Photo: Photogenic at late light.

Kapitan Keling Mosque

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Kapitan Keling Mosque is one of the most prominent landmarks in Georgetown, with its Mughal-inspired minaret and copper-clad main dome, oxidised to a striking black against the (sometimes) bright blue sky.





If you’ve never stepped foot inside a mosque before, welcoming attendants are on hand to make it less daunting and explain a little of the history of the mosque and the lowdown on Islam in Penang. The mosque’s founder and first superintendent, Caudeer Mohudeen, popularly known as Captain Kling (Kapitan Keling), “Kling” being a Malay term for people of Indian origin, lends his name not only to the mosque but also more recently to the entire street.

The grand approach. Photo taken in or around Kapitan Keling Mosque, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

The grand approach. Photo: Sally Arnold

A “Chulia” as Tamil Muslims were called, this Southern Indian mariner and trader, had made Penang his home in 1770, well before the British landed and had already become one of the most distinguished members of the local community by the time Lieutenant Governor Leith made him the official headman of the South Indian locals (Kapitan). He subsequently applied for a land grant to build a mosque and on its approval made sure subscriptions flowed in from his fellow Muslim merchants and mariners to fund the materials and builders drafted in from India. Soon a site of 18 acres became a religious centre but also a bustling village, the rentals from shophouses providing funds for the mosque’s upkeep and charities.

Today Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, is colloquially referred to as The Street of Harmony as most of the world’s major religions are represented along its length, although it wasn’t always so harmonious. In 1867 some members of the mosque’s community are implicated as being involved in the “White Flag” secret society who joined forces with the Cantonese Chinese in a street battle against the Malay “Red Flags” of the Acheen Street Mosque together with Penang’s Hokkien community. The nine-day skirmish involving musket and cannon fire is known as the Penang Riots. These days though, the setting is decidedly ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Kapitan Keling Mosque
Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Georgetown

Location map for Kapitan Keling Mosque

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