Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Opening of the National Mosque

At its meeting on the 30th July, 1957, the then Executive Council agreed in principle that the Federation Government should make a substantial contribution towards the construction of a National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur as a gift form the people of the Federation to the Yang Teramat Mulia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, then Chief Minister, in appreciation of his services in leading the country to independence.

At a meeting on the 5th March, 1958 of the Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers of the eleven states comprising the Federation of Malaya, it was agreed in principle to construct a National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur to be named "Masjid Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra". A Central Committee headed by the Deputy Prime Minister was formed to be responsible for the administration of the funds, acquiring the site, construction of the Mosque and determining the policy for the collection of funds, etc. throughout the country. The name has been changed at the request of the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra to Masjid Negara (National Mosque).

The National Mosque was designed and supervised by the Architects and Design Research Branches, Federal Public Works Department and has taken just over 3 years to complete at a cost of $10,000,000.

Public donations have been received from people of all races and religions in the country. The mosque in fact symbolizes the goodwill and brotherhood of the people.

It stands diagonally opposite the Central Railway Station of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia in a laid out garden of approximately 13.5 acres. It forms an impressive termination point to a long view from one end of the multi-level fly-over which spans the Klang River.

The building itself occupies an area of almost 5 acres and consists of the Grand Prayer Hall providing a floor area of 22,500 sq. ft., the Dewan, the Mausoleum, the Library, Offices, the open courtyard and the Minaret.

The Grand Hall is surrounded by deep verandahs which are screened off by gleaming white terrazzo grille work of traditional Islamic designs similar to those in the mosques at Agra and Patephur Sikri in India. It is covered by a high pleated shell concrete dome taking the shape and form of an open umbrella and is supported by 16 columns each of 3'0" diameter. The span of the dome is approximately 145'0" from centre to centre of columns, its apex rising 84'0" above the floor level.

The Grand Hall and the verandas provide a praying space of 80,000 sq. ft. which can accommodate 8,000 people. The floor of the Grand Hall will be covered with fixed carpet whereas the rest will be finished in precast terrazzo slabs.

The Dewan is located on the south side of the Mosque and is an all purpose hall which can seat 500 persons. It has an interesting shell concrete roof in the form of pleated and connoid vaults and is connected to the Main building by a short but wide covered way which during Ramadzan and other religious occasions will serve as a feasting area and also a dias for the annual Quran Reading Competition.

The Mausoleum, situated at the rear of the Mosque, stands in a circular reflecting pool and is connected to the main building by a covered footbridge. It is circular in design and is also covered by a pleated shell concrete dome similar in shape to that of the Grand Hall but having only seven folds one of which covers a reserved area for a National hero's tomb.

The air-conditioned Library and offices are situated to the rear of the main building.

The open courtyard is an important element in the tradition of mosque planning and is placed in front of the Grand Hall. Courtyards in mosques in the Middle East are open to the sky and are invariably furnished with a cluster of fountains in a pavilion or an open pool where ablutions can be performed. The courtyard in the National Mosque is partly covered by 48 independent concrete parasols to provide shade and architectural contrast, the fountains for ablution being located at the floor beneath.

The Minaret is square on plan 12'6" & 12'6" rising from the centre of the long and narrow reflecting pool by the side of the Grand Hall. It has one viewing balcony 138' above the main floor which is accessible by a lift and a spiral staircase. The top of the minaret is decorated with a concrete spire which takes the form of a closed umbrella and soars 90' above the balcony. This completes the theme of the design of the National Mosque, Masjid Negara in Malay, which is based on an open umbrella for the dome over the Grand Hall and a closed umbrella for the spire.

The main floor level of the building is 32' above the Road and is accessible on three sides by wide staircases. The main entrance is on the east side and will primarily be used by those who come on foot whereas those who visit by cars will enter by the south entrances adjacent to which car parks are provided, the north entrance being used by those visiting the Mosque via Young Road.

Ladies have a separate entrance directly connected to the Ladies Ablution Hall and they will offer their prayers in the Gallery at the north end of the building. This Gallery also provides booths for Television and Radio services and sitting accommodation for visitors wishing to witness proceedings held in the National Mosque.

Technical details
Special postage stamps of the 6 cents denominations will be issued on the 10th April 1965 to commemorate the opening of the National in Kuala Lumpur.

Size: Rectangular in horizontal format with the following dimensions perforation to perforation in sheets of 100 stamps :-
(a) Horizontal 36 mm
(b) Vertical 25 mm

Printing Process: Photogravure
Design: A drawing of the National Mosque
Colour: 6 cents - Carmine
15 cents - Chocolate
20 cents - Deep Bluish Green
Paper: PTM Watermarked white paper
Printed by: Harrison & Sons, London

The stamps will be placed on sale in all territories of Malaysia for a period of three months from the date of issue or until stocks are exhausted whichever in earlier.

Stamps in the series

First day cover

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