South Florida Latinas Convert to Islam, Reverting to Traditional Cultural Mores

January 3, 2006

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel,0,7380692.story

On January 3, 2006 the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, "When she converted to Islam in May, [Melissa] Matos, a Dominican-American raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, expected the passage to be lonely... [However,] scholars say Matos is part of a growing number of Latin women converting to Islam for its emphasis on family, piety and clearly defined women's roles, values converts say were once integral to Hispanic culture but have waned after years of assimilation. The women are among 40,000 Hispanic converts to Islam in the United States, according to the Islamic Society of North America. About a decade ago, Latino converts began forming Internet groups such as the Latino American Dawah Organization and the women's group Piedad that trace Hispanics' ties to Islam back to the Spanish Moors. Grass-roots leaders say the number of converts grew sharply after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks... Matos and other converts say the recent media spotlight on Islam was their first exposure to the faith and spurred further learning."