Latina Muslim Speaks Out Against Prejudice

Amada Sahar Quezada, in Astoria, Queens, near the East River. (Photo by Javier Castaño)

“We Muslims love life and condemn all types of violence,” said Amada Sahar Quezada, sitting at a coffee shop near her apartment in Astoria, Queens. “I love the way humans from different religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism, are coming together for the well-being of our families.”

Quezada said that real Muslims do not kill, commit suicide or mistreat women. “We condemn all attacks and deaths, as well as any other kind of abuse, such as the one existing in countries where there is no respect for other human beings,” said Quezada, who wore a cloak and a blue niqab that covered her face except for her eyes. She said that she does not wear eye makeup or lipstick.

“This is the way I dress, and I work in accounting wearing this because I want to emulate Khadijah, Muhammad’s wife,” said Quezada, born in Upper Manhattan in 1971. She is the only one in her Dominican family who is Muslim. Her husband, Danny Salgado, is an English teacher in Saudi Arabia, and her three children and two grandchildren are all Muslim.

Quezada said that she converted to Islam a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “I went to Catholic school, I was a Pentecostal Christian, and I became a Muslim because I was looking for a more profound religion. I went to a mosque, and Brother Omar taught me that being Muslim is a way of life and a learning process,” said Quezada, who has read the Quran and believes in Allah. “Muhammad was the last prophet, and we follow his life example.”

Muslims pray five times a day in search of harmony and spiritual peace and to thank Allah. “President Trump needs to be educated about our religion and I hope to God that he will change. His rejection of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries has sparked curiosity among people who now want to know more about our religion. Trump should spend a day with a Muslim and realize that not all Muslims are Arabs. We all want to move ahead in the United States,” said Quezada. “I believe in gun control. I have never been discriminated against in New York, although in Florida they have told me to go back to my country. I reply that this is my country.”

She believes that disinformation and the way the media twists her religion’s message are to blame, citing that, when a Muslim individual commits a crime, they mention that the person is Muslim, but that this does not happen when the person is Catholic, Jewish or Christian.

Quezada’s message to Latinos: “Talk to Latino Muslims. You do not need to convert, but you should learn about our religion.” Islam has more than 1.6 billion followers throughout the world.

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