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Latino Muslims in the United States After 9/11: The Triple Bind

Hena Zuberi



By Lara N. Dotson-Renta

Used with the permission of Muftah,

In the nine years since the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, many Westerners have come to view Islam (in all of its modes and refractions) as a religion associated with violence and terrorism, and to speak of Muslims living in the West as a suspicious ‘other’. In the United States and Europe, Muslims have come to symbolize a possible “enemy within”, doubly victimized as both potential targets of as well as objects of blame for terrorist attacks. This singling-out of Muslims has dramatically increased in the last year, as demonstrated by recent Congressional hearings spearheaded by New York Republican Congressman Peter King. Dubbed the “Islamic Radicalization Hearings,” the professed goal of these proceedings has been to ‘weed out’ home grown Muslim terrorists in the United States.

The demonization of Islam in the United States has placed a particularly heavy burden on Muslim converts from cultural backgrounds not traditionally associated with Islam. This have been evident within the growing community of Latino Muslims, who struggle to be understood and accepted both within their Latino communities, as well as amongst the Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian populations that dominate the American-Muslim community. As a result of this, as well as the political and social backlash towards Islam in the United States, Latino Muslims have experienced a three-tiered alienation: first from their fellow Latinos who view their conversion as a betrayal of Latin culture; second, from many Americans who view Islam (and by proxy Muslim converts) with suspicion; and finally from Muslim immigrant communities, some of which consider Latino converts to be “inauthentically Muslim” because of their lack of an “Islamic” cultural heritage.

Despite these difficulties, the number of Latino Muslims in the United States has not decreased. Though precise numbers are difficult to confirm, the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) estimate that approximately 40,000 Latino Muslims live in the United States. While this represents a small proportion of the overall U.S. Latino community, which according to the 2010 census has come to represent 1 in every 6 Americans, the growth of Muslim converts amongst American Latinos is a notable and accelerating trend. Latinos are the most steadily expanding minority group in the United States, while Islam is often described as a fast-growing religion, particularly in Europe. The convergence of these trends, as well as the current political realities for Muslims in post-9/11 America, make Latino Muslims a prime example of the tensions and opportunities created by new transnational identities that arise from the ever-increasing cross-cultural encounters that mark the 21st century world.

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.



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    April 12, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    The issue that most concerns me here is how the Muslim community tends to react, which is just tragic, really. When will we learn to look past the cultural and racial lines? Our community has a LOT of work to do.

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      Hena Zuberi

      April 12, 2011 at 2:42 AM

      Absolutely right salams Sister-
      Muslims need to stop treating Islam as their real estate property, inherited from their forefathers. We will stagnate and rot in our racism-May Allah have mercy on all of us and save us from kibr (arrogance). Your piety determines how authentically ‘Islamic’ you are not the color of your skin, which tribe your are from, or where your Mama was born!

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    April 12, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    I’m in agreement with you sisters too! If we don’t learn to look past our own cultural affiliations we’ll never realize how universal Islam really is! Sometimes I think Muslims are so used to conflating their cultural practices with Islam that they’re shocked when they find other Muslims doing things differently.

    For example, we know that in South Asia Muslims get married in a particular arranged marriage fashion with parents and other family members involved. I’ve seen in my own family some relatives wrongly assume when they meet revert Muslims that they didn’t have an arranged marriage (via Imam or other Muslim members of the local community) because arranged marriage to most South Asian Muslims has to involve parents and other family members!
    Sometimes this leads some people to casually “assume” that revert Muslims only reverted after marriage to a Muslim (which is wrong to assume because there are many reverts who were Muslims prior to that). May Allah guide us and keep us away from such false assumptions about others and bestow us with the proper knowledge on Deen.

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    April 16, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Salam, I too am definitely ashamed of how some converts are treated. But what I want to know is what would make you feel more comfortable and more welcomed? I want to know what to do to make sure that this isn’t going on in my community. Any advice?

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      Abu Fatimah

      May 3, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      one of the key issues is marriage. I foud it hard to marry but alhamdulillah eventually i found a wife. The problem is, giving someone a box of dates or a prayer mat or a few books or inviting them to your house for dinner are good starts, but unfortunately when it comes to giving your daughter away, suddenyl people forget the reward from Allah and start thing about tibe, nation etc with a flurry of lame excuses that render the revert marriageless and most likely desperatey searching through muslim marriage websites or asking all the ethnic muslims he/she knows to found him/her a partner. I seriously have seen this many times. For myself, marrying a born muslim froma m muslim family stregthened my iman a lot so i know this is something of benefit to teh ummmah but involves person sacrifice from individuals (if you consider giving your daughter away to a white person or other non muslim origin ethnic group as a sacrfice)

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    April 18, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    @ Sumeya

    Even though I am not a revert (and so can’t speak from personal experience) I would say from my observations that we in the larger Muslim community should stop making assumptions about revert Muslims (“oh she only converted after marriage” or “he isn’t that knowledgeable because he’s a convert”). Some Muslims behave unIslamically towards reverts by acting racist towards them, especially when it comes time for marriage.

    If you witness such behavior happening try to let the offender know that they shouldn’t mistreat a fellow Muslim as that is haraam. With those who have newly converted seeing such bad behavior from other Muslims may dishearten some of them and may even lead them to conflate Muslims’ bad behavior with Islam (depending on how much knowledge of Islam they possess at the time of conversion. Hope this helps; I’m sure there’s other stuff I’ve left out but this is just from my own observations.

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      Abu Fatimah

      May 3, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      the stronger the stance the muslims take against racism in marriage the weaker this position comes inshAllah. So when you see a father rejecting a good man on basis of race, the best thing you can do is scream and shout and make a lot of noise on the side of the subject of the racism.

      Also remember taht sometimes its pakistanis who cant marry somalis or somalis who cant marry arabs etc, so this filth of racism needs to be removed completely inshALlah. the prophet laid down the principles for who to accept for your daughter so lets follow them inshallah

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    April 18, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Americans get a bad rap as being racist. Some of that is deserved, particularly earlier in our history, but it is all relative. I have been around the world, and known people from many cultures. I have seen racism and ethnocentrism in many cultures. America, being a heterogenous society, a nation of immigrants, is probably, actually, less racist than many more homogenous societies. It is not that hard growing-up in the U.S. as a Latino. If I have been treated with prejudice, the consequences have either been unnoticeable to me, or they have just been slightly annoying, or even amusing. Everybody here is from somewhere else (unless you are Shawnee, Navajo or Cherokee). Americans know that. Generally, most of us get along with each other because we make the effort to get along with each other.

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#Current Affairs

My Heart Shook In New Zealand

Mohsin Ansari



One would imagine that a person would be dead-tired and ready to crash in his bed after a grueling, 36-hour journey from Christchurch, New Zealand to Washington, DC. And I will admit, that was the way I felt. Yet somehow, all my somnolence vanished as soon as my head rested on my pillow and I closed my eyes to rest. A wave of recollections fell over me: memories of the survivors, the emotions they expressed, and their feelings of an uncertain future as they planned their lives after the loss of their family members. These feelings instantly took away all the desire to get rest and sleep. I sit upright now and begin writing this reflection of a once in a lifetime experience- a voyage of grief and hope to Aotearoa- land of the white cloud as the indigenous people call New Zealand.

With lost baggage, long flights and too many connections, at times it seemed unlikely that my eldest son Moaz and I would make it to Jumm’ah and Janazah prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. But Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepted our prayers so that we could fulfill the guidelines set by our beloved, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). We were able to fulfill one of the rights of a Muslim over the others; that when he is sick visit him, and when she dies, offer her funeral and be part of her burial.

Hagley Cricket Ground was supposed to have a cricket test match between Bangladesh and New Zealand that Friday. Commentators reckon that it would have been the final day of that test match. But the 22nd of March 2019, brought a much bigger crowd to this world-famous cricket ground than what anyone would have seen on the final day of that test match.

Officials and security directed us towards the VIP area as they wanted to pay respect to the guests who traveled all the way from the USA, Canada, and Australia. The environment of love, solidarity, and respect, coupled with the hijab-clad women standing in solidarity with Muslims in that enormous crowd, created an impact which cannot be articulated by mere words. Every single uniformed female officer was carrying their firearm while donning a hijab; creating a welcoming gesture in a rather somber and gloomy atmosphere.

I do not have the words to thank the leadership of Charity Australia and the Islamic Forum of Australian Muslims (IFAM) for providing us with logistics, facilitating meeting the families of the “shuhudaa” (martyrs) and arranging to visit those injured in the tragedy. ICNA, Helping Hand, and Charity Australia banners highlighting the slogans of “American Muslims stand in solidarity with Victims of Christchurch New Zealand” were the center of attention for thousands of local New Zealanders gathered in solidarity that day. Their hugs, sincere prayers and tearful eyes were the greatest gift that I want to share with everyone reading these reflections.

Right after Jumm’ah, the majority of the crowd attended the collective Janazah prayer of 27 of the martyrs. In those emotional moments, I met with the most courageous woman on earth, the wife of 51-year-old Shaheed Naeem and the mother of 21-year-old Talha Naeem, the two spirited souls who gave their lives to save others in the mosque that day. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She mentioned that her husband, Naeem, was a person who lived the life of a man of service, always ready to help others. She described Talha as an angel who was too pious and too noble to be away from Jannah too long. We heard similar feelings from Naeem’s mother (grandmother of Talha) the next day when we visited their home.

The visit to the home of New Zealand’s national soccer team player, Atta Elayyan (33), was not only emotional but also deeply inspiring. Atta lost his life and his father (the founder of Al-Noor Masjid) was severely injured during this brutal and hateful attack. There were several scholars from the United States, including Sheikh Omer Suleiman, in the visit to Atta’s home. We could offer nothing to console the brave mother of this shaheed, who greeted us with words of courage and wisdom. We had no words to accompany the tears in our eyes, except prayers for the most noble young man who helped so many in coming close to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Our visits to Al-Noor Masjid and the Linwood Islamic Center were also filled with memories of love, harmony, and reverence. There was a continuous influx of hundreds of visitors, not only from New Zealand, but also from different countries including, but not limited to, Australia, Fiji, and Canada.  Thousands and thousands of flower bouquets and other items of love were left by these visitors. I was really thrilled to see that local Muslims left many Qur’ans and flyers with basic concepts of Islam and addressing the common misconceptions about Islam for those visiting. I witnessed many people visiting these mosques were taking those Qur’ans and other books with them in order to learn more about Islam.

We also met Mr. Aziz, the unsung hero who repeatedly attacked the killer with different objects including an empty gun —which the killer had discarded. The terrorist fired on Aziz multiple times, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) not only saved him, but he also forced the killer to flee from the Linwood Islamic Center. Mr. Aziz was one of the reasons why the number of casualties in this mosque was only seven, compared to the 43 martyrs in Masjid Al-Noor. We also met certain individuals whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) saved miraculously. A young man showed his trousers fenestrated with holes of bullets but had no signs of injury. The husband and wife who entered the premises of the mosque and only to be showered with a burst of 26 bullets while in their car, leaving it completely destroyed. Yet Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) saved both of them while they took shelter in their vehicle.

The visit to the hospital’s ICU was simply heartbreaking but at the same time increased our resolve and commitment to help these families as much as possible. We encountered a Turkish brother who was in a coma for nine days and met his elderly parents, who spoke to us in the very little English they knew. The only thing which we could understand from their hushed voices was the request for du’a and tears of helplessness in their eyes. The 71-year-old father of a local Pakistani from Hafizabad, who had arrived two weeks ago to visit his son, was now on a ventilator fighting for his life. As a physician who has worked in ICU settings for a long time, I simply did not have enough medical reasoning which could have provided him any words of hope!! Similarly, I was not able to provide any glimmer of hope to a brother from Bangladesh whose wife will never be able to walk again and will be paralyzed for the rest of her life.

While I saw hope and felt resilience from every victim in that hospital, this hospital visit was brutally heartbreaking.

Lastly, I cannot imagine the pain, agony, and helplessness that the father of Mucad Ibrahim must feel after losing his 3-year-old son in his own arms. I gave him the longest hug possible, as he taught the whole world the meaning of Beautiful Sabr (Patience).

After seeing the devastation caused by the terrorist attack, and the work that must still be done to heal the community, Helping Hand USA, ICNA Relief Canada, and Charity Australia have formed an organization called the “Christchurch Family Support Network”. The operations have already begun, and our team is on the ground. The first group of mental health professionals with a background in Islamic Integrated counseling are set to leave to provide victims and their families immediate psychological assistance.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to accept our work, bring healing to the community, protect our brothers and sisters, and accept the shuhadaa’ in the highest level of Paradise.

Dr. Mohsin Ansari is the Vice President Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Chairman of Helping Hand USA (HHRD)


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#Current Affairs

Because Muslims Matter | Honoring The Martyrs Of #Christchurch

Hena Zuberi



As the days go by, it is easy to forget the names and faces of the people who passed away. The horror of the act eclipses their memories. We do not want that to happen to our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.

اللهُـمِّ اغْفِـرْ لِحَيِّـنا وَمَيِّتِـنا وَشـاهِدِنا ، وَغائِبِـنا ، وَصَغيـرِنا وَكَبيـرِنا ، وَذَكَـرِنا وَأُنْثـانا. اللهُـمِّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْـتَهُ مِنّا فَأَحْيِـهِ عَلى الإِسْلام ،وَمَنْ تَوَفَّـيْتَهُ مِنّا فَتَوَفَّـهُ عَلى الإِيـمان ، اللهُـمِّ لا تَحْـرِمْنـا أَجْـرَه ، وَلا تُضِـلَّنا بَعْـدَه

Allaahum-maghfir lihayyinaa, wa mayyitinaa, wa shaahidinaa, wa ghaa’ibinaa, wa sagheerinaa wa kabeerinaa, wa thakarinaa wa ‘unthaanaa..

O Allah forgive our living and our dead, those who are with us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our menfolk and our womenfolk… [7]

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#Current Affairs

Shaykh Yahya Adel Ibrahim’s Message in the Wake of the #ChristChurchMosqueShooting

Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim



We offer our condolences to our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand and to all Kiwis. We feel your pain. We see your tears. We hear your cries and we mourn with you. The Ummah is with you- Editor’s note

Live broadcast:

The Mosque Massacre today in #NewZealand – From Hate, Love may bloom

Posted by Yahya Adel Ibrahim on Friday, March 15, 2019

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