Thursday, November 14, 2013

Top 10 Most Unique Mosques in Malaysia

About a year ago, I made an entry about the top 10 most beautiful mosques in the country in my view. (Link: But then I realized that Malaysia has many more beautiful mosques than those ten on the list. So I made this separate top 10 list for the most unique mosques in Malaysia. This does not mean these mosques are in any way less beautiful than the ones on the top 10 most beautiful list, it is just that these 10 mosques are more unique in nature than your average mosque in Malaysia. Take a look at the list and you might get an idea what I am getting at.

10) Seberang Jerteh Timber Mosque

It is sad that this mosque is hardly known to tourist, or even the general public. Unlike most Malaysian mosques, this one does not feature any Islamic architecture at all, which immediately rules out a dome as its main feature. However, this means that the traditional Malay wooden carvings known as Awang Larat is the most prominent feature of this mosque's design.

9) National Mosque

This is probably one of the few famous mosques in Malaysia that does not have an Arabic dome. Instead, it has a 16-pointed star umbrella-looking concrete main roof. This roof is reminiscent of an open umbrella, while the mosque's the 73-metre-high minaret's cap a folded one. Since the umbrella is synonymous with the tropics, it serves as the main feature of the mosque's bold design. Reflecting pools and fountains can be found throughout the compound. Built right after independence, Chief Ministers of each Malay state wanted to name it after the Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman. However, he declined and it was named the National Mosque.

8) Rantau Panjang Chinese Mosque

Built in the east coast state of Kelantan, this is probably the first mosque built for the Chinese Muslim community in the country. The mosque is heavily inspired by the thousand year old Niujie Mosque in China. The mosque is often mistaken for a Chinese temple due to its pagoda-like structure. Unknown to many, the mosque also incorporates Indian and Uzbek features in its interior decorations despite its predominantly Chinese architecture. Other similar mosques are the Malacca Chinese Mosque and the Perak Jubilee Mosque.

7) An Nur Jamek Mosque, Labuan

This is probably the only mosque that features such futuristic elements so prominently. Located in Victoria on Labuan Island, the mosque is a symbol of integration between science and religion. Though it still retains the conventional dome and minarets, check out the rocket-like structures. This mosque looks more like a planetarium than a prayer house. 

6) Tuanku Mizan Mosque

The view of this mosque at night on a cruise along the Putrajaya Lake is surely one not to be missed. Located in Core Island, this mosque was built to accomodate the increasing number of citizens in Putrajaya. This mosque is fairly new and is often overshadowed by the older and much more traditionally built Putra Mosque. The construction of this mosque involved the use of 6,000 tons of steel, which represented 70 percent of overall structure earned it the nickname the Steel Mosque. 

5) Al-Azim Mosque

Like most mosques in Malacca, this mosque is unique because it has a rectangular dome shaped like a pyramid blended with the vertex of a pagoda tower. The mosque clearly fuses the different cultures of Malay, Javanese, Chinese, Peranakan and many more traditions that have made Melaka their home over the years.  This symbolizes the culture of Malacca that has been a melting pot for different cultures from all across the region. 

4) Penang State Mosque

Mainly designed based on the Cathedral of Brasilia in Brazil, this mosque's architecture is a combination of Western Modernist and Malay styles. This can be seen from its onion-shaped dome. What is interesting about the history of this mosque is that it was not designed by a Malaysian, but a Filipino working for the Public Works Department in the seventies by the name of Efren Brindez Pez, whose contract was extended by the government just so he could complete the design. 

3) Negeri Sembilan State Mosque

The roof is split into nine corners to resemble an umbrella. This symbolizes the history of Negeri Sembilan which is made up of nine distinct districts. Another aspect of this mosque that is most noticeable is that it does not have a dome, which further contributes to its uniqueness. Also, its tower is situated quite far away from the main building. 

2) Crystal Mosque

This is the only mosque ever to be built completely from only crystal, glass and steel, hence creating a crystal-like image. Located at the Islamic Heritage Park, this mosque sits majestically atop the banks of the Terenggau River. Its beautifully crafted frosted glass windows are carved meticulously with calligraphy. The best time to visit the mosque is during sunset when the sunshine is reflected on the glass and crystal, creating a calm and peaceful imagery.

1) Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque

No other mosque exhibits Malaysia's rich European colonial heritage than this state mosque of Johor. Mostly designed based on British colonial architecture, the mosque looks more like a government building built by our former colonial masters than a mosque. However, other exotic elements are included as minor details as well. For example, the roof features a pyramid roof based on traditional Moorish architecture. Marble panels on the surface of the mosque floor and the stained glass on the dome were imported from Venice and other parts of Italy. The carved pillars were inspired from mosques in Egypt. 

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