The Old Mulong Mosque

The photo above is of the Old Mulong Mosque or it's official name, Masjid Ar-Rahman. It is located next to to my late great grandma's house. She lived to meet me but I doubt she remembered me I was just one of many, many great grandchildren of hers. A few Rayas ago I noticed that the old mosque had changed from the delpidated building it was to a now beautifully-sculpted building rich in history, as I later found out. The Ministry of Information, Communications, Arts and Culture´s Department of National Heritage works with the help of local practitioners of traditional arts had taken on the challenge of meticulously restoring this mosque to its former glory.

The old mosque, pre-restoration and as how I've always remembered it.

Okay, this is what I gathered from my research on the internet. Surprisingly this mosque's restoration has been quite widely documented by the citzens of cyberspace.

The building was formerly the Balairong Seri of the palace of Raja Dewa Tuan Zainal Abidin (1897-1945), the prince of Kelantan´s Sultan Muhammad III. It was built around 1900 in Kota Baru near the Kelantan palace structure known as the Istana Balai Besar. The building was abandoned after World War II. In 1958, residents of Kampung Kedai Mulong bought the building and turned it into a mosque. It was said that they bought it for RM1,000, which was a lot of money back then. So the building was physically moved from its original location near the palace to its existing location at wakaf Tuan Haji Abdul Rahman Haji Ismail at Lot 495, Surau Lama Kedai Mulong, Kilometer 11 Jalan Kuala Krai, Kota Bharu. This also how the Mosque got it's name.

As the building was so long, the floor structure and ceiling had to be cut in half to allow it to be transported by lorry to Kampung Kedai Mulong, which is 11.3km from its original location. It was rebuilt by the community into a mosque while retaining its original palace architecture with some minor modifications. The building was completed rebuit at it's new location in December 1958. The build size of 20 ft by 60ft was retained.

As expected of a building that used to be part of a palace, the architecture is delicate. During restoration work, the team discovered murals that were painted over and worked painstakingly to restore them. I would imagine that that wasn´t an easy task. They had to find master craftsmen who knew how to work in the old traditions as sometimes they had to fabricate certain elements in the classic method.

I have only prayed at the mosque once, but when you enter the mosque, the first thing you realise is that it is much cooler than you would expect. If you look above, ingenious vents create a natural cooling system and the whole architecture stands as a testament to how good the craftsmen and builders of yesteryear were.
 The vents that I was on about. the are of a cool geometric pattern too!

So, why suddenly talk about the mosque next door to my ancestorial house? Well, that Haji Abdul Rahman Haji Ismail bloke who who owned the wakafed land was my great grandfather. All was revealed at a little "heart to heart" sharing session with my grand aunt last Eid. It was the first time I heard stories about my ancestors. I guess I am quite lucky as I am the eldest from the eldest son of the eldest grandma so all my grandaunts are not that old (okay some are quite old) and can vividly tell the stories of our ancestors.
The actual round table discussion. I can remember that I got bitten by mosquitoes so many times that night but I don't care! The story was too good to be distracted by anything. Picture credits to my cousin Auni

 Well, according to my grand aunt, who is my grandma's youngest sister her father, was a Mudir or headmaster of an Arab school just behind the house. He was a scholar in Usulfiqh and studied in Mecca. The school is no longer there and probably died with my great grandpa. My father remembers the school still being there when he was a child in the 1960s. According to him, the new national school opened a few kilometers from the school and Arabic religious schools were falling out of fashion as parents prefered the national schools. She also said that her ancestors were of Arab descent which explains the arab features all my grandma's siblings have.

Kelantan and the ealier Pattani sultanate attracted alot of Arab traders and scholars who came to this region to spread Islam. It was the centre of Islamic learning post the fall of the Melacca and Acheh Sultanate. My ancestors were probably Hadrami as most of the Arabs that came to trade and spread Islam were from that region but my grandma's siblings are very fair so some other mixing might have happened there or they might be from other parts of the arab world. It was several generations since the "Arab connection" anyways.

Malays are not naturally fair. If they are fair then there must be some interracial marriage had happened sometime in the past. The old Malay kingdoms were a melting pot of cultures. My great, great grandma on my grandfather's side was chinese which explains why one of my grand aunt looks chinese and why my dad looks Japanese? and as a child, I looked alot like my dad. Hehehe... have I told you guys how my dad go mistaken at the L.A airport once for Lance Ito, the famous judge for the O.J Simpson case in the 1990s? Lance Ito was of Japanese descent. Anyways, Alot of Kelantanese are of mixed heritage and that is why most do not have the typical Malays look. Some of my friends say I don't look Kelantanese as I am too dark! Hahaha... yelah yelah... I'm the "gagak" in the family....

Can you see the family resembelance?

Alot of my friends would not believe at first glance whenever I go out with my brothers that we are in fact brothers. We do not have very similar features like most brothers do and I think we owe that to the increadibly large gene pool we carry. And I haven't started with my mum's side yet! It has always been playing in my mind, how will my children look like? It of course depends on who the mother is. Oh well, one can only wait and see. Alright, I'm getting sleepy now. I'll leave you with more photos of the Old Mulong Mosque. Credits go to RaY KinZoKu for the pre-restoration pics and to the Fakulty of Creative Technology and Heritage, University Malaysia Kelantan for the post restoration and officiation pics. More pics can be found here.

Last words, next time you are around your elders, do not feel shy to ask of their heritage, where they come from and how they got to where they are. You will be amazed at the answers you get. Unless you are from the Orang Asli tribes, most Malaysians, Malays included have their roots outside the Malay Peninsular. Be proud of your heritage, even if you're rojak like me but don't be arrogant with your heritage. God is race blind and only judges you by the deeds you do. Have a good week my dear readers.

Pre restoration pics:



Post restoration and Officating ceremony: