Islam in Japan (1)


Weitten by Dr. Salih Mahdi al-Samarrai


The light of Islam emerged from the Arabian peninsula, and extended eastward to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the peninsula of the Indian continent, then Malaysia, Indonesia and even China and the Philippines.

This spread took time, spread, but the arrival of Islam to Japan had delayed until the late of the nineteenth century. Japanese, Muslims and non-Muslims, express their sorrow and wonder at that delay, in a time Islam arrived at China and the Philippines.

Anyway, I want to review the chronology of Islamic presence there, and I identified plants, and dated for each period according to the flow of information. I lived the past forty years of them, and have traced the previous stages for thirty years. Actually, I do not pretend to know everything, but each person considers history starts with himself. When there are multiple writings and sources, the picture would be near to perfection. Here I am stating the information I have and apologizing for any mistake or error which is not meant. The worldly actions will be of no avail if are not accompanied by truthfulness and sincerity, how would be the case when dealing with Allah who knows the fraud of the eyes and what the breasts conceal. I ask Allah for forgiveness, and I ask the forgiveness of my Muslim brothers.
19/08/1422 AH. 11/04/2001
Some points before 1900

At the beginning of the Japanese renaissance age that is called “Meiji era” which started in 1868, there were only two independent countries in Asia, they are the Ottoman and the Japanese countries. Both faced pressure from Western countries, therefore, both started to establish a friendly relationship in between and visits were exchanged between them. The most important mission was sent by the late Sultan `Abdul-Hamid II to Japan on the ship “Al Taghral,” carrying more than six hundred ottoman officers and soldiers (Turk, Arabs, Albanians, and Bosnians, etc…), led by Admiral `Uthman Pasha, in 1890. After the expedition had fulfilled its mission in Japan and its leader met the emperor, it turned back. However, while the ship was still near the Japanese shores, not far from “Osaka,” a strong hurricane led to its crash and caused more than five hundred and fifty people to die, including the brother of the sultan and `Uthman Pasha.

The accident shook both parties, and the survivors were transferred on two Japanese ships to Istanbul. The martyrs were buried at the site and a museum was built there. Every five years, the Japanese and the Turks celebrate that day in the same location despite the change of governments, and this is a proof to the sincerity of the Japanese in their friendship.

One year after the incident, a Japanese press man named “Ochataro Noda” started to collect donations from the Japanese to the families of the martyrs. He went to Istanbul in 1891, handed over the contributions to the Ottoman authorities, and met Sultan `Abdul-Hamid. During his stay in Istanbul, he met the first English Muslim, who was “`Abdullah Quilliam” a civilian from “Liverpool,” and after talking with him about Islam, he accepted Islam and was called “`Abdul-Halim” as the attached Ottoman document shows.

“`Abdul-Halim Noda” may be considered the first Japanese Muslim, then he was followed by “Yamada”, who arrived at Istanbul in 1893 who held the donations to the families of the martyrs. Sultan `Abdul-Hamid asked him to Japanese to Ottoman officers, and was named “Khalil or `Abdul-khalil,” hence we can consider the second Muslim Japanese.

As for the third person, he is “Ahmed Ariga,” who was Christian working in trade. He visited the city of “Pompeii” in 1900, and was fascinated by a masjid there. He entered the masjid and embraced Islam therein. He came back as a caller for Islam and took part in one of the translations of the Qur’an to Japanese. At that stage, Indian Muslims lived cities like “Tokyo”, “Yokohama”, and “Kobe”, therefore, they are considered the first Muslim community living in Japan.

To be continued in the following episodes.


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