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Juan Pablo Osorio migrated to the United States when he was 12, joined the Marines at 18 and was deployed to Iraq at 19. While he was overseas, he became intrigued by the concept of an “infidel,” a word he kept hearing his fellow soldiers use to refer to themselves ironically—even proudly. As he learned more about Islam both from Iraqis themselves and from his own investigations in the Quran, he realized that words like “infidel” and “jihad” did not mean what he had been led to believe they meant. Thus began a long journey of Juan Pablo’s views on Islam softening to the point where he began to wonder if becoming a Muslim might actually be the thing he had been searching for his whole life.

Latino USA then talks to Columbia University professor Hisham Aidi, who takes us through Islam’s long and varied history in the Americas, from slavery to telenovelas to the modern context of Latino Muslims in the U.S. today.

Featured image courtesy of Juan Pablo Osorio