Began studying Bahasa Melayu
I wanted to study languages which many Japanese people didn’t know very well, so I chose my university because it was the best university in Japan to master foreign languages and learn other cultures. However, I hadn’t decided which course I should take. My mum advised me to take the Malaysian course. I was really surprised, as I’d never heard her showing interest in Malaysia before. Soon after I started to study Malaysian, though, I fell in love with the language and country. I couldn’t study abroad there but I did my best to be the best student in my class.
Took classes on Islam in university
A year after I started studying Malaysian, I still had many words that I couldn’t understand. I realized that all of them were related to Islam, so I took classes of Islam. At the time, it was only for studying and academics. I did these classes for two years.
First time I went to the mosque in Tokyo and wore hijab
My Malay friends invited me to go to a mosque called Tokyo Camii, so I went there to see salah (prayer). I thought I knew many things about Islam because I’d studied it for two years in university, but I was totally shocked when I saw Muslims praying at the mosque. I had no idea why they prayed five times in a day or even how they pray. Yes, it was because they were Muslims and it was for Allah, but…I couldn’t understand why they WANT to do it.
My Malay friends gave me a hijab, and it was the first time I ever wore one. I felt so happy and relieved. Although I loved wearing sexy style clothing before, I suddenly wanted to cover myself up more after that…to be respected and known for who I was inside.
Meeting a Japanese Muslimah and taking shahadah in my heart
I met a Japanese Muslimah when I did a part-time job as a Japanese-Malay translator at an event. I told her I wanted to become a Muslimah and I asked her why she reverted to Islam. My heart became full of love for Allah after listening to her revert story. I got to know that there were Japanese Muslims who had the same problems and feelings before taking shahadah.
Soon after knowing each other, we became close friends. She sent me a message and asked me “Assalamualaikum Arisa. How are you? Have you ever recited La llaha illallah before? If you recite it very clearly from your heart, you can go to the heaven InshaAllah.
Shahadah is very important, but if you really believe in Allah and say La illaha illa Allah even on your own, you are already Muslim. I feel you are already my sister in Islam.” I cried a lot after reading her message. I recited Shahadah by myself in my room. Alhamdulillah…
Finding hidayah during my stay in Malaysia
I decided to study Islam in Malaysia for a month and stayed at my Malay friend’s house. I learnt many things from this trip. I tried the “one month challenge” – wearing a hijab and covering every day. It was too hot and sometimes I couldn’t stand the heat, but my heart was full of happiness. I prayed every day and tried to memorize Dua. (Actually I could recite Al-fatihah before I came to Malaysia because I practised reciting it with on my phone every night).
Alhamdulillah many people made dua for me. But I wasn’t ready to take shahadah because I was facing a lot of problems. I believed in Allah, so I took shahadah in my heart only and made dua to Him to help me overcome my problems.
17th January 2015
Shahadah at a mosque in Tokyo
La Ilaha Illallah Muhammadun Rasulullah.
On 17th of January I’ve got the Quran in Japanese from Malaysia. Before that, I didn’t know there were any Quran in Japanese so I always read the Quran in Malay or English. It was difficult to understand the meaning of each ayah perfectly. After reading Quran in Japanese, I couldn’t stop crying and suddenly felt the guidance. I finally felt that Allah had been always by my side and I couldn’t live without believing in Allah anymore.
At that time, I decided to recite shahadah but I didn’t know how to recite shahadah officially. I went to the mosque without asking whether I could recite the shahadah today or not, but all people at the mosque gladly welcomed me. More than ten Malaysian sisters came to be my witnesses.
Masha’Allah. I was lucky, as Prof. Misbah ur-Rahman Yousfi, the director of an Islamic organization, was also in Japan, and he led me to recite the Shahadah. Jazak Allahu Khair. Alhamdulillah, from this time onwards I became Nur Arisa Maryam. I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. After that, I had the chance to perform Isha prayer as a Muslim and made dua at the mosque for the first time in my new life.
Soon after taking shahadah
My first challenge as a Muslimah
I told my family about my reversion after going back home from masjid. My sister was studying Islam a lot, so she said to me “I’m happy for you. You found the right way.” But unfortunately my mum couldn’t accept it. She liked Muslim people, but she looked confused when she knew her daughter became a Muslimah. Maybe she was worried about my new life.
As you may know, Japan is not an Islamic country and it’s difficult for Japanese people to understand why Japanese people would come to believe in a religion. (Actually, for Japanese people, religion has become culture, so people don’t notice the importance of God). They think Islam is not a religion for Japanese but for foreign people who live far away.
So my mum became worried about my future. She didn’t know how to do deal with it, so she told me things like “You are not my daughter anymore”. It was the saddest moment in my life… I felt like crying. But I didn’t, because I believe in Allah from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t tell a lie and I prayed a lot to Allah to make it easy.
Alhamdulillah, Allah opened my mum’s heart. Three days later, my mum said she had been in the wrong and cried. She told me that my sister explained Islam to her, and she told my mum that I haven’t changed myself after becoming a Muslimah. I’ve just become a better person.
Allahu Akbar, my mum started to study Islam with me… At first, she didn’t allow me to wear hijab, but now she loves to see I wear hijabs. She also didn’t understand the meaning of Halal, but now she cooks halal food for me. She didn’t follow me in going to the mosque, but she came to the mosque to join the prayers. May Allah guide my family and protect them all the time.