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Monday, February 26, 2018

Sultan Riau Mosque in Penyengat Island

Publish 31-10-2008 11:21:08 by Admin
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A. Brief Information

Sultan Riau Mosque is one of the “must-be-visited” tourism destinations when you are travelling to Riau Islands Province. It is a worth visiting historical tourism destination in Penyengat Island, a district in Riau Islands Province, in which the number of historical properties are kept well within the masjid.

It was built when Engku Puteri Hamidah, the consort of Sultan Mahmudsyah (1761 – 1812 A.D.), chose the island as her residence. In its early years, the masjid was just a simple building made of wood with tiled-brick floor. Moreover, the masjid‘s minaret was only six meters in high, a simple building.

As the masjid could not take the number of Muslims when they were going to praying within anymore, Yang Dipertuan Muda Raja Abdurrahman – the ruling sultan of Riau Kingdom during 1831 – 1844 A.D. – initiated to enlarge and carried out some refurbishments to the masjid.

To renovate in full-scale the masjid, the sultan summoned his people to give charity and to work collectively in term of shouldering highly the name of Allah. This historical moment took place on Shawwal 1st, 1248 H (1832 A.D.), coinciding perfectly with Islamic holy day of Idul Fitri.

All people, men and women, from every corner of Penyengat Island and neighbouring islands enthusiastically made contributions to the masjid‘s refurbishment process. They came to the island to give materials, foods, and to offer their powers. There was no another motive except for getting God‘s blessing and showing their loves to the sultan, who was known as a wise and prudent sultan. At least, the three-meter high foundations of the masjid could be created only in three weeks.

Referring to a historical data, the masjid‘s walls and foundations were the mixture of albumens, sands, and limes together. Thousands of eggs were donated by all people everyday, thus the workers only wanted to eat the yolks. Knowing such a fact, the architect, who was an Indian coming from Singapore, initiated to create the walls from the mixtures of albumens, sands, and limes. As the results, the masjid can stand firmly up to these days. In addition, the masjid‘s wall is about 50 centimetre thickness now.

The masjid is a rare historical building and the only remnant of Riau-Lingga Sultanate. The entire width of the masjid complex measures 54,4 x 32,2 meters wide with the main building which is 29,3 x 19,5 meters wide. Its roof is supported by four underpinnings inside.

There are two sotoh houses that can be functioned as inns for travellers, and likewise, a place to organize prayer meeting. Near the sotoh houses, there are two warehouses called balai houses to put some foods for public during the fasting month of Ramadhan.

B. Distinctive Features

When you are having a journey to Penyengat Island via Sri Bintan Pura Port, you will see an eye-catching yellow building amongst the other buildings across the strait. That eye-catching yellow building is Sultan Riau Mosque standing firmly above the 240-hectare island called Penyengat Island. With 13 domes and four 18,9-meter tall  minarets next to the main building, the mosque mostly resembles Indian kingdoms‘ architectures. Just sum the number of the domes and the minarets, and you will know the reason why the dome and the minarets are built each of them are 13 and four. 17 is the sum rakats within salat that must be conducted by every single Muslim five times in a day. Therefore, such a combination means that all people ought not to forget to practice salat five times in a day.

The architecture is totally unique, but there is no precise data telling the style of its architecture applied to the masjid. Some people argue the masjid‘s architecture is the combination of Arab, Indian, and Malay architecture styles. While there are likewise some argumentation stating the masjid employs Indian architecture since the architect was an Indian descent coming from Tumasik (now Singapore). In two masjid exhibitions held in Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta in 1991 and 1995, Sultan Riau Mosque is fixed as the first Indonesian masjid which uses domes beautifying the architecture style.

Going inside the masjid, there is a hand-written Koran within the masjid nearby the entrance door. The Koran is kept well inside a glass box so that will not be easily rotten. The Koran was written by an indigenous youngster who was designated by the Riau-Lingga Sultanate to accomplish study in Istambul, Turkey. During his busy schedule in disseminating Islam to the entire Penyengat Island, he could still spend few of his times to write the Koran as what we can see in the present.

One more antiquely hand-written Koran is actually available within the masjid, but its existence is not for public galley. The Koran is older than the previous hand-written Koran (it is dated in 1752 A.D.). Its condition begins decaying, thus it is kept carefully inside a teak wood case together with more than 300 other Korans. The case is placed in the most front corner of the masjid.

In addition, the Koran itself has been completed with interpretations of the whole verses. Therefore, we may conclude that long time ago, some Malay priests have tried to interpret Koran, not solely re-write it. Once said that the Koran is one of the remaining traces of the Riau-Lingga Sultanate‘s library following the Riau people‘s massive exoduses to Singapore and Johor in the early of the 20th Century, when Indonesia was under the Dutch‘s occupation.

Another interesting property that can be found within the masjid is a pulpit made of teak wood. It was made in Jepara, a place in northen coast of Java Island which is famous as the centre for beautifully intricate carvings. Two pulpits were actually made in Jepara, but the smaller one is now located in a masjid located in Daik Village.

Next to the pulpit, there is a peal of sands taken from the holy land of Mecca Al-Mukarramah. It was Raja Ahmad Engku Haji Tua – the father of Raja Ali Haji that is famous as the author of Gurindam 12 and was the first Riau Malay person who accomplished pilgrimage – who brought the sands from Mecca in 1820 A.D. The peal is commonly used in an adat celebration namely menginjak tanah (stepping foot on the ground) tradition. Some other antique properties such as Turkish carpet and crystal lamp can also be found within.

Some other small buildings such as ablution places, sotoh houses, and balai houses lie around the main building. Two ablutions places are located on the right and left sides of the masjid; and sotoh houses are built in the front yard, next to the balai houses. In the past, the balai houses were the places various Islamic activities while the surrounding people were waiting for the time to break the fasting on the fasting month of Ramadhan. In sotoh houses, which are built in Arab style, the local inhabitants used to held certain religious meetings and to deepen Islamic jurisprudence as well. Some prominent Islamic priests like: Sheikh Ahmad Jabrati, Sheikh Arsyad Banjar, Sheikh Ismail, and Haji Shahabuddin, have ever participated in teaching Islam to the local inhabitants in those buildings.

C. Location

Sultan Riau Mosque stands firmly above a land in Penyengat Island, Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands Province, Indonesia.

D. Access

To reach the island where Sultan Riau Mosque is, you can take any motorized boat from Sri Bintan Pura Port in Tanjung Pinang City. While you are having a journey crossing the strait to Penyengat Island, you can enjoy the nuance of Malay traditional house since the upon the boat‘s deck, a small malay traditional house is built. For note, a boat can only accommodate 13 passengers.   

Its cost is around IDR 5.000 (per July 2008) for taking route from Sri Bintan Pura Port to the Island spending about 15 minutes. However, the costs will be higher, ranging from IDR 10.000 to IDR 15.000, when you are going back home from the island leading to Sri Binta Pura Port. At night, the costs will hike significantly, ranging about IDR 30.000 to IDR 40.000.

E. Ticket Price

You don‘t need to pay any entrance ticket to visit the masjid and observe its uniqueness. However, we suggest you to give money to charity for the masjid‘s maintenance.

F. Accommodation and other Facilities

There are two sotoh houses that were built for travellers who want to just take a rest for a moment in the location in the masjid complex. In balai houses, you can find some Islamic priests teaching Islam to the local inhabitants.

During the Ramadhan Month, there is an annual workshop on creative writing and Guridam 12 declamation. You can take a visit to the masjid if you are interested in such events when the fasting month of Ramadhan is coming.

Around the location, outside the masjid complex, you can find easily some food tents and stalls offering typically various foods of Penyengat Island. And for you who want to stay more days in the island, you can reach the nearest city in Tanjung Pinang. In that city, you can find the number of lodgements or small hotels there. Likewise, you can meet easily some supporting facilities such as shopping centres, malls, fitness centres, and gas stations.

Afthonul Afif (wm/35/07-08)

Translated by Irfan Nugroho (wm/12/10-08)


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