On Sunday 25 February 2024, the renowned electric city of Tokyo now synonymous with computer games, a gathering took place at the Indonesian mosque, Masjid Nusantara. The occasion was marked by a brief lecture by Japanese Malawi Shaykh Ahmad Maeno titled “Palestine Issue- whose issue is it?”.

Shaykh Ahmad Maeno.

In his lecture, Shaykh Ahmad elucidated the complexities of the Palestine issue, employing visual aids and relatable anecdotes to engage the diverse audience, including many Japanese attendees. He underscored Islam’s stance on addressing injustice, emphasising the imperative of proactive intervention through physical action, verbal advocacy, and sincere supplication to Allah.

“The teaching of Islam compels us to confront injustice head-on, utilising all available means to rectify it,” he asserted, delineating the significance of personal restraint, vocal dissent, and heartfelt prayer as indispensable components of this endeavour.

“If you see injustice, you must prevent it with your body, words, and heart.”

Akihabara draws visitors from across the globe, making it a focal point for many, including myself, who have been engaged in work here. Amidst the hustle and bustle, the modest Masjid Nusantara, serves as a sanctuary.

I’ve noticed the comings and goings at this mosque, particularly among Indonesian tourists, who, despite their bustling travel schedules, pause to ask, “Where is the mosque?” when prayer time arrives. Their dedication to finding a place of worship is admirable.

My friendship with Malawi Shaykh Ahmad Maeno dates back to when we went to Haj together in 2019.

Noor Din (right) with Shaykh Ahmad Maeno (left).

Sheikh Ahmad Maeno (Abu Hakeem) was born in 1975 and graduated from Osaka University of Foreign Studies. At the age of 18, he embraced Islam and traveled to Syria to pursue his studies in Islamic knowledge, eventually graduating from the Sharee’ah department.

Lectures and lessons from the Fath Islamic Institute in Damascus are regularly delivered in mosques and Islamic schools across Japan. He serves as an Imam and teacher at Gotanda Masjid in Tokyo, affiliated with the Japan Muslim Association.

He is deeply involved in Dawah activities, having personally experienced the transformative power of Islam. His journey to faith began at the age of 14 when he embarked on a quest for truth and meaning in life.

“I never thought that Islam was the truth. I thought it was cruel,” he reflects.

Despite initial skepticism, his perception changed during his stay with a Muslim family in Melbourne, where he was profoundly moved by their kindness and hospitality.

“The more I was treated with the kindness and treatment of the host, I made the final decision to become a Muslim in Japan and went to Syria to seek Islamic knowledge,” he explains.

During his studies, he encountered a Japanese fellow student who shared his beliefs, and they eventually married. They now have five children.