RELIGIOUS TOURISM RISES TO NEW HEIGHTS IN MALAYSIA

The the opening of one of its four minarets, Malaysia’s Blue Mosque gives visitors a fabulous view over the compound and the surrounding region.

The Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque in Shah Alam celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018, and to mark the occasion, a new annexe gallery is being opened, and one of the Mosque’s four minarets has been opened to the general public.

Known as the Blue Mosque, this stunning building is situated in the heart of Shah Alam, the state capital of Selangor. Surrounding the Mosque, one can also find the state library, the state museum, the Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor building, the Islamic and Art Garden Complex and the beautifully landscaped Lake Gardens of Shah Alam.

The opening of the 142-metre minaret is a first, giving a select few visitors (the visit should be booked in advance) a breath-taking view of the Mosque’s unique blue and white dome – the only one of its kind in the world, as it is striped.

Blue Mosque 2.jpg

View from the Minaret over the dome

Indeed, the dome was totally refurbished in 2017, using aluminium plates from Germany, and giving the dome a brilliant sheen. Only six visitors can be taken by modern lift to the top of the minaret at any one time, with visits lasting around 15 minutes.

The Mosque in itself is built on 14.6 hectares of land in the Selangor region, not far from Kuala Lumpur. It is the biggest religious dome and the tallest minarets in Malaysia – arguably among the largest in the world – as the only bigger ones are in Casablanca, Morocco.

Blue Mosque 3.jpgThe inspiration to build the Mosque came in the 1970’s, when Shah Alam was declared the new capital of the Selangor state, when Kuala Lumpur was upgraded to federal capital and conferred with the status of federal territory on 1st February 1974.

The Mosque opened its doors officially for the first time on the 11th March 1988 by the late Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, a truly significant moment in the history of Selangor state. 24,000 worshipers can be hosted at any one time in the impressive 15,000 sq m hall.

It is situated alongside an artificial lake, and according to legend, the interior of the Mosque possesses a rejuvenating or calming effect for visitors.

The Mimbar is entirely executed in carved timber, and is a masterpiece of local craftsmen from Kelantan.

Calligraphy: the decorative Khat can be seen in the outer and inner parts of the Dome and selected parts of the main prayer hall. The calligraphy is the work of a famous Egyptian calligrapher, who was assisted by local tradespeople.

The mosque is one of the top tourist attractions in Malaysia, and the chairman of the guides of the Mosque, HJ Tanzil MD Noor told us the guides have two fundamental duties: one is as a tour guide, but the second is to give a clear picture of the role of the Mosque: “Many people come just to learn more, and we have muallaf classes about Islam for anyone who wants to understand our religion more deeply, whatever their origins may be.” (eds: Muallaf is the Malaysian term for “new brother”, or “Muslim brother”).

Mr Noor explains that the Mosque has four basic functions, known as “PECS”:

  • Prayer
  • Education
  • Community
  • Social Interaction

In terms of education, the Mosque offers classes in languages, such as Japanese and Arabic, and on the “social” side, there are regular blood donation drives, a refrigerator where people can leave food for the needy, and an “Alms” centre, where those in dire need can be helped out financially.

In 2017, the Mosque received over 26,000 visitors, and in 2018 the goal is to receive 36,000 – thanks to the new attractions.

What’s New?

  • 30th anniversary year
  • Building of new annexe gallery building
  • Possibility to visit the minaret – giving incredible views of the surrounding region and the blue dome