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Main » 2011 » January » 4 » Islam in Japan (1)
7:41 AM
Islam in Japan (1)
ISLAM in JAPAN
Hystory, Spread, and The Institutions in The Country
by
Prof. Dr. Salih Mahdi S. Al Samarrai
(Chairman of Islamic Center Japan)


Introduction:

The light of Islam emanated from the Arabian Peninsula and spread eastwards to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Indian sub-continent, then to Malaysia and reached as far as China and Philippine. It continued spreading for a long time and reached different parts of the world but reached Japan only towards the end of the nineteenth century. In fact, Japanese, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, feel wonder why Islam was so delayed and did not reach Japan at the time it did reach to China and  Philippine. In the present pamphlet, I would like to present a chronology of Islam in Japan, writing whatever information I have about each point in time, based on fifty years of my life which I spent in Japan and fifty years of research. The present work does not pretend to be exhaustive, but different writings on the subject will certainly provide a more comprehensive study. I hereby present my work, seeking the good pleasure of Almighty Allah. I pray to Allah (S.W.T.) for His Mercy and I beg my Muslim bothers for forgiveness.

The Era before 1900:

With the beginning of the era of Japanese Renaissance, known as the era of Meiji, started in 1868, only two countries in Asia enjoyed independence, namely the Ottoman Empire and Japan. As they both came under pressure from Western countries, they decided to establish friendly relations between them and consequently they started to exchange visits. The most important of these visits was the mission sent by Abdul Hamid II (reigned 1876-1909) to Japan on board Al Togrul ship which carried more than six hundred officers and soldiers led by admiral Uthman Pasha in 1890. On the homeward journey, after the mission was successfully accomplished in Japan and meeting Japanese emperor, a fierce hurricane fell on the ship while it was still in Japanese waters, causing the death of more than 550 people including  the Sultan's brother. The disaster deeply moved both sides and the survivors were carried on board of two Japanese ships to Istanbul. The martyrs were buried at the site of the accident and a museum was set up not far from the accident site. Japanese and  Turks still celebrate this event until today at the same site of the accident every five years despite successive change of governments.

 

Along the ship with the survivors going home, a young Japanese journalist by the name of Shotaro Noda who raised donations in Japan for the martyrs families, left for Istanbul, handed these donations to Turkish authorities and even met Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who asked him to stay in Istanbul and teach Japanese to ottoman officers. During his stay in Istanbul, he met Abdullah Guillaume, an English Muslim from Liverpool, Britain who introduced Noda to Islam. Quite convinced after a lengthy discussion that Islam is the truth, Noda embraced Islam and chose to be named Abdul Haleem, as Turkish document at back of the present pamphlet shows. In fact, Abdul Haleem Noda could be considered the first Japanese Muslim. Soon afterwards, another Japanese called Torajiro Yamada went to Istanbul in 1893 to give donations he had collected back home to the martyrs families in Turkey. Following his conversion to Islam, being the second Japanese person to embrace Islam, he changed his name to Khaleel, or maybe Abdul Khaleel. He stayed in Istanbul several years doing business and kept friendly relations with Turkey after coming home until his death.

 

The third Japanese person to embrace Islam was a Christian merchant by the name of Ahmad Ariga. He visited Bombay, India in 1900. The beautiful sight of a Mosque there attracted his attention, he went in and declared his conversion to Islam. During this period, a number of Indian Muslim merchants lived in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kobe, they are considered to be the first Muslim community in Japan.

 

PERIOD FROM 1900 TO 1920:

Muhammad Ali, one of Sultan Abdul Hamid’s envoys, visited Japan in 1902 with the intention of building a Mosque in Yokohama, as some documents have revealed, but he was not successful.

 

A Turkish general Pertav Pasha, an envoy of Sultan Abdul Hamid, also visited Japan to monitor the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). He spent two years there, met  Ottoman emperor and authored a three volume book in Turkish which I translated the first two volumes into Arabic language.

 

After the Russo-Japanese War, news came in the press that Japanese showed interest in Islam as well as in the Muslim world, prompted Muslims to call Japanese for Islam. Abbas Mahmoud Al Aqqad, a prominent Egyptian scholar, mentioned that some Egyptian officers were so impressed by Japanese victory against Russian forces that they volunteered to serve in Japanese army and later on married Japanese women who gave birth to children. Some of them returned home while some others stayed in Japan. Qari Sarfaraz Hussein, a famous Indian scholar, also visited Japan towards the end of 1905 and early 1906 and gave lectures on Islam in Nagasaki and Tokyo. The first Mosque was built in Osaka for Russian Muslim prisoners in 1905.

 

News in the Muslim world also announced in 1906 that a conference is to be held in Tokyo in which Japanese would conduct a comparison between various faiths in order to choose the right one. This news also prompted enthusiastic Muslims to travel to Japan to attend the conference.

 

Ali Ahmad Al Jarjawi, an Egyptian Shahriah lawyer and a graduate from Al Azhar University, claimed that he had attended the conference and wrote a book titled The Japanese Journey. Al Jarjawi, along with Chinese Sulaiman, Russian Mukhlis Mahmoud and Indian Hussein Abdul Munim, formed a society in Tokyo to call to Islam resulted that embraced 12,000 Japanese Islam.

 

Two or three years later, Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim, a Muslim traveler and noted caller of Islam from Russia, came to Japan in 1909 and rejected  the claims of Al Jarjawi. This claim was also rejected by an Indian intellectual Muhammad Barakatullah who stayed in Japan for five years (1909-1914). In fact, the present author has for some years until now been trying to find out if Al Jarjawi really visited Japan or not, and has not found any tangible evidence to this effect, apart from the book written by Al Jarjawi.

 

Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim came to Japan in 1909 and stayed there for six months, during which he met a number of Japanese people, ranging from ministers to peasants. As a result of his Islamic activities, many young intellectuals, officers, and journalists embraced Islam. He also visited China, Korea, India, and Hejaz, Saudi Arabia, and wrote a thousand page long book in ottoman language, which the author of the present work translated and revised into Arabic language. It is in the press and will come out soon, inshaa Allah.

 

In fact, Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim was a prominent traveler, a caller of Islam, a politician, a man of letters and an erudite scholar. The late Dr. Abdul Wahhab Azzam of Egypt, mentioned that the book Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim had authored was far better than Bin Battutah's book, as Dr. Muhammad Rajab Bayyumi mentioned in an article published in Al Azhar magazine.

 

Muhammad Barakatullah, from Bhopal, Indian, also visited Japan and was the first to teach Urdu in the University of Foreign languages in Tokyo. He also issued Islamic Fraternity, an Islamic magazine, for three years (1910-1912), and managed to convert a large number of Japanese people into Islam. In fact, I have managed to find only two issues of his magazine, and I am still trying to find the rest as they certainly reflect the early beginning of Islam in Japan.

 

Ahmad Fadli, an Egyptian officer, stayed in Japan and married a Japanese lady in 1908. He met Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim and worked closely with him. He also worked

closely with Barakatullah for six months and helped in producing his magazine. In fact, Fadli wrote The Secret behind the Japanese Progress in Arabic in 1911 and translated the Soul of Japanese into Arabic. He also visited Waseda University along with Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim and translated one of his lectures on Islam which lasted for three hours. Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim mentioned that there were about one thousand Chinese at Waseda University of whom thirty-nine were Muslims who published "Islamic Awakening” an Islamic magazine in Chinese which also bears the title in Arabic.


Hasan UHO Hatano, who embraced Islam through Barakatullah, published an illustrated magazine named Islamic Brotherhood in 1918. He also published another magazine "Islam” in both Japanese and English in 1912. I have not found a single issue of these two magazines.


The first Japanese Muslim to perform pilgrimage was Umar Yamaoka in 1909, who accompanied Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim to the holy lands and then to Istanbul.

 

French magazine La Mound Mousol Man also published in 1911 some news to the effect that two Japanese people who were residing in China  embraced Islam, and then returned to Japan, determined to spread Islam in their home country.


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I wish to thank you for your efforts of promoting Islam in Japan nd entire world.May ALMIGHTY GOD assist You and rewarded You with JANNAT UL FIRDAUS.

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