Archive for June, 2010

Meilin mosque in Shenzen, CHINA (Masjid Meilin di Shenzen, CHINA)

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

June 2010:

This is probably the biggest mosque in Shenzen, located at Meilin Lu. I happened to be in this city was here on one Friday in June 2010, and my other half had to find a mosque to perform his weekly obligation, i.e. Friday prayers. A frantic google search on the internet nights before yielded 2 or 3 mosques in the city and I reckon this one is the nearest to Louhu area, where I stay and shop and watch. The mosque is about 20 minutes drive by taxi from Shangrila Shenzen Hotel near Louhu railway station. Fare is about 30-40 Yuan on metered taxi. The building is  a simple and straight-cut design, a square shaped and two small minarets facing the other side of the main road, for some reason I am not sure. A Meilin Lu entrance leads to the big compound, toilets and wuduk area. A huge green banner with Chinese words greet the new-comers. A woman section  at the back of prayers hall provides refuge to a tired traveller, drained and  exhausted after half day long bargaining at LCC. There are many women on this Friday. Some are tourists from middle east and far east and overseas. Most are local residents. The way they dress during solat puzzle me as some are not properly covered. After the prayers, a fiesta atmosphere develops as they gathered at the spacious courtyard talking and chatting and catching up with friends and neighbors and relatives.  The locals and foreigners mix as well but language is the barrier in this country. Locals do not speak English and foreigners do not speak Mandarin or Cantonese. But what matters they are brothers and sisters and one ummah. On the street you cannot differentiate Moslem Chinese and kufar Chinese by look only, unless you meet them in the mosque, praying like you do.

Meilin Mosque is located at Meilin Lu, Shenzen, CHINA

The best way to this mosque is by taxi. Only 15-20 minutes drive from Louhu.

Fresh halal meat on sale outside the mosque area.

A young imam delivering tazkirah before actual Friday prayers starts at Meilin Mosque, Shenzen

A jemaah recording the khutbah Jumaat (Friday sermon) on his China-made Nokia phone.

The outside view of Meilin Mosque in Shenzen, CHINA

Noodle and grilled meat similar to kebab are all halal here. Yummy yummy!

Halal food stalls are plenty outside the mosque.

Halal restaurant near Meilin mosque in Shenzen, China

The masjid is fully air-conditioned and very clean. The sound system is so perfect — thanks to China electronic technology — that you can hear the tazkirah and khutbah by Imaam very distinctly — syllable by syllable — and crisply.  The Imaam is fairly young with a  scholar and matured look, in traditional moslem robes. He delivered tazkirah first in Mandarin, followed by khutbah (sermon).

At the entrance there are many foodstalls selling halal foods. After the congregation, these stalls are full with jemaah and you have to wait some time for tables to be empty. I tried noodle with plain soup and soy sauce, but the grilled beef fits my taste bud well, simply out-of-this-world taste.  A halal meat shop sell freshly slaughtered cows for Moslems living in the neighborhood. Moslems in Shenzen are mainly from Xinjiang province, some from Sichuan and other provinces.

In June 2010, actual Friday prayers started at 1:30pm. Tazkirah started one hour early. About 600 jemaah attended the prayers.

(The story is contributed by Wannor.)

Mosques in Guangzhou, CHINA (Huai-sheng Mosque)

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

June 2010:

Sejarah kedatangan Islam di China bermula pada zaman Khalifah Uthman Al Affan (RA) di mana bapa saudara Nabi (SAW), Saad abi Waqas telah diutuskan ke China melalui jalan sutera laut kepada Maharaja Dinasti Tang. Utusan ini diterima baik dan Maharaja memerintahkan sebuah masjid dibina di Canton (sekarang Guangzhou) buat mengingati peristiwa bersejarah ini. Inilah antara masjid yang pertama dan tertua di China, berusia lebih dari 1300 tahun, yang boleh dilihat sendiri pada hari ini di Guangzhou, China. Masjid in juga dikenali dengan nama Guangta Lu Temple, Lighthouse Mosque dan juga Grand Mosque of Canton. Saya berkesempatan melawat masjid ini yang dikenali sebagai Masjid Huai-sheng dan juga maqam Saad Abi Waqas di kota Guangzhou, baru-baru ini.

Masjid Huai-sheng terletak di No 56 Guangta Lu (Lu = jalan = road) di tengah-tengah bandar Guangzhou, tidak jauh dari hotel-hotel utama di kota ini. Dari Beijing Lu, dengan teksi mengambil masa 15 minit atau kurang dari itu. Bagi yang sentiasa mencari pengalaman baru, anda boleh mengambil keretapi bawah tanah (subway atau metro) dan turun di hentian Ximenkou (saya rasa Line 2 — kuning).  Dari stesen ini anda kena berjalan kaki 10 minit ke masjid. Terdapat sebuah restoran makanan halal dan juga sebuah kedai runcit halal di depan masjid.

Rekabentuk masjid ini seumpama pagoda. Tiada minaret kecuali sebuah menara rumah api (lighthouse) yang bersejarah. Dewan solat masjid ini terletak di tengah-tengah komplek masjid dikelilingi bangunan berbentuk 4 segi yang menempatkan pejabat pentadbiran, tempat wuduk, kelas Quran dan lain-lain lagi.

Alamat masjid/Address:

No 56 Guangta-Lu (Guangta Road), Yuexiu District, Guangzhou. Tel: -020-83333593.

Bagaimana untuk sampai ke sini? /How to get here?

Taxi is the best way to reach this place. Guangta Lu is a narrow alley away from main road. The main road is Zhongshan Road No.6 and Jiefang Road.  For the adventurous you can take super-efficient Guangzhou Metro at stop at Ximenkou station. From there you walk  along  Hufu street with cool  leafy trees and everyday shops and everyday people. Turn right into Guangta Lu and this mosque is at No 56 Guangta Lu. There is a halal restaurant and halal grocery store in front of the mosque. Locals / taxi drivers may not know the word mosque, but they know Muslim temple.

Facade from the main road. This masjid is located at 56, Guangta-Lu (Guangta Rd), Guangzhou, CHINA

How to reach the mosque: One way is take a metro and get off at Ximenkou station

An old lighthouse is a historical feature of this mosque

An old lighthouse is a historical feature of this mosque
Main prayers hall

Inside view of the Huai-sheng mosque in Guangzhou, CHINA

Main building inside the complex of the mosque

Main building (prayers hall) in the compound of Huai-sheng mosque in Guangzhou, CHINA

Entrance to Huai-sheng mosque in Guangzhou CHINA

Halal moslem restaurant right in front of Masjid Huai-sheng in Guangzhou, CHINA

AirAsia terbang ke Yangon dari KL bermula 18 Julai 2010

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

An AirAsia flight just arrived at Yangon International Airport from Bangkok. AK will ply KUL-RGN-KUL route beginning 18 July 2010.

Berita baik kepada pengembara tegar yang berminat melawat negara misteri MYANMAR. AirAsia akan memulakan laluan Kuala Lumpur – Yangon – Kuala Lumpur bermula Julai 18.  Harga promosi bermula dari USD9 satu hala.  AirAsia akan menggunakan Airbus 320 dengan kapasiti 180 seats. Pengumuman ini dialu-alukan oleh pakar-pakar industri pelancongan Myanmar dan Malaysia. Pada masa sekarang hanya Myanmar International Airways (MAI) dan Malaysia Airlines terbang ke Yangon dari Kuala Lumpur.

Untuk pelawat ke Myanmar, visa diperlukan dan satu lagi berita baik ialah mulai Jun 2010, Visa On Arrival (VOA) boleh dipohon di Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Yangon. Detail di sini –> VOA.

Yangon adalah bandaraya terbesar di Myanmar. Dengan penduduk seramai 4-5 juta, 10-20% adalah penduduk Islam. Makanan halal dan masjid mudah didapati di sini dan tidak menjadi masalah, asalkan anda seorang yang fleksibel dan berani mencuba. Lihat banyak postings di website ini mengenai Yangon. Jangan lupa datang ke Inle Lake, jika anda tersampai ke Myanmar dan punyai banyak masa.

Visa On Arrival (VOA) now available for foreigners visiting Myanmar

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

MH740 flight unloading at Yangon International Airport. MAI flight at the background.

Newly opened Visa On Arrival counters at Yangon International Airport.

Beginning June 2010, Myanmar immigration , tourist department and airlines confirmed that the new on arrival VISA will be issued for all foreigners at both entry points of Yangon and Mandalay  international airports.  Previous practise is that you are required to apply upfront in your home country Myanmar visa prior to departure — airlines flying into Myanmar will blankly refuse you boarding the aircraft if no valid Myanmar visa found on your passport.

Following condition applies for VOA:

1. All passengers with valid passports will be granting, except listed on Myanmar Immigration ” Black List “.
2. Passports validity must be at least 6 months during staying in Myanmar.
3. 2 recent passport photos ( Size 4 cm X 6 cm )
4. The exact address of hotel , guest house to stay.
5. Return ticket
6. Single traveler must hold minimum 300 USD and for Family 600 USD as show money. (This amount to show to Immigration upon request only, but most of the time not required)
7. Child under age of 7 traveling with passport together with parent is exempted from Visa fee (FOC).

The application forms can be inquired at airline counters, flight on board and Yangon and Mandalay airports.

VISA FEES:

1.Tourists Visa ( 28 Days ) 30 USD
2.Business Visa ( 70 Days ) 40 USD
3.Transit Visa ( 24 hours ) 18 USD

Mosques in Yangon (Masjid-masjid di Yangon, MYANMAR)

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Moslem community in Myanmar is quite sizeable that almost every town got at least one mosque to cater for Moslem community of which I reckon almost 10-20% of the entire population of Myanmar. They are rather self-sufficient community with respect to relationship to Allah (“hablumminannas“). Internally, their house of worship (masjids) are well decorated, with carpets and most with air conditioners or at least ceiling fans. Externally you may not recognize that it is a masjid as the small entrance blended well with old shophouse, but the entrance could lead to a modest prayers hall. This is true for masjids in downtown area where space is a limitation. Some masjids outside the downtown may have some exception. Masjids also serve as a community center and a place for learning Islam for young and adult alike. Quranic and fardhu ain classes are common sights in most masjids. Jemaah Tabligh is the most active dakwah group here. There are many Islamic organizations in Myanmar but most are lesser known, apart from Ulama Council (Majlis Ulama). Ulama Council is the body which issues and perhaps monitors halal certification for foodstuff manufacturers in Myanmar.

Myanmar is a deep Buddhist country, so other religions take backseat.  You could see mosques in every towns and cities but most are in dire state. So are churches. Operating expenses for mosques come mainly from public donation and wealthy moslem businessmen. Despite assurance of freedom of worship, discrimination by religion prevails.

Here are some collection of mosques in Yangon, MYANMAR that I have been during my short assignment in Yangon. I will update this post from time to time insyallah. Mosque (or masjid in Arabic or Malay) is called pelly in Myanmar.  If you say “Petchampek pelly thuwa may” to a local taxi driver, it means “let’s go to Petchampek Mosque”. Moslems are called as kalla by non-moslems in Myanmar, the word itself carries a derogatory meaning, so I was informed.

Masjid Sunni Bengali, Yangon Downtown.

1. Masjid Sunni Bengali — probably the most popular among tourists and business travellers  as it is located in the heart of the city, along Sule Pagoda Road. It is 5-min walk from Traders Hotel and about 10-15 min walk from Bogyoke Market (Scott Market). Friday prayers time is the busiest. Prayers hall is air-conditioned. Sule Pagoda is just right in front of it. Halal restaurants are aplenty around the mosque. Just ask locals. UN Representative Mr Ibrahim Gambari offered prayers here when he was in Yangon in 2008 negotiating the release of Daw Aung San Su Kyi with the Myanmar military government.

Masjid Kambek, Yankin Township, Yangon

2. Masjid Kam Bek, Yankin Township, Yangon — located off main road in Yankin township in a quiet neighborhood among big houses with high fencing. Down the same road, there is a Catholic church. This mosque is about 20 min drive from downtown. Take Kabaye Pagoda Road toward the airport and turn right after Sedona Hotel.

Masjid Chulia Dargah, Yangon

Inside Masjid Chulia Dargah, Yangon

3. Masjid Chulia Dargah, Yangon — located right in front of Bogyoke Market (Scott Market), along Aung San Road. For heavy shoppers if you run out of time, just stop by here (males only). Hotel Central, Hotel Traders and Malaysian Airlines Office is are all next to this mosque. Dargah means a tomb for a pious man where people come to pay respect. Don’t know who he was. May God bless his soul. Nice decoration inside — main prayers hall is air-conditioned.

Masjid Sunni Poja, Yangon

Inside view of Masjid Sunni Moja in Yangon

4. Masjid Sunni Moja, Yangon — located in the Yangon downtown area, near Anawhartha Road.  Founded by a group of moslems from northern India who came to Myanmar either as traders or soldiers during British occupation in 1930s.  All Sunnis in Yangon are mainly Hanafi sect followers. They all observed more or less the same prayers time (azan and solat time).

Masjid Soorthy, Yangon

5. Masjid Soorthy, Yangon Downtown — located in the Yangon downtown area, near Chinatown. Another nicely-decorated masjid, fully air-conditioned, constructed by Gujerati people from India.

6. Masjid Petchampek, Yangon — this masjid is located along Upper Pansodan Road, near Aung San Stadium and the main railway station. A big moslem community in the township of Mingalar Taung Nyunt is next to it. Dr Mahathir Mohamed, ex- Malaysian Prime Minister was said to have offered solat Jumaat here during his visit to Myanmar some times ago.  The masjid was itself a historical site in a way. It was a target site for militant bombing in late 1990, and as result half of the building was destroyed, but never repaired since then. That’s how the name was derived —petchem means half and pek means pieces.

Inarguably, the mosque is the most international as it is the markaz (center) for the Tabligh Jemaat movement in Yangon.  This is a peaceful missionary movement who travels around the world from one place to another to spread the message of Islam to the entire humanity, with priority to moslem brothers, reminding them to return to the greatness of life hereafter. This movement makes mosques as center for their activities.  So there are bustling activities inside and outside the mosque every day. There is a halal moslem restaurant nearby.

Main entrance of Masjid Jamek Cholia, Yangon

Multipurpose hall next to the main entrance to Masjid Jamek Cholia

Prayers hall in the Masjid Jamek Cholia, Yangon

7. Masjid Jamek Cholia, Yangon — located  on narrow Bo Sun Pat Street in the downtown area. Very close Masjid Sunni Bengali (see above). The masjid has a mutipurpose hall for rent to muslims to conduct their activities including wedding, meeting and training. Many stalls selling halal food and drink at the entrance — very lively everyday after solat Asar as jemaah enjoy evening air with a sip of lempe-ye (tea with milk) waiting for Maghrib prayers.

Minaret of a masjid near Tamwe.

Inside Masjid Jamek Tamwe in Yangon

Jameah Arabia Darul Ulum next to Masjid Jamek Tamwe in Yangon

8. Masjid Jamek Tamwe, Yangon — located in Tamwe Township, about 15 min drive from downtown area. Tamwe is home to many moslems in Yangon. They are 3 masjids — may be more — in the Tamwe township. Masjid Jamek Tamwe is located near the famous Tamwe junction. The masjid is considered big if you add a madrasah tahfeez, Quranic classes and the old moslem cemetery behind the masjid.  A renowned moslem scholar from Makkah was said to have been died and buried here.

Inside Masjid Jamek Bengali, Yangon

Minaret of masjid Jamek Bengali, Yangon

9. Masjid Jamek Bengali, Yangon — No doubt that this is one of the big masjids with a distinctive mosque design, looking from outside. It is located along the road leading all the way to the downtown area. The masjid is surrounded by moslems living in the apartments. Only 10 min drive from the downtown.

Mogul Hall is Syiah masjid in the Yangon downtown area.

Mogul Hall is Syiah masjid

10. Masjid Syiah, Yangon — located at the busy road in the downtown area.  Never been there, so do not know how they pray. It is actually a Syiah — a sect of Islam considered deviationist by maintream Islam — community center.

Myanmar Islamic Council HQ in Yangon

11. Islamic Council HQ, Yangon — located along Bo Sun Pat Street in downtown Yangon. I don’t have any info on this Islamic body — its organization structure, their objectives and the members. Just came across the office and snapped the photo.

12. Masjid Ranauk, Yangon — located in the moslem area of Myagone in the township of Mingalar Taung Nyunt.  Green marble slabs make up the facade of the mosque. Some portion of the mosque was under construction during one Asar prayer in June 2010, when I was there. Main prayer hall is fully air-conditioned.

13.  Masjid at 8th Mile (Pyay Road), Yangon — located conveniently on Pyay Road (old name= Prome Road) at Kabaye Pagoda Road, one of the busiest intersection in Yangon, between Yangon Airport and downtown. This is a small masjid hidden behind the row of old shop houses.  A famous shopping center known as Junction 8 is just across the road. This is a site for bomb blast by separatist group (as claimed by the Government) a couple years back.  Yangon Hotel is only one -min walk.  Downtown  area is about 30-minute drive away from here.

14. Masjid Kokhine, Kabaye Pagoda Road, Yangon — the smallest among all mentioned above. But I must mention this mosque as I frequented this mosque the most during my time in Yangon for a very simple reason — nearest to my office and my apartment. Located along busy Kabaye Pagoda Road, this mosque could easily missed if you are in a speedy car. We also called it Toyota mosque, as a Toyota service center is just next to it.  The trustee is Brother Ahmad, whose late grandfather Mohammed Jewa owned and waqaf (donated) this land for mosque construction. He and his 10 relatives stayed behind the mosque.  Fully air-conditioned but only turned on during Friday prayers or hot summer days, to save electricity.

<<TO BE CONTINUED>>