On Tuesday, 23 August 2022 (25 Muharram 1444H), the Sultan Ahmad I State Mosque in Kuantan organised a get-together among the city’s spiritual leaders. It was part of their “Program Merarau Harmoni” (Masjid Negeri’s Harmony Lunch). Merarau is a newly coined word by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) which means lunch gathering. Frederick Lim, the head of our Parish Inter-religious Dialogue and I, attended this program officially.
There were several other religious leaders and chairpersons in attendance, and among them were representatives from the Tamil Methodist Church of Kuantan, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple and the Hindu Association of Kuantan.
We were greeted and welcomed by Dato Ustaz Haji Badli Shah Bin Haji Alauddin (Chief Imam and Chairman of the State Mosque), Tuan Mohd Affandi Bin Abdul Rani (Chairman of JAIS), Imam Muhammad Izzan Idris and En Muhammad Hafizuddin Bin Tajuddin, as well as other committee members of the Mosque.
In his speech, Dato Ustaz Badli Shah mentioned that the objective of the program was to create harmony among all religions and enhance community living, especially in Kuantan. He also emphasised the need for us to have a better perspective of religious understanding and its teachings in a multi-racial and multi-religious nation and a desire to strive towards building a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. According to him, it was the first meeting among all the religious leaders at the mosque, and he hopes there will be many more such gatherings on a regular basis in the future.
Tuan Mohd Affandi, who is a Board Director of the State Mosque, encouraged us to engage in more inter-religious dialogues in our places of worship, to exchange ideas and build harmonious integration among religions. He expressed feelings of disappointment and being disheartened amid tension and misunderstanding between religions in our nation.
After the various speeches, there was a video presentation on the Mosque’s organisation structure and board members, followed by lunch. Dato Ustaz Badli Shah then led us on a tour of the mosque. They showed us some of the facilities available – the administration office, wedding hall, dining hall, formation rooms, etc. The most fascinating of all was their main prayer hall, which had two sections – one for men and another for women – with separate entrances for each section. The men are seated right in-front after the Imam, while the women are seated behind the men, at prayer time.
All guests were invited to sign the guestbook. A photo session followed by a gift presentation session by Dato Ustaz Badli Shah ended the programme for the day. I found the event to be a pleasant, friendly and memorable one.
Here are brief details about Pahang’s State Mosque which is located in Kuantan. The mosque is named after His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad I (1836-1914). The state mosque was initially based in Kuala Lipis, which was the capital of Pahang from 1898 to 1953. A new state mosque was initiated after the relocation of the state capital of Pahang from Kuala Lipis to Kuantan on 27 August 1955. The initial existing wooden mosque was reconstructed, renovated, refurbished and redesigned over the years and finally, it came to completion with the official grand reopening on 21 October 1994.