Friday, 16 July 2010

Al-Jomaa Prayers in Hiroo

Living in an Arab country you "feel" Friday. When you hear the call for prayer from your house even if the mosque is blocks away from where you live or when you see your father and brother hogging the bathrooms to perform Wudu before leaving for the just know it's Friday or "Al-Jomaa" (in Arabic).

It's different in Japan. To start with, Friday is not a weekend. I personally have never had the chance to attend Friday prayers in Tokyo because I'd always have a class or a meeting or some other errands to run at the same time. This week, however, for this blog and wanting to "feel" Friday, I go to the Arabic Islamic Institute in Tokyo for the first time.

I get off at Azabu-juban, and after more than 30 minutes of walking and asking for directions in this very hot summer day, I spot an Arab looking gentleman and decide to take my chances and ask him if he knows of the place. To my luck he says he's heading there as well and hopes to make it before the Friday Khutba (speech) is over. I tag along and he immediately guesses I am from Egypt. I was a little shocked and surprised to be honest. Living in Japan for a year and a half, no one has ever guessed my nationality correctly. Europe or Latin America were the usual answers in my case and when I say "Egypt", the response would usually be "Ehh?..Egypto..Sugoi" (What?..Egypt..Wow) followed by "This is the first time I meet an Egyptian" or something that made me feel very special. Today, however, I did not feel that, as it seems Egyptians make up a big percentage of the Arab Muslim community in Tokyo.

As I reach the mosque I am told where to head for the Women's prayers area. I go there immediately. The Imam was still giving a Khutba about the Qur'anic chapter, “Al-kahf” (The Cave). I listen to what’s left from the speech and then the prayers start shortly. It was quiet at the women's section and after prayers were over everyone left peacefully and quietly.

I manage to talk to two young ladies from Morocco however. One of them shared that she only came to Tokyo a few months back but "I come here for the Friday Prayers whenever I can." We exchange numbers and agree to stay in touch.

Heading back to the station, I feel glad that today, without seeing my father and brother I "felt" Friday in Tokyo.


  1. This is a great post and blog. I look forward to following it. I recently wrote an article for Saudi Aramco World magazine in which I interviewed Muslim women in Asia and Russia who were going into the virtual world of Second Life to further their spiritual experiences. Here's a link. That's not all the article is about, but I thought you'd find it interesting. Also blogging about your blog at The Imagination Age.

  2. Hala,
    Great presentation in class today!
    I went to this Mosque in middle school as a school field trip!

  3. hello Hala Eldemellawy ...are you still active blogging?