Masjid Jamek, a beautiful mosque surrounded by the city

Masjid Jamek

As a former colony of the British Empire during the 1800s, much of the historical architectural landscape of Malaysia was shaped by the resident Architect General, Brigadier General Arthur Benison Hubback. He was the first architect to reach the rank of Brigadier General and he played an extremely influential role in the style of architecture that dominated the day in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The main style that Arthur Benison Hubback adopted in his designs was similar to that of Northern Indian. This term is used to describe the imitational Neo-Moorish type of architectural design that is seen in many of the government buildings that were built during the colonial days in Malaysia.

The Neo-Moorish design can be easily discerned from other types of architectural designs by their signature of onion shaped domes, spires, domed shaped canopies, multiple minarets and horse shoe shaped arches hanging over decorated columns.

A prime example of this form architectural design can be seen in the form of “Masjid Jamek” that is located in central Kuala Lumpur (KL) near Chinatown. Masjid is Arabic for mosque and the Arabic word “Jamek” is used to denote a place where people congregate to worship.

Masjid Jamek

Masjid Jamek is also one of the oldest mosques and is situated at the confluence of the Klang and Gombank Rivers, these rivers actually look more like huge monsoonal drains with their concrete riverbanks.

The mosque was built on the site of a former Malay cemetery at a cost of RM32,625, partly raised through subscriptions from the Malay community and partly funded by the British Government. Construction was completed in 1909 and the opening ceremony was officiated by the reigning Sultan of Selangor.

When you visit the mosque, you will find it nestled beneath a canopy of shady swaying coconut trees. Somehow to me, this picture feels a little odd, here at the mosque it is tranquil and peaceful, yet it is in the middle of a bustling metropolis of 2 million people. Masjid Jamek serves to remind us that life during the olden days was more evenly paced and less hectic.

The mosque is flanked by 2 main minarets among other smaller ones and have 3 onion shaped domes. The prayer hall is located beneath the central dome and stand 21.3 meters high.

The locals dubbed Masjid Jamek as the “Friday Mosque” and for good reason. Come Friday, worshippers in the city will congregate here until the crowd overflows into the streets. So if you intend to visit Masjid Jamek, unless you are a muslim coming to perform your Friday prayers, Friday will not be a good day to visit.

On any other day, visiting hours is from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Ensure that you observe the decorum of the place as this is a place of worship. Take off your footwear when entering the mosque and be sure that you are dressed appropriately.

Muslims are generally conservative when it comes to dress, so revealing clothes will not be appropriate, no matter how comfortable you might feel in them.

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