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Ramadhan, the holy month that is eagerly awaited by Muslims all over the world, not excepted to Japanese Muslims! This blissful month usually falls in the early summer with temperatures of 20° to 28° that require Muslims in Japan to do fasting for about 16 hours.

In this article, we introduce Kaiji Kadir Wada, a Japanese Muslim who is celebrating his 5th Ramadhan after became a Muslim.

Kaiji Wada

Welcoming His 5th Ramadhan

Kaiji started doing fasting a year before his shahadah, so even though it is actually his 4th year as a Muslim (his shahadah was on 2017), he experienced fasting for his 5th time in Ramadhan 2021. It was hard at first, of course, but he mentioned that the experience gave him a lot of lessons.

Kaiji`s shahadah on 2017

How He Learns Shalat and Reads Al-Qur’an

To learn how to do shalat, he watched Youtube videos about prayer for kids. When he found some difficulties or something he doesn’t know during the learning, he tried to find the answer by asking his Muslim friends.

Kaiji with his Malaysian Muslim friends

Kaiji with his Japanese Muslim friends

Along with the learning process, he figured out that some actions in prayer are slightly different depending on madhhab (a school of thought for Islamic jurisprudence). When he was in Indonesia which is one of the largest countries with a Muslim population in the world, he followed the locals in doing prayer.

Japanese Muslim’s A Day of Fasting

In Japan, Fajr prayer starts around 3:30 am as of April, so he needs to finish suhoor before that. Accordingly,  he usually wakes up at 3 am to catch suhoor. Having a meal in the very early morning is something that we don’t do every day so that he prefers to have something simple and good for the stomach such as yogurt with strawberry jam and fruits.

Yogurt with jam and fruit, Kaiji’s favorite suhoor meal

After enjoying suhoor, he usually does 2 raka’at sunnah prayer and then followed by 2 raka’at Fajr prayer and reads Al-Qur’an. In some occasion, he joins community club activities at 4 am to 5 am, right after the Fajr prayer or go back to sleep before starting the day with work.

Al-Qur’an with Japanese translation

He is running a recruiting agent company, Career Diversity Inc., and basically does remote work from home, especially in these recent months with the pandemic, so he does not much get influenced by others during Ramadhan. He mentions that actually, there is nothing change with his daily working activities as he works and be productive as he does every day.

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However, according to him, he heard about his Muslim friends that are struggling to manage their working time during Ramadhan. Kaiji who has been in Indonesia to work, himself feels the difference in how Muslims manage their time in a day between those in Indonesia and in Japan, as he experienced start and finish work time an hour earlier during Ramadhan.

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He has a quick pause for prayer every time prayer time comes. Especially during Ramadhan, he pauses his work at 6 pm to prepare for iftar and Maghrib prayer that usually comes at around 6:15 to 6:20 (in the early Ramadhan and slow down to the end of Ramadhan).

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Because he prepares iftar meals by himself, he tends to have it in very simple and quick. He always starts the iftar with 3 pieces of dates as Takjil. For these past 5 days, he had various meals for breaking fast such as paratha and prawn curry, rice with natto and raw egg, Indomie with rice (which is a popular combination among Indonesian!), dipping noodles, and when he had time to go out, he went to have an Indian butter chicken curry.

Today’s iftar and dinner meal

He received a lot of questions about the Japanese iftar menu from his foreign friends that come from Muslim-majority countries. Since most of the population in Japan is not Muslim, so there are no special iftar meals or spectacular atmosphere during Ramadan as the Japanese do not have that culture. So that, he has normal meals just like every day which he arranged according to his mood that time.

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After enjoying the meals and finish the prayer, he goes back to work to finish the remaining tasks that should be done in the day.

Islamic Activities During Ramadhan

As mentioned above, he has community activities in the morning after suhoor and Fajr prayer. This is a new activity that started this Ramadhan. The activities are facilitated and organized by the Indonesian community which allows the participants to share knowledge, experience, the Deen, and many more with each other.

In the past few years, he was enjoying having iftar at masjid with other Muslims together. Unfortunately, there are no such vibes this year (following the last year’s). There are some masjids that offering iftar meal but with a very limited number of people or need registration beforehand as it is strictly maintaining social distance. However, most masjids are open for Taraweeh prayer and mostly shorten the raka’at into 8 due to the infection measurement. In his case, he does Taraweeh sometimes at the mosque but most frequently at home.

Taraweeh while maintaining social distance in a mosque in Tokyo.

Some masjids allow i’tikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan. However, it might be limited and regulated to some extent due to the pandemic.

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Lessons Every Time Ramadhan Comes

Even the experiences Ramadhan for his 5th time, he is proactively making efforts to make improvement of himself, even a bit, in every Ramadhan.

There is one Hadith that motivates him a lot.

إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّات

“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah) (Hadith 1, 40 Hadith an-Nawawi).

With the Hadith in his heart, he wants to maintain motivation and good intention anytime on any occasion. This year, his goal is to improve his inner self by focusing on self-control to be a better human being, which is not only about visible action.