More than 1,400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Surely, this religion will reach the boundaries of the day and night and Allah will not spare a rural or an urban dwelling except that He would cause Islam to enter it…”(Ahmad and Ibn Hibban, classified as authentic). We are witnessing the realization of this prophecy today, as Islam continues to spread from the East to the West, including North and South America, where the number of Muslims will more than double by the year 2030, according to statistical projections.
Many of the new Muslims are Latinos who are living in the US and in Latin America. Recent studies such as the The American Mosque 2011 Report reveal that the number of Latino converts in the US has been steadily increasing since the year 2000, more so than any other racial or ethnic group. Similar trends are occurring in neighboring Mexico and further south in Central and South America, where the primary language is Spanish.
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, and the official language of 21 countries. With over 50 million native speakers and second-language speakers, the United States has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, after Mexico. Spanish is the most studied foreign language in the US.
In the Qur’an, God says, “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise”(Qur’an, 14:4). This points to the importance of providing educational materials about Islam in all languages. And due to the dramatically rising number of Spanish-speaking Muslim converts in the US, the need for resources in Spanish cannot be ignored.
ICNA and its WhyIslam project are among the few organizations providing services for this demographic, with Spanish-speaking operators on the 1-877-WhyIslam hotline, educational material in Spanish, Spanish sessions during the annual ICNA-MAS convention, and The Message International magazine now featuring articles in the Spanish language.
Islam is an integral part of Latino history and culture and as such, Hispanics who choose to become Muslim are merely rediscovering and embracing their past. Through our efforts, with God’s help, we can share the message with our brothers and sisters in humanity and facilitate the success of their transition.