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After Becoming Muslim: Japanese Teacher Shares Inspiring Journey to Islam





Wearing a pink kimono, Saki Takao celebrated her 26th birthday by taking the greatest decision in her life and becoming a Muslim.





Surrounded by 15 family members and friends, she read out the Arabic text of Shahada:  “I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God,” on her smartphone, The Asahi Shimbun reported.





Though the celebration was simple, the road of the high school teacher towards becoming a Muslim last November was not that easy.





After Becoming Muslim: Japanese Teacher Shares Inspiring Journey to Islam - About Islam





Born and raised in Japan, Takao attended Osaka Jogakuin University. She met the first Muslim in her life, a man from Turkmenistan, in Taiwan during her junior year.





 





Conversing in English in many occasions, they built a close relationship which abruptly ended when she realized he was a Muslim.





Returning to Japan to study international affairs, her sense of shame over her treatment of a close friend simply because he was Muslim started to gnaw at her.





Two years later, in summer 2019, she embarked on a “solo trip to meet Muslims” that took her to countries like Turkey and Indonesia.





Takao encountered many kind people along the way, ending up wanting to learn more about Islam and Muslims.


After Becoming Muslim: Japanese Teacher Shares Inspiring Journey to Islam - About Islam


Finding the Way





 





After graduating, Takao began working as an English teacher at a senior high school in Osaka. Speaking of Islam in her class, she learned that her students associated the religion with “terrorism.”





“The negative impression of a limited number of people appeared to overshadow everything else,” she said. “The students were like how I used to be.”





To know more about the faith, Takao started frequenting a mosque in her neighborhood to learn more about the religion. She tried halal food and even participated in Ramadan fasting.





Taking the decision to become a Muslim, Takao shared the news with her family. Her mother said she “does not dislike the idea”, while her father cautioned his daughter about the “negative sides” of religion following her conversion.





 





“But if you are ready for that to happen, all you need to do is think a problem through after you accept the doctrine,” he said.


Two Societies





 





Contracting COVID-19, she felt it wasn’t the right time to take the shahada. Yet, she later met her now fiancé, a Malaysian Muslim man who drove the anxiety out of her mind.





On her 26th birthday, Takao recited the Shahada.





“This sense of strangeness is possible only because I have just entered the faith,” she said. “I want to always keep that feeling in mind from here on out for the rest of my religious path.”





“Living in Japanese society is not without its difficulties either,” said Takao. “I can run to the Islamic world if I find them unbearable, now that I have two societies open to me.”





According to Tanada Hirofumi of Waseda University, the number of Muslims in Japan is more than double in the last 10 years.





In 2010, the statistics showed the number of Muslim worshippers in Japan to be at 110,000. By the end of 2019, the number increased to 230,000 (including as many as 50,000 Japanese converts).





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