How do I tell my revert to Japanese friends?

For three weeks as Muslimah, I got an occasion to catch up with my close non-Muslim Japanese friends in Tokyo. Surprisingly I found difficulties to talk about my revert to them in our native language which I never felt when I talk with my family or with Muslim friends after the revert.

Recently I had an occasion to meet up with my close friends, the batch mate from SSEAYP, to have lunch together. It was usual catch up by talking about work, boyfriend or girlfriend sort of stuff. When we go back home I was with one of the closest friends in the train then finally I got a chance to tell her that I became to be a Muslim as I was not able to touch the topic in front of everyone. Fortunately, she said, “That is very good for you” since she knows me from where I touched Islam. Alhamdulillah. I do appreciate her attitude to who I am now meanwhile I found myself difficult to talk about Islam in my native language to non-Muslim Japanese.

I notice that I tried not to give her negative image on my revert or Islam by saying “I am who I am even after I become to be a Muslim.” Although I strongly believe that I will be a better person as Japanese Muslim revert, it seems somehow I am afraid people judge me with the misconception of Islam.

After I got back to home I thought harder why I felt difficult to talk about Islam and myself as Muslim in Japanese since I never feel that way when I talked with my family or Muslim brothers and sisters. Then I found out as Japanese identity, we might think “religious” is sensitive talk in public, probably too private to share with friends. (In Japan sometimes what religion to belong reveals their political view or other social position.) It turns out this is unconscious mind roots deeply inside me as I raised and grown up in Japan.

Another reason I realized is my knowledge on Islam in the Japanese language is less. In most of the opportunities, I learned Islam in English through experiences in Islamic countries and interaction with Muslim friends from abroad. Also, it was only recently I started to go to classes to learn Islam held in Japanese and reading Japanese translated Quran more often for better understanding so talking about Islam in English is much easier for me now.

I became to wonder how do I tell my Japanese friends the fact that I became to be a Muslim then? Do I post on Facebook say “Hey guys, I am Muslim now”? It sounds wired. Or when I meet them, should I say “Hey! I become to be a Muslim!” That looks even weirder.

Then I realized that rather than I explain them with words it would be great if I explain Islam by showing who I am through lifestyle, practices, deeds and cultures based on my believe as I have been showing them how I stop drinking and avoid eating non-halal food etc… Who knows in near future I will meet them with wearing hijab or meeting up to enjoy dinner together at Halal restaurant? Only Allah knows.

Of course, if they ask questions why I follow the practices and cultures I will try all my best to provide explanations or examples for better and correct understanding of Islam to my beloved Japanese friends in proper Japanese. Inshallah. This thought encourages me to learn Islam continuously, it is for Allah and indirectly for myself and benefit others too.

 

3 changes for two weeks as Muslimah

It has been amazing weeks after shahada. For two weeks as Japanese Muslim revert, I found out there are some outer and inner changes to share.

 1. More learning opportunities on Islam

Since reverting to Muslim, I got kind supports from brothers and sisters. One of those is an invitation to join classes for Islamic studies at Tokyo Camii on weekends. Because of it, I got to join several classes, Basic Islamic lecture for Muslimah, Lecture of an important lesson from hadith and Arabic class for reading Quran.

Previously even I was learning Islam by reading related books or asking questions to my Muslim friends but I know that I was just a Japanese who is interested in Islam.

But when I actually reverted to Islam, they treat me as a real family like family want to provide good education to their child. The great thing about learning together with family is simply I can keep my motivation not to give up on learning the universal topics can apply to all individuals in our lives.

It is from A to Z and it cannot be done all by intensive course, so it will take time. But I do find myself enjoy learning what I find interested in for my life.

Learning more on Islam
Opportunities come to learn more about Islam

2. Better attitude to talk with people

As part of one big family in Islam, I have got to know lots of brothers and sisters after the revert. Once they met me and knew that I am new Japanese Muslim revert, they always congrats me with saying, “welcome back to Islam, sister”.

Every time I go to Tokyo Camii to study or pray, brothers and sisters Salam me and I found out it does not matter we have known each other. After that I learn giving salam first is better than that you are waiting for it so I try to say “Assalamualaikum” when I meet brothers and sisters.

Some sisters talked to me and asked, “Are you Japanese?” and I say yes they ask more about me. Previously I was not good at talking about myself and socializing with people due to less confidence in myself but I realized I talked to them with relaxed and calm attitude than ever. I guess it’s all because now I know we are family to take care each other and also I do feel appreciation for the opportunity Allah provide me to meet siblings in Tokyo.

3. More spontaneous decisions

As baby Muslim, I have a lot of things to learn. It is literally a lot! Unfortunately, I heard some of the reverts gave up their learning due to pressure to follow and focus the Dos and Don’ts as soon as possible or perfectly. I feel sad when I listen to those stories.

I believe in any things either studies or working, the important is willing to do rather than forced to do. If I willingly try something new it leads me to find out what is difficult or what is easy for me and it promotes spontaneous learning process.

Now after I became to be a Muslimah, the spontaneous willingness became more than before. Especially I found out the importance by addressing “it is by my will” for example to clean up myself for prayers and when I initiate praying. Not only for those situations but also in other daily decisions on what to do or not do, I try to choose the decisions which Allah likes us to do in our life with my own will.

Alhamdulillah. I can’t wait to see how I will change more throughout my journey as Muslimah. Accept whatever I have or receive and keep moving forward.

 

Right After Shahada

My honest feeling after Shahada was “relieved”. I was so glad that I became to be a Muslim. And I felt warm and calm, at the same time my heart got clean. It was truly unforgettable feelings in my life.

Right after Shahada, Pakistani aunty came into and hugged me tightly. I heard that she was saying Alhamdulillah and I saw big tears in her eyes. I was a bit surprised that even though we don’t know each other she cried tears of joy as if it is her daughter’s big day. I was not able to speak her language so I hugged her back to show my appreciation.

Hundreds of congratulation and Salam were coming into me since the lecture on the day was for non-Japanese so that majority of the auditor was Muslim brothers and sisters who live in Japan. (Surprisingly I saw over 2,000 Muslims in Tokyo) From those congratulated me, I was able to see their diverse backgrounds and it gave me a confident that “In anywhere around the world, there will be brothers and sisters to support each other”. It was another beautiful feeling to find out I am now the sister of a whole Muslim family in the world.

After I exited from the venue, there were some people talked to me in person. They are foreign Muslims living in Japan for business or studies and it seems they settled down their life in Japan. There was a Pakistani couple has business in Japan talked to me with the husband’s fluent Japanese said “Moshi nanika attara itsudemo renraku shitekudasai” meaning if you got in trouble or anything please do not hesitate to contact us. And the wife provided me her contact number.

Not only by them, I had received similar phrases from other brothers and sisters. And I imagined there might be brothers and sisters supported them when they moved to japan, that is why they can offer kind support to new Muslim revert like me.

Another great thing was I was able to meet Japanese Muslimah reverts, those got married to Muslim husband and raise their beautiful children in Japan. They are so humble, kind and I was able to see they were truly happy to welcome new Japanese Muslimah. It was the late evening that we pray for each other to meet again someday in near future.

On the way home, I said to myself “Everything will be fine because I am not alone. I am now living in the world and society where people do support each other”, “someday I want to be a person who can support someone in anyways as I got kind supports from brothers and sisters.” and I found tears in my eyes.