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Monday, November 11, 2019

Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Hong Kong


Hong Kong, an autonomous territory in southeastern China, is a thriving and vibrant tourist country. Of the total population of 7.4 million, which makes it one of the most densely populated country around the world, it has some 300,000 Muslims, which makes it 4.1% of the population of Hong Kong (2016 census). Of these, 150,000 are Indonesians (most of whom are female foreign domestic workers)50,000 Chinese, 30,000 Pakistanis, while the the rest are from other parts of the world. The vast majority of Muslims in Hong Kong are Sunni. 
The Jamia Mosque, commonly known as the Shelley Street Mosque [Photo: The New Straits Times]

Islam came to areas which now constitute present day Hong Kong with the British Army in the 19th centrality. As Muslim population increased, the British Hong Kong government allocated land for them to build their communities and facilities, such as mosques and cemeteries. In 1849, the first ever mosque was built, the Jamia Mosque. The small mosque, built at the Mid-Level of the famous Shelley Street in Central Hong Kong, strategically located near Old Town Central. The rectangular light green mosque is reflective of Islamic architecture like the arched main entrance and Arabic-style arched windows on all sides.
The Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre [Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Author: Shafak Thaika]

At Nathan Road in Kowloon stands the city’s second mosque and the largest mosque in Hong Kong. Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre, built in 1896, is a wide domed structure featuring four 11 meters high minarets. Besides the Mosque the garrisons also constructed a large concrete pool for storing up water for worshipers to make "Wudhu," and water plants and large gold fish were put inside the pool to prevent the water from pollution. The Muslim garrisons also brought their own prayer leader / imam from Campbellpur (Attock) in Pakistan. It can accommodate 3,500 people at a time and it’s usually full especially during Friday prayers. The mosque also frequently holds programmes and classes on the teaching of Islam, the Quran as well as Arabic language. An intermediate course on Islam for non Muslims is also held regularly

There are seven mosques in the city, Ammar Mosque and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre is the third one. The mosque is one the main attraction of the Muslim tourists for here one can find lot of halal food to eat. Located at the fifth floor is the Islamic Centre Canteen which serves Guangdong-style cuisine including assorted halal dim sum and Chinese food. There are also a Chinese restaurant, bakery, medical services, classrooms, library, offices for imam and Quran teachers as well as conference and seminar rooms.




Hong Kong’s tourism players have also made themselves Muslim-friendly attractions. One of these is the Sky 100, the observatory deck of the city’s tallest building — the international Commerce Centre. Muslim travelers will be delighted to find a spacious and clean prayer room located on the same floor, while at its restaurant, Cafe 100 at the deck, offers vegetarian options.

How is the life of Muslims in Hong Kong? Well it is said to be generally very convenient and not much of peep-ins by the non Muslims. Sharifa Leung, a local Chinese born-Muslim who is also the treasurer of the Hong Kong Islamic Youth Association at Ammar Mosque, says: “There aren’t many challenges living in Hong Kong as a Muslim except that there are very few mosques and less knowledge about Muslim food requirements. Life during Ramadan in Hong Kong is like usual except for fasting. We don’t get special treatment but that is alright, but it’ll be great to have the understanding of non-Muslims.” [3]

Qamar Z. Minhas is chairman of the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund, the coordinating body for all Islamic affairs in Hong Kong, and he is proud of the history of the five principal mosques that his organisation manages. He can feel the unease when anything goes wrong anywhere in the world and Muslims are blamed. "Of course, we get upset by reading the news, especially when the crimes are undertaken in the name of Islam," he says. "But, as a Pakistani, I have to say we are victims of that, too. The same group of people killed 132 schoolchildren in northern Pakistan [in December]. People who are talking against Islam should understand we are suffering, too, you know. We have condemned these acts and we are victims, too." However, he adds that due to sound management and mutual respect, there is no tradition of sectarianism within Muslim Hong Kong. [2]

In contrast to the widespread media images of terrorists and fiery clerics, the most common face of Islam in Hong Kong is young and female; the domestic helpers who gather in Victoria Park on Sunday afternoons to socialize with other Muslims. "The Indonesian maids coming to people's homes are a sort of Muslim education for local families - when they ask for time to pray or not to cook pork," says Jeffrey Moosa, founder and adviser to the Hong Kong Islamic Youth Association (HKIYA).

There generally seem to be any evidence of radicalization at Muslim schools. At the government-aided Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College, in Chai Wan, cricket nets are more visible than copies of the Koran. The vice-principal is former financial analyst Abu Bakar Ma Wing Cheung, an eighth-generation Chinese Muslim. "The students here are 90 per cent of Pakistan origin [which explains the cricket nets] but we also have some kids from Nepal, some Chinese and some from Sudan. We have two Iranian girls and some from the Philippines and Indonesia. We really cater for non-Chinese," he explains.

The Police of Hong Kong sometimes harass the Muslims in so called search operations. Earlier this year the police was accused of targeting the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui while conducting a clearance operation even when there were no protesters nearby at the time of the incident. Later after lot of protest by the Muslims, Hong Kong’s leader has apologized over an incident where a mosque in Kowloon was doused with blue dye from a police water cannon truck.

By and large, Muslims in Hong Kong live a comfortable and rather hassle free life and are an active and productive part of the country. They get together on Fridays and Eid prayer congregations and hold central festivities. Halal food is abundantly available and various touristic sites can be accessed on line to know of their location of halal food serving restaurants.

Herein under is an informative video on the Muslim community of the Hong Kong::
Author's Note: The data for this post has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

To know more about life of Muslims in other non Muslim countries, please visit our page: Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries

You may also refer to our following reference pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran:
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
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