Activities & Organizations

Gang member reforms after converting to Islam


A former Latino gang member told a story to a group of UH students Tuesday of how converting to Islam saved his life, and he described why Latinos are more likely to convert to Islam.

As part of Islam Awareness Week, the Muslim Student Association welcomed Mujahid Fletcher, who moved to Houston from Colombia at age 8.

Starting in middle school, Fletcher led a troublesome life after he began his own gang based on self-defense.

“If it weren’t for Islam and their rehabilitation of the Islamic lifestyle, I don’t even know if I’d be here today,” he said. “I may be in jail, or I may be dead. I used to have people calling my house and telling my mother at three in the morning that they were going to kill me.”

Mujahid said that these phone calls came when he was between 13 and 16 years old.

Believing Fletcher’s future was in peril, his mother sent him to school in Colombia. Surrounded by a different group of people, Fletcher excelled in school. When he returned to Houston years later, he longed for the slower pace of life in Colombia.

However, he soon began to fall into the same habits that got him in trouble many times before. He knew it was time for a change.

After many years of living a fast-paced life, Fletcher began reading about Kabbalah and Buddhism and even his own religion, Catholicism, but he said he found “holes” in them. With his father’s encouragement, he began searching for life’s meaning.

“He never put an ideology on me. He only told me there was one God, and how ever I would find that God was up to me,” Fletcher said.

After questioning followers of multiple religions, he became more attracted to Islam for the clarity of the answers an Islam expert provided him.

“The person would always deal with me with etiquette, with wisdom. He wouldn’t argue,” Fletcher said. “He wouldn’t try to pin me down. He would just give very plain, open answers and say, ‘Just go look at an Encyclopedia Britannica.’”

After a long time of studying the religion, Fletcher finally accepted Islam at a Muslim convention in Florida, where he spoke to a Colombian Muslim for two hours and said he learned ways Islam ideology could offer solutions for Colombia.

“That’s when I learned the real meaning of submission,” he said. “When you surrender to something, it’s something you can’t argue. The only thing I knew was I felt clean.”

Fletcher admits he had some doubts in converting to Islam because, similar to other religions, he witnessed hypocrisy among some.

“Some of the people say they’re Muslim, but their actions may not be Islamic, the same way a Christian may say he’s Christian and his actions aren’t based on Christianity,” he said.

Fletchers said after converting, he didn’t have the desire to return to his old ways. So great was the impact he had on others that, a month later, his girlfriend converted and, years later, his parents and mother-in-law also converted.

Fletcher said Latinos embrace Islam more because of Islamic roots that exist in Latin America’s history. Fletcher said many Latinos have ancestors from Spain who were Muslim.

“We have so much from Islam that we don’t understand, (that) we don’t know,” he said. “The natural family values that Latinos have come from Islam. When they realize that it’s not contradictory and so far-fetched from their background, many of them are becoming Muslim.”

Today, Fletcher runs a non-profit organization called Islam In Spanish, which provides multimedia material in Spanish to inform people about Islam. Fletcher also opened the Andalusia Social and Educational Media Center, a center that facilitates interaction between people of all religions and backgrounds by holding discussions and workshops.

news@thedailycougar.com


  • ASyed

    Wow, it’s refreshing to hear that religion, in perticular Islam made a difference in his life.

  • http://islam100.wordpress.com Abrahim

    Continuity of the Message of All The Prophets of God Almighty
    Islam is not a new religion because “submission to the will of God”, i.e. Islam, has always been the only acceptable religion in the sight of God. For this reason, Islam is the true “natural religion”, and it is the same eternal message revealed through the ages to all of God’s prophets and messengers. Muslims believe that all of God’s prophets, which include Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, brought the same message of Pure Monotheism. For this reason, the Prophet Muhammad was not the founder of a new religion, as many people mistakenly think, but he was the final Prophet of Islam. By revealing His final message to Muhammad, which is an eternal and universal message for all of mankind, God finally fulfilled the covenant that He made with Abraham, who was one of the earliest and greatest prophets.

    Sufficient is it to say that the way of Islam is the same as the way of the prophet Abraham, because both the Bible and the Quran portray Abraham as a towering example of someone who submitted himself completely to God and worshipped Him without intermediaries. Once this is realized, it should be clear that Islam has the most continuous and universal message of any religion, because all prophets and messengers were “Muslims”, i.e. those who submitted to God’s will, and they preached “Islam”, i.e. submission to the will of Almighty God.

    The Oneness of God
    The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in the Oneness of Almighty God – the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus. Islam teaches that a pure belief in One God is intuitive in human beings and thus fulfils the natural inclination of the soul. As such, Islam’s concept of God is straightforward, unambiguous and easy to understand. Islam teaches that the hearts, minds and souls of human beings are fitting receptacles for clear divine revelation, and that God’s revelations to man are not clouded by self-contradictory mysteries or irrational ideas. As such, Islam teaches that even though God cannot be fully comprehended and grasped by our finite human minds, He also does not expect us to accept absurd or demonstrably false beliefs about Him.

  • Bob

    Islam? This is the same religion that says I have to have my head cut off unless I convert, because I’m Wiccan, right?

    Eff that. “Islam Awareness Week”? I’m plenty aware of what that barbaric 7th century death cult has to say thanks.

    • jafar

      Bob: Where does Islam say that you have to have your head cut off unless you convert? And what has that to do with being Wiccan? Do you have any references?

      If you do find a reference, please post it here. If not, you should realize that Islam does not accept conversions by force.

  • Randa

    Hi Bob, that's hilarious. Last I checked, the world's human population is approx 7 billion. If what you said is true, approx 5.5 billion people are headless since 1.5 billion are muslims!

  • Gaviota

    "…both the Bible and the Quran portray Abraham as a towering example of someone who submitted himself completely to God and worshipped Him without intermediaries…"

    "Without intermediaries?" What are Imams for, then?

    • Randa

      Hi Gaviota, in layman's term, an Iman is simply a leader, someone knowledgeable. Just like a teacher who teaches and show guidance to his/her students. Muslims worship directly to God, ie, without intermediaries, just like Jesus, Moses, Abraham and all the prophets before them.

  • SpeakerofTruth

    Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" There are hundreds of other verses from your "holy book" I could quote if you like. Unlike Christianity which is a religion of love, Islam is a religion of intolerance and hate towards those who don't agree.

    • Seeking truth

      Anybody can take a single sentence from any religious text and take it out of context. In fact what you just did is called "the fallacy of quoting out of context" or "contextomy". Here is Wikipedia's definition:

      <font size="+1"> "The practice of quoting out of context, sometimes referred to as "contextomy" or "quote mining", is a logical fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning.[1]
      Arguments based on this fallacy typically take two forms. As a straw man argument, which is frequently found in politics, it involves quoting an opponent out of context in order to misrepresent their position (typically to make it seem more simplistic or extreme) in order to make it easier to refute. As an appeal to authority, it involves quoting an authority on the subject out of context, in order to misrepresent that authority as supporting some position."…</font>

      Ok now that we got that out of the way. This verse is referring to a SPECIFIC BATTLE, this verse is not an order on Muslims. The battle it is referring to is the battle of Badr.
      If you want to know what the Quran says, read it, don't take anybody's word. If you find that it's not for you, at least you'll get to know us.

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