Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and Studies (KFCRIS) hosted an online lecture “Japan as a Savior of a Muslim World: Transnational Nationalism and Empire 1900-1945” on June 7.
The lecture was moderated by the Head of Asian Studies Program at the center, Mohammed Al-Sudair, and the speaker was Professor Emeritus at Bogazici University Ayşe Selçuk Esenbel.
Esenbel explored how a segment of Japanese nationalists depicted themselves as saviors to the world’s Muslims prior to World War II. They sought to co-opt them as allies to Japan’s empire against the Western powers in 1900-1945.
In the session, the Turkish professor also discussed the complexity of the intellectual and political encounter between Muslim diaspora activists and Japan’s Asianist intellectuals during the formulation of Japan’s imperial strategy.
“There is a moment where Japan is proactive in trying to inculcate a face that Japan is the special friend of the world of Islam, unlike the Western empires that exploit and oppress the Muslim people,” Esenbel told lecture attendees.
In the early 20th century, pan-Islamic transcendentalists and Muslim nationalists critical of Western colonialism flocked to Tokyo, which they chose as a political haven. According to Esenbel, Tokyo became the “Paris for political immigrants in the early 20th century.”
She also explained that the first Japanese Muslim, who is always presented as the first pilgrim, had the Muslim name of Umar Yamaoka Kotaro.
In 1909, he arrived in Saudi Arabia and met with important notables in Makkah and Madinah. Esenbel said Kotaro discussed things not only relating to Islam, but also politics. Particularly, the future of Japan’s relations with the Muslims of the world, and to form friend relations with local notables of Arabia and Japan.
The professor explained that Japanese Muslims and scholars “always tried to find connections or similarities between Islam and the esoteric religious traditions of East Asia.”
A Japanese Imam of Islam, Tanaka Ippei, specifically explored the bond between Shinto and Muslim spiritualities, which are similar in morality and personal ethics. According to Esenbel, this is the reason why it is easier for a Japanese person to convert to Islam, due to the familiar background.
In East Asia, Muslims from China, in addition to immigrants and refugees, helped form the Japanese Muslim community. They formed diaspora communities in Kobe, Tokyo and other parts of Japan’s colonial territories.
In the early 20th century, the first Japanese Muslim pilgrimages or the Hajj took place in Makkah and Madinah. Major pilgrimages by the first Japanese Muslims happened in 1910, 1924, 1934 and 1936.
According to Esenbel, Chinese nationalists at the time also organized Chinese Hajj pilgrimages to the holy cities to compete with the Japanese agenda as representing themselves as the savior of Islam.
The opening of the first mosque in Tokyo on May 12, 1938, was considered the symbol of Japan’s portrait as the savior of the Muslim world.
This article was originally publish in Arab News Japan
Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan received Qatar’s ambassador to the Kingdom Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah in his office on Wednesday.
Prince Fahd started by welcoming Al-Attiyah, underlining the brotherly relations between the two countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Attiyah expressed his thanks and appreciation to Prince Fahd for the warm welcome and generous hospitality, highlighting the development renaissance he had seen in various fields in Tabuk.
Prince Fahd received a gift from Al-Attiyah at the end of the meeting.
JEDDAH: A Saudi man is facing 10 years in jail and a SR30 million fine ($8 million) for illegally keeping three lions at his private resort in Riyadh.
A team from the National Center for Wildlife, in cooperation with the Special Forces for Environmental Security, began investigating a report that three lions were being kept in a rest house in the Saudi capital, an act considered a violation of the country’s environmental system.
The team was able to control the big cats, anesthetize them, and transfer them to one of the center’s animal care units.
The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has begun implementing strict executive regulations to control hunting in the Kingdom to preserve the country’s wildlife.
It has said that illegal hunters will face heavy penalties for any unauthorized practice.
The ministry has specified penalties for unauthorized practices, including imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of no more than SR30 million for certain violations if committed twice or more within one year.
RIYADH: The number of new COVID-19 cases registered in Saudi Arabia rose above the 1,000 mark on Wednesday with 1,029 cases being recorded.
Around a third of cases (341) were recorded in the capital Riyadh, 190 in Jeddah, 133 in Dammam, 48 in Makkah, and 41 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded less than 35 new cases each.
The Kingdom’s health ministry also announced three new COVID-19-related deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 9,163.
It added that 616 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 756,871.
More than 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with over 25 million people fully vaccinated.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s culture minister met with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul during a visit to enhance cooperation in cultural fields, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan and South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation in cultural fields as part of the joint Saudi-Korean Vision 2030.
The two ministers also discussed ways to enhance cooperation and exchange expertise in musical and cultural fields that South Korea is known for including culinary arts, the film industry, and heritage.
The meeting also covered cooperation aspects in developing the infrastructure of the film industry, exchanging expertise with the Korean Film Council, and developing film production infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
RIYADH: The first batch of Hajj 2022 pilgrims from Pakistan arrived in Madinah on Wednesday through a dedicated “Makkah Route” lounge at Islamabad International Airport.
The “Makkah Route” initiative is part of the country’s Guests of God Service Program, which King Salman inaugurated in 2019 as part of the Saudi Vision 2030.
It seeks to provide visitors to the holy sites with the finest possible services to help them perform their Hajj rituals easily and comfortably.
It is operating in Pakistan for the second consecutive year and also includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh.
The Pakistani pilgrims were received at the airport by the Director of Passports of the Madinah region, Maj. Gen. Fahd Khalid Al-Otaibi, and representatives from partner entities.
The initiative also includes issuing visas, ensuring pilgrims’ biological characteristics and compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims’ home countries.
Saudi Arabia has allowed up to 1 million people to join the Hajj this year, inviting pilgrims from foreign countries for the first time after two years of COVID-19 restrictions saw the annual pilgrimage limited to residents of the Kingdom.
Pilgrims this year must be under 65 and fully vaccinated against coronavirus.


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