number of Japanese Muslims including Umar Yamaoka, Umar Mita, Abdul Muneer
Watanabe, Sadiq Imaizumi, Umar Yukiba and Mustafa Komura gathered and set up
the first Muslim association in Japan in 1953 (Japan Muslim Association).
Members of Tablighi movement started
entering into Japan from Pakistan between 1956 and 1960. Their first group
visited Japan in 1956, and I managed to meet Shabir Ahmad in Lahore, the only
surviving member of this group. In fact, they visited Japan four times and I
accompanied them in the fourth time in 1960. Those zealous Muslims revived the
spirit of Islam in Japanese Muslims, such as Umar Mita, and Mustafa Komura, and
converted new persons to Islam, such as Prof. Abdul Kareem Saito, Khalid Kiba,
Dr. Umar Kawabata, ZaKariya Nakayama, Ali Mori, and Amin Yamamoto. The last
four were the greatest and leading daees (callers to Islam) in Shikoku Island,
one of the four main islands of Japan. Sadiq Imaizumi helped
convert a number of Japanese persons to Islam including Ramadan Isozaki, Zubair
Suzuki, Sideeq Nakayama, and Yusuf Imori.
During this period a prominent daee (caller to
Islam) emerged, namely the late Abdur Rasheed Arshad, a Pakistani engineer from
the Tablighi movement, who also knew the whole Holy Qur'an by heart. He
visited Japan on a training mission at the expense of Japanese government in 1959. He joined the
third Tablighi mission and managed to convert a number of Japanese to
Islam, including Khalid Kiba. It was actually Abdur Rasheed Arshad who
encouraged me to come to Japan after I was introduced to him by the late Abul Hasan
Ali Al Hasani Al Nadvi whom I met during one of his visits to Pakistan where I
was studying agriculture in Layallpur (Faislabad). Upon Abdur Rasheed Arshad
return from Japan, I met him in Raiwind, not far from Lahore, in 1959 during
the annual meeting of the Tablighi movement. He used to encourage me to
go to Japan, saying that it was like a blooming garden, full of ripe fruits
where I could only go in and readily pick fruits and that the character of some
converts to Islam was similar that of the Prophet’s companions (SAHABA).
the early sixties, Abdur Rasheed Arshad supervised the project of setting up
the telephone line between Makkah Al Mukarramah and Al Madinah Al Munawwarah
and I informed him while I was in Japan in 1961 that Umar Mita embarked on the
translation of meanings of Holy Qur’an into Japanese. In fact, I shared the
same room with Umar Mita for approximately a year. Abdur Rasheed Arshad
approached World Muslim League, Makkah Al Mukarramah which called Umar Mita as
well as Mustafa Komura and the three of them formed a team to translate
meanings of Holy Qur’an into Japanese. Abdur Rasheed Arshad died in a car
accident between Makkah Al Mukarramah and Al Madinah Al Munawwarah in 1964 (or
maybe early 1965) while in the company of Umar Mita and Mustafa Komura who
survived the crash and managed to publish translation of Holy Qura’n.
Of the leading Japanese daees (callers to
Islam) who embraced the Muslim faith during this period was the late professor
Abdul Kareem Saito. He was converted to Islam at the hands of the Tablighi
groups. He worked at Takushoku University and paved the way for scores of
Japanese youth to embrace Islam. Actually, we together sent all these converts
to Al Azhar University, Egypt, in the sixties and to Saudi Arabia in the
seventies in order to master Arabic language and study Islam. Now they are
teaching Arabic language in Japanese universities and working in companies, and
some of them, such as Khalid Higuchi, Amin Tokumatsu, Japan Muslim Association’s president and Yahya Endo, are
running Japan Muslim Association, the first Japanese Muslim organization.
PERIOD FROM 1960 TO 1970:
Foreign Muslim students from different Muslim
countries, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Arab world (including myself) etc.
arrived in Japan at the end of fifties and beginning of sixties, and they set
up the first Muslim Student Association in Japan. The managing committee of the
association included Dr. Zuhal from Indonesia,
Muzaffar Uzay from Turkey, Ahmad Suzuki from Japan, Abdur Rahman Siddiqi from Pakistan and Salih Mahdi Al
Samarrai, an Arab.
Muslim students set up a da’wah joint Board with Japan Muslim Association (Umar
Mita, Abdul Muneer Watanabe, and Abdul kareem Saito who represented Japanese
side) and (Abddur Rahman Siddiqi, Muzaffar Uzay and Salih Mahdi Al Samarrai who
represented students). The Board carried out a number of activities including
It published booklets on Islam written by Umar
Mita and translated and published Al Maudoodi, towards understanding Islam.
Farooq Nagase assisted the publication of fortnightly The Voice of Islam
3. It sent Japanese
Muslim youths to Al Azhar University and organized intensive preparatory
It undertook all da’wah activities after
the Tabligh members had left Japan.
It purchased the first graveyard for Muslims in
Enzan (Yamanshi prefecture) with a handsome amount of money contributed by
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as some money from the late Abdul Kareem Saito.
The graveyard later registered in the name of Japan Muslim Association.
The board introduced Professor Abdul kareem
Saito to the Muslim world, first, he visited Iraq, then Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, and many other Muslim countries.
The board inaugurated the first Islamic Center
in Tokushima city, southwestern Japan, in Shikoku Island, in 1965 but it
witnessed only one year of operation.
It inaugurated the first Islamic Center in
Tokyo in 1965 with the help and support of Al Sanie, the first Kuwaiti Ambassador
to Japan. The Center lasted for one year and then closed down after the support
was stopped following the Kuwaiti Ambassador's leaving the country.
Late Al Mangoor, Saudi Ambassador to Japan, Mr.
Muhammad Basheer Kurdi, Mr. Salah Al Husaini, (the son of the late Al Hajj Amin
Al Husseini, the then mufti of Jerusalem) who worked in Saudi Arabia
Embassy in Tokyo gave tremendous support to our Islamic activities in Japan. In
fact, Mr. Al Manqoor would provide us with a generous amount donations on various
occasions to support the different Islamic activities.
Indonesian students also had a huge residence
in the heart of the Japanese capital, not far from its central Mosque, in which
we used to celebrate the various Islamic events, particularly Eid Al Fitr
festival. They would prepare a massive celebration with delicious food which
would then be attended by Muslims and senior Japanese officials and even
Japanese members of parliament. The celebration called AL HALAL BIL HALAL in
In the third part of this period, after most of the
students had gone back home, and their Islamic activities witnessed a decline
as a result, another eminent and unique caller to Islam by the name of Syed
Jameel visited Japan. He was the chief accountant in Pakistani government and
the president of Holy Qur'an Memorization Society in Karachi, Pakistan. In
fact, he started from where others had left off and expanded the Islamic
activities which started off by his predecessors. He also published some
treatises on Islam in Japanese, and his activities included Korea as well.
late Prof. Dr. Ali Hasan Al Samni, a highly qualified Egyptian professor, also
came to Japan and taught Arabic to thousands of Japanese students in colleges
of foreign languages as well as in other Japanese institutes from 1963 to 1978.
He was consulted by leading professors in Japan and benefited from his vast
knowledge. The Japanese emperor conferred the order of merit on him in
appreciation of his services in the field of Arabic language and Islamic
Culture. During the seventies of the past century, the late Abdul Kareem Saito,
Ali Hasan Al Samni and the author of the present pamphlet would stay in Tokyo
Mosque in afternoon of every Sunday to reply to the queries posed by the
Japanese people about the Muslim faith.
It is worth mentioning that the late
Miftahuddin and Ainan Safa, two Imams of Tokyo Mosque, as well as Mr.
Kalki, the then Imam of Kobe
Mosque, who were amongst Tatar Muslim emigrants, also rendered great services
to the Muslim community in Japan.
I would also like to stress here that during
this period the main source of financial support of the general da'wah
activities conducted by the joint Islamic Board came mainly from Kuwait through
Mr. Abdullah Al Aqeel and the late Abdur Rahman Al Dosari who used to raise
donations from Muslim philanthropists, most popular of whom were the late Abdur
Razzaq Al Salih Al Mutawwa, Al Qinai, and Sheikh Abdullah Ali Al Mutawwa and
many others. We pray to Almighty Allah to reward them abundantly for the
services they rendered to Islam and Muslims in Japan.
The Seventies: PERIOD FROM 1970 TO
The late King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi
Arabia visited Japan in 1970 and met a number of Japanese Muslim delegates
including Muslim delegates from Korea. Then Dr. Abdul Basit Al Sebai, the
president of "Muslim Student Association in Japan” seized the opportunity and
requested the Saudi monarch to dispatch Dr. Salih Mahdi Al Samarrai, professor
at Riyadh University, to Japan to help da'wah work in Japan, and he
kindly granted the request in 1973. May Allah reward him abundantly for his
services to Islam and Muslims.
late King Faisal also supervised translation project of the meanings of Holy
Qur'an into Japanese which was undertaken by Umar Mita, and he allotted a large
sum of money to this project with Saudi Arabia Embassy in Japan, ordering that
the Embassy in Tokyo pay every necessary amount whenever the translation was
out of print. Umar Mita mentioned in the introduction to this translation that
Mr. Ahmad Suzuki and Dr. Salih Mahdi Al Samarrai assisted him with the final
revision of the translation work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during the summer of
During 1971 and 1972, Syed Jamil continued the
Islamic work in Japan and Korea.
In 1973, King Faisal assisted by late
Hasan Al Shaikh the minister of education dispatched the author of the present
work to help the da'wah activities in Japan along with six other
persons, namely Khalid Kiba (Japanese), Asad Qurban Ali, the son of the late
Abdul Hay Qurban Ali who founded Tokyo Mosque, Dr. Abdul Basit Al Sebai
(Egyptian), Ali Al Zubee (Syrian), Abdur Rahman Siddiqi (Pakistani) and Musa
Muhammad Umar (Sudanese). They had all studied in Japanese universities and had
undertaken major Islamic activities in Japan. This team set up the first
integrated Islamic Center in collaboration with other Japanese and foreign
dignitaries who are active in Dawah, such as Umar Mita who translated the
meanings of Holy Qur'an into Japanese,
Abdul Kareem Saito, Mustufa Komura,
Abdul Muneer Watanabe, Tamim Dar Muhit, Umar Daraz Khan, Ali Hasan Al
Samni, Matloob Ali and Ainan Safa. We must not forget to mention here the great
efforts made by the late Sheikh Hasan bin Abdullah Al Sheikh who was a great
help to King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz in this respect and helped support the
various activities of Islamic Center-Japan and Islamic da'wah in Japan.
The late Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz also played a major role in this regard. In
fact, these two men helped shape the destiny of Islamic da'wah in Japan.
May Allah reward them for their efforts.
Islamic Center-Japan was established at a
critical stage in the history of Japan, namely the oil crisis in 1973 and the
following years. The Japanese people started to show interest in Islam, as most
of the oil exporting countries were Islamic. The establishment of this Center
was a dream of every person who had been engaged in da'wah activities
for a hundred years. In fact, all those who had visited Japan and engaged in da'wah
activities whose writings we have read, such as Abdur Rasheed Ibrahim, Muhammad
Barakatullah, and Noorul Hasan Barlas, were always hoping that an Islamic
Center be set up in Japan where Japanese Muslims and anyone fluent in Japanese
would call people to Islam and publish Islamic books in Japanese for the
Islamic Center-Japan was frequented by huge
numbers of Japanese who embraced Islam.
The Center published numerous books and
booklets on Islam in Japanese and issued Assalam magazine in Japanese.
Its da’wah activities covered the entire
country from the north to the south, and Islam reached the northern island of
Hokkaido for the first time and opened new branches in a number of cities.
It sent Japanese students to Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia and Egypt for Islamic studies.
In 1976, it set up the first council to
coordinate the efforts of the various Islamic societies which numbered at that
time twelve societies including Japanese Islamic societies in a number of
Japanese cities as well as Indonesian community and Muslim Student Association
It organized the first symposium on the Islamic
Law (Sharee'ah) in 1977 in collaboration with Muslim World League,
Makkah Al Mukarramah and Chuo University, Tokyo on the initiative of Khalid
Kiba. This event was attended by the uncle of the present Japanese emperor,
members of the High Court and three hundred Japanese lawyers. It was also
attended by the late Muhammad Ali Al Harakan, the general secretary of Muslim
World League, Makkah Al Mukrramah. The symposium lasted for three days and its
proceedings were published in Arabic, Japanese and English and paved the way
for numerous studies on the Sharee'ah which are still going on.
The Council also organized a number of cultural
symposia which were attended by thousands of people in Tokyo and other Japanese
cities under the auspices of major Japanese newspapers with wide readership in
collaboration with Islamic Center-Japan and Riyadh University. These events
were attended by His Excellency Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Fadda the rector of
University of Riyadh and His Honor Dr. Tawfiq Ash Shawi.
The Council also arranged for hajj
missions which began in 1976 through the generous financial assistance of His
Royal Highness Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Vice Minister of the Interior of
Saudi Arabia and the generous hospitality of Muslim World League, Makkah Al
When His Excellency the late Hasan Al Sheikh visited the
Council in 1975, Islamic Center-Japan requested him to establish an Arabic
Islamic institute in Tokyo to provide an Islamic knowledge in Japan and to
teach Arabic and the Islamic culture to Japanese people. He referred the matter
to Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, Riyadh which undertook, through it’s the
rector, His Excellency Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Al Turky, to supervise the
setting up of this lofty cultural edifice which has greatly benefited thousands
of Japanese people by teaching them Arabic, Islamic culture and winning many of
them to the fold of Islam. His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal gave up the
site of the Saudi Arabia Embassy and all its premises in Tokyo to build Arabic
Islamic institute, Tokyo whose inauguration we still celebrate. King Fahd bin
Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the Saudi monarch, contributed ten million dollars towards
the construction project of the institute and added another million dollars for
its completion. May Allah (S.W.T.) bless his soul.
Before this period, we used to put the number of new
converts to Islam between one thousand and three thousand people, but after
that we began counting them by tens of thousands. Islamic awareness was spread
among Japanese people. Islam used to be locally called Kaikyo but now it is
called Isram, as Japanese language does not have L letter which it is replaced
with R instead.
Towards the end of this period, the late Syed
Jameel, a noted caller to Islam, came to Japan for the second time and carried
out his final Islamic da'wah activities in Japan, accompanied by Sheikh
Nimetullah Yurt who is still at the top of da'wah activities in Japan.
The major financial and
cultural assistance for Islamic activities in Japan during this and later
periods came mainly from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, government and citizens, and
Muslim World League, Makkah Al Mukarramah, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait,
Saltanate Oman, Egypt through Al Azhar University, and Libya which dispatched
many callers of Islam in Japan. We mention of the numerous people who provided
much needed assistance to Islamic activities in Japan, Hamad Al Hajiri, the
first Qatari Ambassador to Japan who provided us with the first financial
assistance during the establishment period of the Center, the late Sheikh
Abdullah Al Ansari, president of Sharee'ah courts in Qatar, the late
Abdul Aziz Al Mubarak, President of the Sharee'ah courts in United Arab
Emirates, the late Abdullah Al Mahmoud in Sharja, the late Abdur Rahman Al
Dousari of Saudi Arabia, the late Abdur Razzaq Al Salih Al Mutawwa, the late
Abdullah Alli Al Mutawwa, Sheikh Yusuf Al Hajji, and Abdullah Al Aqeel of