Islam has been a part of Hong Kong for several hundred years with a growing Muslim population that exceeds 200,000, and 30,000 or so are believed to be Hong Kong citizens. Islam's origin in Hong Kong go back as far as the nineteenth century when Europeans trading in the South China Sea brought South Asian sailors and merchants to Guangzhou, Macau, and Kowloon and made a home in Hong Kong.
Today, Hong Kong's Muslim community continue to be as diverse and dynamic with influence comprising dozens of countries from all over the world. Its historical and cultural significance in this cosmopolitan city is distinguished with the presence of two of the city’s important Islamic sites – the historical Jamia Mosque on Shelley Street and the Kowloon Mosque on Nathan Road-- adding to the multicultural landscape of Hong Kong.
Jamia Mosque (Shelley Street Mosque)
On the quiet suburban grounds of Shelley Street, a mosque stands out with its elegant, perforated arches and mint-green fa?ade. The mosque, known as Jamia Mosque or Lascar Temple, is Hong Kong's first mosque. It is believed that the first Muslims to come to the territory were sailors from Indian subcontinent and had no permanent home. They stayed together on Lower Lascar Row, and over time a community developed and held their first congregation there. The mosque was renamed the Jamia Mosque by the Board of Trustees after the Second World War.
The Jamia mosque was built in the 1840s but undergone a major expansion in 1915 and transformed the building to include a paved driveway, a security gate and three apartments within the site, which housed former mosque leaders and local families. This historical mosque can accommodate more than 400 people inside its prayer hall. The Hong Kong Government classifies the building as a Grade I building which are described as "outstanding merits of which every effort should be made to preserve if possible."
Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre
In the hustle bustle of the glitzy shopping district of Nathan Road and walking distance from Kowloon Park, stands Kowloon Mosque, a sanctuary from the busy life in a densely populated area. The mosque is Hong Kong's biggest mosque and caters to more than 50,000 Muslims in the territory. It was first built in 1896 and the original building was red brick in colour and situated a few blocks away. Then the mosque moved to its current location after the original site suffered damage from the underground construction of the Hong Kong MTR railway system. The reconstruction resulted in the mosque becoming the biggest in Hong Kong.
The white-marbled Kowloon Mosque is an impressive large square building. It is a four-storey structure that covers an area of 1,500 sq meters and can hold up to 3,500 worshippers. The architecture boasts four imposing minarets that are 11 meters high, a beautiful a pink roof and a 5-by-9-metre cream coloured dome. Inside the mosque there are three prayer halls, a community hall, two office rooms for Imams, a management office, medical clinic, library and kitchen. The main prayer hall is on the first floor and can accommodate 1000 people.
The women's prayer hall is on the upper floor surmounted by the beautiful dome. During the month of Ramadan, Tarawih prayers are held and Iftar is arranged for more than 2000 people daily. The Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre is an iconic building in Tsim Sha Tsui and a significant identity of the Muslim culture and community in Hong Kong.