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Islam in Nicaragua

San Francisco Muslims Visit Nicaragua

The Amazing Story in Chinandega

San Francisco Muslims Visit Nicaragua

Muslim immigration occurred in large numbers in Nicaragua in the late 1800's. The majority of immigrants were originally from Palestine with Nicaragua in Central America the main country of resettlement. This constituted one of the biggest waves of immigration to Central America. It was followed by a second large group of settlers in the 1960's, and again more recently in the 1990's.

The earliest wave of immigrants quickly lost their Islamic roots upon settling in their new country and consequently, one finds many Arabic and Muslim surnames but almost no Islamic traditions or practice. These groups quickly blended into the local population and adopted the local Christian heritage due to intermarrying and pressure of the government. Many of the family names encountered in Nicaragua are still common in Palestine today. There is almost no knowledge or practice of Islam in these communities...but the shadow of Islam endured.

The second immigration group in the 1960's were better educated, but not any more oriented towards Islam than the first. This group of immigrants was effected by two major events in Nicaragua: a major earthquake in 1972, and the Communist revolution in 1979. At that time, many of the former Palestinians immigrated to North America or returned to Palestine. Those that stayed suffered greatly and their families were further assimilated into the Christian faith.

The latest and smallest group of émigrés was in the early 1990's. Many of these were immigrants returning to Nicaragua who had since become more aware of their Islamic heritage from exposure in North America or Palestine. These immigrants also possessed a stronger Islamic identity than previous groups, enabling a reawakening of Islam by the community.

To make matters more difficult, the Nicaraguan government bans all missionary groups from Pakistan, India and other Arab or Islamic countries. After receiving requests for help, a group of brothers from the San Francisco area made travel arrangements to Nicaragua to reintroduce Islam to these forgotten brothers and sisters. As the group contained Spanish speaking brothers with strong commitments to spreading the word of Allah, there was much excitement and anticipation upon setting out.


The Amazing Story in Chinandega

While in Managua, the capitol city of Nicaragua, the group was told about a Palestinian elder, named Mukhtar, who had been in a coma for three weeks and near death. Before going into the coma, this man had asked to be among Muslims as he died. He was located in the town of Chinandega, which is approximately 150 Km from Managua. Upon arrival of a brother from the small village, several of the brothers from the group accompanied him to the dying man's home.

As they traveled to the sick and dying man, the local brother explained some background of the family. It seems that the man assimilated into the culture of his chosen country and married a local woman who was very strong in her Catholicism. They had two sons and a daughter who were all raised Catholic and the wife was insisting upon the man's burial as a Christian.

As the brothers arrived in the small city, they were undecided as to whether they should go directly to the home of the elder, or first stop at the house of the driver, have lunch and pray Dhuhur (afternoon prayer) before proceeding to the man's house and giving their full attention to his needs. It was decided to go directly to the stricken mans' home before focusing on their own comforts. Upon entering his home, they were surrounded by a plethora of Christian statues and large crucifixes everywhere. They felt as if they had been transported into a church. Ignoring these, they approached the dying elder brother on whose face could be seen the trauma and torture of his sufferings. With his sons and daughter present they immediately started reciting "Surah Yaseen" and made a collective Dua for the old gentleman.

They could see in the eyes of the sons and daughter the anguish and love for their father. At that moment one is filled with a sense of helplessness.

"Then why do ye not (intervene when the soul of the dying man) reaches the throat...and ye the while (sit) looking on... But we are nearer to Him than ye, and ye see not." (Qur'an 56:83-85)

The group comforted these grown children with mention of the greatness of Allah and the principles of Islam, some points about the Prophet Issa (AS), and tried to give them a little of what they had missed of an Islamic upbringing. As they were listening, the oldest brother removed the cross from his neck and at once accepted Islam and said the Shahada (declaration of faith), followed by his brother, and together they invited their sister to do the same, which she did. The Mother, listening to this conversation, became upset by what was happening and left the house.

The brothers from San Francisco then proceeded to their drivers house for a late lunch and Zuhur Salah along with the children of the dying man. It was the first salah for the children and they were instructed to make Dua (supplication to Allah) for their poor dying father who had been in a coma for three weeks. As the group prayed for the dying man with their hands raised to Allah, the phone rang...the father had passed peaceful repose. How thankful the brothers from San Francisco were that they had delayed Zuhur prayer and lunch for the sake of visiting the man who only had a short time left in this life.

They all then returned to the elders home and started the process of an Islamic burial. The eldest brother, the first of the family to accept Islam, was able to perform a final service for his beloved father by Islamically washing and preparing him for the final internment with the help of the San Francisco brothers. The wife of the deceased man admitted that when she had left the house earlier, she had gone to her local priest and explained to him about this strange group of men who had arrived from nowhere and converted all her family and was in the process of burying her husband of many years Islamically. She explained to the priest what the brothers had been saying about Jesus and Islam. This priest agreed with the points the brothers had made and suggested that she submit to her husband's wishes. During the burial, the son's of Mukhtar were able to place him lovingly into his grave facing the Qiblah (Mecca) with their own hands and thus fulfilled their father's dying be among Muslims as he died. The greatness of Allah allowed him to be buried as a Muslim, by Muslims, and with those Muslims being his own blood family.

After the burial, the brothers from San Francisco stayed awhile and provided further Islamic information for the family. The family cleared their house of idols and crosses and made their big house into the 'Mosque of Chinandega'. It was then that the mother, who was deeply touched by her husband's funeral also accepted Islam before the brothers departed! There were other miraculous stories that came from the S.F. group visiting Nicaragua.

Many stories such as these came from the San Francisco group to Nicaragua. Within the Islamic community of Managua there had been friction caused by business differences. The masjid was virtually empty during salah times when the group first arrived. Due to their efforts, a renewal of Islamic spirit and brotherhood ensued. The hearts of the Muslims of Managua were again united in brotherhood. As a result of their visit, many of the Islamic residents of Managua were again attending Fair and Isha prayer in congregation. The San Francisco brothers also provided a yearly prayer schedule which the Managuans hadn't had previously, having to rely on a schedule they had received during Ramadan which they had not adjusted for the course of the year.

These descendants of the early immigrants are hungry for information about Islam. Almost 60 people accepted Islam as a consequence of the group from San Francisco. Spanish Qur'ans and literature are continually in demand. It's the responsibility of all of us to remember these Muslims far away. Please help if you can in our efforts to assist with Spanish language literature.

There were many moving and some amusing stories of the San Francisco group as they continued on to El Salvador, Honduras, and future issues of The Islamic Bulletin for their adventures!

One of the brothers of the San Francisco group visiting Central America was asked by his secretary to deliver some items to her mother, Mrs. Molina, then living in the little town of Granada, close to Managua, while on his dahwa trip. It seems that the brother's secretary, a non-Muslim, had been getting some criticism from her mother and other members of her family for her Islamic leanings due to working for our friend. She was not eating pork anymore and she liked to read the Qur'an "because it made her feel good". The mother had been accusing the good brother of 'brainwashing' her daughter.

Well, the brother delivers the parcel to Mrs. Molina as promised and after a little friendly conversation, he realizes it is time for Maghreb prayer. He asks her permission to pray there, to which she accedes. After praying, our friend starts answering Mrs. Molina's questions about Islam and before he knew it...she asked to become Muslim, made Shahada, and even asked him to speak to her neighbors and friends about Islam! A very enthusiastic convert! Well, needless to say...the brothers secretary no longer heard about 'brainwashing' from her mother, and was even a little surprised by this turn of events. Not too surprised, knowing this brother who is her boss! The problem her mother is criticizing her again...wanting to know what is taking her daughter and son-in-law so long in accepting Islam too!


August 1998
Jumaada Awal 1419
Note from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Islamic World News
Islam in Nicaragua
A Woman in Islam
How I Embraced Islam
Ask and He Gives
Sayings of
the Prophet
Cook's Corner
Manners of the Prophet
Hadith Qudsi
The Qur'an and Science
Stories of the Sahabah
Islamic Diet & Manners
It's Their Miracle!
Islam 101
Kid's Corner
The Prophet Quiz
A Sad Passing
Technology Review
I Wonder
6 Year Old Hafiz