Visitors to the Masjid in 2017 has shared with us their thoughts after the visit. Some of their comments and their photos can be seen below.
2017.10.28 An Organization, Staff
・We hear about Muslims in Japan many times, on how they are treated unjustly and being looked down on because of the recent media coverage of terrorism. So, I felt the necessity of understanding and knowing the truth about Muslims, because people tend to fear what they do not know. How Islam is flexible in the 5 pillars of worship, and that it holds importance in the equality of male and female believers, was amazing.
・I learnt a lot of interesting things about Islam, such as how Islam started, how good deeds and bad deeds are taken to account, how it values fairness over equality, how Muslims might have different opinions and act differently because of how they understand the Hadiths, etc. I wish to make use of what I learnt, whenever I interact with Muslims in the future.
・Actually, every time I go past Nagoya Masjid, I had always been interested in knowing what its activities are, and what goes on inside the Masjid. It was a beneficial opportunity for me, where I could even directly ask questions that I have had until now. People who are not so familiar with religion might need some courage, but I do hope that whoever is interested should actually go and visit, and listen to the talk directly from an actual Muslim.
2017.10.10 Young Buddhist Association from Shinshu Otani-ha, Nagoya Kyo-ku, 1st Group, 21st Group
・I was interpreting what I learnt 2 years ago in my own way, and was almost turning that into an “opinion” of mine. Today, it forced me to realize my own faults; human beings do indeed forget, and make mistakes. And whenever we are given opportunities to realize we have forgotten something or made a mistake, I felt that it is important to go back to the basics, no matter how many times, and start studying from zero again. I wish to put an effort (in my own capacity) so that I can become like Muslims, where their faith itself becomes their way of living.
・The knowledge I had of Islam was only from what I learnt in my history classes during my high-school years. Watching terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and IS slaughtering and outrageously claiming Jihad, doing all this in the name of Islam, even though I had an idea that this is a different organization all together, I do admit I had a feeling of wanting to keep a distance from Islam. However, today’s session made me feel that Buddhism, which has been in Japan for a long time, has a lot to learn from Islam (or should I say, return to how Buddhism is actually supposed to be, as these were things that have been forgotten in Buddhism), such as the idea of freedom in Islam, and how religious teachings are included and rooted in the daily lives from an early age. […]. I learnt that it is important for us as people of a different faith, to first of all, “know” and understand. Though our beliefs may differ, I feel it is necessary at times to work together.
2017.9.18 Hokkaido University of Education, Tsukuba University, Nagoya Gakuin University, Professor, Student
・What I noticed from today’s visit was that I still had some prejudice towards Islam, and that this type of prejudice all comes from my lack of knowledge. For example, I thought Mosques had to have curvy roofs, and that Islam was a religion with extreme amount of limitations and prohibitions. However, very normal buildings can become a Mosque depending on the interior, and how much Muslims adhere to the Islamic teachings depend on each person’s faith. It actually seemed that Islam was not a religion so stressful to continue following. A lot of Japanese do not know all this information. However, when we know about others, we become closer. And this makes it possible for each other to walk towards mutual understanding. (Hokkaido University of Education, 4th Year)
・Knowing that Muslim children are facing discrimination and are being bullied because of the many coverage of IS in the media, I felt this is because of the lack of understanding towards Islam. To prevent this from happening, it is first necessary that the Japanese deeply understand what Islam is. Also, people in position to teach (teachers) at school, must be taught as well. (Hokkaido University of Education, 4th Year)
・After hearing that the Mosque engages in various activities such as communicating with its neighbors and children, I felt there was a lot for us to learn from the Mosque for us students studying “Cultural Coexistence”. (Tsukuba University, 3rd Year)
・I just came back from studying abroad in an Islamic country for 1 year, and was able to listen to Ms. Sarah’s talk once again. Because I was in an environment where Islam was the norm for 1 year, I feel that I understand the feelings of the Muslims in Japan better than before. Listening to Ms. Sarah’s talk with understanding and respect, I feel that I have gotten closer to what it is to me, the Islam in Japan, and the feelings of the Muslims. (Nagoya Gakuin University, 4th Year)
2017.9.11 Public High School in Aichi, Teacher, Staff
Thank you for allowing us this opportunity. Our school is planning to take in Muslim study abroad students for 3 months, so 8 of our teachers and staff members visited Nagoya Masjid to learn what we should know and do for taking them in. […]. From the definition of Muslim to forms of Ibadah, especially the prayer, there was a lot to learn. We also learned matters related to food in everyday lives, and matters about hospitals and medicines as well. Most importantly, we learned the importance for teachers, staffs, students, and parents to have the heart to understand Islam correctly and be accepting towards it. […]. Lastly, by watching the prayer directly, we felt Islam as something very close to us. This 2 hours went past so quickly. Thank you.
2017.9.7 Chukyo University, Student
・I thought Islam is such a strict and difficult religion full of rules, and that even Muslims are fighting each other because of their differences in their ideas. However, contrary to my thoughts, I learnt today that what is important is actually the intention of trying to follow the rules, and that the wars were not because of Islam, but rather only because of a few countries engaging in their political interests. (4th year, boy)
・I didn’t know that the rules in Islam can actually become flexible depending on the person’s situations. Thank you for the beneficial talk. (4th year, girl)
・Engaging with the culture of Islam and the slight difference in the sense of values today, made me realize that ‘knowing’ is the important first step. (4th year, boy)
・In today’s visit, I realized that my negative image towards Islam was a misunderstanding. The problems were because of politics and rulers. Not because of Islam. (2nd year, boy)
・I had a firm image of Islam being such a strict and difficult religion. However, after listening to the talk, I realized its flexibility depending on the person’s situation. At first, I had a prejudice that Muslims were living suffocating lives because of the religion, but now I know that Muslims are people trying to become better human beings, aiming for peace. (3rd year, boy)
2017.8.4 Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, Student
・It was the first time going inside a Masjid, and actually seeing Muslims praying. Ms. Sarah gave us a talk about Islam, which is something we usually don’t have the chance to listen to. My thoughts regarding Sunnis and Shias were cleared up too. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity. (4th year, girl)
2017.8.2 Chukyo University, Student
・I used to think Islam was a religion full of strict rules and regulations, but I understood today that it is actually a religion that can become flexible depending on situations. Also, in a reality where the media is spreading information that makes people have misunderstandings, I learnt the importance of media literacy.
・The person who showed us around was a person that has converted to Islam. It was extremely interesting to listen to the talk from a different perspective than that of a born Muslim. She taught us about Islam from the basics, and my knowledge on Islam has gotten deeper than before. It was really an amazing opportunity to get to talk to an actual Muslim, as the more I learn about Islam, the more I realize that I had prejudice, and that I have been understanding it in a wrong way.
・I greatly appreciate you for providing us with this beneficial time. I am happy that each of us had realizations and new things to learn. Not only did I learn about Islam today, but I also felt like learning more in detail.
2017.7.27 Students from Aichi Prefectural High-School
The details of the event can be viewed here.
- Fasting was difficult, but thinking that everyone else is also fighting the hunger too, it empowered so much, and I felt like I experienced a little bit of the unity of the Muslims! I think I trained myself to be able to control my desires. The meal after the fast was so delicious and fun! (12th grade, boy)
- Islam reminded me of the virtue in the Japanese culture that the Japanese today have forgotten. I wish to have more events like tonight so that one day we can make Japan a society where we non-Muslims can treat Muslims in a completely normal way. (12th grade, boy)
- Through fasting, I realized the blessing of being able to drink when we want and eat when we want. The dinner today felt so delicious. Praying was also an amazing experience, as it was my first time trying. Thank you so much for today! (11th grade, girl)
- As I went to a Christian elementary school and a Christian junior-high school as well, the Islam I was taught was a bit biased. But I’m glad that I was able to understand the true Islam through experiencing it like this. The story of how Muslims are united during Ramadan was especially interesting. I wish more people would have the chance to experience this too. (11th grade, girl)
2017.7.17 Students from Sugiyama Jogakuen University
By visiting the Masjid today, my image towards Islam changed. I understood how much misunderstanding we had through the news we watch regularly on TV. I had a chance to learn a bit about Islam at school, but it wasn’t in detail, so I was really surprised listening to all the information I have never heard about before.
When we hear the word Islam, we often think of terrorism, but after listening o the talk today, that type of image completely disappeared. I also had an image that Islam forces strict rules, but I found out today that this was also not true. After listening to the talk, I now feel Islam as something more familiar and close to us than before.
To be honest, by watching Islam on TV, I didn’t have a good image towards Islam. However, after learning at my seminar and listening to today’s talk, I now have a “good image”, and knowing the percentage of the IS fighters through the example of the university, I thought that they are such a small minority, and I also realized how much influence the media had on me. […] I thought Islam was too strict and that it makes life hard, but now I know this isn’t true, and that it’s a religion that allows people to follow it depending on their capacity.
I thought Muslim women had to wear the scarf at home too, so I was surprised to know that they wear normal clothes just like us inside the homes.
I learnt that Islam was a religion that has a lot of freedom. From how to live the daily life, how to work, and how to eat, as long as the rules are followed, the rest is up to each and everyone on how they want to live. I understood that there are actually only a few regulations in Islam. […] There are a lot of things about Islam that you can only learn by listening to an actual Muslim, rather than listening about it indirectly from someone else.
2017.7.4 Students of Nagoya City University
It was nice to learn the details of Islam. These were something that we can never learn in school.
When I studied about Islam for my entrance exam in the Ethics subject, I felt the way it was taught was way too formal. Japanese education should teach in a way that we can understand the Islamic values and how it’s related to the daily lives.
My uncertain knowledge and impression towards Islam was corrected today, and that was beneficial for me.
The explanation was made from a Japanese perspective, and examples from the daily lives in Japan were used too, which made it extremely easy to understand. I used to think Islam was something for a different world, but now I feel Islam close to me.
Ms. Sarah had an amazing personality, and my image towards Muslims has become warm and welcoming. Also, I felt the importance of deepening our knowledge. As she told us that knowing Islam is the first step to understanding it, I talked to my family when I got home.
2017.6.4 Students of Aichi University
2017.6.4 Nagoya University of Foreign Studies
Before coming, I cannot deny that I used to judge Islam without knowing what it really was. But today, after I have listened to the talk, the image of Islam within me completely changed. The talk was very enjoyable, and I wish a lot of the Japanese would also learn all that I heard. It is such a big thing for me that the image I had of Islam changed from an extremely strict religion to something loving and affectionate.
I thought this religion was something very difficult for the Japanese to understand, but the more and more I learnt, the more I felt this was a compassionate and wonderful religion.
I understood the difference between Islam and IS as well. In the world of informatization today, the media needs to clearly tell us the differences.
I thought I knew a bit about Islam through my Muslim friend and my activities with an NGO, but I realized today that I was still far from knowing enough. Also, my interest in Islam grew even more.
Through actual interaction with Islam today, it made me realize that the reality was very different from the image portrayed in the media. Listening to and studying is always important, but to actually experience and interact with Islam ourselves is even more important.
2017.6.3 Green Echo
Green Echo will sing the “Armed Man : A Mass For Peace” (total of 13 tracks) by Karl Jenkins on their 59th concert performance on the 25th of June (sun). In its 2nd track, the Athan (Islamic call to prayer) will be called in Arabic.
Masjid Nagoya has kindly introduced the caller of the Athan to us, and on the 3rd of June (Sat), we organized an “Experience Islam, and listen to the Athan tour” along with 36 of our members (and 1 family member). We were nervous when we gathered, as we were informed beforehand to refrain from revealing clothes and to have our heads covered with scarves. However, the talk by a Japanese woman named Ms. Sarah (wife of the chairman) completely took away our misunderstanding and prejudices. The talk was on point, yet gentle and soft, as if in a lecture at school. When we, nearly the 40 of us, were sitting nervously again at the time of prayer, she informed us that we were free to take pictures, and it was heartwarming to see the younger Muslims and excited children gradually gathering to pray. Also, the first live Athan we listened to was beautiful, and we couldn’t wait to listen to it in the concert hall. Masjid Nagoya was very active in engaging with other religions such as Christianity, and also with the youths and neighbors around. Islam used to be something very far from us, but now we felt it close. We were told that this religion is absolutely unrelated to IS, and that it honors peace and respects women. Ms. Sarah mentioned appreciation to Jenkins for including the Athan into “Armed Man : A Mass For Peace” , a track that dreams of peace. This only made us realize that we too must greatly appreciate Jenkins and the people of Masjid Nagoya for this wonderful opportunity. Also, now that we had this opportunity, I wish to understand Islam warmly from now on, without worry.
2017.4.28 Students from Aichi Gakuin University
This was my first visit to a mosque. The mosque has a very homelike atmosphere and I have noticed that it is a place for Muslims themselves to exchange thoughts among each other too. When I saw how Muslims from various countries use their common language of Islam to establish friendship relations between them, I felt how difference the Islam we see in media is. I think that now the going-alone bad image of Islam is caused by the extremists who assume the name of Islam. I have realized how important it is to come to a mosque, see by one’s eye and understand from experience before we adapt a prejudiced view of point.
2017.4.8 Teachers from Aichi Prefectural High School
I am working as a high-school teacher, and I am about to teach Islam in school lessons, so I thought I could be instructed about Islam in this mosque, and was kindly allowed to join a study and observation tour round the mosque. / To be honest, just up till I arrived at mosque, I was wondering; -and excuse me for my rudeness- “what kind of place would it be?” “What if it is a dangerous place? Won’t they try to induce me to do weird things?” Also, I even felt a little afraid when I saw lot of foreigners at the entrance of the mosque. I think this enigmatic fear has been my impression towards Muslims so far. / However, such an impression entirely vanished in the course of listening to Madam Sarah’s speech, touching the cheerfulness of the Muslim children and listening to the talk of Muslim persons. I soon realized that I was arbitrarily holding the impression that “Islam = frightening” all the way without any basis. I believe I want now to teach my students what I newly know about Islam, based on my own (experience of) misunderstanding till now, and on what I felt and learnt at mosque. Thank you very much for the precious experience.
2017.3.11 NAGOYA YWCA
2017.2.18 authorized people in fine arts
Attending the speech and observation of the prayer was an extremely meaningful experience. As a Christian, and through drawing pictures, I express the relations of course between Catholic and Protestant, and the Eastern Church. However, I felt that there is necessity to know about (others) like Judaism and Islam. The (talking about) writing culture and how to perform the prayer and alike were extremely useful. I want to come to mosque again when there is a chance.
2017.1.29 (IARF)International Association for Religious Freedom
Thank you very much for today. I went back home with full satisfaction after I got a fulfillment that exceeded my expectations. I feel that 100% of what I heard was various things I have not known. (Omission). I believe it was a very significant (meeting) because (it was a chance) to hear from some persons for the first time or to meat persons who I misunderstood while not knowing the truth (about them). I am happy that I could approach (Muslims) as fellows who aim at the same peace target even though their belief is different. After I touched the wonderful principles of Islam, I want to integrate the good things into my own life.