About 8 percent of all Muslim Americans adults are Latino, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, increasing by about a third from 2011.
In interviews, Latino converts said they are drawn to Islam because of the intense devotion to God, a simplicity in faith and a focus on community that they failed to find in their former faith. But their conversion often is not easy, as they break ties with family and their Christian upbringing.
They are also choosing the faith at a time when Latinos and Muslims alike feel targeted by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and his increasingly restrictive immigration policies for both groups. Reports of hate crimes are on the rise, while Muslims bristle against their depiction in the media. Yet for some, the shared experience of living as a minority in the U.S. is a powerful attraction.
…Lopez’s son, a college student named Luis, was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. While he and family members drifted away from their faith, the younger Lopez still felt a pull toward spiritual life. Islam appealed to him because it focused on prayers to God alone and not to God and Jesus or saints, he said.
About 94 percent of Latino Muslims cited the desire for a more direct, personal experience of God as a reason for converting, in a survey of 560 converts reported in “Latino Muslims in the United States,” a 2017 report in theJournal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion.
…Latino Muslim communities have found a home in mostly urban areas like New York City, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston.
Their backgrounds are diverse. About 56 percent converted from Catholicism and the rest from Protestant faiths or secular or atheist lives, according to the “Latino Muslims in the United States” report.
They differ, too, in the way they live their lives as Muslim converts. Some women wear the hijab, while others do not. Some still enjoy Christmas as a secular celebration with family, but others choose to abstain.
Read more, including why some Latinos feel a strong historic connection to Islam.