Ramadan at the Kuching Mosque. Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
"Some years ago, the Mosque had almost fallen to decay and the people were not at all disposed to give money to build it up again; but now the Mosque is quite a good-looking building, and they have lately surmounted it with a great brass ball, which glitters in the sun, and draws all eyes to it".
No! this description was not written today nor of the present-day Kuching Mosque. It was penned by Harriette Bunyon McDougall (1817-1886) in a letter to her son whom she had left in England in order to accompany her husband, the Reverend Francis Thomas McDougall (1817-1886), Christian missionary to Sarawak (as Kuching was then called). They embarked on the schooner "Julia" from Singapore on June 19, 1848, and after a very steamy sailing of ten days arrived here in what is today Kuching. The wife of an Anglican clergyman, Harriette Bunyon was a versatile author, as her letters published in 1854 demonstrate; and she had a wide-ranging and open worldview. For example, she describes the month's fasting of the Muslim feast of Ramadan and the ensuing festivities carefully and with great feeling.
The Mosque of this photo was until recently the State Mosque of Sarawak, but has recently been displaced by a very new and modern structure across the river in Petra Jaya. But our Mosque stands on the very place of the first Mosque built around 1850, described by Harriette McDougal. The Mosque of the photo was built and inaugurated in 1968, but the Muslim cemetery around it is far older.
If you look carefully, you will note the white baldaquins. They protect the diners from the elements (especially rain) after the daylight fast of Ramadan has been broken when the sun sets.