H.G. Reza, Los Angeles Times, 29 Octoboer 2005
Below are the key excerpts:
Marta Khadija Ramirez
Imagine the difficulty of a Latina steeped in Roman Catholic tradition trying to explain Islam to her family in 1983. And imagine that one of her sisters is a Catholic nun.
"Islam was unknown in Mexico then. It wasn't easy for my family to accept my decision. My sister the nun was blaming herself for not teaching me enough about Catholicism," said Khadija, the youngest of 11 sisters raised on a ranch south of Mexico City and now a nurse who lives in Los Angeles.
Arwa Ayloush converted in 1991 while attending the University of Texas, said her parents' initial apprehension about her new religion stemmed from "fear of the unknown."
"You just left Laredo and now you're a Muslim. What happened to you, girl?" is how Ayloush, raised a Jehovah's Witness, described her family's reaction to her conversion. Over time, the families of Khadija and Ayloush, a kindergarten teacher living in Corona, accepted their Muslim identities.
Despite the differences that many U.S. Christians believe separate them from Muslims, both sides have much in common, Ayloush and the others said.
"The theological differences are there, but they shouldn't be a fence that separates us. They should be a bridge instead. I'm a Little League mom. I'm there cheering for my kids who play sports, like the other moms. The only thing that's really different about me is the hijab."
Did you know that the Los Angeles Latino Muslim Association:
- Was founded in 1999.
- Has an outreach program to introduce Islam to Latinos living in the city.
- Meets at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles.
- Breaks their fast together at Vermont Avenue facility on Sundays during Ramadhan.
- Also meet at the Masjid Omar, a mosque in Los Angeles.
- Runs Luz del Islam Publishing in Culver City.
- Distributes a Spanish translation of the Koran at Latino book fairs.
- Sponsors mosque tour.
- Provides speakers to Latino student groups at area colleges.
Other related links:
More Hispanic Women Converting to Islam
Latino Women Finding a Place in Islam