Written by: Haraguchi Sakura
Fukuoka, the largest city in Kyushu, has a Muslim community of around 1,000 people (before the covid-19 outbreak), which includes International students, businesspeople, and locals. Fukuoka Masjid “Al Nour Islamic Culture Center” is only 2 minutes walk from JR Hakozaki station and easily accessible from the Kyushu University Hakozaki Campus. Some Halal restaurants and International grocery stores are found around it.
We spoke with Mr. Nabil Amer, the owner of Nabisan Halal Food Plaza, to learn about the Fukuoka masjid.
The Masjid’s Features
Located just by the elevated railroad, its green dome is outstanding in the neighborhood. Designed by a Japanese construction company, the front side of the masjid is covered with old Islamic patterns, and a soft red carpet spreads in the prayer hall. It is “Old Islamic Style” which cannot be identified as an architectural style of a specific region; as a community of Muslims from all over the world, the idea is to support the masjid as a whole community, not one group leading.
The prayer hall on the first floor is for men and the 2nd floor is for women. One floor can accommodate around 150 people for Jummah prayers (now only around 30 people to keep social distance).
The name of the masjid, “Al-Nour” is the Arabic word for light; the word repeated many times in the Quran, as a metaphor for enlightening people’s hearts with Islamic teaching. In accordance with its name, Fukuoka Masjid has been serving as a place for Muslims and non-Muslims to learn about Islam.
The underground floor houses a library full of books about Islam in various languages. The weekend school at the masjid has been carried out for the past 10 years; the lecture rooms on the 3rd and 4th floors are used for Quran classes and teaching general knowledge of Islam to children.
It also has two kitchens for social events like Halal cooking classes.
The masjid was opened in 2009, as the first masjid in Kyushu, aiming to serve the best interests of Islam and Muslims in the area. It has been followed by the construction of new mosques in Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Beppu.
For building the masjid, Kyushu University Muslim Student Association (KUMSA) initiated the idea in 1988 and started collecting donations. During the campaign, some of the members visited cities like Kyoto and Tokyo and asked for supports at the mosques there. The donation was also collected internationally.
With the help of an international student from Dubai, the association also managed to get funding from the UAE government.
Projects and Events
Fukuoka Masjid is always open to certifying Halal restaurants and goods for free. Kiwamiya, a Japanese restaurant in Nishijin that serves the First Halal Mostunabe, was also certified by the masjid.
The latest certificate that the masjid issued was ‘Halal vending machine’ in Itoshima which sells international snacks. The vending machine project had been supported by the donation; hopefully, this Halal vending machine spreads to all over Japan from Fukuoka.
Before the pandemic, interactions with local non-Muslims used to be very active at the masjid. Halal cooking classes of international cuisines had been held twice a month by students and locals. On the “Japanese Day” twice a year, the masjid prepares food and invites neighbors.
The students at KUMSA plan cultural events at their campuses as well. Event information in the Muslim community in Fukuoka is found on Facebook.
Other than those efforts, the masjid is working on various projects cooperating with other mosques. Currently, their most important project is opening an Islamic cemetery in Kyushu. It also has projects on establishing an Islamic school and getting long-term parking areas for the visitors.
Ramadhan in Fukuoka Masjid before pandemic was a joy. During the Eid prayer, all four floors were packed with around 600 people. Some would pray at the park beside the masjid, by connecting wireless speakers with permission from the ward office. Every day during Ramadhan, 200-300 gathered people for Iftar, including its neighbors. People invited their friends and teachers for the meal. In the sacred period of the last 10 days, some stayed at the masjid, praying and reading Quran for the whole night.
However, because of the current situation, the number of people allowed in the masjid for tarawih prayer is limited and no event would be held during this Ramadhan.
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