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Soy Musulmana: Latina Islam converts on the rise

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Earlier this month, millions of Muslims around the world began the observance of Ramadan. This includes the five to twelve million estimated Muslims in the U.S. and also the increasing number of Latino Muslims in the U.S.

Ramadan is a holy time in the Islamic faith where fasting, self discipline and increased prayer are practiced for 30 days. This year, Ramadan will end on August 8th, with the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, better known as Eid, where Islam faithful followers conclude with morning prayer followed by festivities and feasting with family and friends.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino; furthermore the American Muslim Council estimates that there are more than 200,000 Latino Muslims in the U.S. and that number increasing.

Obviously, Latinas are included in this paradigm shift. More often than not, growing up Latino in the U.S. is synonymous with being Catholic. So, why are nuestras mujeres leaving their religious beliefs and adopting a new faith?

For Latinos one word that comes to mind referent to the U.S. is freedom; while for many Latinos, especially immigrants, that freedom is from third world type of factors such as war, poverty, dangerous political situations, disease, etc. for many that freedom also translates to freedom to be and become whoever and whatever they want.

Being free, having choices, and access to employ these is the way of America. So, why not execute these liberties in the realm of spirituality and religion? For Latinas, who for one reason or another may be dissatisfied with the religion their ancestors followed, converting to Islam may be a way to be independent and moreover, a way to choose such an integral part of one’s life for themselves.

For others, converting to Islam may have come out of a curiosity to learn more about this faith, especially as the rise in prejudice against Muslims post 9-11 grasped the entire country. And in this process, some may have found themselves as they searched to understand that which was outside of themselves.

And still for other Latina converts, Islam may have come into their life via marriage and a new identity.

As individual as each mujer is, is her conversion, whether that is to Islam, another faith, or no (religious) faith. Maybe it’s not so much as losing her religion for another, as it is about finding peace with who she is.

And there is no greater freedom that that!


By Being Latino Contributor Claudia Sermeño. Claudia is a first generation Salvadoran-American educator living in Orange County, CA. She can be followed @ClaudiaSermeno.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. May allah ple have meace on to us and we seek him to bless as all and show us the right ways to be

  2. Asalaam to you all my muslims brothers and sister may Allah ple have meace on to us and bless all hes umah and ple show us the right pat to be

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