The History of the Tokyo Camii
The history of Tokyo Camii dates back to pre-war days. In 1938, the Tokyo Islamic School was completed with the cooperation of the Government of Japan at that time. It was the fruit of the call for seeking the place of worship of Kazan Turks who escaped the Russian Revolution and migrated to Japan.
This mosque had since been a cornerstone for all Muslims in Japan for more than half a century, but it was demolished in 1986 due to the deterioration of its building. Then in 2000, it was reconstructed as Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center.
When the social revolution occurred in Russia in 1997, many Muslims who were living in the country were persecuted and were forced to evacuate for life. Turks from Kazan province moved to Manchuria, through Central Asia and then emigrated to South Korea and Japan in search of a safe place to live.
The Turks who settled in Tokyo and Kobe could easily adapt to living in Japan where the climate is moderate. Immediately after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1922, despite the US government exceptionally prepared a ship in Yokohama Port to rescue foreigners living in Tokyo, the Turks declined the offer and remained in Japan. In the same year, they founded Mahalle Islamiye Association with representatives of Abdulhay Kurban Ali, deepening friendship with the Japanese government with Abdurrashid Ibrahim who would come to Japan later on. The worries of the Turks who started a new life in Tokyo were about children’s education. In 1928, after obtaining the permission of the Japanese government, they established a school named Mekteb Islamiye.
Further, with the cooperation of the Japanese government, they purchased land in Shibuya, Tokyo and relocated the school there in 1935. Finally, in 1938, they built a Camii (mosque) adjacent to it and fulfilled their long-cherished wish.
Since then, this Cami has played a role as a worship place for Muslims both inside and outside for a long time, but in 1986 it was dismantled because of the deterioration of its building. The site was donated by Tokyo Turk Association, newly founded after Mahalle Islamiye Association, to the Republic of Turkey under the terms of “rebuilding Cami.” In 1997, the “Tokyo Camii Foundation” was established under the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Republic, and contributions were received from all over Turkey. The design of the new place of worship was by Muharrem Hilmi Şenalp, the representative architect of modern Turkish religious architecture. Approximately 100 engineers and craftsmen came to Japan from Turkey for construction and engaged in the building body and interior construction work. The construction work of Tokyo Camii, which began on June 30, 1998, was completed in about two years owing to the efforts of people concerned from both Japan and Turkey. The opening ceremony was held grandly on June 30, 2000, and Tokyo Camii opened a new page of history as a place of worship and a place of dialogue among civilization where people interact.
Imams of Tokyo Camii
- Abdulhay Qurban Ali (Founder)
- Abdulresit Ibrahim (1938 ~ 1943)
- Türkistanlı Emin İslami (1943 ~ 1950)
- Şerifullah Miftahuddin (1950 ~ 1969)
- Aynan Safa (1969 ~ 1983)
- Hüseyin Baş (1979 ~ 1983)
- Cemil Ayaz (2000 ~ 2004)
- Ensari Yenitürk (2004 ~ 2011)
- Murat Çevik (2011 ~ 2012)
- Nurullah Ayaz ( 2012~2013 )
- Muhammed Raşit Alas (2013 ~ 2020)
- Muhammet Rıfat Çınar (2019 ~ )