March 4, 2024


TAIPEI: The Taipei Grand Mosque sits within the heart of the town’s industrial and academic hub. Its easy grey partitions are witness to the modernist period in structure, which easily blends with conventional Arabic and Chinese language designs.


Coming into inside, worshippers stroll by means of arcades to lastly attain a spacious and easy prayer room decked with carpets and chandeliers. On either side of it, colourful mild enters by means of stained glass home windows.


Not very busy on weekdays, the corridor fills with folks throughout Friday prayers.


And similar to its construction, those that collect on the Taipei Grand Mosque deliver with them completely different cultural backgrounds as nicely.


Babamale Olarewaju Abdulkareem, a Nigerian scholar pursuing his doctoral analysis in Taipei, is a kind of who will probably be there each Friday.


“All people would at all times come (right here) to look at the jumah prayer, notably within the congregation. Usually, I come right here as soon as in each week,” he instructed Arab Information.


“So far as Taipei is worried, there are only a few central mosques.”


Situated within the Da’an district, the Taipei Grand Mosque is Taiwan’s largest and oldest.


Accomplished in 1960, it was designed by Yang Cho-cheng, the famend Chinese language architect behind most of Taipei’s landmark constructions.


It’s one in all 11 mosques in Taiwan, a state of 23 million folks amongst whom just a few thousand profess Islam.


Yaser Cheng, chairman of the Taipei Grand Mosque Basis, estimates that whereas there are just a few thousand native Muslims in Taiwan, the neighborhood has some 300,000 members, together with all those that have arrived from overseas.


“In line with my private calculations, there are not more than 3,000 Taiwanese Muslims,” he mentioned.


“The whole variety of Muslims in Taiwan will increase due to international employees, some businessmen, and college students from completely different nations.”


For Cheng, the important thing particular person behind the commissioning of the mosque was Gen. Bai Chongxi, a distinguished Chinese language Muslim chief who fled for Taiwan when China’s nationalist authorities misplaced the civil struggle of 1949.


Representing the Muslim neighborhood, which migrated from mainland China, he proposed the development of an Islamic place of prayer of worldwide customary as “a necessity,” Cheng mentioned, including that on the time of the mosque’s development, Taiwan had good relations with many nations.


Within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, extra states had formal relations with Taiwan and leaders and diplomats from the Center East ceaselessly visited Taipei.


Whereas the official illustration from completely different nations has waned since, the worldwide character of Taiwan has not, which is most seen at its grand mosque on Friday afternoons.


“You will notice (folks from) greater than 30 nations,” Cheng mentioned. “You don’t see any sense of the so-called Islamophobia … Muslims get pleasure from liberty, full democracy in Taiwan.”


Lots of them, like Afif Ismail, a pupil who arrived from Indonesia 5 years in the past to acquire his doctorate in physics, really feel fairly snug as Muslims within the non-Muslim state.


Coming from a Muslim-majority nation, the place most retailers bought solely halal meals, he typically needed to spend slightly bit extra time to purchase groceries, however that was not a lot of a difficulty.


“Discovering explicit halal meals could require extra effort,” Ismail mentioned. “If you happen to evaluate it to Indonesia, it’s slightly bit harder, however nonetheless comparatively simple.”


However on the grand mosque, it was for him just about the identical as at house, with the one distinction being that the primary languages utilized in sermons are Mandarin and English.


“The congregation right here is numerous, from varied nations,” he mentioned. “In any other case, it’s the identical as mosques in Indonesia. All amenities are full. The place of worship is nice.”


Warda, a Pakistani engineering pupil from Rawalpindi, was new to Taipei and in awe of how every thing was so well-organized within the complicated the place reception and prayer halls, administrative workplaces, ablution rooms and a library took the area of lower than 2,800 sq. meters.


“There are such a lot of folks, however nonetheless very organized. Every little thing is well-planned,” she mentioned.


“It’s a really pleasing expertise for us. We at all times prefer it, so we come right here each Friday.”