Monday, January 29, 2007

Chinese association wants to build mosque

29 Jan 2007
Jason Gerald John

MALACCA: The call for the country to have mosques run by Chinese Muslims for the community has given new hope to a Chinese Muslim association here.

The Malacca Tionghua Muslim Association had proposed such a mosque three years ago but the state government was not interested.

However, Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin’s proposal to state governments, particularly religious departments, to allow Chinese Muslims to build mosques and surau for their community has renewed hope for the association.

"I will submit a fresh proposal to the Malacca state government to cater for the needs of more than 3,000 Chinese Muslims here.

"All we need is the approval for a piece of land and we will be very happy. Our community will bear the cost of constructing the mosque," said the association president Rizal Abdullah.

Yesterday, Dr Mohd Asri told the New Straits Times that it was unfair for state governments to deny the right of the Chinese Muslims based on the misunderstood conception that Islam could only mean Malay language, customs and traditions.

Rizal, a businessman, said the Indian Muslim community could also submit a similar proposal to have a mosque to be built according to Indian architecture and with the sermons being delivered in vernacular language.

"Having a Chinese mosque does not mean Muslims will be divided but in fact it will bring us together.

"Furthermore, such mosques could help in promoting the teachings of Islam, especially among the Chinese community," he said.

Rizal also explained that the current perception among the Chinese was that conversion to Islam meant they had to discard their traditions and heritage to become Malays.

"This view is derived from the fact that the Chinese community does not have a place to preach in their own language. We can’t blame them for having this perception," he added.

Agreeing with Dr Mohd Asri, Rizal said Chinese, Indians and other non-Malays who had accepted Islam should be treated equally as Muslims and must have the full rights.

Rizal believed that Malacca should lead the way in having the first Chinese mosque.

"History has revealed that Malacca is the place where it all began from the first Malay sultanate to the place where Islam first took its roots and the first arrival of Indian and Chinese Muslims," he said.

He added that a Chinese mosque would also attract tourists who could see the universality of Islam.

He also hoped to have the Great Mosque in Xian — one of the oldest, largest and best preserved mosques in
China — as the model for a Chinese mosque here.


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