Thursday, September 27, 2007

Japanese Dialogue Iftar

By Huseyin Gulerce - Today's Zaman - Istanbul, Turkey
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

O the warriors of love who don’t have time for enmity!
If you only knew how many people are expecting you.

New Jersey: “Dialogue iftars” were initiated in Turkey about 10 years ago. These iftars are held in the name of dialogue and take place abroad much more often than in the past.

Organized in major world capitals such as London, Berlin and Washington by Turkish cultural centers or charitable foundations run by Turks, they do a great service to our country in terms of publicizing our values and the real face of our people.

Most of them are organized by Turkish artisans and businessmen who volunteer to serve Turkish culture. I wrote last week that I had attended one of these iftar dinners held in Tokyo. Now I’m in the United States for the one to be held in New York and attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

I will write later about my impressions, but today let me talk about the one held in Tokyo.
Four-hundred people attended the iftar dinner hosted by the Turkish Culture Center, the Baharu Education Company, Professor Yoshiaki Sasaki from the Tokyo Foundation and Ayhan Bermek, Panasonic’s main distributor in Turkey and very well-known in Turkey’s sports world.

Among the guests were Turkish Ambassador to Japan Sermet Atacanlı and new Japanese Ambassador to Turkey Nobuaki Tanaka. Eighty percent of the guests were Japanese people and there was a highly intellectual group made up of high-ranking bureaucrats, deputies, artists and businessmen.

The choir from the Turkish school in Tokyo, including students from various nationalities, captivated the crowd by singing English, Japanese and Turkish songs. The İstanbul Sufi Music Ensemble, under the direction of state artist Cumhur Tülay, transported the Japanese people to a different world, or so it seemed based on their response to the performance.

During the chanting of the Takbir (a proclamation of the greatness of God, to a tune composed by the great composer Mustafa Itrî) and the Quran recital, absolute silence reigned among spectators in the hall.

What affected the Japanese invitees the most was definitely the Sufi music and the whirling ceremony (sema). Someone there told a friend of mine: “While listening to the Sufi music, I felt indescribable serenity and relief. It’s impossible for any person who listens to this music all the time to ever think of fighting or sparking conflict.”

Professor Sasaki is among the leading intellectuals of Japan. He is an expert on Turkey and Middle East and an advisor to the prime minister. I asked him to assess the atmosphere during the program. He said that it was very important for such a large number of bureaucrats and deputies to have attended the iftar program, particularly at a time of political turmoil in Japan.

Whatever the reason for the gathering, deputies usually stay half an hour at most and then leave, he said. He remarked that this event was “a never-before witnessed thing in Japan” as the deputies stayed nearly three hours, until the end of the program.

“They, too, are aware that the relations with Turks will be better from now on,” he noted.

The most striking determination of Professor Sasaki was that Islam could be communicated to the world in the most accurate manner only through the manners of Turks.

He believes that the teachings of Mevlana Rumi will be adopted by the Japanese with a higher level of receptivity since Japan is shaped by the philosophies of Shinto and Buddhism.

“Those who got to know Islam firsthand at this iftar dinner saw the essence of your religion: the lovingly tolerant and benign face of it. You are demolishing walls and winning our hearts” he commented.

The words of the program’s guest of honor, former Defense Minister Koike Yuriko, inspired high hopes, “I cannot think of any other country that loves Japan more than Turks do.”

[Picture from: http://www.tourisme-japon.fr/index.html].

1 comment:

irving said...

What a beautiful post and lovely idea :) I love this Sufi news blog :)

Ya Haqq!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Japanese Dialogue Iftar
By Huseyin Gulerce - Today's Zaman - Istanbul, Turkey
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

O the warriors of love who don’t have time for enmity!
If you only knew how many people are expecting you.

New Jersey: “Dialogue iftars” were initiated in Turkey about 10 years ago. These iftars are held in the name of dialogue and take place abroad much more often than in the past.

Organized in major world capitals such as London, Berlin and Washington by Turkish cultural centers or charitable foundations run by Turks, they do a great service to our country in terms of publicizing our values and the real face of our people.

Most of them are organized by Turkish artisans and businessmen who volunteer to serve Turkish culture. I wrote last week that I had attended one of these iftar dinners held in Tokyo. Now I’m in the United States for the one to be held in New York and attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

I will write later about my impressions, but today let me talk about the one held in Tokyo.
Four-hundred people attended the iftar dinner hosted by the Turkish Culture Center, the Baharu Education Company, Professor Yoshiaki Sasaki from the Tokyo Foundation and Ayhan Bermek, Panasonic’s main distributor in Turkey and very well-known in Turkey’s sports world.

Among the guests were Turkish Ambassador to Japan Sermet Atacanlı and new Japanese Ambassador to Turkey Nobuaki Tanaka. Eighty percent of the guests were Japanese people and there was a highly intellectual group made up of high-ranking bureaucrats, deputies, artists and businessmen.

The choir from the Turkish school in Tokyo, including students from various nationalities, captivated the crowd by singing English, Japanese and Turkish songs. The İstanbul Sufi Music Ensemble, under the direction of state artist Cumhur Tülay, transported the Japanese people to a different world, or so it seemed based on their response to the performance.

During the chanting of the Takbir (a proclamation of the greatness of God, to a tune composed by the great composer Mustafa Itrî) and the Quran recital, absolute silence reigned among spectators in the hall.

What affected the Japanese invitees the most was definitely the Sufi music and the whirling ceremony (sema). Someone there told a friend of mine: “While listening to the Sufi music, I felt indescribable serenity and relief. It’s impossible for any person who listens to this music all the time to ever think of fighting or sparking conflict.”

Professor Sasaki is among the leading intellectuals of Japan. He is an expert on Turkey and Middle East and an advisor to the prime minister. I asked him to assess the atmosphere during the program. He said that it was very important for such a large number of bureaucrats and deputies to have attended the iftar program, particularly at a time of political turmoil in Japan.

Whatever the reason for the gathering, deputies usually stay half an hour at most and then leave, he said. He remarked that this event was “a never-before witnessed thing in Japan” as the deputies stayed nearly three hours, until the end of the program.

“They, too, are aware that the relations with Turks will be better from now on,” he noted.

The most striking determination of Professor Sasaki was that Islam could be communicated to the world in the most accurate manner only through the manners of Turks.

He believes that the teachings of Mevlana Rumi will be adopted by the Japanese with a higher level of receptivity since Japan is shaped by the philosophies of Shinto and Buddhism.

“Those who got to know Islam firsthand at this iftar dinner saw the essence of your religion: the lovingly tolerant and benign face of it. You are demolishing walls and winning our hearts” he commented.

The words of the program’s guest of honor, former Defense Minister Koike Yuriko, inspired high hopes, “I cannot think of any other country that loves Japan more than Turks do.”

[Picture from: http://www.tourisme-japon.fr/index.html].

1 comment:

irving said...

What a beautiful post and lovely idea :) I love this Sufi news blog :)

Ya Haqq!