Last week, the Islamic Society and Latin Women hosted an event on Latin American Muslims. The event featured two Ecuadorian Americans who converted to Islam from Catholicism.

The event, entitled “Latin Muslims: the Sons and Daughters of Golden Spain,” focused on two seemingly different cultural groups, Muslims and Latinos, and their respective cultures. The event was attended by over 50 students.

Ahson Mahfooz, vice president of the Islamic Society, served as master of ceremonies for the event and introduced the two speakers, brothers Yusuf and Hernan Guadalupe of Hoboken, New Jersey.

“The reality is that prosperity lies in this world and the next. Islam is not a religion, but a lifestyle,” said Mahfooz. He added that not all Muslims are Arabs. “There are 80 million in China and thousands in Brazil,” he said. There are an estimated 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. Mahfooz then gave the microphone to Hernan Guadalupe.

“I grew up Catholic in Ecuador. I was an alter boy,” he said.

Guadalupe went on to say that from an early age, he was plagued by questions he couldn’t find satisfactory answers to.

“If God is everywhere, why must I go [to church] to be close? The contradiction of values between what’s said and what’s going on, the monotone voice (during the Mass) wasn’t capturing people,” he said.

Guadalupe said that he always believed in God and he explored many religions, including Hinduism, Budhism and Judaism. He also looked into science and Darwinian evolution theories. He recalled that at age 15, “I felt completely lost, I looked up at the moon on a clear night and I couldn’t stop crying. I said ‘O God, please guide me.’ It didn’t come right away.”

He then spoke of his college years at the Stevenson Institute in Hoboken.

Guadalupe recalled becoming very interested in Latin politics and pledged for a Latino fraternity. He said he enjoyed debating religion and politics, and that his Muslim friend from a Pakistani and Saudi Arabian background always gave the best answers.

“What shocked me was that his answers were more profound and clearer than priests, scholars in their fields,” he said.

He began learning more about Islam, and reading the Quran on his way to work.

“It scared me. I wasn’t ready to commit and give up parties…but in my heart, I knew this was the right way,” Guadalupe said.


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