35 Days in Japan, Part 2 – Sports, Zakir Naik, and Disney Sea

Continued from Part 1.

1 November – 12 November

Grandpa and Grandma flew back home safely the day Aimi had her sports day. She goes to an international school with very few students, and the environment at that school always looks happy and cheerful and just really nice. One teacher complimented Aimi’s pigtails. Even in their website, they stated that if students misbehave, they try to help them in the nicest way possible and not shout/cane/make them stand on chairs. Isn’t that Rasulullah s.a.w’s way? How lucky Aimi is. Back in Malaysia she was timid, shy, and hardly had friends to play with, let alone conversing with teachers. Here, the teachers say that she talks too much, even asking the teachers if they have Instagram and such. And she always tells stories about her friends to the family.

The education system in Malaysia is okay compared to some developing countries but it could be a loooot better. I haven’t met a single person who has studied in Japan/UK/US who says learning in Malaysia is better, including my siblings and I. I just watched Like Stars On Earth (Taare Zameen Par) starring Aamir Khan about two days before and it really made me think about education. Anyway, Aimi’s team got second place overall, only one point behind the first team.

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The next day, Dad and I went to a talk by Dr. Zakir Naik at the University of Tokyo. It was supposed to be directed towards non-Muslims and Japanese people, but they didn’t state it clearly on the website, so we Muslims had to wait for a looooooooong time outside, even after the talk started. A lot of people were unhappy about it, so someone gave a mini-tazkirah about how we would be taking the place of someone who might revert to becoming a Muslim. There was a livestream screen outside the hall, but the audio was not of very good quality and it was pretty hard to concentrate because the sentences had to be translated one by one into Japanese. I also got the unpleasant vibe that a lot of people just wanted to prove that they’ve been in the presence of Zakir Naik, rather than absorb the contents of his talk. When he walked past, it was as if, I dunno, Angelina Jolie was walking past. It was extremely claustrophobic and they all had their cameras and phones out.

After the Maghrib prayer break (my Dad prayed with Dr. Zakir as the imam), I finally got a seat in the hall. It was the Q&A session, the thing that everyone was realllyyy looking forward to.

Some of the contents of the Q&A session from my Instagram captions.

Today I witnessed 6 people reverting to Islam. It was so, so beautiful and touching. To see non-Muslims striving to learn about Islam and adopt it as a way of life, when they are living in a nation where Islam is hardly heard of. Video filmed by Dad. Btw, Dr. Zakir Naik is EXACTLY like in his videos hahaha. Fyi, this sister asked what Muslim name should she choose, and she is now known as Aishah.

1) How come there are Muslims (who have said the syahadah) who are bad?

You buy the ticket for a Shinkansen (bullet train), but you don’t get on the train, you won’t get to your destination.

2) What is the point of saying the syahadah?

If you believe that there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger, you are already a Muslim. It’s between you and Allah. However, if you declare it out loud, and tell everyone you are Muslim, it will be easier for you to practise Islam.

3) I want to be Muslim but I’m not ready to leave alcohol and pork. And I love dogs.

Believe in the two basic things first. Everything else can come later, slowly. You say you don’t have enough knowledge? Even I don’t have enough knowledge. The process of learning is as long as life itself. If you believe in Allah (no shirk), you have the possibility to go to Jannah! If not, then you don’t.

4) They call us terrorists. Who was responsible for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the biggest terrorist acts in history? Do not trust the media’s portrayals of Islam. Whatever that is againsy the Qur’an and Sunnah is WRONG. In the Qur’an it mentions that whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind. And whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.

5) How did Rasulullah s.a.w. travel from Makkah to Jerusalem in one night (without a plane)? It was a miracle. A miracle is something that cannot be explained logically by the human mind. So why would Muslims believe in this? Because there are scientific stuff being discovered today (big bang, water cycle, signs of the End) that were mentioned in the Qur’an ages and ages and ages ago. Only God could have written the Qur’an. So whatever is in it MUST be true. And as Muslims we should believe.

6) Muslims from all over the world can only be united by believing in one God. He created us in different coloured skins and speaking different languages so that we may know one another. The only way we can unite is by having a common boss. Muslims who have never met each other, being from different countries, will all go and pray salah when the azan is called, because they have the same goals.

7) Humans have free will, making us higher in rank than angels. We can choose what to do with our lives. So we must do good deeds in order to get to Jannah.

8) If you are sick, and the greatest doctor in the world tells you to do something, you will follow what he says because he is the best. So if Allah the Most Great, the Creator of the Universe tells you to do something, you must do so! Every command of Allah has hikmah — don’t stress yourself wondering why. 

Alhamdulillah for new experiences and new knowledge.

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On the Tuesday of Deepavali, Dad got the day off (Arif and Aimi didn’t, though!) so the two of us went to Disneysea. I picked Disneysea over Disneyland (no time to go to both) because the rides were more thrilling and I’ve been wanting to go on the Raging Spirits roller coaster since nine years ago but I was too short back then. Even at the expense of not getting pictures of the pretty Cinderella castle.

 

It was a slightly rainy working day, so there were significantly less people at the park, which was great – even if we did have to keep using our umbrellas. We only had to queue up for ten minutes to go on Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Of course, we went on Indiana Jones and StormRider, watched the Aladdin and Little Mermaid shows, and ate caramel popcorn. I even went on Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster about three times. I didn’t think to check what rides were temporarily closed on the Disneysea website, so I was hugely disappointed when I found out that Raging Spirits was closed. The only ride I went on that I hadn’t before, was Tower of Terror – which was AWESOME, by the way! It was ridiculously thrilling, and I rode it at night which made it five times more horrifying. The view of Disneysea at night from above was spectacular but I didn’t have time to suck it in because I was, you know, busy screaming my lungs off. I even went on the two-storey carousel in the Arabian Coast. There were about three kids riding it. The rest were all adults wearing Mickey ears. Lol.

 

Disneysea is known for being the ‘mature’ one of the two Tokyo Disney parks. I only saw about three mascots throughout the whole day, and they weren’t even famous. The only time I REALLY got the Disney vibe was during the night parade and saw all my favourite characters floating on boats. I knew 90% of the songs so it was fun to sing along even though they were sung in Japanese.

The last thing Dad and I went on was the gondola ride. The lights and surroundings were spectacularly beautiful and really did seem like Venice. It was all romantic and stuff.

 

At last, I finally got to go to a Disney park for the first time since early 2008. One thing I appreciate now that I didn’t quite appreciate before is the quality of art and creativity dedicated to the Disney parks. As I sailed through the Sinbad ride, I wondered how long it must have taken to create it all. The moving puppets, props with the most minor of details, the smell of bananas, the Compass of your Heart song. I just wonder how much brainstorming was done, how many ideas were rejected and modified, the debate over styles and colours, the technical and mechanical aspects of the ride.

One day I hope to be a creative director, InsyaAllah.

Looking at the colourful corals and glowing seashells in the Little Mermaid indoor park, the beauty of the masjid-like monuments in the Arabian coast, the streets of New York that makes you feel like you’re in West Side Story, the splendid fireworks exploding from Mickey’s float …no amusement park could ever compare to what Disney is capable of producing.

To be continued with Part 3.

 

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