Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Penang Mosques

Mosques in Georgetown


 George Town (now Georgetown) is now a maze of lanes, roads, streets, and highways. It was easier to get to a place within Georgetown in the early 1980s. Today, it is impossible to drive without going into wrong lanes in Georgetown. The one-way street signs have made it more difficult. However, there is still hope in getting around the maze - the masjid jamek can certainly help. Each masjid jamek is unique and has a mihrab that faces qiblat, so that helps with street orientation.

Penang jamek mosques are plenty and they serve as landmarks (masjid sebagai mercu tanda). There are 3 useful landmark mosques in Georgetown: Masjid Jamek Titi Papan in Jalan Burma, Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin in Jalan Hatin, Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali in Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong.

Burma Road (Jalan Burma)
This road is parallel to Jalan Hatin, and closer to the sea. Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe opens to Jalan Burma. The landmark mosque at this junction is Masjid Jamek Titi Papan.

Masjid Jamek Titi Papan
Masjid Jamek Titi Papan is in Jalan Burma (Burmah Road), at the corner of Jalan Burma and Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe. This is a Chinese area with Chinese eating/coffee stalls (kopitiam), houses, shops and trishaw.

On 27 May 2012, I met with Tok Chu at his residence in Air Itam. Tok Chu's wife is the youngest and only daughter of the Imam of Masjid Titi Papan. His wife is Hendon bin Ahmad, who is also the mother of Prof. Ahmad Murad Merican (graduated in Mass Communication, USM).

According to Tok Chu, in the old days, the drain (parit) was so big that even sampans and tongkangs sailed right up to the mosque. A wooden plank was used as a footbridge to get to the mosque, and hence the mosque was named Masjid Titi Papan. Titi papan is Malay for a wooden plank that was used as a footbridge.

PHOTO 1. Masjid Titi Papan in Jalan Burma (old Burma Road), Georgetown, Penang

Hutton Lane (now Jalan Hatin)
Hutton Lane (now Jalan Hatin) is a memorable lane. It once had a shop where USM staff celebrated farewell lunch. It also once housed the private clinic of Sir KM Ariff (Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff bin Kadir Mastan). It has a mosque - Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin. It has a school - Sekolah Melayu Chowrasta, now renamed to Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Tanjong, Jalan Hutton. The school building is still the old pre-war building.

Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin
Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin is in Jalan Hutton (Hutton Lane), across the road from Sekolah Sri Tanjung, Jalan Hatin, Penang.

PHOTO 2. Masjid Jamek Jalan Hatin in Jalan Hatin (old Hutton Lane), Georgetown, Penang

Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong
This is a wide road which once housed a big pottery shop on the right, just after KOMTAR. It runs by KOMTAR and opens into 3-lane Magazine Road at the traffic lights. There is one bright yellow-green landmark mosque on the left, just after KOMTAR, before the traffic lights. This is Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali.

Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali
Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali is in Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong and can be viewed from KOMTAR. Pintal tali is Malay for twisted rope. What is the history of this mosque? How did it get its name?

I didn't see any twisted ropes in the vicinity of the mosque nor were ropes made here. It could be that this area was nearby Sungai Pinang and served as a landing place for small to medium boats which were tied to the dock, pier or jetty. Why were twisted ropes used? Anyway, ropes are made from twisted jute fibres. So why the additional adjective, pintal (twisted)? Maybe the ropes really became twisted (entangled) and could not be laid down straight as they were really entangled? But fishermen can't be that negligent to leave their ropes twisted? Maybe twisting referred to how the ropes were tied to the docks? More Sherlock Holmes assignment here!

PHOTO 3. Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali in Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, viewed through a glass window at KOMTAR, Georgetown, Penang
PHOTO 4. Masjid Jamek Pintal Tali viewed from a moving car, Georgetown, Penang

Other mosques in Georgetown, Penang are the Malay Acheen Street Mosque (Masjid Melayu Aceh) and the Masjid Kapitan Keling (the Indian mosque).

Masjid Melayu Aceh
Masjid Kapitan Keling