Opportunities for learning as Muslim population of Taiwan grows

Last Sunday we were introduced to Nouf, a travel blogger who led a group from the Middle East around Taiwan. Some businesses here are starting to cater to Muslim consumers, who may be locals, immigrants, or visitors. But many in Taiwan still see Islamic cultures as mysterious and unfamiliar. Tonight we”ll look inside the daily lives of Muslims in Taiwan, and explore how these different cultures can be bridged. Here”s part two of our Sunday special report.Chen Kai-ticomes from Indonesia. She’s making one of her homeland’s classic family dishes, telurbalado, or eggs with chilli sauce. After some efforts in the kitchen, an array of tempting dishes appear on the table – but none contain pork, because all Kai-ti’s family, including her Taiwanese husband and children, believe in Islam.Chen Chia-yaoHusband of Chen Kai-tiI used to be Taoist. Because of meeting my wife, I converted to Islam.Chen Kai-tiIndonesian immigrantMuslims have to marry someone of the same faith.Kai-ti’s husband acknowledges that at first it was not easy to convert from Taoism to Islam. But now, like every other practising Muslim, he prays on the allotted hour every day, five times a day.Chen Chia-yaoHusband of Chen Kai-tiIn Taiwan, you could say there exists a kind of veil of mystery over Islam. We didn’t know it well enough. It was only because I met my wife, and then joined Islam, and started going to the mosque, that I gradually got to understand their Islamic laws.The main religions of Taiwan are Taoism and Buddhism. So although there are now 260,000 Indonesians living in Taiwan, mostly either students, workers, or spouses of Taiwanese citizens, most Taiwanese people have quite a limited idea about Indonesian culture and religion. But from a business standpoint, it would be foolish to ignore the chance to cater to the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.Ma Hsiao-chiFormer imam of Taipei Grand MosqueThe government wants to pursue its New Southbound Policy. In Southeast Asia, the vast majority, more than two- out of five-hundred-million people are Muslim. If you want to do business with them, or even befriend them, on every level, in every industry, you will come across Islamic culture.This biotechnology firm based in Hsinchuset its sights on the Muslim market in 2017. It has already established a presence in Malaysia and Indonesia, which has helped its overall performance grow by somewhere between 5% and 10%. Their success in cornering the market is thanks to the great effort they put into understanding Muslim consumers.Richard TuBiotech firm executiveLots of collagen or extract of animal placenta may come from pigs, for example, it might be collagen extracted from pig skin. So because followers of Islam are not so keen on that, we can’t use it, we can’t use any of the ingredients made from pigs.But as Taiwan is not a Muslim country, it takes more than just a ‘Halal’ label to get a good enough grasp of Islamic culture to corner the market.This is Taipei Grand Mosque. Every Friday Muslims come here for a weekly congregational prayer.Ma Hsiao-chiFormer imam of Taipei Grand MosqueFriday is the day we gather to pray together. It’s called “Jumu”ah”. Jumu”ah is the greatest favor given by Allah, the most graced day in the whole week. In Islamic countries, Friday is the day of rest: if you want to travel or even do business, you might have to watch out, you might not be able to find anybody on Friday, because they take Fridays off.Muslims must perform a ritual purification before prayer – and there’s quite an art to it. You wash various body parts considered unclean, such as the soles of the feet, and you should only touch your body with your left hand, not your right.Ma Hsiao-chiFormer imam of Taipei Grand MosqueThere are also rules about the left and right hands. When you take someone’s hand, or a business card, use your right hand. You don’t need your left hand for picking things up, giving gifts, handing over business cards, or eating.Islamic cultures have very specific rules of etiquette, which if not properly understood, can make it easy to cause offense, or even trigger conflict.Ma Hsiao-chiFormer imam of Taipei Grand MosqueYou can use the Western logic, and say “You Muslims are backward, don’t come in, you’re scary”. Then you make it very hard to do business in this area, you’ve closed that door.With the growing numbers of overseas students and migrant workers, not to mention international marriages, in Taiwan, there are more and more people wearing headscarves on the streets. Only with mutual understanding can people from different backgrounds cultivate mutual respect.In December, a Halal market was held in Daan Forest Park in Taipei, attracting many to try a taste of Islamic culture.HouTsung-yuMember of the publicI think – to be honest I really don’t understand Islam, even though I took some classes on Arabic culture. But really in our d…

Video originally published at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwadKbvHmk

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