Beauty in the difference

My weekend Tokyo Camii visit always provides me a chance to meet brothers and sisters from different countries. Last Saturday, I met Muslims from India, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I guess there would be more people from various regions as I saw lots of people during prayers. I was about to forget that Japan is called homogeneous society.

One of the beauty in Islam I found on my way to revert is believing in same religion regardless of nationality or race. The beauty got brighter when I noticed we have no differentiation under Allah when I saw how Muslims lining up for their prayers for the first time.

At the same time, the beauty is in the difference. Each one of Muslims is carrying their own culture with geographic or historical backgrounds, as you might see their difference in the language, traditional costume, food, architecture and in any other elements for example. Also, none of us is the same as their gifted personality, talent, and character are given by Allah. Indeed our world and society are full of diversity and difference.

A couple of days after the weekend Tokyo Camii visit, I found one verse of The Holy Quran in chapter 49 and verse 13.

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things) (49:13)

Reflecting back my personal experiences, understanding the difference brought me meaningful personal developments. I learned to be patient with people from different background especially during international youth programs and my work experiences in the diverse environment as I found out what I think good is not always same to the others. At the same time, I got to know there will be better for everyone when we understand each other in many ways.

Subhanallah. Allahuakubar. The Holy Quran clearly mentions the reason why we are different. It is for knowing each other rather than fighting or hating. Also, I believe this is the lesson we should apply to all human even when you encountered non-Muslim people because we are all beautiful creation by Allah. This reminds me the friendly, kind and warm attitude by my Muslim friends even during the time I was not Muslim but they are good Muslims to everyone around them.

As my life passion is to create opportunities for mutual understanding, this verse of the Holy Quran was powerful and convinced me that to understand each other is key to be a good Muslimah and to establish the better society. Alhamdulillah.

No worries, you got a whole life to learn

It has been two months since revert. I received great gifts from Allah, Malaysian host family visit to Tokyo for celebrating my revert, attending the best friends wedding ceremony and gathering with my best friends in Tokyo. Alhamdulillah. Given warm support from Muslims and kind understanding from my Japanese friends even they are non-Muslim. I am simply amazed how greatly my life is changing for better after the revert.

As I write in 3 changes for two weeks as Muslimah, I have got opportunities to learn more about Islam by taking basic Arabic class for reading Quran, Islamic course for new revert Muslimah. I am getting used to my weekend routine to visit Tokyo Camii Mosque to take classes, deliver my prayers and meeting up with lovely sisters. I try my best to keep the weekend Tokyo Camii visit, however sometimes I was not able to attend class due to schedule conflicts then I feel “Oh no, I missed the class! Even I have a lot of things to learn!” with a deep sigh.

During my Malaysian host family’s stay, we were on the way to Tokyo Camii to deliver Magrib prayer and I was talking with host father about my Arabic learning.

Me: I take Arabic class for reading Quran but I sometimes missed it also studying Arabic simply take a time to learn for me. I think I should make more effort though….

Host father: No worries, Risa. Now you have your whole life to learn.

What host father said made me realized that fact I am Muslim now and indeed  I will be Muslim for entire life in the hereafter and forever! Also learning Islam is not the things with stress or hustle,  it is the totally great thing to develop myself to be a good human as Muslimah.

Learning Basic Arabic
Learning Basic Arabic

Sometimes my Japanese perfectionism trying to acquire things strictly make me feel nervous but I learned as long as I make effort for good, Allah will see it and I believe reward of my efforts will come. Who knows my daily practice on reciting Al Fatiha, even it is taking a time to master it,  will lead me to deliver prayer with a strong connection to Allah in the near future.This is an important lesson not only for me but also for those considering to revert I suppose. I do understand those thinking to revert (especially Japanese) want to fully prepare to be Muslim, as I started learning Islam by practicing the principle, but they are able to learn and develop themselves even after reverted! Also the important is learning Islam is not only for the reverts. Even born Muslim dedicate themselves to keep their faith.

I do appreciate the current environment is filled with generous support from brothers and sisters offering their help for those wants to learn about Islam. I would like to take this opportunity with great appreciation and I want to take my own steps forward even take time or slower than others. Inshallah.

2016 New Year in Japan

First Japanese New Year as Muslimah.

“Akemashite Omedetou!”
This phrase means “Happy New Year! in Japanese.

In Japan, we follow the normal calendar. As school holiday starts around the 4th week of December till 2nd week of January, the end of the year towards new year bring us special holiday occasion to reflect the previous year and wish for a great new year coming with friends and families.

This year was my second new year after I came back from Malaysia, I feel conformable with Japanese new year atmosphere which I used to it since childhood. ( I was surprised for Malaysian people the new year according to normal calendar is not special thing as each race has their own calendar and day for new year celebration) I was having a relaxing time with family, TV showed people were cueing for new year prayer towards shrine or temple when we were about to welcome the new year and it made me wonder about the prayer.

“Japanese people pay a visit to shrine or temple for a special prayer. Yeah, I used to do sometimes. Then I know some go for pray only this occasion but I can pray five times a day.  Oh they seems so cold outside and yeah even I go to the mosque but basically, I can pray anywhere I am! Plus I do not have to pay when I pray. Every time I went to shrine or temple I was always worried about how much I should pay for the offertory box.”

I was totally feeling lucky this year. Because for me as grow up non-religious family, when I had tried the new year prayer previously I didn’t feel the existence of god it rather cultural event for me. But now as Muslim, I feel secured that I reverted to Islam belief in one only God without any doubt. After that, I did pray before I sleep and wishes as I do in the daily prayer, I felt the beauty of Islam again.

After welcomed the new year, my friend visited and brought Japanese traditional new year dishes called “Osechi” which is with different kind of delicacies in the beautiful boxes wishes prosperity and health for a family. The surprising thing for me was her hospitality to care about my food restriction. She said, “I was not sure about your religious food restrictions so that I wrote the list of ingredients for every menu for you.”

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“Osechi” Japanese traditional new year food with handwriting ingredients list by my friend

Alhamdulillah! I was so touched she gave me a small piece of paper listed up all the name of the delicacies and what she used to cook for those. It was very easy for me to pick up what I can eat, because of her kindness I was able to enjoy the traditional Japanese food.

It can not make me happier when I feel Japanese and Muslim identity at the same time. It was totally Alhamdulillah! And I noticed that there are always ways to develop my identity as Japanese and Muslim and I will find the beauty on my way. This new year experience brought me a believe that Allah will provide chances for me to be better Japanese Muslimah, Inshallah.