Converting to Islam 21 years ago, Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher felt alone, finding almost no material about Islam in Spanish.
The feeling of loneliness maximized after his father started asking about Islam, taking the decision to translate educational material about the faith to Spanish to help him.
“So, the more that we translated and explained to them in their own language it became less foreign to them,” Fletcher, a Colombian-American, told CBC News.
Over the years, this effort grew into Islam in Spanish, an Islamic center based in Houston which provides educational information about the religion in Spanish.
Though they didn’t aim to convert people to Islam, Fletcher says they have seen an explosion of Latino and Latina converts.
“Based on data Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group embracing Islam in America,” Fletcher said. “People just show up and they say hey we’re coming here to embrace Islam.”
There are 250,000 Latino Muslims in the United States, according to Islam in Spanish.
In Colorado, Rudy Sanchez and Juana Serrano also took the decision to convert to Islam, saying they found inner peace in the religion.
“I feel like I just I found my answer,” Sanchez said.
“It was kind of like a coincidence you know like I’m thirsty and then some guy with a water bottle was just like, ‘hey you want some water?’” Sanchez expressed.
Serrano added that Islam gave him peace. “It just really started to pull at my heart,” she said.
“It gives me a lot of peace, it gives me a lot of freedom that I didn’t even know I had.”
In addition, many Latinos convert to Islam due to similarities between Islamic and Latino cultures.
“Coming from a Hispanic background family is very important,” Serrano said.
“Respecting parents and respecting family members and all that’s a huge part of Islam and that’s also a huge part of like our culture,” Sanchez said.
“Looking deeper into Islam all of a sudden you start finding out that hey this is the way you know I was brought up these are the values my family shared with me so there’s a lot of affinity,” Fletcher said.