Spending the month of Ramadan has always been a fascinating experience ever since I started taking notice of things around me. There are a few reasons due to which it becomes a special occasion whereby the Muslims whether they be Japanese or otherwise, gather at their nearby local mosques and do Iftar together.
Most of the mosques offer Iftar dinners freely to the people who visit them at the Iftar time. One such example is Tokyo Masjid, the most famous masjid in Tokyo, has a special program for non-Muslims who are invited to have dinner with the Muslims from all over the world during the month of Ramadan.
However, this is one of the story. During my long stay in the country, I have seen some new Muslims, and even some long timers, have some awkward moments during the month of fasting. They do not fast. The reasons they cite for not fasting during the holy month of Ramadan are quite a few.
The most important excuse I often hear especially, from born-Muslims, is the hard work they have to perform during the day in their factories or elsewhere. Some even tell me they find it difficult to wake up before dawn to do their suhur.
Our new Japanese Muslim brothers and sisters who do not fast during most of the days in Ramadan tell us that their family or work related circumstances do not allow them to do the fasting ritual. Some of them consider it too awkward not eat during lunch time in their offices.
To my understanding, the problem does not lie with the new Muslims in Japan or the born Muslims living in the country but with the people who have the reasonable understanding of the Deen. But, due to one reason or another, have failed to do their duties as religious mentors, or supporters to these two types of Muslims.