On 7th Nov. 2015, Hiroshima Islamic Cultural Center co-hosted the first annual intercultural forum organized by Takeda high school- Interact Club. As the theme was “ISLAM”, HICC with the efforts of the Muslim community involved in most of the forum’s events. That was to introduce the Islam and Islamic culture to the attendees who were about 60 high school students.
The curiously was clear within the students eyes, they were wondering about this new experience, members of the Islamic community were ready to show the true values of Islam to the visitors.
It was lunch time when the students arrived and a Halal-food was served to the attendees in the dining hall of the center. Lots of community members were racing to give the best to the students, the main menu was Indonesian food with deserts from Arab and Bangladesh.
After the lunch, the students went for a short tour into the cultural center, in groups, they visited the main prayer hall and other facilities such as the seminar rooms and the library. A short introductory and explanation was delivered at each visited place.
The event continued but this time outside the Islamic center, it was conducted in JICA, a nearby facility that offers many halls for cultural exchange. The students were given a glance on how colorful Islam is in terms of its structure and cultures it contains, two sessions were given to show this view
1- Living in a Muslim Country –by Ms. Shinkawa Misae (JICA)
2- “Islam & Japan: A Growing Relationship” by Dr. Iyas Salim, PhD, Doshisha University (Islamic Civil Society）
During the sessions various communities of our Muslim society (Arab, Indonesian, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh) explained about their cultures by delivering presentations and showing customs, photos and handmade stuff. This part was a stand-style exhibition and lasts for an hour. Students were so excited about the diversity under the Islam rule and interacted with some of the shown items.
At the end, the event closed with “what we learned” by representatives from different schools.
Chugoku Shinbun talked about the event in Monday’s issue (10 Nov. 2015)
We would like the Takeda high school – interact club (Special thanks for Mr. Ashley) for inviting us to such a nice event.
Here, we list some of the students’ comments
① How did your image of Islam change?
- My image of Muslims as “scary” is completely gone. When I found that they have a rule about helping people in need, it was replaced with an image of a very nice and kind people.
- They were so nice and friendly; exactly the opposite of the image in the media. I want to learn more.
- The image I had going in was turned exactly on its head. I really changed my mind.
② What most impressed you?
- Not to swallow whole what we see in the media
- Entering a Mosque for the first time was very nice. I wanted to see a prayer
③ What do you want to say to the people at the cultural center?
- It changed the way I think about Islam
- You taught me many things I couldn’t have learned on my own. Thank you
- Now I will think of ways that I can get rid of stereotypes and tell people how Muslim people really are
④ Free Comment
- We were in Japan, but I felt we went to a different country
- Muslims really value education