Japanese picture book shows Muslim way of life

Naomi Matsubara, a teacher of Japanese and karate has had a picture book published that depicts Muslim life, challenging stereotypes.

Japanese picture book shows Muslim way of life

World Bulletin / News Desk

With an increasing barrage of reports of anti-Islamic rhetoric, Naomi Matsubara a Japanese language teacher from London and Dubai became increasingly dismayed about the world that she knew so differently. 

In response, she has created a picture book that the depicts the Muslim world that she is familiar with to show them in a more flattering light. The book shows how a typical Muslim boy practices his faith. Matsubara's hope is that her book will eliminate negative stereotypes about Muslims and, therefore, eradicate prejudice.

"Ehon de Manabu Islam no Kurashi" (Learning Islamic life through a picture book) was published by picture book publisher Asunaro Shobo in mid-April. The 40-page book sells for 1,200 yen ($9.76).

Matsubara, 46, teaches Japanese at a private junior and senior high school in London.

"News coverage that focuses on the activities of radicals, who represent only a handful of Muslims, tends to stand out. There isn't enough information on what Islam actually is and what ordinary Muslims really practice," Matsubara recalled thinking when she decided to write the book.

From 2006, Matsubara lived in Dubai and was a teacher of Japanese and karate at a local university for six years. Up to that point, she acknoledges that she admits to having had a stereotypical view of Muslims, believing that all Muslim women are subordinate to men.

Living in Dubai however changed that as she met many Muslim women who were very active and had a strong sense of leadership. Matsubara soon developed a serious interest in Islam.

The book takes readers through the life of a 10-year-old boy called Ahmad, who lives in Dubai. The book covers a range of cultural aspects, such as prayers held in mosques, fasting during Ramadan, Islamic teachings to respect parents, and Ahmad's older sister studying in junior high school.

The illustrations were done by Miho Satake, a 58-year-old illustrator from Tokyo's Meguro Ward. She not only made use of the photographs Matsubara sent of Muslim outfits, the Dubai cityscape and local cuisine, but also visited mosques and Muslims in Tokyo to get a better understanding of their religion and culture.

Shinichi Yamaura, the 57-year-old publishing boss who was in charge of editing the book, was of the view that "no Muslim child living in Japan should face discrimination due to ignorance or be bullied due to prejudice."

He moved quickly to have the book published, as Japanese society was still shaken by the deaths of two Japanese hostages held by the ISIL in Syria. The hostages were executed in January. In March, three Japanese tourists were killed in a shootout at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis.

The book calls itself "the first introductory picture book to Islam that explains the faith with clarity and objectivity."

Approximately 1,000 copies have been purchased by public libraries across Japan.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Temmuz 2015, 11:14