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El Puente: Islam Catching On Among Latinos

El Puente Del Cinco
November 15,2004

RICHARDSON, Texas -- One-fifth of the world's population practices Islam, including more and more Latinos in north Texas. Prayer and passionately studying the Quran are a way of life in the Islamic religion.

It's a strange concept for many Latinos, because most practice Catholicism.

Colombian-born Abu Abudurahman shocked his parents with the news he would follow Islam.

"They were very concerned. They thought I joined a cult. When I went to visit them in Colombia, they thought this was just a phase," Abudurahman said. "But when they saw me, they knew I was serious."

Hundreds of north Texas Latinos are also serious, and they're finding a common ground with other South Americans, Spaniards and Mexicans who have found their place at the Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson.

In fact, according to the association, there are currently about 200 Latinos practicing Islam in north Texas.

And Muslims at the center say the Latino-Islam connection is not that far-fetched.

"The Gregorian year of 700, the Muslims invaded Spain and they stayed in Spain for 700 years until they were revoked back out," Alaedin Bashiti said.

The two cultures mixed and the Spaniards brought part of the Muslim culture to the Americas and eventually spread down into South America, Bashiti said.

Bolivian Ingrid Siddiqui says she never found the answers she was looking for in the Catholic religion and that Islam was her answer.

"I always had the question of the Trinity. That was something I couldn't accept and understand. In Islam, I found the true answer to my question that is the oneness of God," Siddiqui said.

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