Türkiye-Run Tokyo Mosque draws Japanese crowd for Ramadan iftars

Tokyo Mosque, affiliated with the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), brings together Muslims and non-Muslim Japanese people for iftars during Ramadan.

The non-Muslim Japanese, who participate in the cultural tour of the mosque campus during the day, eat their iftar with hundreds of Muslims and learn about Islam.

A Japanese citizen named Iwata said that he had been to the mosque before, adding: “Eating together is enjoyable. I come every year. I don’t think I can experience such an atmosphere anywhere else in Japan.”

“I like the atmosphere here. There is no building like this in Japan. When I come here, it feels like I am in Türkiye.”

Iwata stated that in Japan, there is a local belief in “a similar fast in which you drink water but do not eat food.”

“I feel a sense of unity during Ramadan,” said Nanbaryuu, a university student living in the capital. He said he visited the Tokyo Mosque because he liked the Islamic culture he had learned about in a Muslim country he had visited before.

Another visitor, Saito, also stated that he lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for five years and has never fasted before, but he likes “the idea and ambiance of iftar gatherings” in the mosque.

“It is great to know various cultures,” said a secondary school student named Kanon. Kanon stated that he came to the mosque for the first time and felt for the first time what the month of Ramadan in Islam means.

Kanon described it as “happy” that both fasting and non-fasting people are invited to the iftars at the mosque.

Stating that “Islamic culture can be touched” by coming to Tokyo Mosque, Kanon said, “I think it is useful to see the prayers and get to know various cultures.”

Adem Levent, who took over his new position as the imam of Tokyo Mosque in February, said, “Our guests on weekdays are 400-500 on average and this number rises to 700 on weekends.” He stated that the interest in the mosque has increased due to the month of Ramadan.

Levent stated that they received Japanese guests with an appointment system, gave information about fasting and answered questions about Islam.

Explaining that the Japanese people show great interest in Mukabele (a traditional recitation of the Holy Quran during Ramadan) before the evening prayer, Levent said: “Sitting at the iftar table and breaking the fast with us gives them a special feeling. They look around and ask with a smile on their faces why the fast is broken here collectively. They leave satisfied and thank us with a promise of visiting the mosque again.”

Stating that they performed Tarawih (prayers conducted during Ramadan) after the iftar, Levent said: “Last year I was in Bulgaria. This year I was blessed to be here. It is a very nice feeling that I could not have imagined.”

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