Get to Know About Islam!

It was only few months ago when I met a friend with a belief in Islam for the first time of my life. Although I have heard a lot about Islamic beliefs and Muslim society through media, I knew very little about the religion and its culture. Actually, brutal civil wars in the Middle East and barbaric terrors by I.S. were something that came first into my mind when I thought about Islamic society. So you must be able to imagine me meeting Muslim for the first time in my whole life: nervous, afraid and a little bit scared. However, after talking to my new friend, I started to feel different about the religion, Islam. I found that Islamic beliefs are rather towards peace than violence, Muslim is rather open-minded than religion-oriented. Although what I know about Islam and Muslim is still very limited, I want to share what I have experienced and learned lately.

 

Islam at Glance (in case you don’t know)

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers who are called as Muslim. The number of Muslim in Korea is estimated about 45 thousand to 50 thousands. It is a pretty big number considering that Islam was introduced to Korea only recently. What surprises us more is that the number is increasing. The word ‘Islam’ itself means ‘submission to the will of god’. It is derived from the Arabic root “Salema” meaning peace, submission and obedience. Muslims refer to their god who they believe created and rules everything, as Allah. All Muslims believe that Allah is one and only god, and Allah’s words are all written in the Qur’an which is the holy book of Islam. There are 114 chapters in the Qur’an and is written in the old Arabic dialect. The traditional story of the Qur’an tells how Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the religion, was meditating in a cave when he was visited by the angel Jibreel who ordered him to recite. Once Jibreel mentioned the name of Allah, Muhammad began to recite words which he came to believe were the words of God.

Mature woman in hijab looking to side, close-up

Mature woman in hijab looking to side, close-up                                                                                             Source: http://www.godntalk.com/best/23532

 

My Visit to Mosque in Itaewon

I visited Mosque, Muslim’s worship place, in Itaewon (이태원) on the 24th of September. My Muslim friend invited me to the place so that I could widen my perspective about the religion, and I thought it would be a good idea to visit the place I had never been to before. It only took half an hour to get to the Mosque from Hanyang University (한양대학교) by subway. To get there, we had to climb a gentle slope from the Itaewon Station (이태원역).
When I arrived at the front door, big Arabic words that I could not understand, welcomed me. The sentence was ‘Allahu akbar’ which means ‘God is great’. What triggered my interest first was the guidelines for the proper clothing, written on the wall. It said that short skirts, short pants or even capri pants are prohibited in the Mosque. It was lucky of me that I was wearing jeans at the time, because otherwise I would have been asked to change my pants to the appropriate ones that are prepared in the Mosque. The worship place was pretty big and I was surprised that so many Muslims were praying in and visiting the place. The praying sections were divided into two: the first floor for men and the second floor for women. I visited the women section and saw some women praying and lying on the place. They were wearing hejabs and seemed pretty much engaged with their prayers. After getting out of the Mosque, I could enjoy the beautiful scenery of Itaewon as the Mosque was located at a high place. For a brief moment, I felt as if I was in a different country.

If you want to visit the place by yourself, the best way to get there is to take a subway. The nearest subway station to the Mosque is Itaewon (이태원역) on the line no.6. You can find the way to the Mosque and more detailed information about the place on the webpage:

 

Let’s Talk about Food: Halal Food

If you have visited Sarangbang cafeteria (사랑방) in the campus, you might have seen Halal food on its menu. From 2013, the Sarangbang cafeteria started to serve Halal food for more than 2,000 Muslim students in the campus. Those who believe in Islam have to decide what they eat according to Qu’ran, and ‘Halal’ means ‘lawful’. So, ‘Halal food’ means the foods that are allowed to be eaten according to Islamic law. Halal choices are concerned with the halal slaughter of animals such as beef, lamb and poultry and some ingredients as blood, pork and etc. One of the best Halal restaurants in Seoul (서울) is EID located very near to the Mosque. EID is the Korean traditional food restaurant that provides proved Halal foods. Many reviews say that the restaurant serve the best Halal Bulgogi in Seoul. The price for food is not even expensive ranging from 8000 Won to 12000 Won. The restaurant opens from 11:30 in the morning to 9:00 in the afternoon, but as Monday is their off-day, you may want to avoid visiting the place on Monday.

 

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Open Your Mind!

A large number of Muslims abound in Seoul. I confess that I was very much ignorant about Islam and Muslim society in Korea. Writing this article, I was astounded by the unbelievable number of Muslim living in Korea and realized those who believe in that religion could be very close to me. I acknowledge that there is some negative perception about Islam these days, but there is a saying, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” I believe that we should “judge” a person by one’s own character and nature, not by one’s religion. The world is apparently getting smaller. It became an inevitable choice for us to embrace those from different religious and cultural backgrounds. If you do not agree with me, please take a look around in the campus. You will see so many foreign faces and then see what I mean.

 

Article by Ahran from Korea, a Junior in Business Administration

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