“Welcome to the Mobile Mosque” a sign reads at the entrance of the innovative Islamic prayer room. As the 2020 Summer Olympics draws nearer, Tokyo has created a state-of-the-art Mobile Mosque for the Islamic population visiting to celebrate the worldwide sporting event. With a shortage of Mosque’s in Japan, the Japanese company, Yasu Project, has helped ease the concerns of Japan’s Muslim population and the government. Hopeful are the Muslim communities across Japan that a greater volume of Mosques and a greater knowledge of what comprises the peaceful religion will stop the mounting Islamophobia throughout the country.
The CEO of Yasu Project, Yasuharu Inoue, said that the idea emerged out of concern that there may not be enough Mosques and prayers spaces for Muslim visitors, an alarming and worrying thought for a country which considers itself to be an active member of the international community. Inoue believes in sharing the idea of “omotenashi”, Japanese hospitality, with the Muslim visitors, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. If the Mobile Mosque proves to be successful, more and more could be created and may be seen traveling the country to different Olympic venues and may be made a more permanent fixture in cities with large Muslim populations.
With countless existing profiles on fundraising websites with the aim of raising funds to build mosques, Muslims living in Japan experience a shortage of prayers rooms each day. Particularly an issue for those living in more rural communities. But the lack of Mosques is only one of the many issues faced by Muslims choosing to make Japan their home. During the Holy month of Ramadan, the period of fasting for Muslims, adjusting to the fast-paced livelihood of Japan and its business centers is difficult. Yet with a strong underlying dichotomy of “Japanese” and “non-Japanese” people, cultural and religious differences don’t only affect the Muslims living and visiting Japan, but also anyone thought to be a “gaijin”, also known as a foreigner.
Measuring 48-square-metres, the Mobile Mosque is able to accommodate 50 people, with an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Muslims living in Japan and many more Muslims expecting to visit Japan during the summer Olympics in 2020. Acknowledging important components of the prayer practice, the Mobile Mosque includes outdoor taps and an area to wash for pre-worship cleansing. With an ever-growing growing Muslim population, many businesses do their best to accommodate expats and employees of different cultures. Upon starting a new job, Abushiba Bakuru, a Japanese citizen of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage, was “really surprised” to hear from a fellow colleague that “We’re getting a prayer room ready for you,” Nippon, a Japanese media source reported. Unfortunately, not many are as fortunate as Bakuru.
The Mobile Mosque initiative comes only two years after the Japanese government received approval from Japan’s top court to conduct “blanket surveillance of its small Muslim community,” a decision considered to be blatantly Islamophobic, the Independent reports. Leading the way for religious acceptance, Inoue imagines the possible beneficial attitudinal changes a project of this scale may have on the Japanese population and the government. Communities around the world are becoming increasingly diverse, as a consequence of globalization and a growing refugee movement fueled by conflicts and hate. Every society must do their part to make others feel welcome and tackle the growing fear of the unknown by educating the people on the peaceful nature of Islam and all other types of religion.
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