The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque - A unique mosque featuring Art Deco and Oriental style

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque

The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque located in Kampung Jawa, Klang was officially opened by His Highness Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah ibni Almarhum Raja Muda Musa, after whom the mosque was named.  It was officially opened on Friday, 23 June 1933.  This grand mosque was previously known as The Suleiman Jamial Rahmah Mosque and proclaimed as the new state mosque of Selangor upon its opening.

The foundation stone of this historic mosque was also laid by His Highness Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah on 11 September 1932. The mosque was said to have been a present from the British Colonial Government to the Sultan of Selangor in conjunction with the declaration of Klang as The Royal Town and it was also a replacement for the old Pengkalan Batu Mosque.

The architect responsible for designing the mosque was Leofric Kesteven F.R.I.B.A., the Assistant Architect of Public Works Department while the construction of the mosque was undertaken by United Engineers Ltd from Singapore. The cost of construction of the mosque amounted to approximately two hundred fifty thousand Straits Dollars and was reported to have been the finest and probably the largest in the Peninsula when it was completed.

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque

The mosque occupies a prominent position in Klang at the foot of the hill on which the Sultan's palace, The Mahkota Puri Palace, was situated.  Unfortunately the majestic Mahkota Puri Palace was later replaced with the Alam Shah Palace in 1950 at about the same location.

ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES

The mosque was constructed in the 1930s during the height of the popularity of Art Deco architecture. This explains why the architectural style of the mosque is a marriage of Art Deco, Neo-classical and Mughal style especially in its exterior while the interior of the mosque seems to uniquely resemble Neo-Gothic style one normally finds in a church complete with its beautiful stained glass.  The only difference is the stained glass comprises only geometric pattern as Islam doesn't allow any representative decoration or ornamentation.  His Highness Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman  Shah was also said to have influenced its design to reflect the Oriental features.

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The beautiful interior of the Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque

One day before its official opening, Singapore-based daily The Straits Times dated 22 June 1933 published a lengthy report on this majestic mosque.  It reported that among all the famous buildings of the Islamic world, there was no other mosque which resembled this one in its general design. Yet there was no incongruous note in this Klang edifice, nothing which one would not expect to find in an Oriental country. It blended with Malayan environment perfectly and yet revealed the dignity and harmony of Western architectural art.

On the exterior, the massive domed structure of the mosque is surrounded by wrought-iron railings forming a courtyard about 150 ft square besides being connected  by an arcade with a 136-foot-high minaret. The surrounding railings are punctuated by four corner towers and four intermediate ones, each of which is surmounted by a small dome.  The wrought-iron work, all of which has been manufactured in England to the architect's design, is most graceful, and it is probable that no other buildings in Malaya has afforded so many opportunities for this form of artistic creation.  The entire building is of a light granite colour while originally all the domes were painted egg yellow.  However after the latest refurbishment some small domes have been painted white.

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The main dome painted egg yellow is surrounded by smaller domes.

On the interior,  the most sacred part of the mosque consists of a vaulted alcove (mihrab) with mimbar, or pulpit, on one side.  Mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The line from the porch right through to the mihrab is strictly directed to the Kaaba in Mecca and this has been verified by authorised surveyor and Islamic religious officials.  On the other hand, a  mimbar (pulpit) is the raised platform from which an Imam (leader of prayer) addresses the congregation. The mihrab is located to the left of the mimbar.

The central hall of the mosque is octagonal in shape and 50 feet in diameter.  The height between the floor of the central hall and the top of the apex dome is 91 feet. Above the central hall is the interior dome 34 ft in diameter composed of a wonderfully delicate yet strong tracery of ornamental wrought-iron, the upper two-thirds of which are filled with multicoloured stained glass. Stepping inside the mosque, one would be amazed at the beauty of its multicoloured stained glass and its architecture that resembles the interior of a church.

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The interior dome situated right above the central hall

The mosque was built from reinforced concrete except only for the dignified mimbar (pulpit) which is the only wooden structure.

The Sultan of Selangor took great interest in the construction of this mosque as he made many visits to watch its progress.  The existence of this prominent mosque has also become a constant and forceful reminder to all that Islam was the religion embraced by the majority of the people of Selangor.

OFFICIAL OPENING AND RE-OPENING OF THE MOSQUE

According to a report by The Straits Times on 27 June 1933 entitled "New state mosque for Selangor. Opening ceremony" the Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque (originally known as the Suleiman Jamial Rahmah Mosque) was declared open by His Highness Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah on Friday, 23 June 1933 during a grand opening ceremony attended by people from far and near as well as some prominent guests including His Highness the Raja Muda of Selangor, TS Adams (The British Resident of Selangor), L. Kesteven (the architect of this mosque), Raja Haji Othman (Chief Kadhi) besides various Malay chiefs, religious officers and European officials.

Fast forward to 3 November 2017, the current Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah officiated the re-opening of the Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque which had undergone a RM12 million refurbishment works since two years ago. The major upgrading works, covering both the interior and exterior, started on 10 March 2015 and was completed on 17 October 2017.

The sultan arrived at the mosque at 12.45pm, accompanied by Raja Muda Selangor, Tengku Amir Shah.  They then performed the Friday prayers with some 500 congregation at the mosque.

"I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the Selangor state government for their cooperation and commitment in making this restoration project a success.

"It is important that we conserve and preserve the mosque's heritage architecture, especially its original design and shape.

"Moreover, this mosque is part of the historic symbol of the Selangor Sultanate. It was officiated by the fifth Sultan of Selangor, the late Sultan Ala'eddin Suleiman Shah." His Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said, adding that this was the first time the mosque had undergone a major refurbishment work since it was built in 1932.

The Sultan was satisfied with the works while maintaining the mosque’s unique features.

"Although the mosque is more than half a century old, it is still strong and sturdy.

"I hope the people will appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the mosque and use it in the best possible way for the development of the ummah and local community,” he said.

The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque (Masjid Diraja Sultan Sulaiman in Malay) has been gazetted as National Heritage under the National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645).

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
One of the main entrances of the mosque

Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque
The interior of the mosque


REFERENCES:

Islam's Finest Edifice In Malaya. New Selangor Mosque. (1933, June 22). The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

Langkah kembalikan kepada keadaan asal. (2017, November 29). Harian Metro. Retrieved from https://www.hmetro.com.my/nuansa/2017/11/288641/langkah-kembalikan-kepada-keadaan-asal

New state mosque for Selangor. Opening Ceremony. (1933, June 27). The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

Selangor Sultan reopens Sultan Sulaiman Royal Mosque. (2017, November 3). New Straits Times. Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/298853/selangor-sultan-reopens-sultan-sulaiman-royal-mosque

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