Japanese Citizen Tokomo Ikeda moved to Turkey after marriage. She embraced the Islam and changed her name to Hatice Demir, said "I found answer to my question in Islam"
I was very impressed with Risale-i Nur works, she said. She also Translate nature Cause-and-effect in Japanese Language
After her marriage to Turkish citizen Süleyman Demir, she moved to Turkey and except the Islam, her mother also converted Islam and be come to Muslim recently.
Can you Introduce yourself to us? Who is the Hatice Demir?
Since I did not become a Turkish citizen, my offical name still Tokomo Ikeda. But if I being ask I say Hatice Demir. I'm from Japan.
I'm Japanese, born in 1974, move to Turkey 1998. I met my husband in Japan. He was Studying on his phd. He started work for one of the company. I finish my school and start working too. We met through a mutual friend. We got married while in Japan.
You were not a Muslim when you first met your spouse. What was your view of Muslims then?
My husband did not interfere with my life, he only asked me, "Do you believe that there is one Creator of this world?
I have always had this question in my mind since I was little. I would ask my friends, my mother. A question I never got an answer for: "Why am I here?" No one answered my question, of course they couldn't. Even on the way to kindergarten, “Why so? What is this (life)?” I was saying. Of course, I also read a lot of books. Especially books on psychology. Because I thought the answer to this question was out there. But there wasn't. When I met Süleyman (my husband), I was asking him questions. I saw a Muslim for the first time in my life. I used to live in a small place like a town, where there were very few foreigners. Muslim meant terrorist, I didn't know anything else. And I knew they were going to marry four women, because that's what they were teaching in Social Studies class. The media provided the terrorist image. When I met my husband, I discussed these issues with him. In fact, I realized that it was not true, Islam is a religion of peace.
My “Why are we here?” He was also able to give convincing answers to my question. He read the Risale-i Nur treatises at a young age, so he had the knowledge. Also his view of everything it was very impressive.
For example, the Japanese tremble with anxiety about their future, they live in fear. Whoever you ask does not want to live, does not want to be sick. This is a scary thing for them. We normally look at the future very worriedly. Because there is no religion in Japan, what should they do, it's normal actually. But if you ask my husband he says "God is great". "It's useless to think about them now." It's very logical. But we couldn't even think of that. Isn't this kind of thing very normal for you Muslims? Especially if you read the Risale, you understand this. But even reaching this point is so difficult for us Japanese… So you cannot reach that thought.
Have you ever had a hard time coming to Turkey? What kind of things did you encounter?
I didn't have much difficulty in coming to Turkey. But of course, my parents did not welcome my marriage at first. Because I was going to go far, I was the only girl in the family. Also, I just finished school. Getting married at that age is too early for the Japanese. With us, girls get married towards the age of thirty. I got married at the age of 22.
When I came to Turkey, I was not yet a Muslim. My husband family were also religious people. Of course, some things were difficult at first. I'm not a Muslim, I'm here for the first time-although I've been to Istanbul for sightseeing before, but living is something different-it's a new environment, I have a husband … I came when I was pregnant. So it was pretty tough for me. I was not well physically either, I was going to give birth for the first time.
JOURNEY TO THE ISLAM
So, after these developments, how did your adventure of entering Islam take place?
I was very stressed when I came to Istanbul, Turkey. “Why did I come here?” every day. I was looking for my husband.
Because, for example, when I was in Japan, I was in a teaching position. But after coming here, I became a “knowing nothing”. I always found myself in a consultant position in Japan; I was already a consultant in the circle of friends, as a business, I was helping everyone. But when I got here, my hands were tied. I could barely even speak, I didn't know Turkish yet. Everyone was going to teach me something, I had to ask everyone something. I've been pretty bad. Those troubled months passed somehow. I was trying to motivate myself by saying “You are not the person to be crushed, you are a smart person, you have power”, but it was very difficult. Then I gave birth. Having a child also opens another window to a person. Human kindness and compassion are increasing. Of course, you also take responsibility. You have to take care of that baby. When this was added, I almost came to the breaking point. I could not take care of baby. And I grew up spoiled. I went wherever I wanted to go. I did what I wanted to do. But here it was not so, my responsibilities increased.
I went to Japan after giving birth. We returned with my father on the way back. He also wanted to see Istanbul. At that time, I have a baby and I was not feeling well at all. I was exhausted. I've never experienced anything like this before in my life. I was always active before, I couldn't stay at home. Here, I couldn't leave the house. That's how stressful the stress was. But my father was going out because he was bored.
One day, my father finds someone who speaks Japanese not far from home. He goes there every day because he is bored. Later I learned that that person went to Japan as a worker and stayed there for five years. He spoke little Japanese . Last day before my father goes back to Japan-it is also the day before the Yalova earthquake-this man presented my father with a Japanese translation of the Qur'an. Before my father left, he said, “You need this more than me. You are living here. In any case, you need to learn this religion” and left the translation to me. I never wanted to either. I said to my father, “No, no. You read”. But my father left. So I put it in a drawer and closed it. At that time, there was some pressure on me, “Why don't you become a Muslim? There is no better religion than this.” They were taking me to the Risale-i Nur classes. But I was so bored I was disturbed. So the people here did not see me as a human being, but as a “non-Muslim foreigner”. Anyway, I said later, “I don't like the people here.” Of course, me back then, was looking at things the other way around. I said that because I look at everything from the opposite side; “There is something wrong with these people. Since they want me to be Muslim that much. I also have to tell them why I am not a Muslim. That's why I'm going to learn about Islam." Actually, I started learning with the opposite idea.
THE RESULT OF TOUGH MERCY
I was looking at the translation of the Qur'an from time to time. The translation I looked at was also a very valuable translation. A group of Japanese learned Arabic, went to Mecca in 1963 and took a lesson from a Pakistani scholar after the morning prayer at the Kaaba for two years in order to write a translation of the Qur'an in Japanese. Later, this work was interrupted after the death of that scholar, but it was completed in 1972 and turned into a book. This translation is a very valuable translation that has been the cornerstone of the following translations. It is very difficult that a group of Japanese could have done such a thing back then. But the result of that trouble is mercy. I randomly opened it from time to time and started reading this translation. Then I said, “The Islam written here is not the Islam I thought it is” and I decided to read the book from beginning to end. I was reading the translation holding a pen. I was marking the verses that impressed me the most.
At that time there was a "creator" that Ienvisioned. I prayed to him before I read the Qur'an; "I will read this translation from beginning to end, if this Qur'an is something you have written, you will open my heart." I started with this prayer. I started with Fatiha, I was impressed by Fatiha.
What aspect of this surah impressed you?
What aspect do you say affected you?, so this is normal for you. We didn't even know that God created us. That's what I was impressed with. It means that we are not wandering, it means that the Creator has a purpose. That's why I was impressed... So there was the right way, then there was the wrong way too. I have already read Fatiha, I cried. Then I continued from Bakara. There are many verses in this surah that make me cry.
Can you give an example of the verses that impressed you the most?
For example, the verse "Man was created weak (Nisa: 28)". When I read this, it's like something happened to my heart. My heart is resolved. I sobbed. I could never contain myself. But is it normal for you? What are you going to cry for here?
But the Japanese who grew up in my time were always brought up with Western philosophy. In other words, with the "You can do it" ideology. It's here in Turkey too, isn't it? The idea that “you can do whatever you want”. This thought really bothered us. I was taking care of my child, for example, I felt very inadequate then. Because the child is crying, I don't know what to do. How weak I felt then. Situations like this bothered me a lot. My pride, everything collapsed when I came to Turkey. I was a very arrogant person. I stood with that arrogance. However, why was I arrogant, what did I have? There was nothing. But there was no other way to stand up than to be arrogant. Of course, I chose to be like this, I don't know how anyone else was.
IT WAS DIFFICULT TO LIVE WITHOUT PRAYER
Then, when read such verses, I said, “Oh, so I was created weak. So I can make this life easier by admitting that I am weak. Because God will help me because I am weak.” I started to think. I had no such thought before. We also had the idea of God. For example, when you wanted something, you could go to the temple and pray for this world. I was also praying. Because it was difficult. It was very difficult to live without prayer. I was praying for myself, but it was as if my prayers at that time were selfish prayers, I was praying for myself. Once a person has let go of his arrogance and accepted his weakness, he becomes so much lighter...
Verses like this made me feel very comfortable. did taught me to look with meaning. Why are we here? Why does everyone live a separate life? These were the questions I always asked. The answers to all of my questions came from the Qur'an one by one. I have no questions left unanswered. In the process that I was reading that translation of the Qur'an-I finished it in about a year and a half-I was as if I was talking to God. I was asking questions and saying, "I don't understand that". The answer was in the Qur'an. It's always been like this. People's troubles and questions never end, right, that's where I found the answer to my questions.
I started to come to the end of the Qur'an gradually. The conditions were the same, but I was getting lighter and lighter. I started to feel more secure. By the way, my husband did not know that I was reading the translation of the Quran. I didn't tell him so he wouldn't get hopeful. I got very close to the end of the book, now I started to pray. Because I am afraid of being a Muslim. I was praying, “Send me courage. I am afraid”. to be a Muslim; Prayer, fasting, wearing hijab five times a day praying … These are very different things according to the conditions I grew up in. I experience both fear and joy. Because I was finding answers to the questions I have been asking for a long time.
When I knew this, the circumstances would not be so important to me. I still had problems, but I just couldn't get over it. It was very difficult to look after a child again, but now I was looking at things from a different perspective. Then Ramadan came, and now I was very close to the end. “It's getting close now. What will I do?!" I was saying. Of course, I pray and read. I have always loved Ramadan. I really liked the atmosphere of Ramadan. Everyone is fasting, everyone has a calmness in their souls… I also loved pide and waiting in line for pita bread. But there was also the sadness of not being able to join people. One day I said to Süleman, “Should I fast too? I really like the way people are.” But of course, he doesn't know that I was reading the Qur'an and warming up to Islam. "No no. Why would you fast, you are not a Muslim” he said. Anyway, "Fine," I said, "I won't fast it then." I'm pretty close to the end My mood started to change. I was afraid, but I also thought that I would become a Muslim now. But I was waiting for me to read until the end and decide that way. On the one hand, I was grieving for my family. There are such good people, my friends, family and relatives would go to Hell? It was written so in the Qur'an. I felt bad for them. I felt sorry for my mother more, I was very sad. Before I became a Muslim, I had a dream again in that Ramadan. I was dreaming a lot back then. In this way, God was helping me against my fears and sorrows by saying, "You don't need to be sad or afraid."
What I saw next made me cry. For example, while walking on the road, I saw a small flower, I couldn't help but start to cry. I become very emotional. Anyway, I finished the Quran that day. Turns out it was the night of Qadr. I called Süleyman, "Will you come over?" I said. “I didn't tell you, but I read this entire Japanese translation of the Quran. Now it's over. I decided to become a Muslim.”
Süleymann started to cry. I saw him cry for the first time. I didn't see it again after that. Then I brought Kalima-i Shadah, I became a Muslim that day. I fasted for three days, starting the next day. In this way, Allah sent me help from all sides so that I could become a Muslim. Alhamdülillah!
Translated by Gevriye Shamsidden / Texas