In 2016, a NBC video report had pointed out that Islam is spreading very fast among the American Hispanic community. Report claimed that this is somehow related to the impact of 9/11 and heightened awareness about Islam through media.
Hispanics in the United Sates are mostly of Latin-American origin, they are mostly Catholic and deeply religious. Unlike the north America and western Europe, religion is still a defining force in Latin American society and politics.
Statistics in the NBC video had pointed out that the number of converts to Islam had grown dramatically amongst Hispanic in the U.S after 9/11. The Council on American-Islamic Relations estimated that Muslims were merely 20,000 amongst the Hispanic community in 2001; however, by 2006, within five years, their number had risen to almost 100,000.
Even today, the trend of conversion to Islam continues among the Hispanic community. A recent report from Press-Enterprise claims that today, there are an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Muslim converts amongst the American Hispanic community.
Why are American Hispanics converting to Islam?
Raquel Martinez, 25, a convert, said that her mother raised her as a Catholic but after Iraq war, she was gradually exposed to Islam. This opened her eyes to a completely new reality. After proper studying Islam, she decided to convert.
Most of the converts say that they have embraced Islam in search of inner peace and truth. Islam gave them the satisfaction and purpose of life that was missing before. They said they have found this religion very peaceful contrary to what has been told by the media after 9/11.
What could be behind this conversion trend towards Islam? Comment of Jose Rubio, a Catholic priest give some understanding. Rubio said, ”I would prefer people to be Catholic but if people find closeness to God in Islam then it’s okay to be a Muslim instead of non-practicing Catholic”
This search for spirituality, inner meaning of life and intimacy to a higher being may be the motivating factors driving Americans towards Islam. But then why trend is more pronounced in Hispanic than the standard population? Answer may lie in the inherent religiosity of the catholic Hispanics. Most of them are first or second generation immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Their chosen homeland – America – may be offering them a religion that feels devoid of what religion should offer: spirituality. This is where Islam, in America’s material culture has an edge and a potential that may also be frightening its critics.
Read more: Reality behind anti-Islam mindset in America
Islam is the world’s second largest religion having almost 1.6 Billion followers. Within America, there are an estimated seven million Muslims – however they lack cohesiveness that is needed for political impact. After September 11, Islam was taken on a spear and deemed as a culprit behind terrorism. Muslims, were targeted physically, psychologically, and at times even their mosques were attacked or burnt.