Eid Mubarak from Japan
Nothing is better than Eid falling on a Sunday when you are in a country where the day is not an official holiday. For me this was my first Bakra Eid away from home. I was dreading it. I knew I would feel homesick and the six other Muslims in my dorm shared the sentiment.
We decided to stick together and keep busy. First things first, we had to decide where to go to offer Eid prayers. Our three options were: the Islamic Centre, Tokyo Camii and Otsuka Mosque.
Over the past two months, we (the Muslims in my dormitory) visited Otsuka mosque several times. On many occasions we have been accompanied by our non-Muslim friends interested in Islam. They have always been welcomed warmly and have been given the Holy Quran, or other books about Islam as presents.
We ended up deciding on Tokyo Camii, a beautiful mosque which was built by the Turkish community who emigrated from Kazan (Russia) in 1938.
We arrived there early and saw a blend of different nationalities. Everyone was dressed in their best attire to begin their Eid with prayers. Volunteers at the gates were ushering people to their respective places. People were coming with families and friends. We could see a gathering of Turks, Japanese, Bengalis, Africans, Indians, Moroccons, Egyptians, Arabs, Uzbeks, Indonesians, Algerians, Iranians, Malaysians and Pakistanis etc. It was the beginning of a truly multicultural and multilingual Eid.
Soon after, we sat quietly listening to the khutba (sermon). Surprisingly, it was offered in Turkish, Japanese and English. In Pakistan, no khutba is said to be complete without a part in Arabic. However, this was clearly not the case in Tokyo Camii. It was more important that people understood what was being said rather than entangling the whole community in the complexities of religious issues in a language they didn't understand.
After the prayers and sermon, we were all invited to a magnificent feast. Rice with mutton curry, Börek, salad and mashed potatoes, followed by the Turkish sweet, baklava, and Turkish tea were served. The comfortable setting where the food was served provided a valuable opportunity for everyone to interact with each other. Muslims from different countries and talked of their national issues. Most people offered their condolences for those who lost their loved ones in the earthquake in Turkey on October 23, 2011.
When they discovered I was Pakistani they wanted to know how country was actually doing, what we think of our leaders, what the youth of Pakistan was doing to bring about change and how hopeful we were that this change would actually take place.
They asked us how difficult life is; they asked if the wives and mothers are worried about their husbands and sons returning home safe from work; they asked us how freely girls can go out alone during the day or night.
All questions were followed by:
"May Allah help your country and its people and mine too."
The most appropriate end to a conversation, I believe. It also showed their concern for other Muslim countries in the world, regardless of their colour or race.
The Eid event at Tokyo Camii carried on for the whole day. The Turkish administrators did a commendable job of providing everyone with joyous moments and a memorable Eid in Tokyo.