Javier Monjas - 17/12/2012 - 04:40 PM GMT+01:00
Masashi Nagano is an unlikely believer in Islam. He is a 28-year-old Japanese, born and brought up in a society with predominantly Shinto and Buddhist undertones, who hated religion as a child. Nagano became a Muslim in 2008, when he was in graduate school. "That was nothing but a divine revelation," he says.
During childhood he developed an aversion to religion. He was appalled by the atrocities perpetrated by Aum Shinrikyo, including the 1995 poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed a dozen people and sickened thousands of commuters.
But Nagano became interested in Islam when he read the Quran as part of his anthropology studies, and he started to mingle with Muslims living in Japan.
He is now a devout believer.
"I owe what I am to the Quran," he says.
Although an estimated 10,000 or more Japanese Muslims live in Japan, most are women who converted after marrying Muslims.
Despite his unusual status as a Japanese who embraced Islam for a purely religious motive, Nagano appears to be relaxed about his religion.
He says he is fond of the Islamic attitude of fatalism as expressed in "inshallah," an Arabic interjection meaning "God willing."
This fall, Nagano participated in a training program for believers from various religions who want to help heal mental wounds, rather than promoting their religion.
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