Japan is now busily preparing for Tokyo Olympic 2020. They are not just building huge infrastructure for sports venue but the government also create supporting facilities to cater the needs of athletes, officials, and visitors who come from different countries and religions. Especially for Muslims, government and local business take a further step by providing prayer hall in the airport, as well as in the department stores. Halal restaurants are now easily navigated specifically in big cities, ranging from cheap to luxurious meal set, Japan is ready to please your taste bud without worrying the ingredients.
Higher Education in Japan also becomes more global. Many top universities are providing English-based programs, which allow students to have lectures and writing the final thesis in English. Japanese companies start to open global recruitment too, it’s only for foreigners whose been already living in Japan, but also for a fresh graduate from foreign universities. With wide opportunities Japan has to offer, no doubt there will be more number of foreigners coming to and living in Japan.
Muslimah living in Japan comes in many roles, from student, mother, nurse to a company worker, or widely known as Shakaijin (Adult Society). Spending daily life as a Muslim foreigner, could not hear adzan unless downloading the adzan application, and celebrating Eid without the existence of family & relatives, are some of the hardest parts of living abroad. However, these ladies have their way to keep their faith strong, and through this article, they will share you how.
(Camii mosque: Picture taken from Yhotarafelino`s IG)
Keeping the faith strong by participating in Islamic Circle or Ta`lim
Every region and university have a circle of Islamic learning which has routine activities every two or three times a month. In Tsukuba and Tokyo Area, for example, weekly ta`lim are held with various topics such as Fiqh, Aqidah, even science, and technology. For Muslimah, the activities are even more varied as we occasionally have cooking class and beauty class too.
Connected to an Islamic circle will not just enrich your Iman but also let you taste the sweetness of Ukhuwah Islamiyah.Lina is an Indonesian student living in Osaka who converted to Islam on Ramadhan 2016 after learning about this beautiful Dien at Kobe mosque, and through the guidance of an Ustadzah from the same region. Lina is also participating in an Islamic circle of Indonesian students in Kobe, where she met sisters that keep each other on the path of goodness. With whom she spent her first Ramadhan and Eid as a Muslim.
It`s a grateful thing to have friends that make us closer to Allah, just like what Prophet Muhammad SAW counseled: The best friend is someone who helps you remember Allah SWT, and reminds you when you forget Him.
(Ramen Cooking Class by Muslimah Islamic Circle of Ibaraki Prefecture-Photo Courtesy of Annisa Anindita)
Using Online & Offline resources to dig more about Islam
Fake information appears to be everywhere these days so we need to be intelligent enough to absorb that information with a critical mind, especially when it related to Islam. Sometimes Japanese work-colleague and college friends are eager to know our opinion regarding bad news related to Islam, for example about the terror attack and ISIS. To make a profound argument, we need to enrich our Islamic knowledge and watching Islamic lectures video is one of the ways.
In Youtube, people often uploaded video, with good audio quality, of Islamic lectures given by popular ustadz from Aa Gym to Nouman Ali and it sometimes in complete series. Major mosques in Japan serves as learning center too. Okachimachi Mosque or Camii Mosque, both based in Tokyo, are occasionally hold Islamic lectures, and even Cultural Exchange Bazaar that attracts Japanese citizens.
Do not feel hesitate to tell other about Islam “Do`s and Dont`s”
If you are invited to a drinking party (nomikai) or were asked to go out for a lunch by your Japanese friends, do not feel hesitate about “What do and don`t”. They will respect your choice and even will help you further, by checking the food ingredients for you so you can eat in ease.
From my experience so far, whenever I have a welcome party with Japanese, they will try their best to cook only Halal meal (using only Halal-slaughtered meat). Even if they are using Haram ingredients in their dish (most of the cases is pork), they will tell you in advance.
Same goes with praying, do not feel hesitate to do prayer whenever the Adzan calls and ask for a prayer space. Even nowadays, some universities and companies provide prayer room with adequate space. Dea, a friend who works as an Engineer, mentioned that on the top of having a permanent prayer room, her company allows her to have “Hajj” leave, allowing her to come later to Office and go back earlier during Ramadhan. Masha Allah, It’s so beautiful if we can respect each other.
Last: Believe that everything happens for a good reason
Dea, who’s married to a Japanese Muslim, is started to fully wear hijab during her second year of employment. Her husband wholeheartedly supports her decision and even asked her to wear it since they got married. Dea feels really blessed to have a husband who eager to learn and teach about Islam even though he does not grow up in a Muslim family. And to have such an understanding parents-in laws who respect their children`s decision to pursue Islam just complete the blessings.
(Dea & Husband (Personal Documentation))
Dea never thought that her journey in Japan becomes her transition gate to become a better Muslimah. Not just Dea, I have witnessed many friends who start wearing hijab and engaging in Islamic activities during the years abroad.
The journey miles from home has widened our perspective, enrich our mind and soul, as well as challenge our critical thinking. Indeed it has ups and downs, but whenever we feel like giving up just believes that Allah is the Greatest Planner.
“Allah knows what is before them and what is behind them. We may not understand what happens now, but Allah does.” It is due to His blessings that we are able to pursue our dreams in Japan, and we believe there`s a good reason for our existence.
Annisa Anindita Zein