Islam in Korea
Islam's history in Korea has been traced back to the Silla Dynasty when Persian and Arab traders came to Korea from China. More recently, a small number of Koreans were exposed to Islam when they were moved to the Lo-long area in Manchuria under the Japanese colonial policy. A handful of those people returned home after World War II but didn't have a place to worship until Turkish troops arrived with the United Nations during the Korean War (1950-53). Korean Islam's inaugural service was held in September 1955, followed by the election of the first Korean 'Imam' (chaplain). The central mosque in Itaewon was established in 1976 and there are now five mosques around the country.
According to Amar, there are around 20,000 to 30,000 Korean Muslims and as many as 200,000 foreign Muslims mainly from Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh in Korea. Most are Sunni Muslims, although Waesoho said, "We Muslims, we think we are the same. Sunni, Shiite, these are distinctions made by man, not Allah."
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 surroundings wishing for bright future trusting Allah.
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.
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 representatives of around 20 countries glorified the dream of Korean Muslims, and the magnificent 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 pilgrimage 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 pilgrims group. The first pilgrimage was led by Haji Subri Seo Jung Gil in 1960. One of the largest groups ever performed Hajj 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
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