California: US Organizations that cater to Hispanics converting to Islam recently stated that Latinos are the fastest-growing group of Muslims in America.
Most US official measures also say that Latinos in the US are considered to be the fastest-growing demographic segment. According to Press-Enterprise, there are an estimated 150,000 Muslim converts among the Latino community in the US.
The trend of Hispanic converts to Islam has been tracked by the Islamic Society of North America, which in 2006 estimated there were roughly 40,000 Latino Muslims in the US, according to a report by National Public Radio.
Some community leaders said the recent growth of the demographic has its roots in a shared experience of immigration and the negative political rhetoric that advocates have deemed as anti-Muslim.
“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, and Latinos are converting to Islam at a rate higher than any other [ethnicity],” said Mark Gonzales, a Muslim poet and artist in California, who is of Mexican-American and French-American heritage and converted to Islam 12 years ago.
Jihad Turk, president of Bayan Claremont, an Islamic graduate school in California, told the Press-Enterprise that Islam is most similar to Catholic beliefs. Muslims believe in many stories contained in the Christian Bible, including the prophets, he said.
“Muslims not only believe in God and the Ten Commandments, but also in Jesus as Christ born to the Virgin Mary and her story is told in the Qur'an in more detail than it’s told in the Bible”, Turk said, noting that several organizations were formed in the US to help the merging of Latino and Muslim communities.
Rida Hamida, president of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce in Orange County, California, has been working with Latino Muslims to highlight the merging of cultures.
A series of public events scheduled for January will focus on a time of Muslim rule in Spain and Portugal, from 711 and 1492, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews cohabited along the Iberian Peninsula, Hamida said.