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80-year-old mosque in the heart of communist stronghold

“Masjid Al Moslemeen” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was built in 1935.

By Jumana al Tamimi | Gulf News | Ho Chi Minh City | 15 Jun 2012

A nearly 80-year-old mosque lies in the heart of this communist stronghold.

Its minarets stand next to the tall, modern buildings.

“Masjid Al Moslemeen”, which means “The Mosque of Moslems”, narrates part of the history of the neighbourhood and the life of the minority Muslims in the predominately Buddhist and socialist state.

There are nearly 80,000 muslims in Vietnam, a country of 90 million people.

Completed in 1935, the mosque was “built by Indian traders who had shops in the area,” said Mohammad Ameen, a worker in the printing ink industry, pointing to the plot of land which is now has a five-star hotel built on, on Dong Du Street. Several classy hotels have opened in the area. Ameen, who was visiting his friends at the mosque, the imam and the muezzin (the one who calls to prayer), told Gulf News in fluent English that the cost of building the religious place was estimated at 10.5 million dong (Dh1,843 or almost $500).

“No, it is not the only masjid in Ho Chi Minh City,” explained the Imam, Mohammad Bin Omar Ali. It is one of the 15 masjid’s in the lively economic city. However, it is the biggest, he said through Ameen’s translation.

Worshippers

Inside the masjid compound, there is a large rectangular pool for people to use the water for ablution.

The Masjid holds up to 350 worshippers. In total, there are nearly 50 masjids in Vietnam.

“During Salat Al Eid [Eid prayers], the masjid is full,” explained Ameen. “Many people come here for the prayers,” he added.

Today, the masjid is self-financed, said Imam Ali. Electricity and water bills, as well as the salaries of the “employees”, including that of the imam, are paid with donations dropped into a box in the masjid, said Imam Ali, who is in his early thirties.

The imam himself, said the Muezzin Ahmad Bilal, was named “chairman” of the masjid to the former imam who passed away.

Bilal didn’t specify the name of the chairman, who he said works as a teacher.

Across from the masjid located in the commercial hub, are several restaurants including a Turkish, Malaysian and Indian, offering “Halal food”.

 

 

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