KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, Wilfredo Amr Ruiz and his fellow Muslims are breaking their daily Ramadan fast with water, dates, mangoes and other fruit. Ruiz was born in Puerto Rico and raised a Catholic. But he says in 2002, after the birth of his twins, he began searching for a new spiritual path. The following year, he converted to Islam.

WILFREDO AMR RUIZ: What attracted me the most was the simplicity of its theology. Islam is very simple. God is the creator, that’s it.

LAWTON: Today, Ruiz is an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Miami. And he’s part of one of the fastest growing segments of Islam in the US: Latino Muslims. More and more Hispanics are embracing Islam, in part, Ruiz says, because they find a cultural familiarity that stretches back centuries, to the Moors in Spain.

Latino-Muslims-post01RUIZ: Latinos soon reconnect with a hidden past. They say, “Islam is not really that foreign to us. Islam is us. It’s part of us.” Four thousand words from Spanish come from Arabic: Camisa, pantalón, tomate, ensalada.

LAWTON: Scholars estimate there may be as many as 250,000 Latino Muslims in the US. According to one major study, between the years 2000 and 2011, the percentage of those attending US mosques who were Hispanic jumped from 6 percent to 12 percent. And experts say the numbers are much higher today.

RORAIMA AISHA KANAR: After going to, Catholic school for 12 years, my faith needed a little bit more depth in it, and I was able to find it in Islam.

LAWTON: Most Latino converts come out of Christianity, especially Catholicism.

NUSAIBA GUERRERO-MACIAS: The Trinity was very confusing to me. I didn’t understand how God was a man or how man could become a god.

NADIA ECHEVRRIA: I just felt that the minute I put my head down to the ground, I felt like I was really talking to God.

LAWTON: Ruiz says many Latinos like that in Islam, there are no intermediaries with God, such as priests.

Latino-Muslims-post02RUIZ: You don’t need of another human being really to fully practice Islam. Even if you’re alone in an island, your religion will be complete, if you’re Muslim.

LAWTON: Hispanic Muslim converts can face a host of challenges, not least of which is the reactions from family and friends. Ruiz’s mother didn’t speak to him for months.

RUIZ: She was hurt probably. Why? Because she was the one that moved us to be in a Catholic school, be raised as Catholics, she herself was such a devout Catholic that probably she felt like…hurt, ‘Look, I did everything for my son to be a Catholic, good Catholic boy, and now he turns to be a Muslim.’

LAWTON: Ruiz’s wife Edimar Capella grew up in a Puerto Rican Presbyterian family. Her family has been more accepting.

EDIMAR CAPELLA: I joke with my mom and I tell her that ‘you raised me as a Muslim, you just didn’t know it.’ Because a lot of the values, most of them, I learned at home. And for them it was like my pathway. That’s her pathway, let her follow it.

LAWTON: Some Latinos have difficulty adapting to Islamic standards such as no pork-products or alcohol.

RUIZ: In Latino culture it’s: ‘a party without alcohol? What do you do?’ I have people asking me, “what do you do in a party if there’s no alcohol?”

Latino-Muslims-post03LAWTON: Capella has tried to make family recipes following Islamic rules.

CAPELLA: A lot of our recipes I had to work around and find a way of keep the taste, keep the flavors, but still- I wanted them to taste like Puerto Rican food, like Caribbean food, but without the pork and it was a challenge. And I think I was pretty successful.

LAWTON: A more serious challenge for Latino converts can be countering misperceptions about Muslims.

RUIZ: I believe the challenge of adding another element of discrimination, like if we don’t have enough, right?

LAWTON: Ruiz says it can be a struggle trying to differentiate themselves from images of Islamic extremists often portrayed in the media.

RUIZ: You become Muslim and you’re a radical, you don’t like our government or you’re anti-American because Muslims believe that you’re--it means that you’re necessarily anti-American. It is hard. It is hard for us and presents a big challenge. A big challenge.

LAWTON: There also can be challenges from within the Muslim community.

RUIZ: Even though most of the Muslims do see the Latinos very welcoming, when it comes to Latinos now taking leadership position in their community, they are facing more challenges, right? Because they say, ‘how can you be a leader or be an imam? Your mother tongue is not Arabic, how much Arabic do you know, or how much you know of the Muslim culture?’

Latino-Muslims-post04LAWTON: Mainstream Muslim groups have been trying to provide more support for Latino converts. AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America, focuses on outreach and distributes Qurans and Islamic literature. Director Sofian Zakkout says they can’t keep up with Latino demands for Spanish translations.

SOFIAN ZAKKOUT, AMANA: I have a guy from Ecuador- I give him Quran, and he was very happy. “I’ve been looking for it for two years.” And I have a guy, Cuban. I give him Quran, he start to dance in the street. Free Quran. Because they hear about the Quran, but they never seen it because it’s not easy to find it. But we find it, we have it.

LAWTON: On the wall of AMANA’s Miami office, Zakkout keeps a sampling of conversion certificates with Latino names.

ZAKKOUT: If I want to put all the certificates, a copy of all certificates, we need all the rooms and all the walls to cover it because we really have a lot!

LAWTON: At recent national conventions, the Islamic Circle of North America has been holding special session in Spanish for converts.

NAHELA MORALES, ICNA: Many of them don’t speak English, so it’s very important for them to go to these conventions and acquire the knowledge just as any other Muslim.

Latino-Muslims-post05LAWTON: Nahela Morales coordinates Hispanic outreach for ICNA’s Why Islam project. She attends the North Hudson Islamic Center in New Jersey, where about 30 percent of the congregation is Latino. During the World Cup Games, she led a team to Brazil where they passed out literature and talked to people about their faith.

ICNA says more than 50 percent of the Latino converts they see are women. Many choose to wear a head covering, or hijab.

GUERRERO-MACIAS: The reason I wear the scarf is because I expect to be respected by the opposite gender. I don’t want to be cat-called and I don’t want to be judged by my appearance. In fact, I want to be judged by my intellect.

KANAR: It reminds you of who you are and what values you have and, and I don’t see that as oppression. I see that as a favor to me to be able to do the right thing all the time.

LAWTON: Roraima Aisha Kanar emigrated from Cuba when she was five years old and converted to Islam when she was 23.

KANAR: My father, when we came from Cuba, taught me to love this country for opening their arms to us and at this time, as a Muslim, I’m still cherishing it because I am free to be a Muslim.

LAWTON: Ruiz, who served as a Navy chaplain, says Latino Muslims bring much to the American Muslim community.

RUIZ: You can keep your own cultural expressions and be equally American, right?

LAWTON: Latinos, he says, can also teach the largely immigrant Muslim community about political organizing and standing up for their rights. And he says because they face so many questions, Latino coverts tend to be better educated about Islam than many from predominantly Islamic societies.

RUIZ: I need to learn, not to a level to satisfy only my curiosity but my family’s curiosity as well, right? And I better be ready to answer their questions because otherwise I might not look good saying, “Hey, how you embrace a religion and you don’t know this about your religion?

LAWTON: At the end of the day, Ruiz believes any challenges Latino Muslims face diminish with the joy he says they find in Islam.

RUIZ: Islam, what brings to most of the people is peace. People feel at peace first with themselves, of who they are and their way they have chosen, and a peace knowing what is… what is the purpose of life?

LAWTON: And that’s something they want to spread throughout the Hispanic world. I’m Kim Lawton in Miami.

Latino Converts to Islam

We visit the Islamic Center of Greater Miami to look at the rising number of Latino Muslims in the US—as many as 250,000, according to estimates. Some of the converts say that in Islam they have found theological simplicity and “no intermediaries with God.” The Islamic Circle of North America reports that more than half of the US Latino converts are women. “I just felt that the minute I put my head down to the ground,” says Nadia Echevrria, “I felt like I was really talking to God.”

  • Nina

    I can understand where these people are coming from. As the one woman said, ”theological simplicity”, and she is so right. Many years ago I converted to Judaism from Chrisitianity. I could not accept the Trinity, the Jesus as holy concept. Plus, I needed that feeling of between G-d and me. All those years ago we seldom heard of Islam. I have since studied Islam and it is an easier point to get to. I studied for years for my Judaism and am very happy here. But, for these people, Islam is so much easier to attain and it is a faith between them and G-d, just as my faith is between me and G-d. Yes, I most definitely understand where they are coming from.

  • Elvira

    You Muslims don’t mention that 75% of the converts to Islam in USA, leave the Islam in 1 to 3 years.

  • Kafir Farm

    When will she be used to JIHAD against her country? Did anyone tell her that ALL moslems are to JIHAD and that IT does NOT mean inner struggle or it would also be mandatory for the ill and elderly if it meant inner struggle…. Did anyone tell her that NOW her family that are NOT moslem are to be treated as SECOND CLASS pay the Jizya (tax) convert or DIE as the moslems are doing NOW to the Christians in Mosul Iraq….only a fool would convert to can put your head to the ground and pray to the REAL GOD :) Allah is no god he and no son named Jesus.

  • Raheel

    Haha you guys are hilarious. It’s simple Truth cannot be hidden. It’s flourishing even when Muslims are so oppressed at this age. I sincerely welcome you to study Islam properly and don’t become victim of media propaganda.

  • ismail

    Indeed, because by then they understood that Islam and muslims are totally different stories.
    Islam is a simple believe and between a person and Allaah swt but most muslims are convinced that the have to fellow helpers next to Allaah swt in the form of scholars, shaykhs and imams who want to lead them in stead of The Leader.

  • servant of Allah

    I am also reconvert to Islam Alhamdulillah 3 years ago and i am spanish speaking and i use to beleive in the lies against Islam until Allah The Creator guided me to Islam we need to search for the reason of our existence with an open heart and without hate everyone needs a model to follow thats why thé prophets were send as models for humanity to spread truth justice equality and peace we need to listen to our heart and mind because this life is the only opportunity that we have to do what we have been created for ..please brothers and sisters Look for the truth in the last révélation of Allah The Creator the only God the Holy Quran may God guide all of us to the straith path Ameen

  • Kafir Farm



    YOU PEOPLE ARE CONVERTS TO ISLAM…try being with a REAL MOSLEM FROM A REAL ISLAMIC COUNTRY…they do not SUGAR COAT islam to make you see the SOFT SIDE :)

  • Kafir Farm

    I dont hide the truth..NOTE MY NAME…”KAFIR” if you knew ANYTHING about TRUE ISLAM you would know that YOUR TRILOGY (QURAN HADITH SIRA) ARe made up of MUCH MUCH MUCH HATE for the KAFIR…So you learn about TRUE ISLAM and get a clue…you fell for the LIES and bullshit…

  • Kafir Farm


    Lost lonely people convert to islam because they are welcomed as BROTHERS AND SISTERS where as before they were loners because they were WEAK MINDED…. GET A CLUE YOUR DRONES WHO BOUGHT THE BULLSHIT…ISLAM IS THE PARASITE ON THE GLOBE…

    Are you converts going to KILL YOUR FAMILY that are INFIDELS? Are you going to run them out of your islamic areas like is happening RIGHT NOW in MOSUL IRAQ because ISLAM came to town? you people make me sick

  • Kafir Farm

    Ismail seriously…get a clue…A MOSLEM IS ONE WHO FOLLOWS islam..if ISLAM did not exist NEITHER WOULD MOSLEMS :) OH I WISH THAT WOULD HAPPEN…

  • Raheel

    That’s interesting. Your stats telling me you are some agent of organization whose job is to just spread hatred against Islam. That doesn’t impact even a single bit to Islam. Islam is NOT even a religion because word religion is man made. That’s code of nature which provides guideline to the humanity. GOD is the master of the whole universe and HE doesn’t need approval of any of his creation what HE revealed on HIS beloved messenger in the form of Quran. You can bang your head with the wall or keep writing those kind of useless talk but TRUTH will keep stand. Me and You will be gone from this world like alot of HIS insignificant creatures leave every day. BUT HE the master of Heavens and the Earth will be living forever. Please recognize yourself whom you are trying to judge. This is misfortunate for you and at the time of resurrection when unseen will become seen you would like to turn back so you can correct things but there is no way to go back. GOD is so merciful that even what you are seeing in HIS disobedience HE is still letting you breath, HE is still giving your food, you are still healthy, you are able to see, you are able to write, you are able to think because of HIS mercy. Who is Allah? Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none comparable unto Him..
    I confress I am the slave of my Master and want to get HIS blessings on me. I am writing this not for you but for myself so I can divine reward to representing HIS beautiful religion Islam. For you, your are just one of HIS tiny creation from Adam to the last person before judgement day. I can keep writing HIS greatness even if I utilize the water of all the oceans as ink and all the wood of this world as pen, I will run all of that but HIS greatness will never be completed because small example of HIS greatness is HE created this universe which is continuously expanding and even every second multiple universe like that are getting created. So who are we????? :) we don’t even exist infront. of HIM……

  • Raheel

    May Allah guide you

  • Raheel

    Funny thing is you were also born as MOSLEM but because of your parents, you are what you are right now :) Islam is the religion of nature. Islam was the religion of Adam, religion of Noah, religion of Mosses, religion of Jesus and religion of Muhammad, Peace all be upon to them. Because all of prophets who were sent for the guidance of mankind used to worship Allah and deliver HIS message to people so they can correct their beliefs and can worship ONE TRUE GOD.

  • umm najla


  • Sabrina

    Ismail, you don’t know what your talking about! Muslims are those who follow the way of Islam. And Muslims don’t seek help from other leaders (like the video clearly stated),but from Allah and the Quran itself!

  • Sabrina

    Thats absolutely not true at all, don’t ahead of yourself!

  • Bella

    You left me speechless. I never seen so much stupidity and hatred. All of what you stated is false, your probably the only one who believes in what you say. I’ll pray for you, May god guide you to the right path. You need it. Either way Islam will continue growing, so don’t waste your time & actually take the time to learn about the religion. Otherwise stay quite, Thank You!

  • akaren

    Awful story, I am afraid to say what I think in my own country.

  • bella

    Yet again another false statement! Please be quite!

  • shaida

    I am not even reading your post as they are full of hatred. I wont allow your abuse to entertain my clean thought’s. Its obvious you are a sad lonely person who hates muslims and blames them for your sad pathetic life. God guides whom he wills.

  • Khadija

    If you truely knew anything about Islam you would know how to spell Muslim and Kufir correctly and would know that Islam does not pray on the week and lonely but helps them in charity. I am a revert and by no means are lonely or week. I see you my friend are very angry and racist and should not speak of things that are untrue. In your mind they might be but in reality there not. Maybe if you took the time to really learn about Islam and not what you hear from the media you might have some sense and purpose in stead of hiding your real self behind a name like kafir farm what are you a coward. If you want to speak the real truth show the real you. Further more no one should waste anymore of there precious time responding to someone who has so much hate for themselves.

  • FAIZ

    You have converted to Islam ?

  • FAIZ

    What you are actually saying is true ….. most of those people who leave Islam after converting to it are kicked out of their homes , they are looked upon as terrorists , they are socially boycotted in the family , it’s not of Islamic teachings or concepts … and Elvira just incase you don’t know what Islam is just check out

  • FAIZ

    First of all brother , learn how to type properly ,
    Then it’s “Muslims” not “MOSLIMS”
    Third brush up your knowledge on Islam ( i truly do not intend to offend you ) check out (its not gonna take more then 7.2345 minutes :)

  • FAIZ

    What do you mean , can you elaborate ?

  • FAIZ

    I guess he is a full time anti-islam bigot…….

  • FAIZ

    You forgot to mention the Hadith

  • FAIZ

    Anti Muslim bigots will keep on insulting Islam and it’s followers …. and Islam is winning despite the hatred (Islam is the fastest growing religion in terms of converts )

  • Muslim farm

    Since your a open kafir why not go to places where your kufr is bought. This is an article about iman, islah tauheed. Coming and making your business to reply to each comment and ridicule is not going to change a thing how you wish your dream will come true is like a child asking the mother for the moon. Its the same with you. Your ridiculous name and words not going to change anything.

  • Maham

    hey man ..go get some proof from Hadith and Quran about all the bad stuff ure saying..seriously..youre blinded by what you see in the media , you dont know what real Islam is.

  • GratefulJewel

    Fascinating mini documentary as I like to call it. I converted from Christianity also and I found that the bible was an illustrious political maze, rewritten and reworked for the Catholic benefit. So many ideologies from one book and it couldn’t be explained away by interpretation. Great video and perspectives.

  • GratefulJewel

    As someone who studies Islam, you just made up that number when you typed this post. The fact that you received 3 thumbs up, tells me stupid people don’t fact check posts.

  • GratefulJewel

    Authentic Hadith is secondary and should NEVER be equated to the full following of the Qu’ran.

  • Nina

    Oh no—————I am perfectly happy with my Judaism and it’s history and people. I just meant that Islam and its concept and ease at converting is a very good choice for people who cannot accept Christianity.

  • Nadia

    I have friends from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and Morocco.
    Too bad you cannot get to know them. I also have American women friends who stay Christian but marry Muslims and most are raising their children as Muslims.
    I see you are such a bigot because you are uneducated or very unintelligent. I pity you in all your hate. I would hate to live with constant hate for anyone or anything. You must be very unhappy.

  • Shonnie

    Life! I was kicked out of my house when I converted to Judaism. I guess there are all kinds of bigots around.

  • Badger Fan

    LOL…LOL…Oh you lucky people of Islam to have increasing numbers Latinos..LOL…Latinos according to U.S.Dept of Justice statistics are eight times more likely to be in jail that white people…LOL…So you Muslims better gear your prison ministry up to handle this influx of flotsam! But the news is not all bad for you Muslims, because I’m sure that you could easily strap a suicide bomb inside a sombrero and kill a bunch of Christians and Jews others whom you all deem as unworthy of life…LOL….

  • Badger Fan

    Well gee honey, why don’t you just join the Unitarian Church ’cause they believe in anything and everything…You are describing a faith that sounds like a confused patchwork quilt of something or other….

  • Badger Fan

    NIna, I guess you must be okay with the fact the your false prophet personally beheaded 800 JEWS! He personally beheaded them. He also took a 9 year old girl into his harem and consumated the marriage with her at 9 years old when he was over 50! I hope some follower of Muhammed does that to your 9 year old daughter too, and what can you say….NOTHING…because he is following the example of the great prophet! BTW have you had your genital area mutilated like many other faithful Muslim women…Just asking … And I am so glad that now the Jews have you!

  • Sid

    What a load of crap. So you are judging all Muslims by the action of extremist group like Isis? Ok, lets go back in the time of slavery where Christian churches were used to justify slavery.

  • Arik Cohen

    Judaism is not a patchwork, and as a Jew I resent you saying so.
    Neither is Islam a patchwork. It is plain and simple. Both are good religions and both have the concept of there is but one G-d. ”There is no god but G-d.”

  • Saria

    To use such cursing shows that you are not intelligent enough to get a point across without having to use such foul language. An intelligent person could do that.
    Also, you have never read the Hadith or you would know that what you are saying is not in there at all. Then, a stupid person is a stupid person…….

  • Eddie Grant

    What does this mean? ”Allah is no god he and no son named Jesus”. Those words say and mean nothing but gibberish.
    And who is this ”she” he is referring to? Kafir Farm makes no sense at all.

  • Theo

    The Bible is a collection of stories that can be found in many ancient cultures.
    The Catholic Church revised and changed it to get more control over its members–which back then was about everyone. Constantine became a Christian strictly as a political ploy to, again, control the people. He is the one who called the Nicene Council to make up the faith and rules to bring all the small church under his control.
    It was all political.

  • A Christian American

    Thank you for sharing this interesting trend among some Latinos.
    I especially liked how the wife did her best to balance keeping Latino traditions and food alive while staying true to her faith.

    Stories like this, with depth and time, are why I enjoy watching this show.

  • Guest

    For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

    2 John 1:7

  • Guest

    What about the FACT that she turned her back on Jesus Christ? She has a lot more to worry about than balancing Latino traditions and food!

  • cipher

    Yes, but just think of how much pleasure that will give you.

  • jay j

    9 years old woman have no problem
    Mohammed have no problem
    That society not consider it is a sin
    (Don’t look at age , color,caste etc
    .look at her heart)
    Then what is your problem?
    It is very old tactics of Christian missionary. They know it is cheap

  • Inqi

    I would like to know if the Latino man who stated that islam is peace has also found love in his god. Also there was a woman who said that she didn’t understand how God could also become a man. Again, one reason he did this is because of his love for his creation so that we could relate to him and establish a PERSONAL relationship with him. No other god has done this. Furthermore, for the woman who said that when she laid her head on the mat, she felt as if she were talking to god, I am wondering if he answered her. Lastly, I am extremely puzzled by the woman who stated that she wears a hijab because she wants to be judged for her intellect since islam basically regards women as having half the brain of a man. The Koran clearly states that a woman is lower than the man.


    Islam is scourge is modern civilization and technological development. It’s followers despise individual freedom, secularism, and numerous other arbitrary things that they consider “haram”.

    Name 3 Muslim countries that aren’t complete garbage politically, socially, or economical? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Iraq? Malaysia? All trash. The only one that is even remotely good is Turkey and guess what? They are at least somewhat secular.

    Islam is devistating for progress.

  • Guest

    For Muslims Jesus is God’s messenger, born miraculously from a virgin mother. In Islam is not considered to be a muslim one who claiming to be a Muslim denies the Messengership of Jesus.

  • GratefulJewel

    Rest assured I know the Christian/Catholic history. I studied some years before I converted. It wasn’t necessary to write that in the type of post I wrote.

  • John M

    Saudi Arabia is much better than your trash country(whichever it is).

  • cipher

    Furthermore, for the woman who said that when she laid her head on the mat, she felt as if she were talking to god, I am wondering if he answered her.

    If she told you he did, no doubt you’d refuse to believe her. Meanwhile, I’m sure you think he answers you, because you approach him through the vehicle of Jesus – which obviously, in your view, is the only permissible way. Why should one accept your statements as factual, but dismiss hers as being self-deluded?


    At least in my “trash” country I won’t get executed for “witchcraft”.

    -I make more money than the average Saudi.
    -I’ll live longer.
    -I have more freedoms.
    -My house is much bigger than the average Saudi.
    -My healthcare is better than the average Saudi.

    So in which way is my country trash again?

  • abdelhamid

    Big Salamo halaykoum from Arabic muslim of France,may Allah protect you!…..

  • loo

    So why do you loose your time on this forum?if you dont need anything….

  • v

    Of course you’d say that. You’re a man.. Saudi Arabia is hell for women.. They can’t even vote or drive. It’s 2014, stop being so blind.

  • v

    How can it keep growing when half of them are tying bombs to their bodies and blowing up?

  • raja mohamad salleh

    islam is the close of a series of revelation. Study it, compare with the books of other religion then decide . there is no compulsion in this religion. It looks like people are more concerned about this temp. life than the eternity of the final pace of existence when your creator will pass judgement on what you believe and what you do. Landing place is either heaven or hell.

  • raja mohamad salleh

    Islam teaches people how to get closer to God.The basic principle is belief, do good things and to the best of your ability and avoid doing things prohibited by Him. In either case the reward will be reaped unfailing. The landing place? you know where!! To a true Islam the best things in life is not as what you just described which sounds more like boasting, but to lead himself to a situation graced by God so that he achieves eternal peace and saved from the Hellfire. This is a small piece from a poor servant of God. Allahuakbar!!