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By: Ouled Kenitra

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Wednesday, 13-Jun-2007 00:11 Email | Share | Bookmark
Seoul Central Mosque


Satu perkara yang mengharukan hati saya sewaktu berkursus di COTI ialah, sebuah bilik khas disediakan disebelah ruang seminar khusus untuk orang Islam mendirikan solat. Ia mungkin hasil peserta terdahulu serta sikap tolak ansur orang Korea sehingga wujudnya sebuah surau kecil di situ. Sebenarnya saya agak risau mengenai tempat bersolat sebelum ke sini memandangkan sewaktu berkursus di Jepun dahulu kemudahan begini lansung tidak disediakan. Memandangkan surau itu terletak hanya bersebelahan dengan ruang seminar, kami tidaklah perlu tergesa-gesa untuk bersolat kerana boleh dijangkan masa yang diperlukan.

Perkara yang saya perlu ucapkan terima kasih juga kepada urusetia ini ialah kemudahan pengangkutan untuk peserta lelaki menunaikan solat Jumaat. Kami menunaikan solat Jumaat di Seoul Central Mosque. Dibina di atas sbuah bukit, jalan masuknya berada di antara deretan kedai. Masjid yang terletak di Itaewon dalam kawasan Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu ini dibuka dalam tahun 1976. khutbahnya dibaca dalam tiga bahasa iaitu Arab, Inggeris dan Korea. Saya membuat sedikit carian di dalam internet mengenai masjid ini serta perkembangan Islam di Korea di dalam internet. Amat mengejutkan serta membanggakan saya kerana Malaysia mempunyai sumbangannya sendiri di dalam pembinaan masjid ini. Luangkan sedikit masa anda untuk membaca beberapa artikel yang saya temui di bawah.

History of Islam in Korea

Early Introduction Stage
Korea was full of poverty, sorrow and pain resulted from Korean War which broke out on June 25, 1950. In such ruins of war, Islam began planting its seeds by brother Zubercoch and Abdul Rahman who participated in the Korean War as military service members of the Turkish Army of the United Nations stationed in Korea. During his service he built a Quonset hut used as Masjid, where he preached Islamic doctrine to the Korean People.
The Turkish Army taught the Korean people at the Masjid Tent built at the refugees' villages the teaching of Islamic monotheism during the Korean War, while the Korean people devoted themselves to religious lives in the dark and ruined sorroundings wishing for bright future trusting Allah.

Preparatory State
As a first step towards an effective Islamic work in Korea, the early Muslim brothers organised a Korea Muslim society. This Islamic society elected Almarhum Muhammad Umar Kim Jin Kyu as president.
Later, the leaders of the Korean Muslim were invited to visit Islamic Countries and some of the Korean Muslims were sent to Muslim College in Malaysia to be trained as future Islamic workers and leaders.
Malaysian Delegations led by Vice Minister Tunku Abdul Razak and his wife, visited the site of the proposed masjid. Later on Haji Mohammad Nuh, a Malaysian government officer, saw that a permanent base should be erected to carry out dawah activities.
So, with the Malaysian government's donation of $33,000, he handed over the money to the Korean Muslim Community to build a masjid in 1963. Unfortunately, the construction of the masjid could not be completed due to various reasons among them were the inflation.

Settled Stage
It was not an easy task to make a base for dawah activities. Many difficulties had to be endured and solved.
But despite all these, the dedicated early Muslims tried very hard to promote Islam, with full faith in the One and Only God. They were successful in converting the Korean Islam into Korean Islamic Foundation which was approved by the Korean Government and was officially registered at the Ministry of Culture and Information. (Registration no. 114, March 13, 1967)
Thus, Korean Muslim began to make ways for active dawah work and managed to open a new era for muslims in Korea with the will of Allah.

Take Off State
The Korean Muslims' long dream, the construction of Central Masjid was materialized in 1976. The opening of Central Masjid and Islam Center were the most important turning points for the history of Korean Muslims. At the opening ceremony, 55 representativesof around 20 countries glorified the dream of Korean Muslims, and the magnificant opening ceremony served as an outburst of sudden increase in the number of Korean Muslims.
The opening of the first Masjid of Korea contributed to rapid development of Islam in Korea. Foreign Dignitaries (V.I.P) who participated in the ceremony visited the then Prime Minister Choi Gyu Hwa to perform a role of raising the interest in Islam.
In the mean time , the Korean Muslim's mission had made piligrimage to Mecca to inspire the people with the Islamic belief and to perform faithful duties in 1979, and the Korean Muslims spurred the propagation activities in Korea taking the opportunity of so called "Boom of Middle East"(1974-1980) by raising the interest in the Middle East and Islam.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
The Korean Muslims are not lazy in making pilgrimage to the holy land, one of the 5 Duties of Islam. Every year the Korean Muslims perform the holy duty by organizing the piligrims group. The first pilgrimage was led by Haji Subri Seo Jung Gil in 1960. One of the largest groups ever performed Haji was in 1978 with 130 person in 1979, 104 persons managed to perform the pilgrimage.

· 1955 (September): Imam Zubercoch and Abdul Rahman, Participated in the Korean War as military service members, reached Quran for the first time in Korea.
· 1955 (October): Korean Muslim Committee started (Umar Kim Jin Kyu as Chairman: Imam and Secretary General uhammad Yoon Doo Young)
· 1961 (September): 14 men mission headed by Senator Ubaidulla of Malaysia stayed in Korea for 13 days.
· 1962 (August): The Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman donated $33,000 for the construction fund of Central Masjid of the Korean Muslim
· 1963 (October): The Malaysian Speaker brother Haji Muhammad Noh visited Korea in (promised to propose to the Malasian government for the development of Korean Muslim)
· 1967 (March): Korea Islam Foundation approved by Ministry of Culture and Information of Korea (Approval No. 114, March 3, 1967)(Chairman Suleiman Lee Hwa Shik), Secretary General Adul Aziz Kim Il Cho)
· 1974 (December): Through the good offices of late President Park Jung Hee, 1,500 m2 of land was donated as building site for Central Masjid.
· 1974 (May): Construction of Seoul Central Masjid and Islamic Center were completed and opened.
· 1976 (December): Busan Temporary Masjid opened, Br. Kim Myung Hwan began to perform dawah work.
· 1976 (March): Korea Islamic Cultural Centre Installed and being operated in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
· 1978 (April): Temporary Masjid opened at Yok-ri Gwangjoo-eup, Gyunggi-do, Korea: brother Abdullah Jun Deuk Lin began to preach Islam to the people.
· 1978 (October): The largest pilgrimage group of 132 persons went to perform the holy pilgrimage for the first time in Korean History; Kuwait Temporary Masjid opened.
· 1980 (May): The then prime Minister Choi Gyu Hwa promised to King Khalid of Saudia Arabia to donate the land for the construction of Korea Islamic College during the joint comminique.
· 1980 (July): 130 thousand Pyongs of land was donated for the construction of Islamic College in Yongin, Gyunggi-do, Korea.
· 1980 (September): Opening ceremony of Pusan Al-Fatah Masjid was held
· 1981 (June): Opening ceremony of Kwang-Ju Masjid was held
· 1982.(August): Indonesia Branch was established
· 1983 (August): W.A.M.Y. Seoul Regional Camp was held under the auspices of O.I.C. & W.A.M.Y.
· 1984 (August): W.A.M.Y. Local Muslim Camp was held.
· 1985.(July): The 1st Leadership Training Camp was held
· 1985 (August): The 2nd W.A.M.Y. Local Muslim Camp was held
· 1986.(April): Opening ceremony of Anyang Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islamic Masjid was held
· 1986 (September): Opening ceremony of Jeon Joo Abu Bakr sidiq masjid was held
· 1987 (August): 87 W.A.M.Y. Local Muslim Camp was held
· 1988 (August): 88 W.A.M.Y. Local Muslim Camp was held

Islam Takes Root and Blooms

From Japanese colonial times, Itaewon has been a major residential area for people from abroad. It once housed Japanese army barracks, and after 1945 a large compound in the district became the property of the U.S. army. Its neighborhood developed as a magnet for all kinds of foreign residential activity in Seoul.

Itaewon is dominated by a building that is unmistakably a mosque. This impressive building is a reminder of the resurgence of the Muslim community here.

Islam has been a presence in this country for a very long time. In the 8th and 9th centuries, Arab sailors and merchants often frequented the coastal waters of South and East Asia. As early as 845 their books mentioned Korea, and did so in the most flattering of terms: ``Over the sea beyond China lies a mountainous country called `Silla,’ rich in gold. Muslims who arrive there by accident are so attracted by its character that they stay there forever and do not want to leave.’’ Indeed, at that time a number of Muslim merchants made it their home.

Some Koreans also made epic trips to the West. Records confirm that in 727 the famous Buddhist monk Heoch’o visited the Arab Near East on his way back from India.

During the Koryo period (918-1392) Kaesong, then the nation’s capital, was home to a thriving Muslim community, and there was a mosque as well. Members of one of the country’s clans, the Changs of Toksu, still recall that the clan’s founder was a Muslim who came to Korea during the Koryo era. However, the Yi dynasty, which seized power in 1392, was much more introspective than its predecessor, so these early connections with the Near East gradually withered.

The resurrection of Islam took place during the Korean War. The war was fought largely by U.S. forces, but with support from other countries, among them Turkey, at that time a close ally of Washington. The Turkish forces were among the most numerous, some 15,000 soldiers, and best trained non-American units to take part in the war.

The Turks brought Islam back to Korea. They proved to be not only good fighters but also successful missionaries. Their ``tent mosques,’’ which initially served the soldiers themselves, eventually became major centers of missionary activity. The Turks allowed and encouraged Korean converts to take part in prayers and attend services. The Turks were also engaged in large-scale humanitarian efforts, which left a favorable, lasting impression on the locals.

When the war finished and the Turkish units returned home, they left behind a small but active local Muslim community. The Korean Muslim Society was officially inaugurated in 1955. This body, later re-named the Korean Islamic Foundation, became the major organization for believers here. The society sent members overseas for religious education and tried to establish a permanent mosque with the help of a Malaysian government grant, but was unable to. Prayers were held in makeshift buildings, with minarets made of wooden planks and iron frames.

The 1960s brought a new impetus to Islam in this country. At that time a large number of Korean construction workers were dispatched to the Near East, where domestic companies were engaged in numerous projects. Some of these workers came back as converted Muslims and engaged in missionary activity among their fellows.

In the 1970s, the first permanent mosque was established in Itaewon, constructed with a grant provided by Saudi Arabia and opened in 1976. At that time it was one of the most remarkable buildings in the entire city, and is still impressive.

The number of Muslims here is estimated to be about 45,000 in addition to some 100,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries. There are six permanent mosques around the country, and in general, Islam is a growing religion here.

Islam In Korea (Article 2)

It is estimated that there are up to 10,000 Muslim adherents in Korea, excluding resident migrant workers and that Islam is the fastest growing religion in South Korea. Also included are returning Korean workers already converted to Islam from the Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In South Korea, the Muslim population has been steadily increasing since the introduction of the faith shortly after the Korean War. The Muslim (both Korean and foreign born) community is centered around Seoul, where the first large 20th-century mosque was built in 1976 using the funds of the Malaysian Islamic Mission and other Islamic countries.
There was a slow but evident growth of Middle Eastern (i.e Iranian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Qatari), with Pakistani and Malaysian immigration to South Korea, the majority are Muslims, during the 1990's and 2000's, usually arrived as guest workers to the country.
It is believed that there is no significant presence of Islam in North Korea, where autonomous religious activity in general is almost non-existent. Despite the fact Korean Muslims are a small community, they are a part of the multi-religious fabric of Korean society, including Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Christians and Jews.
Early history
The first verifiable presence of Islam in Korea dates back to the 9th century during the Unified Silla period with the arrival of Arab and Persian navigators and traders. According to numerous Arab geographers, including the 9th-century writer Ibn Khurdadhbih, many of them settled down permanently in Korea, establishing Muslim villages. Some records indicate that many of these settlers were from Iraq. Other records suggest that a large number of the Alawi Shia faction settled in Korea. Further suggesting a Middle Eastern Muslim community in Silla are figurines of royal guardians with distinctly Persian characteristics. In turn, later many Muslims intermarried with Korean women. Some assimilation into Buddhism and Shamanism took place, owing to Korea's geographical isolation from Arabia.
Small-scale contact with predominantly Muslim peoples, particularly the Uyghurs, continued on and off. One word for Islam in Korean, hoegyo (회교, 回敎) comes from huihe (回紇), an old Chinese name for the Uyghurs. During the late Goryeo period, there were mosques in the capital Gaeseong. During Mongol rule in Korea the Mongols relied heavily on Uyghurs to help them run their vast empire because of Uighur literacy and Uighur experience in managing extended trading networks. At least two of those Uyghurs settled down in Korea permanently and became the progenitors of two Korean clans.
One of those Central Asian immigrants to Korea originally came to Korea as an aide to a Mongol princess who had been sent to marry King Chungnyeol. Goryeo documents say that his original name was Samga but, after he decided to make Korea his permanent home, the king bestowed on him the Korean name of Jang Sunnyong. Jang married a Korean and became the founding ancestor of the Deoksu Jang clan. His clan produced many high officials and respected Confucian scholars over the centuries. Twenty-five generations later, around 30,000 Koreans look back to Jang Sunnyong as the grandfather of their clan. They are aware that he was not a native of Korea. Many believe that he was an Arab Muslim. However, there is no evidence of Islamic influence on Deoksu Jang family traditions. The same is true of the descendants of another Central Asian who settled down in Korea. A Central Asian (probably a Uyghur) named Seol Son fled to Korea when the Red Turban rebellion erupted near the end of the Mongol’s Yuan dynasty. He, too, married a Korean, originating a lineage called the Gyeongju Seol that claims at least 2,000 members in Korea today but shows no special signs of Muslim influence.
20th-Century reintroduction
During the Korean War, Turkey sent the second-largest number of troops (after the United States) to aid South Korea under the United Nations command. In addition to their contributions on the battlefield, the Turks also aided in humanitarian work, helping to operate war-time schools for war orphans. Shortly after the war, some Turks who were stationed in South Korea as UN peacekeepers began teaching Koreans about Islam. Early converts established the Korea Muslim Society in 1955, at which time the first South Korean mosque was erected. The Korea Muslim Society grew large enough to become the Korea Muslim Federation in 1967.
In 1962 the Malaysian government offered a grant of US$ 33,000 for a mosque to be built in Seoul. However, the plan was derailed due to inflation. It was not until the 1970s, when South Korea's economic ties with many Middle Eastern countries became prominent, that interest in Islam began to rise again. Some Koreans working in Saudi Arabia converted to Islam; when they completed their term of labour and returned to Korea, they bolstered the number of indigeneous Muslims. The Seoul Central Mosque was finally built in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood in 1976. Today there are also mosques in Busan, Anyang, Gwangju, Jeonju and Daegu. According to Lee Hee-Soo (Yi Hui-su), president of the Korea Islam Institute, there are about 40,000 listed Muslims in South Korea, and about 10,000 are estimated to be active practitioners.

buzz korea, http://www.buzz-korea.com/eng/

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