SHAFAQNA – Ivan Carrazco is a Mexican Muslim, a university professor and an international political analyst, interested in philosophy, history, politics and sociology. In an exclusive interview with Shafaqna, he explains his journey to Islam. Ivan Carrazco believes Islam opens eyes to reason and intellectuality and from a spiritual perspective, the person understands that everything has a divine order and logic in accordance with this world and the here after.
Shafaqna: How did you convert to Islam?
Carrazco – I started reading about Islam and keeping papers important to me from the early years of my childhood. In the family’s library, my father had books about the great civilizations and one of them was Islam, so I read it many times and imagined a world far away and very different from ours in South America. I asked myself many questions and compared them with the things I knew; however, when you are a kid it takes time for you to get an answer for your questions. This was the case until my own professional studies led me to learn more thorough about culture and subsequently the details of Islam as a religion particularly when the Western world began demonizing Islam and the Muslims. I am from the generation of 9/11 attacks when Islam was declared as enemy.
Shafaqna: Did your family oppose your conversion to Islam?
Carrazco – My family had no problem with it. Most of the people in Mexico are deeply ignorant about the Islamic world, despite the existing information, people mostly know about Islam through the media, which portray a negative and hostile picture of this religion. Despite all this, due to positive changes in my behavior and manners, my family took it well.
Shafaqna: What are your personal and social activities as a Muslim?
Carrazco – As a Muslim, I am obliged to read about my religion, its history, its causes, its ethical commitments and of course put it into practice. The attitude towards life and morality is following the Prophet Muhammad’s call or da’wa. That leads me to be a proactive useful member in the society where I live.
Shafaqna: Tell us about the International Quds Day rally in Mexico and other Latin American countries. How is it performed and how many people usually attend the annual march?
Carrazco – This year is the second time we staged the International Quds Day rally in Guadalajara (capital of the state of Jalisco). We try to be informative and raise awareness about “the Palestinian issue”. Here, there are few experts of the Middle East or international political affairs. The only information about this matter (Palestine) is that “a Middle East conflict”. We have to make people understand what happens (in Israel-Palestinian conflict) in details with relevance to the world.
Shafaqna: How much Latin American people and especially Muslims do care about Palestine and Palestinian cause?
Carrazco – In general and at the public level there is awareness about the Palestinian issue. However, at the governmental level there is a sort of ignorance due to the ideological impositions of our continent. Right-wing governments are ideologically charged against the Palestinian cause, while left-wing governments have no plan to recognize Palestine or reject the (Israeli) occupation.
Shafaqna: How about the Shia community? How do they affect the society?
Carrazco – The Muslim community of Mexico is small, and so is the Shia community. The same historical ignorance prevails among the different schools of Islamic thoughts to the extent that there is no dialogue, debate or approach among them.
Shafaqna: In your opinion, what are the needs and problems of the Shia in Latin America?
Carrazco – The needs of the Shia community are the same as the Sunni community’s: lack of adequate locations to perform religious rituals and duties, lack of information about Islam without ideological bias or Takfirism. People just think Muslims are from the Orient. We need to help Muslims to know their faith and offer them a hand during that process. Muslims also need training in various fields, as well as educational centers, food and halal products.
Shafaqna: What are the activities of the Amir al-Momenin Islamic Center in Mexico?
Carrazco – The Amir al-Momenin Islamic Center operates from its headquarters in Mexico City, and is in contact with the rest of the 32 Mexican states. It offers religious and social services: First, commemorations of the Shia calendar, Du’a Kumayl on Thursday evenings and the events in the holy month of Ramadan that include recitation of the Quran, religious classes for adults, children, women and spiritual counseling. The second type of activities include Arabic and Persian language courses, holding marriage ceremonies, conversion ceremonies, halal food services, publication and distribution of religious material and participation in city book fairs, etc.
Shafaqna: What is the relationship between the Shia and the followers of other religions in Mexico?
Carrazco – There is much interest from other religious groups to know more about Islam and its message in order to break the barriers of misunderstanding. In Latin America in general and in Mexico in particular, people are religiously devoted, they are faithful, and therefore the message of Islam is not very strange or unfamiliar.
Shafaqna: How do you introduce Islam to other religions?
Carrazco – With the message of the Prophet Isa ibn Maryam and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Both of Them), the uniqueness of Allah Almighty and the importance of observing his message that is the same and common to all the people of the book. The essential thing is to make Islam understood clearly from its three main foundations which are: Allah (God), the Prophecy and the Day of Judgment.
Shafaqna: What kind of book are needed in your country and region to better understand Islam?
Carrazco – Books about Islam for non-Muslims, about the history of Islam, Islamic teachings, different schools of thought, biographies of the great men and women of Islam and books about ethics.
This text was originally published by Shafaqna Spanish, translated by Shafaqna English.
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