January 30, 2016
Source: World Bulletin
A non-profit organization IslaminSpanish will open a centre today in Houston that will help educate Latinos about Islam in Spanish. After much deliberation, they decided to build the first ever Spanish-speaking mosque in the United States. The one of a kind 5,000+sq ft center includes a mosque, museum, lounge, information showroom, multi-purpose hall, and state of the art production studio that will aim to broadcast and live stream Spanish programs. The entire production will also be available be online.
"The heart of what inspired IslamInSpanish was responding to the need for information on Islam in Spanish," says CEO Jaimie Mujahid Fletcher, a Colombian-American who founded the organization, "My family had a lot of questions when I became Muslim. This is something that's foreign to a lot of Latinos."
After converting to Islam and in order to help his father understand the religion in Spanish - of which there were no books or audio material - Fletcher, who has a background in multimedia and film began to createg audios translating books on Islam. What started off as one CD created to educate Fletcher's family and his wife's skeptical aunt, turned into a venture that was saw him distributing the audio booksacross the country. Not long after, Fletcher was then invited to speak at conferences, universities, and various places of worship.
IslamInSpanish then began to have their own events and started meet-ups with hundreds of Spanish-speaking Latinos who were genuinely interested and curious about Islam.
"We're creating a whole new identity. It's a subculture literally, Latino Muslims," says Fletcher who realized it was time to create a center for everyone in the community to meet. The lack of materials and Spanish-speaking mosques made it difficult for Latinos to really learn about the religion.
"There was a huge need to have a center," adds Fletcher. We asked the community if they felt we needed a place and everyone raised their hand and said yes. For Latino converts, many of them feel alienated from their families who might think they left their culture to become Muslim and even in mosques where the majority of folks speak Arabic.
But the center doesn't just consist of a mosque, it will also feature an exhibition on the history of Islam in Latino America, along with a state-of-the-art production studio where they will be broadcasting and streaming live Spanish programs. People who are not able to visit the center will be able to access information directly online.