Islam in Mexico
ISLAM IN MEXICO
A Struggle to remain giving Dawa according to
Quran and Sunnah
Provided by Muslim Center de Mexico
The presence of Muslims in Mexico is hard to trace, we know that we've had many immigrants mainly from Turkey, Lebanon and Syria, but we don't know for certain how many Muslims were among them. A study was made by Theresa Velcamp, from Georgetown University in 1999 that showed evidence that approximately 10 % of the immigrants of Syrian or Lebanese origin were Muslim. Today the Syrian Lebanese community is one of the richest in Mexico and exceeds 200,000 people. Among them is the richest man in Latin America Carlos Slim the son of Yusof Salim.
Among this wave of Arab immigrants Islam has for the most part been removed from their daily lives. Islam is a verb that means obedience and submission to a way of life consequently it wouldn't be fair to say that Islam has been present in Mexico. There's no proof that Islam was present in any way in Mexico before these waves of Arab immigration. We have however found one specific exception in a book called "Un hereje y Un Musulman" by Pascual Almazan. The book mentions a story of Yusof bin Alabaz who was one of those expelled by the Christains in Reconquista of Spain and went to Morroco where he was robbed by the Pirates so he found his way to Mexico in the 16th Century. It is reported that Yusof bin Alabaz hated the Christians who obliged his father (who accordingly was from the Family of the Prophet Muhammed SAW) to leave Islam and become Christian. He Started corresponding with the Muslim World and received a letter from a Qadi in Morroco encouraging him to be steadfast. It has been reported that he used to try and make everyone in Veracruz, Mexico accept Islam, may Allah reward him for his efforts.
Islam today is beginning to be noticed and recognized by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, including dozens of institutions, universities and governmental bodies. This is due to Allah's degree and secondly to a group of organized Muslims that are working hard to raise the honor of Islam and help the Mexican people see the True Light of Islam.
Islam in Mexico before the formation of MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO in September 1994
When Br. Mark (Omar) Weston founder and director of MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO became Muslim in 1988 at Orlando Florida's central mosque he returned to Mexico (where he has resided since 1973 as a British Subject). Upon his return to Mexico he was unable to find the Muslim Community. He visited various Muslim embassies in Mexico City seeking a gathering of Muslims. The only embassy that opened its doors was the Iranian embassy who gave him plenty of information on the Iranian revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini. Within the literature received was a compendium of lectures given at a conference held by WAMY (World Assembly of Muslim Youth) in 1988 at Mexico City. In this book he found the name of Yaseen Ramirez, a Mexican Sufi who had a small group of brothers who united to read about Islamic and Sufi literature. The brother and his group had no clear Aquida (Islamic Doctrine), some days they read from Shiite sources, other days from Sunni or Sufi and even from Qadiyani sources. Yaseen´s group didn't pray Jumah (Friday) prayers so Br. Omar Weston was informed about a small group of diplomats that used to pray Jumah prayers at the Egyptian Club. A small apartment in a residential area of Mexico City rented by the Egyptian Embassy who at the same time rented it to the few Muslims for about 100 USD a month.
Every Friday a brother from Chile Muhammed Rumi used to open the small place and a few brothers used to arrive and sit on a couple of sofas until Muhammed Rumi gave a short lecture in Spanish, then from a group of no more than 10 brothers someone was put forward to lead the Salat. This group of brothers had been uniting for about two years before Br. Omar Weston´s participation. Br. Omar who had observed Dawa programs in the US started implementing some of the skills he learnt and started visiting brothers known to be Muslim and started inviting them to Salat. The Siddique family and a Medical Student Fayyaz Ullah from Pakistan supported Omar´s efforts and managed to gradually increase attendance for prayer. Not long after Br. Omar was opening up the small apartment in Polanco to pray during the week that Muhammed Rumi broke the news that the rent had practically tripled so the Pakistani Embassy offered a small room in its embassy to pray Jumah there.
Br. Omar Weston continued to visit Muslims and started giving Dawa to non Muslims forming a group at his home of approximately 10 brothers both converts and Immigrants. In 1990 the Pakistani Embassy allowed Mr. Weston to use the Embassy's prayer room in the evenings. The study circle around him grew and with the help of Allah and secondly of a few visiting Dawa groups they managed to start finding more Muslims. In 1992 before Br. Omar went to Study Islam in Medina Saudi Arabia the Jumah Attendance consisted of approximately 35 brothers and a few sisters.
The then Pakistani Ambassador in 1993 tried forming a trust of various Muslim embassies to present to the Mexican government an appeal for a piece of Land to build a Masjid. The Mayor of Mexico City (Camacho Solis) offered this small trust a piece of land but due to a lack of initiative and coordination they lost the opportunity.
In May 1994 Br. Omar Weston returned from Medina and Niaz Sidiqui lent him an apartment in Polanco to start daily prayers and recover the activities that had been abandoned will he was at Medina. Fajr, Maghrib and Isha prayers were established and Arabic and Islamic lessons were held after prayers. In September 1994 they were obliged to move from the apartment and they started selling a few possessions and working hard to finance a new place in Colonia del Valle, a middle class residential area in Mexico City. After nearly a year of struggling and growing in mid 1995 a group all five prayers were attended and various Mexicans converted to Islam.
FORMATION MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO
In September 1995 MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO (MCM) was registered as a non profit organization. From 1995 to September 2001, MCM managed to establish the five prayers in congregation on a daily basis, the attendance has gradually increased and lots of Mexicans are accepting Islam. The new Muslims are receiving lessons on the fundamentals of Tawheed and the essentials of Fiqh. Monthly meals and weekly gatherings are held at the Center for all the Muslims. MCM has been Visiting Muslims in the capitol and other cities around the entire country, looking for Muslims and giving Dawa. Islam, for the first time in Mexican history, is having contact with the general Public. Talks about Islam on many National TV programs have are given viewed by millions of Mexicans, constant radio programs are given. Islamic Book Stands in the International Book Fairs of Mexico City and around the country are organized allowing thousands on Mexicans to learn about Islam. Conferences on Islam in prestigious universities around Mexico and even in state auditoriums are held, Islamic texts have been placed into major libraries and book stores in the country as well as articles on Islam in some major newspapers and magazines, and as for expanding to other cities at the moment MCM established Musallahs in Monterey, Guadalajara, Ciudad Obregon and Chiapas. A clear objective of MCM directives has been to send Mexican Muslims over sees to study Islam, since it's formation it has sent 8 brothers to study Islam in Medina University, Saudi Arabia. Six of our sisters are studying a correspondence BA course on Islam.
MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO receives hundreds of emails and it's web site (www.islam.com.mx) has received over 100,000 visits in a single month. MCM's web site is the most informative site on (in accordance to Quran and Sunnah) in Spanish on the World Wide Web. Among the main objectives of MCM is to produce beneficial and sound knowledge in Spanish, MCM has translated dozens of books and over one hundred articles on Islamic topics. MCM has managed to publish some of it's books but we need financial support to publish more material.
Miraculously MCM has managed to do all it's activities including running a full scale Islamic Center in Mexico city and supporting brothers around the entire country, with less than 30,000 USD a year. The Islamic Center in Mexico has a rent bill of 15,000 USD a year, plus four brothers and one sister working full time. Most of them with salaries below 200 USD a month. It has a huge bill board on one of the most transitted avenues in Mexico City where the Islamic Center is also located. It is a huge picture of Masjid al Aqsa with thousands of people praying and it reads Prayer is for Allah, with our web site. The owner of the property who sympathizes with us only charges us 50 USD a month. The billboard next to it, which is slightly smaller pays 1,800 USD a month. MCM publishes books and pays stands or booths in major events which costs money. MCM pays advertisements in the media to invite people to lectures. We helped our brothers in Chiapas by building a small Mosque in their area. During Ramadan MCM has always given programs which include every day Iftars and lessons on Islam to which brothers from other areas of Mexico are invited.
MCM needs to stay firm giving Dawa we are a well known organization nation wide, Omar Weston is known for his TV programs and his long beard. People in the public stores and restaurants come up to him to ask about Islam. The sisters that do things in group are also known among many. Mexico is a country of 100 million people and we need to inform them about Islam. We are sowing the seeds for Islam in Mexico but we need your participation in this huge project. Mexico as the leading country in Latin America can easily become the key to introduce Islam in that last frontier for Islam: Latin America. We are a very poor community and can't handle with the expenses that this great project entails.
Dar Assalaam Project
Muslim Center de Mexico during the past years has gradually purchased a reasonable sized land in a beautiful lake front area of Mexico, 80 KM from Mexico City and 30 KM from the Cuernavaca which is a big and well known city in Mexico. The purpose of this project is to have a permanent center to teach the rapidly growing Mexican Muslim population. We also need to start introducing Islam in the rural areas of Mexico, the site for Dar as Salaam is surrounded by dozens of villages that are very clean hearted people that are already showing an inclination to Islam. These are the people we can't reach through media, universities or internet, and have proven to be the most receptive.
With the help of Allah we have layed down the foundations for the first phase of the project which is the Mosque. We need $50, 000 USD to finish the Mosque. For more details you can send us your address and we'll send you all the details.
Dawa in Mexico has been a Unique experience mainly a community of Mexican Muslims committed in practicing the great favor they received from Allah and sharing this bblessing with others. A common scenerio in this Dawa is to see a member of a large family accept Islam and gradually see how other members of the same family come to the fold of Islam. Before the opening of the center islam was nearly unknown to the public, today it's a different story. However there's a lot more work to do. Today we have 100's of Mexican Muslims and 100's of thousands of Mexicans of a more genuine picture of Islam than before. You can become a means of helping Mexicans come to Islam.
MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO IN OTHER PARTS OF MEXICO
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.
Strangely enough MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO's activities in the second largest city in Mexico was due to a business opportunity that a Mexican hamburger factory (Trosi de Carnes SA de CV) had in 1995 when McDonalds Restaurants were opened in the Middle East. Trosi de Carne due to the Crazy cow disease in Europe was offered the production of hamburgers for all McDonalds restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa. MCM was asked to certify that the imported Halal meat from USA was processed in clean machines without been mixed with none Islamic slaughterings. Omar Weston was flown from Mexico City to Monterrey three days a week to over view the hamburger production. With the financial aid received by Trosi de Carnes and some brothers in Texas Omar Weston rented a house to use it as a branch of the MCM.
MCM managed to establish a Jumah prayer with about ten participants, however this didn't last long because the hamburger production was transferred once again to Europe so MCM could no longer assist the brothers to keep the house open, some efforts were made by some of the local brothers but till today August 2000 the group of brothers there now substantially bigger haven't managed to start Jumah prayers again. However MCM keeps close contact with them and sends them literature frequently.
While visiting Monterey so frequently Omar Weston started contacting a small Muslim community in Torreon. This community is formed by Syrian Immigrants that migrated in the twenties and thirties, a decade ago Mr. Sirhan Elias built a beautiful small Masjid in honor of his daughter that died. Mr. Hasan Chamut is the Imam there and they have a Jumah attendance of 10 to 20 people. Even though they come from a Shiite background and the Iranian embassy has supported them with literature, there are only a handful of them that really understand the real meaning of the Shiite doctrine.
Guadalajara is the third biggest city in Mexico, the story of Islam started when Abu Bakr (one of the fortunate new Muslims that studied in Medina) visited a book fair at Guadalajara. He found two brothers of Mexican origin "Omar and Khaled" however Omar was of Algerian origin, he narrates that his grandfather came to Mexico decades ago with his son and his son fell in love with Omar's mother, buisness wasn't good so the grandfather returned leaving his son married to Omar's mother, when Omar was six his father past away, he remembered that his father used to pray and it lead him to seek Islam.
Br. Omar Weston later visited them, they had a house with barely a roof on it and a little Musallah, with a Mirhab. They were calling the Adhan in Spanish a reading Al Fatiha in Spanish they learned this from an Encyclopedia. Br. Omar took one of them (khalid) back to Mexico with him and taught him ten Surahs of the Quran, how to read Quran in Arabic and basics of Tawheed and Fiqh.
Later we discovered that a group of Medical Students was studying in Guadalajara so we asked them to rent a house in the area where these new Muslims were. They followed suit and joined efforts to improve the condition of Islam there. Our last visit Br. Omar gave a Khutba on Friday to over 35 Muslims. This Mosque and Islamic Center is a branch of MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO in Guadalajara.
San Cristobal de las Casa, Chiapas
Ahmed and Munir Abdul Basir both previous students of Br. Omar took a brother from Spain by the name of Nafia who insisted he wanted to start Dawa in Chiapas. MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO hosted some scholars from Medina who offered Br. Ahmed a scholarship to Medina to help him increase his knowledge of Arabic. Nafia who we later discovered was financed by the Murabitun movement leaded by Abdul Qadir Al Murabit insisted he not go to Medina.
A few more people from the Murabitun arrived from Spain to help Nafia, however today after about 200 people have accepted Islam. half of them have broken away from Nafia and are seeking MCM´s support. MCM has visited them twice and in August 2000 three of the main brothers from Chiapas visited Mexico City. MCM did a program for them on Islam and with the help of some brothers in the US have managed to build a simple Mosque.
In Other parts of Mexico:
MUSLIM CENTER DE MEXICO has contacts in over twenty major cities in Mexico, we have tried establishing Musallah´s in Cuidad Obregon, Sonora. MCM Studied the possibility of helping a Priest who became Muslim by renting a house near him, but in both cases our economical resources don´t allow us to extend our support.
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