mission of IslamInSpanish is to unite people of all cultures and educate the community about what Islam truly is.
“I used to think Islam was for a specific culture from the middle east,” says Jalil. “When I found that the majority of Muslims don’t even speak Arabic and the country with the most Muslims was Indonesia, I was shocked. I realized that Islam is a faith for everyone, and I wanted to learn more.”
Even within the Latino community, there is a wide variety of cultures. The IslamInSpanish center is not exclusive to a specific country. It is a center which extends a welcome to all cultures, ethnicities, and races. You don’t even need to speak Spanish to be involved; many volunteers do not.
Weekly discussions (Sundays 11 a.m. – Noon) and monthly potlucks (3rd Saturday of every month) draw attendees of all kinds: Muslim or not, Spanish-speaking or not. It is a beautiful blend of culture, offering an inspiring and enriching experience.
“The Quran teaches the same stories, of the prophets Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and more.”
Jalil believes sharing the teachings of Islam to Latinos helps them to understand Islam is not something foreign, as he previously thought.
“One thing that Latinos are very interested about is the history of Islam in our own culture. Many do not know this because it is not taught in the history books,” says Jalil. “Muslims lived in Spain for over 800 years, and it had a tremendous impact on our culture. Over 4,000 words in Spanish come from Arabic, and names such as Omar and Fatima are all from Islamic history. Even our architecture and food have some Islamic influences.”
Learning more about the unrecognized influences of Islam contributes to its growth.
“A lot of times, Latinos are even practicing some teachings of Islam without knowing it,” Jalil stated. “When they start to realize all of these things, Islam is much more relatable, and the walls of prejudice come down.”
IslamInSpanish is very active on social media, especially Facebook, with more than 100,000 followers. They produce live streams enjoyed by thousands around the world. Mainstream media has featured them several times, including on CNN, Vice, Telemundo, Univision, and much more. They were invited to the White House in 2016 by President Barack Obama’s administration. This is all a testament to their hard work and dedication.