An abridged English translation of the Japanese report on Da'wa Workers Training Conference, 1995
Translated by Masahiko Yamamoto
Checked by Syed Murtuza Kurasawa (3)
The Third Session
<Recitation of the Qur'an>
Opinion: Talking about the ways of Da'wa work in Islam, we have so far introduced Islam by means of books in Japan. But another important way is that Muslims show good examples through their own behavior; that each Muslim becomes good person loved and liked in the neighborhood community, in his private life, or at his job. Looking at the personal behavior, Japanese believe what he says. I think we should also do some concrete actions, such as, a charity activity. For example, when the Kobe Earthquake occurred, Islamic groups should have helped not only Muslims but also other people ―― charitable activity. Doing activities sponsored by Islamic groups has greater effects, too.
Opinion: As one of the foreign Muslims living in Japan, I suggest that we should create more opportunities to get close to local communities. By gaining peoples confidence among Japanese or on jobs, I think this is how we naturally will get many chances to correct prejudice against Muslims.
Opinion: Talking about aid-activity and charity at the time of disasters, Islamic groups in Japan do not have enough fund or volunteers like other religious groups. So we should establish a system to gather contribution from everybody and to do some activities on behalf of Islamic groups.
Opinion: Due to present higher currency rate of Japanese Yen and difficulties, we should appeal for charity fund from not only the foreign Muslims in Japan but also more widely from among the Japanese in general including non-Muslims. How do you think about that? I hope Islamic Center to play important role in the matter.
Opinion: On behalf of Kobe mosque, I wish to inform you that by the grace of Allah, ever since the earthquake many relief supplies came to us from all over Japan including from both Muslims and non-Muslims. In the mosque premises, a matter of fact, besides Muslims there were many non-Muslim refugees as well, suffering damages from the earthquake. Naturally, at the Kobe mosque working together in cooperation with each other without any difference of nationality and religion, we were trying and helping to overcome the difficult times.
Opinion: First of all, as the Qur'an says, Da'wa activity should be done with good relationships and intellects. Second; Islam should be taught in plain words by people with understanding of culture who you are talking to, instead of just talking in general terms about Islam. Third; with respect for those who are listening to you, the advantages of Islam should be explained. Fourth; when you teach something about Islam, you should not hurry and maintain a state of endurance. Fifth; you should not to yield to temptation and have your own faith. Sixth; we should cooperate with each other for Islam with a brooder mind without seeking individual benefits. Seventh; for Da'wa work you should behave as a good Muslim. A man of good words without deeds cannot get respect from others.
Opinion: As far as I understand, Muslims live not for afterlife only. It is important for Muslims to live as good citizens, to be respected, and to achieve a successful social life as well. Islam is never a religion in which this world is looked down, and praying for only afterworld is considered good. Prayers as well as working diligently, punctuality, keeping promises, and contributing to the progress of society ― in short ― observing basic teachings of Islam and living with the changes of the age is the way of being a Muslim.
Opinion: I wonder how to answer when I'm told that women have lower status in Islam.
Opinion: For answers to such questions, a Japanese book “Daily Life in Islam” （『イスラームの日常世界』published by Iwanami Books, 1991) written by a Japanese female cultural anthropologist, Prof. Katakura Motoko, presents a realistic picture on the matter with her in-depth fieldwork and research over many years. In the Islamic world, male society and the female society are divided. For outsiders, or to a male researcher, women in Islamic societies may appear as non-emancipated. But looking from inside the female world, as Prof. Katakura does, gives a different picture. As a matter of fact, Prof. Katakura who as a female researcher could get direct inside view of the female world presents many unique points which even Muslim males may miss observing. These days a number of changes are appearing in Islamic societies, which are different from the European modernization. The book explains development and progress of women as seen from within the Islamic society..
Opinion: I also have read that book, which explains in very plain words. I know a Japanese woman who was converted to Islam in Sedai after she read the book. Since then we always keep a few copies of the book at Sendai Islam Bunka Center.
Opinion: The Japanese seem to have a lot of questions about Islam. Islamic Center-Japan and Japan Muslim Association receive numerous enquires from Japanese people on various matters. There is a reply column in `As-salam'’magazine published by ICJ. It is necessary to to classify them item by item for Da'wa Islam.
Opinion: Basing on the lecture delivered yesterday on history of Islamic development in Japan, I would like to present some problems and possible solutions for Da'wa work. First, we are facing a vicious circle of Muslim children's becoming non-Muslims for lack of Islamic education. The same thing happens to Muslims coming to Japan from Islamic countries. Thus, Islam does not take root in Japan. Second, those who are converted to Islam are enthusiastic at the beginning, but gradually some of them are lost into the non-Muslims world of life. The Singapore Islam Association holds a welcome party for the new comers to Islam and assigns Muslims to teach them Islam earnestly and kindly until they deepen their belief and can carry out the daily life based on Islam.
We have two things to promote in Japan. One is to make practical educational program for children. We need to start and do something about it, such as, Islamic school, study and cultural center, or home stay in Islamic countries. Another one is to establish a system for contacts among Muslims in Japan. It is important to involve new Muslims and those living far away as much as possible to the Muslim community through various activities. I advise you to make contact by phone, to exchange information, or to plan some parties or events, just like the case in Singapore.
Opinion: It encourages the heart of each Japanese Muslim that Muslims are not isolated in their community, there are Muslim brothers in Japan, and that communication comes from Muslims. The feeling of behaving as a good Muslim in a local community will occur again and self-recognition of being a Muslim will be reinforced. This is important and necessary.
Opinion: If there are 60 Islamic groups in Japan, it is not impossible for 60 persons to contact by phone once or twice a month and to make a little visit once or twice a month. Of course, Islamic Center-Japan will try to reimburse payments, whenever possible. But what is necessary is to have volunteers to carry out such activities.
Opinion: I wish to inform you about three points of Da'wa work. First, though it is good to have new converts, it also is important to promote activities for Muslims to keep self-awareness about Islam. Second, Muslims should establish coaching school for Qur'an where larger number of Muslims live, and dispatch part-time teachers for children there. Third, the Muslim organizations in Japan keep contact and discuss often with each other to develop cooperation among Islamic groups. I hope Islamic Center could take the initiative.
Opinion: Muslim women, especially housewives should be involved more positively for Da'wa work. Men being busy at work during the daytime, women could contribute doing some activities.
Opinion: That is a good proposal. It's a pity that there is no woman in this conference on Da'wa. Women should be given same opportunity as men. Women should take part in discussions, too. There are some records saying that at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him), women were often present at meetings. And another record also says that during the time of the second Khalifa Umar, opinion from women at meeting was considered important. We can imagine presence of women at important meetings expressing their opinions.
Opinion: Nowadays, due to overseas expansion of Japanese companies, many Japanese return to Japan after staying in Islamic countries for a while on business. Therefore, directly experiencing the daily life and Islamic culture is increasing. I think it is also important to make contact with them to promote understanding of Islam in Japan.
Opinion: To keep contact and cooperate with them, how about making association or meetings with those who understand Islamic culture and also the intellectuals favorable to Islam.
Opinion: For Muslim children living in Japan, we need to develop study materials and video of Qur'an lessons for children to learn step by step by themselves. But local Muslim organizations should supervise the study.
Opinion: It is impossible for Islamic Center to do everything. So we need to revive and reestablish the Cooperative Council of Islamic groups and promote cooperation. Thereby we should unify several activities, such as, the announcement of Ramadhan or Id, preparation for Id congregation, establishment of cemeteries, and establishment of school or organization for Islamic teaching materials, and so on.
Moderator: Thank you very much for your various opinions. You still have some more opinions, but that's all for a morning program.
The Fourth Session
Moderator: I deeply appreciate your ardent discussions and precious opinions on various topics during the morning session today. The main points are included in the resolutions of conference － the Memorandum. Before conclusion of this two day Da'wa Workers Training Camp I would like to request your kind approval and understanding about resolutions adopted. Later, we will send Memorandum to each Islamic organization in Japan. Thank you all, and may Allah (SWT) reward us all. Ameen!
[Request for questionnaire]
A: Islamic Center is going to make of directory of activity of Islamic organizations in Japan in order to promote contact with each other. So please provide us information on the enclosed sheet about Islamic organizations in your area as soon as possible.
B: Please also let us know the activity reports of Islamic organizations or Muslim individuals. We would also like to hear your suggestions or ideas about the Memorandum above. Gathering these information will help うｓ design a master plan for Da'wa activity in the future.
C: We are planning to hold a Da'wa Workers' Symposium of 1996 in October. For the symposium we need managers from regional groups. Please inform us about your ideas. Islamic Center will try to cooperate in disbursing expense.
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