One of the challenges when speaking to others about Islam. Whether the person is Latino or is Non Latino. They become preplaxed at the thought that I am NOT fluent in spanish because for some reason, in the minds of many people, speaking Spanish and being Latino or of latino descent is synonymous; While in reality my generation and younger are NOT fluent in Spanish, although each person is different.
For example, I know a family that was born and raised in PR, but when they moved to the states they were told NOT to speak Spanish; They must only speak English while in America. Within my own family, my aunts, who were born and raised in PR, do not read Spanish although they do speak Spanish. In all actuality, I read and write better Spanish then they do.
When my dad and aunts came to the states they learned to read, write, and speak English in school. At home they only spoke Spanish and Outside of the home they spoke only English. It, unknowingly, created a divide and set the tone for future generations only speaking English.
When I was younger, I began to research my family background and began to understand the life my family left behind in PR. I began understanding who we are as a people. I became very proud of my background and my heritage. I also began to understand that just because I am not fluent in Spanish does not make me any less Latino/a. I realized that further when I was reunited with my family years later and none of them spoke Spanish.
I also know many friends who are in the same boat today. We all agree that now as adults, we are struggling to regain a piece of our heritage by relearning a language that should come natural to us, but is still a struggle. Speaking to older generations, I am not sure why some elders did not retain their language, although I suspect it was because it was easier to find jobs and live life by assimilating into society…… by not speaking Spanish.
However, today, there is a wonderful movement within the latino community to regain and teach the younger generation about their culture and language. The community is teaching them to not be ashamed of who they are and that they can live in both worlds. You can live within an English speaking world and Spanish speaking world. You can belong to both.
As a Muslimah, I have had the opportunity to meet other Latino/a muslims from all over the world. It is such a wonderful feeling to meet people who speak like you, eat like you and now worship like you. The latino muslim community is growing so fast it is mind boggling at times. However, because of this growth, now is the time to educate others about Islam.
We, as Latino Muslims, can and should retain our culture and language while teaching others about our religion. When becoming muslim we do not have to leave that part of us behind. We need to remember The Prophets last sermon. He points out that the Arab is not better than the non Arab. And that the White is not better than the black and the black is not better than the White. We need to remember to retain our culture and heritage, while worshiping and remembering Allah..
To learn more about Islam in Spanish from a Latina perspective. Please stay tuned!
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Gracia a todos!
Tu Hermana en Islam