Each morning, just before dawn, I hear the day’s first Adhan calling George Town’s Muslims to prayer. It’s coming from the nearby Kapitan Keling Mosque, the oldest in Penang. As I’m waking, the lyrical and hauntingly beautiful sound reminds me that I’m in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion. Not being Muslim or from a place where the call to prayer is commonly heard, it seems equally exotic and comforting. It’s easy to be enchanted by it.
The mosque’s distinctive Indo-Islamic architecture is primarily in the Moghul style. Copper domes adorned with crescents and stars sit atop the symmetrical ochre yellowed exterior. The interior is decorated with Arabic calligraphy and geometric designs, white marble floors, and horseshoe arches. The towering minaret provides a visual focal point and is from where the call to prayer emanates 5 times a day.
The Kapitan Keling Mosque can be found on Jalan Kapitan Keling, also known as The Street of Harmony. Within a few blocks of the mosque you will find Buddhist and Hindu temples, a Christian church, and The George Town World Heritage building. Here, it is easy to see why Malaysia is known for being truly multireligious and multicultural.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Address: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town
Hours: 1:00pm to 5:00pm (Saturday to Thursday) and 3:00pm to 5:00pm (Friday).
Visitors are required to wear robes which are provided at the mosque. Guided tours are available at the Information Centre located at the ground floor of the minaret.