[FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF ISLAM IN MEIJI JAPAN BY THE FIRST IMAM OF TOKYO EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA] Alem-i Islâm ve Japonya’da intisâr-i Islâmiyyet [i.e., The world of Islam and the spread of Islam in Japan]. Vol. 1.

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Ahmed Sâki Bey Matbaasi, Istanbul, AH 1328 = [1910].

Contemporary quarter brown morocco with six raised bands on the spine, gilt lettering to compartments: title, volume number, and the ex-owner’s name (Tawfiq). Original flower-designed endpapers. Large roy. 8vo. (25 x 18 cm). Text in Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 620 p., a photographic portrait of Ibrahim and 41 numbered photographic plates (b/w). Slight foxing on pages; the spine's cracking at the hinge has been skilfully repaired. Otherwise, a very good copy.

The first edition of this exceedingly rare, richly illustrated book is the earliest first-hand account in book form of Islam in Meiji Japan between 1907 and 1910. It was published recently after being serialized in the "Beyanü’l-Haq" newspaper in Kazan, which was owned by Ibrahim’s son Ahmed Münir. According to Cilâci, “This is the first comprehensive book on the Muslim communities of Japan and China,” and “this book was the first work to introduce Japanese customs, morals, national characteristics, and the factors that led to their progress to the modern Islamic world.”

This very scarce first volume (of two) focuses on Ibrahim's travels and memoirs, and his eyewitness account of the Islamic world and communities in Japan, China, and Korea, as well as his travels through Russia, Siberia, Turkestan, Mongolia, and Singapore. The book covers Korea (pp. 459 and others), Japan (pp. 180-620), Manchuria (pp. 133-179), Mongolia (pp. 126-132), and more.

Ibrahim embarked on his journey to Japan in 1908 to meet with his contacts from the Kokuryûkai (The Black Dragon Society). During his travels, he described the cultural, historical, geographical, and socio-economic structure of Japan and the Muslim communities in the early 20th century, from the largest cities like Tokyo to the smallest traditional villages. Ibrahim also determined that the activities of Christian missionaries in Japan harmed the moral structure of the Japanese society.

In 1909, he visited China, staying there from June to September, to learn more about Chinese Muslims. He developed an amicable relationship with Wang Kuan (1848-1919), an Ahong at the Oxen Street Mosque in Beijing, though he criticized Wang Kuan's Arabic skills. Ibrahim also provided detailed and invaluable information on printing activities in China during this period, including some of the earliest accounts of the Islamic world in China in the 20th century.

On his return journey, he spent around ten days in the Korean Empire. Ibrahim, who was convinced of the “barbarism” of the West, found several examples in Korea to support his theory of “Eastern civilization,” just as he had found during his time in Japan. He met with a range of people, from porters to the Korean Empire’s Interior Minister.

Ibrahim was a Russia-born Tatar Muslim ulama, journalist, and traveller who initiated a movement in the first decade of the 20th century to unite the Crimean Tatars. He visited Meiji Japan and became the first imam of the Tokyo Mosque. In 1902-1903, he visited Japan for the first time, participating in anti-Russian propaganda. Due to this, Ibragimov was expelled from Japan at the request of the Russian consul. Upon his arrival in Istanbul in 1904, he was arrested and sent under guard to Odessa. He was released at the turn of 1905-1906. As a former board member of the Muslim community of Orenburg, he became one of the leaders of the Ittifaq al-Muslimin movement and organized several Muslim congresses. At the First All-Russian Muslim Congress in Nizhny Novgorod, his main rival was Ayaz Ishaki.

Ibrahim was born on April 23, 1857, in Tara, which is now in the Omsk Oblast. His ancestors were Turkic peoples, and his father Gumer was descended from the Siberian Bukharans. He started school at seven and, at the age of ten, entered the Almenevo village Madrasa. Orphaned at seventeen, he moved to Tyumen, where he continued his studies at the Yana Avyl Madrasa, and later at the Qyshqar village Madrasa (now in the Arsky District of Tatarstan). From 1878-1879, he was a teacher in the Akmolinsk Oblast (Russian Empire). Between 1879-1885, he continued his education in Medina, Mecca, and Istanbul. Then, he returned to Russia in 1885, serving as the imam-khatib of the cathedral mosque in Tara, where he was also a mudarris of the madrasa. In 1892-1894, he served as the qadi of the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly. From 1905-1907, he was a member of the central committee of the Ittifaq al-Muslimin (Union of the Muslims).

He founded the “Ajia Gikai” association to promote Islam in Japan and attempted to construct a mosque in Tokyo. After the deposition of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, he postponed his desire to build a mosque and travelled to Korea in 1909. He returned to Istanbul in 1910 and informed the Ottoman people about Japan. When he returned to Japan in 1933, he began building a mosque in 1934, which is today known as the Tokyo Mosque in the capital. With affluent Japanese covering the construction costs of the mosque, which was completed in 1938, he was designated the mosque’s first imam or prayer leader.

Overall, this rare and richly illustrated book, documenting the early 20th-century Islamic world in Japan, China, and Korea with interesting and attractive photographs, provides invaluable insight into the Muslims in the Far East.”Top of Form

Özege 411.; TBTK 718.