Stories of non-Muslims learning about Islam and Muslim reverts
always never fail to bring us joy. We first discovered Korean Jay Kim on YouTube when he went to a mosque in Cheonan, South Korea and vlogged about his first time praying
(more details on that below!).
We were even more heartened to find out that although he has not converted to Islam, he has tried to fast for the whole month of Ramadan and started praying ? Lucky for us, we managed to get in touch with Jay Kim to find out more about his Islam journey so far!
1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I'm Jay Kim, a Korean. I'm 26 years old from Cheonan (about 1 hour away from Seoul!). I used to play music but now I am a YouTuber.
I like movies, music and meeting new people and talking with them ☺️
2. How and when were you introduced to Islam?
A few years ago, I had the chance to perform in Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Tunisia. So I met Muslims there and from that time, I started knowing about Islam.
I also did broadcasts on Bigo Live which was quite popular in Southeast Asia, I had some fans from Malaysia and Indonesia which I was thankful for. But unfortunately, I had no idea about Muslims at that time. I didn't even know that there were many Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia. I thought Muslims came just from the Middle East like Saudi Arabia. To be very honest, I had a prejudice against Islam. When I thought of Muslims, I imagined scary men in turban with lots of beard and mysterious women who cover everything except the eyes.
During my fan meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, I was so surprised. My prejudice was completely broken - there were no scary men or mysterious women. They were just cheerful, kind and nice unlike what I thought.
Last year, I had the chance to perform in Tunisia and I felt the same - they were so kind, so nice and they helped me a lot! They were also interested in Korean culture, thankfully! Such beautiful people and delicious food too ?
The Muslims I met broke my prejudice with their kindness and love and that's why I love them too. This is how started studying about Muslims and to know more about them. I started to read children's books on Islam (It's very helpful!). I also started to read the Quran (in Korean translation as I can't read Arabic).
3. What made you want to visit the mosque and practise Islam?
As I talked about Islam on YouTube
, there were many Muslim friends around me and they encouraged me to visit the mosque. The thing that really surprised me was that many words in Islam is very similar to what I was taught.
Some people think Muslims are violent but Muslims are more peaceful than anyone else. Even if others hate them, they love and respect others.
And some people think Islam gives pressure to Muslim women with regards to wearing the hijab, but actually, Islam protect and respect women more than anyone else.
"Do good things and don't do bad things, and help other people" - it's simple and it's amazing. I always talk about love and respect, not hatred and rejection - it's totally similar to my beliefs. You know even Islam means peace right, so that's why I'm interested in Islam and I will continue studying about it ?
[P.S. Love reading stories like this? Check out how these Japanese-Muslim reverts live life in Singapore!]
4. You fasted for a month this year. What were some of the challenges you faced when fasting?
It is hunger and thirst. Between them, thirst is really hard. But after fasting I realised the importance of food and water. And I give thanks to God who created this.
[Breaking fast at Itaewon Mosque]
However, I got used to it. The first day, I was hungry and thirsty but it got better. My purpose of fasting is to understand Muslims, improve my health and throw away any negative thoughts and refresh my mind. Throughout Ramadan, I could feel not just my body changing, but my mental state too. My body, my mind and my soul was refreshed so I could develop myself in a religious way and mental way.
And I really respect Muslims all over the world for fasting. It's so amazing and I'm proud of them. I was also very happy to have met so many good people throughout Ramadan ❤️
[P.S. Check out this Chinese-Muslim revert's challenges during Ramadan and how he overcame it!]
5. Can you tell us about your first prayer at the mosque? How was it like?
I went to a mosque in my hometown, Cheonan. It was a very special experience. I have had a really hard time in recent years, but I found peace of mind through prayer. And I thank God for leading me to the right path.
It was really peaceful and I can't explain it. It's like I've been reborn. When I prayed, I prayed to Allah to please guide me on the right path. In my whole life, I was confused as to where I'm going but when I prayed in the mosque, my mind was so peaceful without any negative thoughts. I could feel that something's changed.
6. Do you find that it’s a challenge to be Muslim in Korea?
Of course it is not easy. But if you have the will, this is only a small test given by God. I think everything depends on faith.
[P.S. Meet local Korean Muslims by visiting one of these halal restaurants in Seoul!]
7. How do your family/close friends react to you practising Islam and how do they feel about it?
They worry about me.
But I believe that if I continue to show them the truth, they will eventually understand and accept me.
8. What was your perception Islam before knowing more about it and how has that perception changed?
I had really bad thoughts about Islam - had prejudice against Islam. There wasn't much opportunity to meet Muslims in Korea - the media only talked about 9/11 and Taliban and ISIS.
I could only see negative things so it wasn't easy to see the truth. But I saw and met real Muslims and studied what is the real Islam. So now, I realise that it is false news and distorted information.
9. What is the Korean Muslim community like in Seoul? (or other parts of Korea)
Actually I don't know the community that well, but I met some Korean Muslim groups in Itaewon and they are all so nice and kind and they helped me a lot.
I did attend a grand iftar party held by Salam Nuri
, an Islamic youth group in Korea. I'm so happy to have met this Korean Muslim community as it's really hard to find in Korea.
I also had a lot of unbelievable experiences this Ramadan/Eid and met many good Muslim friends who led me well. It was my first Ramadan and first Eid worship - it was truly sacred and beautiful. I also had the first prayer in my life. I have received a huge gift from Allah this Ramadan ?
10. What do you hope more Koreans will know about Islam?
I do not expect Koreans to suddenly know about Islam.
But at least I hope they know that Muslims are not terrorists, but good citizens like us.
11. Do you intend to convert to Islam in future?
We wish Jay Kim all the best in his journey of learning about Islam and may Allah guide him to embracing Islam eventually, InsyaAllah! Let us know in the comments section if you have other inspirational stories of individuals who are learning about Islam and remember to SHARE this heartwarming story ☺️
You can find Jay Kim on:
YouTube - Jay Kim
Instagram - @jaehan9192
Facebook - Jay Kim 김재한Note: All images are courtesy of Jay Kim or taken from his Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.