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Mosques in In­done­sia

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY KEN­NETH YEUNG

Be­ing home to world’s largest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion, it’s only nat­u­ral that In­done­sia should have some of the most beau­ti­ful and melo­di­ous mosques on the planet. Their re­s­plen­dent grandeur re­flects the glory of Is­lam, while the sooth­ing call to prayer pro­vides spir­i­tual nour­ish­ment for mil­lions. Ar­chi­tec­tural styles range from Ara­bic to Per­sian, In­dian and Chi­nese. Here are some of the very best of In­done­sia’s ap­prox­i­mately 850,000 mosques. There are many equally splen­did mosques.

DIAN AL-MAHRI MOSQUE Jalan Meruyung, De­pok, West Java Ca­pac­ity: 20,000 wor­ship­pers Built: 1998 – 2006

Bet­ter known as the Golden Dome Mosque (Masjid Kubah Emas), this gleam­ing house of wor­ship is re­puted to have cost tril­lions of ru­piah. The main dome, coated in 24-carat gold, has a di­am­e­ter of 20m and a height of 25m. There are four smaller domes and six tow­er­ing minarets, all gold-topped. In­side is a 2.7-ton crys­tal chan­de­lier im­ported from Aus­tria. There are also Turk­ish car­pets, gold re­liefs, a cloud-painted ceil­ing and mas­sive slabs of im­ported mar­ble and gran­ite. Who owns this mag­nif­i­cent mosque? The land was pur­chased in 1998 by Jakarta busi­ness­woman Dian Djuriah ( born De­cem­ber 14, 1949). Con­struc­tion of the mosque started in Oc­to­ber 1998 and it was opened to the pub­lic at the end of 2006. What is the source of Dian’s wealth? Some lo­cals claim she cured an Arab king of an ail­ment and in grat­i­tude, he paid for the mosque. An­other ver­sion is that she bought an in­vest­ment prop­erty in Brunei and made a for­tune when oil was dis­cov­ered there.

The mosque, which cov­ers about 50,000 square me­ters and is lo­cated on 50 hectares of land, is named after Dian and her daugh­ter Mahri.

AL-AK­BAR MOSQUE Jalan Page­san­gan, Surabaya, East Java. Ca­pac­ity: 59,000 wor­ship­pers

Built: 1995 – 2000

Also known as the Grand Mosque of Surabaya, it has been de­scribed as “the most beau­ti­ful mosque in In­done­sia” be­cause of its mag­nif­i­cent blue-green dome. The mosque was pro­posed by Surabaya’s mayor in 1994 and a foun­da­tion stone was laid in Au­gust 1995 by then-vice pres­i­dent Try Sutrisno. Con­struc­tion was sus­pended dur­ing the 1997-98 fi­nan­cial cri­sis. The mosque, which cov­ers 23,300 square me­ters, was in­au­gu­rated in Novem­ber

2000 by then-pres­i­dent Ab­dur­rah­man Wahid. There are 45 main en­trance door­ways made of teak. The minarets are 99m high, giv­ing vis­i­tors panoramic views of Surabaya, Si­doarjo and Bangkalan.

BAITURRAHMAN GRAND MOSQUE Jalan Banda Aceh, Banda Aceh, Aceh Ca­pac­ity: 15,000 wor­ship­pers

Built: 1612, re­built: 1879-1881

Con­structed in 1612 dur­ing the reign of Sul­tan Iskan­dar Muda, the mosque was made from wood and fea­tured a thatched roof. It was burned down when the Dutch at­tacked in 1873. In an ef­fort to pla­cate lo­cals, the Dutch re­built the mosque over 1879-1881 at the be­hest of Aceh’s gover­nor, Lieu­tenant- Gen­eral Karel van der Hei­j­den. It was de­signed by an Ital­ian ar­chi­tect in the North In­dian Mughal style. Many lo­cals ini­tially re­fused to wor­ship in the “mosque built by in­fi­dels” as even its stones had re­port­edly come from the Nether­lands. Ex­ten­sions and ren­o­va­tions were made in 1936, 1957- 65, 1992 and 2008. The mosque fa­mously re­mained stand­ing amid the ru­ins of the 2004 tsunami that killed about 167,000 peo­ple in Aceh.

ISTIQLAL MOSQUE Jalan Ta­man Wi­jaya Kusuma, Cen­tral Jakarta Ca­pac­ity: 200,000

Built: 1961 – 1967

The idea for a na­tional mosque was pro­posed in 1949, but plans did not ma­te­ri­al­ize un­til 1953. Vice pres­i­dent Mo­ham­mad

Hatta sug­gested Istiqlal (Ara­bic for ‘In­de­pen­dence’) be lo­cated at the site where Ho­tel In­done­sia now stands, but pres­i­dent Sukarno wanted it closer to the Pres­i­den­tial Palace and along­side Jakarta Cathe­dral to sym­bol­ize re­li­gious har­mony. The site orig­i­nally housed a Dutch tav­ern built in the 1660s. In 1723, it be­came a coun­try house, then a hos­pi­tal and later a Dutch fort, which was de­mol­ished in 1961 to make way for the mosque. Con­struc­tion was com­pleted in 1967, by which time Sukarno had been over­thrown. The mosque was not of­fi­cially opened un­til Fe­bru­ary 1978 by pres­i­dent Suharto. Three months later, the

mihrab (the cham­ber point­ing to Mecca) was bombed, re­port­edly by rad­i­cals who were up­set the mosque had been de­signed by Fred­erich Si­l­a­ban, a Chris­tian from North Su­ma­tra. In April 1999, the mosque’s base­ment of­fices were bombed by a mil­i­tant Is­lamic group seek­ing to fo­ment in­ter­re­li­gious ten­sion ahead of In­done­sia’s first post-Suharto elec­tions. Istiqlal cost about Rp7 bil­lion in the 1960s and is the big­gest mosque in South­east Asia. Some crit­ics have com­plained its min­i­mal­ist de­sign does not dis­play In­done­sian ar­chi­tec­tural styles.

AL-IRSYAD MOSQUE Kota Baru Parahyan­gan, West Ban­dung Ca­pac­ity: 1,500 wor­ship­per

2009 – 2010

If you’re seek­ing a mosque with a fu­tur­is­tic ap­pear­ance, this is the place. It’s a large grey cube and there’s no tra­di­tional dome. Lo­cated in an up­mar­ket hous­ing es­tate, it was de­signed by ar­chi­tect Rid­wan Kamil, who in 2013 was elected mayor of Ban­dung and in Septem­ber 2018 be­came gover­nor of West Java. When viewed from a dis­tance, the de­lib­er­ate gaps in the brick­work spell out Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy for “there is no

God but Al­lah” and “Muham­mad is the mes­sen­ger of Al­lah”. Th­ese gaps in the walls also pro­vide a nat­u­ral cool­ing sys­tem, so the mosque does not re­quire air con­di­tion­ing. The in­te­rior light­ing looks more like some­thing from Sin­ga­pore’s Changi Air­port than a typ­i­cal In­done­sian mosque.

BAITUL MUTTAQIN MOSQUE Telok Lerong Ulu, Sa­marinda, East Kal­i­man­tan

Ca­pac­ity: 43,000 wor­ship­pers Built: 2001 – 2008

In 2000, the gover­nor of East Kal­i­man­tan, Suwarna Ab­dul Fatah, felt in­spired dur­ing a visit to the gi­gan­tic Prophet’s Mosque in Me­d­ina, Saudi Ara­bia. He de­cided to build an enor­mous mosque that could be en­joyed by his prov­ince’s peo­ple for hun­dreds of years to come. But where to build it? Sta­te­owned tim­ber com­pany In­hutani I gave up a sawmilling site cov­er­ing 7.2 hectares on the north bank of the Ma­hakam River. Con­struc­tion com­menced on July 5, 2001, with the ded­i­ca­tion made by Pres­i­dent Ab­dur­rah­man Wahid less than three weeks be­fore he was thrown out of of­fice. His suc­ces­sor Me­gawati Sukarnop­u­tri then erected the mosque’s first pole. The mosque was fi­nally opened on June 16, 2008, by Me­gawati’s suc­ces­sor, Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono. At that time, it was called the Sa­marinda Is­lamic Cen­tre Mosque. It had cost about Rp650 bil­lion. In Au­gust 2014, it was re­named Baitul Muttaqin, which means House of the Righ­teous. The main dome, in­spired by Tur­key’s Ha­gia Sophia mosque/mu­seum, is em­bla­zoned with mo­tifs of Kal­i­man­tan’s indige­nous Dayaks.


Ca­pac­ity: 2,000 wor­ship­pers Built: 1779 – 1787

Lo­cated on Madura Is­land, east of Java, this is one of the old­est mosques in In­done­sia.

Its con­struc­tion was or­dered by Madura’s Prince Natakusuma I (1762-1811), to re­place an older palace mosque. For an ar­chi­tect, the prince chose Lauw Pia Ngo, a third­gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese im­mi­grant, whose grand­fa­ther had es­caped the 1740 mas­sacres of Chi­nese in Java and set­tled in Sumenep. The ma­jes­tic mosque is a blend of Chi­nese, Euro­pean and Ja­vanese styles. Two small build­ings out­side the mosque used to serve as prisons. The court­yard con­tains Span­ish cherry ( po­hon tan­jung) and sapodilla

( sawo) trees, as their lo­cal names have re­li­gious con­no­ta­tions. In­side the mosque is an in­scrip­tion by the prince, in­clud­ing the words: “This mosque is an en­dow­ment, it can­not be in­her­ited, it can­not be sold, it can­not be de­stroyed.”

TUBAN GRAND MOSQUE Kutarejo, Tuban, East Java Ca­pac­ity: 2,000 wor­ship­pers Built: 15th cen­tury. Re­built: 1894

Look­ing not un­like a cross be­tween Dis­ney­land’s Sleep­ing Beauty Cas­tle and St Basil’s Cathe­dral in Moscow, the Tuban Grand Mosque has glo­ri­ously colour­ful minarets. Orig­i­nally known as the Jami Mosque, it was erected in the early 1600s by Prince Ario Tedjo, the first ruler of

Tuban to em­brace Is­lam. In­deed, Tuban was the first dis­trict of the fallen Ma­japahit King­dom to adopt Is­lam. In 1894, the mosque un­der­went a ma­jor re­build­ing, us­ing the services of a Dutch ar­chi­tect, H.M. Tox­opeus. It also un­der­went ren­o­va­tions in 1985 and 2004. This mosque is even more beau­ti­ful when viewed at night.

CEN­TRAL JAVA GRAND MOSQUE Jalan Ga­jah Raja, Se­marang, Cen­tral Java

Ca­pac­ity: 15,000 wor­ship­pers Built: 2002 – 2006

The most stun­ning fea­ture of this young mosque is its six colos­sal hy­draulic um­brel­las, which re­sem­ble or­na­men­tal pil­lars when closed, but can be opened to pro­vide wor­ship­pers with shade and pro­tec­tion from rain. An­other fea­ture is a u-shaped se­ries of arches, redo­lent of clas­si­cal Greek ar­chi­tec­ture. The tiled rooftops are tiered in the style of a joglo, a tra­di­tional Ja­vanese roof, and sym­bol­ise a stair­way to heaven. In 2001, Cen­tral

Java gover­nor Mardiyanto de­cided his prov­ince’s cap­i­tal city, Se­marang, needed a grand mosque. Fund­ing of Rp198.7 bil­lion came from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. Con­struc­tion be­gan in Septem­ber 2002 and the mosque was opened in Novem­ber 2006 by Pres­i­dent Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono and his wife. The mosque com­plex cov­ers ten hectares and in­cludes a ho­tel. There’s also a 7.8 ton in­scribed rock that came from Mount Mer­api vol­cano.

AN-NUR GREAT MOSQUE Jalan Hang­tuah, Pekan­baru, Riau Ca­pac­ity: 4,500 wor­ship­pers Built: 1963 – 1968

Dubbed the Taj Ma­hal of Riau, this mosque’s ar­chi­tec­ture has Turk­ish, In­dian, Ara­bic and Malay in­flu­ences. There’s also a large pool at the en­trance. Opened in 1968, it was ren­o­vated in 2000 when its grounds were in­creased from four hectares to 12.6 hectares. The mosque was de­signed by “the fa­ther of In­done­sian con­crete”, Roosseno Sury­ohadikusumo, who was a pro­fes­sor of con­crete en­gi­neer­ing and led a team that re­stored Yo­gyakarta’s Borobudur Bud­dhist tem­ple. The three-storey mosque is equipped with a school, li­brary, meet­ing rooms and of­fices.

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