Eid ul fitr 2021 Story in Sendai, Japan : Away From Home, Close to The Heart

2021.05.20

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Allaahu akbar allaahu akbar allaahu akbar. laa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar. Allaahu akbar wa lillaahil-hamd.

The sound of Takbir echoed on the rooftop of our apartment that morning, May 13th, 2021 at 07 : 30 JST. Without loudspeakers, only soft sounds from the worshipers of the Eid prayer. The warm morning sun lightened our longing for the diaspora in Miyagi Province, which is located about 110 m above sea ​​level has entered the spring when we celebrate Eid al-Fitr 1442 H, accompanied by the fragrance of wisteria flowers blooming all over the city. That morning, we enjoyed a snack as recommended before the Eid prayer (sunnah).

Wisteria Flowers Blooming in Miyagi

There is no authentic Indonesian chicken curry, diamond-shaped rice cake (ketupat), or Sumatran dry beef curry (rendang) with large quantities and abundant with our mom’s special recipe with distinctive taste. There was only mung bean soup dessert and soy sauce chicken for our main course that morning. It is quite simple with all the limitations, but it feels beautiful for us who are away from our parents and family. After the Eid prayer, each of us will be busy with video calls with families in Indonesia. There was overwhelmed longing that usually after the Eid prayer is over, we will say hello and hug our parents. Voices that often sounded bitter and slightly trembled withstand the longing, but clearly held back so that the mother or father at home would not worry about our situation here. We are ok here, Mom, Dad… Don’t worry. “Alhamdulillah,” they replied with relief.

This is the second year of the pandemic after Eid al-Fitr last year. Our worship activities (especially the sisters) at the Sendai Mosque are limited. The activity in the masjid is prioritized only for men. Male prayers who will do shalat (prayer) at the masjid must obey the health protocols: wearing masks, wearing hand sanitizers/washing hands with soap, and maintaining distance during prayer. Long before the pandemic, Ramadan was always busy, beautiful, and eagerly awaited by Muslims from various countries who were domiciled in Sendai. Previous Ramadhan, we were always excited if we got a duty to serve iftar menus for worshipers who were about to break the fast at the Sendai Masjid and Ifthar Party activities took turns with Muslims from other countries.

Sendai Masjid

Ramadhan Activity Before COVID-19

We, Indonesian Muslims, who are in Sendai will be excited to prepare about 50 portions of the iftar menu for worshipers at the Sendai Masjid and an ifthar party for around 300 Muslims from various countries. Everyone will happily participate in a cooking activity that involves many people. Even though housewives were busy with taking care of their family, they will unconditionally help with cooking activities, as well as Indonesian students and workers who will be so readily helping after they complete their main tasks on campus or at work. Starting from the formation of a shopping team, a cooking team (main menu team, dessert menu team, and takjil team), and a cleaning team. Noise, hustle, bustle, and laughter adorn this activity. The reason is clear because there are many merits abundant behind feeding iftar for a fasting person. As the Prophet salallaahu’alaihi wa sallam said,

مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِهِ غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ لاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَجْرِ الصَّائِمِ شَيْئًا

“Whoever feeds a person who is fasting, then for him the reward is like a person who fasts, without reducing the reward of the fasting person in the least.”

There will always be an implicit sense of happiness from the iftar menu teams when they have all completed their tasks, even though their tiredness and sweats cannot be hidden. They all hope only for the face of Allah. Masha Allah, may their sacrifices be rewarded with abundant rewards by Allah SWT.              

Not only providing iftar menus to be given to masjid or during ifthar parties, in recent years Indonesian Muslims have also provided halal ready-to-eat bento for iftar which is distributed for free for a full month and open to anyone who wants to provide or who wants to enjoy it.  Every day Indonesian Muslims in Sendai will take turns cooking and distributing the bento to several points of bento, such as Aobayama, Sanjomachi, Hachiman, and Katahira. These bento posts are specially designated around the Tohoku University campus because there are many Muslims students who do not have scholarships or the amount of monthly stipend from the scholarships is very less.              

Bento distributed for free during the Ramadhan 2021

The activity of providing bento is of course make those who really need it are happy. Residents who do not have time to cook will usually donate their money which will be managed by the bento committee. There is no limitation to the number of donations, anyone can donate, and anyone is welcome to enjoy the bento to break their fast. Ramadan Kareem… how beautiful muamalah among these Muslim / Muslim women.              

There is an Indonesian Muslim community in Sendai called KMIS. During the month of Ramadan, KMIS and the Ramadhan Committee hold various activities. In these two years, the activities of the iftar meeting together have been canceled. The Ramadhan program has been turned into online studies filled with “Imams” in Indonesia. There are also online Qur’an recitation activities to fill nights to hunt for the beautiful night of Lailatul Qadar. In addition, this year’s Ramadan will be enlivened by a Qur’an competition for children by making videos of short prayers and cooking video competition for families. Since last year, KMIS has also provided Eid snack hampers. The funds is from sponsorships from the Tokyo masjid and the Japan-Muslim community.  

Hampers 2021.            

Ramadhan will always be missed in this land which far from the equator, where sahoor time (early morning eating time) will end at 02:30 JST and iftar is longer in spring around 18:44 JST with Isha prayer time around 20: 21 JST. Of course, the duration of fasting will be longer if Ramadhan in the summer. Goodbye to the wonderful Ramadhan 2021. May Allah SWT bring us all in the next Ramadhan with a better condition and healthy. Aamiin Aamiin Aamiin Yaa Rabbal’alamin. Taqaballahu minna wa minkum, shiyamana wa shiyamakum.

The Eid prayer congregation in 2021 will be held on the rooftop because the number of worshipers has increased and because the masjid still limits Eid prayer activities to men only.

 

 

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