The Path

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar radiyalaahu anhuma had mentioned, "Whoever wishes to follow the way of another, should follow the ways of those who have passed away. These were the companions of Muhammad sallalaahu alayhi wassalam, who were the best people of this Ummah. Their hearts were most pious, their knowledge was deepest and they were least pretentious. They were people whom Allah Ta'ala had chosen to be companions of His Nabi sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and for the transmission of His Deen. You people should emulate their character and mannerisms. By the Rabb of the Kaabah! The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum of Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam were correctly guided."

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A Letter from Japan (Part 1)

This letter was published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia, Azaadville, South Africa in 2002

Janab Abdurrashid Arshad Sahib became engaged in the tablighi effort while he was a student at college. He had the good fortune of staying in the company of Hadrat Maulana Ilyas rahmatullah alayhi. He travelled extensively within the country for the sake of tabligh. He accompanied a high official post in the Pakistani government after partition. During this period of time, he went more than once to Japan for some training courses. He gained much experience with the tablighi effort there.

In 1962, he accepted the Saudi government's invitation to head their telegraph department. He completed the translation of the Holy Qur'an in the Japanese language with the help of Haji 'Umar Mita Sahib. A meshwarah was scheduled to take place in Madinah Munawwarah with regard to this translation. He wore his ihram on the 15th Sya'ban. He then proceeded for umrah. He became shahid in a car accident en route to Makkah Mukarramah.

[Note: On 10th June 1972, the printing of the translation of the Holy Qur'an in Japanese was completed and its first edition was published.]


I am sending a report regarding the conditions prevailing in Japan in compliance with your request which you made at the airport. I will send a report of the condition prevailing in America at a later date.

Religion in Japan

The Japanese were strictly religious before the 2nd World War. There are two dominating religions in Japan: the Buddhist and the Shinto religions. An integral part of both these religions is ancestral worship. The ancestral lineage of the king is connected to the sun-god. Every Japanese regards it as his religious duty to venerate and worship the king and his ancestors. The king's order to fight is regarded by them as a sacred command just as jihad is for the Muslims. In the 2nd World War, the Japanese armies first visited their temples before proceeding to fight outside the country. On their return, they first paid tribute to their gods.

Their political and religious leaders assured them during this war that their gods were happy and, henceforth, their victory was guaranteed. However, when they suffered defeat, a general weakness appeared in their religious beliefs. A kind of religious crises and intellectual vacuum developed. The Christian governments in Europe and America (who regard the propagation of the Christianity as part of secularism) took advantage of the situation. The entry of American troops on Japanese soil opened the door for a large number of Western Christian missionaries to enter the country. Churches were constructed throughout the country. Missionary schools were opened everywhere. In short, every effort was made to propagate Christianity.

General Eisenhower made the following statement in a radio broadcast, "In a few years time Japan will become a Christian country." However with certainty it could be said that General Eisenhower's statement proved to be false. The Christian missionaries could not achieve the success which they envisaged.  The Christian population of Japan is much less than 1%. The sound Japanese mind cannot accept the present Christian dogmas. Politically, the Christians were the enemies of Japan in the 2nd World War. In fact, they are responsible for throwing the first atom bomb in human history on Japan. How can the Japanese ever forget the harm caused by them. Probably for the very same reasons the Japanese did not accept Russian socialism.

After Christianity and socialism, it is only Islam that can fit the intellectual vacuum in the minds of the Japanese. This is the reason why they are accepting Islam. Sometimes it is amazing to note that a few words of encouragement motivates them to accept Islam immediately.

Tabligh in Japan

Once we noticed, after completing solah, an educated Japanese standing at the door of the Jami Masjid of Tokyo. he introduced himself to be an artist by profession. His newspaper cartoons are greatly appreciated by the public. He said that he had read a novel in the Russian language which centred around a very courageous Muslim character who never feared death. This Muslim character accomplished the most dangerous task. he (the Japanese artist) said that someone had informed him that the Muslims gather for prayers here at the masjid every Friday. Hence, he had come to understand Islam from us. We invited him to our room and entertained him with tea, etc. Allah Ta'ala had inspired me to tell him through our translator, Alhaj 'Umar Mita, "Islam can only be understood by reciting the kalimah. It cannot be understood prior to that." He immediately got prepared to accept Islam. Haji 'Umar Mita converted him and he performed the 'Asr solah with us.

Once a Japanese new Muslim brought his non-Muslim friend to meet us. His non-Muslim friend was the secretary of the Socialist Party of our ward. The first question he posed was, "What is the Islamic solution for the existing contention between the capitalist and the working class?" I replied, "The Islamic social system is not based on 'the demands of rights'. It is based on 'the fulfillment of rights'. The fulfillment of rights of the capitalist (the employers) is the responsibility of the working class. On the other hand, it is the duty of the capitalist to fulfill the rights of the working class. Hence, a group or class contention in a correct Islamic social structure is impossible." This answer which I heard from my elders affected his heart and he immediately accepted Islam.

Once a non-Muslim insisted in inviting us to his home in order to encourage his two daughters to accept Islam. Both were studying for an M.A. degree at university. Their special subject was English literature. We accepted his invitation and extended the dakwah of Islam to his two daughters. The house environment was not suitable for dakwah and consequently, our talk had no effect. After making mashwarah, we invited them to share a meal with us. In the interim, a perverted minded person made an effort to stop them from understanding the truth of Islam. He told them that women were oppressed in Islam, imprisoned in their homes and deprived of enjoying life as men do.

On the day of the invitation, the two sisters refused to partake of the meal except we had answered their question. They asked, "What is the Islamic solution to the question of 'gender equality'? I" I replied, "If you wish you could study the answer directly from the Holy Qur'an. They agreed. I placed in front of them the translation of the following aayah of Surah Ahzab from Pickthall's translation of the Glorious Qur'an (the translation did not have the Arabic text): "Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women whoare humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who remember Allah much and women who remember, Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward." (aayah 35)

I added, "Islam had not given preference to men over women in achieving supreme success. If a male can enter Jannatul Firdaus, then, by Allah, a female can also reach there." They replied, "Allow us to make mashwarah." After consulting each other in one corner of the room, both sisters said, " We have decided to embrace Islam immediately. We are convinced that Islam is the only true religion."

These incidents show the thirst for Islam in Japan despite the wide circulation of anti-Islamic propaganda by the Christian missionaries throughout the country.

Once I undertook a train journey. One of my Japanese fellow-traveller was busy reading a book. I asked him, "Sir, did you ever read any literature on Islam?" He replied, "Yes, a voluminous one." I asked, "What was the name?" He replied in a very serious tone, "A Thousand Nights."

A message of Islam reached Japan long before the arrival of the tablighi jamaats. After the Turkish Revolution, a pious Turkish personality, Shaikh Ibrahim Washad emigrated to Japan for the sake of spreading Islam. A small group of people accepted Islam on his hands. He passed away in Tokyo and is buried there.

Another reason for the spread of Islam in Japan was the influence of the pious Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Burmese Muslims. They influenced the Japanese after the Japanese invaded their respected countries.

Haji 'Umar Mita

Haji 'Umar Mita Sahib is presently the principle figure of tabligh in Japan. He has printed the 'Stories of the Sahabah' in the Japanese language.

He is busy translating the Qur'an Majid into Japanese. He explained how he became Muslim as follows: "I took up employmet at the Manchurian Railway Station after completing a degree in political economy. Manchuria was under Japanese occupation at that time. After completing my term of employment, I embarked on touring China on foot. I was well-acquainted with the practice of ancient Japanese medicine. during my travels I passed by a village inhabited mainly by Muslims. The imam of the village was ill. The villagers requested me to treat him. I agreed and arrangements were made for me to live in one of the rooms of the masjid. I knew the Chinese language. The imam gave me Chinese literature on Islam to study. The treatment took some time and I got a good opportunity to study Islam and lives of the Muslims. I found the Chinese Muslims to be cleaner than their non-Muslim counterparts. They possessed sublime character. Their performance of the five daily solahs attracted me towards Islam. Consequently, I was smitten with the love of Islam by the time the imam was cured. Hence, I accepted Islam in that village."

[Note: In 1957, Haji Umar Mita went to Indo-Pak subcontinent in connection with dakwah and tabligh effort. He died in 1976 at the age of 82.]

Method of Effort

We met many people who accepted Islam through the effort of dakwah and tabligh. The first jamaat arrived in Japan in 1958. Hadrat Ji is much more acquainted with this than myself. [Note: Hadrat Ji rahmatullah alayhi died in 1965]. The technique employed by the tablighi jamaat is unique. Its invitation is based on the fact that Allah Ta'ala has promised His love for those who adhere to the 'amal (sunnah) of Sayyidina Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wasallam. Allah Ta'ala makes the hearts of people submit in front of those whom He loves. There are six important sunnah deeds of qualities which are given paramount importance in tabligh. They are known as the six points (or qualities). The jamaat is a mobile group which strives to inculcate the six points. If a jamaat adheres to the correct principles, then spiritual reformation is certain. This is the result of adhering to the sunnah. Thousands have been reformed through this technique.

The jamaats employ the same technique in non-Muslim countries. It was our practice in Japan to proceed in the path of Allah for 3 days every month. Both Muslims and non-Muslims were invited to participate. The Muslims who participated always returned home with stronger iman and genuine urge to do good. Most of non-Muslims who joined us were blessed with imaan by the time they returned home.

Enzan Buddhist Temple

Enzan is a Buddhist temple situated in the Yamanashi Administrative Division, approximately 100 km south of Tokyo. This provnce is known for its famous maountain named Fuji and grapevines. In July 1960, a jamaat proceeded towards Inzan temple. Prior to this, two students from this district accepted Islam through the efforts of the jamaat working there. These students then went to Pakistan to spend more times to learn the effort. They wrote reports of their tablighi journeys to their local newspapers. These reports were published. Our jamaat efforts was also mentioned therein.

Once we received an invitation to visit this area. We accepted this invitation and decided to spend our monthly 3 days there. Our jamaat comprised of about 20 Muslims and non-Muslim Japanese individuals. The elders of the area gave us a warm welcome at the station. A huge procession accompanied us to the Inzan temple where we were based.

This temple is a unique display of ancient Japanese architecture. It seems as if the Japanese built this temple with great enthusiasm using all the resources at their disposal. A thick long rope made of women's hair is safely kept in the temple. This rope was used to lift up the beams of the temple. The bottom floor is filled with a variety of idols. The priest of the temple introduced these different idols to us. We recited the following aayah as a reply: "Definitely you and what you worship besides Allah are the fuel for Jahannam."

The jamaat was lodged in a small hall on the upper storey. When the time of Zuhr solah set in, the adhan was called out loudly. The sound of the adhan echoed throughout the temple. It seemed as if they were thirsty to hear the adhan. Everyone performed wudhu' using crystal clean water from a natural fountain within the area of the temple. All performed the Zuhr solah, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Every solah was performed in this manner.

Adhan and solah are the most important aspects of tabligh. More people were attracted towards Islam by hearing the adhan and observing the performance of solah. After solah, our tabligh effort began. The ahadith from the fadha'il books were read and discussed during ta'leem. The life of Sayyidina Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam and the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum were explained.

The questions posed by the non-Muslim listeners were answered. A common question was, "You claim that Islam elevates nations. Why do we not find any Muslim country superior to their non-Muslim counterparts?" In fact, in every respect, the non-Muslim countries are more advanced." The embarrassment and cry we felt in our hearts is self-evident. Alas! Today, instead of serving and propagating Islam, the Muslims have become a barrier for others to accept the faith.

Nevertheless, we gave them the following reply, "Friends! Islam is not the name of a country. The combination of the noble qualities and teachings of Sayyidina Rasulullah sallalaahu alayhi wassalam is Islam. Today there is no Islam because of the retreat of Muslims from their faith. In fact, Islamic values have become instinct. We are not inviting you to become like the Muslims of today. We are inviting you to become like the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum. The Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum were those personalities who adopted prophetic qualities. There is none equal to them in human history, never before did such a small group of people with hardly any material means, in a short span of time, achieve what they did." Alhamdulillah, this answer satisfied them.

The desire to learn more about the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum increased. Probably, for this reason Haji Umar Mita translated the book, 'Stories of Sahabah' from English to japanese in a very short time. The local university published a very small print of the book throughout the country. According to the reports received, the book had a very good effect on the readers.

The Islam of Saito Sahib

People from all walks of life attended our programmes over 3 days. Finally, on the third day 6 Japanese accepted Islam. Most of them are high-ranking members of the society. Nakomora Sahib, whose two daughters already accepted Islam, became a Muslim in this temple. 

The secretary of the Saudi Embassy in Tokyo, Ahmad Zaki, and another Arab businessman, Mohammed Amin Makki, also accompanied us. They were extremely amazed to see the Japanese reciting the Kalimah Tauhid in front of their idols in their own temple.

A few days after our return to Tokyo, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Telecommunications, Shaikh Abdullah Bilkhair, arrived for an official visit. The secretary of the Saudi Embassy, Ahmad Zaki, informed him of what transpired at Inzan temple. He was extremely amazed and expressed his desire to meet the Japanese new Muslims. A program was organised to meet them after Jum'ah solah.

The Saudi delegation arrived to perform the Jum'ah solah. When the Imam amongst them stood up to deliver the khutbah, he saw that the majority of the congregation were bearded Japanese Muslims with signs of sajdah on their foreheads. This made him cry. He then said, "I have understood the reality of the following aayah, 'If you turn away, then He (Allah) will replace you with another nation and they will not be like you.' We Arabs are failing in our task to serve Deen. Allah Ta'ala is accepting other nations for the service of Deen." He added, "My heart is satiated with mixed feelings of joy and sorrow. I am unable to speak any further. I will return for Isha' solah. Thereafter, I will address the Japanese new Muslims."

We entered the masjid with the Shaikh at Isha' time. The adhan was called out and a few Japanese new Muslims were called. After the Isha' solah, we sat together. The Shaikh asked each one of them how he had accepted Islam. Many of them said that they had become Muslims because of the efforts of the tablighi jamaats. It is worth mentioning the conversation that took place between the Shaikh and Abdul Karim Saito Sahib, the president and official representative of the United Japanese Muslim Association.

Shaikh: "How did you accept Islam?"
Saito Sahib: "Sir! I worked for 10 years at the Japanese Embassy in one of the Muslim countries. The behaviour af the Muslims never appealed to me. In fact, their social and monetary dealings caused an aversion in my heart towards Islam. This feeling remained until I joined a tablighi jamaat to Osaka. The solah performed by the jamaat at Osaka Railway Station attracted me towards Islam. I was so affected that I immediately became a Muslim."
Shaikh: "Has your wife also embraced Islam?"
Saito Sahib: "Unfortunately, no."
Shaikh: "Have you ever invited her to become a Muslim?"
Saito Sahib: "Certainly. Because she had previously observed the kives of the Muslims, she replied, 'I have observedhow evil the Muslims are! Alas! If only she had not observed those evil Muslims, she would have easily converted." Thereafter Saito sahib read the following Persian couplet: "There is no fault in Islam. All the faults are in the Muslims."

However, a few months thereafter, Saito Sahib's wife and children accepted Islam. Last year, Saito Sahib's wife passed away. She was the first to be buried in the Munjuwabin Mandir Muslim cemetery. May Allah ta'ala forgive her and shower His mercy on her. Saito Sahib has disengaged his eldest son, Sa'id saito from studying at a college in Tokyo. He has sent him to Madinah Munawwarah for further Islamic studies.


norainimy said...

haji..thank you for sharing

LonelyTraveler said...

Mashallah. This is so enlightening. THis is why as a Muslim I have change my heart and submit myself to Allah's will completely and try hard to follow sunnah. May there be a day Inshallah when each and every single Japanese person will recite Kalimah everyday and perform Salah five times, call Azan in their open voices everywhere INshallah. I may not live to see it. But iNshallah it will happen and I make dua for myself and for each and every Japanese so that Allah guides me and them to His path---Ameen.

HAJI said...