Korea Muslims

Mian Muhammad Javed
BUSAN is one of the beautiful cities of Republic of Korea (ROK) ie South Korea located on east side of peninsula facing Japan Sea, it is a busy port city and a tourist attraction because of its beaches, hills and historic places. Three years back Busan hosted Plenipotentiary Conference of International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Around 2000 delegates from about 190 countries descended on it. During a stay of a couple of weeks we found a Pakistan’s restaurant called Pak-Punjab which served Halal food.
For our Friday prayers, we were told that there is a mosque in the suburbs. Starting from conference hall located in city centre we reached there in about three quarters of an hour. Imam of the mosque and other Korean Muslims was pleased to see us and some other delegates from Muslim countries, who came for Juma prayers. The sermon was delivered by the Imam in Korean language plus a part in Arabic. After the prayer green tea and snacks were served which we were told was part of the regular practice on Friday. The Imam showed us around the mosque, a double storey building which had been constructed courtesy an Indonesian philanthropist Muslim. For ladies a separate prayer hall had been earmarked. There is a class room for education of children in Islamic studies and other related cultural activities.
We met with Hajji Ismail who was introduced as former head of the Muslim Association of South Korea. A pleasant tall personality veteran of eighty years or so who told us that he had the opportunity of visiting Hyderabad Sindh in Pakistan about thirty year back. Therefore he was more than happy to talk to us and was frank in expressing his opinion. Exchange of views with him revealed that there were about forty thousand Muslims in South Korea all of local origin. Islam had made in roads in meaningful numbers in the 70s and Korean Muslim community had been expanding over years. I too remember, in early 80s when I visited Seoul, I had a chance to visit a mosque in the vicinity of the city on a nearby hill and met the Imam of the mosque and at that time it was mentioned that there are only a few Muslims in South Korea and the mosque mostly catered for Muslims of other nationalities. The number of Korean Muslims has registered an appreciable increase thereafter. However in recent years trend had changed. According to Haji Ismail news about violence and terror incidents happening in Muslim countries has scared the common Koreans. . Terrorism has created a different picture in their minds. They are peace loving people. Earlier when subject of Islam was broached, they would listen with interest but these days they avoid talking about it. If the subject is initiated they say oh! Islam, we don’t know.
The information about Muslim world we get is mostly about duzz, duzz, duzz — said Haji Ismael smilingly but meaning gun shots. They don’t like sound of duzz, duzz — he repeated. It is important that terrorism is defeated in Muslim world and real face of Islam should appear before the world. This is a dilemma which Muslims are facing in almost all countries. In Europe Asia, Africa and America. An impression has been built up by world media networks which has shrouded real message of Islam i.e one of peace, harmony where rights of men, woman and children are ensured. It is to be made clear to the world by Islamic scholars that violence and terror is not its trade mark but handiwork of its adversaries. Muslims countries are in reality main victims of terror. World needs to be informed how Islam brought enhightment in the 7th century while Europe and other parts of world were languishing in the throes of darkness and ignorance. For example see.
Book titled ‘God’s Crucible; Islam and the making of Europe’ by David Levering Lewis. It was Islam which laid down basic parameters like of personal hygiene, introduced concept of rights for minorities, strengthened institution of marriage by giving equal rights to women. Koreans are a peace loving people, their minds should be cleared of false notions about Islam and remain open to the spiritual and cultural values of this youngest of the faiths introduced by Almighty for the betterment of mankind. How to do that, Muslim world should send correct signals to the world.
— The writer is Vice Chairman Nazriya Pakistan and ex-Chairman PTA, PTCL.

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