Can Japan show the West how to live peacefully with Islam?

Muslims here find respite from sectarian divisions and prejudice rife in other regions of the world


Special To The Japan Times

Long ago, in another life, I went to a mosque in San Francisco to attend Friday prayer. More than the calling of Islam, it was a Libyan woman who beckoned me, and for the sake of family blessing, I considered a love conversion.

Enamored and clueless, I checked out the scene — an alabaster agnostic among dark-skinned and bearded believers, who eyed me wonderingly as we kneeled to pray.

Face down with my arms outstretched, my behind in the air and my nose smelling the prayer rug, I could feel that a prostration is a submission — a concession of smallness in front of a higher power. I could feel that as a humble servant to the only one god, Allah, you are no longer boss of the spectacle that is you. It was a gut-level challenge.

As I was leaving the mosque, saying goodbye to the regulars who had warmed to the newbie, I started liking these people and their humility. But with the exotic aroma of spices and the muezzin droning the Arabic verses, there was a sense of an alien reality. “If I get in too deep here,” I mused in private, “I might lose myself.”

The intrepid writer George Plimpton — who made a career out of ambling into otherness — once captured this bittersweet affirmation, leaving a football field to applause after a hapless trial with the Detroit Lions.

“The outsider did not belong,” Plimpton wrote about the amateur and his audience, “and there was comfort in that being proved.”

Like other projects enamored and clueless, my love conversion was later aborted.

Fast forward to Tokyo, the present. As this Saturday ushers in Ramadan, the monthlong fasting from dawn to dusk that is observed by Muslims worldwide, it has been striking to see Japan’s efforts to make this minority feel at home.

Some university cafeterias, hotels and restaurants now offer halal meal choices. There are Muslim tour guides, as well as prayer rooms at airports and companies — in addition to more than 100 Islamic associations. Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a Ramadan party last summer, assured foreign ambassadors of the “unbroken bond” between Japan and the Muslim world.

In part, the embrace is customer service. As relations with China went sour, Japan eased visa restrictions last year for Southeast Asian nations, to offset the lost business. This boosted tourism and student exchanges from Malaysia and Indonesia — the latter home to the largest Muslim population in the world — to the point that now more and more hijab headscarves are dotting Japan’s urban landscapes.

“Islam here is growing,” says Musa Omar, the executive director of the Islamic Center Japan in Ohara, Setagaya Ward, which first opened in 1963. He speaks with congenial authority, the kind of man who inspires you to read books and be a better, more spiritual person.

“We don’t recruit, but the mosques are full and each day people are coming to visit. Also, there are more conversions — many of them for marriage, both women and men.”

There is no reliable count of Muslims in Japan, allows Musa, but it now far exceeds 100,000. Having lived here for 40 years and served as the Sudanese ambassador, he thinks that the local community enjoys a unique idyll.

“There are no ties to our homeland politics,” says Musa. “At Japanese mosques there are no divisions, no problems between Sunnis and Shiites. The police here are on our side, and the people are open to Islam. Whatever prejudice they may have, they get from the West.”

Who would have thought: Japan, a utopia of pluralism?

Uniting a colorful mix of expats from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, removed from the context of sectarian strife and the historical Western interference still haunting many Muslim countries, could the Japanese brand of Islam be a showcase for its peaceful essence? Are the frictions between Muslims and the West based in part on identity posturing?

The Tokyo Camii, the largest mosque in Japan, built in a lavish Ottoman style, emerges from the Shinjuku skyline like something out of “Arabian Nights.” For the second Friday prayer in my life, I embedded myself there with 200 Muslims who had gathered for a sermon and food — perhaps the most multiethnic crowd anywhere in Japan (although the vast majority of the faithful are men).

The sermon, held in English and Japanese, exhorts the congregation to respect their parents. Later on, as people line up for rice and potatoes, the atmosphere is relaxed and clubby, a meet-and-greet among fellow immigrants. A visiting group of Japanese seniors is getting a tour of the mosque.

It feels different from Western environs, where Christianity and Islam are seen as the other’s Other. There is the fear of a Muslim planet — an immigrant force out-populating the natives, seeking to set up a caliphate governed by Islamic law. Afraid of a stealth ideology, conservatives such as the historian Sir Martin Gilbert warn that “the European idea is being subverted by Islamic hostility to the very ethics and values of Europe itself.” The message is picked up by politicians and media exploiting the Muslim bogeyman.

“The larger threat comes not from the immigrants themselves, but from our response to them,” Doug Saunders counters in his book “The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West?”

“These are clashes within civilizations, not between them,” Saunders writes, “and to a large extent they are products of the false belief, held by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, that the world is divided into fixed and irreconcilable civilizations.”

With an array of surprising facts, Saunders claims to show that most Muslim immigrants have no wish for Shariah law. Likewise, he writes, their fertility rates are actually decreasing as this diaspora adjusts to lifestyles and trends in the West.

Meanwhile, in Japan, no one frets over the Great Decline. Islamophobia is not an industry; the Other here is Chinese. The Japanese may be drawn to what they see as the pureness, the disciplined abnegation on display during Ramadan, yet unlike some in the West, they don’t appear to feel challenged by perceptions of superior spirituality.

“The Tokyo religion is fashion,” jokes Rahil Khan, 47, from Rawalpindi in Pakistan. A company owner with a swashbuckling air, he is a fixture in the Muslim community. Khan believes it is the social element that is attracting the Japanese.

“People are lonely at home,” muses Khan, “so they come to the mosque for company, for conversation and jokes. At the iftar (the shared breaking of the fast after sunset during Ramadan), many Japanese show up for free food. They follow Ramadan more than Islam — it’s like a festival.”

On a Saturday night, Khan takes me to my third mosque in Tokyo, on the outskirts of Asakusa. A prayer leader from Indonesia speaks to a group of Pakistanis and a Tunisian about the “Five Intentions to Read the Quran.”

The multinational setting leads to a comical misunderstanding, when the leader asks the group in English, “So why does the Quran have 30 juz (the Arabic word for ‘sections’)?” and Khan replies, perfectly sincere, “It is, like, orange juice for the 30 people. You know, they are thirsty.”

Being a Muslim means many things to many people in their very different lives. As for the evening prayer in Asakusa, it feels like a guys’ night out without booze — expats meeting with friends and connecting through things they would do back home.

But in Japan as well, the authorities are watching Islam. Government officers check the mosque in Asakusa, and the police keep an eye on Khan as he roams Shinagawa on business. One day, in decidedly un-Japanese fashion, he walked into a station and confronted the officers.

“I go inside and say, ‘What is the problem? Let us talk about this problem!’ If you need something, you should come and ask.”

No one says that diversity is easy, or even natural. A harmonious pluralism might need curiosity as well as indifference, both emblematic of how Japanese handle otherness. As for the showcase Muslim community, the alabaster agnostic is keeping his fingers crossed.

Nicolas Gattig is a teacher and writer from San Francisco. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • joelfischer

    within the next 5 to 10 years, extremist, blood-sucking, blood-spilling islam will inundate japan… no one wants to acknowledge the obvious as to be non-PC. just like every other corner of the earth where they have opened shop, calls for non-conformism, for sharia law, for non-assimilation will overcome the level-headed muslim in their respective community… just a matter of time.

    • The unknown

      So are all muslims in the world today are extremist, blood-sucking, blood-spilling as what you have mention above?

      • joelfischer

        that would be a negative, ghost rider… my point is that when you have more than a quarter billion people on this planet, and even a minuscule part of that group is determined to affect their laws upon us, then we there have huge problem. where are all the muslims decrying the the bastards that who have jacked their religion?

      • The unknown

        Well then let see what happen in japan within the next 5 to 10 years. Just to assure you that the sharia law does not involve to the other non-muslims unless the country is govern by a muslim leader or majority population is mostly muslims to that aspect. Japan is not govern by muslim nor it is a muslim country so if there are chances whereby the muslim minority decide to have their own law which is the sharia law, the impact won’t trigger the whole country itself. What all muslims want is for other people either muslims or non-muslims to respect what they are imposing such as law and other religious related. If the country is a muslim country itself then whoever resides in that country no matter muslim or non-muslim should respect their law. No matter what it is, all of us should respect each other religion and put aside all the negative thoughts about other religion as well.

  • Gordon Graham

    I suppose it depends on whether or not Islam attempts to impose it’s tenents on Japanese society.

    • braininstead

      what do you think will happen when they will be a sizable minority

      • itoshima2012

        what always happens, look at Europe…..

    • AlphaOS

      Gordon bro, you don’t need to fear the muslims, they are good people (except for those currently have problems in their economy), but the other ones are good folks, spend some tome in Malaysia its AWESOME! You won’t regret it bro, you’ll love it. Get to know them (muslims), they make some awesome tasty foods; your missing the fun man.
      – By the way, have a look at braininstead’s discuss profile, would you seriously be listening to nut-jobs like these? Or jump in to the unknown and have an experience of your own?

      • Gordon Graham

        Bro, dude, guy…It’s not the people I object to, but the mythology and the tenants one is behoved to adhere to that goes along with it. The food, people and friendship that follows, I’m down with.

      • AlphaOS

        Yea, well now that’s your true face (the ideology at the back of your head). Doesn’t surprise me, most rants and squeals I here are from the west. Haven’t seen any Japanese object (or comment anything rude, such good people with great qualities, deserving of respect and are seen as equals to us in front of our eyes) now that’s what you call good people. As for the west, well your a bunch of special cases; Do go on ranting, just remember your judging good people who are innocent. I was expecting a nice reply, but I see a thick headed mule in front of me, the carrot on the stick is your ‘hate towards muslims’.

      • Gordon Graham

        I was being forthright and honest. I meant no malice. I’m sorry you took it that way…Bro

      • AlphaOS

        Oh, I see. Then I’m sorry too. I did not try to understand your point of view. Pardon my arrogance, I reacted without understanding you. You’ve expressed what you felt; although I hope you can bring it in your heart to like the muslims and experience a little insight on their culture.
        – I know I did. Likewise, saw them as average human beings, hard-working people that spend their time with their muslim friends and family, to me they are good human beings, which have been misunderstood by some people.

      • Gordon Graham

        I like or dislike a person on a case by case basis. I like most people. You seem nice despite calling me a thick headed mule.

      • AlphaOS

        I am sorry, i’ll edit it out. Peace.

      • Keramat Angkasa Infiniti

        in fact you are the “thick headed mule”. lol.

    • itoshima2012

      as they always do as soon as they have reached that critical number in society. As long as there are only a few of them they’re nice, once the pass the threshold they start to take over big time. Look at the UK…. for gods sake, open your eyes. Plus, one more important issue is how well the immigrants are educated. Right now Europe is totally overrun, some countries more than others but basically that’s the way it is. They breed a lot so many cities are or will be muslim majority. No big deal if you want to live in a religious country with no respect for women, gay ecc. I for myself prefer to live in a free country and knowing Japan they’re not going to be as stupid as Europe in letting in muslims without end. Look at he Trojan horse issue in the UK, idem in schools in Germany (if you read German just google it and it comes up big time), same in Italy, France is anyway already controlled by those herds. I say, keep em out, Japan did well without them! BY the way, Muslim countries are totally backwards, look at Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maghreb and on and on. Not one country that embraces strict islam is good in doing things because they spend to much time praying. Indonesia and Malaysia are doing fine but they’re fighting for their lives in terms of “keeping Islamism at bay” – Look at Syria, one could go on and on. No I have nothing against Muslims but you got to be very carefull how many you let in. In my brothers Kindergarten in Italy there’re 5 muslim kids and the christmas celebrations ha dto be cancelled! No pork, not even for other kids, and all food must be Halal. I say BS, if you’re in Rome do as the Romans, but ok, yes, Europe is already very very Muslim so we better convert to Islam quickly…. Japan, hello, keep them OUT!

      • Oz

        Is it even worth addressing all of those baseless statements? I don’t think it is! Go to a library and read read read!

      • itoshima2012

        I’ve got a Phd, don’t know you, maybe you should go back reading….

      • AlphaOS

        I’m a Member of ACCA and a qualified accountant, holding a B. Sc certificate and a MBA graduate I’ve studied 5 years in Canada, then 7 years from Cambridge University. My ACCA qualification provides an edge to my accountancy and auditing skills. I am able to run an entire company either as an accountant, auditor, stock valuator, H&R Manager, Cost Accountant, Product Analyst and Qualified teacher for students in Business Studies, Commerce, Economics and Accounting. By the way, what’s your point are you saying your smarter than someone or just flexing your muscles like bigot to get some attention? Or just saying due to your qualification you think your smarter than other people?

      • itoshima2012

        MBA, ha, that’s sold to everybody

  • Non white immigrant

    They are bowing and keeping a low profile in Japan because there are about 100.000 of them here. Trust me, the day there will be one million of them things will radically change here, they will take off the masks just like they did in Europe or in Australia.

    Demonstrations for halal food in school canteens, swimming pools with special hours for muslim women, burqa on the streets and at the city office asking for social welfare, husbands wanting their pregnant wives to have a woman for obstetrician and NO male inside the delivery room, their ghettos where they enjoy living with other muslims, no women wearing a skirt are allowed to walk on those places, their schools, their shops, their streets, their cemeteries (already happening in Hokkaido). Lobbying for halal food at McDonald’s, Burger King, Lotteria, Subway…

    Kids? No problem! They reproduce a lot.

    They live among you, tomorrow you will live among them, their rules.

    Islam is not just a religion it is also a political system with the sharia as the guiding book for everything in your daily life.

    Not convinced? Take a look at Sweden or France! Nice country Sweden, isn’t it? nice landscapes, they welcomed them with open arms, now things are different, burned cars and ghettos where you will never see a swedish blonde in skirt crossing the street. Don’t be blind, they are not your friends, their smiles are just a tactic.

    • AlphaOS

      Did you know in Japan their are more native muslims rather than the foreigners, your offending those Japanese muslims who have an ethnic right in Japan to call it their country. The other comprises only about 0.6% of total populace, that means foreignors in Japan are super rare, especially muslims, what makes up the other amount is the ethnic Japanese muslims. Furthermore, your an immigrant too maybe to USA, Europe any country. What gives you the right to limit someones freedom of movement? What if those muslims were being treated bad in their country and chose to leave and invest their valuable efforts in some other country? Do you know how many muslims have suffered in Pakistan? Bangladesh? Afghanistan? Iraq? Iran? Middle-east? Do you think you would rather watch them suffer and stuff your face with a burger? Think about it, in the previous centuries muslim provided safe-haven to Jews when they were being persecuted. Furthermore, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, no matter how you look at it, I hope you research before you Yap. Halal means; slaughter of animals with Love, not forceful kill or cold-hearted slaughter. Islam also has many important rules that benefit humanity, whether your a Jew, a Christian or an Atheist; Islam will benefit humanity. The Arab spring or propaganda you see is triggered by the West, if you don’t believe me I can make a huge list on how the West thought it can occupy muslim communities and land but failed desperately. Muslims contributed a lot to Japan, Pakistan is Japan’s highest trading partner, large quantity of Japanese cars are imported by Pakistan. The natural resources are also provided by Pakistan for Japan. When a flood/tsunami had occurred in Japan, Pakistan community had set up camps, and even provided help for our Japanese friends. Islam in Japan; There are isolated records of contact between Islam and Japan before the opening of the country in 1853; some Muslims did arrive in earlier centuries.

      The large amount of labor and handy works in construction, agriculture and service sectors has Muslims working there. The average investment of resources, time and efforts all been contributed by Muslims. Type on Youtube/Google and search almost everywhere, about Muslims in Japan you will see a large link between Japan and the Muslim world.

      Not really, I don’t see the problem in this article nor any problem with any muslims living in Japan. The stereo-typing began from the West and it is going to be neglected in the East. Japan is an awesome country, which knows that muslims are average human beings. What about USA? You guys took black people as slaves in the 1900s, those were modern times but still, goes to show how the West values human beings. And your all invaders, you took America from the native Americans and took Australia from native Australians, no ones going to listen to people that have already illegally occupied land belonging to others. Muslims have every right to live and the right to freedom of thought, speech and religion. I hope you keep it locked in your head before you choose to rant your nonsense. My advice never judge other people on the actions of the few, I don’t blame you, Western media has done a great job at demonizing Muslims.

      • Nave Sangsa

        I’m not even going to waste peoples time explaining to you what everyone in the world already knows (except most muslims), so I’m going to just go straight to name-calling, and be done with you.

        You’re a complete brainwashed anti-western religious bigot.

        I read news from all over the world, and muslims are attacking & killing people EVERYWHERE in the name of god. You have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to even be able to ignore it.

      • AlphaOS

        Not really, there are many countries occupied by muslims. Consider this, the regions of conflicts at the time USA’s “so-called war-on-terror” (propaganda), had risen with crimes, insecurity, political and civil unrest. All the distress you saw, heard or maybe even experienced (if you ever were to those areas of conflict) you could note that only those areas were problematic. But many other Muslim states remained mutual and balanced. Take Indonesia for example having the highest muslim population, or Malaysia having 70% muslim population and 30% are a mixture of Buddhists, Christians, Hindu, Atheists etc., the news report you always heard and experienced were from regions that were under war and civil unrest due to US operations which took place. The muslims population is ranging about 1.6 billion all over the world, now consider that huge proportion to the small amounts that are rebels, you’ll see that it’s a huge difference. Statistically speaking, those ‘bad ones’ are about say 0.4% to the population ratio (maybe even less). Also their is no problem going on now, these problems will settle down within the next 5 years or so, as soon as US withdraws from Afghanistan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Let’s take Indonesia for example. A state of which America yields no military influence or presence. The Laskar Jihad funded by Al Qaeda now flourishes there and is responsible for atrocities like the burning of churches on the Maluku Islands where over 3000 men, women and children were murdered. I’m sure I don’t need to remind people of what happened on the Island of Bali. What of the Islamic militants in China? That has nothing whatsoever to do with America’s “war on terror”. Look at a map of the world and circle where the conflicts are and you will find Islam is there.

      • Oz

        Gordon, your anti-religion position is clear and that is absolutely fine. You won’t be judged or demonized by me, no matter how many anti-religion people do bad and kill innocent people around the world.

        I’m more about equality than religion, pluralism and secularism and it’s those values that I stand for.

        In regards to your opinion that it is the religion that causes the incidents you speak of I feel helpless and sorry that you feel the way you do. I don’t think we need to argue and cherry-pick so-called islam related incidents vs non-islam related incidents as you and I both well know that that conversation is a never-ending one. I can assure you however without a shred of doubt the killcount on the islam related side is miniscule in comparison. Of course reported incidents make it seem otherwise.

        Put simply, history has shown that the human race can “rationally” kill for whatever reason be it territorial, drug related, gang related, political, greed, jealousy, democracy, fear, protection, self-defense, mental illness, anger, religion, love, etc, etc.

        We’re all on the same page here, there is no argument. We all condemn acts of violence against humanity no matter what the reason. We’re all adults here and know not to rank people based on their cultural or religious beliefs. We all treat people individually and respect them for who they are. We should look for first hand experience before drawing any conclusions. We all have a precious responsibility to one another, let us just accept the tiny differences between each other and enjoy life. The world is getting smaller everyday, it’s almost like the world is one country now. Let us focus our attention or more important things like global warming, etc.

        Oops this went on for far too long!

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m against all ideas religious or otherwise that lead to violence as a solution. I’m also against ideas that oppress women. I’m also against coercion of small children by fear. It’s not religion per se that I’m against. It’s some ideas that are necessitated or facilitated by religion or communism or any system in which some have power over others by mere dint of that system alone. A system created and maintained by those who have a vested interest in claiming authority over others. Authoritarian systems religious or otherwise are repulsive to me. Also, claims that can’t be verified are meaningless to me.

      • Oz

        I’m with you there on all points!

        Violence for any reason (system or no system) cannot be justified in my opinion. Oppression of any sort likewise.

        I think we are anti-authoritarianism more than anything else. If only people would stop the mislabelling the world would be a much better and safer place.

      • Gordon Graham



        Hello, has Mr. Oz taken the count properly from the time of death of the Founder Mohammed, all through in South Asia and Central area, from Genghis Khan, Timberline, Babar, Gori Mohammad Nadir Shah, etc. etc. Leave alone other places, the pyramid of heads only count after the sack of Baghdad was about 100000 in the year in 1258 AD by Hulagu Khan. It is a recorded history.

      • Keramat Angkasa Infiniti

        thank you for reminding about my “Attack on infedels” daily routine. now where did I put my bomb…?

      • First off slavery was phased out long before the 1900s, and was a practice that wasn’t even started by the America, but was introduced to us and was not practice by the majority of the country, but a small minority in the South.

        And we didn’t take anything from the Native Americans, that would be the English who came to the new world from Britain. Our ancestors yes, but no modern day American had a part in that. The trail of tears and etc. yes, but you weren’t referring to that.

      • tesmith47

        what a load of bs, you whites in america were and are responsible for slavery and the theft of indian land. plain and simple, why dont you own up to your evil deeds and stop your evil actions in the world.
        even to this day you whites continue to abuse and discriminate against indians and blacks !!!

      • Yeah.. I’m not white.

    • Oz

      You seem to be extremely scared and for whatever reason hold a personal vendetta against a misguided idea which seems to have been implanted in your brain subconsciously without you even realising.

      How many Muslim friends do you have? How many have you met in your life? Of the ones you have indeed met, were they members of these so-called protests? Arguing, shooting, fighting and killing? Were they in the news?

      You need an education my friend. It’s people like you who cause fear and spread the hatred of which you condemn when it reciprocates. You should be the better person and look at people for who they are and not for what their faith is. If you want to change this sick unfair world we live in start with yourself and don’t go spreading this unnecessary folly.

      • braininstead

        hi, tons of Muslim friends, they are nice, but they do stick to themselves and try to change you when they are in a majority.I know it is not politically correct but some religions just aren’t soluble in other cultures

    • Keramat Angkasa Infiniti

      Your level of ignorance amused me. See my smile? yes….this a smile that that you fear. A smile that would bring misery to your life. PREPARE YOURSELF INFEDEL! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  • braininstead

    One advice to Japan: stop playing with fire.

  • Brian Martin

    I seriously hope the islamic population does not grow in japan. On a positive not if happens and they show there true face. The Japanese government will have no problem booting them out of the country. Japanese conservatism will be useful in this case.

    • Oz

      This is hilarious! Pure prejudice, now it’s me that’s scared, the more I hear stuff like this the more this world worries me.

      Show their “true face” you say? Hah! I assume you mean blowing people up rather than giving to the poor. You are confusing religion with politics, people act on political grounds rather than religious.

      To go back to my question earlier, how many Muslim friends do you have? You’ve obviously never met a Muslim person before. Guess what? They watch the world cup like you! They eat McDonald’s and listen to Lady Gaga! They are human like you (but without the prejudice).

      Please please please educate yourself before making such sweeping statements.

      1-0 to the media.

    • itoshima2012

      Yeah, Japan rocks! Kick em out!

      • Oz

        Racism and prejudice at its finest. Why are you even in Japan? Keep quiet or you might get kicked out yourself.

      • Alexis Sigma

        Islam is not a race, it’s an ideology, so don’t try and confuse the two (a common tactic to shame people and deflect criticism). There is nothing prejudiced in criticising an ideology like islam’s when there are legitimate reasons for concern. Are all muslims bad people? Or course not. But islam clearly has a lot of issues and is in dire need of a reformation. Until then, people have every right to be wary and want it nowhere near them.

      • Oz

        You may notice the comment I was replying to has been removed as has a similar one written below due to their derogatory nature. The comments were prejudiced and referred to specific countries and ethnic groups.

        Islam is a religion and you are entitled to believe it is an ideology. Everyone has their own beliefs. Each to their own in that regard.

        I’m tired of hearing that not all Muslims are bad people, it implies to me that most are. The vast majority aren’t. So why would there be dire need for reform? Doesn’t make any sense. It’s a drop in the ocean turned into a Tsunami by the faceless nameless people in charge of feeding you with all the curated information.

        People have every right to be wary of bad people and not get near them I’m with you on that one!

      • AlphaOS

        Poser…, you should be kicked out for creating confusion.

  • phu

    “The police here are on our side, and the people are open to Islam. Whatever prejudice they may have, they get from the West.”

    How repugnant. We’re great; it’s “the West” that labels us as awful people. It couldn’t possibly be, you know, the fact that Islam is the only religion that’s still launching bloody crusades and running violent theocracies.

    Of course most Muslims are not bad people. But the religion itself is hundreds or thousands of years behind the times, and the high-profile actions of some of its adherents make it very hard not to maintain a prudently cautious stance towards the religion itself. As long as Islamic nations are pushing Sharia and Islamic groups are by far the most prolific and unreasoning terror sources in the world, people will — in the name of rational self-preservation — continue to judge the religion in that context.

    It’s good to educate people so they’re at least aware that, no, not all Muslims are evil. But even then, not all New Yorkers are evil, and it still pays to be very careful on the streets there at night… so it’s a bit unreasonable to ask people to simply ignore the grim realities of the world we live in and hand out their trust blindly.

    • AlphaOS

      Sharia Law is only applicable to Muslims and cannot be applied to people outside of religion.

      The Christian/Atheists/Buddhist etc., populations in Islamic states are also exempt from Sharia Law.

      Please research as you’ve just made me do a google search, wikipedia check and islamic study check. I hope you learnt something from my effort. Good day to you, sir.

      • itoshima2012

        Sharia law, right, it’s only relevant for Muslims, but how do you stand for sharia being implemented in our society? Look at the UK, have you ever lived in the UK? Idem in Belgium, France (look at Marseilles) look at Sweden….

        In our Western societies there’s one law, many countries battled long battles to make a distinction between religion and law but sharia is the total opposite. It’s all invasive.

        You’re of course entitled to your view and I respect it. However, many Muslims think Islam as it stands now is not compatible with Western culture or do you think Sharia grants the same rights as we do to gay, lesbians, women… I think you must agree that this is just not compatible.

        The many Muslims I went to University with in the UK and Sweden and the analysts that worked with me while I worked at a very large bank all agreed that the West is granting to many powers to the Muslims in their midst and this is very bad for Muslims that want to live according to their faith but in a 21st century setting. This truly is not good news.

        The composition of the Muslims immigrants, and I can only talk for Europe, is heavily skewed towards people with no or little education, no or very little language skills of the host country, they believe in a form of Islam that goes very well down in their country of origins but it just want work in Europe (well, actually soon it probably will).

        So if not agreeing with you and if seeing and addressing problems that are real is racist than I think you should think again very deeply. Addressing problems before it is to late is very important. Look at the far right gains in the EU elections, a main reasons is that mainstream politicians closed their eyes for to long and only now they start to timidly address the issue.

        No, I’m not a racist, no I don’t have anything against Muslims. I think however that you have to adhere to the social laws and structure of your host country.

      • AlphaOS

        – Do you really expect Muslims to be gay, lesbians or whatever? It’s just not natural buddy, think about the trauma on the children when they question themselves & parents; Dad #1 & Dad #2; how did you guys born me? Or why do other children’s parents have a female and a male partner and my gay parents dont? Think about it, very, very carefully.
        – About women walking in skirts and bikini’s: the most highest cases of harrassment and abuse on females take place in such societies that don’t have religious and lawful morals. Don’t believe me? Let me pull out trusted data from wiki and survey sites.
        Australia: 6,378 (est. 2010)
        New Zealand: 1,129 (est. 2010)
        Switzerland: 543 (est. 2010)
        Netherlands: 1,530 (est. 2010)
        GERMANY: 7,724 (est. 2010)
        FRANCE: 10,108 (est. 2009)
        Belgium: 2,991 (est. 2010)
        UK: 15,934 (est. 2010)
        Sweden: 5,960 (est. 2010)
        India: 21,397 (est. 2010)
        Japan: 1,289 (est. 2010)
        Top-Ten’s list data (rape crimes):
        USA #1 in rape, India #2, UK #3, Mexico #4, Canada #5, GERMANY #6, Sweden #7, Russian Federation #8, Belgium #9, Thailand #10.
        Other stats from other sources:
        USA #1, South Africa #2, Sweden #3, India #4, UK #5, Germany #6, France #7, Canada #8, Sri Lanka #9, Ethopia #10.
        – Muslims being uneducated and under-graduates? Highly illogical, please learn something carefully, the Muslim population is very high; in some third-world country the Muslim population might be qualified in their doesn’t mean that your country will also accept their education qualifications. I’ve been to Muslim states, to Europe and to USA itself. The Muslims are highly qualified, your passing B.S from right and left and you don’t even think to re-consider how wrong you are. Please refrain from posting; your being silly and a disgrace to whichever race/nationality you belong to.

      • itoshima2012

        here we go, the tru face, so being gay or lesbian is “NOT NATURAL” ?! Ha, gimme me a break, here you can see that Islam is not compatible with our modern values. I see lesbians and gays as completely natural!

      • itoshima2012

        by the way, you even “like” your own comments?! What a joke you’re

      • Gordon Graham

        Those statistics represent the number of reported rapes and cannot account for rapes that are not reported. Societies in which a victim would be so shamed by the crime they couldn’t report it for fear of bringing shame on themselves or their families could possibly make rape a more likely crime. I’m not saying that that’s the case, just that one must consider it as a possibility. Regardless, a woman or a man should be free to dress as they please. What gives one human authority over another to tell them how to dress…or more importantly, who they can love?

      • itoshima2012

        you homophobic prikk!

      • Oz

        Thank you Mr PhD for showing us how to have a civilised conversation.

      • Guest

        “Sharia Law is only applicable to Muslims and cannot be applied to people outside of religion.”

        Tell that to anyone accused of apostasy, or the moderate/secular muslims in Europe that are finding themselves increasingly under pressure to abide by sharia law and decisions made by sharia courts. Tell that to the non-muslims living in the UK being harassed by “sharia patrols”, or homosexuals/rape victims/critics of islam being executed for their “crime”. Or atheists and followers of other faiths that are unfortunate enough to live in a society dominated by sharia law. Or to the hundreds of thousands that live in fear of the consequences of breaking sharia law in regions controlled by radicalised islamists. Just recently we saw how even pregnant “apostates” and their newly-born children are not immune to this Bronze-age tool of tyranny.

        I’ve noticed that you’ve left a lot of comments and have liked all of them yourself: either you’re an apologist with an agenda or are commiting taqiya. If you’re the former I suggest you do more than a quick search on the internet before talking nonsense: some of us actually know something about islam, the quran and sharia law.

      • Alexis Sigma

        “Sharia Law is only applicable to Muslims and cannot be applied to people outside of religion.”

        Tell that to anyone accused of apostasy, or the moderate/secular muslims in Europe that are finding themselves increasingly under pressure to abide by sharia law and decisions made by sharia courts. Tell that to the non-muslims living in the UK being harassed by “sharia patrols”, or any homosexuals/rape victims/critics of islam being executed for their “crime”. Or atheists and followers of other faiths that are unfortunate enough to live in a society dominated by sharia law. Or to the hundreds of thousands that live in fear of the consequences of breaking sharia law in regions controlled by radicalised islamists. Just recently we saw how even pregnant “apostates” and their newly-born children are not immune to this Bronze-age tool of tyranny.

        I’ve noticed that you’ve left a lot of comments and have liked all of them yourself: either you’re an apologist with an agenda or are commiting taqiya. If you’re the former I suggest you do more than a quick search on the internet before talking nonsense: some of us actually know something about islam, the quran and sharia law.

  • David L

    Japan cannot even live peacefully with its neighbors. Come on!

  • Andrew PC

    10 years later, they will probably write again about Islam in Japan, but the title may sound : Can the world show Japan how to live peacefully with Islam ? …who know, right ?

  • Oz

    Haha! This is actually quite comical.

    So what are you so angry about? I love the “or something like that” part. Tell me what good you’ve done today sir and I might forgive you for your ignorance.

    • Jin

      Typical reaction of a muslim. Oops, did I push a button? “Why the hell is he aware of al-taquiyya?!” Would you mind educating us about it sir?
      Haha! Let us see how comical is this. I hope they translate this in Japanese so they will know what “heavenly” teaching Islam has for the Japanese people.
      To the Japanese people, buy a Quran… maybe you will be not so ignorant.

      Islam’s paradise of evil, demented, depraved
      sexual perversity

      Verse 9:111 – Muslim’s passport to paradise

      Kill the infidels wherever you find them

      Quran 9:5 (the infamous verse of the sword
      inciting mass murder):

      Extortion Verse 9:29:

      “Fight against such of those who have been
      given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not
      that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion
      of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.”

      Verse 5:32/5:33 – verse of barbaric cruelty

      Verse 65.4 — Allah’s teaching of pedophilia

      Verse 33:50 – sanctioning unrestrained slavery and rape
      for Muhammad by his Allah

      Quran’s Sanction of Wife Beating

      Quran 4:34:

      Allah takes a shares of plundered booty

      Quran 8:41

      Verse 24:2 – Allah is a barbarian

      Teachings of torture, enslavement, beheading
      cruelty, eye-for-eye …..

      There is a gigantic tie for the tenth most
      evil teaching. There are 3,990 teachings of the Quran that are equally evil.
      All these teachings are immoral depravity. Not being words/teachings of Moral
      Perfection – the Quran is not Moral Perfection and therefore not from God,
      therefore Allah is not God but the AntiGod and Muhammad is no prophet.
      Following is a very small sample of further Quranic depravity.

      • Gordon Graham

        If there is a God it doesn’t necessarily follow that It is moral…morality could be merely a human concept. If God is omnipotent as some suggest, one must consider that morality and evil exist…which would necessitate God’s complicity.

      • AlphaOS

        Gordon, my good and honest friend, I would like to share a little bit of my experience on what I think of God. God created good and evil; not because he thought it would be fun to have it in this world, but to judge the individuals good character and his deeds. Same goes for the other opposites, life and death, life is to offer you a chance to live it and go through the good and bad and later on see how you manage and don’t loose your good character or self-personality, many opportunities occur in life where you are tested for the good or evil options. And death where at the last minute you think to yourself; have I been a great person in my life? Do I have any regrets or sorrows? Ultimately, you shape your destiny and fate God just places the options and routes that you might take. That’s what atleast I think.

      • Gordon Graham

        And just like me my friend you have no way of knowing for certain if what you think is true. Which is why I try to not to make conjectures about that which I cannot possibly know.

      • Oz

        It cannot be proven nor disproven hence you both stand in the same place. Hence all we can do is agree to disagree. Go the science route where everything is true until disproven or hope to achieve that end goal – it’s up to you! I say enjoy the football guys cos it’s only once every 4 years! ;) (Lol sorry to lighten up the discussion)

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m not interested in soccer. I like ice hockey. Too much diving in soccer and it’s too slow for my taste. Yes, it can neither be proved nor disproved, so all we can honestly say is “I don’t know”. That’s why my position is agnostic…Greek for without knowledge.

      • AlphaOS

        Same here. Can’t be proven nor disproved. So pretty much all we can do is leave that area ‘blank’.

      • Oz

        Thank you so much for your reply! I was hoping for such a reaction to be honest. I think it was me that pushed a button judging by your defensiveness. You’ve missed the point completely and thus proved your ignorance.

        The part I especially find interesting in your reply which I will treasure was “typical reaction of a muslim” because it makes it crystal clear to me where your twisted thinking lies. Only muslims (human beings) can stand up for the wrongness made against other human beings (muslims) right? Of course all non-muslims hate muslims like yourself and would never think that the discrimination is unjust, right?

        I couldn’t care less about your list of interpretations there, they could have been written in Hangul for all I care. They could have been written about any religion, sect, group, country, race, wherever, whoever!

        The point is you are against a religion which you will never understand, which you will always be against. For the sake of fairness, I just curious, did you research and cherry-pick other quotes that suit you from the Bible, the Tora, the Dhammapada?

        Now, please take heed because it seems like you missed out on this somewhere in your upbringing:

        Spreading hatred and discrimination about anyone no matter who will only make the situation worse. You are against a whole people just like extremists are against a whole people. You are no different. They would love to sit down with you and talk quotes all day because that’s what you both want. To fight! You need to be the better person and choose acceptance and love rather than hatred and rejection.

        I’ll ask you again, what are you so angry about?

      • Jin

        Not angry, never was. Just aware after all the lies that I get that Islam is peace. Why always avoid my question? Gosh I bet you will hate me again if I say “typical” reaction. On the brighter side I know a lot of good muslims from a non-muslim view. I question the teachings… please don’t kill me!!! if you are a muslim. When asked a question difficult to answer, that is your response righ?. I’m not angry but I am really really scared.

      • Oz

        Come on please!! So, if I’m a Muslim I’m going to kill you!? As if you haven’t been clear enough already where you stand on the matter?! It is truly a sad thing.

        Can you explain to me what you mean by a good Muslim with a non-Muslim view I’m not sure I follow you there.

        Can you simplify your question as I don’t seem to recall you asking one and I’d be happy to try and answer.

  • Daniel Francis

    If Japan can do this, please hurry. There isn’t much time left before the backlash hits like the Fukushima tsunami.

  • goatonastick

    Japanese do not have issue with Islam if they are Japanese, however, if they are foreigners…

  • First let them increase their population to nearly 20-30 percent of total population of Japan and then you guys will find out what you can teach to others

  • scottd

    “unlike some in the West, they don’t appear to feel challenged by perceptions of superior spirituality.”

    –Such a b.s. strawman argument — who in the West are you referring to? This assertion isn’t even anecdotal, sounds more like the author straining himself to bend over backwards with political correctness. Then again, author is from San Francisco (a cesspool that I had the misfortune to live in for two decades).

    Such a lousy, condescending article rife with hearsay and blind assumptions. Muslims I have encountered here in Japan — much like the West — are clannish, secular and not the least bit friendly. I don’t wish them any ill will and I respect anyone’s right to practice the religion of their choosing but at the same time I don’t owe them any courtesy — this article makes it seem like mosques are a veritable welcome wagon, what a joke.

  • K T

    I was ok with muslems – until they started beheading enemies in “self defense” – and no moderate muslems uttered a word.
    Now I am afraid of them all.

  • Gordon Graham

    The purpose of manifestation in this world as a human being is as unknown to you as it is to me. Whatever delusion comforts you is fine with me as long as it doesn’t lead to hurting or subjugating anyone else in any way. Peace


      Aum. Your stand is perfectly fine and you are at peace with your concepts.

      To probe the relationship of this living being and its activities, its will power with the Cosmic Force whatever it is wherever it exists, is a natural corollary.

      If an individual feels this is not a must in its dealing with fellow beings, let it be, so long he does not harm any one. Aum Shanti