Malaysia Uncut

A Repository of Malaysian Stuff and More

Chinese Mosques Not Allowed

Minaret of Mosque, Chinese style! (mymalaysia)

A Mosque Minaret With Chinese Architectural Influence 

Chinese Malaysians who have embraced Islam are testing the government over a mosque issue that analysts say highlights a racial divide in the multi-ethnic country.

Malaysia, which boasts of religious diversity and where just over half of its population are Muslims of Malay descent, has spurned applications by Chinese Muslims to open their first mosques, officials said.

The authorities argued that having separate mosques would segregate Muslims and could anger the majority Malays, who by definition are Muslims.

Mohamad Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, a convert championing the cause of his fellow 70,000-strong Chinese Muslims, said Malaysia must show that Islam transcends race and culture.

“We have to change the perception that Islam only belongs to a particular race, for example the Malays and the Arabs,” the 42-year-old Islamic scholar told Reuters.

“We have to show the universality of Islam by allowing Chinese mosques,” he said at the weekend. “The authorities have to do away with the stereotypes.”

The issue goes to the heart of what Islam means in Malaysia, and shows how race continues to shape life in Malaysia 50 years after independence, analysts said.

“There is fear that the Malay identity will be lost if Islam is practiced in languages other than Malay,” Canadian Muslim, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad, wrote in the New Straits Times recently.

Islam is the official religion in Malaysia, which currently heads the world’s largest grouping of Muslim nations, but other religions can be practiced.

Malays form just over half of Malaysia’s 26 million people. The sizeable Chinese and Indian minorities are mostly Christians, Buddhists or Hindus.

Malaysia has no shortage of mosques, many with Moorish-styled domes and minarets. Mostly funded by the government, the mosques cater almost entirely to the Malays and provide Friday sermons in the Malay language.

There is not a single mosque for Chinese Muslims, although Indian Muslims are allowed to have their own mosques.


Ridhuan, a vice-president of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association, said his association was proposing to build mosques that would reflect Chinese design.

“We would like to portray mosques that are based on Chinese architectures,” he said. “It’s to show that we are still Chinese but the mosques will be opened to all Muslims.”

The mosque issue is not the only problem, Ridhuan and other Muslims said.

There is the popular notion that becoming a Muslim means “masuk Melayu” (becoming a Malay), adopting the Malay culture at the expense of his or her Chinese identity, they said.

The converts also have to take on Arabic names, such as Abdullah, and change identity cards to reflect their new religion.

They also face deep-rooted prejudices, said Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin, a young firebrand Muslim cleric who has came out in support of the Chinese mosque proposal despite the government’s reservations.

“Malays assume they are the only pure Muslims, although Chinese Muslims may have stronger faith,” Asri, himself a Malay, said in a commentary published in the New Straits Times.

Some Chinese Muslims have also been rebuked by Malays for celebrating Chinese New Year.

Ridhuan, married to a Malay, also had a painful experience.

“They (the Malays) want us to become a Malay. Three or four years after conversion, my father passed away. They didn’t allow me to go back, they say if I go back, I will revert to become a Chinese but I defied them.”

Source: Boston News

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Culture, Islam, Issues, Melayu, News, Politics


  1. The chinese looking mosques should be allowed, in my opinion. But at the same time segragation is not good. What is the way out?

    Comment by Manas | Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. I met Hj Hussein Yee formerly with PERKIM 16 years ago when a Sarawak friend converted to Islam. I admired his work among Chinese Muslims. I again saw other good devout Muslims who are not Malays nor are they Arabs.

    As a born Muslim from Sarawak, I find it disturbing this (West) Malaysian trait of treating non-Malay Muslims with a different standard. A week back, a Malay friend asked me if a mutual colleague is Muslim as his name’s isn’t a typical Malay name. I find it inexplicable a person still asking ‘that’ Q if he gives the “salam” and looks for Halal meat in Australia!

    Just allow the Chinese to have their mosques! that way, we can share their culture and Islamic outlook!

    Comment by Taib | Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. I support any Chinese mosque, Iban mosque, Kadazan mosque, Vietnamese mosque etc in order to support non Malay Muslims to understand their religion better.

    Comment by Khairul | Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Reply

  4. It doesn’t matter how the mosque looks, its the matter u do 5 times pray a day!

    Comment by hypecapsule | Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Reply

  5. I got here from Jamilalighthouse.wordpress

    Subhanallah this is the first time for me to hear that such large numbers of Chinese Malaysians have accepted Islam. Just amazing.

    The whole Malay culture=Islam is just silly. Islam as a religion can fit in to any culture, and it naturally should. Having mosques that are geared toward the Chinese community is a WONDERFUL idea and these mosques would be emblems of the beautiful diversity that exists within Islam. Although of course these mosques would cater to the Muslim Chinese community by definition, I am sure that prayer sayers of any race would be welcome. I sincerely hope that the Muslim Chinese Malaysians get their mosques and can design them as they see fit.

    Comment by malai | Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | Reply

  6. Malays don’t want Chinese Muslim. If not masuk Melayu, Chinese should be Chinese. Go back to Taoism, Buddhism or making money.

    Comment by Malay Arab | Monday, March 5, 2007 | Reply

    • Islam is one of the worst religion in the world…they only know how to kill people…..And Islam doesnt means peace…but a piece of pig shit

      Comment by rss feeeder | Monday, October 25, 2010 | Reply

  7. these comments about chinese mosques designs are very interesting.although i’m christian and from england i’ve studied islam for quite a while and the first thing you notice is that all men are equal under God.the true reasons are being hidden in this argument.malay people must fear that they’re being taken-over by the chinese or something,also why do converts not seem to be trusted? surely these people should be welcomed and then the faith would spread.indian muslims can have their style of masjid why not the chinese,i’m sure they’d be beautiful works of art.anything else is just pure rascism and not worthy of being called islam.

    Comment by declan o'gorman | Thursday, November 6, 2008 | Reply

  8. I’m a Malaysian Chinese Muslim convert and I don’t think it’s necessary to build a classical Chinese style building, or Arabic style building, to represent a mosque in Malaysian.

    We have beautiful tropical architecture here which we should further develop to include features that embrace symbolism of the various cultures to be found here. It is the Chinese or the Arabs who should one day admire our tropical mosque style, not the other way round!

    By the way, there are more Chinese Muslims in China than Malay Muslims in Malaysia. Islam has come a long way to become the World’s most popular religion at nearly 1.3 billion followers. Please unite and project an image of kindness and tolerance especially within the Malaysian multi-cultural context.

    Comment by KC | Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Reply

  9. islam is a religion based on unity so do not let such small issues bring divisions among u. rem muslim akhul muslim so if it is the mosque dat is bringing a problem then i think u should just go back to the earlier period during the prophet and the swahabas time how did they build their masjids. because if u pple start building different mosques then it may bring problems like pple will just go to their own mosques.dear brothers and sisters in islam even if this effect is not seen now it may be seen in future so just be united and dont do things as per ur cultures but as islam in general.

    Comment by ayan ali | Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Reply

  10. Assalamu alakum.
    I strongly condemns Malayan Govt’s this act as chinese muslims must have their own msajids, whcih resembles / suits their culture. the design or layout of masjid does not matters. the real thing is that for what purpose the maasjid has been build. so there should be chinese style masjids in malayshia.

    Comment by Ali | Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: