Imam Abdullah purchasing supplies for the Islamic Learning Center of Moca, PR, thanks to the generous donations from the online fundraising campaign. Photo by Wendy Diaz.
Imam Abdullah Daniel Hernández, known as Abdullah Danny by fellow New Jersey natives, presides over the Pearland Islamic Center in Pearland, Texas, an extension of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH). Imam Abdullah, who converted to Islam in 1999, studied at Al Azhar University in Egypt from 2004-2007, completing five years’ worth of extensive coursework in Islamic Sciences. He is one of the few Hispanic imams in the United States, and like many other Spanish-speaking Muslims, he has dedicated himself to helping spread the message of Islam in his native language.
Working closely with IslaminSpanish, also based in Houston, Imam Abdullah organizes events in Spanish at the Pearland masjid on a weekly basis, and also offers classes and support for Latinos. His efforts, however, are not only limited to his locality. Having been raised half his life also in Puerto Rico, he is now turning his attention back to his parents’ homeland.
“In 2008, I became aware that some masajid (in Puerto Rico) would tell (Muslim) sisters that there is no place for them (to worship), and I decided to take the initiative to establish a place suitable for all,” said Imam Abdullah, “Instead of investing or using up community resources, or building a masjid to counter that issue, I decided to establish an Islamic learning center in Moca, Puerto Rico, with a multimedia library and educational materials conducive for onsite learning and live online web broadcasting, insha’Allah.”
To carry out this endeavor, he set a deadline of March 2014. His plan drew the attention of other Islamic organizations after he launched an online fundraising campaign and began promoting the idea through social media platforms like Facebook. Each of the organizations, which included IslaminSpanish, WhyIslam, Hablamos Islam, Radio Islámico, and Qays Designs, donated a generous share of educational materials, including CD’s, books, DVDs, and brochures. Modasty Designs, an Islamic clothing company, provided free prayer garments for women, as well.
Imam Abdullah, with the support and approval of his community in Pearland, travelled with his mother, Gloria, also a Muslim convert, transporting all the donations in their luggage. During their stay, from March 3rd to the 8th, they met with family members and spoke to them about Islam and established the Islamic Learning Center of Moca, a rental property with a musalla, smart TV for live transmissions, and a library.
They also had the opportunity to socialize with other Puerto Rican Muslims from all over the island. Imam Abdullah was introduced to Imam Zaid, who is originally from Jordan but has been living in Puerto Rico for 15 years. Imam Zaid is surprisingly the only imam in Puerto Rico who speaks Spanish, although there are a total of 8 masajid on the tiny island which is smaller than the state of Rhode Island. All of the imams in Puerto Rico are Arab, and most services, including the Friday prayers are conducted in Arabic or English, save for Imam Zaid’s.
Imam Abdullah had the unexpected chance to give a khutbah in “La Mezquita de Montehiedra,” or the Montehiedra Masjid, and he spoke about Islamic education and adhering to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. One community member said this was his first time seeing a Puerto Rican imam on the pulpit, something which made him proud and gave him motivation.
Imam Abdullah says that imams that speak the language are much needed in Puerto Rico, as well as educational resources in Spanish. “One way to really get involved in the effort for Islam in Puerto Rico and Latin America is to support the organizations who are taking the time making the efforts to help Latin American countries learn about Islam,” he said, “Such as IslamInSpanish, which produces multimedia for educating Latinos about Islam, HablamosIslam, which produces children’s books and videos about Islam, and WhyIslam, which produces dawah material that helps in Islamic propagation.”
Through the webcasts in the Moca Learning Center, Spanish-speaking imams and students of knowledge will conduct classes for the Muslims in Puerto Rico in an ongoing effort to help foster understanding and promote Islam as a peaceful way of life. Imam Abdullah plans to travel again to the island to better assess the needs of the people and visit other Islamic centers, with Allah’s Permission.
If you would like to get involved in funding the Moca Learning Center, visit: