We organized a a koryukai (exchange event) with students from a public high school of Aichi prefecture and young Muslims that gather at Masjid Nagoya.
Time & Date: August 2nd (Fri) 2:00~4:00PM
Place: 4F Prayer Room, Masjid Nagoya
Participants: 34 Japanese High School Students. 6 Young Muslims.

Prior to the Masjid visit, the high school students were asked what their image of Islam is. Below are some of the comments we received.
・Men dominate women.
・Black and dark. (2 people)
・Don’t eat meat. Don’t eat pork meat. (3 people)
・A bit scary. Scary. Difficult for followers. (8 people)/ Dangerous.
Have deep connections with ISIS/ ・Extremists. There’s a fraction of extremists. The extremists are really extreme.
・Difficult for followers because of the strict rules like fasting.(8 people)/ ・Hot for women. Fasting causes difficulty for followers. (2 people)

To the Japanese high school students carrying such images, the Masjid first explained why the existence of 1.8 billion Muslims mean there are 1.8 billion ways in which Islam manifests. We also touched upon the characteristics of the rules in Islam, and that Muslims are people wishing for peace. Afterwards, a time where Japanese high school students could ask questions to young Muslims was held. Below are some of the exchanges they had.

Q. Is fasting hard?
A. It’s pretty normal once you get used to it. / I get thirsty but not hungry.
A. It’s exciting, and I’m excited thinking of what I should plan for this year.
Q. What’s your favorite word?
A. Sabr = Patience. / Salam = Peace
A. “There is no compulsion in religion” (Quran Chapter 2 Verse 256)
Q. What do you think of other religions?
A. All religions have their own way of thinking, so it’s a personal choice they are free to make. / I don’t view them negatively.
A. My school is a Catholic high school, so I have time to pray every morning, but it’s not uncomfortable.
Q. Have you ever thought of quitting your religion?
A. I’ve grown up watching my parents and I have Muslim friends, so I’ve never thought of quitting.
A. I thought of quitting when I was teased. But I thought I should know what it is before I quit, so I read the Quran, and unexpectedly, found it to be nice. I’m now enjoying my life as a Muslim.

Below are comments from young Muslims that participated.
・I was surprised to know that 17 out of 34 participants thought Islam was scary. But after that, when I saw one of the participants Instagram story and it said “I hope the prejudice against the people of Islam goes away, and that they can have a better life”, I was really really happy. (3rd year of high school, boy)
・It seems from the survey before the event that their image of Muslims was bad, but I was happy to know that their image of Islam became better after the event. (1st year of university, girl)
・I think it was really good that we could talk many things about Islam and was able to understand each other. (3rd year of middle school, boy)
・Everyone was nervous at first, but I’m happy they opened up. (1st year of middle school, boy)
・The majority had a negative image of Islam, but I’m happy that at the end, they said their image of Islam changed through the event. (3rd year of high school, boy)

Putting your feelings into words is a difficult but important task. Well done to all the participants who were brave enough to speak. It was an amazing act of Da’wah.