SYM (Space for Young Muslims) met up with Japanese university students interested in Islam. Date: November 7th (Sat) 17:00~18:30 Location: Nagoya Masjid Café Participants: Students from Keio University, Aichi Prefectural University, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, and 8 Muslim youths.
SYM has been temporarily suspended since the end of February, due to the growing numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country. However, with strict safety conditions placed, SYM has resumed since October. Last week, there was an opportunity to interact with Japanese university students interested in Islam along with some tea and snacks. Some conversations that took place: *Abbreviations (University Student=D / Muslim Youth= Y) D: Is there something that made you feel happy to be a Muslim? Y: I don’t feel lonely anymore. I feel like I have families around the world. And at the Masjid, we can all quickly become friends as brothers and sisters, even if we met for the first time. Y: I have always questioned the purpose of life and the reason for existence. I found the basis of these questions in the Quran and Hadith, giving me an answer to the purpose of my life. D: Japanese are atheists so they have to find what they can rely on by themselves. D: Without a solid sense of identity, we are lost on what we are supposed to become and how we are supposed to live. Living for 70, 80 years searching for the answer is hard. D: I don’t have something to believe in so having an answer to that is nice. Y: What is something Japanese can rely on during hardship? D: It’s similar to a pain killer. You make it when you need it. It can be music or any other entertainment that could comfort you and that’s it. D: In my case, it isn’t entertainment but instead, something I have to do. Studying to pass the examination for my masters was my life purpose. But one day, when I was resting because I was tired of studying, I thought to myself, “Why am I living”. Without building a proper path to goals, I lose the purpose of living. Y: For me, just until recently, I kept asking myself the question “why” repeatedly but without an answer. However, thanks to the Muslim friends I have here, I have finally found an answer to that this year. Y: Something that I feel glad I was Muslim is how we are able to support each other. The most important purpose of gathering at SYM is to build good relationships where you can talk to each other heart to heart and support one another with our individual experiences and knowledge of Islam. D: Would you have been able to do that if you weren’t a Muslim? Y: That fact that we are able to this despite our age is because we are Muslim. We do not have to grow old and gain experience because we have answers in the Quran and Hadith. Y: Quran and the Hadith are like a syllabus to our life. Finding answers through ups and downs may be a fun part of life but already having an answer allows digging even further and deeper. Y: People who gather at SYM have similar backgrounds that allow us to share and sympathize. Regardless of age, we have a community that can provide guidance. D: How did you get interested in Islam? Y: In the future, I want to become a teacher and teach children to accept diversity. And I thought I must first understand that diversity myself. D: I want to break the social barriers that currently exist in Japan. To spread that idea in Japanese society, we must first understand it ourselves. So I want to start that by learning.
Regardless of different takes on views, being here able to talk like this was very meaningful. Even after the gathering ended, the discussion kept going on. Below are some comments from Young Muslims:
  • Muslims, when anxious, can feel at ease knowing that Allah is close, but Japanese with no religion get the same effect not through God but by music, and I learned the difference between those that have belief in a religion and those that don’t. (2nd-year University Student, Male)
  • It was nice that we were able to discuss topics that were deeper than our usual exchange events. A non-Muslim asked, when something happens, how people around should react, and both Muslims and non-Muslims shared their experiences and their opinions. What was particularly memorable was how both the event was an opportunity for each other to think in the other’s shoes. (1st-year University Student, Female)
  • It was my first time joining the exchange event. I learned a lot listening to questions I’ve never thought of before, other young Muslims’ opinions, and also experiences of non-Muslims. I feel like I was able to look at what’s within me through verbalizing what Islam is to me. I remember how a non-Muslim said, “in order to coexist, the side of the majority has to know and spread the information”. It would be nice if there are more opportunities to discuss with each other like today. (1st-year Graduate Student, Female)
It is difficult, yet certainly important, to put our thoughts and emotions into words. For the brave participants that spoke today, well done. It was an amazing Dawah.