For those intrigued by architecture and the aesthetics of religious places of worship, here is a selection of Malaysian mosques (in no particular order) that are visually appealing, architecturally significant or historically important.
How many among these have you personally visited or recognise?
1. Putra Mosque, Putrajaya
This imposing pink granite mosque was completed in 1999 and can accommodate 15,000 worshippers at any one time. Elements of its basement design have a similarity to the King Hassan Mosque in Casablanca while the minaret is thought to resemble the Sheikh Omar Mosque in Baghdad.
2. Padang Mosque, Ipoh
The Mogul-style Padang Mosque was constructed in 1908 and has features similar to those in Red Fort, Delhi. It was financed by a wealthy Muslim Tamil businessman, Shaik Adam. Inside is a lovely iron spiral staircase.
3. Dato Panglima Kinta Mosque, Ipoh
The historic Dato’ Panglima Kinta Mosque was built in 1898 by the Dato’ in memory of his wife. It has a Mogul design with a striking blue dome. In the compound of the mosque is an old wooden building which once functioned as a religious school, the first Madrassa in Ipoh.
4. Bandar Masjid, Jugra
This heritage mosque, also known as Masjid Alaeddin, was built in 1905, the same year as the Bandar Palace next door. Its design is believed to be influenced by the Deli Sultanate of Medan, Indonesia. Sultan Aladdin himself used to deliver sermons here.
5. Masjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur
This was the first brick-built Mogul-style mosque in Kuala Lumpur, designed in 1907 by Arthur B Hubback, who also designed many of the city’s other famous landmarks from that era.
The mosque is sited where KL’s history began, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, the muddy estuaries which gave Kuala Lumpur its name.
The mosque’s compound contains a number of coconut palms which help retain a distinct rural atmosphere in the heart of the busy city.
6. Masjid India, Klang
The original Masjid India was built around 1910 to cater to the religious needs of the Indian Muslim community who lived in and around Klang. Demolished and rebuilt a number of times, the current building can accommodate 3,000 worshippers for Friday prayers. There is a mausoleum of one of the mosque’s founders within the grounds.
7. State Mosque (Masjid Al-Muhammadi), Kota Bharu
The state mosque or Masjid Muhammadi was originally built from wood in 1867. The present concrete buildings however date from 1922. Since then, numerous extensions have meant it can now accommodate 2,400 devotees at a prayer session. The design is rather unusual and includes a clock tower which is rare in a mosque.
8. Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim, Muar
Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim is a stunning sky-blue coloured mosque built in 1927. The people liked the design so much they built an identical mosque on the opposite bank of the river. This twin is much newer, having been built in 1999.
9. Former state mosque, Kuala Lipis
The former state mosque was built in 1888 and made mostly from wood. Although the mosque is located close to the river, it has seemingly never been damaged by the frequent floods in the area.
The mosque was paid for by a Yemeni merchant named Habib Hassan. Perhaps he used to buy and sell the fragrant Gaharu Agar wood which was harvested by the indigenous Batek people from the nearby forests and which is highly prized in the Middle East.
10. Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, Johor Bahru
This is one of the most beautiful mosques in Malaysia built in 1900 in a mix of Islamic and colonial architectural styles. It occupies a hilltop with views overlooking the Straits of Johor.
11. Abu Bakar Mosque, Pekan
This is Pekan’s royal mosque. It opened in 1976, replacing the nearby Sultan Abdullah Mosque.
12. Sultan Abdullah Mosque, Pekan
Masjid Sultan Abdullah was built during the 1930s and served as Pekan’s main mosque until 1976.
13. Ubudiah Mosque, Kuala Kangsar
Kuala Kangsar’s most famous attraction, the Ubudiah Mosque, was completed in 1917 and is thought by many to be the most beautiful in Malaysia. The interior, with its cool marble courtyards is as stunning as the exterior.
It was designed by Arthur B Hubback, who also designed the old Kuala Lumpur railway station and many other famous landmarks.
14. Masjid Zahir, Alor Setar
Masjid Zahir (Zahir Mosque) is a beautiful Moorish-style mosque officially opened in 1912. It has five distinctive black coloured domes, said to symbolise the five pillars of Islam, and a mini-minaret, which is not as tall as the main dome.
15. Gunung Reng Mosque, Kelantan
This mosque is appealing because of its spectacular setting at the foot of Gunung Reng, a limestone outcrop containing a cave and the source of a colourful legend.
16. Abidin Mosque, Kuala Terengganu
The original wooden mosque on this site was built by Sultan Zainal Abidin II and completed in 1808. Since then it has been rebuilt in brick and refurbished and expanded a number of times.
Its most striking feature is its dazzling white colour and a seven-storey minaret. Some former Sultans are buried in the adjoining Old Royal Mausoleum.
17. Crystal Mosque, Kuala Terengganu
The unique Crystal Mosque is one of the main attractions at the Islamic Civilisation Park on the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu.
18. Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, Kuala Terengganu
This is one of the “floating” Malaysian mosques, built on the edge of a river, giving the impression that it is floating.
19. Melaka Straits Mosque, Melaka
Masjid Selat Melaka is a modern mosque in a hybrid Arab/Malay-style on a reclaimed island (Pulau Melaka) close to the town centre. At high tide the mosque appears to be floating above the sea and has been nicknamed The Floating Mosque.
20. Masjid Tengku Ampuan Jemaah, Bukit Jelutong
Masjid Tengku Ampuan Jemaah is a relatively new mosque located in Section 8 of Bukit Jelutong, a growing township on the outskirts of Shah Alam. It is a royal mosque named after the Sultan of Selangor’s late grandmother.
21. Kg Jerlang Mosque, near Pantai, Negeri Sembilan
At Kg Jerlang, is an old wooden mosque of a sort seldom found these days. The protruding mihrab (alcove) marks it out as a mosque – otherwise one could not be faulted for thinking it was just a house.
22. Masjid Kariah, Pantai, Negeri Sembilan
A small mosque with a simple improvised minaret.
23. Masjid Jamik, Tanjung Malim
Close to Tanjung Malim railway station is Masjid Jamik Tanjong Malim, a graceful colonial era mosque designed in Mogul style by British architects. A plaque inside bears the date 1932 but part of the building is said to have been built in 1926 or possibly earlier.
24. Masjid Daerah, Sandakan
This modern mosque has an impressive size and is designed in bold architectural style. It looks better from a distance. It is located close to Buli Sim Sim, the area where Sandakan began with stilted wooden houses built above the sea.
25. Masjid Nurul Iman, Serendah
The minaret and facade of this mosque have an unusual look.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com