Takako Nagai

Can you talk about your social and spiritual life before Islam

I was a Buddhist, I was a Buddhist before Islam. Buddhists think everything as part of Allah, not Allah, I mean god.

Were you doing your religious practices?

I was never doing it, but.. we go to the temple in the New Year ceremony.. and people were organizing the funerals according to buddhism, we don’t do much else, we don’t do much about religion.

How did you first meet Islam?

Islam… first, yes, of course I knew. I knew there was such a religion. But when I went to America at the age of 19, I had a Libyan friend. It was the month of Ramadan at that time. She was fasting, for the first time I saw such a thing there. Of course it was very interesting, it seemed very interesting to me. Of course it was very interesting, it was a different culture, but frankly,
I was not interested. I became Muslim thanks to my husband. I was blessed with Islam in that way.

What resources did you use to learn Islam?

Actually, I haven’t learned very much, as I am still in the learning phase. I learn mostly from my friends who had become Muslim before me.
I first learned about the imam marriage. because when I was a Buddhist, I heard that no Islamic wedding could be made. Actually, nobody does anything to me, I mean does not insist to teach something, and when I ask, they answer, So I did not read much books exactly.
My daughter is now 3 years old and has been going to nursery since a few months ago, now she started to learn the letters of the Quran such as alif, baa, taa, jiim, before learning Turkish letters.
I am learning with her books. She is coming to home by memorising some short prayers. My husband’s family likes it so much and I like it too. I am learning Islam day by day with my daughter.

Do you believe there are enough Islamic books written in your language?

There was a book about Islam. My friend gave it to me. It was a Japanese Islamic book. Yes.. I couldn’t read it. It was a bit hard and old book. I think I would find it if I searched some more. Nevertheless, I don’t think there are many books that accurately describe Islam in japanese.

Have you ever tried to persuade someone else to become a Muslim?

I have never worked. because I think religion is a very free thing. Because it comes to me with complete fortune, of course, when he persuades me, it becomes fortune, mmm
How can I say, I think that is not something that can be done by persuasion.

Are you implying that it is Allah who guides hearts?

Yes, yes..
I think it can happen as you learn. (One can see the right path as he learn)

How did your entourage react to you being a Muslim?

There is not much, in fact, there is no reaction.
because of there is not much interest about religion in our culture in Japan.

Could you tell us about the beautiful moments you had after becoming a Muslim?

Ramadan iftar at first, something very, very, very super, for me, everyone in the neighborhood gathered in the mosque and started to eat at the very long tables, I went some iftars together with my husband and family. I was very touched.
When I first started to live in Istanbul, I stayed around Sultanahmet for 2-3 weeks. There was prayer no, not prayer but azaan in the morning coming from all mosques. It seemed very different to me. I was hard to get used to it at first but after 5 days I got used to it. And it is something very nice, especially to understand which time you are in.
Something happened a few times on my daughter, for example, when my daughter was a baby, my daughter woke up before the morning and she was crying, and when she heard the call to prayer which is called as azaan, she became silent and slept and it happened several times. mmm like something extraordinary, something amazing.

Can you talk about the good features you see in Muslims?

I lived in both America and Italy, I lived in Tokyo in Japan before Istanbul. But the people live there, not that much friendly. But when I came here, I was very happy to see people are warm-blooded. I lived in America, I lived in Italy, I never thought I could spend my life there. But when I came to Istanbul, I thought I could live here. This is a very beautiful thing.

Could you tell us about the bad things you see in Muslims?

Nothing come to my mind. I don’t think it’s about religion. This is something completely personal. I think everything is written in the Quran. In all scriptures, writes what humanity is and how society should live. But I don’t know, the bad changes according to people. I can’t associate it to the person’s being muslim.

What would you like to say to people who are thinking of being Muslim?

I think it is not something difficult at all. The people around him will help. Allah will help and so they will improve themselves. I am developing myself too.