We held a cultural exchange event for students from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, with the Young Muslims at SYM.
Time & Date: 12th January, 4:00~6:15PM
Place: 4th floor Prayer Room, Nagoya Masjid
Participants: 6 people (Professor and Students) from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, and 18 Young Muslims.

In the first half of the event, the Masjid explained the diverse ways in which 1.8billion Muslims practice their faith, and touched on some characteristics of Islamic rulings. We also mentioned that Muslims are people hoping for peace.
After they proceeded to watching the Maghrib prayer, we then had a time where they could freely ask questions and exchange opinions. Below are some of the exchanges they had.

Q:What do you think of when you are praying?
 A:I’m concentrating in the prayer. / I don’t think much as it’s a daily habit.
Q:How do you perceive religion?
 A:It’s from since I was born, so its’ just something natural. / I was taught by my parent that looking at flowers and the sky make you realize the greatness of God. / It’s something where you can find answers on how to live life. / It’s a psychological support for me.
Q:What are the difficulties you face living here as a “Half” or foreigner?
 A:People tell me to speak in my mother tongue. / I used to think of it as a negative thing until I was in elementary-school, but I’ve been able to look at it positively since I became a high-schooler. / Being different is being original. I’m actually glad I’m a “Half”. / I’m just living life naturally, so I don’t bother about it.

After the event, a university student mentioned, “it’s perhaps the Japanese people that are over-thinking”, and another said, “we should be looking at it and welcoming it as a ‘TABUKA (multi-culture)’ rather than an ‘IBUNKA (different culture)’”. Upon hearing this, a Young Muslim responded, “I hope you can convey the message that Muslims are just like anybody else” and another said, “Through integrating into Japan, I want to become a bridge that allows people to know about Muslims”.

Below are some comments from the Young Muslims that participated.
・It was nice knowing what non-Muslims are feeling about Muslims. (Year 8, Boy)
・The university students would initiate the conversation, and the event was really enjoyable . I’m happy we were able to do this! (Year 10, Girl)
・The university students mentioned they had a bit of a negative image before coming. I’m happy that they said the image disappeared after the event. (Year 11, Boy)
・It was a really nice event where I could listen to various opinion. (Year 12, Boy)
・It made me consciously look at Islam. (1st year University student, Boy)

It is difficult, yet important to put into words what you feel. Thank you to everyone that participated and voiced their opinions with courage. It was an outstanding act of Dawah.

※The comments received from the Japanese university students can be seen here.