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AmericasBooksCulture

10 Important Books to Read on Latin American Muslims

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AmericasBooksCulture

10 Important Books to Read on Latin American Muslims

It’s time to celebrate, understand, and appreciate the histories and lives that make up the Muslim Latino/a experience in the Americas. Happy reading!

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It’s time to celebrate, understand, and appreciate the histories and lives that make up the Muslim Latino/a experience in the Americas. Happy reading!

Seeking knowledge and reading is imperative on all Muslims – and understanding the different cultures, histories, and experiences that make up the Muslim experience is essential to understanding our world today.

In an effort to help expand our world views and understanding of what it means to be Muslim, here are just 10 of some of the best books on Latino/a Muslim history, experience, and lives in the Americas – from the rise of Latino/a converts to Islam in the United States to the Afro-Latino/a Muslim experience in Brazil, here are 10 essential reads:

1. Crescent over Another Horizon: Islam in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino USA by Maria del Mar Logroño Narbona (Editor), Paulo G. Pinto (Editor), and John Tofik Karam (Editor)

This fascinating book looks at the more than 500-year history of Islam in Latin America first brought over by African slaves. Looking specifically at the over-simplification often used to describe minorities in the Americas, this book looks at just how large-scale and important Islam and Black Muslims were to the building of the New World. With a heavy focus on the Caribbean and Central America in places like Trinidad, Mexico, and Suriname to Latin America in places like Argentina and Brazil, this book does an incredible service to the history and lives of Black and Latino/a Muslims.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

2. Latino Muslims: Our Journeys to Islam by Juan Galvan

A beautiful collection of personal essays, experiences, and stories from Latino Muslims, this book is both powerfully inspiring and insightful into the lives of a little-known minority. Exploring the difficulties around reverting to Islam within a dominantly Christian-Catholic community, and the struggles and joys of being a modern Latin American Muslim, these stories and essays are a testament to both the beauty of Islam as well as the beauty of Latino culture. A brutally honest and open look into personal and lived experiences, this book is a must-read for anyone wanting to read about the Latin American Muslim experience from the people themselves.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

3. Latino and Muslim in America: Race, Religion, and the Making of a New Minority by Harold D. Morales

Following the lives of several inspiring Latino Muslim leaders from the 1970s onward to the present day, author Morales looks into the little-known and under-appreciated power of the Latino/a Muslim minority group in the US. Navigating the intricate and diverse identities of what it means to be Latino and Muslim while in the US, this book draws on media analysis, historical research, ethnographic studies, and interviews to understand this small but growing group of American Muslims. Redefining what it means to be a minority group within the minority group, Morales also looks into the growth of this small but powerful community – and what it means for the Latino/a Muslim American group going forward.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

4. Latina/o y Musulman: The Construction of Latina/o Identity Among Latina/o Muslims in the United States by Hjamil A. Martinez-Vazquez

Looking at the crossover between the facts that Latino/as are the fastest-growing minority group while Islam is also one of the fastest-growing religions in the US, this book provides an intriguing account of what it means to be a minority within a minority: being Latino/a Muslim. Delving specifically in the high conversion rates of Latinos to the religion of Islam, author Marinez-Vazquez looks into how this has redefined what it means to be Latino/a in the US today. Bringing together discussion around Latin American identity in the US and the way religious minorities are treated in the country, this book is a fascinating look into one of the fastest groups of peoples in the US today.

Find this book on Amazon here.

5. Far from Mecca: Globalizing the Muslim Caribbean by Aliyah Khan

One of the first and most detailed academic works on the English-speaking Muslim community of the Caribbean, this book delves into the poetry, mysticism, and history of Islam in Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Looking into both Afro and Indo-Muslim history in the Caribbean islands, author Aliyah Khan brings together impeccable archival research, local literature, and ethnographies to explore what it means to be Muslim in the Caribbean. Everything from Sufi Muslims in Jamaica to the attempted 1990 coup by the Jamaat al-Muslimeen in Trinidad is explored and explained in a fascinating look at identity, post-colonialism, and religion in an often-ignored region of Afro/Latino Muslims.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

6. Jihad in Trinidad and Tobago, July 27, 1990 by Daurius Figueira

Delving into the events of 1990 in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad when the Islamic organization Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted a coup along with a hostage situation, this book looks at the events leading up to this historical moment in time, as well as the issues of racism, poverty, and classism that still exist in Trinidad today. While providing a historical account, without a deeper look at the every day Trinidadian Muslims who make up the wider community of Muslims on the island, this book remains important in looking at the vilification of Muslims within the Caribbean, often resulting from deep-seated racism and the notion of ‘Black Islam’.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

7. History of the Muslims in Belize by Abdulmajeed Nunez

Focusing on the little-known history of Islam in the Central American nation of Belize, this book is a pioneering work on how the Muslim community came to be in Belize. Following the history of the influence of the Nation of Islam, Afro-Belizian history, and the influence of Islam from other Caribbean nations, this book is a fascinating insight into issues of race, identity, and the growth of a sizable Muslim community in this small but powerful Central American nation. Belize’s vibrant Muslim community today boasts a prominent role in the wider Caribbean Muslim community, being home to the Islamic Mission of Belize with government recognized schools and community centers – something author Nunez believes will only help further the beautiful diversity and strength of the country.

Find this book on Amazon here.

8. So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico: Middle Eastern Immigrants in Modern Mexico by Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp

A fascinating insight into themes of identity, multi-ethnicities, and heritage, this book looks into the history of Middle Eastern immigration to Mexico, and the lives of their descendants today. With incredible fieldwork and research, author Alfaro-Velcamp provides a detailed look into the lives of many of the Muslim families from Lebanon and Syria who immigrated to Mexico even before the Mexican Revolution, and how their heritage, religion, and identity either mixed or stayed separated from mainstream Mexican culture and Catholicism. Looking at the descendants of these immigrants as well, this book provides a little-known but fascinating insight into what it means to be Mexican today despite having Muslim or Middle Eastern heritage.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

9. Illuminating the Blackness: Blacks and African Muslims in Brazil by Habeeb Akande

Weaving together the history and identity of what it means to be Afro-Latino as well as Muslim in Brazil, this book delves deep into the history of anti-Black racism in Brazil as well as the history of African Muslims brought over as slaves to the region. Going back further to the travels of African Muslims to the region of Brazil even before the coming of the Portuguese colonizers, the author also details the history of the Muslim slave rebellions of Bahia and the lives of West African Muslim communities in 1800s Brazil. This book is a fascinating look into the complexities of race and religion among Afro-Latinos in Brazil today based on a long and fascinating history that is often ignored or overlooked.

You can find this book on Amazon here.

10. The Construction of Muslim Identities in Contemporary Brazil by Cristina Maria de Castro

Focusing specifically on Muslim identities in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this book looks into the history, struggles, and oftentimes marginalization of religious minorities within Brazil today. The pressures to construct a homogenous Brazilian identity persists within the country, and author Maria de Castro discusses at length what that means for the Brazilian Muslim community, who are often pitted as outsiders. A blend of historical research, contemporary analysis, and personal insight into one of the most diverse regions in Latin America, this book provides both a micro and macro look at what it means to be Muslim in Brazil today.

Find this book on Amazon here.


Be sure to check out TMV’s other article on 10 Important Books to Read on Black Muslims in the Americas!

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