Jessica Disla committed to Islam in May 2020 through a livestream from her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was the last week of Ramadan, just two months after the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Mosques and houses of worship shut down as Disla — a Latina raised Catholic in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City — sought to better understand the Islamic faith. That’s when she learned about IslamInSpanish — an educational nonprofit based in Houston, Texas, that educates Latinos about the religion — and began taking their free online courses. Soon after, at one of the group’s virtual gatherings, Disla felt compelled to take her shahada, the confession of faith in Islam and declaration that Muhammad is a prophet.
“I was like, ‘I have to do this. I feel it in my heart. I have to accept Islam,’” said Disla, 42, who was also raised in the Dominican Republic. “It’s been wonderful ever since.”