Khadijah Rivera (www.angelfire.com/pq/Andalusia)
En el Nombre’ de Ala’ el Compasivo el Misericordioso Al-hamdulilah, it has been part of our illustrious Islamic history to send messengers to different lands to spread the teachings of Al Islam. But for converts to spread the message in their land of choice it’s only the beginning of there Islamic duty! As Hispanic Americans it is our belief that we should utilize our gift of a second language to teach our brethren right here in the USA our adopted homeland. And with that in mind I come humbly before you to present this paper on how da’wah has developed and it’s future in America. As Br. Muhammad Abdul Khabeer will testify Islam was brought to the Americas with the New World. On board Christopher Columbus’ ship were the Astrolabe and the Muslim who could work it. For without it, Columbus would have never reached the New World. Prior to that, the Muslims of Andalucia had enjoyed a rich and glorious history in Muslim Spain for over 700 years. Bringing science and Islam at the forefront of their lives. They breathed Islam in their architecture and rich culture. Their intermarriages and adoption of the “new faith” brought unity rather than segregation for hundreds of years. For the Muslims allowed synagogues and churches to be built and allowed citizens to worship God the Almighty so long as they paid taxes to the Muslims. Our Hispanic roots were merged permanently with the prosperous Islamic culture. I can almost see my Puerto Rican late grandmother turn to me as I said:? “Bendicion abuelita? ” (Blessings Grandma?) and her response was? “Que Dios te bendiga” (May God bless you) where upon I would respond? “Te veo el proximo sabado” (See you next week) and she would say? “Si Dios Quiere” Another words, “Inshallah”.So we also brought that aspect of our daily lives to the new world as her parents were from Spain. Dr. Thomas Ballentine Irving the leading authority on Muslim Spain once gave me as a gift, pages of Andalucian recipes. It had no pork products, which are so common in Spanish cooking today. Inshallah this books printing is a project that we hope to promote among our jummaat.When the Muslims were expelled from Spain many of them left as Mude’jar Artisans. Once they arrived in the New World and Latin America they built churches with Islamic architecture and beautiful lines and fountains. Our lives were so intertwined that we could hardly distinguish one from the other. So that today when da’wah is given to a Christian it is so much easier for them to accept it. I also believe that the mere fact that a Hispanic is giving the da’wah assists greatly for it is more of a natural move and inclination to the faith. I use to wonder why during Malcolm X ‘s period many more Hispanics were not invited to Islam. But now I sigh with a great relief for that. We are a nation of mostly pious people who took religion seriously throughout history. Whether via Andalucia or the Crusades or the Conquistadors it was always a deep commitment to a higher truth.In New York City I found a Puerto Rican family who taught their children Islam as babies and now they can be joyful that they have Hafiz and upright Muslims. One of the main reasons we come is for the security it brings our family life and the love it fosters between our children and even our non-Muslim extended family. Br. Mustafa was known for standing across the street from the big churches with a table full of literature and invite congregates to learn about Al –Islam. In Ohio we have Aisha Moreno of Ecuadorian decent who once asked me how could she do da’wah if she was mostly home. And I told her that if she were sincere they would knock at her door. She has since been teaching from her home and has weekly halaqahs in Spanish and English. In Miami we had 5 shahadahs in one weekend! All over the country masses of Hispanics have found inner peace in a faith that is akin to their own culture. PIEDAD was very active in NYC where we began our work in 1987. Our first seminar was at a club where we brought food and invited our extended non -Muslim family. The founders of PIEDAD were not all-Spanish speaking; in fact we had a Kashmiri sister and a Pakistani who understood the importance of da’wah to Latinos. Although we are known for our numerous seminars with speakers like: Iman Siraj Wahaj, Mohammed Nasim, Dr. Thomas Irving, Dr Omar Kasule and others, truth is it was never as productive as our One on One da’wah. It was this personalization of the deen that assisted us. Here we could speak freely and clearly use the dua’ that releases our tongue so that we may be understood.I remember the day I met Br Yasin he was 17 years old and he wanted to go to Afghanistan. His family did not allow him and he wanted us to convince them. Well that was his objective but that is not what happened. His elder parents were afraid of his new religion and felt is was pure fanaticism, which could get their son killed. We spent what seemed to be hours trying to explain to this humble couple the virtues of Islam. Whereas they complained about their son and how he took down their portraits from the wall and the infamous Christmas tree in all it’s glory. Oh yes, they believed he was totally crazy. Why he didn’t even eat! We asked him if perhaps he was eating at night and explained what fasting was. “Oh yes” answered his father.” He is like a little mouse and eats when we are in bed.” Al Hamdulilah it was clear to us this brother was in the deen. At this point we stopped and really listened to them. They needed their son home and needed to see the difference between Yasin now and then. We asked them what Yasin was doing before he committed to Islam. “ Oh the father said ” I was getting him out of jail constantly, h e was stealing hubcaps and getting drunk.”And now?“Oh no.”, with realization in his breath, ” not now! ”. That day Yasin’s father converted to Al Islam during Jumaah. Shortly after his nieces and his mother also converted. That is the miracle of Islam. It is as beautiful as it is wondrous.Certainly, da’wah to any specific group is enriching but also involves lots of frustration as well as time. PIEDAD began as da’wah directed to the overlooked Hispanic women in NYC. And has continued it’s specialization to that intimate group without keeping others from assistance and participation. Working with women was especially rewarding because we come from the same place. Our first step has always been to form sincere and deep friendships that allow mistakes and are non judgmental. Secondly, to teach only what we are sure is correct and for deeper questions always have a sheikh or imam available for advice. Third, and most important to assure the new Muslimah that Islam is for everyone and that we are not to separate ourselves from any other Muslims as “only Hispanic Muslims”. And last but not least, to seek Islamic knowledge for the rest of their lives and never be satisfied with their comprehension but to have the thirst of learning in their hearts solely for the pleasure of Almighty Allah swt.After a sister learns to make salat and has an elementary understanding of Islam she is directed to the nearest Islamic center to continue her studies and referred to books that she can study to further her knowledge. If a sister wishes to go further in order to serve Allah swt she may want to join us in da’wah and for that we do Daiyett training. Which are basically a continuation of their studies in Islam and the practice of the deen in the service of Allah swt. As we did in Houston Texas with Br. Hussein Shuote and Sr. Aisha Mohammad of NYC several years ago.It should noted that our specific outreach must often take on a more nurturing role in da’wah, as in the case of young Yasin and the impact of Islam on his family. Also, where single women come to PIEDAD whether young or old there is an urgency to learn their roles as Muslimahs in a household. The precious upbringing of our next generation as well as the shura needed to maintain a good Islamic marriage is at stake. Often we must seek help from the Islamic community to give a support network for these women. Al hamdulilah PIEDAD has outstanding sheikhs and imam’s assisting us 24/7. This paper is to be used to understand the need of da’wah to Hispanics due to their history and For the development of the Hispanic community I have purposely outlined a Wish List of goals we are setting for our enrichment and progress. We hope that you will assist in its general development and generate a discussion so that we may improve in our da’wah direction. Our wish list for Da’wah in the USA? Funding for Da’wah groups to assist them in their challenging work. And to allow them to work full time in their outreach efforts. Also to pay for postage and offices expenses. (Even the most modest home office has expenses.)? Scholarships-Network with International organizations to assist pious and bright brothers to be trained as Spanish speaking imams. And that they be available to settle in Latin America with a modest living stipend.? That Islamic Literature be translated in all levels and made available to Da’wah groups without cost. And in this way keep our general expenses down.? That the Latino Conferences be a vehicle to assist us in unification and sharing of our strategies. And also to flow with communication to all organizations.? That each group has access to an imam with Prior expertise in Da’wah to assist in training of new Muslims and the da’wah process. And that Imam is given a small stipend for their extra work. We will be calling on them at all hours of the night and for many different types of problems and questions.? That we have access to organizations who can fund at least one or two sisters per year who have need for Hajj, either due to illness, lack of funds or strong desire.? That Video and Audio production of material to be produced to assist the new Muslims in learning Quranic Arabic and Islam. This material must be available for free to Correction facilities throughout the United States. In their quest for economic security great numbers of our brothers and sisters are incarcerated for breaking of immigration laws.? That Shahadah Certificates should be available in Spanish and Arabic so that the new converts may travel to complete their Hajj requirements.? And finally and perhaps more importantly that the Big organizations understand that even though we are smaller than they, our desire is nonetheless equal and as significant!