Latino Muslims of Chicago: Our Story
Ojala Foundation; Latino Muslims of Chicago is a grassroots organization that has been in a constant state of the movement for over two decades. It began with individuals who answered a call to faith through their independent journeys, each declaring “la Ilaha Il Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah” There is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is his prophet and messenger. Latinos are the fastest-growing minority coming to Islam across the globe, and Chicago is no exception. Many are drawn to the simplicity of its message, there is one God, the understanding of who and why messengers and prophets were sent: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all that were sent as guidance to humanity, we also find connection with its honor for family (Muslim and non) and self values amongst many other reasons. One of the biggest challenges at that time was that after accepting this beautiful faith there were no resources available to the Latino community, barely anything was being done in the Spanish language and nothing was really relevant to our life experiences.
20 plus years ago having a Latino Muslim community or presence in the larger Muslim community was only a dream, a heartfelt desire to connect to people that understood our strong cultural ties, and our struggles.
This is where the story begins, individuals saw a need to lead the way in gathering and offering support to the growing number of Latino Muslims. Giving them a connection to Islam through our life experiences. This not only included learning and educating new Muslims and those simply interested in learning more about Islam but giving each other a place that felt like our own. Classes started to form, potlucks, eid celebrations with tamales, arroz con gandules and so much good food. The greeting of peace “as-salamu alaikum” followed with hermano/a como estas? Safe places to bring our non-Muslim families and friends who had questions about our new faith were being built. Even if it was only with gatherings at various locations, hopping from one masjid to another or a park, venue, someone's home. This was the beginning, there were many ups and downs and a lot of starting over but we have persevered in our efforts to continue being a voice for the Latino Muslim community in Chicago. About 2 years ago we began the process of officially registering as a non for profit organization known as Ojala Foundation, Latino Muslims of Chicago. Our efforts continue to grow in areas of education, support to new Muslims, being a resource in building connections between the Latino and Muslim communities, putting faith Into action through our various community outreach, building our youth through action-based leadership, and much more. The ultimate goal is to have a center that we can call home and where all these amazing efforts can grow. The journey has been long and we are just at the beginning, stay tuned mi gente there’s more to come Insha’Allah.
"People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware."
Our mission is to foster the spiritual, moral, and intellectual growth that will positively transform the quality of our community. Through a series of social service opportunities, we hope to instill values and principles that will inspire people to create meaningful changes in their lives.
Ojala Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established by Latino Muslims to provide education and support for our growing community while working towards building bridges between the Muslim and Latino Communities.
We have chosen to stand up, and speak to the Muslim community on behalf of Latinos, and to the Latino Community on behalf of the Muslims.