Islam in Mexico
With Mexico being the second largest Catholic country in the world, it would probably surprise you to learn that their Muslim population has tripled in the last 15 years. Islam was introduced to Spanish speaking country primarily through immigration from the Middle East but most notably through a group of Spanish Sufis who came to continue the Prophetic Mission and ended up settling in the turbulent Chiapas region.
Jesus Exhibicion En Mejico
The outstanding work being done on the ground by Rafael Barajas (learn more about the man here) and his team were noticed by other duaat within the region, including Ayman Hammami, iERA’s Outreach Specialist in Honduras. Ayman recognised that Rafael Barajas would make a great addition to the iERA team and informed Global Outreach Manager Salahuddin Patel that it would be a good idea to make a visit and test the waters.
The trip culminated in an opportunity to provide iERAs Dawah Training to Rafael and his team of volunteers, getting them up to speed and emboldening them to surpass their previous efforts.
Salahuddin Patel drilled the team of volunteers beforehand on how to best convey the call preparing them to maximise the effectiveness of the Exhibition. The location for the Jesus Exhibition was ideal, bang in the middle of the City centre, however, the dilemma was that it was being held on the top floor of a hotel — hence the success of the occasion was all dependent on the volunteers on the ground persuading people to attend.
The Jesus Exhibition helped the team convey the call in a more effective manner because they were able to conduct a variety of standalone activities within one event — such as street dawah, public presentations, leaflet distribution and the Q&A session. All these activities pointed towards the exhibition — a means to an end — thus giving it a greater impact.
Typical Questions About Islam From Mexicans
As a precursor — before any of the presentations began throughout the day within the main room — attendees were given ample opportunity to read through the banners and internalise the content. This approach is more efficacious because it makes the attendees ponder about what they have read. At this stage of the attendees fitrah being unclouded, a natural defensive mechanism will envelop them to conjure up rebuttals to Islam’s perspective of Jesus (peace be upon him). Which is only a natural reaction, they have followed a specific belief set all their lives and now they have been challenged.
There were a dozen plus attendees listening attentively to each one of Rafael’s several presentations throughout the course of the day. They would wait earnestly after Rafael finished speaking and open up to the floor for a Q&A session. The questions he received after the presentation differed but were canonical because most of the attendees were learning about Islam for the first time.
All the questions answered and centred around the notion of Tawhid (oneness of God). From the select few showing the most interest, they were taken aside and a volunteer would speak to them one to one.
70-year old Carpenter Becomes Muslim
This is Manuel — a 70-year-old carpenter — he took his Shahada at the Jesus Exhibition. Manuel is originally from a small town but moved to the city of Guadalajara, to open a carpentry shop at the tender age of 66.
Without any living family relatives, he doesn’t have anyone to help him with his daily endeavours of running a business and gets asked by the locals with the same questions over and over again: “What keeps him going? You don’t have any family to help you!” His reply was that only by the grace of the Creator he’s been able to continue his work and not become pessimistic by the ongoing situation of being by himself. Manuel also mentioned he’s experienced many trials throughout his life and has been on a continual search for a creator for him to find comfort in and worship alone. He visited may different religious places of worship but they didn’t make sense to him.
The day before the Jesus Exhibition — Manuel came across one of the local iERA Mexico volunteers — in the lead up of promoting the event via Street Dawah activities, where he was approached, he sensed the sincerity of the people and felt the urge in learning more.
At the event, Manuel read our banners and learnt how Muslims revere Jesus — he listened to the presentation delivered by Rafael — which cleared some common misconceptions and doubts about Islam. At this juncture, Manuel remembered the prayer he made a while ago and took it as a sign from Al-Hadi (The Guide) and felt it was fulfilled by God — there was only one option left for him, to take the Shahada.
Manuel felt relief that he finally found good people who solely worship God. Even though he doesn’t have any family, he now feels he’s been blessed with an even greater family with many brothers and sisters. After his shahada, Manuel spent a fair amount of time at the Jesus Exhibition but had to leave because he gave someone his word that he’ll do a job for them. However he promised he’d visit the next day (Friday/Jummuah) — as a man of his word, he did!
Soldier States Shahada
An ex-US military serviceman, Antonio had served in a campaign in a Muslim country years ago. Antonio recalled being instructed by his superiors to carry out egregious acts, blurring the lines of the official codes of conduct and committing war crimes — he also received bullet wounds whilst on duty. These acts haunted him till this day and needed a way to release himself from the shackles of such guilt. The iERA volunteer who spoke to him possessed the emotional intelligence not to dig in further for precaution measures, as opening up emotional wounds all of a sudden could hinder the process of Antonio’s fitrah becoming unclouded.
The volunteer highlighted to Antonio the importance of Tawbah (repentance) and him feeling a sense of remorse for the acts he had committed. The volunteer then explained that to Antonio that if he asks for forgiveness from Allah (swt), He will certainly forgive him, as He is Ar-Raheem — The Most Forgiving. After a lengthy conversation, Antonio decided to wholeheartedly embrace Islam. You can see from this image that he was overcome with emotion and could barely hold his tears back. Antonio hung around for the remainder of the Exhibition and ended up hugging three other individuals — within a three hour period — who also accepted the religion of Islam!
Soon afterwards, Antonio told Rafael that taking the shahada was one of the best decisions he had ever made in his life and that the years of grief — and resulting turmoil — had shifted to a more positive outlook on life, as well as hereafter. Antonio is a retired veteran now living in Chicago, at the time of the exhibition he was visiting Guadalajara for only a fortnight. Antonio returned to the mosque the following Friday and learned aspects of the wudu and prayer, inclining him to continue practising his new found faith and long for Allah (swt)’s mercy — clinging onto His rope. He actually met Manuel at the mosque also and helped him financially because as he is very sick.
Rafael Barajas has been at his iERA post officially since only last month and one of his main aims is to capture the development of New Muslims.
You can follow his progress on the following social media channels: