Latinx & Muslim: 3 Non-fiction Recommendations to Celebrate Ramadan
Ramadan Mubarak! This year Ramadan is being celebrated from May 15th to June 15th. Did you know that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world? And that although Latinos make up only 4% of the US Muslim population (about 200,000) it is a growing and fluid population with particular growth among Latinas?
Ramadan It is a month of reflection and celebration for the Muslim community. Even for those who don’t observe this month, it still serves as an excellent reminder that Latinx are a collective rather than a monolith. We come from all races and religions. We have different backgrounds, experiences, cuisines and languages and while we might share some cultural overlaps between countries there is no one correct way to ‘be’ Latinx. Speaking a particular language or practicing a particular religion does not make one ‘more’ or ‘less’ Latinx and it is the intersections of our identities that create such a rich and interesting community.
Even if you are not celebrating Ramadan it’s still an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Latino Muslims community! Often the intersectional identity of Latinx and Muslim leaves individuals feeling isolated from larger Latinx and Muslim communities which has lead to the creation of own spaces by and for Latinx Muslims to celebrate their dual identities.
While the scholarship and literature on this ‘minority within a minority’ is very limited the clandestine blog/vlogosphere is thriving as Latinx Muslims create their own spaces, for example the vlogger below shares her own journey to Islam.
So today to celebrate Ramadan I want to leave you with 3 non-fiction books that explore this intersection of Muslim and Latinx identity. One of the books is a children’s books and the other two are more academic in nature. If you know of more books, either fiction or non-fiction on Latinx muslims, please let me know in a comment below!
1. Crescent over Another Horizon: Islam in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino USA
Edited by Maria del Mar Logroño Narbona, Paulo G. Pinto, and John Tofik Karam
This collection of papers takes a broad historical approach to examining Islam in Latin America.
Summary: Muslims have been shaping the Americas and the Caribbean for more than five hundred years, yet this interplay is frequently overlooked or misconstrued. Brimming with revelations that synthesize area and ethnic studies, Crescent over Another Horizon presents a portrait of Islam’s unity as it evolved through plural formulations of identity, power, and belonging. Offering a Latino American perspective on a wider Islamic world, the editors overturn the conventional perception of Muslim communities in the New World, arguing that their characterization as “minorities” obscures the interplay of ethnicity and religion that continues to foster transnational ties.
2. Latino and Muslim in America: Race, Religion, and the Making of a New Minority By Harold D. Morales
In contrast to the title above, this work focuses more on the experiences of Latinx Muslims in the United States and how this identity building has changed since the beginning of the early 20th century.
Summary: Based on the stories that Latino Muslims tell about themselves, this book explores how Latino Muslims celebrate their intersecting identities in their daily lives and in their mediated representations. It is set in a national context dominated by particular media politics, information economies, and the hyper-racialization of its inhabitants and their religious identities.
This work also examines the racialization of religion, the narrating of religious conversion experiences, the dissemination of post-colonial histories, and the development of Latino Muslim networks across the United States.
3. Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales (Author), Mehrdokht Amini (Illustrator)
This is an illustrated children’s book which admittedly is a genre I am not super familiar. To be perfectly honest, I think the description is a bit inaccurate. The story is not really in the form of a letter from a father to a daughter. The prose favors beautiful verse rather than content when it comes to exploring the intersection of indigenous and Muslim identities but the illustrations are gorgeous and captivating.
Summary: Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as Indigenous identity. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike.